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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.

Buffalo sophomore arrested, charged with strangulation, witness intimidation

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Buffalo sophomore Quate McKinzie is facing a litany of charges stemming from an incident in which he allegedly attempted to strangle a female acquaintance.

McKinzie, who is 20 years old, was later handed more charges after he made threatening phone calls to his accuser from jail.
From the Buffalo News:

The original charges placed against the UB sophomore were second-degree strangulation, a D-felony; misdemeanor counts of criminal obstruction of breathing, assault, menacing, harassment; and stealing the victim’s vehicle.

The latest charges are third-degree witness intimidation and first-degree criminal contempt, both E-felonies; and two misdemeanors, aggravated harassment and disobeying a court mandate, according to Tonawanda Police Patrol Capt. Fredric Foels.

“University Athletics is aware of the alleged incident and is in communication with university and local authorities,” Buffalo released in a statement. “Quate McKinzie is currently enrolled at the University at Buffalo and is suspended indefinitely from the university’s basketball team. Due to the ongoing investigation and federal protections on student information, we will have no further comment on the matter at this time.”

McKinzie is a 6-foot-8, 195 pound forward that played in 17 games last season. He averaged 3.9 points and 4.3 boards.

Auburn’s Austin Wiley suffers stress fracture

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Auburn center Austin Wiley has a stress fracture in his left leg and will be out 4-6 weeks, the school announced Monday.

No surgery is required, but Wiley, who played with Team USA’s U19 team in Egypt earlier this month, will miss Auburn’s trip to Italy.

“You know how tough and committed a young man is when he plays through the pain of a stress fracture,” said Pearl. “He was receiving treatment while in Egypt, but had no way of knowing the extent of his injury. Doctors say it is in a good spot for healing, and he will be fine.”

Wiley averaged 8.8 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 18.1 minutes this past season. He started 21 of the Tigers’ 22 games after he enrolled in school midseason.

Virginia Tech loses key shooter to torn ACL

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Virginia Tech suffered a brutal blow earlier this month when Ty Outlaw went down with a torn ACL in his right knee.

Outlaw is one of the best shooters on Virginia Tech’s roster, banging home 48 percent of his three-balls last season, and he was expected to be a major part of the rotation following a season where he scored in double-figures in six of the last eight games, including four games of better than 16 points in that stretch.

This is a blow to Virginia Tech’s depth, but it is also a tough break for Outlaw, who transferred to Virginia Tech from a Junior College and had to sit out the 2015-16 season due to a heart issue. The redshirt senior will likely be eligible to receive a medical redshirt should he decide to apply for one.

Report: Miller brothers schedule Indiana-Arizona series

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The Miller family does not appear to be worried about sibling rivalry.

According to a report from FanRag Sports, Archie, the head coach at Indiana, and Sean, the head coach at Arizona, have agreed to a three-year deal to have the two programs face-off against each other. They’ll start in 2019-20, playing in Arizona, then face-off in Bloomington the following season before finally heading up to Madison Square Garden in 2021-22.

If you can get past the fact that we are now scheduling games for 2022 (!!!), this is actually going to be a pretty neat and unique thing. How often do two brothers end up coaching at the Division I level? The Drew brothers — Bryce at Vanderbilt and Scott at Baylor — are one pair, but they cancelled a series that would have seen the two programs square off last season. James and Joe Jones at Yale and Boston University are another pair. They were league rivals for eight yeas when Joe was the head coach at Columbia. When Sean Sutton was the head coach at Oklahoma State, his brother, Scott, beat them was the head coach at Oral Roberts.

So it’s not typical for this to happen, mainly because it’s not easy to compete at something so important against someone you care about so much.

Think about it.

Imagine working in a profession where your success comes at the expense of your brother? It’s one of the major reasons — beyond the obvious — that no one believed Sean Miller would actually consider taking the Ohio State job when it opened. Facing off against your brother in a non-conference game you choose to play is one thing. Competing for league titles against him for the foreseeable future is something totally different.

Which is a long way of saying that this should be an enticing matchup, however it plays out.

VIDEO: Zion Williamson throws down a vicious putback

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Zion Williamson made another highlight-reel play on Saturday outside of Atlanta as he threw down a vicious putback dunk at the Best of the South.

The five-star prospect has returned from a minor knee injury this spring to look like his old self in July as he’s entertained packed gyms of fans and college coaches the last two weeks.

The Class of 2018 star is currently regarded as the No. 3 overall prospect in the latest national rankings.

(h/t: Courtside Films)