Rob Dauster

Providence guard Kris Dunn (3) walks to the other end of the court after missing a 3-point shot in the closing seconds of the team's NCAA college basketball game against DePaul on Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016, in Rosemont, Ill. DePaul won 77-70. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

BUBBLE BANTER: Just how much trouble is Providence in right now?

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This post will be updated as the games get completed.

At what point do we start talking about Providence (KenPom: 59, RPI: 37, CBT Bracketology Seed: 8) potentially missing the NCAA tournament?

After their loss to Seton Hall on Thursday night is probably too early, right? I mean, they lost to a top 50 opponent on the road. Those aren’t the kind of losses that will kill a résumé.

But losing to DePaul, however, will. Losing to Marquette twice certainly doesn’t help either. Neither does the fact that, with the exception of their win at Villanova, all of Providence’s Big East wins look worse today than they did a month ago. They swept Georgetown … who is the most disappointing team in college basketball. They swept Butler … who might miss the NCAA tournament. They won at Creighton … who might fall out of the top 100 by the time Selection Sunday rolls around.

Providence has two top 50 wins — at Villanova (which is one of the best wins anyone in the country can currently claim — and Arizona on a neutral court. But they’re 2-5 against the top 50 with three sub-100 losses.

They’ve done enough, as of today, to get into the tournament.

But the issue is that they’re playing terrible basketball right now.

The Friars have lost five of their last six and six of their last eight, and now they head into a stretch of their schedule that is nothing but landmines. They get DePaul at home, Creighton at home and have to play at St. John’s. Win two of those three and Providence is five. Win one of the three and the Friars should still be OK with at least one Big East tournament win.

The problem is that the Friars are broken right now. So this stretch can either get them back into a rhythm for a run in March … or relegate them to the NIT.

WINNERS

  • Seton Hall (KP: 34, RPI: 43, CBT: 9): Seton Hall’s win over Providence on Thursday probably isn’t enough to get them into lock status, but it does put them into a spot where they can punch their ticket with a win over Xavier on Sunday.
  • UConn (KP: 25, RPI: 39, CBT: 9): The Huskies beat South Florida on Thursday night, which is significant if only because they didn’t lose to South Florida. This doesn’t help their profile at all.
  • Gonzaga (KP: 35, RPI: 66, CBT: First Four Out): I don’t think Gonzaga has a shot at getting an at-large bid at all. There are people that still have the Zags close to the cut line, however, so I’ll include them here for now. Winning at BYU on Saturday is a must if they’re going to have any chance whatsoever.
  • Saint Mary’s (KP: 39, RPI: 57, CBT: 10): Like Gonzaga, I just don’t see it with Saint Mary’s. But like I said, there are people that have them on the right side of the cut line. I would strongly recommend winning the automatic bid for both of those teams.

LOSERS

  • Florida State (KP: 58, RPI: 76, CBT: N/A): The Seminoles may have just punched their ticket to the NIT. After losing to Duke on Thursday, Florida State probably needs to win the automatic bid if they want to dance.

 

Washington to protest blown call in buzzer-beating loss at Oregon State

Oregon State's Stephen Thompson Jr., right, celebrates with teammates after making a 3-point shot with time running out, giving Oregon State an 82-81 win over Washington an NCAA college basketball game in Corvallis, Ore., Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016. (AP Photo/Timothy J. Gonzalez)
(AP Photo/Timothy J. Gonzalez)
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Washington is protesting the shot that Oregon State guard Stevie Thompson hit last night to beat the Huskies.

With 3.3 seconds left and the Beavers down by two points, Thompson took an inbounds pass, went the length of the court and hit an off-balance three for an 82-81 win. But there were two problems with that sequence: The clock operator did not start the clock in time, meaning Thompson had more than 3.3 seconds to actually get the shot off, and the freshman also traveled before he got the shot off.

“We’re waiting to hear back,” Romar told ESPN.com of their protest.

After the shot, the referees went to the monitor to review whether Thompson got the shot off in time — he did — but they did not look at whether or not the clock started on time. It’s the third time this month that a buzzer-beating shot was counted when there was clear visual evidence that the shot should not have counted. The obvious case was Boise State, where the shot that James Webb III hit was initially counted and then incorrectly waived off by referees. That came just days after referees got a rule wrong in San Diego State’s win over New Mexico. And, of course, there was Grayson Allen’s game-winner against Virginia when his foot came down before he got the shot off.

The kicker for the Huskies is that they are fighting for their bubble lives. Oregon State has an RPI in the 30s, and a road win over a team with an RPI is enough to be the difference between being one of the last four in and first four out.

The ineptitude of these referees could, quite literally, cost Washington a trip to the NCAA tournament.

 

Arizona coach Sean Miller’s rant about court storming is totally justified

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No. 9 Arizona lost at Colorado on Wednesday night, and as they tend to do, Colorado fans stormed the floor within seconds of the final buzzer sounding.

It’s not the first time it’s happened to Arizona. It’s actually become pretty typical of a road loss for the Wildcats, which says something about the state of the program.

But it’s also a massive risk, one that came close to boiling over last time. As Arizona was walking off the floor was walking off the floor after the game, their players got caught up in the mass of humanity heading for the center of the court. In particular, in the video below, you can see center Kaleb Tarczewski get bumped and react. You can also see on head coach Sean Miller’s face how he feels about it:

I’m not anti-court storm in general, but I am anti-court storm given the way that it currently happens. I’ve made this argument many times over, but having rival fans — fans that are, more than likely, drunk college kids — on the floor at the same time as players that just took a bad loss is asking for trouble.

Miller agrees.

I’ll let him drop the knowledge here today. (Transcriptions are via The Arizona Daily Star’s Bruce Pascoe).

“Eventually what’s going to happen in the Pac-12 is this: An Arizona player is going to punch a fan,” Miller said. “And they’re going to punch the fan out of self-defense. And when it happens, only when it happens, will everybody say `We have to do something so that when the game ends we have a deep breath to be able to leave the court. Or at least shake the other team’s hand and then get to our locker room.'”

“And then if the court wants to be stormed, fine. But until that happens, it’s fallen on deaf ears because there’s only one team right now that the court’s stormed on and for three consecutive years anytime we lose a game on the road it’s the same. Some are more under control, some aren’t. But if 7-foot, 250–pound Kaleb Tarzcewski gets bumped literally three seconds after the game ends and he retaliates, what would be the response of our conference? What would be the response? If more teams were having the court stormed on them, I wouldn’t be the only guy who’s bringing it up.”

“There’s no sport—football, any sport in the country, professional, major league, whatever, where this happens to the level it happens. And what I mean is it’s literally within five seconds you have a mad rush on the court before our players can even leave the court.”

This is what I’ve been saying for years now.

Something is eventually going to happen on a stage bigger than the WAC; remember when New Mexico State players fought Utah Valley fans? Because I do:

Imagine if that game was being played on ESPN. Imagine if last night, on national television, Tarczewski reacted by punching one of the kids that ran into him. If he’s in the middle of a mob of 20 of that kid’s frat brothers, how do you think that turns out? Tarczewski and his teammates get crucified in the media after they brawl it out with Colorado’s student section?

It’s going to happen one of these days.

“I’m going to be fine,” Miller added. “Somebody can say whatever they want to me — spit, do whatever you want — but I’m worried about the players who are under my direction. If we lose fine, let us get off the court, at least have some substance and control so that our guys aren’t in a situation where a lawsuit could come because when that comes, then and only then, will everybody pay attention.”

“But it’s falling on deaf ears right now. I don’t know what other conferences are doing but if there is a fine, I’m pretty sure there wouldn’t be people just storming over the bench within five seconds of the victory.”

Colorado locks up bid with win over No. 9 Arizona

Arizona guard Allonzo Trier, left, and Colorado's Tory Miller and Josh Scott, front right, try to get a loose ball during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016, in Boulder, Colo. (AP Photo/Cliff Grassmick)
(AP Photo/Cliff Grassmick)
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Josh Scott finished with 26 points, nine boards and three blocks and George King chipped in with 14 as Colorado knocked off No. 9 Arizona in Boulder on Wednesday night, 75-72.

The Buffaloes did what they could to try and let the Wildcats back into the game, blowing a late, double-digit lead and committing a pair of turnovers in the final minute that gave Arizona the ball with a chance to tie.

But the Buffs hung on, meaning that right now, they look like a team that will be dancing come Selection Sunday. They have four top 50 wins on their profile — including Oregon and Arizona — with an 8-9 record against the top 100. They have no sub-75 losses on the season, just one home loss to their name (Utah) and every loss their have outside the top 20 came in a true road game.

The concern is their non-conference schedule. Colorado’s best non-league win came against BYU, which really doesn’t mean all that much this season. But with just two games left before the postseason starts, I think that the Buffs will be just fine even if they happen to lose three in a row.

Arizona’s situation is a little bit more intriguing.

At this point, the Wildcats aren’t in danger of missing the NCAA tournament but I’d be willing to wager that their seed on Selection Sunday is going to disappoint the good folks of Tucson.

Would you believe me if I told you that Arizona was sitting here in late-February with just two top 50 wins to their name? Oregon State at home. USC at home. That’s it.

It’s not all their fault, mind you. Gonzaga (67), Boise State twice (91) and UNLV (136) were all supposed to be good wins when Arizona got them. That’s the major reason Arizona’s non-conference strength of schedule is down in the 270s.

With a 22-6 record and just one loss outside the top 40, the Wildcats are a lock to dance.

But if they want a real shot at landing a protected top four seed, they better win at Utah this weekend or against Cal next week.

No. 7 North Carolina wins, but Marcus Paige’s struggles continue

North Carolina's Marcus Paige, left, and Justin Jackson, right, guard North Carolina State's Anthony Barber during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Raleigh, N.C., Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016. North Carolina won 80-68. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
(AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
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For about eight minutes on Wednesday night, it looked like No. 7 North Carolina was going to have front row seats for the Cat Barber show.

With 12 minutes left in the first half, the Wolfpack had taken a 23-10 lead on the Tar Heel courtesy of 16 points from Barber. By the final TV timeout of the half, UNC had retaken the lead, and by the time their run was done, Roy Williams’ club would be up 38-29.

The Tar Heels would go on to extend that lead to 19 points in the second half, and while Barber finished with 32 points, six boards and three assists, it was mostly irrelevant; N.C. State never really felt like they were a threat to win this game, which is more or less the story of the Wolfpack season.

But the story here isn’t what N.C. State’s star did Wednesday.

It’s what UNC’s star didn’t do.

Again.

Marcus Paige was unimpressive once again for the Tar Heels. He had 10 points on 4-for-9 shooting. Since scoring 30 points at Florida State early in ACC play, the senior has played 12 games and reached double-figures in just five of them. He’s averaging just 9.0 points during that stretch, shooting a paltry 31.3 percent from the floor and 27.1 percent from three.

And that, as much as anything, is why North Carolina has been underwhelming over the course of the last three or four weeks. As good as North Carolina is, this is not a team that’s overflowing in pros. Brice Johnson is a borderline first round pick. Kennedy Meeks is going to play a long time overseas. Justin Jackson might get drafted when he eventually decides to come out.

Then there was Paige. For a while, during his sophomore season, he looked like a dude that was going to have a great college career and get a shot at the NBA simply because he was such a prolific college scorer. But he wasn’t that guy last year. And he hasn’t been close to that guy this year.

And I just wonder if the Tar Heels can ever come close to approaching their ceiling if he continues to play the way that he’s played of late.

 

BUBBLE BANTER: Huge night for Atlantic 10, Pac-12 teams

Wisconsin forward Nigel Hayes celebrates with fans after an NCAA college basketball game against Iowa, Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016, in Iowa City, Iowa. Wisconsin won 67-59. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
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It’s time for us to take a deeper look at VCU’s (KenPom: 32, RPI: 46, CBT Bracketology Seed: 10) résumé, because after losing at George Mason on Wednesday evening, the Rams look like they might be in some trouble.

Here are the things that you need to know: VCU challenged themselves early in the season, putting together a non-conference schedule ranked in the top 100, but they whiffed on all five of their games against top 75 opponents. They have two top 50 wins — at Saint Joseph’s and St. Bonaventure — and a 5-6 record against the top 100, but they also and a pair of losses outside the top 100 — at UMass and at George Mason.

That’s not an ideal combination, as their RPI will likely fall outside the top 50 when it gets updated on Thursday morning.

The other side of this is that VCU also still had three games on their schedule against teams ranked in and around the top 50: at GW, Davidson, at Dayton. So they still have chances to really improve on their résumé, but all three of those games are losable.

Put a different way, unlike a lot of the other bubble teams in their league — and, frankly, across the country — whether or not VCU gets an at-large bid is under their control.

And if I was Will Wade, I would want a 2-1 finish to the regular season to really feel comfortable.

WINNERS

  • George Washington (KP: 80, RPI: 50, CBT: First Four Out): The Colonials got some revenge for a loss they took at home earlier this season, beating Richmond in dominating fashion on the road. GW is on the wrong side of the bubble right now, but with a pair of borderline top 50 teams remaining on their schedule (VCU at home, Davidson on the road) they’ll have some chances to play their way into the tournament.
  • Wisconsin (KP: 37, RPI: 42, CBT: 9): The Badgers all-but punched their ticket to the dance tonight. We wrote about it in depth here.
  • Colorado (KP: 69, RPI: 35, CBT: 10): Did Colorado do the same? We wrote about that here.
  • Michigan (KP: 48, RPI: 55, CBT: 11): The Wolverines were down early to Northwestern at home, but they managed to scrap out a win in a game they simply could not afford to lose.
  • Oregon State (KP: 62, RPI: 31, CBT: Play-In Game): When you’re a team that is sitting squarely on the bubble you cannot afford to lose any games, which is what made Stevie Thompson’s shot (travel) so important. The Beavers needed the win over Washington because they couldn’t afford the hit they’d take from a loss. And they got it.
  • St. Bonaventure (KP: 67, RPI: 33, CBT: 11): The Bonnies flirted with disaster, but they ended up holding on to beat Duquesne. This is not a team with room to spare right now. The good news? They do have a game left against Saint Joseph’s, meaning they’ll have a chance to add another really nice with to their profile. They may need it.
  • Saint Joseph’s (KP: 39, RPI: 28, CBT: 8): The Hawks are getting closer to being taken off of this list. They won at UMass, and as long as they don’t take a loss to one of the landmines left on their schedule, they’ll be dancing.
  • Wichita State (KP: 10, RPI: 47, CBT: 10): The Shockers handled Loyola (IL) on Wednesday, a loss that they couldn’t have afforded to take.

LOSERS

  • Pitt (KP: 46, RPI: 34, CBT: 7): The Panthers are still sitting on the right side of the bubble right now, but if they had been able to hold onto a lead at home against Louisville on Wednesday night, they would have come pretty close to locking up a bid at this point.
  • Washington (KP: 65, RPI: 70, CBT: Next Four Out): The Huskies might have seen their NCAA tournament hopes dashed on a travel that wasn’t called. Tough break. If they don’t win at Oregon this weekend, they’re probably going to need the automatic bid.