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Bubble Banter: Syracuse, firmly on the bubble, plays waiting game

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The latest NBC Sports Bracketology can be found here. That is where the seeds listed below come from. 

This post will be updated throughout the day.


Syracuse (RPI: 75, KenPom: 44, No. 11 seed): The Orange are now officially on the bubble, and depending on who you talk to, this team may be on the wrong side of the bubble. Here is where they currently stand: The Orange are 18-14 on the season and sit at 75th in the RPI. They have beaten Florida State, Duke, Virginia, Wake Forest and Miami this season, but every one of those wins came at home. The Orange, on the season, are just 2-11 away from the Carrier Dome, with those wins coming against Clemson and N.C. State, who combined for nine ACC wins all year long. And that’s before you factor in that the Cuse have four losses to sub-100 teams, including to a bad UConn team, at Boston College and at home against St. John’s by 33 points.

Head coach Jim Boeheim told reporters after the game that “it doesn’t matter what I think” about his team’s at-large chances, and proceeded to lay out every argument why the Orange should get in: the Orange have three wins against teams that were in the top 10 when they beat them, or as Boeheim put it, “We have better wins than we had last year”; winning on the road in the ACC is hard, proof being that three ACC tournament teams have just three road wins and North Carolina, who won the league, is just 5-4 on the road; “We finished seventh, tied for seventh,” Boeheim said. “Other conferences are talking about getting 60 percent of their teams in the tournament. If we’re the best conference in the country, we should get more than 50 percent of teams in the tournament.”

There are some valid arguments there.

Syracuse certainly has a case to be in the dance.

But they better root against every bubble team and hope that Middle Tennessee State wins the Conference USA tournament, because all those losses — the bad ones and all the ones away from home — are enough of a stain that the Orange are anything-but a lock.

Wake Forest (RPI: 31, KenPom: 30, no. 11 seed): Wake is going to be a very interesting case on Selection Sunday after losing to Virginia Tech in the ACC tournament on Wednesday. They’re 19-13 on the season and played one of the 20 toughest non-conference schedules in the country. They played five true road games before ACC play started and lost three of those games. The problem is that the Demon Deacons have just three top 50 wins and only a single top 40 win, but it just so happens that top 40 win came over Louisville.

Wake challenged themselves. They played at Richmond and at UNC Greensboro and at Charleston; high major programs don’t do that all that often. They’ve beaten an elite team and they have nothing that can be termed a bad loss on their résumé. I think Wake gets in, but I think it’s going to be a sweat for them this week as they watch every other bubble team get chances to collect wins.

Clemson (RPI: 63, KenPom: 35, bubble): A win over Duke on Wednesday afternoon would have given Clemson a fighting chance at a bid if they could pick off Louisville in the quarterfinals. Clemson lost by seven.


Cal (RPI: 55, KenPom: 55, next four out): The Bears tried to but they couldn’t quite lose to Oregon State on Wednesday night. That means they advance to face Utah in the quarterfinals on Thursday. The Bears need to win that game and beat Oregon in the semis to have a real shot at being an at-large team.

Xavier (RPI: 32, KenPom: 43, play-in game): Xavier beat DePaul on Wednesday night, setting themselves up for a “win and you’re in” game on Thursday against Butler in the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament.

USC (RPI: 39, KenPom: 61, play-in game): USC survived Washington, meaning that the Trojans will have a chance to lock up their at-large bid on Thursday against UCLA in the Pac-12 quarterfinals.

NCAA denies extra-year request by NC State guard Henderson

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The NCAA has denied North Carolina State guard Terry Henderson’s request for another year of eligibility.

Henderson announced the decision Friday in a statement issued by the school.

The Raleigh native played two seasons at West Virginia before transferring to N.C. State and redshirting in 2014-15. He played for only 7 minutes of the following season before suffering a season-ending ankle injury.

As a redshirt senior in 2016-17, he was the team’s second-leading scorer at 13.8 points per game and made a team-best 78 3-pointers.

Henderson called it “an honor and privilege” to play in his hometown.

SMU gets transfer in Georgetown’s Akoy Agau

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SMU pulled in a frontcourt player in Georgetown transfer Akoy Agau, a source confirmed to Agau is immediately eligible for next season as a graduate transfer.

The 6-foot-8 Agau started his career at Louisville before transferring to Georgetown after one season. Spending two seasons with the Hoyas, Agau was limited to 11 minutes in his first season due to injuries. He averaged 4.5 points and 4.3 rebounds per game last season.

Coming out of high school, Agau was a four-star prospect but he’s never lived up to that billing in-part because of injuries. Now, Agau gets one more chance to make a difference as he’s hoping to help replace some departed pieces like Ben Moore and Semi Ojeleye.

South Carolina loses big man Sedee Keita to transfer

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South Carolina big man Sedee Keita will transfer from the program, he announced on Friday.

The 6-foot-9 Keita was once regarded as a top-100 national prospect in the Class of 2016, but he never found consistent minutes with the Gamecocks for last season’s Final Four team.

Keita appeared in 29 games and averaged 1.1 points and 2.0 rebounds per game while shooting 27 percent from the field.

A native of Philadelphia, Keita will have to sit out next season before getting three more seasons of eligibility.

Although Keita failed to make an impact during his only season at South Carolina, he’ll be a coveted transfer thanks to his size and upside.

Mississippi State losing two to transfer

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Mississippi State will lose two players to transfer as freshmen Mario Kegler and Eli Wright are leaving the program.

Both Kegler and Wright were four-star prospects coming out of high school as they were apart of a six-man recruiting class that is supposed to be a major foundation for Ben Howland’s future with the Bulldogs.

The 6-foot-7 Kegler was Mississippi State’s third-leading scorer last season as he averaged 9.7 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. Kegler should command some quality schools on the transfer market, especially since he’ll still have three more years of eligibility after sitting out next season due to NCAA transfer regulations. Kegler’s loss is also notable for Mississippi State because it is the second consecutive offseason that Howland lost a top-100, in-state product to transfer after only one season after Malik Newman left for Kansas.

Wright, a 6-foot-4 guard, was never able to find consistent minutes as he was already behind underclass perimeter options like Quinndary Weatherspoon, Lamar Peters and Tyson Carter last season. With Nick Weatherspoon, Quinndary’s four-star brother, also joining the Bulldogs next season, the writing was likely on the wall that Wright wasn’t going to earn significant playing time.


N.C. State lands second transfer of day with Utah’s Devon Daniels

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A big recruiting day for N.C. State continued on Saturday afternoon as Utah transfer and guard Devon Daniels pledged to the Wolfpack.

Earlier in the day, N.C. State and new head coach Kevin Keatts landed another quality transfer in UNC Wilmington guard C.J. Bryce.

The 6-foot-5 Daniels just finished his freshman season with the Utes in which he put up 9.9 points 4.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game while shooting 57 percent from the field and 40 percent from three-point range. Just like Bryce, Daniels will have to sit out the 2017-18 season due to NCAA transfer regulations before he has three more seasons of eligibility.

N.C. State now has two potential starters on the perimeter for the 2018-19 season with the addition of Bryce and Daniels as it will be interesting to see what kind of talent the Wolfpack can get around them.