We still have 37 teams on the Bubble with roughly 15 spots up for grabs as we head into the final three weeks of the regular season. Butler and Michigan joined (or re-joined) the fray this week. We also saw Arizona and St. John’s join those teams listed as Should Be In. There remain few Locks at this point, but that number should grow as teams head down the stretch. Looking ahead, the bubble will start to shrink as several teams are close to moving up. Others will be leaving. Should be a great race to the finish. More at Bracketville.
If you think we’ve missed something, send a rebound. Include some data or notes to support. Conversation is great.
Bubble Banter highlights the teams we believe are on the NCAA Bubble. If a team isn’t listed, they aren’t a bubble team at the time of the update. RPI and SOS data is credited to CollegeRPI.com.
UPDATED: Wednesday, February 16 | Records, RPI, and SOS data for Division-I games through Tuesday, February 15
Automatic Bids (31): None decided | Total Spots (68): Number of total teams in the Field.
Projected Locks (10): Teams who project to have secured a spot in the 2011 NCAA Tournament. Some of these projected locks may become automatic qualifiers should they win their conference tournament.
Should Be In (18): While not yet locks, these are teams in good position to receive an at-large bid.
Bubble: (37): Teams projected to be at or near the cutline for being selected as at-large candidates, or those whose profiles are not yet complete enough to be considered as Should Be In as of the this update.
Spots available (15): Number of available openings for the bracket based on spots reserved for automatic qualifiers, projected locks, and teams projected as Should Be In at this update.
Leaving the Bubble: Maryland (off), Penn State (off), Arizona (in), St. John’s (in)
Joining the Bubble: Butler (up), Michigan (up)
Below is a conference breakdown of the bubble picture
Locks: NONE | Should Be In: Temple, Xavier | Bubble: Duquesne, Richmond
Duquesne (15-7 | 8-2) | RPI: 83 | SOS: 122 | – After losing to Xavier on Sunday, Duquesne has lost two straight and has two more road games this week (UMass, Dayton). It’s critical the Dukes stay at the top of the A-10 standings because there’s nothing to report in the non-conference season. Duquesne has a win over Temple at home, but little else is helping. Key losses include Penn State and a 2-OT affair with George Mason. The Dukes need a strong finish and a solid run in the A-10 tourney.
Richmond (20-6 | 9-2) | RPI: 69 | SOS: 154 | – The Spiders have won four straight to remain among the last four teams currently in the field. This week’s game at Temple is important, as is a closing game at home vs. Duquesne. With iffy power numbers, Richmond can’t afford much of a slip. The Spiders continue to hope a non-conference win over Purdue holds a lot of weight. Other key wins are Seton Hall and VCU. Richmond has a loss to fellow bubble-team Old Dominon. It may still take a long A-10 tourney run to feel safe.
Locks: Duke | Should Be In: North Carolina | Bubble: Boston College, Clemson, Florida State, Virginia Tech
Boston College (16-9 | 6-5) | RPI: 43 | SOS: 19 | – Beating Maryland Saturday gave the Eagles a season sweep of the Terps, something that could come in handy if Maryland re-appears on the bubble. That said, the loss at Clemon keeps BC in a questionable spot – hovering around .500 in the mediocre ACC. Other than the early win over Texas AM, there’s nothing out of conference helping the Eagles, and BC is just 1-5 vs. Top 50 RPI teams. BC has also lost (at home) to two Ivy League schools and has dropped 4 of its past 6 games. A trip to Carolina is next followed by a must have at home vs. Miami-FL.
Clemson (17-8 | 6-5) | RPI: 72 | SOS: 88 | Beating Boston College last week was an important win, but the Tigers couldn’t beat North Carolina at home on Sunday. Thus, Clemson had a neutral seven days. That won’t be good enough moving forward. The Tigers need to win four of their last five – they can probably afford a lose at Duke, but that’s it. Other than a home win over Florida State, the resume is light. Clemson has non-league losses to Old Dominion, Michigan, and South Carolina.
Florida State (18-7 | 8-3) | RPI: 49 | SOS: 83 | – If the Seminoles sweep a week of winnable road games (@Wake Forest, @Maryland), they’ll be in good shape to move off the bubble. While the loss at Auburn was probably a fluke, it’s an example of inconsistent play. A weak non-conferense SOS (no. 230), could still spell trouble if FSU stumbles down the stretch. The Seminoles are just 2-4 vs. Top 50 teams, so there’s not a lot of high-level wins. Beating Duke was huge. Finishing third in the ACC standings would likely be enough.
Virginia Tech (17-7 | 7-4) | RPI: 59 | SOS: 91 | – The Hokies took care of business by beating Georgia Tech at home last week. Next up is Maryland at home followed by a trip to Virginia. In reality, VT needs to win its next three ahead of Duke’s arrival on Feb. 26. Credit VT with playing a better non-conference schedule, the Hokies just failed to win many of the games – the best is over fellow bubble-dweller Oklahoma State. Virginia Tech controls its destiny. Can the Hokies take advantage?
Locks: Connecticut, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, Georgetown | Should Be In: Syracuse, Villanova, Louisville,West Virginia, St. John’s | Bubble: Cincinnati, Marquette
Cincinnati (19-6 | 6-6) | RPI: 54 | SOS: 106 | – Losing at home to St. John’s puts the Bearcats in a tough position. The closing stretch is brutal and begins with a home game vs. Louisville – followed by road trips to pesky Providence and then surging Georgetown. While there are opportunites for big wins, UC needs another marqee victory or two. The Bearcats are 2-6 vs. Top 50 teams (Xavier, St. John’s) and it will likely take a 9-9 finish in the Big East to feel good – especially given UC’s horrible non-conference SOS.
Marquette (15-11 | 6-7) | RPI: 66 | SOS: 30 | – Another loss to a good team Tuesday as the Golden Eagles dropped a home game to St. John’s. With a 3-8 mark away from home, losing home games could yet prove disasterous. If there’s good news, it’s that Marquette’s schedule is favorable down the stretch – other than a road trip to UConn. Posting wins is critical as Marquette is 3-10 vs. Top 50 teams and just 5-11 vs. Top 100 teams. If Marquette wins the games it should down the stretch, the Golden Eagles may still Dance. But the margin for error is now very thin.
Locks: Ohio State | Should Be In: Purdue, Wisconsin | Bubble: Illinois, Michigan State, Minnesota, Michigan
Illinois (16-9 | 6-6) | RPI: 40 | SOS: 21 | – The Illini split last week, winning at Minnesota and losing at home to Purdue. Any road win helps, but had Illinois held serve at home, they could have given themselves a bit more breathing room. Next up is Michigan at home followed by back-to-back trips to Michigan State and Ohio State. Finishing 9-9 in the Big 10 would make Selection Sunday somewhat tenuous without a run in the league tournament. Good wins include N. Carolina, at Gonzaga, Wisconsin, and Michigan State. The losses at Indiana and UIC are sore points.
Michigan State (13-11 | 6-7) | RPI: 46 | SOS: 5 | After a debacle at Iowa, the Spartans pounded Penn State in East Lansing ahead of a good showing in Columbus on Tuesday. That said, MSU has just two wins since the dismissal of Korie Lucious – Indiana and Penn State at home. Can’t imagine those wins will carry a lot of weight. If there’s any magic left in Tom Izzo’s hat, now’s the time to pull out the rabbit. MSU is 3-8 vs. Top 50 teams and is 9-11 vs. the Top 200 – stat lines that often suggest NIT. Can MSU get to 10 league wins? That might be what it takes. Up next is home visit from Illinois.
Michigan (15-10 | 6-7) | RPI: 56 | SOS: 18 | While there’s not a lot to love about the Wolverine’s profile (2-7 vs. Top 50 teams), they have won 5 of 6 to creep into the at-large conversation. The win at Michigan State is helping. The Wolverines also have a sweep of Penn State. It’ll take a strong finish to warrant serious consideration – and it starts at Illinois. Michigan also has games against Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Minnesota remaining. Win those, and the Wolverines could have the league’s fourth-best in-conference profile. Would that be enough?
Minnesota (17-8 | 6-7) | RPI: 36 | SOS: 29 | Since the Gophers play Illinios only once in the regular season, losing at home to the Illini could prove problematic. Minnesota continues to fight through its injuries and personnel issues. Winning at Iowa ended a four-game slide, but how will the Committee view Minnesota with its current roster? Some of the team’s best wins came with players no longer on the active roster. Much like Michigan State, it could take 10 league wins for the Gophers to feel good heading into the Big 10 tourney in Indianapolis. Up next is a trip to Penn State followed by a home date with Michigan State.
Locks: Kansas, Texas | Should Be In: Missouri, Texas AM | Bubble: Kansas State, Baylor, Colorado, Oklahoma State
Baylor (16-8 | 6-5) | RPI: 62 | SOS: 62 | – While the win at Texas AM helps, the Bears can’t rely on one quality victory as a ticket to the Dance. Their overall profile remains very weak with a 1-4 mark vs. Top 50 teams and only 4 Top 100 victories. Out of conference, the Bears failed to win a Top 100 RPI game and their non-league SOS ranks No. 236. Up next is a must-win at home over Texas Tech followed by a trip to Missouri. The closing three won’t be easy, so time if of the essence. Baylor may need four more Big 12 wins.
Colorado (15-10 | 5-6) | RPI: 90 | SOS: 82 | – Thanks to a replay that saved Colorado from Jacob Pullen’s last-second trey in Boulder, the Buffaloes remain on the bubble. The victory also gave CU a season sweep of the Wildcats – something that could be useful. Three of the Buffs’ closing games are away from home – including a trip to Kansas – and one of the remaining home games is Texas. Tough spot, but the Buffaloes need big wins, so opportunity awaits. A non-league win over Colorado State is notable, but Colorado’s overall non-conference SOS ranks No. 307. Ouch. It’ll be tough to overcome weak power numbers, but CU remains alive.
Kansas State (16-9 | 5-6) | RPI: 32 | SOS: 7 | – Beating arch-rival Kansas in Manhattan gave K-State it first Top 50 RPI win (1-6 overall). But … one big win won’t push the Wildcats into the Field of 68. Other than a trip to Texas, the closing stretch is favorable for a nice run. K-State was swept by Colorado – we’ll see if that comes into play. So far, the Wildcats have avoided a bad RPI losss, something other bubble teams can’t necessarily say. A resurgence by Baylor, Washington State and Gonzaga would also help. Next up is a home date with Oklahoma followed by a trip to Nebraska.
Oklahoma State (16-8 | 4-6) | RPI: 55 | SOS: 64 | – The Cowboys’ loss at Nebraska puts OSU in a difficult spot. Up next is a trip to Texas. Then it’s home to Texas AM before a trip to Kansas. OSU is 2-6 in road games so it may not be long until the Cowboys leave the bubble. Oklahoma State has head-to-head losses against several other bubble teams (Gonzaga, Colorado, Baylor), too. It’s best non-conference win is Alabama in December. The Big 12 is taking a toll and OSU may not win enough to stay in the top half of the standings.
Locks: BYU, San Diego State | Should Be In: UNLV | Bubble: Colorado State, New Mexico
Colorado State (16-7 | 7-3) | RPI: 42 | SOS: 45 | – Beating New Mexico last weekend sets up a tough closing stretch with 4 of 6 away from home – including trips to league frontrunners BYU and San Diego State. CSU will probably need to beat San Diego State and/or BYU to feel good about its chances. CSU is 2-3 vs. the Top 50 and 5-5 vs. the Top 100. Winning at UNLV is a hight point, but the losses to Sam Houston and Hampton are not.
New Mexico (16-8 | 5-5) | RPI: 68 | SOS: 108 | – After falling at Colorado State to split the season series, the Lobos prepare for a trip to San Diego State. Since New Mexico has beaten BYU at The Pit, taking down the other league heavyweight could do wonders – especially on the road. Troubling road losses are to Utah and Wyoming. The power number are okay, but not ideal. Out of conference, there’s not much helping the Lobos and the number of quality wins remain light (2-3 vs. Top 50 / 4-6 vs the Top 100). Closing games include UNLV at home and a return trip to BYU. So there are chances if UNM can avoid any untimely losses.
Locks: NONE | Should Be In: Arizona | Bubble: Washington, Washington State, UCLA
Washington (17-7 | 9-4) | RPI: 37 | SOS: 58 | – The Hukies took care of their home games with Stanford and Cal last week in preparation for a swing through Arizona this weekend. Win both and Washington will put itself in good position for a closing slate of home games. A split would be okay. Losing both would be a signifcant step backward. UW’s top wins are Arizona and at UCLA – and overall Washington remains just 2-3 vs. Top 50 RPI teams. At this point, Washington still looks okay, but it falling off the pace wouldn’t be advised.
Washington State (17-8 | 7-6) | RPI: 74 | SOS: 99 | – WSU saved a potentially disasterous homestand by beating Cal on Saturday – they opened last weekend with a loss to Stanford. Overall, WSU is just 1-4 vs. Top 50 teams and 4-6 vs. Top 100 teams – so work remains. An early win over Gonzaga is not helping as much as expected, although the Baylor win could hold more weight if the Bears rebound. The next three (@Arizona, @Arizona State, and @Washington) may decide if the Cougars head to the NCAAs or the NIT.
UCLA (18-7 | 9-3) | RPI: 41 | SOS: 41 | – Having won 5 straight, the Bruins are good position with a second-place standing in the Pac-10. Victories over St. John’s and BYU are solid, although UCLA is still light on quality wins (2-4 vs. Top 50 teams). RPI and SOS numbers are good, but not outstanding. The Bruins only real blemish is an early defeat to Montana. So what’s ahead? … trips to Cal and Stanford this weekend. Getting both would be ideal, as the Arizona schools come to Pauley next week.
Locks: NONE | Should Be In: Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee, Vanderbilt | Bubble: Georgia, Alabama
Georgia (17-7 | 6-4) | RPI: 39 | SOS: 36 | – The Bulldogs are talented enough to make the NCAAs, but can they win enough SEC games? The next three should be telling – Vanderbilt at home, followed by road trips to Tennessee and Florida. UGA has an early victory over Kentucky, and a win over UAB could also help. All of the Bulldogs losses have been to teams ranked in the Top 40 of the RPI, so that’s a plus. Sounds a lot like Marquette. Time to start a winning streak.
Alabama (16-8 | 8-2) | RPI: 87 | SOS: 119 | – Assuming Alabama continues to beat its SEC West opponents, the Tide’s biggest closing games are at Florida and vs. Georgia. Thanks to a rough November and early December, Alabama’s overall resume remains questionable. Whether the Committee will overlook the Tide’s poor start (losses to St. Peter’s, Iowa, Seton Hall) largely depends on how the Tide finish. If they win the SEC West by multiple games, and notch another win or two over East Division contenders, there could be enough to warrant at-large consideration in March.
BEST OF THE REST
Locks: NONE | Should Be In: NONE | Bubble: Butler, Cleveland State, Missouri State, Wichita State, Old Dominion, George Mason, VCU, Memphis, Southern Mississippi, UAB, UTEP, Gonzaga, St. Mary’s, Utah State
Butler (18-9 | 11-5) | RPI: 44 | SOS: 51 | – Butler has won 5 straight to re-enter the Bubble picture| – Assuming the Vikings avoids any further upsets, the BracketBuster game at Old Dominion is huge. A loss would likely eliminate CSU from at-large consideration; a win would keep hopes alive. After being swept by Butler in head-to-head games, the best thing CSU can do is catch Valparaiso in the Horizon League standings.
Missouri State (21-6 | 13-3) | RPI: 48 | SOS: 132 | – Missouri State has won four straight MVC games and remains tied with Wichita State atop the standings. The good news is the Bears have league wins at Wichita State and Northern Iowa. MSU hosts Wichita State on Feb. 26 with a chance to sweep the series. A non-conference SOS of No. 225 hurts as does a 2-4 mark vs. Top 100 RPI teams. The Bears’ best non-conference win is Pacific, so an MVC title might be necessary.
Wichita State (21-5 | 13-3) | RPI: 47 | SOS: 112 | – The Shockers are just 2-4 vs. Top 100 teams, so an outright Missouri Valley title might be necessary for serious at-large consideration. The good news is Wichita State travels to Missouri State on Feb. 26 – so avoiding any league losses between now and then is critcal. The winner would claim the MVC’s top seed in the league tournament. Missed chances in Maui continue to haunt WSU. An 8-1 record in road games is a plus, but losing to Missouri State at home could hurt if the Shockers are swept in the season series. The BracketBuster matchup with VCU is big as well.
Memphis (19-6 | 7-3) | RPI: 33 | SOS: 46 | – With a sweep of Southern Miss and a win at UAB in hand, the Tigers are in the best at-large position of any Conference USA team. Memphis also has nice road win at fellow bubble-dweller Gonzaga. The main prize, however, remains winning the C-USA title. Up next is a home date with UAB that would give Memphis another sweep. Then, the big date is at UTEP on Feb. 26 – assuming the Miners keep winning. It doesn’t help that Memphis was largely non-competitive in losses to Kansas, Tennessee, and Georgetown – and an ugly loss at SMU still lingers – but the Tigers’ outlook is better than some.
UAB (16-6 | 6-3) | RPI: 36 | SOS: 69 | – The Blazers are a solid team that lacks a marquee win. They are 0-4 vs. Top 50 teams (Duke, Memphis, Georgia, So. Miss). UAB’s best non-conference win is VCU at home. Within the league, their best is a 3-OT affair with UTEP. There’s also losses at Tulsa and Arizona State. Up next is a critical trip to Memphis. Overall, the Blazers close with 3 of 5 on the road. Staying with the C-USA leaders is a must.
Southern Mississippi (16-6 | 7-4) | RPI: 50 | SOS: 101 | – The Eagles are just 1-2 vs. Top 50 teams and have now been swept by Memphis. USM is also a game back of the C-USA leaders, so time is of the essence. Losses to Colorado State and Mississippi won’t help; neither will a non-conference SOS ranked No. 256. Next is a must-win game at home vs. UTEP. Beat the Miners and the closing stretch is manageable. A regular-season title would be a huge plus. Without it, the Eagles probably need a run to the C-USA final.
UTEP (18-5 | 7-2) | RPI: 53 | SOS: 127 | – Of UTEP’s 18 D-I wins, 15 are to teams ranked outside the Top 100 of the RPI. The best is an early victory over Michigan. Add in three sub-100 losses and the Miners are here as a fringe candidate because of their C-USA standing. Not much has changed, the Miners need to win a C-USA title for serious consideration. Even then, it could take a trip to the conference tournament final.
Old Dominion (21-6 | 12-4) | RPI: 30 | SOS: 67 | – Winning at VCU was a big get for the Monarchs, who look to be in decent shape at this point. Solid non-conference wins include Xavier, Richmond, and Clemson. ODU also played Georgetown to within three points. An 8-5 mark vs. Top 100 teams will help as will a non-league SOS ranked No. 25. Next is the BracketBuster with Cleveland State. Closing the regular season on a three-game winning streak would put ODU in a good spot heading into the CAA tournament.
VCU (20-8 | 12-4) | RPI: 63 | SOS: 130 | – Losing back-to-back home games to George Mason and Old Dominion could put VCU in a tough spot. VCU is 5-5 vs. Top 100 teams but would fall behind George Mason and Old Dominion in the CAA at-large pecking order. Not a great place to be. The Rams BracketBuster game at Wichita State might be a must-get ahead of the CAA Tournament. A game at Drexel to close won’t be easy, either.
George Mason (22-5 | 14-2) | RPI: 21 | SOS: 66 | – After a dominant road win at VCU on Tuesday, the Patriots lead the CAA by two full games. Winning the league by that margin could be enough to give GMU an at-large bid, if needed. The Patriots are 8-4 vs. Top 100 teams. The lone miscue is Wofford in November. The BracketBuster game at Northern Iowa isn’t critical, but another Top 100 victory would certainly make the Patriots’ case even stronger. GMU’s final two CAA games are very winnable (N’Eastern, Ga. State).
Gonzaga (16-9 | 7-3) | RPI: 71 | SOS: 69 | – The Zags’ home loss to Memphis could still hamper the Bulldogs’ at-large chances. There are some good wins – Baylor, Xavier, Marquette – but only Xavier is a solid NCAA team at this point. A good SOS always helps. At the same time, Gonzaga is 1-6 vs. Top 50 RPI teams and 7-9 vs. the Top 200 – generally a big no-no for at-large consideration. Winning at St. Mary’s (Feb. 24) is important, too.
St. Mary’s (20-4 | 10-1) | RPI: 31 | SOS: 116 | – Winning an outright WCC title would likely be enough as long as St. Mary’s doesn’t slide to the finish. An early win over St. John’s helps, but the Gaels were blown out at Vanderbilt and have only the one Top 50 win. At 3-4 vs. Top 100 teams, St. Mary’s can’t breathe too easy. A BracketBuster matchup with Utah State holds some weight, too.
Utah State (23-3 | 12-1) | RPI: 26 | SOS: 144 | – The Aggies have a lot of wins but only one (Long Beach No. 99) to a team ranked in the Top 100 of the RPI. That could still be a major hurdle – especially if the Aggies lose their BracketBuster game at St. Mary’s. USU missed against BYU and Georgetown. Would the Committee leave USU out if they lose in the WAC tournament? We’ve seen it happen before.
Recruitment of Zion Williamson discussed during Tuesday’s FBI trial proceedings
The trial focused on James Gatto, Merl Code Jr. and Christian Dawkins continued Tuesday, and the biggest news out of New York City focused on information that attorneys were not allowed to use in building their case. As a result, the information was discussed before jurors entered the courtroom for Tuesday’s session.
The name of Duke freshman forward Zion Williamson was mentioned for the first time, by way of the transcript of a phone conversation between Code and current Kansas assistant Kurtis Townsend that was read by defense attorney (representing Code) Mark Moore.
Moore would go on to read Townsend’s response per the transcript, with the coach being recorded saying that “so, I’ve got to just try to work and figure out a way. Because if that’s what it takes to get him for 10 months, we’re going to have to do it some way.”
Due to the lack of context to the conversation, this evidence cannot be used by either the prosecution or defense in the case. That being said the recorded transcript doesn’t match the testimony of T.J. Gassnola, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud in late April and is working as a federal witness as part of the plea.
Gassnola testified that neither Townsend nor Kansas head coach Bill Self knew anything of any payments being made to prospects or their families in exchange for their commitment to Kansas, one of the adidas brand’s most important college partners.
Two other names mentioned on Tuesday were those of LSU head coach Will Wade and four-star 2019 prospect Balsa Koprivica. The transcript of the conversation between Wade and Christian Dawkins, which according to Gatto attorney Casey Donnelly included the head coach saying that “I can get you what you need but it’s got to work” regarding the recruitment of Koprivica, was not admitted as evidence due to the fact that none of the defendants are being charged for any activity involving Wade, LSU or Koprivica.
The Brian Bowen recruitment was also discussed during the session prior to the jury’s arrival, with attorneys reading a transcript of a conversation between Bowen Sr. and Dawkins in which the former said that he favored Michigan State for his son. Bowen Sr. told Dawkins that Michigan State hadn’t offered anything for his son’s commitment, but that never happened since Bowen Jr. did not want to go to Michigan State. He ultimately landed at Louisville, with his pledge coming just days after an alleged payment of $100,000 was agreed upon.
This case has seemingly focused on the question of what laws/rules the trio of Gatto, Code and Dawkins have broken. The prosecution has argued that the they’ve broken federal laws (in addition to NCAA rules) as the prosecution has argued, with the defense arguing that they haven’t broken federal laws but instead ran afoul of NCAA rules on behalf of the coaches they worked with. Beyond what the jury ultimately decides, there’s also the matter of what the NCAA could do to the programs and coaches mentioned during the trial.
One day after Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said that he felt this current scandal was nothing more than a “blip” on the radar of the sport, a member of his highly-regarded freshman class was mentioned in the courtroom.
While there’s no telling where this will all end, and how the cases will impact college basketball moving forward regardless of the verdicts to come, this trial feels like more than just a blip.
Boston College and Seton Hall schedule charity exhibition for October 27
Tuesday afternoon Boston College and Seton Hall announced that its basketball programs will play an exhibition on October 27 at Conte Forum. Volunteers will be accepting donations from those in attendance, and the proceeds will be sent to the Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Raleigh to help with hurricane relief efforts.
In recent years the NCAA has allowed Division I programs to substitute an exhibition game — usually played against a Division II or III team — for a charity exhibition against another Division I school.
While Seton Hall will have a second exhibition, a home game against New Haven scheduled for November 9, this will be Boston College’s lone preseason contest before it begins regular season play on November 6 against Milwaukee.
Both teams lost some significant contributors at the end of the 2017-18 season, with Seton Hall bidding farewell to a four-member senior class that led the program to three straight NCAA tournament berths and Boston College moving on without first-round draft pick Jerome Robinson.
But there are some talented players for head coaches Kevin Willard and Jim Christian to work with as well, with guard Myles Powell back for his junior season at Seton Hall and Ky Bowman and Jordan Chatman among the returnees at Boston College.
Jury concludes hearing evidence at college basketball trial
NEW YORK (AP) — A New York City jury is done hearing testimony at a federal trial about secret payments in college basketball.
Prosecutors have accused a former Adidas executive and two other defendants of conspiring to funnel funds to the families of prized prospects to get them to commit to programs sponsored by the sneaker company. They’ve all pleaded not guilty.
Government evidence on Tuesday focused a flurry of texts and phone calls last year about prospect Brian Bowen Jr. before he committed to Louisville, an Adidas school.
In one text, then-Louisville coach Rick Pitino expressed interest in Bowen. But there was no clear sign the legendary coach knew about an alleged scheme to give the player’s father $100,000 in violation of NCAA rules.
Closing arguments were expected to begin Wednesday afternoon.
Beginning in September and running up until November 6th, the first day of the season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2018-2019 NBCSports.com college hoops preview package.
One of my favorite things to do heading into each season is to put together a list of the players that are primed to become breakout stars.
Sometimes, these players are painfully obvious — Hi, Carsen Edwards.
Other, these players take a year to reach their full breakout potential — Hey, Mikal Bridges — at the expense of their painfully obvious teammate — Hello, Donte DiVincenzo.
There are players that shock the world when they become an All-American (Luke Maye, Bryce Brown), some that shouldn’t have actually surprised us when they turned out to be awesome (Keita Bates-Diop) and still others where all the dots connected but the stars never quite aligned (VJ King).
Some people have strictly-defined parameters for putting together a list like this. I do not beyond the basic principle that the player will be going from playing a role to being a star, whether that means he was a starter that will become an all-american or a bit-player slated to be a key cog on a potential Final Four team matters not.
Anyway, here is the list.
Feel free to drop me a note here (or on twitter) yelling at me over who I missed.
ERIC PASCHALL, Villanova
Paschall is hardly an unknown name at this point in his career. A fifth-year senior that was a double-figure scorer for Villanova’s national title team a season ago, Paschall popped off for 24 points on 10-for-11 shooting in the win over Kansas in last year’s national semifinal, and if it wasn’t for Donte DiVincenzo turning himself into a lottery pick with a 31-point explosion off the bench in the title game, he would have been one of the great out-of-nowhere stories in recent Final Four history.
Except he’s not really out of nowhere. Paschall averaged 15.9 points as a freshman at Fordham before heading to Villanova where, during their run to the 2016 national title, he lost more than 20 pounds, streamlining his body and fine-tuning his athleticism and jumper to the point where he is an ideal fit as a role player in the modern NBA. For me, he’s a top 20 pick, and I think that will come out this year. It’s important to remember two things here: Paschall is a terrific defender with the athleticism to guard down and the size to guard up, and while he shot just 35.6 percent from three last season, he made 35 of his final 76 threes (46.1 percent) after starting his junior season 1-for-25.
I think he turns into an all-american for the Wildcats this year, following in the footsteps of Josh Hart and Mikal Bridges before him. Buy stock now.
DE’ANDRE HUNTER, Virginia
I am the conductor of the De’Andre Hunter hype train. A 6-foot-7 combo-forward with a 7-foot-2 wingspan and the versatility to defend multiple positions while possessing the discipline that is inherent in playing under Tony Bennett for three years, my money is on Hunter becoming an all-american this year.
I’ve said this before, but I think the reason that UMBC was able to upset Virginia last season was due to the fact that Hunter was not there. Without Hunter, the Wahoos could not defend a team that played with four guards. There was more to it than that — UMBC played out of their minds, UVA choked — but what let it get to the point where UVA was in a position to choke was that they couldn’t get stops. Hunter is the piece that will allow them to play that way, and oh-by-the-way, he will be their best one-on-one scorer this season.
The question now becomes whether or not UVA has the guards to let him play the four, but that’s a different conversation for a different day.
PJ WASHINGTON, Kentucky
This Kentucky team is one that is hard to figure, as they run just about two-deep at every spot on the floor without a clear delineation between who is the best at a given position and who should be coming off the bench.
That’s certainly true up front, where Reid Travis, Nick Richards and Washington are all putting together preseasons that, in a vacuum, should earn them a starting spot, but for my money I think that Washington ends up being the best of that group, and probably the best player on this Kentucky team.
CHRIS LYKES, Miami
Jim Larrañaga’s best teams have come when he has a clearly defined star at the point guard spot. It happened with Shane Larkin in 2013, when they won the ACC, and it happened with Angel Rodriguez in 2016, when they finished second in the ACC. I think it will happen again this season, as 5-foot-7 dynamo Chris Lykes looked primed to takeover a backcourt that had all the talent and even more question marks last season.
The big issue that Miami dealt with was that they just didn’t have the shooters to be able to create spacing. Lonnie Walker was inconsistent while Bruce Brown and JaQuan Newton weren’t shooters. They struggled with who was supposed to play what role and where they were going to get shots. It was only after Brown went down for the year with a wrist injury that Lykes stepped up. He scored in double-figures in nine of the final 12 games, including 19 points against UVA and 18 points and four assists in a win at North Carolina.
The backcourt will be his this season, and around him will be a trio of guys that can shoot the cover off of the ball with a monster in the middle in Dewan Hernandez. I’m not sure if this team will be able to stop anyone, but they are going to be an efficient team scoring the ball.
JORDAN POOLE, Michigan
Someone is going to have to score some points for Michigan this season as the Wolverines lost their three-best offensive weapons — Mo Wagner, Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and Duncan Robinson. Poole seems as likely as anyone to takeover that go-to guy role. He certainly likes to shoot, as he managed to average 6.0 points in just over 12 minutes with the highest shot rate of anyone returning this offseason.
I’m not sure if he’ll be Michigan’s leading scorer — my money is still on Charles Matthews for that role — but John Beilein has proven that he has the ability to make skilled offensive players effective at the Big Ten level, and there’s no doubt in my mind that Poole is the next in that line.
MITCH BALLOCK, Creighton
There are going to be a lot of shots opening up for Creighton this year, as Marcus Foster and Khyri Thomas are both off to the NBA, and I fully expect Ballock to soak up plenty of those opportunities. A 6-foot-5 guard from Kansas that picked the Bluejays over the Jayhawks, Ballock showed flashes during his freshman season of being the next Creighton star. He finished the year averaging just 7.3 points while shooting 32.6 percent from three, but those numbers will be heading up this year. Another former four-star recruit, Ty-Shon Alexander, is eligible for this list as well.
HERB JONES, Alabama
Jones might end up being one of the guys that we end up being a year too early on. A 6-foot-6 lead guard with terrific measureables and defensive instincts, he’s going to be asked to play a much bigger role this season as the Crimson Tide look to replace the production they lose with Collin Sexton turning pro. He may be a better fit at the NBA level than in college.
MJ WALKER, Florida State
Walker is a former five-star prospect and McDonald’s All-American that spent last season playing off the bench for the Seminoles. With Braian Angola off to the professional ranks, Walker is going to be one of the guys tasked with taking over his role offensively. He’s a talented scorer with big-time athleticism — he was a high major recruit as a wide receiver — that will play an important role for a team that looks like they could finished fourth in the ACC.
CANE BROOME, Cincinnati
Cincinnati lost three of their best players off of last year’s team, and that is not going to be easy to replace. But someone is going to have to. Jarron Cumberland is the guy that’s going to end up being Cincinnati’s leading scorer, and there is some talk that he could end up being an all-american-caliber player, but I think the guy more deserving to be on this list is Broome.
A former Sacred Heart Pioneer, Broome averaged 23 points before transferring to Cincinnati. After redshirting the 2016-17 season, Broome played as more of a distributor last season, but that’s not what he’s best at. He’s a bucket-getter, and with the lack of scoring pop on this roster along with the fact that senior point guard Justin Jenifer is still around, I think Broome ends up averaging north of 15 points this season.
NICKEIL ALEXANDER-WALKER, Virginia Tech
Alexander-Walker had some one-and-done buzz heading into last season, but the cousin of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had a bit of an up-and-down freshman season. He ended up averaging 10.5 points, but he did not shoot the ball as well as he needed and he was less of a playmaker than many expected him to be. Still, he’s a talented player on a Virginia Tech team that is going to need their sophomore class to take a step forward if they want to live up to their hype this season.
MYLES CALE, Seton Hall
Cale is a guy that I loved in the high school ranks. At 6-foot-5, he has the kind of size and athleticism that should let him be a perfect wing in the Big East. With everything that Seton Hall lost this offseason — Khadeen Carrington, Angel Delgado, Desi Rodriguez, Ishmael Sanogo — they are going to need someone to pick up the slack, and there’s only so much more than Myles Powell can do.
BRANDON RANDOLPH, Arizona
The big issue that Arizona faces this season is that the FBI investigation into college basketball torpedoed their recruiting. They were not able to go out and replace Deandre Ayton, Allonzo Trier and Rawle Alkins with pieces that will be able to impact the program immediately, so they are going to have to promote from within. Randolph was a four-star prospect in high school that played on the same high school team as Mo Bamba. Is this the year the shackles come off and he can show what he can do?
NOJEL EASTERN, Purdue
Eastern at this point is probably best-known for being the guy that declared for the draft after averaging 2.9 points as a freshman. But he’s also a 6-foot-6 guard that will see a ton of minutes next to Carsen Edwards as the Boilermakers try to replace four starters off of last season’s roster.
On Tuesday, Rob Dauster was joined by Travis Hines to walk through the Big East team by team. Is this Villanova’s league to win again? Just how good is St. John’s now that Mustapha Heron is eligible? Can Marquette actually get any stops this season? Can Providence, Creighton or Seton Hall sneak into the top five of the league? Where is Xavier in the post-Chris Mack era?