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Judge denies motion to dismiss charges against three men in FBI case

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A motion to dismiss charges against three of the men indicted in the FBI’s investigation into corruption in college basketball was denied by a judge on Thursday.

The argument laid out by attorneys for former Adidas executives Jim Gatto and Merl Code as well as former runner Christian Dawkins was that the men did not commit a federal crime and that there were no victims in this case.

The District Court judge, according to Yahoo Sports, “emphatically disagreed”.

Gatto, Code and Dawkins were all charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, while Code and Dawkins were also hit with bribery charges.

There is also speculation that as many as three dozen programs are in danger of getting hit with NCAA violations based on evidence that has been collected throughout the investigation.

Syracuse shot at getting to the NCAA tournament hampered by mounting injury problems

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Syracuse is in the middle of a fight for a spot in the NCAA tournament, and it isn’t getting made any easier by the fact that no one on the team seems capable of remaining healthy.

The good news is that the Orange got Matthew Moyer back on Wednesday night. Moyer had been out for a couple of week battling a sprained ankle, but, according to a reporter from the Syracuse.com, Moyer was limping badly after a loss to N.C. State last night.

But at least he played 28 minutes.

Bourama Sidibe played just five minutes for the Orange on Wednesday as he battles a case of tendonitis in his knee. Sidibe is the team’s back-up center, playing behind Paschal Chukwu, who played just seven second half minutes last night after he “felt something pop” during the game. With Howard Washington, one of the three scholarship guards on the Orange roster, out for the season, that means that three of the seven scholarship players on this roster are limited by injury right now.

That’s not ideal for a team that needs to win three or four more games just to have a shot of being on the right side of the bubble come Selection Sunday.

And that’s why Tyus Battle, the leading scorer for the Orange, is averaging 40.7 minutes per game since the start of December.

No. 24 Nevada loses starting point guard to ruptured achilles

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Lindsey Drew, the starting point guard for No. 24 Nevada and the son of former NBA head coach Larry Drew, ruptured his achilles on a last-second halfcourt heave at halftime of the Wolf Pack’s win at Boise State on Wednesday night.

“I couldn’t even be around him because I was so devastated because I love him so much,” head coach Eric Musselman told the Reno Gazette-Journal. “Things happens in basketball and we have to regroup and we have five games left in the regular season and we’ll have to continue to figure out a way.”

Drew was averaging 8.3 points, 4.1 boards and 4.3 assists this season acting as the distributor for a team that has a number of stars already on the roster, namely Caleb Martin and Jordan Caroline. For a team that is already struggling with depth, this is a major issue. Nevada has had a rotation that only goes six or seven deep in league play.

Clemson’s Shelton Mitchell remained in Tallahassee after scary head injury

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Clemson guard Shelton Mitchell remained behind in Tallahassee after the team returned to South Carolina following a scary head injury he suffered at the end of a loss to Florida State on Wednesday night.

Mitchell was driving for a layup with 9.1 seconds left in overtime when he was accidentally elbowed in the head by Trent Forrest. Mitchell could not stand up on his own, spent more than six minutes on the ground and eventually had to be dragged off the floor by the Clemson medical staff.

Trainer Brad Crowe and Clemson staffer Terrell McIntyre remained in Florida with Mitchell at the hospital, where he was kept as a precaution.

Providence knocks off No. 3 Villanova

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Here’s the good news: Providence is a good team, a team that, after beating No. 3 Villanova in the Dunkin Donuts Center on Wednesday night, is likely on their way to the NCAA tournament.

They are better than St. John’s. They were playing at home. They were in the midst of a game they badly needed. This is the kind of loss that happens all the time in league play. Losses like this are part of why college basketball is so much fun.

The problem is that this 76-71

defeat shines yet another light on a pair of issues that have been plaguing Villanova this season, issues that are on the verge of costing them the Big East regular season title for the first time since the Big East split from the Old Big East.

The first problem is the biggest: Villanova is not a good defensive team. They just aren’t. They entered Wednesday night ranked 50th on KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency metric, but that actually buries the lede. In Big East play, Villanova has ranked eighth out of ten teams in defensive efficiency, and that is in a conference that has become awfully defense-averse. They don’t really rebound the ball all that well, they don’t really protect the rim all that well, they don’t really have guys that are defensive stoppers.

Part of the issue is that Phil Booth isn’t available right now and that Eric Paschall missed a couple of games. Without Booth, that means that Collin Gillispie and Jermaine Samuels see Villanova’s back court minutes off the bench instead of Donte DiVincenzo, who is now in their starting lineup. Booth is not exactly Patrick Beverly but he is much better than Gillispie.

But they were struggling when they had everyone healthy. I’m not sure injuries are entirely to blame here. It may just be as simple as this: Omari Spellman and Jalen Brunson are average-to-below average defenders, and the other three guys on the floor are not good enough to make up for that fact.

Being just OK defensively is not a deal-breaker when it comes to winning the NCAA tournament, mind you, not when you’re an elite offensive team. North Carolina won it in 2009 with the 39th-best defense in the country entering the NCAA tournament. Duke won it in 2015 with the 37th-best best defense. Both of those teams were among the three best offenses in the sport, just like Villanova is this season.

RELATED: How does this affect Providence’s bubble profile?

But they also ran everything through the paint. That Duke team got 27 percent off their offense off of threes. That UNC team got just 23 percent of their offense off of three. This Villanova team gets 39 percent of their offense from beyond the arc, and if you look at the two losses they’ve taken in the last three games, there is a running theme: Against St. John’s, Villanova was 8-for-33 from three and shot 2-for-17 in the second half. Against Providence, they were 3-for-19 from three.

I say all that to say this: The way that Villanova can score the ball when they are clicking can paper over a lot of the cracks they have defensively.

But as the saying goes, you live by the three and die by the three, and that is a fact that is exacerbated for a team whose defensive floor is lower than most title contenders.

“We just kind of lost it,” Wright told me back in January, the last time Villanova had a crisis defensively. “We can’t just say, ‘OK, we’re going to play defense now’ when we haven’t been doing it or three weeks. You have to get back to your habits.”

“The older guys get it, a guy like [Dhamir] Cosby-Rountree or Omari [Spellman], even Donte [DiVincenzo], they’re looking at you like, ‘we scored 100, we’re winning, what’s the big deal?”

Well, they’re not winning anymore.

And if No. 4 Xavier holds serve against Seton Hall at home on Wednesday, then Villanova will be a game out of first place in the Big East standings with a trip to play Xavier in Cincinnati on Saturday.

If the Musketeers win that — which, admittedly, is a stretch given the recent history of those two programs — they’ll have a two-game lead in the Big East.

If you are a Villanova fan, it might be time to start getting worried.

Bubble Banter: Providence, Florida State solidify résumé with critical wins

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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 Wednesday.

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.

WINNERS

PROVIDENCE (RPI: 43, KenPom: 72, NBC seed: 10): On Saturday, Providence got whipped at home by Big East cellar-dweller DePaul. My guess is that Ed Cooley let his team know that was not going to fly in practice this week, because they turned around and landed a win over Villanova on Wednesday. The Friars now have six Quadrant 1 wins, which should be enough to outweigh the fact that they have lost to two Quadrant 3 opponents and one Quadrant 4 game. They should be in as long as they go at least 2-3 down the stretch.

FLORIDA STATE (RPI: 48, KenPom: 23, NBC seed: 8): Florida State landed a win over Clemson (4) on Wednesday after trailing by as many as 13 points in the first half. The Seminoles now have a 6-4 record against Quadrant 1 opponents and no losses outside the top two Quadrants. At this point, they will no longer be in the Bubble Banter conversation. They will, however, be back on Sunday if they lose to Pitt.

KANSAS STATE (RPI: 57, KenPom: 47, NBC seed: Play-in game): The Wildcats landed another Quadrant 2 win on Wednesday, going into Stillwater and picking off Oklahoma State. Kansas State will be interesting come Selection Sunday. They have some good wins — Oklahoma, TCU, at Baylor, at Texas — but no great wins, one bad loss to Tulsa and a terrible non-conference SOS. I think they need to win at least four games the rest of the way. Their final five in the regular season are: Iowa State, Texas, at Oklahoma, at TCU, Baylor. Then there is the Big 12 tournament.

N.C. STATE (RPI: 73, KenPom: 59, NBC seed: Play-in game): The Wolfpack added another Quadrant 1 win to their profile when they went into the Carrier Dome and picked off Syracuse. They are now 5-7 against Quadrant 1 teams, and the fact that they’ve beaten the likes of Duke, Clemson, Arizona and North Carolina on the road should carry serious weight for a committee that showed up during the bracket reveal just how much they value quality wins.

LOSERS

VIRGINIA TECH (RPI: 56, KenPom: 43, NBC seed: 9): Virginia Tech lost at Duke. No shame in that. They are 4-6 against Quadrant 1 opponents and have eight wins against the top two Quadrants with just a single Quadrant 3 loss and three more Quadrant 1 games left on the schedule. Beat Georgia Tech and then go 1-3 in their final four (Clemson, Louisville, Duke, at Miami) and the Hokies are in.

MISSISSIPPI STATE (RPI: 68, KenPom: 58, NBC seed: Out): The Bulldogs played their way even further out of the bubble picture on Wednesday when they lost at Vanderbilt on a buzzer beater. With just a single Quadrant 1 win, a 4-8 record against the top two Quadrants and a non-conference SOS of 305, they are in a bad place. They may need to go 4-1 in their final five to feel good, and that may not even be enough.

OKLAHOMA STATE (RPI: 98, KenPom: 68, NBC seed: Next four out): The Cowboys have now lost five of their last seven games. The two wins? At Kansas and at West Virginia. They needed to beat Kansas State on Wednesday, if for no other reason than they have three road games, Texas Tech and Kansas left.

SYRACUSE (RPI: 41, KenPom: 46, NBC seed: First four out): The Orange blew a chance to land another Quadrant 2 win on Wednesday night when they lost at home to N.C. State, another team that is right there on the bubble with them. They have just one Quadrant 1 win to their name right now. They will have chances — at Miami, UNC, at Duke, at Boston College, Clemson — so they are anything-but dead at this point, but my best quess would be they beat BC and win two of four against the rest of that group.

BOISE STATE (RPI: 36, KenPom: 55, NBC seed: Next four out): Boise State’s chances of getting an at-large bid are dead. They lost at home to Nevada tonight, meaning they will not have a Quadrant 1 win on Selection Sunday, not if they finish second in the MWC, where they have a one-game lead on third-place with four games left. They need to beat Nevada to land that Quadrant 1 win, but the only way they can currently beat Nevada is if it is in the title game of the MWC tournament.