Crunch time for NCAA tournament bubble teams

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With conference tournaments now underway, we’ll be updating Bubble Banter more frequently.  Here’s the latest update as we move into a very busy hoops weekend.  Note: The USC-Washington State game isn’t included.  It will be updated on Friday.

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. If you would like great access to regular RPI information, Jerry Palm provides great information for all NCAA Tournament fans. A subscription is very reasonable.

UPDATED: Thursday, March 3 | 11:15 p.m. ET

Automatic Bids (31): None decided | Total Spots (68): Number of total teams in the Field.

  • Projected Locks (25): Teams who project to have secured a spot in the 2011 NCAA Tournament.
  • Should Be In (7): These teams are teams in solid position to receive an at-large bid.
  • Bubble: (27): Teams projected to be at or near the cutline for being selected as at-large candidates.
  • Spots available (11): Number of projected available openings for the bracket.
  • Leaving the Bubble: Cincinnati (SBI)
  • Joining the Bubble: None
  • Notes: RPI and SOS data are through 11:15 p.m. on March 3.
Atlantic 10
Locks: Xavier, Temple | Should Be In: None | Bubble: Richmond
  • Richmond (23-7 | 12-3) | RPI: 60 | SOS: 156 | – The Spiders have won three straight and close their regular season Saturday vs. Duquesne. A loss to anyone other than Temple or Xavier at this point can only hurt Richmond. The win over Purdue continues to be a major helping point, and a victory over VCU is worth noting. Richmond suffered lopsided losses in early meetings with Xavier and Temple. The Spiders would be a lot more comfortable if they managed to beat the Muskateers or Owls in the A-10 Tournament.
ACC
Locks: Duke, North Carolina | Should Be In: None | Bubble: Boston College, Clemson, Florida State, Virginia Tech
  • Boston College (18-11 | 8-7) | RPI: 38 | SOS: 18 | – The Eagles’ victory at Virginia Tech gave them a season sweep of the Hokies. BC closes at home Sunday against Wake Forest – a game the Eagles shouldn’t lose. BC remains just 1-5 vs. Top 50 RPI teams (Texas AM), but is 7-10 vs. the Top 100. The Eagles likely need to win at least one game in the ACC Tournament. Two would make them more comfortable on Selection Sunday.
  • Clemson (19-10 | 8-7) | RPI:65 | SOS: 83 | – No shame in losing at Duke, but it leaves the Tigers just 1-4 vs. Top 50 teams and without a marquis victory. The closing game at home with Virginia Tech is huge for both teams. A loss might eliminate Clemson from the at-large pool unless they make a long ACC Tournament run. Clemson’s overall resume is very modest and is backed by a No. 204 non-conference schedule. Clemson also has non-league losses to Old Dominion and Michigan – both of whom are fighting for at-large spots.
  • Florida State (20-9 | 10-5) | RPI: 51 | SOS: 85 | – Even with the home loss to North Carolina, Florida State remains in decent position as long as they don’t drop a road game at NC State and then fizzle early in the ACC Tournament. In that scenario, a weak non-conferense SOS (No. 209), could be problematic. The Seminoles are just 2-4 vs. Top 50 teams, although they do have a home win over Duke and beat Boston College in their only meeting. FSU also beat Baylor in Hawaii.
  • Virginia Tech (19-9 | 9-6) | RPI: 63 | SOS: 89 | – The Hokies could have put themselves in a much stronger position had they not fallen flat against Boston College on Tuesday. It took some luster off the victory over Duke and sets up a critical game this weekend at Clemson. With three sub-100 RPI losses – including being swept by Virgina – the Hokies’ room for error remains small. Beating Clemson and winning one ACC Tournament game would seal it. Something less could leave the door open for another heartbreak.
BIG EAST
Locks: Connecticut, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, Georgetown, Syracuse, Villanova, Louisville, St. John’s West Virginia | Should Be In: Cincinnati | Bubble: Marquette
  • Marquette (18-12 | 9-8) | RPI: 57 | SOS: 25 | – With its home loss to Cincinnati on Wednesday, Marquette is the final piece of the Big East puzzle left unsolved. The Golden Eagles are still in decent shape, but need to win at Seton Hall on Saturday. The Golden Eagles are 4-9 vs. Top 25 RPI teams – an amazing number of high-level games. Winning at Connecticut was huge because it proved that Marquette could win away from home. One more victory might be enough. Beating Seton Hall and winning a game in New York would likely seal it.
BIG 10
Locks: Ohio State, Purdue, Wisconsin | Should Be In: None | Bubble: Illinois, Michigan State, Michigan, Penn State
  • Illinois (18-12 | 8-9) | RPI: 39 | SOS: 13 | – No shame in losing a close game at Purdue on Tuesday, but it makes the Illini’s home game with Indiana absolutely huge. A loss would put a lot of pressure on the Illini to win a couple of games in Indy. Good wins include N. Carolina, at Gonzaga, Wisconsin, and Michigan State. Down the stretch, however, Illinois has gone 5-7 in its past 12 games. If there’s good news, the Illini beat Michigan in their only meeting. Strong SOS numbers and 10 Top 100 wins are a plus. The loss at UIC is a major sore point – along with a dropped game at Indiana in January.
  • Michigan State (16-12 | 9-8) | RPI: 43 | SOS: 8 | The Spartans exacted some revenge on the Hawkeyes by blasting Iowa at the Breslin Center Wednsday. MSU closes at Michigan and will try to avoid a season sweep at the hands of the Wolverines. The Spartans have won 3 of 4, but are just 3-9 vs. Top 50 teams. MSU is 9-11 vs. the Top 100 and the Spartans have played the nation’s No. 8 schedule. Winning at Michigan might be enough. Two more wins would most likely punch MSU’s ticket.
  • Michigan (17-12 | 8-9) | RPI: 58 | SOS: 24 | Winning at Minnesota wasn’t a great win, but it kept the Wolverines in the conversation. While there’s not a lot to love about the Wolverine’s profile (2-8 vs. Top 50 teams), they have won 7 of 10 and were a last-second banked-in three pointer at the buzzer from beating Wisconsin. Michigan closes at home against Michigan State. A weak bubble continues to help. Much like Marquette, Michigan has several close losses and a solid strength of schedule. On another note, Michigan lost to Illinois in its only matchup with the Illini; just something to keep in mind. On the flip side, the Wolverines swept Penn State.
  • Penn State (15-13 | 8-9) | RPI: 59 | SOS: 6 | The Nittany Lions were throttled at home by Ohio State Tuesday and are now a loss at Minnesota on Sunday from leaving the bubble. Penn State has three solid victories at home (Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan State) but the Lions are a just 2-8 away from home – a major disparity. PSU was also swept by Michigan. If PSU can win at Minnesota, they’ll have a chance if they can find a couple of victories in Indianapolis. Despite a solid SOS, PSU’s best non-conference victories are Fairfield and Duquesne. They also lost at Virginia Tech.
BIG 12
Locks: Kansas, Texas, Texas AM | Should Be In: Missouri, Kansas State | Bubble: Baylor, Colorado
  • Baylor (17-11 | 7-8) | RPI: 77 | SOS: 50 | – Baylor has dropped 4 of 5 following its loss Tuesday at Oklahoma State. About the only thing the Bears have in their favor is a season sweep of Texas AM. Even so, Baylor is just 2-5 vs. Top 50 teams and 5-8 vs. the Top 100. Out of conference, the Bears failed to win a Top 100 RPI game and their non-league SOS ranks No. 207. Up next is home date with Texas. Win and the Bears stay alive. Lose and an at-large bid might be out of reach.
  • Colorado (17-12 | 7-8) | RPI: 81 | SOS: 76 | – After the huge rally to beat Texas, Colorado lost its momentum Wednesday (again) at Iowa State. While CU has some high-level wins (5-6 vs. the top 50 and a sweep of Kansas State), a horrific non-conference SOS (No. 322) could prove to be an at-large killer. That, and a 3-9 record in true road games. The Buffs best non-conference win is over fellow bubble-dweller Colorado State. That could give the Selection Committee a reason to leave the Buffaloes at home. The season finale is at home with Nebraska. A loss would really put Colorado in a tough spot heading into the Big 12 tournament. CU is 9-12 vs. the Top 200 – the type of record that often suggests NIT.
MOUNTAIN WEST
Locks: BYU, San Diego State, UNLV | Should Be In: None | Bubble: Colorado State
  • Colorado State (18-10 | 9-6) | RPI: 47 | SOS: 38 | – The Rams’ at-large hopes took a major hit after the loss at Air Force last Saturday. It’s likely down to this: win at San Diego State or make a run to the Mountain West tourney championship. CSU’s best wins are at UNLV and Southern Miss, and the Rams’ once strong Mountain West record has fallen a bit. Outside the league, they lost to fellow bubbler Colorado, along with Sam Houston and Hampton. CSU is 2-5 vs. the Top 50 and 5-8 vs. the Top 100.
PAC 10
Locks: NONE | Should Be In: Arizona, UCLA | Bubble: Washington, Washington State
  • Washington (20-9 | 11-6) | RPI: 41 | SOS: 60 | – Huskies earned a critical home win over UCLA Thursday to set up their finale with USC this weekend. The victory gave UW a season sweep of the Bruins – which could be huge. At the same time, the Huskies best non-league win is Long Beach State, so UW still doesn’t have a lot of wiggle room. It might be a good idea to win at least one Pac-10 tournament game.
  • Washington State (18-10 | 8-8) | RPI: 70 | SOS: 92 | – Note: Update coming Friday. After pulling an upset in Washington last weekend, the Cougars now own a season sweep of the Huskies. It also keeps WSU in the at-large discussion. With a weak bubble, who knows. Overall, WSU is still just 2-5 vs. Top 50 teams (both Washington) and 6-7 vs. Top 100 teams. Other notable wins are Gonzaga and Baylor. UCLA visits to close the season. WSU could use a couple more wins to feel safe.
SEC
Locks: Florida, Kentucky, Vanderbilt | Should Be In: Tennessee | Bubble: Georgia, Alabama
  • Georgia (20-9 | 9-6) | RPI: 37 | SOS: 35 | – Having won at Tennesse and beaten Kentucky, the Bulldogs are in decent position. They avoided a miscue vs. LSU and now travel to Alabama on Saturday. A victory there could be enough. A loss wouldn’t be devastating, but things could get dicey if the Bulldogs followed it with an early exit at the SEC Tournament. Outside the league, Georgia beat Colorado but lost to Xavier and Temple. An upside is that Georgia has avoided any bad losses. Overall, the Bulldogs are 3-9 vs. the Top 50 and 5-9 vs. the Top 100.
  • Alabama (19-10 | 11-4) | RPI: 86 | SOS: 129 | – Back-to-back losses have dropped the Tide below the cutline heading into action this weekend. A strong SEC record is all that’s carrying ‘Bama at this point – wins include Kentucky and at Tennessee. Then again, the SEC West is well below average. Outside the SEC, Alabama’s profile is very questionable. Their non-conference SOS ranks No. 279 and the Tide’s best non-league win is Lipscomb. Whether the Committee would have overlooked the Tide’s poor start (losses to St. Peter’s, Iowa, Seton Hall) largely depended on how the Tide finished. Right now, that isn’t looking nearly as strong as it did two weeks ago.
BEST OF THE REST
Locks: NONE | Should Be In: George Mason | Bubble: Butler, Cleveland State, Missouri State, Old Dominion, Memphis, Southern Mississippi, UAB, Gonzaga, St. Mary’s, Utah State
  • Butler (20-9 | 13-5) | RPI: 45 | SOS: 80 | – Butler finished its regular season with 7 straight wins to earn the 2-seed and double bye in the Horizon League Tournament. A win over Florida State in Hawaii could still help as could a win over Washington State if the Cougars rally. It’s the five league losses – including a sweep by Milwaukee – that’s holding Butler back. Getting to the Horizon League final would put BU right on the cutline.
  • Cleveland State (23-7 | 14-5) | RPI: 42 | SOS: 121 | – Vikings have to reach the Horizon League Tournament final to stay on the bubble.
  • Missouri State (23-7 | 15-3) | RPI: 40 | SOS: 125 | – Missouri State wrapped up the Missouri Valley title by beating Wichita State a second time last weekend. That helps. However, the Bears’ best non-conference win is Pacific, and they have only two Top 100 RPI wins (both Wichita State). MSU has to reach the MVC Tournament final. After that, we’ll see.
  • Memphis (21-9 | 9-6) | RPI: 36 | SOS: 42 | – Memphis followed up its loss at UTEP with another at East Carolina – giving the Tigers 3 losses in 4 games. Memphis was also blown out in its prime-time matchups with Kansas, Georgetown and Tennessee. A win at Gonzaga is Memphis’ only non-conference victory of note. The Tigers do have a season sweep of both UAB and Southern Miss but how much weight will that hold? Memphis closes with Tulane at home. The Tigers need that one and likely a trip to the C-USA final.
  • UAB (21-7 | 11-4) | RPI: 28 | SOS: 59 | – Beating Southern Miss Wednesday pushed the Blazers into first place in the C-USA standings with a game to go. An outright title would certainly help an overall weak at-large resume. UAB can wrap it up with a win vs. East Carolina on Saturday. The Blazers are just 1-5 vs. Top 50 teams, but do have 8 Top 100 wins. Their best non-league win is VCU, and the Blazers were swept by Memphis. It might still take an appearance in the C-USA title game to earn at-large bid. UAB has won 6 of 7 games.
  • Southern Mississippi (18-8 | 9-6) | RPI: 42 | SOS: 87 | – The Eagles have lost two straight and are barely hanging on at this point. The Eagles have a win at California and beat UAB in their first meeting, but that’s about it. A non-conference SOS ranked No. 240 is hurting. USM has to win at Tulsa Saturday or their at-large hopes are effectively over.
  • Old Dominion (24-6 | 14-4) | RPI: 27 | SOS: 75 | – ODU ended its regular season by beating William & Mary. The Monarchs finished tied for second in a good Colonial conference. While ODU is in good shape, we’ll leave them here until they win a game or two in the CAA Tournament. Good wins include Xavier, George Mason and Cleveland State. ODU played the No. 15 non-conference schedule and came within 3-points of beating Georetown.
  • VCU (21-10 | 12-6) | RPI: 64 | SOS: 106 | – After losing 4 of 5 down the stretch, VCU is barely holding onto a bubble spot. Any loss before an appearance in the CAA final will end the Rams’ hopes.
  • Gonzaga (21-9 | 11-3) | RPI: 68 | SOS: 103 | – Gonzaga has won 9 of 10 heading into the WCC Tournament in Las Vegas. They have wins over Xavier, Marquette, and Baylor, as well as a home loss to Memphis. The ‘Zags split two games with St. Mary’s. A 2-6 mark vs. Top 50 RPI teams is somewhat concerning, but a 7-7 mark vs. the Top 100 helps. Reaching the WCC final might be enough.
  • St. Mary’s (21-7 | 11-3) | RPI: 48 | SOS: 113 | – The Gaels are a perfect example of why we don’t rush to move teams off the bubble. St. Mary’s lost three straight before beating Portland to close regular-season play. That left SMC in a tie with Gonzaga atop the West Coast Conference. An early win over St. John’s helps, and St. Mary’s split with Gonzaga. The rest of the resume is light, however, (1-4 vs. Top 50 teams and 4-6 vs. the Top 100). In the at-large discussion, the Gaels would currently fall behind Gonzaga. A home loss to Utah State could also pose a problem. Reaching the WCC final might be enough.
  • Utah State (26-3 | 14-1) | RPI: 19 | SOS: 107 | – The Aggies thoroughly dominated the WAC and may very well have done enough. Still, with a very light 2-2 mark vs. Top 100 teams – and one of those being Long Beach State (No. 95) – we can’t assume USU is a lock. Avoiding an early WAC flameout would be advised. Reach the final and it could be difficult to leave the Aggies home on Selection Sunday.

John Petty Jr. returns to Alabama for senior season

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama guard John Petty Jr. is staying in school instead of entering the NBA draft.

The Crimson Tide junior announced his decision to return for his senior season Monday on Twitter, proclaiming: “I’m back.”

Petty, the Tide’s top 3-point shooter, averaged 14.5 points and a team-high 6.6 rebounds rebounds last season. He was second on the team in assists.

Petty made 85 3-pointers in 29 games, shooting at a 44% clip.

Alabama coach Nate Oats called him “one of the best, if not the best, shooters in the country.”

“He’s made it clear that it’s his goal to become a first round pick in the 2021 NBA Draft and we’re going to work with him to make sure he’s in the best position to reach that goal,” Oats said.

Fellow Tide guard Kira Lewis Jr. is regarded as a likely first-round draft pick.

McKinley Wright IV returns to Colorado

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McKinley Wright IV will be back for season No. 4 with the Colorado Buffaloes.

The point guard tested the NBA draft process before announcing a return for his senior year. It’s a big boost for a Buffaloes team that’s coming off a 21-11 mark in 2019-20 and was potentially looking at an NCAA Tournament bid before the season was halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wright was an All-Pac-12 first team selection a season ago, along with an all-defensive team pick. He and athletic forward Tyler Bey declared for the draft in late March. Bey remains in the draft.

“We’ve got unfinished business,” said Wright, who averaged 14.4 points and 5.0 assists per game last season.

Midway through the season, the Buffaloes were looking like a lock for their first NCAA Tournament appearance since ’15-16. Then, the team hit a five-game skid, including a loss to Washington State in the Pac-12 tournament. Simply put, they hit a defensive rut they just couldn’t shake out of, Wright said. It drove him to work that much harder in the offseason.

“This is my last go-around and I’ve got big dreams,” the 6-footer from Minnesota said. “I want to take CU to a place they haven’t been in a while. We want to go back to the tournament and win high-level games.”

The feedback from NBA scouts was reaffirming for Wright. He said they appreciated his transition game, movement away from the ball and his defensive intangibles. They also gave Wright areas he needed to shore up such as assist-to-turnover ratio and shooting the 3-pointer with more consistency.

He took it to heart while training in Arizona during the pandemic. He recently returned to Boulder, Colorado, where he’s going through quarantine before joining his teammates for workouts.

“The work I put in and the time I spent in the gym compared to all my other offseasons, it’s a big gap,” Wright said. “Last offseason, I thought I worked hard. But it was nothing compared to the time and different type of mindset I put myself in this year.”

Another motivating factor for his return was this: a chance to be the first in his family to earn his college degree. He’s majoring in ethnic studies with a minor in communications.

“My grandparents are excited about that. My parents are excited about that,” Wright said. “I’m excited about that as well.”

Wright also has an opportunity to take over the top spot on the school’s all-time assists list. His 501 career assists trail only Jay Humphries, who had 562 from 1980-84. Wright also ranks 13th all-time with 1,370 career points.

NOTES: Colorado announced the death of 95-year-old fan Betty Hoover, who along with her twin sister, Peggy Coppom, became fixtures at Buffs sporting events and were season ticket holders since 1958. Wright used to run into them not only on the court, but at the local bank. “I’ve never met anyone as loving and supporting and caring as those two,” Wright said. “They hold a special place in my heart. It sucks that Betty won’t be at any games this year. Maybe we can do something, put her name on our jersey. They’re two of the biggest fans in CU history.”

Jared Butler returns to Baylor

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Baylor got some huge news on Monday as potential All-American Jared Butler announced that he will be returning to school for his junior season, joining MaCio Teague is pulling his name out of the 2020 NBA Draft to get the band back together.

Butler was Baylor’s leading scorer a season ago, averaging 16.0 points and 3.1 assists for a team that went 26-4, spent a portion of the season as the No. 1 team in the country and was in line to receive a 1-seed had the 2020 NCAA Tournament taken place.

With Butler and Teague coming back to school, the Bears will return four starters from last season’s squad. Starting center Freddie Gillespie is gone, as is backup guard Devonte Bandoo, but those are holes that can be filled. Tristan Clark, who was Baylor’s best player during the 2018-19 season before suffering a knee injury that lingered through last year, will be back, and there is more than enough talent in the program to replace the scoring pop of Bandoo. Matthew Mayer will be in line for more minutes, while transfer Adam Flagler will be eligible this season.

Baylor will enter this season as a consensus top three team in the country. They will receive plenty of votes as the No. 1 team in the sport, making them not only a very real contender for the Big 12 regular season crown but one of the favorites to win the national title.

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As MaCio Teague returns, Baylor now awaits Jared Butler’s NBA draft decision

Butler is the key.

Baylor was one of college basketball’s best defensive teams last year. They finished fourth nationally in KenPom’s defensive efficiency metric, a ranking that dropped after they Bears lost two of their last three games to TCU and West Virginia. Where they struggled was on the offensive end of the floor. The Bears would go through droughts were points were at a premium and their best offense was a missed shot. Butler’s intrigue for NBA teams was his ability to shoot and to create space in isolation. He’s the one guy on the roster that can create something out of nothing for himself.

And now he is back to try and lead Baylor to a Final Four.

Arizona State’s Martin to return for senior season

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TEMPE, Ariz. (–Arizona State guard Remy Martin is withdrawing from the NBA draft and will return for his senior season in the desert.

“I’m blessed to have the opportunity to coach Remy Martin for one more season,” Sun Devils coach Bobby Hurley said in a statement Sunday. “Remy will be one of the best players in college basketball this year and will be on a mission to lead Arizona State basketball in its pursuit of championships.”

A 6-foot guard, Martin is the Pac-12’s leading returning scorer after averaging 19.1 points in 2019-20. He also averaged 4.1 assists per game and helped put the Sun Devils in position to reach the NCAA Tournament for the third straight year before the season was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Martin’s return should put Arizona State among the favorites to win the Pac-12 next season.

Martin joins fellow guard Alonzo Verge Jr. in returning to the Sun Devils after testing the NBA waters. Big man Romello White declared for the draft and later entered the transfer portal.

Hurley has signed one of the program’s best recruiting classes for next season, headed by five-star guard Josh Christopher.

Michigan State forward Xavier Tillman will remain in the 2020 NBA Draft

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In the end, Xavier Tillman Sr.’s decision whether or not to return to remain in the 2020 NBA Draft for his senior season came down to security.

A 6-foot-8 forward that averaged 13.7 points, 10.3 boards, 3.0 assists and 2.1 blocks this past season, Tillman was an NBC Sports third-team All-American a season ago. He’s projected as the No. 23 pick in the latest NBC Sports mock draft. He was the best NBA prospect that had yet to make a decision on his future until Sunday.

That’s when Tillman announced that he will be foregoing his final season of college eligibility to head to the NBA.

In the end, it’s probably the right decision, but it’s not one that the big fella made easily.

Tillman is unlike most college basketball players forced to make a decision on their basketball future. He is married. He has two kids, a three-year old daughter and a six-month old son. This is not a situation where he can bet on himself, head to the pro ranks and figure it out later on.

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He needs something stable, particularly given the fact that we are living in the midst of a pandemic that has put the future of sports in doubt, at least for the short term.

He needs security.

He needed to know that there would be a job for him in the NBA. Not a two-way contract. Not a spot on a camp roster or a chance to develop in the G League. Hell, there might not even be a G League next season. That was an option at Michigan State. He was living in an apartment with his family that was covered by his scholarship and stipend. He had meals paid for. He was able to take food from the training room home and have dinner with his family. He was able to get to class, to the gym, to practice and back home in time to do the dishes at night. He told NBC Sports in March that the school was able to provide him with $1,200-a-month to help pay for things like diapers high chairs. That was all going to be there if he returned to school. It was a great situation, one that lacked the uncertainty that comes with the professional level.

Because as much as I love Tillman as a role player at the next level, NBA teams do not all feel the same. The tricky thing about the draft is that it makes sense to swing for the fences on the guys that can be locked into salaries for the first four years of a contract. The Toronto Raptors took Pascal Siakam with the 27th pick and have paid less than $7 million in total salary in his first four years for a player that made an all-star team. Kyle Kuzma is averaging 16.0 points through three seasons and is on the books for $3.5 million in year four.

Tillman’s ability to defend, his basketball IQ, his play-making and his professional demeanor means that he can step into the modern NBA and do a job as a rotation player for just about any team in the league. But he doesn’t have the upside that other bigs in the same projected range have — Jalen Smith, Daniel Oturu, Jaden McDaniels, Zeke Nnaji — so there are teams that are scared off.

I don’t get it.

But Tillman’s decision to head to the professional ranks indicates that he does, indeed, feel confident in the fact that he will have gainful and steady employment next season. Since he would have walked at Michigan State’s graduation in May had it been held, that doesn’t leave much to return to school for.

The Spartans will now be left in a tough spot. There are quite a few pieces to like on this roster. Rocket Watts had promising moments as a freshman, as did Malik Hall. Gabe Brown and Marcus Bingham are both talented players. Joey Hauser had a good season at Marquette, and the early returns on freshman Mady Sissoko are promising. But this is going to be a young and unproven group.

Izzo has had less at his disposal before, but this is certainly not an ideal situation for Michigan State.