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Bubble Banter: Louisville’s must-win game kicks off a thrilling day of bubble action


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 Thursday.

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.


EVERYONE!: Nevada, who is a lock for the tournament, was trailing UNLV on the road in the quarterfinals of the Mountain West tournament. They came back to win. If they had lost, the MWC would be sending a team without a shot at an at-large to the dance. In other words, someone’s bubble would have burst.

ALABAMA (RPI: 47, KenPom: 52, NBC seed: Next four out): Alabama landed a thrilling win over Texas A&M on Thursday afternoon, picking off Texas A&M on Thursday afternoon on a buzzer-beater layup from Collin Sexton that may be what ends up getting the Crimson Tide a bid to the NCAA tournament. The Crimson Tide have 14 losses, two of which came against Quadrant 3 opponents, but they also now have six Quadrant 1 wins and a 10-12 record against the top two Quadrants. They’ve beaten both SEC co-champions (Auburn and Tennessee), Rhode Island, Texas A&M at home and on a neutral and won at Florida. Whether or not they beat Auburn on Friday, I think that they are in.

PROVIDENCE (RPI: 35, KenPom: 72, NBC seed: 10): Providence landed an enormous win in the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament as they outlasted Creighton in overtime. The Friars improved to 20-12 on the season with a 10-8 mark in the Big East. More importantly, the win over Creighton is their fifth against Quadrant 1 opponents and puts them over .500 — 10-9 — against the top two Quadrants. The big issue for the Friars is that they have three terrible losses, but even that got better today; because UMass’ RPI has improved enough that they are no longer a Quadrant 4 loss. The Friars still do have two other Quadrant 4 losses, but I should also note here that they’ve beaten both Xavier and Villanova this season and they’ll get another chance against the Musketeers tomorrow. I think they’ve going to be fine.

USC (RPI: 33, KenPom: 47, NBC seed: First four out): The Trojans are another in a long line of teams on the bubble with weird profiles. They have four Quadrant 1 wins and a 9-9 mark against the top two Quadrants, but they also have a disastrous home loss to Princeton (Quadrant 4, albeit missing a few rotation guys) and their best wins are not great. Middle Tennessee State looks like they’ll miss the NCAA tournament. New Mexico State needs to win their automatic bid to have a chance. Sweeping Utah and Oregon is fine, but neither of those teams are likely to be tournament bound. What about this résumé sets it apart from the rest of the bubble?

UCLA (RPI: 33, KenPom: 49, NBC seed: 11): UCLA knocked off Stanford in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 tournament on Thursday afternoon, a win that should just about get the Bruins into the NCAA tournament field. UCLA is now 8-9 against the top two Quadrants with a trio of pretty impressive wins — Kentucky on a neutral, at Arizona, at USC — and just one bad loss, which came at home against Colorado. A win over Arizona on Friday night might be enough to get the Bruins into the 8-9 game.

BUTLER (RPI: 36, KenPom: 24, NBC seed: 9): Butler was close to a lock before playing Seton Hall today. Then they went out and beat the Pirates. The Bulldogs are in.

KANSAS STATE (RPI: 50, KenPom: 40, NBC seed: 9): I think that Kansas State probably just punched their ticket to the NCAA tournament with a win over TCU in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 tournament. They have four Quadrant 1 wins — TCU at home, TCU on a neutral, at Texas and at Baylor — and a 9-10 record against the top two Quadrants with no losses outside of the top two Quadrants. The mitigating factor here is that the Wildcats are ranked in the 320s in non-conference SOS and we know what the Selection Committee thinks of teams that won’t challenge themselves.


OKLAHOMA STATE (RPI: 86, KenPom: 51, NBC seed: Play-in game): The Cowboys are in some trouble now, and they will be one of the most fascinating cases on Selection Sunday. They are now 19-14 on the season after losing to Kansas in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 tournament, but that was their first loss to the Jayhawks in three games against them this season. Their RPI is an atrocious 86th, but their KenPom numbers are much better. There are no bad losses on their résumé, but there are 14 “good” losses. They have five Quadrant 1 wins — including a sweep of the Jayhawks during the regular season — and nine wins against the top two Quadrants but they also have a non-conference SOS in the 280s. BartTorvik.com gives the Pokes a 34.5 percent chance of getting into the dance, and that sounds about right to me.

MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE (RPI: 31, KenPom: 44, NBC seed: 12): Kermit Davis went out and lost to Southern Miss in the quarterfinals of the CUSA tournament on Thursday night, which is their worst loss of the season and comes on the heels of losing to Marshall in their regular season finale. The Blue Raiders now have two Quadrant 3 losses and a Quadrant 4 loss while their only good wins are at Murray State and at Western Kentucky. They’re in trouble, and likely headed for the NIT.

MARQUETTE (RPI: 57, KenPom: 50, NBC seed: Play-in game): The Golden Eagles could not take down Villanova on Thursday night in Madison Square Garden, meaning that they are now going to have to wait out the next three days to see if their name gets called on Selection Sunday. Their résumé is good — four Quadrant 1 wins, 8-12 against the top two Quadrants and just one Quadrant 3 loss — but they don’t have any great wins. They have not beaten an RPI top 25 team this season, although they have won at Seton Hall, Providence and Creighton. It’ll be tight. They are the cut line.

BAYLOR (RPI: 63, KenPom: 32, NBC seed: Play-in game): The Bears are in big trouble. They are now 17-14 on the season with just four Quadrant 1 wins and a 7-13 record against the top two Quadrants. They also lost at Iowa State, a Quadrant 3 loss. The good news is that they have a win over Kansas. The bad news is that that probably is not going to be enough to get them in. I would have Baylor behind teams like Oklahoma State, Alabama and Arizona State. They are going to be right there on the cutline.

TEXAS (RPI: 49, KenPom: 38, NBC seed: 10): Texas lost to Texas Tech in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 tournament, which means that they are going to be sweating out Selection Sunday with the rest of the nation’s bubble teams. As it stands, the Longhorns have five Quadrant 1 wins and an 8-14 record against the top two Quadrants, but their best wins of the season — TCU and Texas Tech — are at home, and their best wins away from home — Butler on a neutral and at Alabama — aren’t quite as impressive as we thought at the time. I think Texas will be in.

LOUISVILLE (RPI: 39, KenPom: 34, NBC seed: Last four in): Louisville, at this point, looks like they are going to be on the wrong side of the bubble come Selection Sunday. There are a lot of reasons why, and I dove into them all in more depth here.

NOTRE DAME (RPI: 64, KenPom: 28, NBC seed: First four out): The Irish are in a tough, tough spot now. We went over why this Notre Dame team had to beat Duke last night. I think that, at this point, they are out.

UTAH (RPI: 58, KenPom: 65, NBC seed: Out): The Utes were in the conversation, but they needed to at least get to the Pac-12 tournament title game to have a real shot at an at-large. They lost to Oregon in the quarterfinals.

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.