Bubble Banter: Boise State, St. John’s, Dayton win the day; Texas, N.C. State lose; and Kansas State?

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(This post will be updated as the day progresses.)

Let’s talk about Kansas State for a minute, shall we?

The Wildcats knocked off No. 12 Iowa State today in Manhattan, their second straight massive upset of a Big 12 title contender. This isn’t the first time that they have beaten good teams, either. The Wildcats have also swept Oklahoma, beaten Baylor and Oklahoma State at home, and knocked off Texas A&M on a neutral court. That’s seven top 50 wins for those of you counting at home. All told, Kansas State is 7-10 against the top 50 and 8-11 against the top 100.

The problem?

The Wildcats are 15-15 on the season with four sub-100 losses, including games where they were tripped up at Long Beach State and at home against Texas Southern.

They needed to beat Iowa State just to get over .500 on the season.

Can we really call the Wildcats a bubble team?

At this point, probably not. Their RPI is too low, they have too many bad losses and, frankly, just too many losses period.

But compare this resume to Temple. The Owls have beaten Kansas … and that’s it. They don’t have another top 50 win. In fact, they’ve only played seven top 50 opponents all season long. They also have an ugly loss to St. Joe’s on their resume.

What about Tulsa? The Golden Hurricane have just two top 50 wins on their resume — a sweep of, you guessed it, Temple — and four top 100 wins with losses to Oral Roberts and Southeast Oklahoma State, the latter of which technically doesn’t count because it is a Division II school.

And then there is Texas A&M. As of today, the Aggies do not have a top 50 win, as their sweep of LSU doesn’t look as good when the Tigers drop out of the top 50. A&M doesn’t have any bad losses, however, which should tell you what the committee prioritizes.

Kansas State has work left to do. They play at Texas next week, a game they probably want to win. And it sure wouldn’t hurt to pick up a win or two in the Big 12 tournament. But as crazy as it sounds, Kansas State has managed to put themselves into the bubble conversation this season.


  • Boise State: The Broncos are Saturday’s biggest winners, as they completed a season sweep of San Diego State by going into Viejas Arena, one of the toughest places to play, and leaving with a win. The Broncos jump up to the right side of the bubble with the win, as the Aztecs are a top 25 win. Boise State now has three top 25ish wins and a 6-4 record against the top 100, although those three sub-100 losses are less than ideal. The Broncos can’t slip up against San Jose State or Fresno State, but as of today, they’re probably in the tournament. Considering where they were in December, that’s an incredible accomplishment.
  • BYU: The Cougars got the win that they needed, going into Spokane and knocking off No. 3 Gonzaga, but their work isn’t done yet. Gonzaga now has just one top 50 win on the season. This was their fourth top 100 win to go along with three sub-100 losses. If the tournament started today, BYU would be on the outside looking in.
  • St. John’s: The Johnnies are all but in the tournament after beating Georgetown convincingly on Saturday. They won the two games they needed to win this week, and now have five top 50 wins and a 9-7 record against the top 100. The only reason they’re not a lock yet? They still have to play at Marquette, and St. John’s has a penchant for not playing up to their ability away from home. But even with a loss at Marquette and at Villanova in the finale, the Johnnies still might be in with a loss in the first round of the Big East tournament.
  • Dayton: Welcome to the tournament, Dayton. The Flyers won at VCU on Saturday, a top 15 road win that is now the highlight of an otherwise strong profile. They’re now 22-6 on the season with six top 100 wins and just one bad loss — at Duquesne.
  • LSU: The Tigers picked up a key win on Saturday, completely a sweep of Ole Miss by knocking off the Rebels at home. LSU needs to collect all the quality wins that they can, as their profile has some holes. Namely, they have a non-conference schedule strength ranked in the 170s and three losses to sub-100 teams. They are 10-5 against the top 100, but just two of those 10 are in the top 45. Beat Tennessee at home and the Tigers should feel good about their chances.
  • Tulsa: The Golden Hurricane added a big win to their resume, going into Memphis and notching a come-from-behind win over the Tigers. Adding top 100 road wins at this point in the season never hurts, but the key for this group will be their next two games. They play Cincinnati at home and SMU on the road, a game that will have American title implications.
  • Texas A&M: The best thing that can be said about the Aggie win over Auburn is that it wasn’t a loss. Without any top 50 wins on their resume, the Aggies cannot afford a bad loss. Auburn would have been a bad loss.
  • Georgia: The Bulldogs beat Missouri, which is important mostly because they already have four sub-100 losses on their resume. Georgia is probably in the tournament as of today, but they can lock up a bid next week when they take on Kentucky in Athens.
  • Iowa: The Hawkeyes went into State College and knocked off Penn State on Saturday, keeping them safely above the cut-line and out of real bubble danger. They’d be wise to at least split their last two games — at Indiana, home for Northwestern.
  • Davidson: The Wildcats picked up a big win against George Washington on Saturday, their seventh top 100 win of the season. The Wildcats are still very, very bubbly — their poor strength of schedule, a couple of bad loss and just one top 50 win will do that — but with a visit from VCU coming this week, they’ll have an opportunity to play their way in.
  • Illinois: The Illini avoided a bad loss, smacking around Northwestern in Champaign. Unfortunately for Illinois, they’re probably on the wrong side of the bubble right now, meaning that they cannot afford another loss during the regular season. They’re 3-6 against the top 50 and 5-10 against the top 100, and while they have a pair of top ten wins, they won’t have another chance to boost their profile until the Big Ten tournament.
  • Rhode Island: URI’s slim hopes of getting an at-large bid are still alive after the Rams won at La Salle. It’s their fifth top 100 win, but URI does not have a top 50 win. They do have two sub-100 losses, however. The Rams have to win out, and they probably need at least two wins in the Atlantic 10 tournament to have a real shot.
  • Cincinnati: The Bearcats beat Tulane in New Orleans, which is better than what they did when the Green Wave came to Cincinnati. The Bearcats are in a good spot, and as long as they win one of their final two regular season games — at Tulsa and home against Memphis — they should feel pretty good heading into the American tournament.
Mark Gottfried (AP Photo)


  • Texas: The Longhorns lost to Kansas on Saturday afternoon, a loss that has dropped them to 17-12 overall and just 6-10 in the Big 12 and will likely find themselves on the wrong side of many bubble projections come Monday morning. Four of those six wins came against TCU and Texas Tech, and with games left against Baylor and the now-streaking Kansas State, Texas could very easily finish the season 6-12 in the Big 12. It will be an interesting debate, Texas has no losses to teams outside KenPom’s top 35, but they’re just 1-12 against the RPI top 50. Should a team that doesn’t lose to bad teams but cannot beat the best of the best deserve a bid to the tournament?
  • N.C. State: In the immortal words of one Jeffrey Borzello, “N.C. State and the bubble are never able to truly break up and go their separate ways.” That sums up the Wolfpack’s week pretty succinctly. After beating down North Carolina in Chapel Hill on Tuesday night, Mark Gottfried’s club went up to Conte Forum to take on Boston College … and got blown out. That adds even more intrigue to a profile that really didn’t need to get murkier. N.C. State has wins Duke and at Louisville and North Carolina. They have five top 50 wins and eight top 100 wins. But they’re also 17-12 overall with a pair of sub-125 losses, including B.C. As of Friday, they were a No. 9 seed in our latest bracket. This loss could drop them a seed line. Maybe two. Word of advice to N.C. State: win at Clemson. Beat Syracuse. Don’t risk it.
  • Oklahoma State: All of a sudden, the Pokes are in some trouble. After losing to Texas Tech on Saturday, Oklahoma State is now 17-11 overall and 7-9 in the Big 12, having lost their last four games. They have six top 50 wins — including three top ten wins — but they also have three sub-100 losses, including a pair in the last two weeks. They get TCU at home next week, which is a win they really need before going to West Virginia next weekend.
  • Ole Miss: The Rebels lost at LSU on Saturday, which is far from a killer loss. It probably won’t even drop Ole Miss off of the No. 9-10 seed range where they are in most projections right now. But it does limit their margin of error. Andy Kennedy’s club already has three sub-100 losses this season and still has to play at Alabama and Vanderbilt at home.
  • Xavier: The Musketeers lost to Villanova at home on Saturday, which is far from a killer loss. A win would have locked up a bid, but at this point, with four top 25 wins and four sub-100 losses, the Musketeers will be in if they beat Creighton next week. Lose, and they’ll still be in a pretty good spot.
  • Miami: The Hurricanes missed on a chance to beat North Carolina in Coral Gables on Saturday, and while that certainly doesn’t hurt their bubble standing, it doesn’t help. And at this point, Miami needs all the help they can get. That win at Duke looks amazing, but it’s basically the only thing keeping a team with four sub-100 losses and just one other top 60 win in the conversation. Miami needs to win at Pitt, win at Virginia Tech and beat a notable team in the ACC tournament to really have a chance.


Tulsa at Memphis, 8:00 p.m.
Boise State at San Diego State, 8:00 p.m.
Auburn at Texas A&M 8:30 p.m.
BYU at No. 3 Gonzaga, 10:00 p.m.

Miami coach Jim Larrañaga asks for transparency on NIL deals

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Miami coach Jim Larrañaga wants to know how much money athletes at other schools are making through name, image and likeness deals.

It’s only fair, he said, since no school has had the values of its athletes’ deals publicized more than Miami.

“I think everybody should be transparent,” he said at a news conference Saturday ahead of his team’s NCAA Tournament Midwest Region final aganst Texas. “Why is it hidden behind the curtain? Why? You can go on a website and check out anybody’s salary in the NBA.

“There are a lot of schools that do the same thing we do. We just don’t know about it because it’s not public knowledge. Why not? Why are we afraid of sharing that information?”

Larrañaga said full disclosure is important for competitive reasons and also so the NCAA or Congress can have more information at their disposal when, and if, they bring clarity and uniformity to NIL rules.

Nijel Pack’s two-year, $800,000 contract with Miami booster John Ruiz is the most publicized NIL deal since the NCAA began allowing college athletes to make money off their popularity. ACC player of the year Isaiah Wong’s $100,000 deal with Ruiz also became public knowledge.

Though the terms of twins Haley and Hanna Cavinder’s deals have not been publicized, the two reportedly have made millions of dollars during their time playing women’s basketball at Fresno State and now Miami.

Larrañaga said television networks, shoe companies, universities, athletic directors and coaches make lots of money off college sports and that the athletes deserve a cut.

“I hope they get as many great deals as they can because I think eventually they have to learn how to handle money,” he said. “So at their young age, if they learn it, maybe they’ll find out. I don’t know how many of these guys are spending every cent they get, but I know a lot of NBA guys did that and ended up bankrupt. I think that’s a learning experience. That’s why you’re in college anyway.”

There have been concerns raised that publicizing the amount of money athletes make could cause jealousy and splinter locker rooms.

Larrañaga said NIL hasn’t changed the dynamic, as far as he’s concerned.

“These guys have to get along on the court and off the court,” he said. “If you can’t handle that as a coach, you probably couldn’t handle it when a guy was complaining about playing time or ‘I didn’t get enough shots.’”

Wong disputed a report last year that, upon learning of Pack’s deal, he threatened through his agent to transfer if his NIL deal wasn’t beefed up.

Larrañaga said he’s seen no problems between the two.

“They hit it off day one,” he said. “Why? Because they love playing basketball.”

Jordan Miller vouched for his coach, especially when it comes to Pack’s deal.

“At the end of the day, he’s our teammate, and everybody’s happy for him,” Miller said.

Larrañaga said he couldn’t speculate on whether athletes would be paid as employees of universities some day.

For now, the most important thing is to set firm guidelines for NIL and to make sure athletes are educated about how to manage their money.

“Guys like Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson and LeBron (James), they make life-changing money, life-altering money,” Larrañaga said. “These young kids, they might not get that chance beyond this. So they need an education about it.”

Texas blows out Xavier 83-71 for spot in NCAA Elite Eight

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Tyrese Hunter scored 19 points, Marcus Carr and Christian Bishop added 18 apiece, and second-seeded Texas rolled to an 83-71 victory over No. 3 seed Xavier on Friday night to reach the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 15 years.

Playing most of the way without ailing star Dylan Disu, the Longhorns – the highest seed left after No. 1s Alabama and Houston lost earlier in the night – built a 42-25 lead by halftime. They quickly pushed it past 20 before cruising the rest of the way into a matchup with fifth-seeded Miami on Sunday night for a spot in the Final Four in Houston.

Sir’Jabari Rice had 16 points and Timmy Allen added 11 for the Longhorns (29-8), who kept Souley Boum and the rest of Xavier’s perimeter threats in check while making life miserable for Jack Nunge down low.

Adam Kunkel hit five 3-pointers and led the Musketeers (27-10) with 21 points. Nunge scored 15 but needed 19 shots to get there, while Colby Jones also had 15 points. Boum didn’t hit a field goal until early in the second half and finished with 12 points.

The job the Longhorns did in shutting down Xavier was merely the latest example of some masterful work by interim coach Rodney Terry. The longtime assistant took over in December, when Chris Beard was suspended and later fired over a since-dropped domestic violence charge, and Terry has not only kept the season from falling apart but sent his team soaring.

Things won’t get any easier against Miami, which romped to an 89-75 win over the Cougars.

And especially without Disu, who led the Longhorns to a Big 12 tourney title and earned MVP honors on the same floor just over two weeks ago, and who’d been dominant through the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament.

Disu tried to play through a left foot injury that the Longhorns had successfully kept secret Friday night, but he lasted only a couple of minutes before limping off the floor and straight to the locker room. When he returned to the bench, he was wearing a big walking boot, a black hoodie and a grim expression.

Relegated to a 6-foot-9 cheerleader, Disu at least had plenty to celebrate.

Carr got the Longhorns off to a fast start, spinning through the lane like a Tilt-A-Whirl for tough buckets at the rim, and even knocking down a spinning, desperation 3 as the shot clock expired. And when Musketeers coach Sean Miller traded out a man-to-man defense for a zone, the Longhorns began to pound the ball to Bishop in the paint.

With dozens of family and friends on hand, the Creighton transfer from the Kansas City suburb of Lee’s Summit, Missouri, went to work. Bishop threw down one dunk on Carr’s alley-oop lob, then slammed down another a few minutes later.

By the time Allen banked in a half-court heave, the Longhorns had established a 42-25 halftime advantage – and had to be redirected from the Xavier tunnel, where they were busy celebrating, toward their own locker room.

Xavier tried to creep back a couple of times, but the Longhorns never allowed their lead to sniff single digits. And that gave Terry, who returned to Texas after head coaching jobs at Fresno State and UTEP, a chance to breathe deeply and enjoy the moment.

The 54-year-old from the small Texas town of Angleton was on Rick Barnes’ staff the last time the Longhorns reached the Elite Eight, back in 2008. He was on the 2003 staff that guided them all the way to the Final Four, too.

Now, he’s one step away from taking Texas on another improbable trip to college basketball’s biggest stage.

Creighton ends Princeton’s March Madness run with 86-75 win

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Creighton used its size, 3-point shooting and a swarming second-half defense to end the March Madness run of Princeton, beating the 15th-seeded Tigers 86-75 on Friday night in the Sweet 16.

The sixth-seeded Bluejays (24-12) advanced to their first regional final since they were part of an eight-team NCAA Tournament in 1941. Creighton will play No. 5 seed San Diego State in Sunday’s South Region final, with each team seeking its first Final Four.

Ryan Kalkbenner, the two-time Big East defensive player of the year, scored 22 points to lead the Bluejays to their sixth win in seven games. Baylor Scheierman made five 3s and finished with 21 points.

“Kalk, he impacts us at the rim on both ends of the floor and defensively provides so much for us,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. “I thought he really got going late in the first half and carried it over to the second half. Baylor just plays at every level. He can make the mid-range. He shoots the 3. He sees the floor incredibly well, and believe it or not, he’s become a pretty good defender.”

The Tigers (23-9) were led by Ryan Langborg with 26 points and Ivy League player of the year Tosan Evbuomwan with 24 points, six rebounds and nine assists.

Princeton shook up brackets everywhere by beating No. 2 seed Arizona in the first round, then blew out seventh-seeded Missouri last weekend in Sacramento, California.

Playing in its first Sweet 16 since 1967, Princeton was hoping to become the first Ivy League champion to make the Elite Eight since Penn’s Final Four run in 1979, the first Tigers squad to reach the Final Four since Bill Bradley led them there in 1965, and the second straight No. 15 seed to play in a regional final. Saint Peter’s last year became the first 15 seed to achieve that feat.

Princeton’s offense bore no resemblance to the back-cutting, deliberate style that defined the late Pete Carril’s coaching tenure. Instead, the Tigers went toe to toe against Creighton’s fast-paced offense until they stalled out at the start of the second half.

Creighton used a 9-2 run to take 56-45 lead, a four-minute stretch during which Princeton coach Mitch Henderson called two timeouts and Evbuomwan drew his third foul.

The Bluejays just wouldn’t stop. When Princeton cut the deficit to 61-52, Creighton answered with seven more points and the Tigers couldn’t get closer than seven points after that.

“Princeton’s really good at establishing their pace, so you’ve just got to take them out of it,” Kalkbrenner said. “Their whole goal is to take us out of our pace.”

After beating North Carolina State and third-seeded Baylor in Denver last weekend, drawing confidence from not needing oxygen masks like their opponents, Creighton eliminated the suddenly popular Ivy Leaguers. Now, the Bluejays are one win away from the national semifinals.

“It’s been amazing, it’s been a dream come true. This is why I came to Creighton in the first place, to make a run with this group of guys,” Scheierman said. “It’s just been an incredible experience. I’m looking forward to continuing that on Sunday.”

Miami beats No. 1 seed Houston; all four top NCAA seeds out

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Nijel Pack and Miami hit shots from near and far against the stingiest defense in the country to beat Houston 89-75 on Friday night in the Sweet 16, leaving the NCAA Tournament without a single No. 1 seed among its final eight teams for the first time since seeding began in 1979.

Miami (28-7), only the fifth team this season to score at least 70 points against Houston (33-4), will play second-seeded Texas or No. 3 seed Xavier in the Midwest Region final for the chance to go to the Final Four.

About 30 minutes before Houston’s loss, top overall seed Alabama fell to San Diego State in Louisville, Kentucky. Fellow No. 1 seeds Purdue and Kansas lost during the tournament’s first weekend.

The fifth-seeded Hurricanes reached a regional final for the second straight year just a few hours after Miami’s ninth-seeded women’s team hung on to beat Villanova and advance to the Elite Eight for the first time. Miami and UConn are the only schools with teams remaining in both tournaments.

This is the first time in three years Houston didn’t make it to the Elite Eight.

The Cougars simply couldn’t stop a multifaceted Miami offense led by Pack’s 3-point shooting. He had season highs of seven 3-pointers on 10 attempts and 26 points.

Isaiah Wong’s mid-range game helped get the ‘Canes out to a fast start, and he finished with 20 points. Jordan Miller hurt the Cougars with his penetration and had 13 points, and Norchad Omier was his usual rugged self under the basket while recording his 16th double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds.

It resulted in a heartbreaking end for a Cougars team that was in the Sweet 16 for a fourth straight time, had won 15 of its last 16 games and had the season-long goal of playing in next week’s Final Four in its home city.

Miami coach Jim Larrañaga, much to his players’ delight, busted out dance moves in the locker room befitting a 73-year-old man harkening to the disco era. Then Wooga Poplar and Joseph Bensley joined him up front for an impromptu line dance.

Larrañaga will seek his first Final Four with Miami and second overall – he took George Mason there as an 11 seed in 2006.

Miami used a 16-5 run spanning the halves to go up by double digits, with Omier’s three-point play and Jordan Miller’s short bank-in with the left hand making it 47-36 and forcing Houston coach Kelvin Sampson to call timeout less than two minutes into the second half.

Houston battled back to make it a two-point game, but then Pack made three 3s and Miller and Wooga Poplar hit one each to fuel a 16-2 run that put the Canes ahead 70-53. The lead grew to as much as 17 points, and Houston never got closer than 11 the rest of the way.

There was no denying it was Miami’s night after Houston made a mini run with under five minutes to play. With the shot clock running down, Omier was forced to put up a jumper just inside the free-throw line. It bounced off the front of the rim, then the backboard, then the front of the rim again before dropping through. A minute later, Houston’s Jarace Walker missed from point-blank range.

Walker led the Cougars with 16 points. Jamal Shead added 15 and All-American Marcus Sasser and Tramon Mark had 14 apiece for the Cougars, who shot just 37% overall and 29% from distance.

Houston – which came into the game as a 7.5-point favorite, according to FanDuel Sportsbook – found itself behind at half for the second straight game after the Hurricanes played their sharpest half of the tournament.

Miami turned the ball over just once the first 20 minutes, converted Miami’s six turnovers into 15 points and shot 6 of 14 from distance against the second-best 3-point defense in the country.

Pack made four of them, and all were timely. His first three gave Miami leads and his fourth broke a 31-all tie.

San Diego State ousts No. 1 overall seed Alabama from NCAAs

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Darrion Trammell and San Diego State used a dominant defensive performance to knock top overall seed Alabama out of the NCAA Tournament on Friday night, bottling up All-America freshman Brandon Miller in a 71-64 victory in the Sweet 16.

Trammell scored 21 points while Miller, whose outstanding season was marred by off-the-court complications, was held to nine points on 3-of-19 shooting and had six turnovers.

The fifth-seeded Aztecs (30-6) will face either Creighton or Princeton on Sunday in the West Region final as they seek their first Final Four in program history. With fellow No. 1 seeds Purdue and Kansas losing during the tournament’s first weekend, Houston – which played Miami on Friday night – was the only top-seeded team remaining.

San Diego State trailed 48-39 midway through the second half before going on a 12-0 run and controlling the game from there. The Aztecs finished with eight blocked shots – five by Nathan Mensah – and forced 14 turnovers.

The March Madness run of Alabama (31-6) was clouded by its response to the Jan. 15 fatal shooting of a 23-year-old woman in Tuscaloosa, which led to capital murder charges against a then-Crimson Tide player, Darius Miles.

Miller was at the scene of the shooting and has not been charged, but police have said in court documents that Miles texted Miller to bring him his gun. Authorities have said Miller is a cooperating witness, and he did not miss any playing time. Miller has received armed security protection during the tournament.

Mark Sears had 16 points and Jahvon Quinerly and Charles Bediako scored 10 each for Alabama, which shot 32% overall and a miserable 3 of 27 (11.1%) from 3-point range. The Crimson Tide fell short of the second Elite Eight berth in school history.

“Alabama’s a great team. They have a lot of talented players and individuals,” Trammell said. “We knew it was going to be hard. It was a dogfight. Very physical.”

Sears’ layup got Alabama within 66-64 with 46 seconds remaining, but Matt Bradley made two free throws and Micah Parrish followed by making three of four attempts, including two with 17 seconds left.

Jaedon LeDee finished with 12 points for the Aztecs.