It’s getting to be that time of year.
Bubble Banter is back, baby!
Over the course of the next three days, we are going to be diving headlong into bubble chatter right here, breaking down every single team that is on or near the bubble for the NCAA tournament Field of 68. This, of course, is according to our Dave Ommen, who sent me a list of all the bubble teams. Our cut-off, at least for this conversation, is teams that currently sit as a No. 9 seed or better in the most recent bracket that we released.
Because — with the notable exception of Ohio State — it is difficult to see how any of those teams can end up out of the NCAA tournament before our next bracket projection gets published on Monday.
So, you know, they’re not currently on the bubble.
Anyway, come back throughout the weekend to see who the winners and the losers are and what it means for their standing in regards to the cut line.
Wisconsin at PURDUE, 7:00 p.m.
YALE at Brown, 7:00 p.m.
VCU at La Salle, 12:00 p.m.
PITT at SYRACUSE, 12:00 p.m.
ST. JOHN’S at DEPAUL, 2:00 p.m.
VIRGINIA TECH at Boston College, 2:00 p.m.
LSU at TEXAS, 2:00 p.m.
OKLAHOMA at MISSISSIPPI STATE, 2:00 p.m.
RHODE ISLAND at St. Bonaventure, 3:00 p.m.
UNCG at Samford, 3:00 p.m.
AKRON at Ohio, 3:30 p.m.
LIBERTY at Stetson, 4:00 p.m.
Chattanooga at EAST TENNESSEE STATE, 4:00 p.m.
N.C. STATE at Georgia Tech, 4:00 p.m.
SMU at MEMPHIS, 4:00 p.m.
TENNESSEE at No. 3 Kansas, 4:00 p.m.
BYU at San Francisco, 5:00 p.m.
No. 7 Dayton at RICHMOND, 6:00 p.m.
No. 15 Kentucky at No. 18 TEXAS TECH, 6:00 p.m.
Kansas State at ALABAMA, 6:00 p.m.
Washington State at UTAH, 7:00 p.m.
NOTRE DAME at No. 5 Florida State, 8:00 p.m.
SAINT MARY’S at LMU, 9:00 p.m.
WASHINGTON at No. 23 Colorado, 9:00 p.m.
No. 22 Arizona at ARIZONA STATE, 9:30 p.m.
Colorado State at UTAH STATE, 10:00 p.m.
VIRGINIA at Wake Forest, 12:00 p.m.
No. 11 Michigan State at MINNESOTA, 3:00 p.m.
Fordham at SAINT LOUIS, 3:00 p.m.
XAVIER at Creighton, 4:00 p.m.
Loyola-Chicago at NORTHERN IOWA, 4:00 p.m.
OHIO STATE at Northwestern, 6:30 p.m.
As always, the Vegas lines are not out for the weekend games, so we will be breaking them down using KenPom, Torvik and Haslametric projections.
MARQUETTE at No. 13 BUTLER, 9:00 p.m.
- KENPOM: Butler 72, Marquette 66
- TORVIK: Butler 72, Marquette 66
- HASLAM: Butler 71, Marquette 64
- VEGAS IMPLIED SCORE: Butler 70, Marquette 64
In theory, this is an ideal buy-low spot for Butler. They are coming off of three straight losses, the last two of which came on the road. The loss at DePaul was a bad matchup, and the loss at Villanova was a result of Sean McDermott and Jordan Tucker shooting a combined 1-for-12 from three until the final minute of a 15-point loss.
Marquette, on the other hand, is in a prime sell-high spot. The Golden Eagles have won three in a row. Two of them came at home and the third was at Georgetown, a team that is down to just seven scholarship players. Trying to predict the nights that Markus Howard doesn’t score 30-plus is more or less impossible, but I do think that it is worth noting Butler is 12th nationally in defensive three-point field goal percentage and has a couple of quality perimeter defenders they can throw at him.
BEST BET: The logic says to bet Butler here. The problem is that, at Butler (-6) or (-6.5), I don’t think we’re buying Butler low or selling Marquette high. KenPom and Torvik both have the line at (-6) while Haslam has it at (-7). I was hoping to get it at (-5) or lower, which is unfortunate. Either way, if I’m going to be betting this game — which, let’s be honest, is probably going to happen — it will be with Butler.
Oh, and Butler is unveiling Butler IV, their new puppy, tonight. Never fade the puppy play.
No. 15 KENTUCKY at No. 18 TEXAS TECH, 6:00 p.m.
- KENPOM: Texas Tech 67, Kentucky 64
- TORVIK: Texas Tech 67, Kentucky 64
- HASLAM: Texas Tech 69, Kentucky 63
- VEGAS IMPLIED SCORE: N/A
The more I think about this, the more I like the Texas Tech side here. I do think that the Red Raiders have one of the best coaching staffs when it comes to developing and instituting a game-plan. That’s a problem for a Kentucky team that tends to be fairly limited in what they run offensively. Put another way, Kentucky tends to figure out what works for them and run it over and over and over again. Their playbook shrinks as the season progresses, and that’s the kind of thing that Chris Beard and Mark Adams can take advantage of.
This is also a good buy-low spot for Texas Tech, considering that they are coming home off of a loss at TCU.
On the other side of the ball, I do worry about Texas Tech’s ability to create offense. They have struggled on that end, and I don’t think they actually have the front court pieces to be able to pull Nick Richards out of the paint.
BEST BETS: I’ll be curious to see where the line opens up here. I lean Texas Tech at anything (-4) and below, and I hope that the Kentucky effect can push that line much lower. I also will be on the under. If I think Texas Tech will have trouble to score, and Kentucky will have trouble to score, it only makes sense.
No. 1 BAYLOR at FLORIDA, 6:00 p.m.
- KENPOM: Baylor 65, Florida 64
- TORVIK: Baylor 65, Florida 63
- HASLAM: Baylor 65, Florida 64
- VEGAS IMPLIED SCORE: N/A
Baylor feels like they’re due for a loss, right?
They needed to erase a 12-point second half deficit at Oklahoma State last weekend. On Monday night, they nearly had Austin Reaves hitting a three in the final seconds to give Oklahoma a win in Waco. And now they are heading back out on the road to take on a Florida team that has been better of late?
Here’s to hoping that this line gets inflated because of the number next to Baylor’s name.
I also believe that the under is in play here. Baylor is one of the nation’s best defensive teams. Florida has not been as good on that end of the floor of late, but they, too, have shown flashes of being able to guard. They also matchup well with the Bears. But more importantly, I don’t believe that either of these teams are going to try and push the tempo. Florida has shown a frustrating determination to play possession by possession this season, while the Bears rank 269th in average offensive possession length.
BEST BET: I’ll be targeting the Florida ML here, particularly if the Gators end up getting points, but taking the under seems like the best play in this game.
No. 8 VILLANOVA at PROVIDENCE, 12:00 p.m.
- KENPOM: Villanova 70, Providence 68
- TORVIK: Providence 70, Villanova 69
- HASLAM: Villanova 68, Providence 66
- VEGAS IMPLIED SCORE: N/A
It’s not going to feel comfortable, but this feels like a good spot to take Providence. Villanova has won five in a row and 11 of their last 12, but their last four games have been played at home. They’ve failed to cover in two of their last three games and are just 1-3 against the spread on the road this season.
Providence has lost back-to-back games on the road, covering the spread in both games, and have covered in six of their last eight games.
BEST BET: I’ll be on the Providence side, but whether I take the Providence ML or take the points will depend on what the line opens up at.
No. 21 ILLINOIS at MICHIGAN, 12:00 p.m.
- KENPOM: Michigan 71, Illinois 68
- TORVIK: Michigan 71, Illinois 68
- HASLAM: Michigan 71, Illinois 69
- VEGAS IMPLIED SCORE: N/A
The logic here is going to be exceedingly simple: Illinois is as hot as any team in the country right now. They’ve won five straight games, including wins at Wisconsin and at Purdue, the latter of which was by 17 points. Michigan, on the other hand, has not been the same team since they lost Isaiah Livers to a groin injury and, since January 1st, they’ve ranked 127th nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency, according to Torvik.
BEST BET: I’ll be all over the Illinois ML, especially if this line opens up at Illinois (+3).
TENNESSEE at No. 3 KANSAS, 4:00 p.m.
- KENPOM: Kansas 68, Tennessee 54
- TORVIK: Kansas 68, Tennessee 54
- HASLAM: Kansas 70, Tennessee 50
- VEGAS IMPLIED SCORE: N/A
Kansas ranks No. 1 nationally in adusted defensive efficiency, according to KenPom. They’re third in Torvik’s rating system. Since Lamonte Turner saw his season come to an end, Tennessee has ranked 251st nationally if adjusted offensive efficiency. The one point guard on their roster, freshman Santiago Vescovi, is averaging 5.0 turnovers per game despite playing just 24.5 minutes — to be fair, he had 21 turnovers in his first three games and has had just nine in the last three.
BEST BETS: I think Kansas rolls here after a week of hearing how bad they are because of Tuesday night’s fight.
No. 17 MARYLAND at INDIANA, 1:00 p.m.
- KENPOM: Maryland 67, Indiana 66
- TORVIK: Indiana 67, Maryland 65
- HASLAM: Maryland 66, Indiana 64
- VEGAS IMPLIED SCORE: N/A
Maryland is 1-4 on the road this season. Their one win came at Northwestern in a game where they trailed by 14 points in the first half. The Terps might be the worst road team in the Big Ten, a league where road teams have been terrible this season.
BEST BET: If Indiana is getting points, take the ML. I also will be interested in betting the Indiana first half line. Fade Turgeon is in full effect this weekend.
No. 11 MICHIGAN STATE at MINNESOTA, 3:00 p.m.
- KENPOM: Michigan State 72, Minnesota 71
- TORVIK: Michigan State 72, Minnesota 71
- HASLAM: Michigan State 72, Minnesota 70
- VEGAS IMPLIED SCORE: N/A
This is a tough spot for me. Michigan State has not been great away from East Lansing this season and they are coming off of a road loss at Indiana on Thursday night. That said, their loss came after erasing a 16-point first half deficit in a game where Xavier Tillman missed a wide-open layup that would have forced overtime.
BEST BET: I will be staying away from this game.
Kentucky will be down a five-star recruit for the rest of the season.
Kahlil Whitney, who was the No. 11 prospect in the Class of 2019, according to 247 Sports’ composite ranking, announced on Friday that he will be leaving the Kentucky program.
“My time at Kentucky has not gone as I had hoped,” Whitney wrote in a statement released on his twitter page, “and I therefore need to make a difficult decision quickly to put myself back in to the best position possible as I continue to develop and work towards my ultimate goal.
“I’ve realized since high school that the business of basketball waits for no one, and sometimes tough choices need to be made in order to progress.”
Whitney was a starter early on in the season for the Wildcats, but he has been relegated to a limited role off the bench since league play started. He’s averaged 3.3 points in less than 13 minutes. In the last seven games he’s averaging just 6.1 minutes.
Whitney’s statement does not mention transferring, but if he did opt to head to a different school, he will not be eligible to play until 2021-22 without a waiver.
Here is the latest NCAA tournament bracketology projection.
It’s been a while since we could say this: All four No. 1 seeds remained in place between bracket updates: Baylor, Gonzaga, Kansas and San Diego State.
Elsewhere, more than a handful of teams still have significant resume questions. And several current bubble teams have important showdowns this weekend – including key matchups in the Big 12 / SEC Challenge.
On a closing note … remember that the Selection Committee evaluates a team’s entire profile, from beginning to end. How a team performed in its last ten games is no longer an official criteria (although each Committee member may have his or her own perspective on its importance). So while Ohio State and Michigan, as examples, have both struggled of late, each team’s early wins remain relevant considerations with regard to team sheet evaluation.
The latest look at where our NCAA tournament bracketology projection stands …
UPDATED: January 24, 2020
|FIRST FOUR – DAYTON
|EAST REGION||Oklahoma vs. VCU|
|MIDWEST REGION||Minnesota vs. Texas Tech|
|SOUTH REGION||PR VIEW AM vs. NORFOLK ST|
|WEST REGION||MONMOUTH vs. ROBERT MORRIS|
|SOUTH – Houston||WEST – Los Angeles|
|1) BAYLOR||1) GONZAGA|
|16) PV-AM / NORFOLK ST||16) MONMOUTH / ROB MORRIS|
|8) USC||8) Wichita State|
|9) Michigan||9) Arkansas|
|5) Butler||5) Arizona|
|12) EAST TENNESSEE ST||12) AKRON|
|4) Maryland||4) Iowa|
|13) S.F. AUSTIN||13) NEW MEXICO ST|
|6) Wisconsin||6) Marquette|
|11) Virginia Tech||11) NC State|
|3) Villanova||3) West Virginia|
|14) COLGATE||14) LITTLE ROCK|
|7) Rutgers||7) Indiana|
|10) Memphis||10) BYU|
|2) Florida State||2) Oregon|
|15) AUSTIN PEAY||15) UC-IRVINE|
|EAST – New York||MIDWEST – Indianapolis|
|1) SAN DIEGO STATE||1) Kansas|
|16) WINTHROP||16) MONTANA|
|8) STANFORD||8) HOUSTON|
|9) Florida||9) Ohio State|
|5) Penn State||5) Creighton|
|12) LIBERTY||12) YALE|
|4) Kentucky||4) DAYTON|
|13) VERMONT||13) NORTH TEXAS|
|6) Auburn||6) Colorado|
|11) Oklahoma / VCU||11) Minnesota / Texas Tech|
|3) Duke||3) LOUISVILLE|
|14) WRIGHT STATE||14) LOYOLA-CHICAGO|
|7) Illinois||7) LSU|
|10) Saint Mary’s||10) DePaul|
|2) SETON HALL||2) MICHIGAN STATE|
|15) WILLIAM & MARY||15) SOUTH DAKOTA ST|
|Last 4 Byes||Last 4 IN||First 4 OUT||Next 4 OUT|
|Saint Mary’s||Oklahoma||Xavier||Arizona State|
|Virginia Tech||Texas Tech||Georgetown||Mississippi State|
|NC State||VCU||Rhode Island||Tennessee|
Top Seed Line
Baylor, Gonzaga, Kansas, San Diego State
Breakdown by Conference …
Big Ten (11)
Big East (6)
Big 12 (5)
Pac 12 (5)
West Coast (3)
Atlantic 10 (2)
Mountain West (1)
EUGENE, Ore. — Paying close attention paid off for Oregon’s Chris Duarte.
The junior guard had 30 points, 11 rebounds and eight steals, and the No. 12 Ducks outlasted Southern California 79-70 in double overtime Thursday night.
“I was watching the point guard’s eyes. I was watching everybody’s eyes. So I knew where they were going to pass the ball,” Duarte said. “So I took that as an advantage.”
Oregon teammate Payton Pritchard added 24 points and seven assists, becoming the first Pac-12 player to reach 1,500 career points, 600 assists and 500 rebounds. When the achievement was noted on the video scoreboard at Matthew Knight Arena in the second half, the crowd gave the senior guard a standing ovation.
Pritchard is the sixth player in Pac-12 history with 1,500 points and 600 assists, joining Oregon State’s Gary Payton, Arizona’s Damon Stoudamire and Jason Gardner, USC’s Jordan McLaughlin and UCLA’s Tyus Edney.
Oregon (16-4, 5-2) led by 11 in the second half but USC rallied with a 17-2 run to take a 62-58 lead, capped by Jonah Mathews’ 3-pointer with 1:24 left.
C.J. Walker and Pritchard hit consecutive layups to tie it at 62 and send the game to overtime.
Pritchard’s 3-pointer in the first extra period gave the Ducks a 65-64 lead, but Ethan Anderson’s layup and free throw put the Trojans up by two. Duarte made free throws for the Ducks to tie it again, and Mathews and Pritchard both missed shots down the stretch.
Duarte and Pritchard each hit a pair of free throws that gave Oregon a four-point advantage to open the second overtime. Duarte’s 3-pointer put the Ducks up 74-68, and USC couldn’t catch up.
Duarte’s eight steals were one shy of the school record.
“He was the difference in the game,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said. “No doubt about it.”
Onyeka Okongwu had 23 points and 14 rebounds for the Trojans (15-4, 4-2).
“You’ve got to take care of the ball. Some ill-timed passes that went to the other guys. We just have to make the right basketball play,” USC coach Andy Enfield said. “Give them credit, they’re a good defensive team.”
It was Oregon’s third overtime game in league play.
Oregon was coming off a 64-61 overtime win at Washington last weekend. The Ducks overcame a 16-point deficit and won it on Pritchard’s 3-pointer with 3.4 seconds left. But Oregon lost to Washington State 72-61 last Thursday, resulting in a fall from No. 8 to No. 12 in the AP Top 25.
USC had won nine of its last 10 games and three straight, including last Saturday’s 82-78 overtime victory against Stanford. The Trojans came back from a 21-point deficit in the second half to beat the Cardinal.
The Ducks built an early 15-7 lead after Duarte’s fast-break layup and 3-pointer. Oregon stayed in front, but USC closed to 24-23 on Daniel Utomi’s jumper.
The teams went to the break with Oregon ahead 32-30. Utomi led all scorers with 10 points.
Okongwu’s layup for USC tied it at 32 to start the second half but the Ducks responded with a 10-0 run, capped by Duarte’s jumper off a dish from Pritchard. Okongwu’s dunk ended the Trojans’ scoring drought.
Okongwu made consecutive baskets to pull USC to 56-53, and Matthews tied it with a 3-pointer to top off an 11-0 Trojans run. Pritchard answered with a layup for Oregon.
Freshman forward Chandler Lawson’s layup stretched the Ducks’ lead to 49-38 midway through the second half.
“A lot of things we’ve got to work on. But we got some defensive stops when we needed it, we got some big rebounds when we needed it, and just found a way to win the game,” Altman said. “We’ve been doing that too much, though. We’ve got to find a way to get our offense cranked a little bit.”
Lawson made his first start for the Ducks after he had 16 points and 12 rebounds against Washington. Oregon was without center N’Faly Dante, who was questionable for the game after hurting his knee against the Huskies.
Pritchard was one of just two Division I players averaging at least 19 points, five assists and four rebounds per game, joining Pepperdine’s Colbey Ross.
USC: The Trojans started 4-1 in conference play for the first time since 2016. USC went 5-0 to open conference play in 2002. … Enfield said afterward that this loss stung. “We’ve played a few close games this year. We won three or four close ones,” he said. “We were right there and we lost. It hurts when you lose a game and have a chance.”
Oregon: Pritchard is closing in on Oregon’s career record of 614 assists held by Kenya Wilkins. … Pritchard has won 96 games as a Ducks player, one shy of Oregon’s career leader, Johnathan Lloyd. … Sabrina Ionescu, star guard for the No. 4 Oregon women, was at the game and was interviewed by the Pac-12 broadcast team during the first half.
USC visits Oregon State on Saturday.
Oregon hosts UCLA on Sunday.