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Bubble Banter: Butler, Missouri land critical wins

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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

BUTLER (RPI: 31, KenPom: 30, NBC seed: 10): Butler absolutely pounded Marquette on the road on Wednesday, giving them yet another Quadrant 1 win. The Bulldogs have wins over Villanova (2) at home, Ohio State (22) on a neutral and now Marquette (46) on the road. They’ve also beaten Marquette and Utah at home and don’t have a bad loss to their name. Perhaps the most important part of this win? They now have a road win better than Georgetown (153).

VIRGINIA TECH (RPI: 71, KenPom: 41, NBC seed: First four out): Virginia Tech added another Quadrant 1 win on Wednesday night when they picked off Boston College on the road in overtime. That’s their fourth Quadrant 1 win, although three of them could drop down a level if BC, Notre Dame and Ole Miss go cold. The biggest issue for the Hokies is probably their non-conference SOS, which is 323rd. That means they’ll have some ground to make up.

MISSISSIPPI STATE (RPI: 65, KenPom: 70, NBC seed: Out): The Bulldogs added a second-straight win on Wednesday, going into South Carolina (54) and leaving with a Quadrant 1 win. It’s their second Quadrant 1 win but just the third Quadrant 1 or 2 win. MSU has no bad losses, but they do have a non-conference SOS of 279. They have a lot of work to do, and the next two home games — Georgia, Alabama — will help.

MISSOURI (RPI: 43, KenPom: 46, NBC seed: Next four out): The Tigers snapped a three-game losing streak by going into Alabama and knocking off the Crimson Tide. That’s a top 25 road win, one that will likely have some staying power. It’s also the fourth Quadrant 1 for the Tigers. Four of their six best wins are away from home.

LOSERS

SYRACUSE (RPI: 32, KenPom: 49, NBC seed: First four out): The best thing you can say about Syracuse at this point in the season is that they still have chances left. They are going to need to capitalize on those chances, however, as the Orange don’t have a single Quadrant 1 win on their résumé. Their best win on the season? Buffalo, who lost to Kent State last night, at home. The Orange do have six more top 20 games left. So there’s still a chance.

MARYLAND (RPI: 57, KenPom: 42, NBC seed: Out): Maryland might have just relegated themselves to the NIT. They went into Purdue on Wednesday night and lost to Purdue (8), 75-67. Their profile isn’t awful. They’ll have a Quadrant 1 win once Butler’s win over Marquette works through the formula, but that’s their Quadrant 1 or 2 win. The killer? They only play one Quadrant 1 game the rest of the way. It’s auto-bid or bust.

MARQUETTE (RPI: 46, KenPom: 40, NBC seed: Play-in game): The Golden Eagles are in the midst of their most important stretch of the season, and thus far, it’s not going well. They’ve now lost three in a row, four out of five and five out of seven as they got worked over at home by Butler. They get Providence at home on Saturday then play five of their next six games on the road. The details of what is on Marquette’s profile right now are irrelevant if they don’t find a way to fix this slump and fast.

HOUSTON (RPI: 50, KenPom: , NBC seed: 11): Houston has some good wins — Arkansas, Wichita State, Temple, Providence on a neutral — but their biggest issue right now is that they did not play a good non-conference schedule and that they lost to Drexel on a neutral. They need some big wins to make up for it, and blew a GREAT chance at one on Wednesday, wasting an 18-point lead at Cincinnati. If they miss the tournament, that one will sting.

PROVIDENCE (RPI: 34, KenPom: 63, NBC seed: 9): The best thing about Providence getting their tails kicked at Seton Hall on Tuesday is that the RPI doesn’t factor in score. All it looks like is a road loss to a top 20 team. Forget it happened and get one back at Marquette on Saturday.

SOUTH CAROLINA (RPI: 54, KenPom: 68, NBC seed: Play-in game): Losing at home to Mississippi State did not help things for the Gamecocks, who are one of the teams right there on the cut-line. The rest of their schedule is brutal. All but two opponents are in the top 55, none are outside the top 80 and six of the nine are Quadrant 1 games.

ALABAMA (RPI: 24, KenPom: 56, NBC seed: 9): Alabama dropped a home game on Wednesday, falling to a Missouri team that had just lost three in a row. The Tigers are good enough this year that it is hardly a bad loss, and a loaded non-conference SOS plus four Quadrant 1 wins has Alabama in a good spot.

 

Trae Jefferson to transfer out of Texas Southern

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Texas Southern guard and NCAA tournament darling Trae Jefferson announced on Saturday that he’s leaving the school.

The 5-foot-7 Jefferson was sensational at times during his sophomore season with the Tigers as he put up 23.1 points, 4.6 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game, helping lead Texas Southern to a victory in the 2018 NCAA Tournament’s First Four in Dayton over North Carolina Central. One of the most entertaining talents in college basketball, Jefferson is leaving Texas Southern in-part because former head coach Mike Davis took the job at Detroit this offseason.

While Detroit is going to be the favorite to land Jefferson, because of his connection to Davis, it’ll be interesting to see what his transfer market looks like. Jefferson also made it clear on his Twitter page that he would like to be closer to his hometown of Milwaukee so that he can be closer to his ailing grandfather.

Given NCAA transfer rules, Jefferson would likely have to sit out next season before getting two more years of eligibility. But he could be applying for a waiver if he’s trying to be closer to home to deal with his family situation.

Nevada’s Josh Hall transfers to Missouri State

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Nevada lost a talented player from last season’s team as rising junior Josh Hall opted to transfer to Missouri State on Friday night.

The 6-foot-7 Hall is a former top-150 recruit who played a key part in the Wolf Pack’s postseason run as he elevated his play to average 13 points and 4.7 rebounds per game during the 2018 NCAA Tournament. Hall also made the game-winning bucket to lift Nevada past No. 2 seed Cincinnati in the second round.

Although Hall picked up his play late in the year, he was coming off the bench most of his sophomore campaign as he averaged 6.9 points and 3.9 rebounds per game last season.

Since Nevada took in some talented transfers, while players like Jordan Caroline and the Martin twins opted not to turn pro, it left head coach Eric Musselman with too many scholarship players for the 2018-19 season. It looks like some of those issues are now going away as Hall is leaving for Missouri State and graduate transfer guard Ehab Amin opted to decommit from the school.

Nevada is expected to be a preseason top-10 team next season with all of the talent they have returning to the roster, along with the addition of some new pieces like McDonald’s All-American big man Jordan Brown.

Hall will likely have to sit out next season due to NCAA transfer rules as he still has two years of eligibility remaining.

Chris Webber accepts Jim Harbaugh’s invitation to be honorary Michigan football captain

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The frosty relationship between Chris Webber and the University of Michigan could be thawing — thanks to an invitation from football head coach Jim Harbaugh.

On Friday, Harbaugh called in to WTKA’s “The M Zone” as show host Jamie Morris had Webber on the show. Harbaugh offered Webber the opportunity to be an honorary captain for the Michigan football team next season, to which Webber replied that he would love the opportunity.

Webber, a former member of the “Fab Five” who helped the Wolverines to two consecutive NCAA tournament title-game appearances in 1992 and 1993, has not associated directly with the school, or with other members of the Fab Five, for many years.

The NCAA mandated that Webber and Michigan not associate with one another for 10 years after the Ed Martin booster scandal. Webber has always been reluctant to participate in anything Michigan or Fab Five related. When the famous Fab Five documentary was made a few years ago, Webber was the only member of the quintet not to participate in the making of the film. Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King and Ray Jackson all have a solid relationship with the University of Michigan at this point.

Webber later criticized the film during an appearance on the Dan Patrick Show, as King and Rose fired back with responses to reignite the feud. In the past, Rose has also been vocal in his belief that Webber should apologize for what happened at Michigan, as the group is hoping to move forward.

Although Webber still isn’t mending fences with the other Fab Five members, or the basketball program, returning to Michigan in some kind of official capacity is a big deal considering his past with the school.

Harbaugh and Webber haven’t decided on a game for next season yet as that will be something to watch for over the next several months.

Akoy Agau returning to Louisville as graduate transfer

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Louisville received a boost to its frontcourt rotation on Friday as former big man Akoy Agau will return to the Cardinals as a graduate transfer.

The 6-foot-8 Agau originally committed and enrolled at Louisville for a season and a half to begin his college hoops career before transferring to Georgetown. After leaving the Hoyas to play at SMU last season, Agau received a sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA after battling injury for much of his career.

Agau gives Louisville an experienced forward who should earn some solid minutes next season. With the Mustangs during the 2017-18 season, Agau averaged 5.0 points and 3.6 rebounds per game in 16.1 minutes per contest.

While this isn’t the biggest splash for the Cardinals, they have plenty of scholarships to use for next season as new head coach Chris Mack tries to find a stable rotation. Getting a graduate transfer like Agau, who should be familiar with the school and the conference at the very least, is a nice step for a one-year placeholder.

NCAA President Mark Emmert got a $500,000 raise in 2016

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NCAA president Mark Emmert, the man in charge of a non-profit association that doesn’t have enough money to pay its laborers, received a $500,000 raise for the 2016 calendar year, bringing his total income to more than $2.4 million, according to an NCAA tax return that was obtained by USA Today.

That number actually pales in comparison to the salaries that are received by the commissioners of the Power 5 conferences.

But there’s not enough money to pay the players.

Nope.

Everyone is broke.

Carry on with your day, and pray for the well-being of NCAA administrators like Mark Emmert, whose salary is in no way whatsoever inflated by amateurism, which allows the schools and the NCAA to bank all of the advertising revenue that college basketball and football brings in and bars the players themselves from accessing that money.