Bubble Banter: Which teams are starting to sweat?


When the Super Bowl ends on Sunday night, the sports world will turn its attention toward March Madness.  We’ll begin to think more seriously about No. 1 seeds, brackets, and oh yeah, those teams on the bubble.  Must be time to debut Bubble Banter.

As it’s still more than a month from Selection Sunday, the bubble picture remains quite fluid.  If we could see into the future, the March 3 edition of Bubble Banter will likely look much different than today’s version.  If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the years, several teams currently on solid ground will slip in the next four weeks.  There will also be teams which work their way into the at-large discussion.

First, a couple of housekeeping notes.  To keep the bubble reasonable, we’ve been generous with teams listed as Should Be In.  We’ve also been realistic about which teams we’ve listed on the bubble.  So if your team is missing, it’s not personal.  There just isn’t enough resume material to be a realistic at-large candidate at this point in time.  Take for example, Drexel, VCU, Old Dominion, and George Mason of the Colonial.  The highest RPI of that group belongs to Drexel (No. 79).  Here are the other numbers – VCU (91), George Mason (107), Old Dominion (125).  All four teams are 10-2 in CAA play.  Great league records, but none of the profiles includes a Top 50 RPI win.  Drexel has three sub-100 RPI losses, and the Dragons’ best win is VCU.  Could any of these teams pull an upset? Sure, but right now the CAA champion is closer to a 14 seed than an at-large bid.

Among BCS teams, defending champion Connecticut is a surprise guest on the bubble list.  The Huskies have lost four straight and 6 of 8 games – including losses to Rutgers and Tennessee.  While UConn would likely be in the Field of 68 today, their outlook is somewhat suspect.  Without a quick turnaround, the Huskies four-game slide could easily become seven.  That would most certainly put UConn in a very dangerous position.

Debate is always fun, and we’re about to move into high gear.  Enjoy a great weekend of hoops.  March is just around the corner.

RPI and SOS data is from CollegeRPI.com.  Records and RPI data is for games played through Thursday, February 2.


Total Spots (68): Number of total teams in the Field.

  • Projected Locks (TBA): Teams who project to have secured a spot in the 2011 NCAA Tournament.
  • Should Be In (TBA): These teams are teams in solid position to receive an at-large bid.
  • Bubble: (TBA): Teams projected to be at or near the cutline for being selected as at-large candidates.
  • Spots available (TBA): Will be updated when when we get to March.
  • RPI and SOS: RPI and SOS data are updated through …..
Atlantic 10
Locks: None | Should Be In: Temple | Bubble: Dayton, La Salle, Massachusetts, St. Louis, Xavier
  • Dayton (14-8 | 4-4) | RPI: 69 | SOS: 31 | – The Flyers have lost three straight games to non-NCAA teams, including two at home. Missing against Rhode Island (RPI No. 243) is particulary harsh given some other “bad” losses (Miami-OH). Several good wins help ease the resume, but Dayton’s RPI has slipped significantly and overall losses are mounting. Notable non-conference wins include Alabama, Mississippi, and Minnesota.
  • La Salle (17-6 | 6-2) | RPI: 65 | SOS: 139 | – Work remains for the Explorers, whose resume is light on quality wins. But we can’t ignore La Salle’s standing in the A-10. It will likely take a share of the A-10 regular-season title for the Explorers to have a realistic at-large shot, however. Their best win is Xavier at home, and there’s nothing from the non-conference slate of note except losses to Robert Morris and Delaware.
  • Massachusetts (16-6 | 5-3) | RPI: 72 | SOS: 132 | – Wednesday’s loss at Rhode Island puts a major dent in the Minutemen’s at-large chances. Much like La Salle, it could take a share of the A-10 title to be in the at-large picture. There’s nothing of note outside the league.
  • St. Louis (16-5 | 5-3) | RPI: 37 | SOS: 89 | – The Billkens have wins over Washington, Oklahoma and Villanova outside the A-10. Right now, those victories aren’t helping as much as they normally would. SLU’s only blemish is a road loss at Loyola-Marymount, but it’s not a major issue. The Billikens may be the league’s second best team right now, but they need to stay with Temple at the top of the standings. Big game at home this weekend. A victory over Dayton would give SLU a season sweep of the Flyers.
  • Xavier (15-7 | 6-3) | RPI: 48 | SOS: 46 | – Xavier has fallen hard since the brawl at the Crosstown Shootout. The Muskateers lost 5 of 6 games during that post-brawl stretch and haven’t beaten an NCAA-level team since. The victory at Vanderbilt will hold some weight, along with wins over Purdue and Cincinnati. A big game awaits at Memphis this weekend. Another quality non-conference road scalp would certainly help level the Muskies’ profile. February’s schedule also includes road trips to Temple and St. Louis.
Locks: Duke, North Carolina | Should Be In: Florida State, Virginia | Bubble: Miami-FL, NC State
  • Miami-FL (13-7 | 4-3) | RPI:54 | SOS: 49 | – The Hurricanes still have a lot of work to do, as their resume is very bland – no significant wins, no bad losses. But the power numbers give Miami a chance. A big opportunity awaits: the Hurricanes travel to Duke and Florida State in the next eight days, with Virginia Tech (home) in between. Miami needs quality wins.
  • NC State (16-7 | 5-3) | RPI: 59 | SOS: 47 | – Other than a win over fellow bubble-dweller Texas, the Wolfpack’s non-conference slate is very average. That means it’ll take some good work in the ACC to make a run at an at-large bid. A victory at Miami is solid, but it’s coupled with a loss to Ga. Tech. The one-point home loss to Virginia was a missed opportunity. An upcoming three-game stretch with Duke, Florida State, and North Carolina will determine whether the Wolfpack stay in contention or fall off the bubble.
Locks: Syracuse | Should Be In: Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette, West Virginia | Bubble: Cincinnati, Connecticut, Notre Dame, Seton Hall
  • Cincinnati (15-7 | 5-4) | RPI: 98 | SOS: 126 | – Overcoming a non-conference SOS ranked No. 330 is the Bearcats ultimate challenge. The Committee has not looked kindly on such scheduling in recent years (see Colorado, Alabama from 2011). What’s that mean for UC? The Bearcats have to be well above average in Big East play. Wins at Georgetown and Connecticut certainly help, but three straight losses (including Rutgers) has knocked UC’s profile into dangerous territory. It will take a strong run for the Bearcats to feel safe on Selection Sunday.
  • Connecticut (14-7 | 4-5) | RPI: 29 | SOS: 7 | – UConn has lost four straight and 6 of 8 games. That’s not a desirable trend in early February. Strong power numbers give the Huskies somewhat of a safety net, but how much? Good non-conference wins include Florida State and Harvard; the Huskies also won a home game against Arkansas. The biggest issues are losses to Rutgers and Tennessee during the current slide. Huge game with Seton Hall at home this weekend. After that, UConn heads to Louisville and Syracuse.
  • Notre Dame (14-8 | 6-3) | RPI: 70 | SOS: 59 | – Quietly, the Irish have put themselves in the Big East race by winning three straight and 5 of their past 7 games. The stretch includes a home win over Syracuse (minues Melo) and road wins at Seton Hall and Connecticut. Notre Dame accomplished little in its non-conference schedule, so a fair amount of work remains. Overall, the closing stretch is favorable. It begins with Marquette at home ahead of a trip to West Virginia.
  • Seton Hall (15-7 | 4-6) | RPI: 33 | SOS: 16 | – Once projected as a protected seed (Top 4), the Pirates have lost five straight and face two more road tests in the next week: Connecticut and Rutgers. SHU’s non-conference profile is solid but not spectacular as wins over St. Joe’s and Dayton have lost some luster. The Pirates also have a loss to Northwestern. If there’s good news, it’s that the schedule lightens down the stretch. Seton Hall must take advantage and pile up wins. The downside for SHU … of its remaining Big East games, only four (and that includes Pitt) are against potential NCAA teams.
Locks: Ohio State | Should Be In: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin | Bubble: Minnesota, Northwestern, Purdue
  • Minnesota (16-7 | 4-6) | RPI: 50| SOS: 54 | – After an 0-4 start in Big Ten play, the Gophers rebounded to win 4 of 5 games including a victory at Indiana and a home win over Illinois. Then came Wednesday’s loss at Iowa, giving the Hawkeyes a season sweep. Outside the league, the Gophers have a win over Virginia Tech, but not much else of note. The good news is that after a game at Nebraska this weekend, Minnesota closes with 5 of 7 games at The Barn – including visits from Wisconsin, Ohio State, Indiana, and Michigan State. So plenty of opportunities remain.
  • Northwestern (13-8 | 3-6) | RPI: 46 | SOS: 11 | – The Wildcats earned a must-have home victory Thursday night against Nebraska. Next up is a trip to Illinois on Sunday. The question is: can Northwestern reach at least eight conference wins? Outside the league, NW has a good win over Seton Hall, and a respectible win over LSU. They also lost a somewhat close game at Crieghton. Unlike past seasons, the Wildcats’ SOS is a major plus. Inside the conference, Northwestern’s best win is over Michigan State at home. To have a chance, the Wildcats need to win the rest of their home games and find at least one victory away from Evanston.
  • Purdue (15-7 | 5-4) | RPI: 53 | SOS: 51 | – Overall, the Boilermakers are in pretty good shape even though they’ve lost 3 of 5 games. The victory last weekend at Northwestern was huge, and gives Purdue a chance to move to 6-4 in league play when Indiana visits on Saturday. The Boilers have wins over Temple, Iona, and Miami-FL in non-conference play. The question marks are losses to Butler and at Penn State. Overall, Purdue has just three Top 50 wins. The closing stretch isn’t easy, with remaining road trips to Ohio State, Illinois, Michigan, and Indiana. In this year’s Big Ten, though, going 9-9 might be enough.
BIG 12
Locks: Baylor, Kansas, Missouri | Should Be In: Kansas State | Bubble: Iowa State, Oklahoma, Texas
  • Iowa State (16-6 | 6-3) | RPI: 40 | SOS: 55 | – The Cyclones’ profile got a major boost in the past week thanks to victories over Kansas and Kansas State at home. Can ISU sustain its success away from home? The closing stretch features five trips away from Ames – including the next two: Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. If it’s close, there’s not much on ISU’s non-conference resume to help, the Cyclones’ best out-of-league win is Iowa or Providence. The team’s resume is also light on Top 100 wins (3). That said, Iowa State is in the mix and has three winnable games just ahead.
  • Oklahoma (13-8 | 3-6) | RPI: 68 | SOS: 35 | – What Oklahoma has is a season sweep of Kansas State and home victories over Arkansas and Oral Roberts. The Sooners also have six Big 12 losses and a 1-4 mark in road games. The next two at home are huge, with Iowa State and Missouri visiting Norman. A sweep would give OU a major boost and help square up their Big 12 record. The Sooners have already lost both games to Kansas and lost to Baylor at home. OU plays Mizzou just once and travels to Baylor later this month. It will be critical for the Sooners to beat one of the league’s Big Three at least once.
  • Texas (13-9 | 3-6) | RPI: 67 | SOS: 12 | – There’s not much to say other than the Longhorns have a lot of work to do. Texas is 1-7 away from home and 2-8 vs. Top 100 teams. If it weren’t for a strong SOS and home wins over Temple and Iowa State, the Longhorns wouldn’t even be listed here. Texas needs a major winning streak and now.
Locks: None | Should Be In: So. Mississippi, Memphis | Bubble: Central Florida, Marshall
  • Central Florida (14-6 | 5-3) | RPI: 71 | SOS: 109 | – How far will victories over Connecticut and Memphis carry the Knights? Probably not to the NCAAs. UCF is just 2-4 vs. Top 100 teams. Riding a two-game losing streak, UCF can’t afford many more miscues, and probably needs to sweep its trifecta with Marshall, Southern Miss, and Memphis down the stretch.
  • Marshall (13-8 | 5-3) | RPI: 60 | SOS: 25 | – Marshall lacks a Top 50 RPI win (Iona is close) but the Herd is 4-7 vs. Top 100 teams thanks to victories over Central Florida, Belmont, and Cincinnati. It took a home win over Tulane to end a four-game losing skid, so Marshall has plenty of ground to make up. The real issue is Conference USA. The only remaining Top 50 games for Marshall are home dates with Memphis and Southern Miss at the end of February. The Herd needs to keep winning and probably take both of those games, too.
Locks: Creighton | Should Be In: Wichita State | Bubble: None
  • Right now the Missouri Valley looks to be a two-bid league with Creighton and Wichita State firmly in the Field of 68. Arch Madness is always unpredictable, but it will take a major run by Missouri State or Northern Iowa to get a third team in the at-large picture.
Locks: UNLV | Should Be In: San Diego State | Bubble: Colorado State, New Mexico
  • Colorado State (13-7 | 3-3) | RPI: 18 | SOS: 4 | – Thanks to a strong SOS, the computers love Colorado State. Of course, ten people make up the Selection Committee, and a single home win over San Diego State isn’t going to be enough to push CSU into the NCAA tournament. Other notable wins are Colorado and Denver, but neither pushes the needle too far. The Rams don’t have any bad losses, but only three potential quality wins remain: New Mexico, at San Diego State, and UNLV. Finishing 1-5 against that group won’t be enough.
  • New Mexico (17-4 | 4-2) | RPI: 41 | SOS: 97 | – If the Lobos can beat San Diego State or UNLV at least once, the rest of UNM’s profile might be enough. In addition to beating Colorado State and Wyoming (MTW), the Lobos have wins over St. Louis and Missouri State. What’s missing is that marquee victory. A 5-1 mark in true road games is a plus, as is an 8-2 mark in games outside The Pit. There is one really ugly loss to Santa Clara (No. 262), but that’s the only negative. If New Mexico is swept by UNLV and San Diego State, it could be tight.
Locks: None | Should Be In: None | Bubble: Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon, Stanford, Washington
  • Arizona (15-8 | 6-4) | RPI: 74 | SOS: 70 | – The Wildcats may have saved their at-large season by winning at California on Thursday. It was Arizona’s first Top 50 RPI victory. Like most teams in the Pac-12, there remains a lot of work ahead. A 3-7 mark vs. Top 100 teams isn’t an eye-opener and Arizona’s best win outside the league is Duquesne at home.
  • California (17-6 | 7-3 ) | RPI: 42 | SOS: 66 | – Cal has one of the better Pac-12 profiles, with a 6-4 mark vs. Top 100 teams. But thanks to nothing outside the league, the Bears have yet to acquire a Top 50 win – and they are the only Pac-12 school currently ranked in that category. If Cal wins or shares a Pac-12 regular-season title, they have a chance to be in the at-large pool. Anything less is highly questionnable.
  • Colorado (13-7 | 7-3) | RPI: 80 | SOS: 85 | – The Buffaloes have to stay with the Pac-12 leaders and probably win a regular-season title to earn an at-large bid. Georgia is Colorado’s best non-conference victory and that wont’ help much. The Buffs are just 2-6 vs. Top 100 teams and are 3-6 away from home.
  • Oregon (16-6 | 7-3) | RPI: 76 | SOS: 110 | – A victory at Nebraska is all the Ducks have outside of conference play, and wins over Arizona and Stanford aren’t going to be enough by themselves. Same storyline here: Plan to win or share the Pac-12 title to have a realistic shot at an at-large bid.
  • Stanford (16-6 | 6-4) | RPI: 89 | SOS: 152 | – The Cardinal are the only Pac-12 team to accomplish much outside the league, beating Colorado State and NC State at home – both fellow bubble teams. But the rest of Stanford’s resume isn’t that appealing and there a non-conference SOS ranked No. 259 that sticks out like a sore thumb. Stanford probably has to win the Pac-12 title (regular season) to be in the at-large picture.
  • Washington (15-7 | 8-2) | RPI: 63 | SOS: 64 | – The Huskies won four straight and 7 of 8 to vault into the Pac-12 lead. That’s good, because it might take a regular season title for Washington to garner an at-large bid. Outside the Pac-12, the Huskies’ best win is over UC-Santa Barbara, and they are just 3-7 vs. Top 100 teams (without a Top 50 win). What Washington has avoided is a bad RPI loss, although one could argue a 19-point home loss to South Dakota State qualifies as bad. Five of the Huskies final eight games are on the road.
Locks: Kentucky | Should Be In: Florida, Vanderbilt, Mississippi State | Bubble: Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi
  • Alabama (14-7 | 3-4) | RPI: 36 | SOS: 18 | – The Crimson Tide have lost 4 of 5 games and find themselves on a bit of shaky ground heading into February. Notable wins include Wichita State, Arkansas and Purdue. Key losses are at Dayton and at South Carolina. Unlike last season, Alabama’s SOS is a major help. Bama has two remaining games with Ole Miss (one this weekend), to go along with visits from Florida and Mississippi State. Key road games include Arkansas and LSU. Do they need all six? Not if they take care of lesser teams. But Bama’s marging for error is less than it once was.
  • Arkansas (16-6 | 4-3) | RPI: 49 | SOS: 65 | – Following wins over Michigan and Vanderbilt, the Razorbacks are certainly in the at-large picture. What’s missing is a victory outside Bud Walton Arena. Arkansas is 0-5 in road games and it’s hard to imagine the Razorbacks reaching the NCAAs without at least one or two victories away from home. Of Arkansas’ nine remaining games, five are on the road. It starts with trips to LSU and Georgia. A non-conference SOS ranked No. 206 won’t help much, and Arkansas’ best non-league win besides Michigan is Charlotte (at home).
  • Mississippi (14-7 | 4-3) | RPI: 44 | SOS: 39 | – Mississippi’s overall profile is very average, but worthy of consideration. Good wins include Mississippi State and Arkansas in the SEC, but the Rebels’ best win outside the conference is Miami-FL. The only real blemish is a loss to Auburn. A huge road swing is up next with trips to Alabama and Mississippi State. The Rebels also have remaining trips to Kentucky and Arkansas. Opportunity awaits, but it won’t be easy for Ole Miss to keep its head above the cutline.
Locks: None | Should Be In: St. Mary’s, Gonzaga | Bubble: BYU
  • BYU (17-6 | 7-3) | RPI: 38 | SOS: 58 | – The Cougars got an important win Thursday by beating Gonzaga at home. When you consider that BYU had lost both games to St. Mary’s, dropping both to Gonzaga would have been bad for the team’s overall profile. Other notable wins include Nevada, Oregon, and at Virginia Tech. Losses to Loyola-Marymount (home) and at Utah State are the rough patches. While BYU is just 1-4 vs. Top 50 teams, the Cougars are 6-4 vs. the Top 100; which is better than some other bubble contenders. BYU has been a good road team (5-2), and four of the Cougars’ final six games are away from home. How they close out that stretch will be a major factor.
Locks: None | Should Be In: Murray State | Bubble: Cleveland State, Davidson, Harvard, Iona, Long Beach State, Middle Tennessee State, Nevada, Oral Roberts
  • Cleveland State (17-4 | 8-2) | RPI: 56 | SOS: 163 | – Unfortunately for Cleveland State, the Horizon League isn’t as strong this year. CSU has to hope an early win at Vanderbilt and a victory over Akron is good enough to offset losses to Youngstown State and Hofstra. Assuming CSU can keep winning, the Vikings’ BracketBusters matchup with Drexel could be critical. It’s the only Top 100 RPI game remaining on their schedule.
  • Davidson (15-5 | 10-1) | RPI: 64 | SOS: 149 | – What Davidson has is a victory at Kansas. The Wildcats also have losses at Charlotte and Samford (RPI No. 291). The power numbers are also concerning; it’s hard to see a Southern Conference team earning an at-large bid with an RPI in the upper 60s. Which means Davidson may have to win its BracketBusters game with Wichita State to have a realistic shot for an at-large – assuming they avoid any more bad losses.
  • Harvard (17-2 | 4-0) | RPI: 45 | SOS: 226 | – Harvard should win the Ivy League and make an at-large bid unnecessary. Without a conference tournament, it might be difficult for the Crimson to earn an at-large bid if they finish behind someone in the conference standings. There are simply no quality wins remaining. If it happens, Harvard will have to hope that early wins over Florida State, St. Joe’s, and Central Florida are enough.
  • Iona (18-5 | 10-2) | RPI: 62 | SOS: 171 | – After a strong start, the Gaels’ profile is somewhat suspect. Are wins over St. Joseph’s, Denver, and Maryland really going to push Iona into the NCAAs? Probably not. Especially with losses to Siena and Hofstra also on their resume. The BracketBuster game with Nevada could loom large if Iona wins its remaining regular-season MAAC games.
  • Long Beach (14-6 | 9-0) | RPI: 32 | SOS: 73 | – When the Selection Committee asks teams to challenge themselves in non-conference play, it speaks volumes that Long Beach has the No. 1 rated non-conference SOS. During that tough stretch, the 49ers won at Pittsburgh and Xavier. The only so-so bad loss is a two-point defeat at Montana at the end of November. LBSU’s remaining losses are to Top 50 RPI teams. If Long Beach could find a BracketBusters win at Creighton, the 49ers outlook would look pretty good.
  • Middle Tennesse State (20-3 | 10-0) | RPI: 43 | SOS: 165 | – The Blue Raiders are four games clear in the Sun Belt and have wins over Ole Miss, Belmont, and Akron outside the league. They also beat UCLA in November. Will that be enough if MTSU fails to win an automatic bid? Beating Denver this weekend would ensure a season sweep. MTSU’s only losses are at Vanderbilt, Belmont (2 OT), and at UAB. If the Blue Raiders can make it through the Sun Belt with only one loss, a defeat in the championship game would certainly put them in the mix for an at-large bid.
  • Nevada (17-3 | 8-0) | RPI: 52 | SOS: 151 | – Nevada will keep rooting for Washington to win the Pac-12 as the Wolfpack’s win over the Huskies is their only potential NCAA-level win at this point. A date with Iona in the BracketBusters could loom large. The WAC isn’t overly strong this year, but it would be hard to discount a team that went undefeated in league play (if that happens). Losses are to UNLV, BYU, and Missouri State. Any loss other than to New Mexico State would be “bad” so Nevada needs to keep its pedal on full throttle.
  • Oral Roberts (20-5 | 12-1) | RPI: 55 | SOS: 167 | – ORU has a win a Xavier along with a victory over Missouri State outside the Summit League. Considering the victory came against a post-brawl Xavier team without its best players, how much will the victory help? That’s a question the Selection Committee will consider. Only the loss to UT-Arlington is questionnable (No. 184). Other losses are to Gonzaga, West Virginia and Oklahoma on the road. When you consider that 12 of ORU’s 20 wins are against teams ranked 200 or higher in the RPI, the margin for error is pretty small. ORU drew Akron in the BracketBusters game, which may not help much. But a loss would certainly put a major hurt on ORU’s at-large chances.

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.