Bubble Banter: Have three teams seen their bubbles popped today?

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Illinois head coach John Groce (Getty Images)

(This post will be updated throughout the day.)

READ MORE: New Bracketology! | Bubble teams with the most on the line

WINNERS

  • Indiana: The Hoosiers may have picked up the biggest win of the day. They knocked off Northwestern on Thursday, and while beating the Wildcats isn’t exactly a statement win, it was one of the best performances that Indiana has had in a month. For a team that has been sputtering, that’s the kind of win that can instill some confidence heading into a matchup with Maryland. It also may have locked Indiana into an at-large bid. Most projections had the Hoosiers on the right side of the bubble entering the day, and that won’t change with this win. Losing to Maryland won’t hurt them enough to cost a bid. I’d still recommend beating the Terps and removing any doubt, but the Hoosiers should be able to survive. The big question now: Hanner Mosquera-Perea’s knee.
  • Boise State: The Broncos are in a pretty good spot in terms of the bubble these days, but what they cannot afford in the early rounds of the Mountain West tournament is a bad loss. They took care of business in their first game in the event with a big win over Air Force. They play Wyoming on Friday, and even with a loss they should probably be OK.
  • Colorado State: The Rams got passed Fresno State in the MWC quarterfinals, setting them up for a date with San Diego State in the semis. Colorado State is right there on the cut line, and while most projections have them in the tournament, there are quite a few that place the Rams in the play-in game. Beating SDSU tomorrow will likely lock the Rams into a bid, but they can probably still get in with a loss. The best news of the day was the struggles of the other teams on the bubble.
  • UCLA: The Bruins blew out crosstown rivals USC in the Pac-12 tournament quarterfinals, setting up the game that they absolutely have to win if they want an at-large bid: a date with No. 5 Arizona. Get by the Wildcats and into the Pac-12 finals, and Steve Alford’s crew will have a real shot at hearing Greg Gumbel call their name on Sunday.
  • Xavier: If the Musketeers were on the bubble, they aren’t anymore after beating No. 22 Butler in overtime in the Big East tournament.

LOSERS

  • Miami: The Hurricanes missed out on a terrific opportunity to capitalize on losses from a number of teams currently on the bubble when they lost to No. 11 Notre Dame on Thursday night. The Hurricanes erased a 20-point lead and eventually tied the Irish late in the second half, but they were never able to break through, suffering a loss that will ultimately be quite costly. Will this keep them out of the tournament? That’s hard to say, but they certainly didn’t do themselves any favors. That win at Duke looks really, really good, but the Hurricanes have enough ugly on their resume to cover it up.
  • Texas: The Longhorns blew a 16 point lead — and a 67-57 deficit in the final 3:35 — to lose to Iowa State. We wrote all about how bad that loss is for them here.
  • Ole Miss: The Rebels may have finally played their way out of the NCAA tournament. Ole Miss has lost four of their last five games, including this heartbreaker against South Carolina in the opening round of the SEC tournament. Andy Kennedy’s club does have three top 50 all — at Arkansas, at Oregon and against Cincinnati on a neutral court — but they also have three ugly non-conference losses. Losing to Vanderbilt and the Gamecocks in their last two games adds two extra sub-75 losses to their resume. The good news? Just about everyone behind Ole Miss in the bubble pecking order lost today as well. The loss certainly isn’t a good thing, but in a weird way, the Rebels may actually come out as a winner when the day is all said and done. Backing your way into the tournament means you got a bid.
  • Texas A&M: The Aggies are in big trouble. Big, big trouble. The best thing that Texas A&M had going for them was that they didn’t have any bad losses. Then, to close out the regular season, they lost to Alabama at home. They followed that up with Thursday’s loss to Auburn in the SEC tournament, and suddenly, their profile — which includes a sweep of LSU and … not much else — doesn’t look good at all. The Aggies were in a bad spot entering the weekend, and this seemingly ensures that they will be NIT bound.
  • Old Dominion: The Monarchs lost to Middle Tennessee on Thursday in the Conference USA tournament. They were showing up on some First Five Out lists, which seemed quite generous to me. Now? They can probably kiss those pipe dreams goodbye.
  • Stanford: The Cardinal needed to beat Utah to have any shot of earning an at-large bid. They were blown out. Enjoy the NIT, guys.
  • Illinois: The Illini were on the wrong side of the bubble in just about every bracket projection entering the day, meaning that in order to play their way into the NCAA tournament, they likely needed to beat not only Michigan today but No. 1 seed Wisconsin tomorrow. The Illini were blown out by the Wolverines. Welcome to the NIT!

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.”