Bubble Banter: Did Virginia Tech just lock-up their NCAA tournament bid?

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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 Saturday.

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

VIRGINIA TECH (RPI: 71, KenPom: 42, NBC seed: 10): The Hokies landed the best win that you can possibly land on Saturday, going into John Paul Jones Arena and knocking off Virginia, No. 2 in the country and No. 1 in the RPI. And with that, the Hokies will no longer be on the bubble when we do this again next week. Not only do they now have four Quadrant 1 wins and an 8-6 record against the top two Quadrants, they now have two top ten wins and of their six remaining games, three more are against top ten teams and a fourth is against a top 25 opponent. Put another way, those losses are not necessarily going to hurt their profile. It’s too early to call Virginia Tech a lock for the tournament, not when they have a Quadrant 3 loss and a non-conference SOS of 312, but it is not too early to say they’ll be dancing so long as they don’t do anything dumb the rest of the way.

OKLAHOMA STATE (RPI: 107, KenPom: 71, NBC seed: Out): For the second time this season, Oklahoma State went on the road and knocked off one of the best teams in the Big 12. On Saturday, it was West Virginia that the Cowboys picked off. The Pokes are just 15-10 on the season, but they are 4-7 against Quadrant 1 with just one loss outside the top two Quadrants. That was against Baylor at home. Frankly, the Pokes still have work to do, but a top ten road win and a top 25 road win keep them in the mix, and “in the mix” is far more than anyone expected out of OSU this season.

MISSOURI (RPI: 25, KenPom: 38, NBC seed: 9): The Tigers are slowly but surely playing themselves into a place where they won’t have to sweat it out on Selection Sunday. On Saturday, they blew a 12-point lead in the final 90 seconds and ended up having to head to overtime, but Kevin Puryear hit a huge three and Jordan Geist drew a critical charge as the Tigers got a win over Mississippi State. The Tigers are 5-6 against Quadrant 1 opponents and now 9-7 in Quadrant 1 and 3 games. Their only Quadrant 3 loss came on a neutral against Illinois in the Bragging Rights game.

BAYLOR (RPI: 62, KenPom: 40, NBC seed: Out): A win over Kansas at home means that we probably should talk about the Bears. They are now just 2-8 against Quadrant 1 foes with no losses to teams outside the top two Quadrants. Every game they play the rest of the way would be a Quadrant 1 win: at Texas, Texas Tech, West Virginia, at TCU, Oklahoma, at Kansas State. This thing is doable for the Fighting Scott Drews.

ARKANSAS (RPI: 35, KenPom: 44, NBC seed: 10): Arkansas did what they needed to do on Saturday, beating Vanderbilt at home. Now they need to go out and get a win at Ole Miss this week, because the end of their season is a killer: Texas A&M, Kentucky, at Alabama, Auburn, at Missouri. That’s five Quadrant 1 games.

TCU (RPI: 25, KenPom: 22, NBC seed: 10): TCU snapped a two-game losing streak and added another Quadrant 2 win to their name on Saturday night as they picked off Texas at home. The Horned Frogs are just 3-7 against Quadrant 1 foes, but they are now 4-1 against Quadrant 2 and do not have a loss beyond that.

NEBRASKA (RPI: 55, KenPom: 56, NBC seed: Next four out): The Huskers did what they needed to do: they won. If Tim Miles wants a real chance of getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, the cannot lose until they win at least one, if not two Quadrant 1 games in the Big Ten tournament. They have not won one yet this season and will not play another one during the regular season. Beating Rutgers does not help them.

ST. BONAVENTURE (RPI: 47, KenPom: 69, NBC seed: Next four out): The Bonnies handled their business against Richmond on Saturday evening, although the only reason that win helps them is because it doesn’t hurt them. The Bonnies are 3-2 in Quadrant 1 games but they also have two Quadrant 3 losses. I think they need to win out, but I think they have a shot to make up the ground if they do. They only play one top 100 team the rest of the year, but that is Rhode Island (5) at home.

MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE (RPI: 28, KenPom: 45, NBC seed: 11): It’s simple with Middle Tennessee: They cannot lose a game unless it is to Western Kentucky in the Conference USA tournament if they want a real chance at being an at-large team. On Saturday, they beat North Texas (193).

TEMPLE (RPI: 38, KenPom: 88, NBC seed: Next four out): The Owls are still in the mix because they have some unbelievable wins — Auburn, Clemson, Wichita State — but they also have four Quadrant 3 losses. That’s not good, and that’s why they had to beat South Florida (290) on the road today. They did. I think Temple needs to go at least 4-1 down the stretch to get a bid.

LOSERS

PROVIDENCE (RPI: 47, KenPom: 73, NBC seed: 10): The Friars have six Quadrant 1 wins this season, which, in theory, should mean that they can handle taking some bad losses. But just how many can they survive? On Saturday, they suffered their third Quadrant 3 loss of the year, getting absolutely pummeled at home by DePaul. They’ve also lost at UMass and at home to Minnesota; there should be an asterisk for the Minnesota game, as the Gophers fell off a cliff thanks to injuries and off-the-court scandal. The Friars are still in a good spot, but they have more work to do than they did 24 hours ago. Their remaining schedule: Villanova, at Butler, Seton Hall, at Georgetown, at Xavier, St. John’s. They probably need at least three of those, but four would make life a lot less stressful.

WASHINGTON (RPI: 38, KenPom: 99, NBC seed: 10): It was a disastrous road trip this week for Washington. They lost at Oregon by 25 points on Thursday night and followed that up by losing in overtime at Oregon State on a Stevie Thompson buzzer-beater. That’s problematic for Washington. They have five Quadrant 1 wins, but they also now have a pair of Quadrant 3 losses. What’s worse is that they play no more Quadrant 1 games, and only three of their remaining six games come against Quadrant 2 opponents.

USC (RPI: 48, KenPom: 46, NBC seed: First four out): USC is in a much more difficult spot than many might imagine. As of today, they are probably not an NCAA tournament team. A home loss to Princeton (204) just keeps looking worse and worse, while the only two Quadrant 1 wins to their name came against mid-major foes — Middle Tennessee State and New Mexico State. I have a feeling that giving away a win at Arizona State on Thursday night is going to end up hurting this team more than people think.

MARQUETTE (RPI: 60, KenPom: 49, NBC seed: First four out): Marquette dropped to 14-11 on the season losing at St. John’s on Saturday. The Golden Eagles have now lost five of their last six games and sit at 3-9 against Quadrant 1 teams; believe it or not, after starting Big East play with 11 straight losses, St. John’s is now a Quadrant 1 loss. So this isn’t the killer for Marquette you might think it is, but the Golden Eagles certainly need to start stacking some wins and quick.

BOISE STATE (RPI: 34, KenPom: 48, NBC seed: First four out): Boise State is in trouble after losing at Utah State on Saturday night. They don’t have a Quadrant 1 win and have just five Quadrant 2 wins. The good news? Beating Boise means that Utah State is now a Quadrant 2 loss (130), so I still think winning out — which would include beating Nevada at home — might be enough.

MISSISSIPPI STATE (RPI: 56, KenPom: 61, NBC seed: Next four out): The Bulldogs had their four-game winning streak snapped at Missouri in a tough way. After coming back from 12 down in the final 90 seconds, Mississippi State was whistled for an offensive foul on a would-be game-winning three that went in. As a result, they still have just two Quadrant 1 wins and a non-conference SOS in the 300s.

UCLA (RPI: 50, KenPom: 49, NBC seed: Last four in): The Bruins were playing with house money on Saturday after they picked off Arizona in Tucson on Saturday, and it looked like it. Arizona State was in control throughout as the Bruins dropped to 2-4 against Quadrant 1 opponents. The big issue right now for UCLA is that four of their eight losses come outside Quadrant 1 — including one Quadrant 3 loss — but the good news is that their last three games are all Quadrant 1 games: at Utah, at Colorado, at USC.

KANSAS STATE (RPI: 65, KenPom: 57, NBC seed: 11): Losing to Texas Tech, the current leaders in the Big 12 title race, is hardly a bad loss. But where this might end up costing the Wildcats is that this was their last chance to land a Quadrant 1 win at home. Their remaining three home games: Baylor, Texas and Oklahoma State. If they can’t win at Oklahoma or at TCU, then K-State will be heading into Selection Sunday with four Quadrant 1 wins, a Quadrant 3 loss and a non-conference SOS in the 320s.

BUTLER (RPI: 34, KenPom: 21, NBC seed: 9): Butler is sitting in a pretty good spot right now. All nine of their losses are to Quadrant 1 opponents, but they have just a 3-9 record in Quadrant 1 games after blowing a 13-point lead at Villanova on Saturday. If Butler goes 2-3 down the stretch, they should probably be in with room to spare.

N.C. STATE (RPI: 71, KenPom: 60, NBC seed: Play-in game): Like Butler, where N.C. State really hurt themselves was opportunity cost. They had a chance to land a marquee win against North Carolina and just could not get enough stops down the stretch. The Wolfpack have a number of great wins (at North Carolina, Duke, Clemson, Arizona) but are in a bit of a tough spot because of three Quadrant 3 losses and a less-than-stellar non-conference SOS. Four wins down the stretch should get the job done.

Texas’ Arterio Morris plays amid misdemeanor domestic violence case

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AUSTIN, Texas — In a season when Texas fired coach Chris Beard after a felony domestic violence arrest, it has allowed a reserve guard to keep playing while he awaits trial on a misdemeanor charge of assaulting an ex-girlfriend.

Second-seed Texas has advanced under interim coach Rodney Terry to the program’s first Sweet 16 since 2008, and the Longhorns play No. 3 Xavier in Kansas City, Missouri.

Arterio Morris, a freshman who was one of the top recruits in the country last year, was initially scheduled to stand trial March 29, three days before Final Four weekend. Denton County prosecutors were granted a delay to an unspecified date.

Beard was fired Jan. 5, about three weeks after he was arrested on suspicion of a felony charge of choking his fiancée in a fight during which she also told police he bit, and hit her. She later recanted the choking allegation and the Travis County district attorney dismissed the case, saying prosecutors were following her wishes not to got to trial and that the charge could not be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

Morris is charged with Class A misdemeanor assault causing bodily injury to a family member, which in Texas includes dating relationships. It stems from a June 2022 confrontation in the Dallas suburb of Frisco. The charge carries penalties ranging from probation and fines to up to a year in jail if convicted.

Morris’ attorney, Justin Moore, said the charges against Beard and the player are different.

“(Beard) was charged with a felony family assault,” Moore said. “That was far more serious as to what Arterio was alleged to have to committed. We maintain Arterio’s innocence.”

According to police, the ex-girlfriend said Morris grabbed her arm and pulled her off a bed, and later pulled the front of her sports bra, causing an injury to her neck and shoulder area. Police reported seeing a sizable bruise or scratch.

Texas officials declined comment. Beard said before the season that school officials he would not identify determined the freshman could play this season.

Moore defended Texas officials’ decision to not suspend Morris.

“I do believe Texas has taken this seriously. They’ve also allowed Arterio to enjoy his due process rights,” Moore said.

Morris has played in all 36 games this season, although his minutes and have been limited on a senior-dominated team. He averages nearly 12 minutes and 4.7 points per game. His biggest moment was a soaring alley-oop dunk against Kansas in the Big 12 Tournament championship game.

Attempts to reach Morris’ ex-girlfriend through family members were not successful. According to online records, prosecutors sought the trial delay to “procure witness availability.” Prosecutor Jamie Beck did not immediately return messages.

Wichita State hires ORU’s Paul Mills to lead program

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Wichita State hired Paul Mills away from Oral Roberts to turn around its languishing program, landing what has been one of the hottest names among mid-major coaches.

The 50-year-old Mills led the the Golden Eagles to two of the past three NCAA Tournaments, engineering upsets of Ohio State and Florida as a No. 15 seed in 2021 before going 30-5 this past season and losing to Duke as a No. 5 seed.

He replaces Isaac Brown, who was fired after three seasons as the Shockers slowly slipped toward mediocrity.

“My family and I are extremely excited about being a part of Wichita State,” said Mills, who will be introduced during a news conference at Charles Koch Arena. “The rich history, winning tradition and unbelievable community support will keep us working on behalf of the greatest fans in all of college basketball.”

Mills got his break in coaching when he joined Scott Drew’s first staff at Baylor in 2003, working alongside future Kansas State coach Jerome Tang in helping to turn around a program that had been mired in controversy. Mills stayed for 14 years, helping to reach seven NCAA Tournaments, before replacing Scott Sutton at Oral Roberts before the 2017 season.

Mills went just 11-21 each of his first two seasons in Tulsa, but the seeds of a turnaround had been planted, and the Golden Eagles have not had a losing season since. The biggest step came two years ago, when Mills led Oral Roberts to the Sweet 16 of an NCAA Tournament played entirely within an Indianapolis “bubble environment” because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Golden Eagles slipped to 19-12 the following year before winning 30 games and the Summit League title this past season, when they were led by high-scoring guard Max Abmas, an honorable mention All-American selection.

“Paul Mills’ heart for people, passion for life and approach to the development of young people and programs is energizing,” Wichita State athletic director Kevin Saal said in a statement. “He aligns with Shocker Athletics’ core values, facilitates a first-class student-athlete experience and fuels broad-based competitive excellence.”

The hiring of Mills comes as the Shockers try to position themselves at the forefront of a new-look American Athletic Conference. Perennial powerhouse Houston is joining Central Florida and Cincinnati in leaving for the Big 12 after this season, and six new schools are due to arrive from Conference USA for the start of next season.

Wichita State, a power under Ralph Miller and Gene Smithson in the 1960s, returned to prominence when Mark Turgeon took over in 2000. But it was under Gregg Marshall, who resigned in November 2020 amid allegations of verbal and physical abuse of players, that it began to soar. The Shockers advanced to the Final Four in 2013, finished the regular season unbeaten the following year and at one point went to seven consecutive NCAA Tournaments.

Brown, who was Marshall’s top recruiter, led them back to the NCAA Tournament in his first year. But the Shockers were just 15-13 last year and 17-15 this past season, leading Saal to decide that a coaching change was necessary.

Turns out the answer Saal was looking for was just a few hours south at Oral Roberts.

Arizona State extends Bobby Hurley through 2025-26 season

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TEMPE, Ariz. — Arizona State agreed to a contract extension with head coach Bobby Hurley that runs through the 2025-26 season.

The deal announced on Tuesday is subject to approval by the Arizona Board of Regents. Hurley’s previous contract was set to expire after next season.

“Coach Hurley has made our program relevant nationally with many significant wins and an exciting style, along with a firm commitment to the academic success of our student-athletes,” Arizona State athletic director Ray Anderson said in a statement. “He has made it clear to us that he wants to be here and we have done likewise with him. We share a strong confidence in the present and future state of Sun Devil men’s basketball.”

Hurley led the Sun Devils to 23 wins this season and their third trip to the NCAA Tournament the last five times it has been played. Arizona State beat Nevada in the First Four before losing to Texas Christian on a last-second shot last Friday.

The Sun Devils have won at least 20 games four of the past six seasons. They are 141-113 in eight seasons under Hurley.

Mark Campbell new TCU women’s coach after taking Sacramento State to NCAA

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FORT WORTH, Texas – Mark Campbell was hired as TCU’s women’s basketball coach after the former Oregon assistant took Sacramento State to its first NCAA Tournament in an impressive and quick turnaround.

Sacramento State was coming off a 3-22 season when Campbell was hired two years ago. The Hornets won 14 games in Campbell’s first season, and then made another 11-win improvement this season while finishing 25-8 with Big Sky regular-season and tournament championships.

During his seven seasons on Oregon’s staff before that, the Ducks had some of the nation’s top recruiting classes. That included Campbell recruiting Sabrina Ionescu, who became the AP player of the year in 2020 before she was the first overall pick in the WNBA draft.

Campbell replaces Raegan Pebley, who stepped down after nine seasons as TCU’s coach with a 141-138 record. The Horned Frogs were 8-23 this season, including 1-17 in Big 12 play during the regular season.

TCU athletic director Jeremiah Donati described Campbell as an elite recruiter and program builder.

“Similar to his success at Sacramento State, he was instrumental in Oregon quickly becoming one of the nation’s most successful programs, reaching their first NCAA Elite Eight and then Final Four,” Donati said.

The Frogs haven’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 2010. That was their ninth NCAA appearance, all coming in a 10-season span without making it past the second round.

Boston College extends Earl Grant through 2028-29 season

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BOSTON – Boston College coach Earl Grant has agreed to a two-year extension that will keep him under contract through the 2028-29 season.

Grant took over as Eagles coach prior to the 2021-22 season and finished 13-20. Boston College went 16-17 this past season, but it had three wins over nationally ranked teams for the first time in 14 years.

“My family and I have enjoyed being a part of this amazing community,” Grant said in a statement. “Boston is a great city and we are glad to call it our home. I am thankful for the efforts of my staff to help move the program forward.”

The Eagles finished 9-11 in Atlantic Coast Conference play, their most wins in the league play since 2010-11. Quinten Post also became the first Boston College player to be named Most Improved Player.

In announcing the extension, athletic director Blake James expressed optimism about the direction of the program.

“Earl has done an outstanding job leading our men’s basketball program over the last two seasons and we are looking forward to him doing so for many years to come,” James said.