BUBBLE BANTER: Just how costly is South Carolina’s loss to Missouri?

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This post will be updated as games come to a close.

It’s hard to fathom just how far South Carolina (KenPom: 53, RPI: 26, Bracket Matrix Seed: 7) has fallen in the last four days, both in the eyes of the general public and in bracket projections.

On Friday, the Gamecocks were sitting at 21-3, playing Kentucky with first place in the SEC and a top 25 ranking on the line. Fast forward four days and Frank Martin’s club was obliterated at home by the Wildcats — who played the last 37 minutes without head coach John Calipari — and dropped a road game to Mizzou just hours after the Tigers announced that starting point guard Wes Clark had been dismissed.

That’s bad.

Bad enough that it’s time for us to start talking about the Gamecocks as a bubble team once again.

Here’s the deal with South Carolina: Their record is still impressive (20-5) but a non-conference schedule strength that ranks in the low-300s puts that into perspective. They do have eight top 100 wins, but their best wins are at a reeling Texas A&M, against Alabama and Tulsa on a neutral court. That’s not exactly overpowering, especially when you factor in that they now have a pair of ugly league losses.

The good news for South Carolina is that the bubble is weak enough right now that it’s hard to imagine them falling beyond the 8-9 game in bracket projections. But with three games left against sub-100 competition, it would behoove the Gamecocks to snap out of this funk after two games.


  • Pitt (KP: 60, RPI: 41, BM: 9): Pitt didn’t lose at home against Wake Forest despite their best efforts to do so, going to double-overtime against a team that has just one win in ACC play this season. That’s relevant because Pitt really has two strengths on their profile: they won at Notre Dame and they only have one truly bad loss to their name, which came at home to N.C. State. I’m not sure the Panthers are quite as safe as their Bracket Matrix seeding would lead you to believe.
  • Butler (KP: 47, RPI: 64, BM: 12): The Bulldogs took care of business at home against Creighton, setting them up for the most important game of their season on Saturday: at trip to Philly to take on Villanova. The Bulldogs are firmly on the bubble and, with a loss on Saturday, will likely be headed straight for the cut-line. A win doesn’t lock them into an at-large by any means, but if they can avoid anything stupid the rest of the year, it would likely get them onto the right side of the bubble come Selection Sunday.
  • Florida (KP: 34, RPI: 32, BM: 8): The Gators added a nice, top 100 road win to their profile on Tuesday when they went into Athens and knocked off Georgia. Florida has just a pair of top 50 wins to date, but their sterling computer numbers have them comfortably in the NCAA tournament as of today.
  • VCU (KP: 39, RPI: 56, BM: 11): The Rams avoided a bad loss at home to Rhode Island on Tuesday, which would have been the kind of loss that would have put them on the wrong side of the bubble in bracket projections. VCU has a trio of tricky rivalry-ish games coming up, as they host Richmond, visit former CAA foe George Mason and then head to Foggy Bottom to take on George Washington in what could end up being a bubble elimination game. The Rams need to stockpile the wins.


  • Michigan (KP: 48, RPI: 51, BM: 9): The Wolverines lost at Ohio State on Tuesday night, a loss that is far from a killer for their résumé but one that certainly doesn’t help them lock up an at-large bid. The Buckeyes have an RPI in the mid-80s which, as things currently stand, makes them the worst loss that Michigan has taken this season. And while John Beilein’s club has landed some nice wins — Maryland, Purdue, Texas — that’s basically it for top 100 wins. (N.C. State is currently 98th.) They’re still in a good spot right now, but bolstering that profile would certainly be beneficial.
  • Georgia (KP: 82, RPI: 65, BM: N/A): Georgia still doesn’t have any bad losses and they still have one of the nation’s best non-conference scthedules, but with just three top 100 wins to their name, they’re currently headed for the NIT. I don’t think they can take another loss and still be tournament bound.
  • Vanderbilt (KP: 28, RPI: 54, BM: Next Four): The ‘Dores blew a 17 point lead in the final 14 minutes and lost to Mississippi State. This is just a brutal loss for a Vanderbilt team that was likely already on the wrong side of the bubble.
  • Creighton (KP: 42, RPI: 81, BM: N/A): The Bluejays lost at Butler, meaning that, if they have any real chance of getting an at-large bid, they probably need to win out and get at least one win in the Big East tournament.
  • Ole Miss (KP: 84, RPI: 85, BM: N/A): The Rebels lost at Texas A&M on Tuesday, which is the end of their at-large hopes. There just aren’t enough potential quality wins left on their schedule.


North Carolina transfer Caleb Love commits to Arizona

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Caleb Love is now headed to Arizona.

The North Carolina transfer tweeted, less than a month after decommitting from Michigan, that he will play next season with the Wildcats.

“Caleb is a tremendously talented guard who has significant experience playing college basketball at a high level,” Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd said in a statement. “We look forward to helping Caleb grow his game at Arizona. And as we near the completion of the roster for the upcoming season, we feel great about how everything has come together. Now it’s time for the real work to start.”

A 6-foot-4 guard, Love averaged 14.6 points and 3.3 assists in three seasons at North Carolina. He averaged 17.6 points in seven NCAA Tournament games, helping lead the Tar Heels to the 2022 national championship game.

Love entered the transfer portal after leading North Carolina with 73 3-pointers as a junior and initially committed to Michigan. He decommitted from the Wolverines earlier this month, reportedly due to an admissions issue involving academic credits.

Love narrowed his transfer targets to three schools before choosing to play at Arizona over Gonzaga and Texas.

Love will likely start on a team that will have dynamic perimeter players, including Pelle Larsson, Kylan Boswell and Alabama transfer Jaden Bradley.

Biden celebrates LSU women’s and UConn men’s basketball teams at separate White House events


WASHINGTON – All of the past drama and sore feelings associated with Louisiana State’s invitation to the White House were seemingly forgotten or set aside Friday as President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden welcomed the championship women’s basketball team to the mansion with smiles, hugs and lavish praise all around.

The visit had once appeared in jeopardy after Jill Biden suggested that the losing Iowa team be invited, too. But none of that was mentioned as both Bidens heralded the players for their performance and the way they have helped advance women’s sports.

“Folks, we witnessed history,” the president said. “In this team, we saw hope, we saw pride and we saw purpose. It matters.”

The ceremony was halted for about 10 minutes after forward Sa’Myah Smith appeared to collapse as she and her teammates stood behind Biden. A wheelchair was brought in and coach Kim Mulkey assured the audience that Smith was fine.

LSU said in a statement that Smith felt overheated, nauseous and thought she might faint. She was evaluated by LSU and White House medical staff and was later able to rejoin the team. “She is feeling well, in good spirits, and will undergo further evaluation once back in Baton Rouge,” the LSU statement said.

Since the passage of Title IX in 1972, Biden said, more than half of all college students are women, and there are now 10 times more female athletes in college and high school. He said most sports stories are still about men, and that that needs to change.

Title IX prohibits discrimination based on sex in federally funded education programs and activities.

“Folks, we need to support women sports, not just during the championship run but during the entire year,” President Biden said.

After the Tigers beat Iowa for the NCAA title in April in a game the first lady attended, she caused an uproar by suggesting that the Hawkeyes also come to the White House.

LSU star Angel Reese called the idea “A JOKE” and said she would prefer to visit with former President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, instead. The LSU team largely is Black, while Iowa’s top player, Caitlin Clark, is white, as are most of her teammates.

Nothing came of Jill Biden’s idea and the White House only invited the Tigers. Reese ultimately said she would not skip the White House visit. She and co-captain Emily Ward presented team jerseys bearing the number “46” to Biden and the first lady. Hugs were exchanged.

Jill Biden also lavished praise on the team, saying the players showed “what it means to be a champion.”

“In this room, I see the absolute best of the best,” she said, adding that watching them play was “pure magic.”

“Every basket was pure joy and I kept thinking about how far women’s sports have come,” the first lady added, noting that she grew up before Title IX was passed. “We’ve made so much progress and we still have so much more work to do.”

The president added that “the way in which women’s sports has come along is just incredible. It’s really neat to see, since I’ve got four granddaughters.”

After Smith was helped to a wheelchair, Mulkey told the audience the player was OK.

“As you can see, we leave our mark where we go,” Mulkey joked. “Sa’Myah is fine. She’s kind of, right now, embarrassed.”

A few members of Congress and Biden aides past and present with Louisiana roots dropped what they were doing to attend the East Room event, including White House budget director Shalanda Young. Young is in the thick of negotiations with House Republicans to reach a deal by the middle of next week to stave off what would be a globally calamitous U.S. financial default if the U.S. can no longer borrow the money it needs to pay its bills.

The president, who wore a necktie in the shade of LSU’s purple, said Young, who grew up in Baton Rouge, told him, “I’m leaving the talks to be here.” Rep. Garret Graves, one of the House GOP negotiators, also attended.

Biden closed sports Friday by changing to a blue tie and welcoming the UConn’s men’s championship team for its own celebration. The Huskies won their fifth national title by defeating San Diego State, 76-59, in April.

“Congratulations to the whole UConn nation,” he said.

Marquette’s Prosper says he will stay in draft rather than returning to school

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MILWAUKEE — Olivier-Maxence Prosper announced he is keeping his name under NBA draft consideration rather than returning to Marquette.

The 6-foot-8 forward announced his decision.

“Thank you Marquette nation, my coaches, my teammates and support staff for embracing me from day one,” Prosper said in an Instagram post. “My time at Marquette has been incredible. With that being said, I will remain in the 2023 NBA Draft. I’m excited for what comes next. On to the next chapter…”

Prosper had announced last month he was entering the draft. He still could have returned to school and maintained his college eligibility by withdrawing from the draft by May 31. Prosper’s announcement indicates he instead is going ahead with his plans to turn pro.

Prosper averaged 12.5 points and 4.7 rebounds last season while helping Marquette go 29-7 and win the Big East’s regular-season and tournament titles. Marquette’s season ended with a 69-60 loss to Michigan State in the NCAA Tournament’s round of 32.

He played two seasons at Marquette after transferring from Clemson, where he spent one season.

Kansas’ Kevin McCullar Jr. returning for last season of eligibility

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Kevin McCullar Jr. said that he will return to Kansas for his final year of eligibility, likely rounding out a roster that could make the Jayhawks the preseason No. 1 next season.

McCullar transferred from Texas Tech to Kansas for last season, when he started 33 of 34 games and averaged 10.7 points and 7.0 rebounds. He was also among the nation’s leaders in steals, and along with being selected to the Big 12’s all-defensive team, the 6-foot-6 forward was a semifinalist for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award.

“To be able to play in front of the best fans in the country; to play for the best coach in the nation, I truly believe we have the pieces to hang another banner in the Phog,” McCullar said in announcing his return.

Along with McCullar, the Jayhawks return starters Dajuan Harris Jr. and K.J. Adams from a team that went 28–8, won the Big 12 regular-season title and was a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, where it lost to Arkansas in the second round.

Perhaps more importantly, the Jayhawks landed Michigan transfer Hunter Dickinson, widely considered the best player in the portal, to anchor a lineup that was missing a true big man. They also grabbed former five-star prospect Arterio Morris, who left Texas, and Towson’s Nick Timberlake, who emerged last season as one of the best 3-point shooters in the country.

The Jayhawks also have an elite recruiting class arriving that is headlined by five-star recruit Elmarko Jackson.

McCullar declared for the draft but, after getting feedback from scouts, decided to return. He was a redshirt senior last season, but he has another year of eligibility because part of his career was played during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is a big day for Kansas basketball,” Jayhawks coach Bill Self said. “Kevin is not only a terrific player but a terrific teammate. He fit in so well in year one and we’re excited about what he’ll do with our program from a leadership standpoint.”

Clemson leading scorer Hall withdraws from NBA draft, returns to Tigers

clemson pj hall
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CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson leading scorer PJ Hall is returning to college after withdrawing from the NBA draft on Thursday.

The 6-foot-10 forward took part in the NBA combine and posted his decision to put off the pros on social media.

Hall led the Tigers with 15.3 points per game this past season. He also led the Tigers with 37 blocks, along with 5.7 rebounds. Hall helped Clemson finish third in the Atlantic Coast Conference while posting a program-record 14 league wins.

Clemson coach Brad Brownell said Hall gained experience from going through the NBA’s combine that will help the team next season. “I’m counting on him and others to help lead a very talented group,” he said.

Hall was named to the all-ACC third team last season as the Tigers went 23-10.