Bubble Banter: Colorado, Dayton the day’s biggest winners

1 Comment

There are 11 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. 

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

WINNERS

Dayton: The Flyers are suddenly in a great position to earn a bid after they went into Saint Louis and knocked off the Billikens on Wednesday night. We wrote about them here.

Arkansas: All of a sudden, the Razorbacks look like they’re the third-best team in the SEC, and the only team not named Florida or Kentucky to feel comfortable about their NCAA tournament standing as of today. They’ve now won six straight games — including one in Rupp Arena — and have just a single, one-point loss since February 1st. They have four top 50 wins, are 9-8 against the top 100 and only have a single ugly loss on their resume. The SEC is bad enough, however, that Arkansas probably can’t afford to lose to the likes of Alabama, who they play this weekend. But they’re in good shape.

Colorado: The Buffaloes moved to 7-6 without Spencer Dinwiddie in the lineup, picking up a win over sputtering Stanford in Palo Alto. Their final game of the regular season is at Cal, which means that the Buffs are probably in a position to withstand a loss. They have five top 50 wins, terrific computer numbers and a win over Kansas. What’s going to determine their standing is how the committee views their performance post-Dinwiddie.

Nebraska: The Cornhuskers won at Indiana, which was a step in the right direction but it wasn’t a stamp on their ticket to the dance. Not yet. They’re 3-7 against the top 50 and have three ugly losses. Wisconsin heads to Lincoln on Saturday. Win that, and we’ll talk.

Tennessee and Missouri: The Vols put a whipping on Auburn at Auburn while Missouri needed a couple of beneficial whistles down the stretch to handle Texas A&M at home. But that doesn’t matter as much as the fact that both teams were able to land a win, which leaves them in the same position: needing a win when they square off in Knoxville this weekend. Both teams are currently sitting in the realm of the Last Four In.

Utah: The Utes are still in the conversation after beating Cal on the road on Wednesday. They have five top 50 wins, they’re 6-8 against the top 100 and they still have a chance to land another quality road win at Stanford this weekend. The problem? They played no one outside of the league. Their non-conference SOS is 346th, which just brutalizes their computer numbers. They will still have some work to do in the Pac-12 tourney even with a win over the Cardinal.

LOSERS

Stanford: The Cardinal are suddenly in a bad spot. They beat UCLA two weeks ago, which put them in a terrific spot to earn a bid down the stretch of the season. But they’ve lost three in a row since then and are suddenly looking at the possibility of playing their way out of the dance. They have four top 30 wins and just one bad loss, but their record against the top 100 is now just 6-10. They’re probably still avoiding the First Four, but they need to be Utah this weekend to avoid a potentially messy situation in the Pac-12 tournament.

Cal: Not a good night for the Bay Area Pac-12 schools. Utah had one road win on the season before Wednesday, and the Utes picked off Cal in Haas Pavilion. The Bears have now lost eight of their last 12 games, they’re 4-8 against the top 50 (although they did beat Arizona) and they lost a pair of games to sub-100 teams. In other words, Cal is in a bad, bad spot. They host Colorado on Saturday. Lose that game, and the Bears could very well head into the Pac-12 tournament on the wrong side of the bubble.

Saint Joseph’s: The Hawks had a chance to lock up a bid with a win at George Washington, but they weren’t able to get it. GW is a top 30 team, and a loss on the road to a top 30 team certainly doesn’t hurt St. Joe’s profile. They’ve got four top 50 wins (including VCU and UMass, who are both in the top 25), but they didn’t do much outside of the league. They get La Salle at home this weekend. It would behoove Phil Martelli to win that game.

Four-star guard becomes LSU’s first 2019 commit

Scott Halleran/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Expected to be a factor both within the SEC and nationally this season, these are good times for the LSU men’s basketball program. Head coach Will Wade and his staff received more good news Tuesday, as 6-foot-2 combo guard James Bishop (Baltimore, Maryland/Mount St. Joseph HS) announced that he will be a Tiger next season.

Bishop, considered to be one of the top scoring guards in the class, is LSU’s first 2019 verbal commitment. Bishop’s pledge comes just over a week after his official visit to LSU, and just days after a visit to St. John’s. LSU beat out St. John’s, NC State, Marquette and VCU in the race for the Baltimore product, and given the Tigers’ current roster this is an important commitment.

LSU’s 2018 recruiting class is considered to be one of the nation’s best, with point guard Javonte Smart being one of the five-star prospects in that quintet (forwards Naz Reid and Emmitt Williams being the others). Add in sophomore Tremont Waters, who’s coming off of an outstanding freshman season, and LSU could be in a position next summer where its top two lead guards are at the very least testing the NBA draft waters.

Landing Bishop gives LSU another talented option, and some cover should the program lose either Waters or Smart — or both — in 2019.

Calhoun officially named head coach at DIII St. Joseph

Winslow Townson/Getty Images
Leave a comment

WEST HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Jim Calhoun has officially been named the head coach at Division III University of Saint Joseph in Connecticut.

The Hall of Famer had already announced he would be taking the job and has been working for a year to establish a men’s basketball program at the small Catholic university, which was an all-women’s school until this school year.

Calhoun also has continued to serve in an advisory role at UConn, where he served as coach for 26 seasons and led the Huskies to three of their four national titles before retiring in 2012.

The 76-year-old will return to the sidelines with a career record of 873-380 when the Blue Jays open the season on Nov. 9 against William Paterson University.

That game will be played at Trinity College in Hartford, which has a gym that seats about 2,200 people, about 1,000 more than the gymnasium at Saint Joseph.

Oregon State announces addition of transfer Payton Dastrup

Steve Dykes/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Tuesday afternoon Oregon State announced that former BYU power forward Payton Dastrup has joined the program as a transfer. Dastrup, who averaged 3.3 points and 1.8 rebounds in just under eight minutes per game last season, has two seasons of eligibility remaining. Oregon State will file a waiver on his behalf in hopes that Dastrup will be granted immediate eligibility.

Should the waiver request be denied, Dastrup will not be eligible to play until the 2019-20 season. For Oregon State’s sake, even with Dastrup’s career numbers he would fill a need for a team that bid farewell to its best big man during the spring.

Drew Eubanks’ decision to turn pro left a noticeable hole in Oregon State’s interior rotation, with senior Gligorije Rakocevic and junior Ben Kone being the most experienced returnees. Those two combined to average 3.1 points and 3.5 rebounds per game in 2017-18, with Rakocevic averaging 10.6 minutes per game in 27 appearances off the bench.

In addition to those two the Beavers add three scholarship newcomers to the mix this season in junior college transfer Kylor Kelley and freshmen Warren Washington and Jack Wilson. Dastrup has the ability to step away from the basket, which would give Oregon State a little versatility in the interior to go along with a perimeter/wing rotation led by Tres Tinkle, Stephen Thompson Jr. and Ethan Thompson.

Oklahoma State lands third 2019 commitment

John Weast/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Oklahoma State managed to add another verbal commitment in its 2019 class on Tuesday, as four-star combo guard Avery Anderson III announced via Twitter that he will play his college basketball for Mike Boynton. Anderson picked Oklahoma State over offers from Florida, LSU, TCU and Texas Tech.

Anderson is Oklahoma State’s third commitment in the class, as the Justin, Texas product joins twins Kalib and Keylan Boone. The Boone brothers made their pledge in mid-April, and all three took official visits to Stillwater this past weekend.

Anderson’s commitment is key for two reasons. First there’s the fact that he can be used at either guard spot, and that versatility will be valuable for Oklahoma State once he arrives on campus. Also, while Oklahoma State will be quite young in the front court this coming season that isn’t the case on the perimeter.

Of Oklahoma State’s current crop of guards/wings only two, freshman Isaac Likekele and redshirt sophomore Michael Weathers, are underclassmen. The Cowboys have just one senior in the group, Mike Cunningham, but getting a guard in the 2019 class was key for Boynton’s program.

At this point, all 13 of Oklahoma State’s scholarships for the 2019-20 season have been filled with Anderson’s commitment.

Dan Hurley lands first commitment as UConn head coach

Rob Carr/Getty Images
Leave a comment

First-year UConn head coach Dan Hurley landed his first commitment in the Class of 2019 on Tuesday, as four-star guard James Bouknight announced that he will play his college ball for the Huskies.

A native of New York that has played in the prep ranks for the MacDuffie School and has been a member of the same PSA Cardinals AAU program that produced Cole Anthony and Mo Bamba, Bouknight is a 6-foot-4 off-guard that still has quite a bit of potential to grow into. He’s an athletic scorer with upside, exactly the kind of player that UConn is going to need in a year where they will be losing Jalen Adams while Alterique Gilbert continues to struggle with shoulder issues.

Much is expected from Hurley at UConn, and he has found himself in the mix for a number of high-profile recruits in and around the Northeast. Putting together a couple of strong classes at the start of his tenure is critical for a coach looking to bring the Huskies back to the heights they were at under Jim Calhoun.

And Bouknight is a terrific was to start that process.