Bubble Banter: Kansas State’s profile is not as strong as you might think

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There are 23 days left until Selection Sunday. Every morning from now until the bracket comes out, we’ll help you get caught up on the happenings with impact on the bubble from the night before. 

This post will be updated throughout the night.

You can see NBCSports.com’s latest bracket here.

Barring some kind of insanity to end the regular season, Kansas State (RPI: 38, KenPom: 38) is going to be in the NCAA tournament. They have six top 50 wins and eight top 100 wins.

But simply looking at the raw numbers doesn’t tell you everything about the Wildcats’ resume. Of those eight top 100 wins, only one game came away from the Octagon of Doom, and that was a “neutral site” game played against Gonzaga in Wichita.

Kansas State is 1-6 on the road in Big 12 play after getting drubbed by Oklahoma on Saturday afternoon. The win? At TCU. They also lost to Northern Colorado on the season’s opening night and were beaten by Charlotte and Georgetown (by 27!) in Puerto Rico.

With the state of the bubble this season, no team with six top 50 wins will miss the dance. But don’t be surprised to see Kansas State end up with a lower seed than you would expect.

THE REST OF THURSDAY’S BUBBLE ACTION

Winners:

  • Georgetown (RPI: 62, KenPom: 58) was blown out by Seton Hall for the second straight time this past week, which really hurt the Hoyas. They bounced back on Saturday, however, knocking off Xavier and keeping themselves in the conversation. According to our Dave Ommen, they entered the game just on the wrong side of the cut-line.
  • Baylor (RPI: 44, KenPom: 39) won at West Virginia on Saturday, extending their winning streak to four games and have probably gotten themselves into the tournament and maybe even out of the play-in game. They still have to play at Texas and Kansas State and how Iowa State, however.
  • Stanford (RPI: 49, KenPom: 33) picked up a huge win, knocking off UCLA at home on Saturday. The Cardinal are all but in the tournament as of today. Their last four games are tough, however: at the Arizona schools then hosting the mountain schools. As long as they don’t lose all four, they should be in.
  • Oklahoma State (RPI: 47, KenPom: 30) beat Texas Tech at home, which, on paper, isn’t huge. But it snaps a seven-game losing streak and it marked the return of Marcus Smart, who was terrific. If the Pokes are back, they are a tournament team.
  • Clemson (RPI: 70, KenPom: 45) has a win over Duke, which is keeping them in the mix for now. I’m not sure they can withstand another loss, however.
  • Saint Joseph’s (RPI: 40, KenPom: 66) won on the right side of the cutline entering Saturday, and that won’t change after a win over Fordham.
  • Dayton (RPI: 57, KenPom: 57) won by three against Duquesne on Saturday, meaning that the Flyers now have a great chance to make a run at a bid. Their last four games: at Saint Joseph’s, UMass, at Saint Louis, Richmond. They’ll need to win at least two of those games to have a chance.
  • Arkansas (RPI: 69, KenPom: 52) beat Mississippi State, keeping them within striking distance of a bid if they can win at Rupp next week.
  • Richmond (RPI: 45, KenPom: 67) knocked off La Salle at home, keeping their hopes for a bid alive. Their rivalry game with VCU in two weeks may end up being for their at-large lives.
  • BYU (RPI: 37, KenPom: 46) avoided a letdown after knocking off Gonzaga on Thursday by beating Portland. The Cougars have a nice RPI and seven top 100 wins, but they have four sub-100 losses and need to win out to have a real chance.
  • Marquette (RPI: 75, KenPom: 56) keeps their hopes alive win an overtime win at DePaul. But with just a 4-10 record against the top 75 and one win against the top 50, the Golden Eagles are in a tough spot. The good news? Their last four games are against teams in the tournament or on the bubble.

Losers:

  • Tennessee (RPI: 51, KenPom: 24) was one of the last teams in our latest bracket. They would probably feel much more comfortable about their tournament standing if it wasn’t for Antwan Space.
  • Ole Miss (RPI: 76 KenPom: 81) is more or less out of the bubble discussion after losing a hard-fought game against No. 2 Florida at home on Saturday.
  • St. John’s (RPI: 53, KenPom: 29) had a chance to more or less lock up a bid at Villanova, but the Johnnies lost a heart-breaker. They’re one of a handful of teams on the cut-line right now, meaning next week’s visit from Xavier is all the more important.
  • Colorado (RPI: 24, KenPom: 60) was run off the court by Arizona. The Buffs play their last three on the road, and while they have a strong computer profile, the key is how they will be judged without Spencer Dinwiddie. Don’t go 0-fer down the stretch.
  • Minnesota (RPI: 42, KenPom: 49) got run off of the court by Ohio State in the second half and now finds themselves in a position where they have lost six of their last eight games, including ugly losses to Northwestern Purdue and Illinois. Minnesota is right on the cut line as of now.
  • Xavier (RPI: 52, KenPom: 46) The Musketeers were embarrassed by Georgetown in DC on Saturday afternoon. Chris Mack’s club is slowly inching their way towards the cut-line. A trip to NYC to play St. John’s next week is suddenly a huge game. They also still get Creighton and Villanova at home, so chances are there to lock a bid up.
  • West Virginia (RPI: 68, KenPom: 61) is still trying to dig themselves out of a hole, and losing at home to fellow Big 12 bubbler Baylor won’t do them any favors. They probably need to win two of the following: at Iowa State, at Oklahoma, Kansas.

Osun Osunniyi picks St. Bonaventure over Syracuse, Georgetown

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St. Bonaventure has made something of a late splash on the recruiting trail.

Osun Osunniyi, a 6-foot-10 from Putnam (Conn.) Science Academy, signed with the Bonnies, the school announced Monday.

It’s a bit of a recruiting coup for coach Mark Schmidt, who won the services of Osunniyi over offers from Syracuse and Georgetown, both of whom hosted the prospect on official visits this spring.

“Osun oozes with potential. His ceiling is extremely high. He has so much God-given ability,” Schmidt said in a statement. “And, he’s a great kid, a character kid who is level-headed. He has a great wingspan, he runs well, he has a natural talent for blocking shots and is a very good rebounder. He can score around the basket.

“Osun wants to get better, like all of our players. We saw how he developed at Putnam, which is a credit to coach Espinosa and the staff there. He’s come a long way to become a kid who was highly recruited. We’re thrilled to have him come to St. Bonaventure.”

Osunniyi, who previously committed to La Salle before taking a prep year, becomes the fourth member of the Bonnies’ 2018 freshman class. He averaged 10 points, six rebounds and three blocked shots per game while Putnam won a national prep championship.

The Bonnies made the NCAA tournament as an 11 seed last year after going 26-8.

Christian Vital going back to UConn for junior season

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Dan Hurley is keeping his roster intact at the top.

Christian Vital, UConn’s second-leading scorer a season ago, is returning to school after declaring for the NBA draft without hiring an agent, he announced Monday via social media.

“Great Talk Today Coach! Appreciate The Wisdom You Have Let Me In On!” Vital wrote “I Think It’s Time To Get Back To Winning Ways In Storrs! I’m Going To Need That #1 Back ASAP! WE GOT (UNFINISHED) BUSINESS!”

The 6-foot-2 junior-to-be Vital joins Jalen Adams, who was the Huskies’ top-returning scorer, back in Storrs in Hurley’s first year. Vital averaged 14.9 points on 38.3 percent shooting. Adams previously announced he would return to school without declaring for the draft.

The return of UConn’s top two scorers underscores an even bigger trend under Hurley as the Huskies appear to have avoided any major defections from last year’s roster despite the coaching change.

UConn is coming off a 14-18 season that proved to be the last of coach Kevin Ollie’s six years with the Huskies that included a national championship but also back-to-back losing seasons.

Chris Silva returning to South Carolina for senior season

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South Carolina is getting an first-team all-SEC performer back.

Chris Silva, who led the Gamecocks in scoring and rebounding last season, is returning to school after declaring for the NBA draft without hiring an agent, the school announced Monday.

“I’m thankful for the experience of going through the draft process,” Silva said in a statement. “I want to thank all of the teams that gave me the opportunity to workout for their organization. I’m excited to announce that I’m returning to South Carolina for my senior season. I can’t wait to get back on the court with my brothers and continue to work on my game.”

The 6-foot-9 Silva, who did not get an NBA draft combine invite, averaged 14.3 points and 8 rebounds per game as a junior.  He shot 46.7 percent from the floor.

“Going through the evaluation process was an unbelievable experience for Chris and us,” South Carolina coach Frank Martin said in a statement. “He comes back to a place he loves with some knowledge on some of the things that we have to help him improve on in his efforts to one day fulfill his lifelong dream of playing in the NBA.”

In addition to being South Carolina’s leading scorer, he was the SEC co-defensive player of the year last season after averaging 1.4 blocks per game. His return to Columbia gives the Gamecocks a potential contender for SEC player of the year in 2018-19.

Kansas fires athletic director Sheahon Zenger

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Kansas has fired athletic director Sheahon Zenger, effective immediately, citing a lack of progress in key areas within the athletic department.

“Sheahon has been a loyal Jayhawk, and our athletics department has improved in many areas under his leadership,” Kansas Chancellor Doug Girod wrote in an email to KU faculty and staff. “But athletics continues to face a number of challenges, and progress in key areas has been elusive. To achieve the level of success we need and expect, I have determined a change in leadership is necessary.”

Zenger had been in the role of AD since 2011.

The issue, of course, is not the play of the Kansas basketball program. The Jayhawks have won every Big 12 regular season title since 2004, and head coach Bill Self has taken the program to two Final Fours since Zenger was hired.

The football team is still a disaster, but one can’t help but wonder whether or not the real issue at hand here is Kansas’ getting tied into the FBI’s investigation into college basketball.

The Jayhawks were not mentioned in the initial indictments that were handed down, but Kansas was a central figure in the superseding indictments that were dropped after the national title game. The mother of Billy Preston, who did not play for the Jayhawks this season, was alleged to have been funneled $90,000 by Adidas, while Silvio De Sousa’s status is currently in question after the FBI alleged his guardian was paid at least $20,000 to help offset money that the family had already accepted from a rival shoe company.

All of that came in the aftermath of dealing with Cheick Diallo and Cliff Alexander, both of whom had their one season in Lawrence reduced due to off the court issues.

“Since becoming chancellor, I have spent countless hours with higher education peers and Jayhawks to hear their perspective on KU,” Girod wrote. “A common thread in these conversations is that, as a major public university with national aspirations, we must continue to strive for excellence in all areas — including athletics. As I have said many times, a successful athletics department is inextricably linked to our broader mission as a flagship research university.”

Louisville, ex-AD Tom Jurich reach $4.5M settlement

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The University of Louisville has reached a $4.5 million settlement with former athletic director Tom Jurich, who was fired in the wake of a national federal corruption investigation of college basketball.

Jurich disputed his Oct. 18 firing for cause after nearly 20 years as AD and had considered suing the school. The University of Louisville Athletic Association and Board of Trustees on Friday approved the settlement. Jurich’s employment ended “without cause” as a result of his resignation, also described in the settlement as “retirement.”

He’ll also receive another $2.6 million in accrued employment benefits, along with home game tickets and parking for Louisville football and basketball for 20 years.

An audit of the University of Louisville Foundation released last June showed that Jurich averaged annual compensation of more than $2.76 million from 2010-16, including more than $5.35 million in 2016.

Then-interim president Greg Postel had placed Jurich on paid administrative leave in September after the school’s acknowledgement of its involvement in the investigation. Trustees voted 10-3 to fire Jurich, two days after the ULAA unanimously fired Hall of Fame men’s basketball coach Rick Pitino.

The former AD said in a joint statement that he “spent the better part of my career” working with dedicated athletes, coaches and staff to elevate Louisville. He added, “I am proud of what we accomplished, which is well documented.”

Jurich’s legal team had stressed that the ex-AD did nothing illegal and hadn’t violated NCAA rules.

Trustee chairman J. David Grissom said in the statement that “Everyone is pleased that this matter has been successfully resolved. All parties can move forward to begin the next chapter.”

Jurich played a major role in Louisville’s success on the field and how the school handled issues off it. He led the school’s 2014 entry into the Atlantic Coast Conference and oversaw numerous program and facility upgrades, including a $63 million expansion of the football stadium due for completion by fall.

He also hired several successful coaches including Pitino, who guided the Cardinals to the 2013 NCAA men’s basketball championship. Louisville ultimately vacated that title in February as part of NCAA penalties for a sex scandal after an escort’s book allegations that former basketball staffer Andre McGee hired her and other dancers to strip and have sex with players and recruits.

Pitino has filed a $38.7 million federal lawsuit against Louisville, alleging breach of contract.