Bubble banter: Purdue’s in; UConn and Pac-12 are nervous


It’s going to be a busy and bubble-filled two weeks.  Conference tournaments are underway, so the landscape can maneuver quickly.  There aren’t a lot of changes since Saturday, but a few teams have made moves.  Purdue has moved off the bubble and into the “Should Be In” category after a victory at Michigan.  Drexel joins the bubble conversation after winning the outright Colonial crown.  St. Louis slides onto the bubble after losing to Rhode Island, and Colorado joins after beating California.

Below is your latest bubble news.  We’ll have more frequent updates through Selection Sunday.

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.

RPI data is for games played through Monday, Feb. 28.

UPDATED: Tuesday, Feb. 28 | 6:30 p.m. ET

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

  • Projected Locks (23): Teams who project to have secured a spot in the 2011 NCAA Tournament.
  • Should Be In (10): These teams are tin solid position to receive an at-large bid.
  • Bubble: (31): Teams projected to be at or near the cutline for being selected as at-large candidates.
  • Spots Available (15): Estimated number of openings after Automatic Bids, Locks, and Should Be Ins are considered.
  • RPI and SOS: RPI and SOS data are updated through games on Monday, February 27
  • Teams Leaving the Bubble: Purdue (Should Be In)
  • Teams Joining the Bubble: St. Louis, Colorado, Drexel
Atlantic 10
Locks: Temple | Should Be In: None | Bubble: St. Louis, Dayton, St. Joe’s, Xavier
  • Dayton (18-10 | 8-6) | RPI: 61 | SOS: 55 | – The Flyers rolled over Massachusetts on Saturday and have eight Top 100 RPI wins. Victories over Temple, Alabama, and Xavier continue to help. The Flyers have also beaten Ole Miss and Minnesota – although both have fallen off the bubble. It’s the losses to Miami-OH and Rhode Island that hurt Dayton’s case. The Flyers’ last two (Richmond, Geo Washington) are all winnable games and another bad loss might be too much for Dayton to overcome. They Flyers are far from safe, but winning the last two would put them in decent position heading into the A10 tournament.
  • St. Joe’s (19-11 | 9-6) | RPI: 50 | SOS: 44 | – St. Joe’s beat Temple and closes with St. Bonaventure. The Hawks margin remains thin, but seven Top 100 wins are more than several other bubble teams. That said, St. Joe’s is just 2-5 vs. the Top 50. Beating Creighton helps, even though the win was in December. SJU also has a win over Drexel, which won the Colonial. The Hawks have three questionable losses (American and Charlotte in particular). It may take two (or three) A10 tournament wins for St. Joe’s to feel somewhat safe.
  • St. Louis (21-6 | 10-4) | RPI: 35 | SOS: 108 | – Losing to Rhode Island makes you look a little harder at SLU’s profile, and an 0-2 mark vs. Top 50 teams isn’t something to take lightly. In fairness, wins over St. Joe’s, Washington, and Xavier all rank between 50-60 in the RPI, so it’s not like the Billikens aren’t close. But SLU’s win over Washington is the Billikens’ best non-conference victory, and it’s hard to know whether that will hold up as an NCAA-level win. For that reason, they have to join the bubble. A huge game with Xavier is ahead tonight (Tuesday). SLU closes with a trip to Duquesne.
  • Xavier (18-10 | 9-5) | RPI: 54 | SOS: 51 | – Non-conference wins over Vanderbilt, Purdue, and Cincinnati continue to help the Muskies despite some recent troubles. Surviving Richmond over the weekend was important. But XU is far from safe. The Musketeers are 6-9 vs. Top 100 teams, and 12-10 vs. the Top 200. A losing mark against the Top 200 has traditionally spelled bubble trouble. XU has a home game left Charlotte. That one is critical – especially because XU travels to St. Louis tonight. A loss at SLU would make the Charlotte game even more important.
Locks: Duke, North Carolina | Should Be In: Florida State, Virginia | Bubble: Miami-FL, NC State
  • Miami-FL (17-10 | 8-6) | RPI: 49 | SOS: 32 | – Beating Florida State at home added another significant victory to the Hurricanes’ resume. It still leaves Miami, however, with a 3-9 mark vs. Top 100 teams. The victory at Duke carries a lot of weight, but will beating the Blue Devils and FSU be enough? Right now, The ‘Canes are 2-7 vs. the Top 50 and their best non-conference win is Massachusetts. Other bubble teams have more balanced profiles. Another big game awaits Wednesday when Miami travels to NC State. They close with a must-have at home vs. Boston College.
  • NC State (18-11 | 7-7) | RPI: 72 | SOS: 31 | – The Wolfpack have lost four straight and just about reached the end of the line. NC State has to beat Miami at home on Wednesday or be relegated to winning the ACC tournament. If they beat the ‘Canes and win at Va. Tech to close the regular season, they will at least be on the at-large board entering the ACC tourney.
Locks: Syracuse, Georgetown, Marquette | Should Be In: Louisville, Notre Dame | Bubble: Cincinnati, Connecticut, Seton Hall, West Virginia
  • Cincinnati (20-9 | 10-6) | RPI: 77 | SOS: 109 | – Cincinnati came up a point short at South Florida on Sunday, reducing the Bearcats’ margin for error. A home game with Marquette looms large, as UC ends its regular season on the road at Villanova. If the Bearcats fall to Marquette, it makes the game at ‘Nova huge. We’ve noted several times that a No. 300-plus non-conference schedule has been a major no-no among committee voters in recent years. Overall, the Bearcats are 5-4 vs the Top 50 and 6-6 vs. Top 100 opponents. UC’s best non-conference win was at Georgia.
  • Connecticut (17-11 | 7-9) | RPI: 30 | SOS: 1 | – With a 6-7 mark vs. the Top 50 and 8-10 mark vs. the Top 100, the Huskies remain in decent bubble position – especially given the nation’s No. 1 ranked overall strength of schedule. Key non-conference victories include Florida State and Harvard. Inside the Big East, UConn has beaten Notre Dame, Seton Hall, West Virginia, and South Florida. Losses at Tennessee and Rutgers are the blemishes. Connecticut closes with Providence and Pittsburgh. Win both and the Huskies are probably okay. Split and UConn may need a win (or two) in New York. Lose both and the risk of missing the NCAAs becomes very real.
  • Seton Hall (19-10 | 8-9) | RPI: 44 | SOS: 35 | – The Pirates have made their bubble life more difficult by losing a home game to Rutgers last weekend. While SHU is 3-7 vs. the Top 50, they are 8-8 vs. the Top 100. Notable non-conference wins include Dayton, St. Joe’s, and VCU – other teams on the bubble. If SHU loses at DePaul, the Pirates’ may need a couple of wins in New York to breathe easy. Within the league, SHU has beaten UConn, Georgetown and West Virginia.
  • West Virginia (17-12 | 7-9) | RPI: 51 | SOS: 10 | – The Mountaineers have lost 7 of 9 games and find themselves in some trouble after Friday’s home loss to Marquette. A lopsided loss at Notre Dame last week was particularly ugly. Overall, a victory over Georgetown and a neutral court win over Kansas State are the highlights – along with victories over Oral Roberts and Miami(Fla). Within the league, WVU has also beat Cincinnati. Several close losses and a Top 10 schedule will help. The Mountaineers are 8-10 vs. Top 100 teams and nine losses have come to teams in the Top 35 of the RPI. WVU closes with a home game against DePaul before a trip to South Florida. Losing both would make the Big East tournament a pressure cooker. A split would make it important for the Mountaineers to avoid an early Big East exit.
BIG 10
Locks: Ohio State, Michigan State, Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin | Should Be In: Purdue | Bubble: Northwestern
  • Northwestern (17-11 | 7-9) | RPI: 43 | SOS: 12 | – If Northwestern misses the NCAAs in a close call, last Tuesday’s overtime home loss to Michigan might loom large. The Wildcats have a home win over Michigan State and neutral court victory over Seton Hall. NW is 6-11 vs. Top 100 teams, with those other wins being against LSU, Illinois, and Minnesota – none of which are NCAA caliber right now. A 3-7 road record is also concerning – although the Wildcats got a must-win road victory at Penn State. A Top 10 SOS is a huge plus and NW has no “bad” losses. In fact, all but two losses are to teams ranked in the RPI Top 40. Up next is a home date with Ohio State before a road trip to Iowa. If Northwestern can reach 8-10 in the Big Ten they have a fighting chance heading into the Big Ten tournament.
BIG 12
Locks: Baylor, Kansas, Missouri | Should Be In: Kansas State | Bubble: Iowa State, Texas
  • Iowa State (21-8 | 11-5) | RPI: 32 | SOS: 59 | – Winning at Kansas State was huge for the Cyclones and gave ISU as season sweep of the Wildcats. ISU also has a home win over Kansas. Still, ISU is just 4-6 vs. Top 100 teams and its best non-conference win is Lehigh. Two more “big wins” remain: at Missouri and vs. Baylor. Winning one should be enough to move the Cyclones into the NCAAs. Losing both could still put some pressure on ISU to avoid an early exit at the Big 12 tournament. Right now, 17 of ISU’s 21 wins are to teams outside the Top 100.
  • Texas (18-11 | 8-8) | RPI: 56 | SOS: 28 | – The Longhorns avoided disaster by winning a squeaker at Texas Tech in overtime. Now, it’s time to move on. Up next is another must-have game against Oklahoma at home. UT ends it’s regular season at Kansas. Texas is 3-8 vs. Top 100 teams, but all three are NCAA teams at this point (Temple, Kansas State, Iowa State). Even so, UT has no margin for error down the stretch. A strong overall SOS is helping. Losses at Oklahoma State and Oregon State are blemishes. A split will give the Longhorns hope heading into the Big 12 tournament. It may still take two wins there to feel somewhat safe.
Locks: None | Should Be In: Memphis | Bubble: Central Florida, Southern Mississippi
  • Central Florida (18-8 | 9-5) | RPI: 63 | SOS: 107 | – Time might be running out on the Knights after the bad loss at Rice. At least a home victory over UTEP kept it from being a disasterous week. The Knights are just 3-6 vs. Top 100 teams and 9-8 against the Top 200. Neither is overly impressive. UCF is 3-6 on the road and has a very average non-conference SOS (185). Other than a neutral court win over Connecticut in November, UCF has beaten Memphis and Marshall at home. They have lost twice to Southern Mississippi – which doesn’t help. It may very well take a closing sweep (at Memphis, UAB) to stay in the at-large picture. A loss to Memphis would drop UCF to 1-3 vs. the league’s top teams.
  • Southern Mississippi (21-6 | 10-4) | RPI: 13 | SOS: 50 | – The Golden Eagles suffered two bad losses in a row (UTEP and Houston) before sneaking past Rice by two points at home. Combine those with an earlier loss to UAB, and USM’s profile isn’t as strong as it once was. The Golden Eagles are 3-2 vs. the Top 50 and 9-3 vs. the Top 100 – which helps. USM does have a win over South Florida – so USM will keep rooting for USF to make the NCAAs. They’ve also beaten fellow bubble dweller Colorado State. While there are plenty of good points on the Eagles’ resume, USM is closer to the bubble than Should Be In. SMU and Memphis close out USM’s regular-season slate. A loss to SMU would be damaging, especially because it would a bad loss at home.
Locks: Wichita State | Should Be In: Creighton | 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, so a third bid is certainly possible.
Locks: UNLV, San Diego State, New Mexico | Should Be In: None | Bubble: Colorado State
  • Colorado State (16-10 | 6-6) | RPI: 27 | SOS: 5 | – Back-to-back wins over Wyoming and New Mexico re-energized the Rams’ hopes. CSU is 6-8 vs. Top 100 teams although just 2-5 vs. the Top 50 after the loss at San Diego State. The Rams have home wins over San Diego State and New Mexico within the league. Outside the MTW, CSU’s best wins are Colorado and Denver – neither of which will move the Rams into the NCAAs. A 2-9 mark in road games isn’t helping, either. While the Rams’ RPI power numbers are solid, they are somewhat deceiving. The closing stretch will prove decisive. Up next, CSU hosts UNLV before a trip to Air Force. Two losses would likely end CSU’s hopes. The home date with UNLV is huge because it would give the Rams wins over the league’s top three teams heading into the MTW tournament.
PAC 12
Locks: None | Should Be In: None | Bubble: Arizona, California, Oregon, Washington
  • Arizona (21-9 | 12-5) | RPI: 70 | SOS: 97 | – Arizona has won 7 of 8 games and remains in the hunt despite some very questionable power numbers (RPI and SOS). Other than a win at California, the Wildcats have no wins over projected at-large teams right now. Are wins over New Mexico State, Colorado and Valparaiso (Top 100) going to push Arizona into the NCAAs? Probably not. Plus, UA was swept by Washington. Arizona closes with Arizona State. That’s a must win heading into the Pac-12 tournament.
  • California (23-7 | 13-4) | RPI: 36 | SOS: 89 | – Losing at Colorado cost the Bears a share of the Pac-12 lead and could cost the Bears an NCAA at-large bid if they stay behind Washington. An outright title still means something. While Cal is 6-5 vs. Top 100 teams, they are 0-3 in the Top 50, largely because the Bears are the only Pac-12 team in that category. Cal’s best non-conference win is Weber State or Denver. Blemishes are losses at Oregon State and Washington State. The Bears close at Stanford this weekend. A loss to the Cardinal would really hurt the Bears’ chances.
  • Colorado (17-9 | 11-5) | RPI: 76 | SOS: 85 | – We might as well throw the Buffaloes into the mix after beating California at home. It gives CU a Top 50 victory – something other Pac-12 teams (other than Arizona) don’t have. Within the league, Colorado has home wins over Cal, Arizona, Washington, and Oregon. The Buffs best non-conference win, however, is Georgia at home. That won’t help. A road swing through Oregon closes out Colorado’s Pac-12 season. They need to win both to stay in the hunt. Colorado is just 4-5 vs. To 100 teams and 9-9 vs. the Top 200. They also have 4 sub-100 RPI losses.
  • Oregon (20-8 | 11-5) | RPI: 52 | SOS: 79 | – A victory at Nebraska is all the Ducks have outside of conference play, and it’s hard to think that wins over Washington and Arizona alone will be enough for the Ducks, even though the win was at Arizona. Overall, the Ducks are just 2-7 against the Top 100. What Oregon can’t afford is a bad loss, and that’s why the closing stretch is potentially dangerous. The Ducks close with Colorado and Utah. A loss to could knock the Ducks into automatic qualifier status.
  • Washington (20-8 | 13-3) | RPI: 53 | SOS: 74 | – The Huskies have won 9 of 10 games and now own the outright Pac-12 lead. That’s the good news. The troubling news is that none of those wins are over a Top 50 RPI opponent. UW”s best wins are Arizona (twice) and Oregon at home – both are bubble teams. Washington is 3-8 against the Top 100, meaning all but three wins are against teams ranked 101 or below in the RPI. Winning an outright Pac-12 title would really help Washington’s case. Two more road wins await and either would be a bad loss: USC and UCLA.
Locks: Kentucky | Should Be In: Florida, Vanderbilt | Bubble: Alabama, LSU, Mississippi State
  • Alabama (19-9 | 8-6) | RPI: 25 | SOS: 14 | – Alabama is redefining itself following some team turmoil. The Tide have won three straight – the victory Saturday over Mississippi State was particularly important. Although just 2-5 vs. the Top 50, Alabama is 9-8 vs. the Top 100. Non-conference wins include Wichita State and Purdue. Those victories keep looking better. Alabama has also beaten VCU. They close with Auburn and Ole Miss. Winning both would seal it. A split might make the SEC tournament opener more important.
  • LSU (17-11 | 7-7) | RPI: 68 | SOS: 58 | – The Tigers have won four of five but the drubbing at Ole Miss on Saturday certain moves the Tigers down a peg on the at-large board. Quality wins include Marquette, Alabama, and Mississippi State at home. Next up are Tennessee and Auburn. A loss to either probably eliminates the Tigers without a significant run through the SEC tournament.
  • Mississippi State (19-10 | 6-8) | RPI: 66 | SOS: 62 | – A five-game slide has created a desperate situation in Starkville. MSU is 2-5 on the road and plays at South Carolina next. A loss to the Gamecocks would really be bad at this point as it would ensure MSU a sub.500 league record. On the plus side, a win at Vanderbilt is noteworthy, as is a 7-8 mark vs. the Top 100. A non-conference win over West Virginia helps, but not as much as it once did – the Mountaineers are sliding, too. MSU also beat Arizona. After the USC game, MSU ends at home with Arkansas. The Bulldogs really need to have both. Otherwise, the opening games of the SEC tournament become critical.
Locks: St. Mary’s, Gonzaga | Should Be In: None | Bubble: BYU
  • BYU (22-7 | 12-4) | RPI: 48 | SOS: 104 | – After a loss at Gonzaga Thursday, the Cougars are 1-5 vs. Top 50 teams. An earlier home win over the ‘Zags is BYU’s only NCAA-level win right now, although Nevada, Oregon, and Weber State could reach the Field of 68. Overall, BYU is 5-5 vs. the Top 100. The only really bad loss is at Utah State. With the Cougars being swept by St. Mary’s, it might be critical for BYU to reach the WCC title game. That means they will have beaten Gonzaga (again) to earn a second Top 50 win. A loss prior to the WCC semifinals would really hurt, and will make it a long wait until Selection Sunday.
Locks: Murray State | Should Be In: None | Bubble: Drexel, Harvard, Iona, Long Beach State, Middle Tennessee State, Nevada, Oral Roberts, VCU
  • Drexel (25-5 | 16-2) | RPI: 67 | SOS: 234 |What the Dragons have is an outright CAA regular-season title. How much that helps Drexel remains to be seen. Drexel is 0-2 vs. Top 50 teams and 4-2 against the Top 100. The non-conference wins in that category are Cleveland State and Princeton. Neither of which helps much. Also, 14 of Drexels’ wins are against teams ranked 200 or higher in the RPI. Losses to Virginia and St. Joseph’s weren’t particularly close. Drexel has to reach the CAA title game. If that sets up a rematch with VCU, the Dragons might have a chance. It’s hard to believe anything else would be enough.
  • Harvard (23-4 | 10-2) | RPI: 37 | SOS: 170 | – Will early wins over Florida State, St. Joseph’s and Central Florida be enough if Harvard loses the regular-season Ivy League crown? That’s a question the Crimson hope doesn’t need answering.
  • Iona (24-6 | 15-3) | RPI: 40 | SOS: 146 | – Beating Nevada in the BracketBusters event helps the Gaels’ profile, along with a win over St. Joseph’s. That said, Iona is just 1-1 vs. against the Top 50. A 6-3 mark vs. the Top 100 in pretty good given that the Gaels’ play in the somewhat underrated MAAC, but none are against guaranteed NCAA teams. Losses to Siena and Hofstra – both sub 200 teams – is somewhat costly given the lack of high-level wins. If Iona reaches the MAAC title game, they’ll be in the at-large discussion.
  • Long Beach State (19-7 | 14-0) | RPI: 34 | SOS: 103 | – When the Selection Committee asks teams to challenge themselves in non-conference play, it speaks volumes that Long Beach has the No. 1 non-conference SOS. During that stretch, the 49ers won at Pittsburgh and Xavier. LBSU’s only so-so loss is a two-point defeat at Montana. LBSU’s remaining losses are to Top 50 RPI teams. If there’s a concern, it’s a two-point BracketBusters’ loss at Creighton. On the surface, that’s another “good loss.” But how many such losses are okay? With Xavier and Pitt struggling, LBSU is left with an 0-6 mark vs. Top 50 teams and a 2-7 mark vs. the Top 100. An at-large bid is by no means guaranteed, but closing out an undefeated Big West season would certainly help. UC Davis and CS-Fullerton are up next.
  • Middle Tennesse State (24-5 | 14-2) | RPI: 47 | SOS: 174 | – The Blue Raiders’ profile took a major hit with the loss at Western Kentucky. While MTSU won the outright Sun Belt title, the Blue Raiders’ best non-conference wins are Ole Miss, Belmont, and Akron. Good wins, but not the kind that carry a team into the NCAAs. A loss to anyone other than Denver in the Sun Belt tourney will likely relegate MTSU to the NIT.
  • Nevada (21-5 | 11-1) | RPI: 55 | SOS: 157 | – 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. Nevada lost a competitive BracketBusters game at Iona, but that could be a missed chance that costs the Wolfpack. Overall, Nevada is 0-3 vs. Top 50 teams and just 2-3 vs. the Top 100. With 12 wins over teams ranked 200-plus in the RPI, an at-large case is somewhat suspect. If Nevada wins out and loses in the WAC title game, the Wolfpack will be discussed. It’s hard to know if that discussion will generate an at-large bid.
  • Oral Roberts (26-5 | 17-1) | RPI: 41 | SOS: 172 | – ORU has a win at Xavier along with a victory over Missouri State outside the Summit League. Considering the XU victory came against a post-brawl Xavier squad without its best players, there is some question as to how much weight that victory will hold. Only the loss to UT-Arlington is questionnable (No. 184). Other losses are to Gonzaga, West Virginia, Oklahoma, and South Dakota State on the road. When you consider that 14 of ORU’s 25 wins are against teams ranked 200 or higher in the RPI, the margin for error is pretty small. ORU beat Akron in the BracketBusters game, but it’s unclear how much that victory will help (Akron did beat Mississippi State). Reaching the Summit title game could be a must.
  • VCU (25-6 | 15-3) | RPI: 60 | SOS: 178 | – The Rams have moved into the at-large picture but still have work to do. In some ways, VCU has been helped by South Florida’s surge. It’s the Rams’ lone Top 50 win. VCU is 4-4 vs. Top 100 teams but has 13 wins over teams ranked 200 or higher in the RPI. Other notable wins are at Akron (OT) and over Northern Iowa. VCU lost games to Alabama and Seton Hall and it’s only matchup with Drexel. A rematch with the Dragons in the CAA tournament would be huge.

Unbeaten Gamecocks, Iowa’s Caitlin Clark star in women’s Final Four


SEATTLE ⁠— An undefeated South Carolina team led by star Aliyah Boston and guided by vaunted Dawn Staley, an Iowa squad that features high-scoring Caitlin Clark and the return of LSU and flashy coach Kim Mulkey headline the women’s Final Four this weekend.

Virginia Tech is the newcomer to the group as the Hokies are making their first appearance in the national semifinals. Hokies coach Kenny Brooks became the third Black male coach to take a team to the Final Four in women’s basketball history.

All of the women’s basketball world will descend on Dallas this week as the Division I, II and III championships will be held there. It’s only the second time that all three divisions will have their title games in the same place.

Staley and the Gamecocks are looking to become the 10th team to go through a season unbeaten and the first to repeat as champions since UConn won four in a row from 2013-16. South Carolina advanced to its third consecutive national semifinals and fifth since 2015 thanks to another superb effort by Boston, the reigning AP Player of the Year. The three-time All-American had 22 points and 10 rebounds in a win over Maryland on Monday night.

Next up for the Gamecocks is Iowa and the sensational Clark. She helped the Hawkeyes reach their first Final Four in 30 years with a game for the ages in the regional semifinals on Sunday night. The junior guard had the first 40-point triple-double in NCAA history in the win over Louisville.

The Gamecocks have the experience edge having reached the Final Four so often with this group. No one on Iowa’s roster was alive the last time the team advanced to the game’s biggest stage. C. Vivian Stringer was the coach of that team in 1993 that reached the Final Four before losing to Ohio State in overtime.

“It is like a storybook, but it’s kind of been like that for us all year long,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “I mean, we have had — honestly, we keep talking about destiny and how it’s supposed to happen and it is happening. But I’m so happy for Caitlin. I can remember sitting in her living room and her saying, I want to go to a Final Four. And I’m saying, We can do it together. And she believed me. And so I’m very thankful for that.”

The other game will pit LSU against Virginia Tech. The Tigers are making their first trip to the national semifinals since 2008 when Sylvia Fowles dominated the paint. Now LSU is led by another stellar post player in Angel Reese.

She broke Fowles’ record for double-doubles in a season earlier this year and was key in the Tigers’ win over Miami in the Elite Eight.

Reese, who transferred in this season from Maryland, has made Mulkey’s second season at the school a special one. She came to LSU with a resume headlined by three NCAA titles from her time at Baylor along with some flamboyant sideline looks such as her silver-shimmering jacket with white pants that she wore in the Elite Eight game Sunday.

“What really makes me smile is not cutting that net down,” Mulkey said. “It’s looking around out there at all those LSU people, looking at that team I get to coach experience it for the first time.”

LSU’s opponent is also making its first appearance at the Final Four. The Hokies have had the best season in school history, winning the ACC crown as well under Brooks. He joined former Syracuse Quentin Hillsman and Cheyney State’s Winthrop “Windy” McGriff.

The significance has not been lost on Brooks, who hopes he can inspire other Black male coaches to get more opportunities.

The Hokies run to the national semifinals has been led by star post Elizabeth Kitley and sharpshooter Georgia Amoore. The pair combined for 49 points in the win over Ohio State in the Elite Eight.

Tar Heels’ Caleb Love plans to enter name in transfer portal

caleb love transfer portal
Bob Donnan/USA TODAY Sports

North Carolina guard Caleb Love says he will enter his name into the transfer portal after three seasons with the Tar Heels.

The 6-foot-4 Love announced his decision with a social media post Monday. He had big moments during an unexpected run to last year’s national championship game though he also wrestled with inconsistency for most of his college career.

At his best, Love has game-changing scoring potential and is fearless in taking a big shot. That included scoring 28 points with a huge late 3-pointer to help the Tar Heels beat Duke in the Final Four for the first NCAA Tournament meeting between the rivals and the final game for Blue Devils Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski.

This season he led the team by averaging 16.7 points. but his shooting percentages all dipped after showing gains in 2022. He never shot 40% from the field for a season and twice failed to shoot 30% on 3s.

UNC returns Armando Bacot, the program’s career leading rebounder and an Associated Press third-team All-American, and guard R.J. Davis at the core of an expected roster revamp. That comes after the Tar Heels became the first team to go from No. 1 in the AP preseason poll to missing the NCAA Tournament since it expanded to 64 teams in 1985.

Texas reportedly reaches deal with Rodney Terry as full-time coach

texas basketball
Jay Biggerstaff/USA TODAY Sports

AUSTIN, Texas ⁠— Texas has reached an agreement with Rodney Terry to be the Longhorns’ full-time head basketball coach, taking the interim tag off his title after he led the program to the Elite Eight following the midseason firing of Chris Beard, a person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press.

Texas was knocked out of the NCAA Tournament by Miami on Sunday, ending its longest postseason run since 2008. Terry and Texas officials reached the agreement Monday, according to a person with knowledge of the deal who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

Financial terms of the deal were not immediately available.

Terry took over the Longhorns as acting head coach when Beard was first suspended on Dec. 12 after a felony domestic violence arrest. Terry was giving the title of interim head coach when Beard was fired Jan. 5.

Texas won the Big 12 Tournament championship and questions about Terry’s future with the program were amplified as the Longhorns kept winning in the postseason. Texas fans wondered what more he needed to prove and Longhorns players publicly advocated for him to get the job.

“It was all about this team. I’ve enjoyed every single day of this journey with this group,” Terry said in Sunday’s postgame news conference as his voice cracked and he held back tears. “It was never about me. It was always about these guys. I love these guys.”

Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte had praised Terry’s job handling the team in crisis and gave him a raise, though only through April. He’d also noted Terry inherited a veteran, senior-heavy roster and strong staff of assistants built by Beard.

That lineup could have disintegrated into chaos after Beard’s arrest. Instead, Terry marched the program to a second-place regular season finish in the Big 12 and a No. 2-seed in the NCAA Tournament.

The Longhorns went 22-8 under Terry, and their march to the Elite Eight was the program’s first beyond the NCAA Tournament’s first weekend in 15 years.

Terry is the second Black head coach in program history, joining Shaka Smart, who coached Texas from 2015-2021.

Terry, 54, had a previous stint as an assistant at Texas under Rick Barnes from 2002-2011. He also was head coach at Fresno State and UTEP. He left UTEP after three seasons to join Beard’s staff in 2022. He is 185-164 as a head coach.

Former Texas player T.J. Ford, who led the Longhorns to 2003 Final Four and was that season’s Naismith national player of the year, praised the move to keep Terry.

“I’m very excited that the right decision was made to continue this great culture,” Ford tweeted.

The dormant Texas program had all the signs of renewal under Beard, as he mined the transfer portal to build a roster to compete in the rugged Big 12. He had done the same at Texas Tech, where he led the Red Raiders to the 2019 national championship game.

Beard was arrested after his fiancée called 911 and told police he choked, bit and hit her during a confrontation at his home. She later recanted that she was choked, but Texas still fired Beard as university lawyers called him “unfit” to lead the program.

The Travis County district attorney eventually dismissed the felony charge, saying they could not prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt, and because of her wishes not to prosecute.

Beard has since been hired at Mississippi.

Caitlin Clark leads Iowa to first Final Four since 1993

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SEATTLE – Caitlin Clark put on quite a show, having one of the greatest performances in NCAA Tournament history to help Iowa end a 30-year Final Four drought.

She had 41 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds to lead the No. 2 seed Hawkeyes to a 97-83 win over fifth-seeded Louisville on Sunday night and send the team to its first women’s Final Four in since 1993.

“I dreamed of this moment as a little girl, to take a team to the Final Four and be in these moments and have confetti fall down on me,” said Clark, who is a Iowa native.

The unanimous first-team All-American was as dominant as she’s been all season in getting the Hawkeyes to Dallas for the women’s NCAA Tournament national semifinals on Friday night. The Seattle 4 Region champion will face the winner of the Greenville 1 region that has South Carolina playing Maryland on Monday night.

“I thought our team played really well. That’s what it’s all about. I was going to give it every single thing I had,” said Clark, who was the region’s most outstanding player. “When I came here I said I wanted to take this program to the Final Four, and all you’ve got to do is dream. And all you’ve got to do is believe and work your butt off to get there. That’s what I did, and that’s what our girls did and that’s what our coaches did and we’re going to Dallas, baby.”

Iowa (30-6) hadn’t been to the Final Four since Hall of Fame coach C. Vivian Stringer led the team to its lone appearance in 1993. Before Sunday, the team had only been to one other Elite Eight – in 2019 – since the Final Four team.

Clark had the 11th triple-double of her career and the 19th in NCAA Tournament history. She had the first 30- and 40-point triple-double in March Madness history.

“It’s like a storybook, been like that all year long,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “We keep talking about destiny and how it’s supposed to happen. … She’s spectacular. I don’t know how else to describe what she does on the basketball court. A 40-point triple-double against Louisville to go to the Final Four. Are you kidding me? That’s mind-boggling.”

Trailing by five at the half, Louisville cut its deficit to 48-47 before Clark and the Hawkeyes scored the next 11 points as part of a 17-6 run to blow the game open. That brought most of the pro-Iowa crowd of nearly 12,000 fans to their feet.

Louisville was down 22 with just under 6 minutes left before going on a 13-1 run to get within 86-76 with 2:10 left. The Cardinals could get no closer.

Clark left the game with 22.7 seconds left to a loud ovation from the crowd as she hugged her coach. After the game, Clark paraded around the court holding the regional trophy high above her head, delighting the thousands of fans who stuck around to celebrate their Hawkeyes.

Hailey Van Lith scored 27 points and Olivia Cochran had 20 points and 14 rebounds to lead Louisville (26-12).

Clark hit eight of the Hawkeyes’ season-high 16 3-pointers, including a few from just past the March Madness logo. It was a school record for the Hawkeyes in the NCAA Tournament, blowing past the previous mark of 13 against Gonzaga in 2011.

Louisville scored the first eight points of the game, forcing Iowa to call timeout. Then Clark got going. The 6-foot junior scored the first seven points for the Hawkeyes and finished the opening quarter with 15 points. When she wasn’t scoring, she found open teammates with precision passes.

She also had four assists in the first 10 minutes, accounting for every one of Iowa’s points as the Hawkeyes led 25-21.

Clark continued her mastery in the second quarter, hitting shots from all over the court, including a few of her famous long-distance 3s from near the logo.

Louisville was able to stay in the game, thanks to Van Lith. After scoring the first six points of the game, she went quiet before getting going late in the second quarter. She had 11 points in the second quarter as the Cardinals found themselves down 48-43 at the break.

Clark had 22 points and eight assists in the opening 20 minutes enroute to the fourth-highest scoring total all-time in a NCAA regional.

“She played great, she made some big shots,” Louisville coach Jeff Walz said of Clark. “She passed the ball well. we turned her over at times.”


Clark has 984 points this season and is looking to join former Hawkeye Megan Gustafson with 1,000 points in a single year. Four other players have done it, including Villanova’s Maddy Siegrist, who accomplished the feat this season. Kelsey Plum, Jackie Stiles and Odyssey Sims were the others to do it.


Van Lith once again played well in her home state. The small-town standout from 130 miles away from Seattle grew into being one of the best prep players in the country, the all-time state high school leader in scoring and now a star for the Cardinals.

Hundreds of fans from her hometown of Cashmere, which has a population of 3,200, took in the game, cheering the Louisville star on.


It was a bittersweet day for Iowa assistant coach Jan Jensen. Her dad Dale died in the morning after battling pancreatic cancer for a year. He was 86.

“He didn’t sound so good the last couple days and I was kind of fretting, ‘When am I going to go if we go to Dallas?’” she said. “I just feel like he knew. He was never a high maintenance guy, he was never a guy who made it complicated with me in anything. So I think, he told my people at home, I’m not ready to go until Jan’s team is done.”

Miller, Wong rally Miami past Texas 88-81 for 1st Final Four

miami texas
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — On the eve of Miami playing for a place in its first Final Four, the quiet conversation floating through the team hotel did not revolve around all that the Hurricanes had accomplished this season. Instead, they talked about what had happened to bring last season to a close.

The sting of an Elite Eight defeat was fresh to those who were there. And they made everyone else feel it, too.

“That loss sat with me for a really long time,” the Hurricanes’ Jordan Miller said. “It doesn’t go away, and the fact that we had the opportunity to come back and make amends, make it right, that’s what was pushing me.”

Miller responded with a perfect performance against second-seeded Texas in the Midwest Region final Sunday. Along with Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year Isaiah Wong and March dynamo Nijel Pack, Miller rallied the Hurricanes from a 13-point second-half deficit for an 88-81 victory that clinched that long-awaited trip to the national semifinals.

“How hard we fought to come back in this game, especially on a stage like this, it’s an amazing feeling,” said Pack, one of Miami’s newcomers. “I know how much these guys wanted to win this game, especially being here last year and losing the Elite Eight, and now being able to take it to the Final Four is something special.”

Miller finished with 27 points, going 7 of 7 from the field and 13 of 13 from the foul line, while Wong scored 12 of his 14 points in the second half against the Longhorns, who had been the top remaining seed in a topsy-turvy NCAA Tournament.

Now, the No. 5 seed Hurricanes (29-7) have a date with No. 4 seed UConn on Saturday night in Houston. Two more Final Four newbies, fifth-seeded San Diego State and No. 9 seed Florida Atlantic, will play in the other national semifinal.

It’s the first time since seeding began in 1979 that no team seeded better than No. 4 made the Final Four, so perhaps it is fitting that Miami coach Jim Larrañaga is involved. He took George Mason there as an 11 seed 17 years ago to the day.

Miami was a 10 seed last year when it lost 76-50 to eventual national champion Kansas in a regional final.

“No one wanted to go home,” said Miller, coincidentally a George Mason transfer, who joined Duke’s Christian Laettner as the only players since 1960 to go 20 for 20 combined from the field and foul line in an NCAA tourney game. “We came together. We stuck together. We showed really good perseverance and the will – the will to just want to get there.”

After Miami climbed back from a 64-51 deficit with 13:22 to play, the game was tied at 79-all when Norchad Omier was fouled by the Longhorns’ Brock Cunningham while going for a loose ball. He made both of the foul shots to give the Hurricanes the lead, then stole the ball from Texas star Marcus Carr at the other end, and Wong made to more free throws with 34 seconds remaining to keep them ahead for good.

Miller kept drilling foul shots down the stretch to ice the Midwest Region title for the Hurricanes.

Wooga Poplar scored 16 points, and Pack followed up his virtuoso performance against top-seeded Houston with 15, as the same school that once dropped hoops entirely in the 1970s advanced to the game’s biggest stage.

“You just love when your players accomplish a goal they set out before the season,” Larrañaga said.

Carr led the Longhorns (29-9) with 17 points, though he was bothered by a hamstring injury late in the game. Timmy Allen added 16 and Sir’Jabari Rice had 15 in the finale of a season that began with the firing of Chris Beard over domestic violence charges that were later dropped and ended with interim coach Rodney Terry consoling a heartbroken team.

“These guys more than any group I’ve worked with in 32 years of coaching have really embodied, in terms of staying the course, being a team,” Terry said, choking up so hard on the postgame dais that he could barely speak. “They were so unselfish as a team, and they gave us everything they had. They really did.”

The Longhorns revealed about 90 minutes before tipoff that Dylan Disu, the Big 12 tourney MVP and early star of the NCAA Tournament, would miss the game with a foot injury. He hurt it in the second round against Penn State and only played about 90 seconds in the Sweet 16 against Xavier before watching the rest of that game in a walking boot.

Without their 6-foot-9 star, the Longhorns’ deep group of dangerous guards resorted to potshots from the perimeter against Miami’s porous defense. Rice hit two 3s early, Carr two of his own, and the Longhorns stormed to a 45-37 halftime lead.

On the other end, Texas tried to keep Pack and Wong from producing a sequel to their 3-point barrage against Houston.

Pack, who dropped seven 3s in the regional semifinal, didn’t even attempt one until there were 7 1/2 minutes left in the first half, and his best shot – a looping rainbow as he fell out of bounds – didn’t even count because it went over the backboard.

Wong took as many shots and scored as many points (two) as he had turnovers in the game’s first 20 minutes.

The Longhorns’ advantage stretched to 13 in the second half, and tension built on the Miami bench. At one point, Harlond Beverly and Larrañaga got into a verbal spat and the 73-year-old coach yanked the backup guard from the game.

Fortunately for the ’Canes, Pack and Wong were poised, Poplar and Miller seemingly possessed.

Still trailing 72-64 with about eight minutes to play, Pack and Wong joined Miller and Omier in turbocharging a 13-3 run to give the Hurricanes a 77-75 lead, their first since the opening minutes. When Rice answered at the other end for Texas, Miller calmly made two go-ahead free throws to begin his late-game parade to the line.

Carr made a nifty turnaround jumper to tie the game again for Texas, but the Miami momentum never slowed. Omier made two free throws with a minute left, swiped the ball from Carr at the other end, and Miller and Co. finished it off.

“We just all bought into staying together, keeping that hope alive,” Miller said, “and the way we just willed this one through, I think everybody played really well, and I think it really shows the poise of this squad.”