Bubble Banter: Arizona State and Oklahoma out, Notre Dame and Oklahoma State in?


As we will do every day throughout the rest of the season, here is a look at how college basketball’s bubble teams fared on Saturday.

It’s worth reminding you here that the way winning are labeled have changed this season. Instead of looking at all top 50 wins equally, the selection committee will be using criteria that breaks wins down into four quadrants, using the RPI:

  • Quadrant 1: Home vs. 1-30, Neutral vs. 1-50, Road vs. 1-75
  • Quadrant 2: Home vs. 31-75, Neutral vs. 51-100, Road vs. 76-135
  • Quadrant 3: Home vs. 76-160, Neutral vs. 101-200, Road vs. 136-240
  • Quadrant 4: Home vs. 161 plus, Neutral vs. 201 plus, Road vs. 240 plus

The latest NBC Sports Bracketology can be found here.


OKLAHOMA STATE (RPI: 84, KenPom: 41, NBC seed: First four out): The Cowboys got what they needed: A win over Oklahoma that will give them a shot at getting a three-game sweep over Kansas on the season. And should I mention that Udoka Azubuike, who starts at center for Kansas, is out with a sprained MCL? As of today, Oklahoma State has five Quadrant 1 wins and a 10-13 record against the top two Quadrants with no bad losses. The biggest issue on their résumé is that their RPI isn’t pretty. They’ll be in the conversation even with a loss on Thursday, and a win probably gets them in.

NOTRE DAME (RPI: 71, KenPom: 33, NBC seed: Next four out): I don’t know where it came from, but Notre Dame was down by 20 points in the second half against Virginia Tech and came back to win in the second round of the ACC tournament, putting them into a position to seriously challenge for an NCAA tournament bid. At this point, I still think that the Irish are on the outside looking in. But they get Duke tomorrow in the the ACC quarterfinals, and if they win that game — Clemson is a top 15 team in the RPI — then I think they’ll probably get a bid. At the very least, I think that they would have done enough to prove they are a top 30 team in the country with their entire roster healthy, and to me, that’s enough to get in.

TEXAS (RPI: 46, KenPom: 39, NBC seed: 10): Texas got past Iowa State, which is probably what they needed to do to really feel comfortable about their at-large chances. The Longhorns are 8-13 against the top two Quadrants and they don’t have a bad loss to their name. The problem is that their best wins are TCU and Texas Tech at home, Butler on a neutral and Alabama and Oklahoma on the road. I think they’re probably in regardless of what happens on Thursday, but their life will be much less stressful if they can find a way to dispatch Texas Tech.

LOUISVILLE (RPI: 37, KenPom: 34, NBC seed: Next four out): Louisville didn’t earn an NCAA tournament bid on Wednesday afternoon when they beat Florida State, but they did put themselves into a position where they can win and get themselves in on Thursday. They play Virginia in the quarterfinals. If they beat Virginia, they will be in the NCAA tournament. Should I tell Louisville fans that they’d be in right now if they didn’t blow a four-point lead with 0.9 seconds left?

MARQUETTE (RPI: 55, KenPom: 49, NBC seed: Last four in): Marquette did what they needed to do on Wednesday night: They beat DePaul. Now they’ll advance to take on Villanova in the quarterfinals on Thursday. The way that I see it, they have to win that game to get in.


ARIZONA STATE (RPI: 65, KenPom: 38, NBC seed: 10): Arizona State lost in their Pac-12 12 tournament opener, meaning that the Sun Devils have gone from being college basketball’s last remaining unbeaten team to having to sweat out the final week before Selection Sunday. ASU is now 20-11 on the season and 8-11 against Pac-12 opponents after Wednesday’s loss. The Fighting Bobby Hurleys have just three Quadrant 1 wins and an 8-9 record against the top two Quadrants with two Quadrant 3 losses, but they have happen to have the best pair of wins of any team in the country, beating Kansas in Phog Allen Fieldhouse and knocking off Xavier on a neutral court. And it is those two wins that will likely ensure that ASU will be in the tournament when the bracket is released in 96 hours, but the idea that it is anything close to a guarantee — which is what you would expect from a team ranked No. 3 in the country on Dec. 30th — is wrong.

OKLAHOMA (RPI: 46, KenPom: 57, NBC seed: 9): The slide continued into the postseason for the Sooners, as they lost to their in-state rivals in the first round of the Big 12 tournament on Wednesday night. All told, Oklahoma has now lost eight of their last ten and 11 of their last 15 games. They are 18-13 on the season and finished with an 8-11 record against Big 12 foes. And here’s the crazy part: they are probably still in the tournament. They beat Kansas at home. They beat Texas Tech at home. They swept TCU, won at Wichita State and beat USC on a “neutral” court in Los Angeles. Throw in the fact that they don’t have any losses outside the top two Quadrants and I find it very hard to believe this team will be on the outside looking in on Selection Sunday.

SYRACUSE (RPI: 38, KenPom: 51, NBC seed: Last four in): The Orange are in a really bad spot right now. Their résumé currently looks like this: Three Quadrant 1 wins (Clemson, at Miami, at Louisville) and a 6-11 record against the top two Quadrants with a pair of Quadrant 3 losses (at Georgia Tech, at Wake Forest). In a vacuum, that would probably put them right on the cut-line. The problem? All of the teams around them — Baylor, USC, Oklahoma State, Louisville, Notre Dame, Marquette, Alabama, UCLA — still have games to play, and they aren’t all going to lose.

WASHINGTON (RPI: 67, KenPom: 97, NBC seed: First four out): Washington needed to beat Oregon State in their Pac-12 tournament opener. They did not beat Oregon State in their Pac-12 tournament opener. With four Quadrant 1 wins — including Arizona and at Kansas — and a 6-9 record against the top two Quadrants, the Huskies aren’t that far away from some of the other bubble teams. Their issue? This loss to Oregon State is their third Quadrant 3 loss. It’s going to be a long, long four days until Selection Sunday, but it’s hard to see the Huskies getting in at this point.

N.C. STATE (RPI: 64, KenPom: 44, NBC seed: 8): I’ve seen some discussion about N.C. State’s chances as a bubble team, and I don’t quite understand why. The Wolfpack have five Quadrant 1 wins and an 8-9 record against the top two Quadrants, but more importantly they’ve beaten Duke, won at North Carolina, took down Clemson and beat Arizona on a neutral. They should be fine.

FLORIDA STATE (RPI: 52, KenPom: 36, NBC seed: 9): The Seminoles lost their ACC tournament opener to Louisville, but they, like N.C. State, should still be safe. They have six Quadrant 1 wins — including North Carolina and Clemson — and a 7-10 record against the top two quadrants with just a single Quadrant 3 loss. If there is a concern, it’s that their non-conference SOS is a train-wreck, but that shouldn’t keep them out.

Wake Forest guard Keyshawn Woods to transfer or go pro after graduation

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Wake Forest will be down a key player next season as the school announced that guard Keyshawn Woods will either transfer or go pro after graduation.

The 6-foot-3 Woods was the team’s second-leading scorer this season as he put up 11.9 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game. Woods shot 43 percent from the floor and 37 percent from three-point range for the 2017-18 campaign.

Also a key member of last season’s NCAA tournament team for the Demon Deacons, Woods transferred to Wake Forest after spending his first season at Charlotte.

“I appreciate the opportunity that Coach Manning gave me to be a part of this program and to graduate from this great university,” said Woods in the release. “I am proud that I was able to help the coaches change the culture of the program and build a foundation for the future.”

The loss of Woods won’t be easy for Wake Forest, but the team is scheduled to return some talented guards like Bryant Crawford and Brandon Childress next season. Incoming freshmen like Jaime Lewis and Sharone Wright Jr. are also signed to add to the perimeter depth.

David Padgett not retained as Louisville coach

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Louisville announced on Wednesday afternoon that interim head coach David Padgett would not be retained.

Padgett, who is 32 years old, stepped in and took the program over in the wake of a scandal that cost Hall of Fame head coach Rick Pitino his job.

“We all owe a great debt of gratitude to David for his leadership and poise this season,” said U of L Interim Director of Athletics Vince Tyra. “He took over during incredible circumstances, has handled himself respectfully throughout the season and I believe he has a bright future in coaching. We expect to determine a new head coach in a short period to build upon the great basketball tradition of this university.”

Pitino was fired because an FBI complaint contained an allegation that he and his staff had arranged for a $100,000 payment to be funneled to Brian Bowen from Adidas.

In his one season with the Cardinals, Padgett went 22-14 and reached the quarterfinals of the NIT.

Louisville will now conduct a search for their next head coach, and current Xavier coach Chris Mack has long been considered the favorite to take that job.

Kansas State’s injured star hoping to play Thursday

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One of the most surprising parts about Kansas State’s run to the Sweet 16 is that they have done it without the services of their leading scorer, Dean Wade.

Wade injured his foot prior to the Big 12 tournament loss to Kansas. He did not play in that game or in either of Kansas State’s first two tournament games, but it is looking more and more like he’ll be on the floor on Thursday night when they play Kentucky.

“I don’t play percentages very well, but I’m feeling good,” Wade said, via SEC Country. “I’m very positive about it. It’s getting better every day and today I felt great out there, doing a little more than usual. It felt good.”

Wade averaged 16.5 points per game, but the big question is going to be whether or not he is actually healthy when he takes the court. Just because he’s on the floor doesn’t mean he’s at 100 percent.

“Really just trying to get it out of my mind that it’s not hurt,” Wade said. “Just more of a mental thing, just getting out there and running around. I think I got moved past that and it’s feeling better.”

Arizona’s Sean Miller: ‘I am not a candidate’ at Pitt

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With speculation mounting about who Pitt will hire to replace Kevin Stallings as their new head coach, current Arizona head coach Sean Miller released a statement saying that he is not in the running to fill the opening.

“I am not a candidate for the University of Pittsburgh men’s basketball head coaching vacancy. I wish them well in their search for a new coach,” the statement read.

Miller is a native of Pittsburgh and an alumni of the school — he’s the guy that had the assist on Jerome Lane’s famous dunk — and with the issues that are currently swirling around him and the Arizona program, there was speculation that he was looking for an escape plan.

Maybe he wasn’t.

Maybe he was and the Pitt administration decided they couldn’t risk hiring someone who had an assistant coach arrested in the FBI’s sweep of college basketball and who himself may be on wiretaps talking about who knows what. Releasing this statement would then be a way for him to save face and say he was never interested.

And then maybe there’s option No. 3: Pitt has won the Dan Hurley sweepstakes.

As it stands, both the Panthers and UConn are in the process of chasing after the Rhode Island head coach, and it’s not uncommon in coaching searches for a coach to announce that he is not a candidate for the job after the job decides they want someone else. Call it a professional courtesy.

But that’s neither here nor there.

What we do know now is that Sean Miller will not be the next head coach at Pitt.

Report: Notre Dame’s Bonzie Colson suffers another fracture in foot

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Bonzie Colson rushed back from a broken foot to try and help his Notre Dame team get into the NCAA tournament this season.

They were bumped out of the field when Davidson upset Rhode Island and earned the Atlantic 10’s third bid to the league tournament. The Fighting Irish were NIT bound, and in their second round loss to Penn State late last week, Colson reinjured the left foot that held him out of action for eight weeks.

On Wednesday, Yahoo reported that Colson suffered another fracture in the foot.

“I’m sitting there and he’s limping off and I’m going, ‘You gotta be kidding me,’” coach Mike Brey said after the game. “Everything we’ve been through? I thought we were out of the woods with him.”

There was a poignant moment at the end of the game.

Colson’s injury came during the third quarter. He returned to the bench at Purcell Pavilion with ice on his foot after going into the locker room. With 30 seconds left and a loss imminent, Colson walked right past Mike Brey, said “I’m going in”, and finished his college career on the court.

Colson is a potential second round pick. He was an all-american last year and a preseason selection this year. He was averaging 19.7 points, 10.2 boards and 2.2 blocks when he was injured.