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Bubble Banter: Georgia lands critical win over No. 23 Florida

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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 Tuesday 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

GEORGIA (RPI: 57, KenPom: 69, NBC seed: Next four out): The Bulldogs landed an important win on Tuesday night, picking off Florida (35) at home. That is just a Quadrant 2 win for the Bulldogs, but they already have three Quadrant 1 wins — Saint Mary’s (38) on a neutral, Marquette (46) on the road and Alabama (26) at home — on their résumé. The key for Mark Fox’s club is going to be amassing enough good wins to make up for the fact that they lost to San Diego State (123) on a neutral and at UMass (200). That UMass loss will be one of the worst we see for an at-large team this season.

This win snapped a three game-losing streak. Georgia had also lost five of their last six games. Their next two games, three of their next four and four of their next six games come on the road. The next two — at Mississippi State (63) and Vanderbilt (115) — are wins that Georgia needs to get if they are serious about being a tournament team.

TEXAS A&M (RPI: 33, KenPom: 34, NBC seed: First four out): Texas A&M badly needed to get a win over Arkansas at home on Tuesday night, and not necessarily because they needed it for their résumé. The win is their fourth Quadrant 1 win and the sixth win they have in the top two Quadrants. Combine that with just two losses outside the top 35 — both to LSU (79) — and their excellent non-conference SOS and what you get is a team that has the foundation of an at-large profile. Their problem? They’ve played like crap for a month, losing seven of their last nine games. Five of their next eight games are on the road, and one of those home games is Kentucky. The Aggies needed this because, with a 13-8 record, they couldn’t afford to be stuck in that slump for that much longer.

LOSERS

BUFFALO (RPI: 27, KenPom: 73, NBC seed: 12): Buffalo probably cost themselves just about any chance they have of getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. The Bulls had a terrific RPI entering the day (27), but that is going to take a dip with a loss at Kent State (174). Buffalo also does not have a win better than Toledo (71) at home. That is their only win against a team in the top 130, and Miami (OH (134) is the highest-ranked team they have left. There was a slim chance that Buffalo would be able to get an at-large if they had won out. They didn’t win out.

OKLAHOMA STATE (RPI: 87, KenPom: 68, NBC seed: Out): Oklahoma State missed out on a chance to earn another Quadrant 1 win at home when they lost to TCU (22) on Tuesday. The Cowboys are now 13-9 on the season, and while there are no bad losses to their name, two of their next three games are at Kansas and at West Virginia. At this point, OK State is going to be pulled out of contention until they string together a few wins.

ARKANSAS (RPI: 21, KenPom: 47, NBC seed: 9): Losing on the road to Texas A&M is hardly a bad loss for the Razorbacks, but for a team with just one road win, adding one against a top 40 opponent would have been nice. As it stands, this doesn’t hurt Arkansas as much as it cost them a chance to put themselves into a much more comfortable position.

Dewan Huell returning to Miami for junior season

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Miami received some positive news on Saturday afternoon as the school announced the return of forward Dewan Huell for his junior season.

After testing the NBA draft waters without an agent, the 6-foot-11 Huell will be back for the Hurricanes. Starting all 32 games for the program last season, Huell averaged 11.4 points and 6.6 rebounds per game while shooting 57 percent from the floor.

“After getting feedback from NBA teams and talking it over with my family and coaches, I would like to announce that I will be returning to Miami for my junior season,” Huell said in the release. “I’m really excited to get back to work with my brothers so we can accomplish more than ever during the 2018-19 season.”

A former McDonald’s All-American coming out of high school, Huell’s return gives the Hurricanes stability in the front court for next season as he’ll play with other returning players like Sam Waardenburg and Ebuka Izundu. With Miami losing both Lonnie Walker and Bruce Brown early to the 2018 NBA Draft, Huell could be expected to provide more offensive production as a junior.

Bruce Weber receives contract extension at Kansas State

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Kansas State and head coach Bruce Weber have agreed to a two-year contract extension, according to a release from the school.

After leading the Wildcats to a surprising Elite Eight appearance in March, Weber will be the head coach at Kansas State through the 2022-23 season, which gives him another five seasons to work with. Weber will be paid $2.5 million in 2018-19 and he’ll receive a $100,000 increase to his salary in each remaining contract year.

Weber had already signed a two-year extension in August 2017, but this move gives the veteran head coach more job security (and positive recruiting perception) for the next few seasons.

“We are very fortunate to have not only such an outstanding basketball coach but also a man in Coach Weber who conducts his program with integrity and class and is widely respected across the nation,” Kansas State Director of Athletics Gene Taylor said. “Certainly last season was one of the most memorable postseason runs in our program’s history, and we are excited for next season and the years ahead under Coach Weber’s leadership.”

With Kansas State returning most of its roster from last season, including the return of guard Barry Brown from the 2018 NBA Draft process, expectations are sky-high for Weber and the Wildcats this season. Currently ranked as the No. 8 team in the NBCSports.com Preseason Top 25, Kansas State’s veteran club could give Kansas a serious run for a Big 12 regular season title this season.

Northwestern loses incoming freshman point guard

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Northwestern and incoming freshman point guard Jordan Lathon are parting ways. The 6-foot-4 Lathon was viewed as a potential candidate to replace Bryant McIntosh at lead guard for the Wildcats this season, but Northwestern has reportedly revoked his offer of admission and basketball scholarship.

It is unclear why Lathon was unable to be admitted into Northwestern, but the school’s VP for University Relations, Alan Cubbage, gave a statement to Inside NU’s Davis Rich and Caleb Friedman.

“Northwestern University has revoked its offers of admission and an athletic scholarship for Jordan Lathon, a recruit for the Northwestern men’s basketball team,” the statement said. “Out of respect for the privacy of the student, the University will have no further public comment.”

Lathon later acknowledged the situation in a tweet explaining to fans that he will no longer be attending Northwestern.

While it is unclear why Lathon and Northwestern are parting ways, other high-major programs are already very interested in bringing in Lathon for next season. Oklahoma State immediately jumped in with a scholarship offer. There is also speculation that Lathon, a native of Grandview, Missouri, could also hear from the in-state Tigers as well.

It’ll be interesting to see where Lathon lands, and how this also affects Northwestern’s point guard situation. The loss of a four-year starter like McIntosh will be tough to fill, especially since Lathon was committed to Northwestern since last June. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Wildcats and head coach Chris Collins seek out a veteran point guard graduate transfer to try and get some immediate help.

Nebraska’s James Palmer Jr. returning to school

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Nebraska received some important news on Friday night as senior guard James Palmer Jr. will be back for next season.

The 6-foot-6 Palmer had tested the NBA draft waters, but he decided to return to the Cornhuskers. After putting up 17.2 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game last season, Palmer is expected to be an All-Big Ten candidate once again this season. Palmer shot 44 percent from the floor and 30 percent from three-point range last season.

After transferring in from Miami, Palmer became the Huskers’ go-to scorer last season in helping Nebraska to a 22-win season and NIT appearance.

With Palmer back, Nebraska will have some legitimate expectations for the upcoming season, especially if the team’s second-leading scorer, Isaac Copeland Jr., also returns from the NBA draft process.

Kansas State’s Barry Brown withdraws from NBA Draft

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Kansas State, a preseason top ten team, announced on Friday afternoon that Barry Brown will be returning to school for his senior season.

“Although the process was more than enjoyable, I have decided to withdraw my name from the 2018 NBA Draft,” Brown said in a statement. “Thank you to everyone who supported me, and I am looking forward to finishing my senior season as a Wildcat!”

Brown declared for the draft nearly two months ago. According to Kansas.com, Brown was invited to two workouts with NBA teams but did not get an invite to the NBA Draft Combine last weekend in Chicago. There was not a great chance that he would be drafted had he kept his name in the mix.

A second-team all-Big 12 selection a season ago, Brown averaged 15.9 points, 3.2 boards and 3.1 assists for a team that won 25 games and advanced to the Elite Eight as a No. 9 seed.

Kansas State is currently No. 8 in the NBC Sports preseason top 25.