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Bubble Banter: Providence, Florida State solidify résumé with 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 Wednesday.

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

PROVIDENCE (RPI: 43, KenPom: 72, NBC seed: 10): On Saturday, Providence got whipped at home by Big East cellar-dweller DePaul. My guess is that Ed Cooley let his team know that was not going to fly in practice this week, because they turned around and landed a win over Villanova on Wednesday. The Friars now have six Quadrant 1 wins, which should be enough to outweigh the fact that they have lost to two Quadrant 3 opponents and one Quadrant 4 game. They should be in as long as they go at least 2-3 down the stretch.

FLORIDA STATE (RPI: 48, KenPom: 23, NBC seed: 8): Florida State landed a win over Clemson (4) on Wednesday after trailing by as many as 13 points in the first half. The Seminoles now have a 6-4 record against Quadrant 1 opponents and no losses outside the top two Quadrants. At this point, they will no longer be in the Bubble Banter conversation. They will, however, be back on Sunday if they lose to Pitt.

KANSAS STATE (RPI: 57, KenPom: 47, NBC seed: Play-in game): The Wildcats landed another Quadrant 2 win on Wednesday, going into Stillwater and picking off Oklahoma State. Kansas State will be interesting come Selection Sunday. They have some good wins — Oklahoma, TCU, at Baylor, at Texas — but no great wins, one bad loss to Tulsa and a terrible non-conference SOS. I think they need to win at least four games the rest of the way. Their final five in the regular season are: Iowa State, Texas, at Oklahoma, at TCU, Baylor. Then there is the Big 12 tournament.

N.C. STATE (RPI: 73, KenPom: 59, NBC seed: Play-in game): The Wolfpack added another Quadrant 1 win to their profile when they went into the Carrier Dome and picked off Syracuse. They are now 5-7 against Quadrant 1 teams, and the fact that they’ve beaten the likes of Duke, Clemson, Arizona and North Carolina on the road should carry serious weight for a committee that showed up during the bracket reveal just how much they value quality wins.

LOSERS

VIRGINIA TECH (RPI: 56, KenPom: 43, NBC seed: 9): Virginia Tech lost at Duke. No shame in that. They are 4-6 against Quadrant 1 opponents and have eight wins against the top two Quadrants with just a single Quadrant 3 loss and three more Quadrant 1 games left on the schedule. Beat Georgia Tech and then go 1-3 in their final four (Clemson, Louisville, Duke, at Miami) and the Hokies are in.

MISSISSIPPI STATE (RPI: 68, KenPom: 58, NBC seed: Out): The Bulldogs played their way even further out of the bubble picture on Wednesday when they lost at Vanderbilt on a buzzer beater. With just a single Quadrant 1 win, a 4-8 record against the top two Quadrants and a non-conference SOS of 305, they are in a bad place. They may need to go 4-1 in their final five to feel good, and that may not even be enough.

OKLAHOMA STATE (RPI: 98, KenPom: 68, NBC seed: Next four out): The Cowboys have now lost five of their last seven games. The two wins? At Kansas and at West Virginia. They needed to beat Kansas State on Wednesday, if for no other reason than they have three road games, Texas Tech and Kansas left.

SYRACUSE (RPI: 41, KenPom: 46, NBC seed: First four out): The Orange blew a chance to land another Quadrant 2 win on Wednesday night when they lost at home to N.C. State, another team that is right there on the bubble with them. They have just one Quadrant 1 win to their name right now. They will have chances — at Miami, UNC, at Duke, at Boston College, Clemson — so they are anything-but dead at this point, but my best quess would be they beat BC and win two of four against the rest of that group.

BOISE STATE (RPI: 36, KenPom: 55, NBC seed: Next four out): Boise State’s chances of getting an at-large bid are dead. They lost at home to Nevada tonight, meaning they will not have a Quadrant 1 win on Selection Sunday, not if they finish second in the MWC, where they have a one-game lead on third-place with four games left. They need to beat Nevada to land that Quadrant 1 win, but the only way they can currently beat Nevada is if it is in the title game of the MWC tournament.

Elite Class of 2020 point guard to reclassify

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Nico Mannion, a five-star point guard from Arizona, announced on Friday that he will be reclassifying into the Class of 2019.

Mannion was a top 20 player in 2020 but, according to 247 Sports, he will be ranked No. 11 in 2019. The athletic, 6-foot-3 Mannion was long-rumored to be considering a move up a class because of his age. He’ll turn 18 in March of next year, meaning that he’ll arrive on campus the same age as a typical college freshman.

Mannion cut his list to ten schools in June — Duke, Arizona, Villanova, Kansas, USC, UCLA, Oregon, Vanderbilt, Marquette and Utah — but Duke and Arizona appear to be the favorites at this point.

Mannion plays his high school ball for Pinnacle High School in Phoenix and with West Coast Elite on the Under Armour Association circuit. He played for Team USA’s youth ranks, but his mother is Italian and, in June, he was called up to the Italian men’s senior national team, scoring nine points in 29 minutes of a FIBA World Cup Qualifier.

Nebraska to lose junior big man to transfer

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Nebraska’s frontcourt depth took a blow on Thursday as junior big man Jordy Tshimanga informed the program that he will be transferring.

“Jordy called me tonight and asked for his release,” head coach Tim Miles said in a statement that was given to the Lincoln Journal-Star. “The University of Nebraska and our program wish Jordy and his family the best.”

Tshimanga averaged 4.0 points and 4.6 boards in 13 minutes this past season, and a source close to the program told NBC Sports he wasn’t expected to play much more than that this season.

Miles’ has spent the better part of the last two seasons on the hot seat, and this certainly doesn’t make his job easier, but with the talent the Cornhuskers have on their roster, they look like an NCAA tournament team already. They bring back their top four scorers, including former five-star prospect Isaac Copeland and potential first-team all-Big Ten wing James Palmer. With or without Tshimanga, Nebraska has a shot to finish top four in the Big Ten.

North Carolina, UCLA, Michigan State part of Las Vegas event

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LAS VEGAS (AP) — North Carolina, UCLA, Michigan State and Texas will play in an early season basketball tournament in Las Vegas.

The Las Vegas Invitational will include games at campus sites, then the final two rounds on Nov. 22-23 in Las Vegas. North Carolina takes on Texas in one semifinal, and Michigan State faces UCLA in the other.

UNC, UCLA and Michigan State are all top 20 teams in the NBC Sports preseason top 25.

The championship is Nov. 23, and the semifinal losers also play each other that day.

NCAA to study possible effects of widespread legal wagering

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The NCAA plans to study how the expansion of legalized betting could affect college athletics and member schools.

The NCAA announced Thursday it will create a working group of “subject matter experts” to assess areas such as officiating, NCAA rules, federal and state laws, and the use of integrity services. NCAA leadership has already called for federal regulation on sports betting. NCAA rules prohibit sports wagering by athletes and athletic department employees.

The Supreme Court opened the door for states to have legal wagering on sporting events when it struck down a federal ban in May. Schools in some states such as West Virginia, Mississippi and New Jersey are already exploring the possibility of collecting integrity fees in anticipation of legal sports books opening in their states.

“While we certainly respect the Supreme Court’s decision, our position on sports wagering remains,” said Donald Remy, NCAA chief legal officer. “With this new landscape, we must evolve and expand our long-standing efforts to protect both the integrity of competitions and the well-being of student-athletes.”

The NCAA Board of Governors has already suspended the association’s ban on holding championships in states with legalized sports betting, a policy that only affected Nevada.

“Legalized sports gambling across the country is rather new, but the NCAA and its members have committed significant resources over the years to policy, research and education around sports wagering,” said Joni Comstock, senior vice president of championships and alliances. “With student-athlete well-being as the centerpiece, we will continue to build upon these efforts to assist members as they adapt to legalized sports wagering in their states and regions.”

Arizona releases non-conference schedule

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A trip to Maui, a home date against Baylor and trips to UConn and Alabama highlight Arizona’s non-conference schedule, which the school released Thursday, this season.

Despite losing nearly the entirety of last year’s talented-but-troubled group, Sean Miller still scheduled aggressively. The first test will come the week of Thanksgiving in Hawaii at the Maui Invitational. It’s an extremely competitive field with Duke, Auburn, Gonzaga, Iowa State, Illinois, San Diego State and Xavier. The bracket for the event has yet to be released.

The Wildcats travel to Storrs to face UConn in Dan Hurley’s first season on Dec. 2, and then a week later visit Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

The marquee home game will be Saturday, Dec. 16, when Scott Drew and Baylor come to Tucson.

Here’s the full schedule:

Day Date Opponent Location

Sunday Nov. 11 Cal Poly Tucson, Ariz.

Wednesday Nov. 14 UTEP Tucson, Ariz.

Monday Nov. 19 vs. TBA Lahaina, Hawai’i

Tuesday Nov. 20 vs. TBA Lahaina, Hawai’i

Wednesday Nov. 21 vs. TBA Lahaina, Hawai’i

Wednesday Nov. 28 Texas Southern Tucson, Ariz.

Sunday Dec. 2 at UConn Hartford, Conn.

Thursday Dec. 6 Utah Valley Tucson, Ariz.

Sunday Dec. 9 at Alabama Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Saturday Dec. 15 Baylor Tucson, Ariz.

Wednesday Dec. 19 Montana Tucson, Ariz.

Saturday Dec. 22 UC Davis Tucson, Ariz.