Bubble Banter: Why LSU losing is bad news for Texas A&M

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(This post will be updated throughout the night.)

WINNERS

  • Cincinnati: The Bearcats picked up a key road win against American leader Tulsa. Cincinnati had been inching closer to the cut-line over the last couple of weeks, but knocking off Tulsa should give them some breathing room. If Cincinnati wins two more games, they’ll avoid sweating out Selection Sunday. Lose to Memphis this weekend and then fall in the first round of the American tournament, and the Bearcats are going not going to be sleeping well next Saturday night.
  • Michigan State: The Spartans beat Purdue on Wednesday night, shoring up a profile that is not quite as strong as their bracket projection would have you believe. The Spartans have just two top 50 wins, the same number of sub-100 losses they have. The reason they’re safely in for now? Five of their ten losses have come to top ten opponents.
  • Miami: The Hurricanes picked up a nice road win over a Pitt team that is currently ranked in the top 50 — although, at No. 49, not for long — which will help them. But it doesn’t get the Hurricanes over the hump. Miami probably isn’t even one of the first four out right now, and with a road trip to Virginia Tech coming up, there’s nothing else they can do to strengthen their profile before the ACC tournament. They probably need to win two games in the ACC tournament to have a real chance.
  • Boise State and Colorado State: The Broncos and the Rams are both sitting on the right side of the bubble right now, but neither of them are in a position where they can feel comfortable about getting a bid. That’s why it’s a good thing they didn’t lose to
  • UCLA: The best thing you can say about UCLA’s night is that they didn’t lose to USC. The Bruins are still on the outside looking in and they still need to do some things in the Pac-12 tournament.
  • Illinois: The Illini avoided getting tripped up by Nebraska, setting up a massive bubble showdown at Purdue this weekend. Both teams will likely be in the purgatory that is “last four in” and “first four out” heading into that game.
  • Oregon: The Ducks finished their regular season on Wednesday, going into Corvallis and knocking off Oregon State in the Civil War. Oregon is going to be an interesting case on Selection Sunday regardless of what happens in the Pac-12 tournament. Right now, Oregon has nine top 100 wins and 15 top 150 wins, but they have just one elite win out of that group, coming at home against Utah. As long as they avoid an awful loss in the Pac-12 tournament, they should be just fine.
  • Oklahoma State: The Cowboys avoided what would have been a bad loss to TCU on Wednesday. With a number of really good-to-great wins and their four worst losses all coming in true road games, the Pokes are probably a lock by now.

LOSERS

  • LSU: Here’s the funny thing about an RPI scale that changes on a daily basis: as of right now, LSU’s blowout loss at home against Tennessee is the fourth sub-100 loss for the Tigers this season. But a road win over a top 50 team will improve the Vols’ profile, meaning that not only will it no longer be a sub-100 loss, but it will likely mean that LSU will get another top 100 win on their resume thanks to an earlier win over Tennessee. My point here is that sometimes you have to take a deeper look at a team’s profile than the simple grouping of a series of wins. LSU has four wins over tournament caliber teams, three horrid losses against the dregs of the SEC and a bunch of ‘meh’ in between. The good news? The Tigers had some room to work with, as they avoided the play-in games in most projections. The bad news? They’re at Arkansas this weekend, meaning they’re probably going to have to do some work in the SEC tournament to avoid sweating out Selection Sunday.
  • Texas A&M: Someone is going to have to explain to me why Texas A&M is in most bracket projections, because I just don’t get it. The Aggies don’t have any bad losses on their resume — they lost at Alabama and Florida and dropped a game against Kansas State on a neutral court — so let’s just get that out of the way now. They do have a 6-9 record against the top 100, but that number is deceiving because only two of those wins came against the top 75. And, curiously enough, both of those top 75 wins were against an LSU team that is anything but a lock to make the tournament after losing to Tennessee at home tonight. That loss will drop the Tigers back out of the top 50 — which is why A&M is a loser on a night where the didn’t play — meaning that A&M is now in these tournament projections solely because … they have not lost a single game to a “bad” team? That’s it. Because it’s a fact that they have not proven the ability to beat NCAA tournament-caliber teams. And that’s not a recipe that I think deserves an at-large bid.
  • Tulsa: The Golden Hurricane whiffed on a great chance to add a quality win to their profile when they lost to Cincinnati. A trip to SMU this weekend — which also just so happens to be the American title game — is looking more and more like a must-win for this group. For starters, they fall into that same boat that Texas A&M does. They have just two quality wins — both Temple, a borderline tournament team — and only five top 100 wins. Tulsa also lost to Oral Roberts, not to mention the Division II team that beat them. There really isn’t much on this resume to like, which is why it’s imperative to add a top 25 road win and an outright regular season title in a top seven conference.
  • Purdue: Purdue lost at Michigan State on Wednesday, which probably doesn’t hurt them all that much. Road losses to top 50 teams on the road aren’t exactly bad losses. The problem? The Boilermakers are one of those teams that find themselves listed as one of the last four in or the first four out, depending on where you look, and missing out on this kind of win could end up haunting them on Selection Sunday. Winning the Illinois game this weekend is a must, as is avoiding a bad loss in the Big Ten tournament.
  • Pitt: The Panthers lost to Miami on Wednesday, a loss that moves them even further away from the bubble. Barring a beep run in the ACC tournament, the Panthers are probably NIT bound.

STILL TO PLAY

  • Oregon at Oregon State, 11:00 p.m.

Ivy League calls off fall sports due to outbreak

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The Ivy League on Wednesday became the first Division I conference to say it will not play sports this fall because of the coronavirus pandemic, a person with knowledge of the decision told The Associated Press. The league left open the possibility of moving some seasons to the spring if the outbreak is better controlled by then.

The decision was described to the AP by a person speaking on the condition of anonymity in advance of the official announcement.

Although the coalition of eight academically elite schools does not grant athletic scholarships or compete for an NCAA football championship, the move could have ripple effects throughout the big business of college sports. Football players in the Power Five conferences have already begun workouts for a season that starts on Aug. 29, even as their schools weigh whether to open their campuses to students or continue classes remotely.

The Ivy decision affects not just football but everything before Jan. 1, including soccer, field hockey, volleyball and cross country, as well as the nonconference portion of the basketball season.

Power Five conferences told The Associated Press on Wednesday that they were still considering their options. But it was the Ivy League’s March 10 decision to scuttle its postseason basketball tournament that preceded a cascade of cancellations that eventually enveloped all major college and professional sports.

“What’s happening in other conferences is clearly a reflection of what’s happening nationally and any decisions are made within that context,” said Dr. Chris Kratochvil, the chair of the Big Ten’s infectious disease task force, adding that there is no “hard deadline” for a decision.

“Clearly, regardless of what happens in the fall, sports are coming back eventually,” he said. “So we want to make sure that whenever that time (is) right to return to competition, that we have the infrastructure and the recommendations in place to be able to do so safely for the student-athletes, staff, coaches, fans, students.”

Ivy League schools are spread across seven Northeastern states that, as of mid-July, have seen some success at controlling the COVID-19 outbreak. But most of those states still ban large gatherings; under the Massachusetts reopening plan, Harvard would not be allowed to have fans in the stands until a vaccine is developed.

Harvard has already announced that all classes for both semesters will be held virtually; dorms will be open only to freshmen and seniors. Yale said it would limit its dorms to 60% capacity and said most classes would be conducted remotely. Princeton will also do most of its teaching online, with dorms at half capacity.

Coaches 4 Change: Siena’s Carmen Maciariello spearheads social justice initiative

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Carmen Maciariello found himself in the same place so many of us did in the days after George Floyd was murdered by police in Minneapolis.

Devastated by what he was seeing. Motivated to find a way to use his platform as the head coach at Siena College to enact change. Struggling with how, as he puts it, “a white head coach from privilege at a school in New York,” can have real, honest, open dialogue with his majority-Black roster.

So he picked up the phone. He called Louis Orr, his former college coach and now an assistant coach at Georgetown. He called his closest friends in the coaching business. He called his advisor, Brad Konerman, an entrepreneur who connected him with a couple of talented website designers. By early June, 25 like-minded people from all walks of life were on a zoom call.

“I’ve never been pulled over and feared for my life for not using my blinker,” Maciariello, who is white, told me. “We had those conversations. How are we talking to our teams about that? What are we doing with the police? How can we help our young people navigate through these tough times?”

That’s how Coaches 4 Change was born.

Maciariello has grand plans for the organization. On a zoom call with nearly all of the 43 coaches that have committed to the group to date, he said he wants “to try to change the world. Let’s not think small, we’ve gotta think big with this.” He is not lacking for ambition.

But Maciariello also understands that something like this has to start small and it has to start locally. It’s why he limited the first group of invitees to coaches that are “doing this for the right reasons.”

“I didn’t want to have a donate link and bring in coaches that felt like, ‘I donated money, I did my part supporting it,” he said. “It was about the time commitment and the vision. We have to focus on one thing first.”

That first thing?

Voting.

C4C developed a sleek, interactive website to help educate young people about social injustice and the Black Lives Matter movement, things as basic as the difference between systemic and systematic racism and Jackie Robinson’s impact on sports. But the site also provides users with all of the information necessary to vote in this year’s elections, information on what makes voting so important in a democracy and — most importantly — a tutorial for how a person in every state can register to vote, where their polling stations are and whether or not they are eligible for mail-in voting. Their website also has a ‘Keep Learning‘ page that links to all documentaries, podcasts, audiobooks and literary resources available on all streaming platforms, including content for children.

C4C has partnered with Vote.org with a goal of “100 percent voter registration for all college athletes” regardless of the sport they play, Maciariello said.

Currently, the only coaches involved with C4C are men’s college basketball coaches, but that will change. They are in the process of reaching out to counterparts on the women’s side, and will eventually invite staff members from other sports as well. One of the barriers to entry to become a member will be ensuring that every player on a coach’s team is registered to vote.

Eventually, Maciariello envisions C4C developing community outreach initiatives. He wants the members of C4C to connect with their campus communities and put together voter registration drives for students. He wants to eventually connect with lawmakers and work on changing legislation that helps systemic racism continue to exist.

No one ever said he wasn’t ambitious.

But he knows he has to start somewhere, and that somewhere is this platform.

“I want to engage people in issues,” he said. “Educate them, empower them to change, encourage them to grow and evolve.”

CBT Podcast: Pat Chambers, moving the season up, Running Back Buddy Hield’s 46 points at Kansas

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In the latest edition of the Run It Back podcast, Rob Dauster and Bobby Reagan recap Buddy Hield’s memorable 46-point outburst in a three-overtime loss to Kansas in Phog Allen Fieldhouse in a battle of No. 1 vs. No. 1 back in 2016. The game was unbelievable. Before they dive into the game itself, the boys talk through Pat Chambers’ noose comments to Rasir Bolton and the potential for the college basketball season to get moved up.

Michael Jordan, Roy Williams among UNC greats to condemn systemic racism

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Roy Williams and Michael Jordan joined numerous North Carolina luminaries in condemning systemic racism and voicing support for the Black Lives Matter movement in a video that was released by the school on Monday.

“Systematic racism has to stop now,” Jordan said in the video. “We must take the time to listen and educate our family, our friends, our children on social injustice and racial inequality. Black Lives Matter more now than ever before. We have to get this right, so please take time to educate yourself and improve the lives of many people, many Black people. Thank you.”

James Worthy, Sam Perkins, Tyler Hansbrough, Luke Maye and Sean May were among the former players that appeared in the video.

Williams led by discussing Charlie Scott, who was the first Black scholarship athlete in UNC’s history.

“Some of the greatest to play our game have been Black players, but here we are more than 50 years later and our country is still fighting systemic racism and police brutality against Black men and women,” Williams said. “The North Carolina basketball program, our family, our current and former players believe Black lives matter, and it’s critically important that we don’t just believe it. We must stand together and loudly and clearly demand that we as a country and the world embrace the fundamental human right that Black lives matter.”

Former Penn State guard Rasir Bolton left program after coach Pat Chambers made noose comment

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Former Penn State point guard Rasir Bolton has accused of Pat Chambers of making racially insensitive remarks, including a reference to a noose.

According to Bolton, who tweeted about the incident on Monday morning, midway through his freshman season in 2018-19 with the Nittany Lions, Chambers made a reference to a “noose” about Bolton’s neck.  Bolton described the encounter in an interview with the Undefeated, and said that the phrase was a result of Chambers talking about easing the pressure on his freshman’s shoulders. “I want to loosen the noose that’s around your neck,” Bolton recalled.

Bolton also alleged that after his parents went to the Athletic Director with their concerns about this statement, Chambers told him during an exit interview that he was impressed by how “well-spoken” and “organized” his parents are. Remarks like this are considered racially-insensitive because they are based on the underlying assumption that Black people are not expected to be either organized or articulate.

Chambers, to his credit, admitted his wrong in making the noose comment.

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“I’ve realized the pain my words and ignorance caused Rasir Bolton and his family and I apologize to Rasir and the Bolton family for what I said,” Chambers’ statement read. “I failed to comprehend the experiences of others, and the reference I make was hurtful, insensitive and unacceptable I cannot apologize enough for what I said, and I will carry that forever.”

Bolton left Penn State after his freshman season and transferred to Iowa State. He was given immediately eligibility with the Cyclones after mentioning the noose comment when applying for a waiver. He averaged 14.7 points this past season with Iowa State. He also alleged that after he came to the Penn State athletic department with this claim, they offered him a meeting with a sports psychologist who told him how to “deal with Coach Chambers’ personality type.”