Checking up on the bubble

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West Virginia 72, No. 8 Notre Dame 58: West Virginia was on the right side of the bubble coming into today, but knocking off the Irish helps solidify their standing and gives the ‘Eers some room for error down the stretch. West Virginia is now 8-6 in the Big East, but three of their last four games come against ranked teams. As long as WVU avoids a slip-up against suddenly scrappy Rutgers, they will get to .500 in the league, which should be enough to earn a bid.

As for Notre Dame, their road struggles continue. They are now 3-5 in true road games, with all five of their losses coming by at least double digits. The wins came at South Florida, DePaul, and Pitt, a team that Mike Brey has discovered the secret to beating. The Irish have done enough that they should still end up being a top four seed, but this won’t help quiet the doubters saying the Irish are going to be overseeded.

Michigan State 61, Illinois 57: This was a huge win for Michigan State. They came in losers of six of their last eight games, but they looked like a different team in their last two games. Illinois has been struggling as well, so the magnitude of this win isn’t what you would normally expect from a matchup of these two programs in February, but it is important nonetheless. The Spartans simply need wins at this point. The real test will come next week at Minnesota and against Purdue.

For Illinois, the loss is just as important. Like Michigan State, Illinois simply needs to start stockpiling wins. They have lost seven of their last 11 now, and are now 17-10 on the season and 7-7 in the Big Ten. Making matters worse, they have now lost five of their last six on the road. The struggles of both the Illini and the Spartans have been will publicized. Michigan State looks like they are on the right track in terms of turning it around. Illinois? They better show up ready to play when they travel to Ohio State and Purdue.

No. 25 Utah State 75, St. Mary’s 65: This game was essentially dubbed the play-out game. With the win, Utah State finally has beaten a top 90 team, but one win over a WCC opponent is not generally enough to earn an at-large bid. The Aggies are probably in precarious enough position that it would behoove them to win the WAC Tournament. As far as St. Mary’s is concerned, the Gaels have now lost two straight games, including at San Diego, who is a sub-300 team in the RPI. The Gaels have a bit of a stronger resume than Utah State does, so they can better absorb the loss, but this is still a dangerous spot for them to be in. The game against Gonzaga next week is now the most important game of their entire season. It also doubles as a chance for the Gaels to win the WCC outright.

No. 19 UNC 48, BC 46: It was an ugly game, but BC’s defense sparked a late run that got them the ball with a chance to win. Unfortunately, Reggie Jackson’s three rimmed out, and while this loss won’t be a knock on BC’s resume, it certainly is a missed opportunity. The Eagles are firmly on the bubble, as there is that much on their resume beyond wins over Texas A&M and Virginia Tech. A road win against a top 25 team could have pushed them over the hump.

Georgia 69, Tennessee 63: The Bulldogs picked up a huge win on Saturday, going into Thompson-Boling Arena and knocking off the Vols. Georgia was in a dangerous spot if they lost this game. They had blown a couple of chances late in games earlier in the season, and with road trips left against Florida and Alabama, there was a distinct possibility that the Bulldogs could finish the season at .500 in SEC play. Georgia still has work to do, but they can feel much better about their chances for dancing with this win.

UNLV 68, Colorado State 61: This might have been the biggest bubble game of the day. UNLV desperately needed this win. Coming in they had five losses in the MWC, with all five coming to BYU, SDSU, and Colorado State. There was no chance that they could get swept by the top three teams in the conference and still earn an NCAA bid. They still have plenty of work left to do even with this win, however. A win over SDSU or BYU in the MWC Tournament would be a good way to start. For Colorado State, this loss all but guarantees that the Rams will miss the NCAA Tournament if they cannot knock off SDSU or BYU. The good news? The Rams get another shot at both during the regular season.

Virginia 61, Virginia Tech 54: Big loss for the Hokies, who have now been swept by the ‘Hoos. Tech has had a couple of bad road losses this year, losing to Georgia Tech and BC in addition to UVa, but they are also 17-8 on the year and, including this loss, have won 13 of their last 17 games. VT is also undefeated at home in ACC play, and if they can pull off an upset of Duke in Blacksburg next week, the Hokies will be fine.

Alabama 69, Arkansas 56: The Crimson Tide has plenty of wins like this. If ‘Bama truly wants to be considered a serious at-large candidate, they need to beat a couple of teams from the SEC East while cleaning up against their divisional opponents. Their early losses have put them in a huge hole in terms of their RPI, but a strong finish can erase those memories.

Texas Tech 78, Baylor 69: Baylor is in big time trouble. They’ve now lost to Texas Tech at home and Oklahoma in league play, they have no quality wins outside Texas A&M, and they are at .500 in league play. The good news? They play Missouri, Texas A&M, and Texas down the stretch, so there are opportunities to play their way in.

Nebraska 70, No. 3 Texas 67: We’ve already discussed what this loss means for the ‘Horns, but it was also significant for the Cornhuskers. Nebraska is now the Cincinnati of the Big 12. They have a nice record, they have no bad losses, but they didn’t have a marquee win until today. Expect Nebraska to break into some bubble watches this week.

Gonzaga 70, San Francisco 53: The Zags are probably still on the wrong side of the bubble, but this was still an important win. They move a game in front of the Dons for second place in the WCC, and with a game next week against St. Mary’s, there is still a chance for them to win a share of the WCC regular season title.

No. 17 Texas A&M 67, Oklahoma State 66: The Cowboys have their backs against the wall, to the point that they can barely be considered on the bubble after this loss. That changes if they can win at Kansas on Monday, then win out in the Big 12. That only gets them to .500 in league play, however.

Rice 67, Memphis 52: The Tigers are all but out of the at-large conversation at this point, even if they can win the C-USA regular season title.

George Mason 77, Northern Iowa 71: This is another nice win for the hottest team in the country. They still cannot afford another conference loss simply because the rest of their opponents are not very good, but this team is getting very close to being an at-large lock.

Cincinnati 93, Providence 81 OT: The Bearcats are not winning pretty — they blew a 16 point second half lead today — but a win is a win. Cincy gets Georgetown twice, UConn, and Marquette in their last four games. They would be smart to win two of those games.

Marquette 73, Seton Hall 64: The Golden Eagles are now back to .500 in league play, but they are still in big trouble. With the number of close losses to good teams that Marquette has racked up, they are still alive. But they probably need to win three of their last four games, including getting a win at UConn.

Butler 79, Illinois-Chicago 52: Believe it or not, the Bulldogs are still on the bubble. This is a long way from what you would call a resume win, but its a win that Butler had to have.

Florida State 84, Wake Forest 66: The Seminoles should win this game without Chris Singleton, but the impressive offensive numbers? Much of that was the result of garbage time.

Kansas State 77, Oklahoma 62: The Wildcats weren’t as impressive as they were in their win over Kansas, but this is a game they absolutely couldn’t afford to lose.

Missouri Valley: Missouri State was crushed by Valpo. Wichita State lost at home to VCU. Indiana State lost at home to Morehead State. Northern Iowa blew an early lead to George Mason at home. This is a one bid league, folks.

Dayton 64, Duquesne 63: The Dukes were a long shot to get an at-large bid as it is, and losing this game — which knocks them two games off the A-10 pace — ends that hope.

UAB 63, UCF 58: UAB actually has a top 40 RPI. They don’t have — and won’t get — any great wins this season, but if they win out they will have a chance at earning a bid.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.

Charlotte head coach Ron Sanchez resigns after winning CBI title

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Ron Sanchez resigned as head coach of the Charlotte 49ers.

Sanchez took over the 49ers on March 19, 2018, inheriting a team coming off a 6-23 campaign. In five years Charlotte went 72-78 under Sanchez, highlighted by winning the College Basketball Invitational championship this past season, the Niners’ first post-season tournament title in school history.

The 22 wins this past season are the most for Charlotte since 2001.

“Ron took over a proud but struggling program and carefully rebuilt it into a 22-game winner. He has led with class, dignity and devotion to our young men,” Charlotte director of athletics Mike Hill said. “His decision to step down from Charlotte was a difficult one for him and everyone associated with our program. We wish him and his family every happiness.”

Hill said the team has already begun a national search for a replacement.

“This is a bittersweet day for me and my family as I step down to pursue other opportunities,” said Sanchez, who came the 49ers after working as an assistant coach at Virginia under Tony Bennett. “It has been a tremendous privilege to lead the 49ers basketball program over the past five years and I want to thank Niner Nation for its support. I will be forever grateful to my staff, players and the university.”

Marquette extends Shaka Smart’s contract through 2029-30 season

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MILWAUKEE — Marquette coach Shaka Smart has received a contract extension after leading the Golden Eagles to their first outright regular-season championship and tournament title in the Big East.

Smart’s contract now runs through the 2029-30 season. This is the first extension Smart has received since signing a six-year deal when he took over as Marquette’s coach in 2021.

Marquette didn’t release financial terms of Smart’s deal.

“In a very short period of time, Shaka and his staff have done a tremendous job of establishing a winning culture, both on and off the court,” athletic director Bill Scholl said in a statement. “Shaka’s vision for the program is focused on extended, sustainable success. The individuals who interact with the team on a daily basis are able to observe frequent examples of growth and the excitement around the program is contagious.”

Marquette has gone 48-20 in Smart’s two seasons and reached the NCAA Tournament each of those years.

The Golden Eagles went 29-7 and won the Big East’s regular-season and tournament championships last season after the league’s coaches had picked them to finish ninth out of 11 teams. Marquette’s season ended with a 69-60 loss to Michigan State in the NCAA Tournament’s round of 32.

Purdue’s Edey returning to school at NBA draft deadline; Kentucky’s Tshiebwe stays in

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Purdue’s Zach Edey decided it was the right call to go back to school instead of staying in the NBA draft. His predecessor as national player of the year, Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe, is sticking with his pro pursuit.

And Connecticut’s reign as NCAA champion will begin with multiple starters having left for the NBA draft and one returning after flirting with doing the same.

The 7-foot-4 Edey and UConn guard Tristen Newton were among the notable names to announce that they were withdrawing from the draft, the NCAA’s deadline for players who declared as early entrants to pull out and retain their college eligibility.

Edey’s decision came in social media posts from both the center and the Boilermakers program that earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament behind Edey, The Associated Press men’s national player of the year.

But Tshiebwe announced late in the afternoon that he would remain in the draft after a college career that included being named the AP national player of the year in 2022.

For the current champions, Newton (10.1 points, 4.7 assists, 4.5 rebounds) is returning after being one of four Huskies to declare for the draft after a run to UConn’s fifth national championship in early April. He scored a game-high 19 points to go with 10 rebounds in the victory over San Diego State in the title game.

The others were Final Four Most Outstanding Player Adama Sanogo, wing Jordan Hawkins and versatile guard Andre Jackson Jr. Sanogo (17.8 points) and Hawkins (16.3) have made it clear they have closed the door on their college careers, while team spokesman Phil Chardis said that Jackson (6.1 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.6 assists) would remain in the draft.

The Huskies have 247sports’ No. 3-ranked recruiting class for next year to restock the roster, led by McDonald’s All-American point guard Stephon Castle.

The NBA’s withdrawal deadline is June 12, but is moot when it comes to college players returning to school due to the NCAA’s earlier timeline to retain playing eligibility.


TREY ALEXANDER: Creighton gets back a 6-4 guard who averaged 13.6 points and shot 41% from 3-point range in his first full season as a starter.

ADEM BONA: The 6-foot-10 forward and Pac-12 freshman of the year is returning to UCLA after starting 32 games as a rookie and averaging 7.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.7 blocks – with coach Mick Cronin praising his toughness for “competing through multiple injuries for as long as he could” in a statement Wednesday.

EDEY: He averaged 22.3 points, 12.9 rebounds, 2.1 blocks and 1.5 assists while shooting 60.7% from the field. His presence alone helps Purdue be a factor in the Big Ten race.

JOSIAH-JORDAN JAMES: The 6-6 guard went through the NBA G League Combine and had workouts with multiple teams before opting to return to Tennessee for a fifth season alongside teammate Santiago Vescovi.

JUDAH MINTZ: The 6-3 freshman averaged 16.3 points and 4.6 assists for Syracuse, ranking third among Division I freshmen in scoring behind only Alabama’s Brandon Miller and Lamar’s Nate Calmese.

OWLS’ RETURNEES: Florida Atlantic got good news after its surprise Final Four run with the return leading scorers Johnell Davis (13.8) and Alijah Martin (13.4). ESPN first reported their decisions, while Martin later posted a social media statement.

TERRENCE SHANNON JR.: Illinois got a big boost with Shannon announcing his night in a social media post. The 6-6 guard is returning for a fifth college season after averaging 17.2 points.

SPARTANS’ RETURNEES: Michigan State announced that guards Jaden Akins and A.J. Hoggard have withdrawn from the NBA draft. Standout guard Tyson Walker had previously withdrawn in April, setting up Tom Izzo to have five of his top scorers back.


KOBE BROWN: Missouri’s 6-8 swingman opted against returning for a fifth college season after being an AP first-team all-Southeastern Conference pick averaging 15.8 points last season.

JAYLEN CLARK: The third-year UCLA guard averaged 13.0 points and 6.0 rebounds while leading the Pac-12 with 2.6 steals en route to being named Naismith national defensive player of the year. Cronin called him a winner with strong intangibles who made UCLA “a better program because he chose to be a Bruin.”

BRICE SENSABAUGH: The Ohio State freshman averaged 16.3 points and 5.4 rebounds in 31 games before missing his final two in the Big Ten Tournament due to a knee injury. He’s a potential first-round prospect.

TSHIEBWE: The 6-9, 260-pound forward is a tough interior presence who led the country in rebounds for two straight seasons (15.1 in 2022, 13.7 in 2023) while racking up 48 double-doubles. But he faces an uncertain next stop and is projected at best as a second-round prospect.

North Carolina transfer Caleb Love commits to Arizona

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Caleb Love is now headed to Arizona.

The North Carolina transfer tweeted, less than a month after decommitting from Michigan, that he will play next season with the Wildcats.

“Caleb is a tremendously talented guard who has significant experience playing college basketball at a high level,” Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd said in a statement. “We look forward to helping Caleb grow his game at Arizona. And as we near the completion of the roster for the upcoming season, we feel great about how everything has come together. Now it’s time for the real work to start.”

A 6-foot-4 guard, Love averaged 14.6 points and 3.3 assists in three seasons at North Carolina. He averaged 17.6 points in seven NCAA Tournament games, helping lead the Tar Heels to the 2022 national championship game.

Love entered the transfer portal after leading North Carolina with 73 3-pointers as a junior and initially committed to Michigan. He decommitted from the Wolverines earlier this month, reportedly due to an admissions issue involving academic credits.

Love narrowed his transfer targets to three schools before choosing to play at Arizona over Gonzaga and Texas.

Love will likely start on a team that will have dynamic perimeter players, including Pelle Larsson, Kylan Boswell and Alabama transfer Jaden Bradley.

Biden celebrates LSU women’s and UConn men’s basketball teams at separate White House events


WASHINGTON – All of the past drama and sore feelings associated with Louisiana State’s invitation to the White House were seemingly forgotten or set aside Friday as President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden welcomed the championship women’s basketball team to the mansion with smiles, hugs and lavish praise all around.

The visit had once appeared in jeopardy after Jill Biden suggested that the losing Iowa team be invited, too. But none of that was mentioned as both Bidens heralded the players for their performance and the way they have helped advance women’s sports.

“Folks, we witnessed history,” the president said. “In this team, we saw hope, we saw pride and we saw purpose. It matters.”

The ceremony was halted for about 10 minutes after forward Sa’Myah Smith appeared to collapse as she and her teammates stood behind Biden. A wheelchair was brought in and coach Kim Mulkey assured the audience that Smith was fine.

LSU said in a statement that Smith felt overheated, nauseous and thought she might faint. She was evaluated by LSU and White House medical staff and was later able to rejoin the team. “She is feeling well, in good spirits, and will undergo further evaluation once back in Baton Rouge,” the LSU statement said.

Since the passage of Title IX in 1972, Biden said, more than half of all college students are women, and there are now 10 times more female athletes in college and high school. He said most sports stories are still about men, and that that needs to change.

Title IX prohibits discrimination based on sex in federally funded education programs and activities.

“Folks, we need to support women sports, not just during the championship run but during the entire year,” President Biden said.

After the Tigers beat Iowa for the NCAA title in April in a game the first lady attended, she caused an uproar by suggesting that the Hawkeyes also come to the White House.

LSU star Angel Reese called the idea “A JOKE” and said she would prefer to visit with former President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, instead. The LSU team largely is Black, while Iowa’s top player, Caitlin Clark, is white, as are most of her teammates.

Nothing came of Jill Biden’s idea and the White House only invited the Tigers. Reese ultimately said she would not skip the White House visit. She and co-captain Emily Ward presented team jerseys bearing the number “46” to Biden and the first lady. Hugs were exchanged.

Jill Biden also lavished praise on the team, saying the players showed “what it means to be a champion.”

“In this room, I see the absolute best of the best,” she said, adding that watching them play was “pure magic.”

“Every basket was pure joy and I kept thinking about how far women’s sports have come,” the first lady added, noting that she grew up before Title IX was passed. “We’ve made so much progress and we still have so much more work to do.”

The president added that “the way in which women’s sports has come along is just incredible. It’s really neat to see, since I’ve got four granddaughters.”

After Smith was helped to a wheelchair, Mulkey told the audience the player was OK.

“As you can see, we leave our mark where we go,” Mulkey joked. “Sa’Myah is fine. She’s kind of, right now, embarrassed.”

A few members of Congress and Biden aides past and present with Louisiana roots dropped what they were doing to attend the East Room event, including White House budget director Shalanda Young. Young is in the thick of negotiations with House Republicans to reach a deal by the middle of next week to stave off what would be a globally calamitous U.S. financial default if the U.S. can no longer borrow the money it needs to pay its bills.

The president, who wore a necktie in the shade of LSU’s purple, said Young, who grew up in Baton Rouge, told him, “I’m leaving the talks to be here.” Rep. Garret Graves, one of the House GOP negotiators, also attended.

Biden closed sports Friday by changing to a blue tie and welcoming the UConn’s men’s championship team for its own celebration. The Huskies won their fifth national title by defeating San Diego State, 76-59, in April.

“Congratulations to the whole UConn nation,” he said.