Bubble Banter: All of Wednesday’s relevant bubble action in one place

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As we will do every day throughout the rest of the season, here is a look at how college basketball’s bubble teams fared on Wednesday night.

It’s worth reminding you here that the way winning are labeled have changed this season. Instead of looking at all top 50 wins equally, the selection committee will be using criteria that breaks wins down into four quadrants, using the RPI:

  • Quadrant 1: Home vs. 1-30, Neutral vs. 1-50, Road vs. 1-75
  • Quadrant 2: Home vs. 31-75, Neutral vs. 51-100, Road vs. 76-135
  • Quadrant 3: Home vs. 76-160, Neutral vs. 101-200, Road vs. 136-240
  • Quadrant 4: Home vs. 161 plus, Neutral vs. 201 plus, Road vs. 240 plus

The latest NBC Sports Bracketology can be found here.

WINNERS

SOUTH CAROLINA (RPI: 57, KenPom: 80, NBC seed: Out): In the last eight days, the Gamecocks went from being a team nowhere near the bubble to being a team with a real shot of finding themselves in the NCAA tournament. It started with a win over Kentucky (15) at home. It continued on Wednesday with at Florida (25). That gives them three Quadrant 1 wins, no loss worse than a Quadrant 2 loss and no home loss worse than Missouri (37). The best part? Every opponent left on their schedule is ranked in the top 80.

SYRACUSE (RPI: 41, KenPom: 50, NBC seed: Next four out): The Orange added another Quadrant 2 win on Wednesday night, beating Boston College in the Carrier Dome. They now have six of those, a number that will go to seven if Virginia Tech (76) gets into the top 75. The problem? No Quadrant 1 wins. They’ll have six chances to land one the rest of the way. I would guess they need two, maybe three, or them to feel good.

USC (RPI: 40, KenPom: 47, NBC seed: Play-in game): The Trojans are quietly one of the hottest teams in the country. If it wasn’t for a half-court buzzer beater at Stanford, they would have won eight straight games after getting their revenge against the Cardinal on Wednesday. They’re second in the league in defensive efficiency during Pac-12 play. The problem? There isn’t one Quadrant 1 win in that streak. USC’s two best wins right now are Middle Tennessee and New Mexico State on a neutral court. They get Cal at home this weekend, then have a three-game stretch where they are at UCLA (61), at Arizona State (32) and at Arizona (20). USC probably wants to win two of those.

NEBRASKA (RPI: 67, KenPom: 65, NBC seed: Out): Nebraska is in a very difficult situation when it comes to their NCAA tournament hopes. They don’t have a Quadrant 1 win to their name — their best win is a home win over Michigan (38) and they don’t one top 100 win away from home — and they don’t play another Quadrant 1 game. None of their remaining opponents are top 50 teams. One one (Maryland) is top 85, and the only other top 100 opponents they have left (at Minnesota, Indiana) will bounce in and out of the top 100. They are going to need to beat someone in the Big Ten tournament.

BOISE STATE (RPI: 33, KenPom: 48, NBC seed: First four out): Boise State whipped up on a team at the bottom of the Mountain West. The names don’t matter, mainly because there are only three teams in the league that are top 100 in the RPI. I’d feel much better about the Broncos if they had managed to win at Wyoming (73) or Nevada (13); they lose by a combined seven points. Boise currently does not have a Quadrant 1 win. If they do not beat both Nevada and Wyoming in the final month of the season, they are probably NIT bound.

N.C. STATE (RPI: 85, KenPom: 68, NBC seed: First four out): The Wolfpack tried really hard to ruin their NCAA tournament chances, as they trailed Pitt by 10 late in the second half. They would go on to win, meaning that the dream is still alive. Home wins over Duke (1) and Clemson (6), plus a neutral court win over Arizona (20) gives the Wolfpack three great wins.

FLORIDA STATE (RPI: 39, KenPom: 22, NBC seed: 9): Florida State is in a good spot right now. They are 15-5 on the season with four of those five losses coming away from home and all of them either Quadrant 1 or Quadrant 2 opponents. They beat Georgia Tech on Wednesday. Beat Miami (21) on Saturday and they’ll be off this list for the time being.

LOSERS

MISSOURI (RPI: 37, KenPom: 36, NBC seed: Play-in game): The Tigers missed out on a great chance to land an elite win, losing by 18 at home to Auburn. Right now, Cuonzo Martin’s team has three Quadrant 1 wins — Tennessee (14) at home, at UCF (59) and South Carolina (57) — and every game they play the rest of the season would be, at worst, a Quadrant 2 win. They’ll have chances to build.

STANFORD (RPI: 91, KenPom: 97, NBC seed: Out): The Cardinal were much more interesting before Arizona (20) snapped their five-game winning streak. After Wednesday’s loss at USC (40) it might be time to move them out of consideration for the time being. The qualifier here: Stanford has had a bunch of injuries and roster issues, something the selection committee considers.

MARQUETTE (RPI: 44, KenPom: 39, NBC seed: 10): Marquette had a shot to really improve their profile on Wednesday night, playing at Xavier. They lost by 19, which is hardly a bad loss; Xavier is 4th in the RPI right now. The Golden Eagles are in pretty good shape right now. They have two Quadrant 1 wins (Seton Hall, at Providence) and six games left against teams ranked in the top 36. Marquette’s next three games are critical: They get Villanova (2), Butler (26) and Providence (36) at home.

BOSTON COLLEGE (RPI: 63, KenPom: 77, NBC seed: Out): The Eagles lost at Syracuse, a Quadrant 1 opponent, which is only problematic in the sense that they now have eight losses on the season. The Eagles have a weird profile: Just one Quadrant 1 win, only three top 150 wins (all at home) and their best win away from home was La Salle (172) on a neural; at Hartford (241) is their only road win. But … they beat Duke, who is No. 1 in the RPI. That will keep them in the mix for a while.

TEMPLE (RPI: 45, KenPom: 91, NBC seed: Out): Neutral court wins over Auburn and Clemson keeps Temple in the conversation, but a 10-10 record and a sweep at the hands of Cincinnati — including a 33-point loss Tuesday night — might be the end of it.

Miles Kelly leads Ga. Tech to 79-77 win over rival Georgia

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: DEC 02 Northeastern at Georgia Tech
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ATLANTA – Georgia Tech’s Miles Kelly hit another winning shot against a state rival.

Terry Roberts endured a nightmarish final minute for Georgia.

Kelly hit a long 3-pointer and then a drove for the game-winning floater with 23 seconds remaining as the Yellow Jackets rallied to beat Georgia 79-77 on Tuesday night.

Kelly hit the winning shot in similar fashion against Georgia State on Nov. 12. He did it again to beat the Bulldogs, finishing with a team-high 17 points after failing to score in the first half.

“I’m going to continue to keep shooting, no matter how many times I miss,” Kelly said.

Roberts missed a 3-pointer, turned the ball over twice with bad passes, and was called for an offensive foul as he was trying to drive for the basket that would’ve sent the game to overtime.

“A tough finish for us,” Georgia first-year coach Mike White said. “We were in position to steal one on the road.”

A pair of second-chance buckets seemingly put Georgia (7-3) in control with a 77-73 lead.

The Bulldogs wouldn’t score again as Kelly led the comeback for the Yellow Jackets (6-3) – with a big assist from Roberts.

He had a chance to essentially seal it for the Bulldogs, but his jumper beyond the arc clanked off the rim.

Georgia Tech grabbed the rebound and raced down the court, where Kelly swished a 3 from well behind the stripe that brought Georgia Tech within a point with about a minute left.

Trying to work the ball inside, Roberts made an ill-advised entry pass that was deflected and stolen by Deivon Smith, setting up Kelly’s drive for the basket that put the Yellow Jackets back ahead,

Roberts tried a drive of his own, only to have it blocked by Jalon Moore. Georgia retained possession, but Roberts’ inbounds pass was stolen by Moore, who was fouled and made one of two free throws.

Roberts took the ball again and hurriedly dribbled toward the basket, only to be called for an offensive foul when he sent Smith flying.

“Just sacrificing my body for the team,” Smith said.

Georgia stole an inbounds pass around midcourt, giving Karlo Oquendo one last shot to launch a 3 that still would’ve won it for the Bulldogs. It bounced off the rim.

The game was tight throughout. Neither team led by more than eight, and a sequence in the second half showed just how tightly these rivals were matched.

With both squads playing at a frenetic pace and showing little regard for defense, the lead changed hands on eight straight possessions as the teams traded baskets.

Stunningly, they combined to score on 19 straight possessions before Georgia’s Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe missed a pair of free throws with 5:17 remaining.

FIRING UP THE CROWD

Perhaps the biggest cheer of the night came when Georgia Tech football coach Brent Key addressed the crowd at halftime.

Key, who served as interim coach for the last eight games of the season, was introduced Monday as the full-time choice for job.

He fired up the fans by getting them to chant “To hell with Georgia” over and over again. When a smattering of Bulldogs fans responded with barks, Key smiled and egged on the Yellow Jackets crowd to drown them out.

He also declared Georgia Tech to be the “greatest school in the entire state, the entire country,” following up his vow the previous day to not back down from the defending national champion and top-ranked Bulldogs.

BIG PICTURE

Georgia: This will be a tough one to swallow for Roberts, who led his team with 16 points and seven assists. The Bulldogs lost despite shooting 53.4% from the field.

Georgia Tech: Four players scored in double figures, and two others players finished with eight points. But it was Kelly, as usual, who had the ball in his hands at the end of a tight game.

UP NEXT

Georgia: After a nearly two-week break, the Bulldogs return to Atlanta on Dec. 18 to face Notre Dame at State Farm Arena in the Holiday Hoopsgiving event.

Georgia Tech: Head to North Carolina on Saturday for the Atlantic Coast Conference opener against the struggling Tar Heels.

No. 17 Illinois rallies late, beats No. 2 Texas 85-78 in OT

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NEW YORK – Terrence Shannon Jr. scored 12 of his 16 points in overtime, including the tiebreaking 3-pointer with 3:34 remaining, and No. 17 Illinois rallied to hand second-ranked Texas its first loss of the season, 85-78 on Tuesday night in the Jimmy V Classic.

Jayden Epps added 11 points, including the final five points of regulation – a 3-pointer with 35 seconds left and two tying free throws with 8 seconds remaining. Epps then blocked Marcus Carr’s jumper in the lane just before the buzzer to force overtime in an entertaining showdown at Madison Square Garden.

Matthew Mayer, who faced Texas several times at Baylor, tied a career high with 21 points as he made his first seven shots and finished 8 of 10.

Shannon, who missed eight of nine shots in regulation, took over in the extra period to help Illinois (7-2) beat a ranked foe for the second time this season. He opened overtime with a jumper after Marcus Carr was called for traveling and then hit an open 3 from the right wing over Brock Cunningham for a 73-70 lead.

Shannon then converted a reverse layup and finished off a three-point play to make it 77-70 with 2:16 left. Carr hit two free throws to get Texas within one with 1:28 remaining. Jayden Epps hit a layup, RJ Melendez sank two free throws to put Illinois ahead by five, and Shannon made two free throws with 27.7 seconds left.

Timmy Allen scored a season-high 21 points for Texas (6-1), which failed to open 7-0 for the first time since 2014-15. Tyrese Hunter added 10 points but Carr was held to nine points on 3-of-14 shooting as Texas had 12 shots blocked and shot 42%.

Texas took its only double-digit lead when Dillon Mitchell hit a layup with 8:28 left. Illinois cut the lead to 58-56 on a 3 by Melendez nearly four minutes later. After Cunningham hit an open 3 with 4:15 remaining, Si’Jabari Rice made a 3 for a 64-58 lead.

Allen found Cunningham for an open jumper that counted when officials called goaltending on Illinois’ Coleman Hawkins. That gave Texas a 65-61 lead with with 1:51 remaining.

Carr’s rainbow jumper in the lane made it 68-63 with a minute left and Illinois had a 3-pointer by Melendez waved off because it called timeout with 45.3 seconds left. After the timeout, Epps made an open corner 3 with 33 seconds remaining.

Hunter missed the front end of a 1-and-1 to set up Epps’ tying free throws.

BIG PICTURE

Illinois: The Illini continued to struggle with turnovers, committing 17. But only two of them came in the final 10-plus minutes of regulation or overtime. Illinois’ 15th turnover was an offensive foul by Mayer, which sent him to the bench with four fouls with 10:42 remaining.

Texas: The Longhorns had little offense beyond Allen and Hunter. While the duo was a combined 13 of 29, the rest of the team missed 24 of 40 shots.

UP NEXT

Illinois hosts Penn State in its second Big Ten game on Saturday. The Illini lost their conference opener to No. 13 Maryland.

Texas hosts Arkansas-Pine Bluff in the Jimmy Blacklock Classic on Saturday.

Clark, Gardner lift No. 3 Virginia past James Madison, 55-50

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Kihei Clark scored 18 points, Jayden Gardner had 14 points and eight rebounds, and No. 3 Virginia beat feisty in-state rival James Madison 55-50 on Tuesday night.

The Cavaliers (8-0), who lost starting guard Reece Beekman to a right leg injury early in the first half, prevented the Dukes (7-3) from winning a second straight December game in Charlottesville. James Madison beat Virginia 52-49 last Dec. 7.

Clark had seven assists while playing nearly 39 minutes with Beekman sidelined.

“Kihei gave everything he had and I had to, you know, ride him,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said. “Sure, he missed some free throws. And I know he made some mistakes, but you could just see him, you know, how tough-minded he was.”

Dukes coach Mark Byington said he told Clark – who’s playing his fifth season for Virginia – after last year’s game that he loved watching him play.

“He’s seen everything and nothing you’re going to do is going to surprise him,” Byington said. “There’s nothing Kihei Clark hasn’t seen out there, and he’s poised. I mean, you can’t rattle him. … So I told him this time I was like, `Look, I better never see you in college basketball again.’ But he’s one of my favorite players to watch just because he’s tough, talented, and he’s a winner.”

Takal Molson scored 18 of his 20 points in the second half for James Madison, including a 3-pointer that tied the game at 42-all with 7:47 to play. Gardner responded for Virginia by scoring five straight points in a 9-1 run.

The Cavaliers kept the Dukes in the game by missing eight of 13 free throws over the last six minutes.

Molson made an acrobatic layup while being fouled with 1:51 left, but he missed the free throw. He scored again with 1:01 left, pulling the Dukes within 52-50, but freshman Ryan Dunn answered with a strong move on the baseline for Virginia with 35 seconds to play.

James Madison threw the ball away on its ensuing possession.

BIG PICTURE

James Madison: The Dukes came into the game leading the nation in scoring (93.3 points per game) and having scored as many as 95 points five times. They were shooting 52.7% for the year, but made just four of their first 19 shots and finished 15 of 55 (26.9%). Vado Morse scored 11 points, the only other JMU player in double figures.

“Yeah, we knew how good they were and they showed it in spots tonight,” Gardner said. “But I think you saw a lot of resiliency tonight on the defensive end getting crucial stops.”

Virginia: The Cavaliers played the final 36 minutes without Beekman and gave extensive minutes to freshman Isaac McKneely. Virginia will hope Beekman, its third-leading scorer and a primary ballhandler and defender, recovers in time for its showdown with No. 1 Houston on Dec. 17.

UP NEXT

The Dukes return home to play Gallaudet on Saturday night.

Virginia has a 10-day break before hosting the top-ranked Cougars.

No. 25 Villanova women beat American University 83-42

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VILLANOVA, Pa. – Maddy Siegrist had 24 points and seven rebounds, Lucy Olsen added 14 points and No. 25 Villanova beat American University 83-42 on Tuesday night.

Siegrist scored 15 points in the opening 13 minutes as Villanova led 34-15. The Wildcats extended it to 46-23 by halftime before starting the second half on a 9-0 run for a 32-point lead.

Villanova added an 8-0 run in the fourth quarter for its largest lead of the game at 79-36. The Wildcats held American to 15-of-50 shooting (30%) and scored 21 points off 19 turnovers.

Christina Dalce scored 13 points for Villanova (8-2), which plays Saint Joseph’s on Saturday before taking a week off for final exams. Siegrist, who was coming off a 29-point performance on Sunday, made 10 of 17 shots as Villanova shot 56%.

Emily Johns scored 12 points for American (0-8), which hosts Marist (3-5) on Saturday.

No. 6 UConn star Azzi Fudd out 3-6 weeks with knee injury

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STORRS, Conn. — Sixth-ranked UConn’s top scorer, Azzi Fudd, is expected to be out three to six weeks because of a right knee injury she suffered during her team’s weekend loss to No. 5 Notre Dame, a university athletic spokesperson said.

The sophomore guard was injured in the first half of the game when a teammate collided into her. She returned midway through the second period to play four hobbled minutes, but sat the rest of the way.

“I think she’ll be all right,” coach Geno Auriemma said afterward.

Fudd entered the game averaging 24.0 points but finished scoreless on two shots over 13 minutes in the team’s first loss of the season.

The athletic spokesperson didn’t specify the type of knee injury Fudd sustained.

She underwent evaluation and an MRI confirmed the injury, the spokesperson said.

The Huskies host Princeton next.