robdauster

AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki

Bubble Banter: Did Virginia Tech just lock-up their NCAA tournament bid?

1 Comment

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.

WINNERS

VIRGINIA TECH (RPI: 71, KenPom: 42, NBC seed: 10): The Hokies landed the best win that you can possibly land on Saturday, going into John Paul Jones Arena and knocking off Virginia, No. 2 in the country and No. 1 in the RPI. And with that, the Hokies will no longer be on the bubble when we do this again next week. Not only do they now have four Quadrant 1 wins and an 8-6 record against the top two Quadrants, they now have two top ten wins and of their six remaining games, three more are against top ten teams and a fourth is against a top 25 opponent. Put another way, those losses are not necessarily going to hurt their profile. It’s too early to call Virginia Tech a lock for the tournament, not when they have a Quadrant 3 loss and a non-conference SOS of 312, but it is not too early to say they’ll be dancing so long as they don’t do anything dumb the rest of the way.

OKLAHOMA STATE (RPI: 107, KenPom: 71, NBC seed: Out): For the second time this season, Oklahoma State went on the road and knocked off one of the best teams in the Big 12. On Saturday, it was West Virginia that the Cowboys picked off. The Pokes are just 15-10 on the season, but they are 4-7 against Quadrant 1 with just one loss outside the top two Quadrants. That was against Baylor at home. Frankly, the Pokes still have work to do, but a top ten road win and a top 25 road win keep them in the mix, and “in the mix” is far more than anyone expected out of OSU this season.

MISSOURI (RPI: 25, KenPom: 38, NBC seed: 9): The Tigers are slowly but surely playing themselves into a place where they won’t have to sweat it out on Selection Sunday. On Saturday, they blew a 12-point lead in the final 90 seconds and ended up having to head to overtime, but Kevin Puryear hit a huge three and Jordan Geist drew a critical charge as the Tigers got a win over Mississippi State. The Tigers are 5-6 against Quadrant 1 opponents and now 9-7 in Quadrant 1 and 3 games. Their only Quadrant 3 loss came on a neutral against Illinois in the Bragging Rights game.

BAYLOR (RPI: 62, KenPom: 40, NBC seed: Out): A win over Kansas at home means that we probably should talk about the Bears. They are now just 2-8 against Quadrant 1 foes with no losses to teams outside the top two Quadrants. Every game they play the rest of the way would be a Quadrant 1 win: at Texas, Texas Tech, West Virginia, at TCU, Oklahoma, at Kansas State. This thing is doable for the Fighting Scott Drews.

ARKANSAS (RPI: 35, KenPom: 44, NBC seed: 10): Arkansas did what they needed to do on Saturday, beating Vanderbilt at home. Now they need to go out and get a win at Ole Miss this week, because the end of their season is a killer: Texas A&M, Kentucky, at Alabama, Auburn, at Missouri. That’s five Quadrant 1 games.

TCU (RPI: 25, KenPom: 22, NBC seed: 10): TCU snapped a two-game losing streak and added another Quadrant 2 win to their name on Saturday night as they picked off Texas at home. The Horned Frogs are just 3-7 against Quadrant 1 foes, but they are now 4-1 against Quadrant 2 and do not have a loss beyond that.

NEBRASKA (RPI: 55, KenPom: 56, NBC seed: Next four out): The Huskers did what they needed to do: they won. If Tim Miles wants a real chance of getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, the cannot lose until they win at least one, if not two Quadrant 1 games in the Big Ten tournament. They have not won one yet this season and will not play another one during the regular season. Beating Rutgers does not help them.

ST. BONAVENTURE (RPI: 47, KenPom: 69, NBC seed: Next four out): The Bonnies handled their business against Richmond on Saturday evening, although the only reason that win helps them is because it doesn’t hurt them. The Bonnies are 3-2 in Quadrant 1 games but they also have two Quadrant 3 losses. I think they need to win out, but I think they have a shot to make up the ground if they do. They only play one top 100 team the rest of the year, but that is Rhode Island (5) at home.

MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE (RPI: 28, KenPom: 45, NBC seed: 11): It’s simple with Middle Tennessee: They cannot lose a game unless it is to Western Kentucky in the Conference USA tournament if they want a real chance at being an at-large team. On Saturday, they beat North Texas (193).

TEMPLE (RPI: 38, KenPom: 88, NBC seed: Next four out): The Owls are still in the mix because they have some unbelievable wins — Auburn, Clemson, Wichita State — but they also have four Quadrant 3 losses. That’s not good, and that’s why they had to beat South Florida (290) on the road today. They did. I think Temple needs to go at least 4-1 down the stretch to get a bid.

LOSERS

PROVIDENCE (RPI: 47, KenPom: 73, NBC seed: 10): The Friars have six Quadrant 1 wins this season, which, in theory, should mean that they can handle taking some bad losses. But just how many can they survive? On Saturday, they suffered their third Quadrant 3 loss of the year, getting absolutely pummeled at home by DePaul. They’ve also lost at UMass and at home to Minnesota; there should be an asterisk for the Minnesota game, as the Gophers fell off a cliff thanks to injuries and off-the-court scandal. The Friars are still in a good spot, but they have more work to do than they did 24 hours ago. Their remaining schedule: Villanova, at Butler, Seton Hall, at Georgetown, at Xavier, St. John’s. They probably need at least three of those, but four would make life a lot less stressful.

WASHINGTON (RPI: 38, KenPom: 99, NBC seed: 10): It was a disastrous road trip this week for Washington. They lost at Oregon by 25 points on Thursday night and followed that up by losing in overtime at Oregon State on a Stevie Thompson buzzer-beater. That’s problematic for Washington. They have five Quadrant 1 wins, but they also now have a pair of Quadrant 3 losses. What’s worse is that they play no more Quadrant 1 games, and only three of their remaining six games come against Quadrant 2 opponents.

USC (RPI: 48, KenPom: 46, NBC seed: First four out): USC is in a much more difficult spot than many might imagine. As of today, they are probably not an NCAA tournament team. A home loss to Princeton (204) just keeps looking worse and worse, while the only two Quadrant 1 wins to their name came against mid-major foes — Middle Tennessee State and New Mexico State. I have a feeling that giving away a win at Arizona State on Thursday night is going to end up hurting this team more than people think.

MARQUETTE (RPI: 60, KenPom: 49, NBC seed: First four out): Marquette dropped to 14-11 on the season losing at St. John’s on Saturday. The Golden Eagles have now lost five of their last six games and sit at 3-9 against Quadrant 1 teams; believe it or not, after starting Big East play with 11 straight losses, St. John’s is now a Quadrant 1 loss. So this isn’t the killer for Marquette you might think it is, but the Golden Eagles certainly need to start stacking some wins and quick.

BOISE STATE (RPI: 34, KenPom: 48, NBC seed: First four out): Boise State is in trouble after losing at Utah State on Saturday night. They don’t have a Quadrant 1 win and have just five Quadrant 2 wins. The good news? Beating Boise means that Utah State is now a Quadrant 2 loss (130), so I still think winning out — which would include beating Nevada at home — might be enough.

MISSISSIPPI STATE (RPI: 56, KenPom: 61, NBC seed: Next four out): The Bulldogs had their four-game winning streak snapped at Missouri in a tough way. After coming back from 12 down in the final 90 seconds, Mississippi State was whistled for an offensive foul on a would-be game-winning three that went in. As a result, they still have just two Quadrant 1 wins and a non-conference SOS in the 300s.

UCLA (RPI: 50, KenPom: 49, NBC seed: Last four in): The Bruins were playing with house money on Saturday after they picked off Arizona in Tucson on Saturday, and it looked like it. Arizona State was in control throughout as the Bruins dropped to 2-4 against Quadrant 1 opponents. The big issue right now for UCLA is that four of their eight losses come outside Quadrant 1 — including one Quadrant 3 loss — but the good news is that their last three games are all Quadrant 1 games: at Utah, at Colorado, at USC.

KANSAS STATE (RPI: 65, KenPom: 57, NBC seed: 11): Losing to Texas Tech, the current leaders in the Big 12 title race, is hardly a bad loss. But where this might end up costing the Wildcats is that this was their last chance to land a Quadrant 1 win at home. Their remaining three home games: Baylor, Texas and Oklahoma State. If they can’t win at Oklahoma or at TCU, then K-State will be heading into Selection Sunday with four Quadrant 1 wins, a Quadrant 3 loss and a non-conference SOS in the 320s.

BUTLER (RPI: 34, KenPom: 21, NBC seed: 9): Butler is sitting in a pretty good spot right now. All nine of their losses are to Quadrant 1 opponents, but they have just a 3-9 record in Quadrant 1 games after blowing a 13-point lead at Villanova on Saturday. If Butler goes 2-3 down the stretch, they should probably be in with room to spare.

N.C. STATE (RPI: 71, KenPom: 60, NBC seed: Play-in game): Like Butler, where N.C. State really hurt themselves was opportunity cost. They had a chance to land a marquee win against North Carolina and just could not get enough stops down the stretch. The Wolfpack have a number of great wins (at North Carolina, Duke, Clemson, Arizona) but are in a bit of a tough spot because of three Quadrant 3 losses and a less-than-stellar non-conference SOS. Four wins down the stretch should get the job done.

VIDEO: Miles Bridges’ three gives No. 4 Michigan State win over No. 3 Purdue

Rey Del Rio/Getty Images
Leave a comment

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Miles Bridges made a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 2.7 seconds left and finished with 20 points, helping No. 4 Michigan State top No. 3 Purdue 68-65 on Saturday.

The Spartans (24-3, 12-2 Big Ten) have won eight straight, improving their chances of contending for a conference championship and earning a No. 1 seed for the NCAA Tournament.

The Boilermakers (23-4, 12-2) have lost two straight after winning a school-record 19 games in a row.

Purdue led by as many as 10 points in the first half and by eight points early in the second half. Michigan State jumped in front for the first time when Bridges made a jumper near the top of the key with 9:06 left.

RELATED: Was this the Miles Bridges star turn we’ve waited for?

The Boilermakers tied the game four times over the last five-plus minutes and missed on chances to go ahead or at least get closer in the final minute.

Isaac Haas had a shot to put Purdue ahead with 23 seconds left, but was pushed away from the basket by Gavin Schilling and came up short on the shot in the lane. Purdue’s Vincent Edwards missed the front end of a one and one with 2.4 seconds left, trailing by three.

Haas had 25 points and Carsen Edwards scored 14.

Cassius Winston had 10 points and 10 assists for the Spartans.

You Make The Call: Did Xavier’s Quentin Goodin get fouled by Creighton?

Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images
4 Comments

Controversy in Omaha!

No. 5 Xavier picked up a 72-71 win at Creighton on Saturday afternoon that is going to put the Musketeers squarely in the conversation to be a No. 1 seed on Sunday when the top four seeds are announced.

And if you were to ask Creighton fans or Greg McDermott, they would tell you that the win was no where near deserved.

Let me explain.

Creighton took the lead with 4.6 seconds left thanks to three clutch free throws from junior Ronnie Harrell, setting up a Tyus Edney situation, where the Musketeers had to go the length of the court on the final possession of the game. Goodin did, and he drew a foul on Harrell, a foul that created quite a bit on discussion.

Check it out:

My take?

I thought it was a foul. Harrell was moving sideways when the contact was made. Goodin made the most of it, but if that whistle is blown with 10 minutes left in the first half, no one bats an eye.

I also thought that the foul on Harrell was equally questionable. He went down when he got his non-shooting elbow tapped by Trevon Bluiett? Again, if it was called with eight minutes left in the game, no one would have thought twice about it. Hell, it probably won’t even be discussed after this game.

It is what it is.

Xavier leaves with another Quadrant 1 road win and keeps pace with No. 1 Villanova atop the Big East regular season standings while the Bluejays lose another nailbiter and find themselves inching further and further away from receiving a protected seed in the NCAA tournament.

Michael Porter Jr. on returning this season: ‘There is a good chance’

Michael Porter Jr., Missouri Athletics
1 Comment

The buzz about Michael Porter Jr. returning to play this season for Missouri hit a crescendo on Friday afternoon because Porter himself stepped in front of a microphone and told reporters as much.

“To me and how I feel right now, there is a good chance,” Porter said. “I think the doctors are going to be amazed at my progress.”

Porter has been cleared to return to practice after back surgery in November. He has not, however, been cleared for contact, which means he cannot yet play in games.

“My rehab therapist thinks I’m good to go with practice except for the contact part,” Porter said, adding that he will be seeing the doctor next week. “I’m hoping that the doctor clears me for everything, contact included. That’s what I would love to hear. But it’s not up to me. It’s up to the doctors.”

He also said that he has “zero concerns” about reinjuring his back, while also adding that he’s “not worried about the risk” of reinjuring himself. “I’m feeling better now than I’ve ever felt.”

Frankly, I think it would be a silly idea to rush to return to play on a surgically-repaired back while playing for free when it could end up costing him tens of millions of dollars. Porter could end up earning nine figures playing basketball. Rushing back to play in college seems silly.

But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to do it.

Think about it like this: Michael’s family is extremely close. There are eight brothers and sisters. His aunt coaches the Missouri women’s team, where his two older sisters have played. His dad used to be an assistant for the Missouri women’s team and is now an assistant for the Missouri men’s team. His younger brother Jontay enrolled early specifically for a chance to play with Michael for one year in college. I am sure he really, really wants the chance to get on the floor with little bro.

And that is before you consider this: Without Michael, Missouri looks like they will comfortably get into the NCAA tournament. Keep in mind, there were many high school talent scouts that believed that Michael was a better prospect and player than Marvin Bagley III and Deandre Ayton coming out of high school. He was so good that no one realized his AAU teammate Trae Young was as good as he has proven to be.

If Michael should find a way to get healthy, in shape and shake off the rust of having been out for so long, it’s not crazy to think that Missouri would end up being one of the 10 or 15 best teams in America. They could make a Final Four in a season that is as wide open as this season is.

“If it were up to me I would love to get a couple games under my belt before hopping in the tournament to play,” he said. “That’s how I would love to do it. I’m working hard every day. I’m feeling better every day. I’m just hoping that the doctor feels the same way.”

“I’m having a great time watching the guys. People lose focus that our team is doing really good. we’re having a great year. We’ve already won 16 games, we won eight last season. At the same time, I would love to get back and play with them.”

CBT Podcast: Sean Farnham, Pat Skerry on Autism Speaks and a weekend preview with Reags

AP
Leave a comment

Rob Dauster was joined on Friday by ESPN’s Sean Farnham to discuss what’s happening with UCLA and Arizona, why Jock Landale should be considered a favorite to become a first-team All-American and everything about the SEC. Rob also caught up with Pat Skerry, the Towson head coach who have moved to the forefront of the push for Autism Awareness. You’ll be seeing the blue puzzle piece pins on every TV network this weekend. Then Rob was joined by Reags from the Fundamentally Sound podcast to breakdown the weekend’s upcoming games.

*Please excuse the quality of the recording in the first half of the podcast. We had mic issues in skype but did not want to waste the podcast.

The link to Autism Speaks, and the link to Coaches Powering Forward.

The rundown:

OPEN: Pat Skerry on his Autism Awareness.

5:37: Is Saint Mary’s for real? Is jock Landale for real?

8:53: UCLA’s win was impressive, but how concerned should be be about Arizona?

15:30: How did Auburn turn into the best team in the SEC?

21:30: Tennessee looks like the SEC’s Final Four favorite.

25:02: Texas A&M is back.

30:15: Are we more likely to see Kentucky in the Final Four or Michael Porter Jr. in a Missouri jersey? The answer will surprise you.

37:15: What happened to Purdue against Ohio State?

45:30: Is it time to be worried about Villanova’s defense?

51:00: Did UNC’s win say more about Duke or UNC?

VIDEO: See the worst technical given in the history of college basketball

Jamie Sabau/Getty Images
1 Comment

We see a lot of bad officiating in the college basketball ranks, but I am not sure that I can remember a call worse than this.

Jacobi Boykins, a star guard for Louisiana Tech, was ejected from a win over Charlotte last night after getting called for his second technical foul on this play:

That is absolutely abysmal, and whoever the official is that made that call should no longer be allowed to work in college sports. I’m fine if taunting is called a technical. There is nothing about that play that can even remotely be considered a taunt.

Frankly, it is embarrassing for Conference USA that they allow that crew to work for them.

But it gets worse.

Because Boykins received his first technical on this play, when he says “gimme that s***” after blocking a shot:

Boykins is one of Tech’s best players. He’s averaging 14.7 points. Why are we throwing him out of a game for these things?

The officials that worked that game last night are Gerry Pollard, Tony Padilla and Craig Murley. They should be done for the season after that effort.