Bubble Banter: Just how bad was Indiana’s loss to Iowa?

3 Comments
source: Getty Images
Getty Images

(This post will be updated as the games are completed.)

WINNERS

  • Iowa: The Hawkeyes are in after winning at Indiana. Even if they lose to Northwestern at home and lose in their first Big Ten tournament game, those five top 50 wins — three of which came on the road — should be enough. They’re now playing for seeding.
  • Ole Miss: The Rebels won at Alabama on Tuesday night, putting them in a position where a trip to the tournament is all-but a given. Their wins at Oregon and at Arkansas keep getting better, and a neutral court win over Cincinnati doesn’t hurt, either. Their three sub-100 losses aren’t pretty — especially since all three came at home — but those are the only three losses Ole Miss has suffered against teams outside the top 50.
  • N.C. State: The Wolfpack picked up a win at Clemson on Tuesday night, a win ensures them a .500 record in league play and adds another top 100 road win to their resume. But more importantly, the Wolfpack avoided a loss that they may not have been able to survive. N.C. State was the bubble’s big loser of the weekend, dropping a game at Boston College on Saturday that dropped them from “comfortably in” to “the think of the bubble”. With a win over Duke as well as road wins over Louisville and North Carolina, there is a lot to like about this Wolfpack profile. The problem? They’re 18-12 with six losses outside the top 50. Beat Syracuse this weekend avoid losing to a bad team in the ACC tournament, and they’re probably on the right side of the bubble.
  • Dayton: The Flyers are in. They can survive a loss at La Salle and a loss in the first round of the Atlantic 10 tournament. Things might have gotten stressful if they had also lost to Rhode Island at home on Monday night.
  • Georgia: The eye test officially isn’t a part of the NCAA tournament selection process, but it’s hard to imagine Georgia not getting the benefit of the doubt after the performance they had in a loss to Kentucky Tuesday night.

LOSERS

  • Indiana: On Jan. 23rd, the Hoosiers were sitting pretty, tied for first in the Big Ten’s loss column and coming off of a 19 point win over Maryland in Assembly Hall. They were ranked in — or around, depending on where you looked — the top 25 and seemed on track to finish somewhere around a No. 6 or No. 7 seed. Fast forward six weeks, and the Hoosiers are in some real trouble of missing the NCAA tournament. They’ve lost seven of their last 11 games, which includes a sweep at the hands of Purdue and an ugly loss to Northwestern last week. They’re now 19-11 on the season and 9-8 in the Big Ten with a visit from Michigan State coming up this weekend. On the season, the Hoosiers have five top 50 wins — including non-conference games against SMU and Butler — but they have the loss to Northwestern and a sub-100 non-conference strength of schedule that includes five teams ranked in the bottom 280. Indiana is in as of today, but they’re not making it easy on themselves.
  • Texas A&M: Maybe I’m the crazy one, but I’m not sure why so many people think Texas A&M is comfortably in the NCAA tournament. After losing to Florida on Tuesday, the Aggies are now just 6-8 against the top 100 with only two wins coming against teams in the top 80. Both of those wins were against LSU, a team that has floated between 45-55 in the RPI for the last couple of weeks. They don’t have any bad losses on their resume, but their two best non-conference wins are Arizona State and Sam Houston State. All else equal, I value a team with a great win and a bad loss over a team with neither, but that’s just me. If the Aggies end up dancing, it won’t be because they’ve proven they can consistently beat NCAA tournament competition.
  • Rhode Island: A win at Dayton could have gotten Rhode Island back into the conversation. They lost. Danny Hurley is going to need to win the automatic bid.

Kentucky moves scrimmage to Eastern Kentucky for flood relief

Sam Upshaw Jr./Courier Journal/USA TODAY NETWORK
0 Comments

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky will play its annual Blue-White men’s basketball scrimmage in Eastern Kentucky to benefit victims of the devastating summer floods.

The school announced that the Oct. 22 event at Appalachian Wireless Arena in Pikeville will feature a pregame Fan Fest. Ticket proceeds will go through Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief.

Wildcat players will also participate in a community service activity with local organizations in the relief effort.

Kentucky coach John Calipari said the team was excited to play for Eastern Kentucky fans and added, “We hope we can provide a temporary escape with basketball and community engagement.”

The scrimmage traditionally is held at Rupp Arena. It will occur eight days after its Big Blue Madness public workout at Rupp.

Kentucky’s Tionna Herron recovering from open-heart surgery

Rich Janzaruk/Herald-Times/USA TODAY NETWORK
0 Comments

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky coach Kyra Elzy says freshman Tionna Herron is recovering from open-heart surgery to correct a structural abnormality.

The 6-foot-4 post player learned of her condition after arriving at school in June and received other opinions before surgery was recommended. Senior trainer Courtney Jones said in a release that Herron underwent surgery Aug. 24 at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston and is recovering at home in DeSoto, Texas.

Elzy said Herron “is the definition of a warrior” and all are grateful to be on the other side of the player’s surgery. Herron is expected back on campus early next month and will continue rehabilitation until she’s cleared to return to normal activity.

“Her will and determination to eventually return to the court is inspiring, and it’s that `game-on’ attitude that is what makes her such a perfect fit in our program,” Elzy said in a release. “We are so thrilled for Tionna’s return to our locker room; it’s not the same without our full team together.”

Herron committed to Kentucky during last fall’s early signing period, rated as a four-star prospect and a top-70 player in last year’s class. Kentucky won last year’s Southeastern Conference Tournament and reached the NCAA Tournament’s first round.

Emoni Bates charged with 2 felonies

Joe Rondone/USA TODAY NETWORK
1 Comment

SUPERIOR TOWNSHIP, Mich — Emoni Bates, a former basketball prodigy who transferred to Eastern Michigan from Memphis, was charged with two felonies after police found a gun in a car during a traffic stop.

The 18-year-old Bates failed to stop at an intersection Sunday night and a search turned up the weapon, said Derrick Jackson, a spokesman for the Washtenaw County sheriff’s office.

Defense attorney Steve Haney told The Associated Press that the vehicle and the gun didn’t belong to Bates.

“I hope people can reserve judgment and understand there’s a presumption of innocence,” Haney said. “This was not his vehicle. This was not his gun. … We’re still gathering facts, too.”

Bates was charged with carrying a concealed weapon and altering identification marks on a firearm. He was released after his lawyer entered a not guilty plea. Bates’ next court hearing is Oct. 6.

“This is his first brush with the law,” Haney said in court. “He poses no threat or risk to society.”

Less than a month ago, the 6-foot-9 Bates transferred to Eastern Michigan to play for his hometown Eagles. Bates averaged nearly 10 points a game last season as a freshman at Memphis, where he enrolled after reclassifying to skip a year of high school and join the class of 2021.

“We are aware of a situation involving one of our student athletes,” EMU spokesman Greg Steiner said. “We are working to gather more details and will have further comment when more information is available.”

Bates was the first sophomore to win the Gatorade national player of the year award in high school basketball in 2020, beating out Cade Cunningham and Evan Mobley. Detroit drafted Cunningham No. 1 overall last year, two spots before Cleveland took Mobley in the 2021 NBA draft.

Bates committed to playing for Tom Izzo at Michigan State two years ago, later de-committed and signed with Memphis. Bates played in 18 games for the Tigers, who finished 22-11 under Penny Hardaway. Bates missed much of the season with a back injury before appearing in Memphis’ two NCAA Tournament games.

In 2019, as a high school freshman, the slender and skilled guard led Ypsilanti Lincoln to a state title and was named Michigan’s Division 1 Player of the Year by The Associated Press. His sophomore season was cut short by the pandemic and he attended Ypsi Prep Academy as a junior, his final year of high school.

UConn to pay Kevin Ollie another $3.9 million over firing

uconn
Michael Hickey/Getty Images
0 Comments

STORRS, Conn. — UConn announced Thursday it has agreed to pay former men’s basketball coach Kevin Ollie another $3.9 million to settle discrimination claims surrounding his 2018 firing.

The money is in addition to the more than $11.1 million in back salary Ollie has already been paid after an arbitrator ruled in January that he was improperly fired under the school’s agreement with its professor’s union.

“I am grateful that we were able to reach agreement,” Ollie said in a statement Thursday. “My time at UConn as a student-athlete and coach is something I will always cherish. I am pleased that this matter is now fully and finally resolved.”

Ollie, a former UConn point guard who guided the Huskies to a 127-79 record and the 2014 national championship in six seasons as head coach, was let go after two losing seasons. UConn also stopped paying him under his contract, citing numerous NCAA violations in terminating the deal.

In 2019, the NCAA placed UConn on probation for two years and Ollie was sanctioned individually for violations, which the NCAA found occurred between 2013 and 2018. Ollie’s attorneys, Jacques Parenteau and William Madsen, accused UConn of making false claims to the NCAA for the purpose of firing Ollie “with cause.”

The school had argued that Ollie’s transgressions were serious and that his individual contract superseded those union protections.

Ollie’s lawyers had argued that white coaches, including Hall-of-Famers Jim Calhoun and women’s coach Geno Auriemma, had also committed NCAA violations, without being fired, and indicated they were planning to file a federal civil rights lawsuit.

The school and Ollie said in a joint statement Thursday they were settling “to avoid further costly and protracted litigation.”

Both sides declined to comment further.

Ollie, who faced three years of restrictions from the NCAA on becoming a college basketball coach again, is currently coaching for Overtime Elite, a league that prepares top prospects who are not attending college for the pros.

Dream’s McDonald returning to Arizona to coach under Barnes

Getty Images
0 Comments

TUCSON, Ariz. — Atlanta Dream guard Aari McDonald is returning to Arizona to work under coach Adia Barnes.

The school announced that McDonald will serve as director of recruiting operations while continuing to fulfill her WNBA commitments. She will oversee all recruiting logistics, assist with on-campus visits, manage recruit information and social media content at Arizona.

McDonald was one of the best players in Arizona history after transferring from Washington as a sophomore. She was an All-American and the Pac-12 player of the year in 2020-21, leading the Wildcats to the national championship game, which they lost to Stanford.

McDonald broke Barnes’ single-season scoring record and had the highest career scoring average in school history before being selected by the Dream with the third overall pick of the 2021 WNBA draft.