Bubble Preview: Some big names make the list

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Bubble Banter will officially launch on  Tuesday, February 1.  In preparation and ahead of our newest bracket projection on Monday (Jan. 24), here is an overview of how Bubble Banter is shaping up. 

ATLANTIC 10 – With Temple falling behind the pace of early leaders Duquesne and Xavier, there are no secure spots in the A-10.  Xavier has a history of winning the regular-season title, with the Owls grabbing the tourney title and automatic bid.  It might be the only way the A-10 earns multiple bids.

  • Locks: None
  • Should Be In: Temple
  • Bubble: Xavier, Richmond, Dayton, Duquesne

ACC – It’s pretty much Duke and everyone else.  Now, the ACC will earn more than two bids, but exactly who fills those spots is a long way from being determined.

  • Locks: Duke
  • Should Be In: North Carolina
  • Bubble: Florida State, Boston College, Virginia Tech, Maryland

BIG EAST – Deepest conference in the nation.  It’s looking more and more likely the Big East will break its own record of sending 8 teams to the NCAA Tournament. Whether that number is 9, 10, or 11 is still questionnable.  Several middle-of-the-pack teams have work remaining, and the schedule could yet prove too much for everyone to survive.

  • Locks: Pittsburgh, Connecticut, Syracuse, Villanova
  • Should Be In: Notre Dame, West Virginia, Louisville, Georgetown
  • Bubble: Cincinnati, St. John’s, Marquette

BIG 10 – Back in November, we suggested that Ohio State might prove to be the Big Ten’s best.  So far, it’s shaping up that way.  Purdue seems like the best challenger, with several others now a couple of games off the pace.

  • Locks: Ohio State, Purdue
  • Should Be In: Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan State, Minnesota
  • Bubble: Penn State, Northwestern

BIG 12 – With Texas winning at Kansas on Saturday, the Big 12 race is an open battle.  The Jayhawks and Longhorns are the most certain frontrunners, with Texas AM on the edge.  Missouri is always a challenge to play.  The league has also seen two of its preseason favorites (Baylor, Kansas State) struggle for most of the season.

  • Locks: Kansas, Texas
  • Should Be In: Missouri, Texas AM
  • Bubble: Baylor, Colorado, Kansas State, Oklahoma State

MOUNTAIN WEST – San Diego State and BYU meet for the first time this week in what has become a two-team race.  UNLV has fallen off the pace, and New Mexico has all but disappeared.  Surprise Colorado State has been added to the bubble.

  • Locks: San Diego State, BYU
  • Should Be In: UNLV
  • Bubble: Colorado State, New Mexico

PAC 10 – Once again it appears to be Washington and everyone else.  Arizona is talented, but has a resume light on quality wins.  USC has some good wins, but way too many losses.  That leaves UCLA and Washington State as the other realistic hopefuls.

  • Locks: Washington
  • Should Be In: None
  • Bubble: Arizona, UCLA, Washington State

SEC – For a while it looked like Kentucky would cruise through the league again.  But some early road struggles suggest otherwise.  The East Division is strong and will garner all the at-large bids.  Hard to see anyone from the SEC West making the NCAA’s without winning the conference tournament.

  • Locks: Kentucky
  • Should Be In: Florida, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Georgia
  • Bubble: South Carolina

BEST of the REST – With three additional bids available this year, one would hope more spots would be open for non-BCS teams.  Thus far, however, many of these teams have squandered chances or struggled to a point where at-large hopes have faded.  Below is an overview of how the other non-BCS profiles are shaping up:

  • Locks: None
  • Should Be In: None
  • Bubble: Memphis, UAB, Central Florida, Missouri State, Wichita State, Butler, Cleveland State, VCU, Old Dominion, Drexel, Gonzaga, St. Mary’s, Utah State

VIDEO: Mixtape for Duke commit R.J. Barrett, potential 2019 No. 1 pick

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Last week, after the NBA draft officially concluded, we posted a mock draft for the lottery in 2019.

At the top of that list was R.J. Barrett, a Duke-commit and Canadian-native that has NBA scouts wowed and intrigued. This mixtape should give you a good feel for why.

Trae Jefferson to transfer out of Texas Southern

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Texas Southern guard and NCAA tournament darling Trae Jefferson announced on Saturday that he’s leaving the school.

The 5-foot-7 Jefferson was sensational at times during his sophomore season with the Tigers as he put up 23.1 points, 4.6 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game, helping lead Texas Southern to a victory in the 2018 NCAA Tournament’s First Four in Dayton over North Carolina Central. One of the most entertaining talents in college basketball, Jefferson is leaving Texas Southern in-part because former head coach Mike Davis took the job at Detroit this offseason.

While Detroit is going to be the favorite to land Jefferson, because of his connection to Davis, it’ll be interesting to see what his transfer market looks like. Jefferson also made it clear on his Twitter page that he would like to be closer to his hometown of Milwaukee so that he can be closer to his ailing grandfather.

Given NCAA transfer rules, Jefferson would likely have to sit out next season before getting two more years of eligibility. But he could be applying for a waiver if he’s trying to be closer to home to deal with his family situation.

Nevada’s Josh Hall transfers to Missouri State

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Nevada lost a talented player from last season’s team as rising junior Josh Hall opted to transfer to Missouri State on Friday night.

The 6-foot-7 Hall is a former top-150 recruit who played a key part in the Wolf Pack’s postseason run as he elevated his play to average 13 points and 4.7 rebounds per game during the 2018 NCAA Tournament. Hall also made the game-winning bucket to lift Nevada past No. 2 seed Cincinnati in the second round.

Although Hall picked up his play late in the year, he was coming off the bench most of his sophomore campaign as he averaged 6.9 points and 3.9 rebounds per game last season.

Since Nevada took in some talented transfers, while players like Jordan Caroline and the Martin twins opted not to turn pro, it left head coach Eric Musselman with too many scholarship players for the 2018-19 season. It looks like some of those issues are now going away as Hall is leaving for Missouri State and graduate transfer guard Ehab Amin opted to decommit from the school.

Nevada is expected to be a preseason top-10 team next season with all of the talent they have returning to the roster, along with the addition of some new pieces like McDonald’s All-American big man Jordan Brown.

Hall will likely have to sit out next season due to NCAA transfer rules as he still has two years of eligibility remaining.

Chris Webber accepts Jim Harbaugh’s invitation to be honorary Michigan football captain

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The frosty relationship between Chris Webber and the University of Michigan could be thawing — thanks to an invitation from football head coach Jim Harbaugh.

On Friday, Harbaugh called in to WTKA’s “The M Zone” as show host Jamie Morris had Webber on the show. Harbaugh offered Webber the opportunity to be an honorary captain for the Michigan football team next season, to which Webber replied that he would love the opportunity.

Webber, a former member of the “Fab Five” who helped the Wolverines to two consecutive NCAA tournament title-game appearances in 1992 and 1993, has not associated directly with the school, or with other members of the Fab Five, for many years.

The NCAA mandated that Webber and Michigan not associate with one another for 10 years after the Ed Martin booster scandal. Webber has always been reluctant to participate in anything Michigan or Fab Five related. When the famous Fab Five documentary was made a few years ago, Webber was the only member of the quintet not to participate in the making of the film. Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King and Ray Jackson all have a solid relationship with the University of Michigan at this point.

Webber later criticized the film during an appearance on the Dan Patrick Show, as King and Rose fired back with responses to reignite the feud. In the past, Rose has also been vocal in his belief that Webber should apologize for what happened at Michigan, as the group is hoping to move forward.

Although Webber still isn’t mending fences with the other Fab Five members, or the basketball program, returning to Michigan in some kind of official capacity is a big deal considering his past with the school.

Harbaugh and Webber haven’t decided on a game for next season yet as that will be something to watch for over the next several months.

Akoy Agau returning to Louisville as graduate transfer

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Louisville received a boost to its frontcourt rotation on Friday as former big man Akoy Agau will return to the Cardinals as a graduate transfer.

The 6-foot-8 Agau originally committed and enrolled at Louisville for a season and a half to begin his college hoops career before transferring to Georgetown. After leaving the Hoyas to play at SMU last season, Agau received a sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA after battling injury for much of his career.

Agau gives Louisville an experienced forward who should earn some solid minutes next season. With the Mustangs during the 2017-18 season, Agau averaged 5.0 points and 3.6 rebounds per game in 16.1 minutes per contest.

While this isn’t the biggest splash for the Cardinals, they have plenty of scholarships to use for next season as new head coach Chris Mack tries to find a stable rotation. Getting a graduate transfer like Agau, who should be familiar with the school and the conference at the very least, is a nice step for a one-year placeholder.