Bubble Banter: Big wins for LSU, Xavier, Texas; why is Indiana in trouble and Georgia safe?

7 Comments
source:
Yogi Ferrell (AP Photo)

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

Let’s have a conversation about Indiana, shall we?

The Hoosiers have now lost eight of their last 12 games after falling at home to Michigan State on Saturday afternoon. They’re 19-12 overall, 9-9 in the Big Ten and headed for a first round Big Ten tournament game that they simply cannot afford to lose.

And to think, just six weeks ago, they were tied for first place in the conference and ranked in the top 25, fresh off of a 19 point win over Maryland.

At this point, I don’t think it’s fair to slot the Hoosiers on the wrong side of the bubble. I know that their win over Maryland was fluky and at home, but they smacked around the Terps, and that’s one of four top 40 wins they have. They’re 8-11 against the top 100 and their only bad loss came on the road against a Northwestern team that is better than their record would indicate.

Indiana’s profile is far from perfect, but when you put them up against Texas A&M, Tulsa, Texas, Davidson, Temple, BYU and the rest of the bubble, they actually look fairly strong.

That might change if the Hoosiers lose to, say, Northwestern in their Big Ten opener. The Hoosiers certainly aren’t safe.

But the sky hasn’t completely fallen just yet.

READ MORE: Latest Bracketology

WINNERS

  • LSU: The Tigers picked up a massive, massive win on Saturday, going into Bud Walton Arena and knocking off No. 18 Arkansas, which is one of the better road wins that you’ll come across for any bubble team this season. The win just about locks LSU into an NCAA tournament bid. They can still get tripped up by one of the league’s bottom-feeders in the SEC tournament, but even with another loss to a sub-150 team, LSU might be OK. They now have five top 50 wins, with the Arkansas win being their best on the season. They do have five losses to teams ranked outside the top 90, but it is really hard to argue with 12 top 100 wins.
  • Xavier: Creighton had a shot to win it at the buzzer, but the how is much less important than the what: Xavier won in Omaha, and now the Musketeers look like a good bet to get a big to the Big Dance on Selection Sunday. They have five top 50 wins and nine top 100 wins, but with four sub-100 losses on their profile, avoiding a loss to DePaul, Creighton or Marquette in the Big East tournament will be critical.
  • Texas: The Longhorns picked up a vital win over Kansas State in Austin to close out the regular season. Bear in mind, beating the Wildcats is not a “good” win, but the Longhorns’ profile is only bubble-worthy because they don’t have any bad losses. Their worst loss of the season came to Stanford at home, and the Cardinal were legitimately considered a potential top-two team in the Pac-12 at the time. With just two wins over top seven Big 12 teams and just a 3-11 record against the top 50, Texas needs all the help they can get right now. Their work is not done yet. They need at least one win in the conference tournament.
  • Temple: The Owls completed their sweep of UConn, beating the Huskies in Philly on Saturday. It’s a win they needed, but it remains to be seen if they have done enough to get into the tournament. Temple has just two top 50 wins and six top 100 wins, but they beat Kansas by 25 points. Only having one bad loss is a good thing, and they did win 10 of their last 12, but Temple is just 1-5 against the top three teams in the league.
  • Georgia: The Bulldogs won at Auburn, and the consensus seems to be that will be enough to get Georgia into the Big Dance. I don’t understand that. Like Texas A&M, the Bulldogs don’t have any great wins. They’ve beaten two NCAA tournament-caliber teams, winning at Texas A&M and sweeping Ole Miss. But they also have four bad losses — South Carolina twice, Georgia Tech and Auburn. At 20-10 overall, I just don’t see how Georgia has a markedly better profile than, say, Indiana. Feel free to explain that one to me.
  • Purdue: The Boilermakers landed a key win over Illinois, one that strengthens their position on the bubble. They don’t have any great wins — their best is either Iowa at home or BYU on a neutral floor — but they are 9-9 against the top 100, which would be enough if they hadn’t lost to North Florida and Gardner-Webb at home in December. As it stands, they probably want to win at least one game in the Big Ten tournament to feel safe.
  • N.C. State: The Wolfpack landed a convincing win over Syracuse, one that will further solidify their NCAA tournament standing. I don’t want to say definitively that N.C. State is in the NCAA tournament, but with their trio of great wins — Duke, at North Carolina, at Louisville — and their strength of schedule, Mark Gottfried’s club should be able to rest easy on Selection Sunday Eve barring an awful loss in the ACC tournament.
  • Davidson and Boise State: The Wildcats and the Broncos avoided hurting themselves on Saturday. Davidson smacked around Duquesne and Boise beat Fresno State. Those wins don’t help their profiles outside of the fact that losses to sub-200 teams would have been killers. Both are still in the same spot they were at the start of the day: probably in right now, but with work to do to lock themselves into a bid.
  • Colorado State: The Rams won at Utah State, meaning, like Davidson and Boise State, they’re still on the right side of the bubble with work to do.
  • BYU: The Cougars avoided what would have been a disastrous loss to Santa Clara in the WCC semifinals, a loss that they could not afford as one of the teams on the bubble’s cut-line. I still think they need to get to the finals of their conference tournament and, at worst, lose to Gonzaga.
  • Miami: The best thing that you can say about Miami’s win over Virginia Tech is that they didn’t lose to Virginia Tech. The Hurricanes are still on the wrong side of the bubble with some ground to make up in the ACC tournament.
  • Michigan State: I’m not sure if the Spartans were actually in trouble, but winning at Indiana locks up their bid.
source:
AP Photo

LOSERS

  • Every bubble team: Illinois State upset No. 8 Wichita State, meaning the Redbirds will be playing for the Missouri Valley’s automatic bid. Bid thief!
  • Texas A&M: The Aggies lost to Alabama at home on Saturday, meaning that they are now staring down the barrel of a potential trip to the NIT. The only NCAA tournament team that the Aggies have beaten is LSU, who they swept (and who beat Arkansas today), and while they’re 21-10 on the season, losing to Alabama at home — No. 90 in the RPI — is their worst loss of the season. My opinion of A&M can be read in full right here. I haven’t changed it at all.
  • Ole Miss: The Rebels lost at home to Vanderbilt on Saturday evening, dropping Ole Miss ever closer to the cut line. For now, they’re probably safe, but it means that their margin of error in the SEC tournament is just that much smaller. Also working against the Rebels: three ugly non-conference losses to TCU, Western Kentucky and Charleston Southern.
  • Stanford: The Cardinal were in big trouble entering the day, but the good news was that they were playing at Arizona, meaning they had a terrific chance to land a great win. They didn’t. Arizona blew them out, putting Stanford in a position where they have to either win the automatic bid or beat the Wildcats in the Pac-12 tournament to have a chance.
  • Illinois: The Illini really needed to win at Purdue on Saturday, but despite dominating the first 15 minutes in Mackey Arena, they head back to Champaign knowing they have some work to do in the Big Ten tournament. The Illini have a pair of great wins — Maryland at home and Baylor in a neutral floor — but they’re 5-11 against the top 100 with a loss to Nebraska. I’d have them among the first four out right now.
  • Oklahoma State: The Pokes lost at No. 20 West Virginia, and while that, in and of itself, doesn’t kill the Cowboys, they are now 8-10 in the Big 12. Oklahoma State lost five of their last six games, and while they’re 3-8 against the top 25, they’re 5-1 against the rest of the top 100. The concern? You have to factor all of that in with three sub-100 losses on their resume. I think they’re safe, but I’d strongly recommend winning a game in the Big 12 tournament.
  • Kansas State: The Wildcats had an outside chance of getting an at-large bid, but that went out the window with their loss at Texas on Saturday.
  • Pitt: The Panthers lost to Florida State today. They were already on the wrong side of the bubble, and this ensures that they will need to win the ACC’s automatic bid to go dancing.

Big 12 hands down Kansas-Kansas State fight suspensions

Jamie Squire/Getty Images
4 Comments

The Big 12 handed down suspensions to four Kansas and Kansas State players for their role in the fight that occurred in Phog Allen Fieldhouse on Tuesday night.

Silvio De Sousa, who tried to fight three different Kansas State players and picked up a stool during the melee, received a 12 game suspension from the conference. David McCormack, who went into the stands to confront James Love III, received a two game suspension. Love was given eight games for part in the fight, while Antonio Gordon, the freshman that turned a messy situation into a fight, was hit with a three game suspension.

“This kind of behavior cannot be tolerated and these suspensions reflect the severity of last evening’s events,” said Commissioner Bob Bowlsby.  “I am appreciative of the cooperation of both institutions in resolving this matter.”

In the final seconds on Tuesday night, after DaJuan Gordon stole the ball from him at halfcourt, De Sousa blocked Gordon’s shot and towered over him. That sparked an incident that turned into a full-fledged brawl, as De Sousa threw punches at three different players on Kansas State before picking up a stool as the fight spilled into the handicapped section of Kansas seating.

Self called the fight “an embarrassment” after the game, adding on Wednesday that “we are disappointed in [De Sousa’s] actions and there is no place in the game for that behavior.”

McCormack will be eligible to return for Kansas on Feb. 1st when they play Texas Tech at home. De Sousa will be available to play in the final game of the regular season at Texas Tech. Gordon can return on Feb. 3rd, when the Wildcats host Baylor, while Love will be out until late February. But he has played just one game and two minutes on the season, so there is no clear indication of when he will actually put on a Kansas State jersey again.

The four most important questions after Kansas-Kansas State fight

Screengrab via ESPN
1 Comment

Very other sport can treat brawls like comedy, and I think it’s about time that we did the same for basketball.

So let’s take a look at the four funniest moments from last night’s Kansas-Kansas State fight. Shouts to Jomboy:

1. IS THE KANSAS MASCOT OK?

Throughout the entire fight, the mascot is just in utter disbelief. He cannot believe what he just saw, and he certainly cannot be consoled:

2. CAN JEREMY CASE START AT LINEBACKER FOR KU’S FOOTBALL TEAM?

Case is the video coordinator for Kansas. He’s also a former Kansas point guard. He knows what this rivalry is all about, and he also is not going to be afraid to get in the middle of it.

Case starts out on the wrong side of the melee:

But when he sees De Sousa and Love squaring up and throwing punches, he intervenes by throwing himself into a player six inches taller than him:

3. WHAT HAPPENED TO JAMES LOVE III’S SHOE?

James Love the third has played in exactly one game this season. He has spent more time on the court fighting that he has actually playing, but he still found a way to get into the middle of this fight and, in the process, lost his shoe:

He’s not dressed for the game.

Did he bring an extra pair of shoes? Did he have to head back onto the bus without a shoe on this right foot? So many questions, so few answers.

4. WHO IS THE MAN IN THE ORANGE HAT?

He’s some kind of photographer.

He got his shot, that’s for sure:

Kansas-Kansas State fight: Nuance, context the key in Silvio De Sousa discussion

Jamie Squire/Getty Images
3 Comments

So I wanted to elaborate on a point that I made on twitter this morning because 280 characters just is not enough to be able to parse through the nuance of this situation.

If you missed it, the thread is here.

First and foremost, everyone involved in this needs to be punished. Silvio De Sousa needs to be suspended. Antonio Gordon needs to be suspended. James Love III needs to be suspended. David McCormack, and potentially Marcus Garrett, probably need to be suspended, although I’m not sure either of them actually through a punch. Point being, anyone else that threw a punch needs to be suspended.

Full stop.

I am not saying otherwise.

But I think that it is important to add some context to the conversation, and I also think that it is important to say this: This doesn’t make any of the young men involved in this fight bad people. Silvio De Sousa is not inherently a bad person because he picked up a stool, and the faux-trage of people calling for him to get booted out of school, arrested or even deported are, at best, completely over-reacting and, at worst, showing off a bit of their racial bias.

Before I get into this, one more thing: I am not condoning any of it. Fights like this should not happen.

But the reality of hyper-competitive athletics is that in emotionally charged situations, fights are going to happen. And if you’ve ever been in a fight like this, you know that things happen incredibly quickly. You’re not thinking, you’re reacting. You can’t call a 20 second time out to come up with a way to defend yourself when someone is throwing haymakers, you just do what you can in the moment.

So let’s talk about the moment, shall we?

De Sousa is the guy that set this entire thing in motion with the way that he reacted to DaJuan Gordon’s steal and layup attempt. The reason the Kansas State bench rushes over to the scene is because De Sousa is towering over one of their freshman teammates, and the reason the Kansas sideline runs over is because the Kansas State sideline does. What turned this incident into a full-fledged brawl was Antonio Gordon flying in and shoving De Sousa over the back of the basket stanchion. De Sousa reacts by throwing punches at two different Kansas State players when a third player — James Love III, in the black polo — comes flying in and squares up with him. They both throw a few punches at each other, knocking De Sousa back over the stanchion again as Kansas staffer Jeremy Case comes flying in to break them up.

Put yourself in De Sousa’s shoes here. In the span of 10 seconds, he’s fought three different Kansas State players, sees nothing but purple in front of him and just got knocked to the ground. Is he getting jumped? Does he have to fight them 1-on-3? That’s when he grabs the stool, to defend himself, and when he sees that no one is coming after him anymore, he drops it:

Context.

He should be suspended for 8-10 games.

He set this entire thing in motion.

But maybe, just maybe, tone down the rhetoric.

Women’s Wednesday: A new column dedicated to the women of college basketball

Getty Images
1 Comment

Welcome to CBT’s first ever weekly women’s basketball column. I’m here to help provide you with some insight into the world of women’s college hoops.

Women’s sports are reaching new heights, especially in basketball. The WNBA announced a new collective bargaining agreement starting in the 2020 season that includes a 53 percent raise, maternity benefits, a base salary and performance-based bonuses. This year’s NCAA women’s basketball tournament will be broadcasted in its entirety on ESPN, with the semifinals and championship game premiering in primetime.

Female athletes are beginning to garner the attention they deserve. Sabrina Ionescu is drawing national attention for a historic senior season, as she has 22 career triple-doubles and became Oregon’s all-time leading basketball scorer in her career-high 37-point performance against Stanford last week. In the WNBA, women such as Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi, and more are shattering gender stereotypes and proving that women can play basketball at a high level, just as men can.

While women’s sports have made a push into the public eye, there is still quite a way to go. It’s important to place an emphasis on the women who excel in their sport and give them the spotlight they deserve. Too many times women are only given credit through a masculine lens, whether that’s only getting attention after receiving praise from men, being compared to a male counterpart, or being a footnote in a male athlete’s story. Female athletes deserve to be their own story.

That’s what I’m hoping to do with this column over the rest of the season — give women a place to shine. I’d like to use this space to highlight some of the amazing women that play in the NCAA and hear from them about their experiences, the records they’re setting and their basketball journey. While I won’t even begin to make a dent in the breadth of talent available in women’s college basketball, I hope to use this column each week to take a deeper dive into some incredible women, as well as give you an idea of what’s happening around the country that week.

WEDNESDAY’S NEWS AND NOTES

South Carolina sits atop the world of college hoops, earning 22 first-place votes from the AP panel to nab the No. 1 spot. The Gamecocks have an 18-1 record with wins over ranked opponents such as Maryland, Baylor, Kentucky and most recently Mississippi State.

Baylor — the reigning national champs —- sits in the No. 2 spot in the rankings after dethroning UConn and ending its dominant 98-game winning streak at home. The Lady Bears received six of the first-place votes from the AP committee.

The rest of the top five is filled out by UConn at No. 3, Oregon at No. 4 after beating then-No. 3 Stanford, and Louisville rounds it out at fifth, receiving the last two first-place votes.

In a monster performance against Stanford, Oregon’s Sabrina Ionescu had a career-high 37 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists. She has four triple-doubles on the season and has a chance to become the NCAA’s first player to eclipse 2,000 career points, 1,000 career rebounds and 1,000 career assists. As of Jan. 18, she has 2,265 points, 904 rebounds and 928 assists.

DePaul remains unbeaten in the Big East, with Chante Stonewall leading the team with 17.9 ppg while Kelly Campbell has 102 assists on the season, ranking No. 8 in the country.

Baylor’s 40-point victory over then-No. 17 West Virginia is their 45th consecutive Big 12 win.

Mississippi State’s JaMya Mingo-Young and Aliyah Matharu combined for 24 points and four steals off the bench in a close 79-81 loss to South Carolina on Monday.

Star freshman and No. 1 recruit Haley Jones suffered an apparent right knee injury and left Stanford’s Sunday win over Oregon State. She is scheduled to have an MRI but the team has given no further updates.

North Carolina State’s Elissa Cunane has 20+ points in four of her last six games and 10 double-doubles on the season, helping the Wolfpack to a dominant win over Florida State last week.

UCLA became the last undefeated team to fall with a double overtime loss to USC — who hadn’t yet won a Pac-12 matchup —  on Friday.

Northwestern made its debut this season in the Top-25, coming in at No. 22 — its first ranking since the 2015-2016 season.

No. 3 Oregon faces rival No. 7 Oregon State on Friday in a crucial Pac-12 matchup.

Stanford freshman Fran Belini threw down a one-handed dunk in pregame warmup before facing Oregon that you HAVE to see:

Kansas, Kansas State both taking blame for massive fight

Getty Images
1 Comment

The Sunflower Showdown took a wild turn on Tuesday night. And there’s not a clear indication of what’ll happen next.

No. 3 Kansas and Kansas State ended their bitter showdown with a wild melee in the disabled seating behind the Wildcats’ basket that included punches, shoving and at least one player threatening to swing a stool.

The Jayhawks were dribbling out the time on their 81-60 victory when Silvio De Sousa was stripped by DaJuan Gordon near mid-court. Gordon tried to go for a layup and De Sousa recovered to block his shot and send the freshman sprawling, then stood over Gordon and barked at him — triggering both benches to empty into what amounted to a rugby scrum.

At one point, De Sousa picked up a stool and held it over his head before Kansas assistant Jerrance Howard grabbed it from him from behind. The Jayhawks’ Marcus Garrett and David McCormick were also in the thick of the scrum along with the Wildcats’ James Love and David Sloan, who was the first player to come to Gordon’s defense.

It took both coaching staffs, the officials and Allen Fieldhouse security to separate the teams.

“Without knowing exactly everything that went down, it was obvious to me that we played a role in what transpired and there will be penalties for that,” said Jayhawks coach Bill Self, who was already shaking hands with Kansas State counterpart Bruce Weber when the chaos erupted. “I need to see the film to comment or have any definitive thoughts on exactly why or how it got started, because to be honest with you I don’t have any idea about that.”

This fight became a national event

The fight came three days after St. Francis and Sacred Heart were involved in a wild fracas following their game in Pennsylvania. But while that incident in the Northeast Conference went largely unnoticed, the pedigree of Kansas and the fact that both schools play in the Big 12 instantly turned their brawl into a national event.

Obviously it’s an embarrassment,” Self said. “It’s not something to be proud of. What happened showed zero signs of toughness. It’s a sign of immaturity and selfishness more so than toughness. If I was a fan watching, depending on your perspective, there would be nothing about that intriguing me to watch more.”

Then, adding to the bizarre finish, five players from each team were summoned back from the locker rooms by officials and one-tenth of a second was put on the clock. Kansas State shot technical free throws to booing from a few thousand fans, and the one make necessitated a change to the final box score.

The reason only those players returned? The rest of the players from each team — including those dressed in street clothes — were ejected because they had left the bench while the game was in progress.

“It should have been avoided,” Weber said. “It’s my guys, it’s my fault. They came here wanting to have a game, compete, and we didn’t compete the way we needed to, and probably a little frustration, especially the young guys.”

Weber had instructed his players to back off in the closing seconds and let the game run out. And while Self said he didn’t agree with the steal and layup attempt, he did acknowledge that Kansas State was merely playing to the final whistle.

“Silvio knew he was being defended,” Self said. “He took his ball, and certainly the way Silvio reacted to getting his ball taken, going and blocking his shot, that’s fair game. What transpired after that is what set everything off.”

What punishments are coming?

While he won’t be alone, De Sousa is likely to receive the stiffest punishment from the incident — the latest chapter in a career that has brought far more embarrassment and frustration to Kansas than pride and success.

It was De Sousa whose name surfaced in the FBI probe into college basketball in October 2018, and that in part led to an NCAA investigation of Kansas. The school received a notice of allegations last September that outlined major violations in men’s basketball, levied a head coach responsibility charge against Self and alleged a lack of institutional control. Those violations are being appealed and a decision is not expected until well after the season.

De Sousa was suspended last season for his role in the case, and he was supposed to sit out this season as well. But the school successfully appealed the decision, allowing the junior forward to return to the court.

Asked what his message was in the locker room after the game, Self replied: “There was no discussion on what happened from their vantage point. We talked to them and relayed to them how selfish it was. We relayed how disappointed we are. We should be in here talking about Christian Braun and selfishness created a situation where that’s not going to be the story line whatsoever. There was no communication back and forth. It was one way.”

Indeed, Braun was the story of the game until the final seconds after hitting six 3-pointers and scoring a career-high 20 points in his first Sunflower Showdown. The freshman guard grew up in nearby Burlington, Kansas.

Devon Dotson added 18 points and Udoka Azubuike finished with 10 points and 14 rebounds for Kansas (15-3, 5-1 Big 12), which beat the Wildcats for the 14th straight time at Allen Fieldhouse. Xavier Sneed had 16 points and David Sloan had 14 for the Wildcats (8-10, 1-5), who played a part in ending the Jayhawks’ conference title run last season.

“Credit to them. They kicked our butt,” said Weber, whose chin was reddened by what he called a stress-induced reaction. “I’m just happy nothing major happened to either team where there was an escalated fight. It was a bad play at the end. It’s disappointing. Life lessons for our young guys and hopefully next time they’ll be a little smarter.”