Bubble Banter: 16 teams with most on the line during Championship Week

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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.


SAINT MARY’S (RPI: 43, KenPom: 29, NBC seed: 10): The Gaels did themselves absolutely no favors on Monday night when they lost in the semifinals of the WCC tournament. Now they are going to spend every day until Selection Sunday hoping that every single team you see on this list loses their first game. That is a miserable was to spend the week before Selection Sunday. Saint Mary’s has two Quadrant 1 wins and two Quadrant 3 losses, but the only really notable win to their name is beating Gonzaga in Spokane. The more I look at résumés, the more I think that the Gaels are going to be on the wrong side of the bubble.

MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE (RPI: 28, KenPom: 45, NBC seed: 11): The Blue Raiders did themselves absolutely no favors when they lost to Marshall at home in their season finale. That one might be the killer, considering that the only Quadrant 1 wins that MTSU has are at Murray State and at Western Kentucky. That said, they did win at Vanderbilt and lost to Auburn, Miami and USC by a combined 14 points. At the very least, they need to get to the CUSA title game. They also are on track to play Marshall, the only team to beat them in league play and who swept them, in the semis if seeds hold.

ST. BONAVENTURE (RPI: 21, KenPom: 63, NBC seed: 9): I think the Bonnies are in better shape to withstand a loss before the Atlantic 10 title game than Saint Mary’s was in the WCC. The Bonnies have three Quadrant 1 wins and seven wins in the top two Quadrants. Their losses are worse — At home to Niagara? Gross. — but if they can get to the semifinals they’ll have. Lose in the finals to URI and I think the Bonnies are in.

Jeffrey Carroll (John Weast/Getty Images)


BAYLOR (RPI: 61, KenPom: 33, NBC seed: First four out): The Bears looked like they were going to be able to coast into the tournament after winning five straight late in the year, and then they turned around and lost three of their next four games. With just a 2-9 record on the road and a 7-13 mark against the top two Quadrants, Baylor has some work to do. The good news? They did beat Kansas by 16 points, and they get West Virginia in their Big 12 opener. That’s something of a play-in game.

TEXAS (RPI: 48, KenPom: 40, NBC seed: 11): Texas has one of those profiles where there isn’t much that is great but there really aren’t any negatives. They’ve lost 13 games, but their “worst” loss was either at Oklahoma State or at home against Baylor or Kansas State. They’ve won five Quadrant 1 games and three more in Quadrant 2, but their best win is against TCU and their best road win is at Oklahoma. The Longhorns get Iowa State in the Big 12 tournament opener, and a loss there would be an absolute killer.

KANSAS STATE (RPI: 62, KenPom: 44, NBC seed: 11): Kansas State’s profile looks a lot like that of Texas: 3-7 against Quadrant 1, 6-3 against Quadrant 2, no bad losses, not great wins. The big difference is that the Wildcats have three more wins and a non-conference SOS that ranks in the 320s. The Wildcats get TCU in the quarters to open up the Big 12 tournament. I think that is a play-in game for them.

OKLAHOMA STATE (RPI: 88, KenPom: 57, NBC seed: First four out): Oklahoma State is not all that close to the cut-line just yet, but with five Quadrant 1 and a 9-13 record against the top two Quadrants — including a sweep of Kansas, a win over Texas Tech and a win at West Virginia — the Pokes have landed some impressive wins. Since they still have group to make up, I think the only way to get this thing done is to beat Oklahoma in the opening round and pick up their third win over Kansas in the quarters. There’s a very real chance that OSU will be the Big 12’s ninth tournament team if things break right.

Bobby Hurley (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)


ARIZONA STATE (RPI: 59, KenPom: 38, NBC seed: 10): The truth is that Arizona State should be in, and it really shouldn’t be a question. The problem is that after starting the season 12-0, the Sun Devils lost 10 of 18 games in the Pac-12. There is no team in the country that has two wins as good as Xavier on a neutral and Kansas in Phog Allen Fieldhouse, but if the Sun Devils lose to Colorado in their Pac-12 opener, they’ll have lost five of their last six games with the only win coming against Cal. If enough other bubble teams win a few games this week, this could end up being very embarrassing.

UCLA (RPI: 36, KenPom: 49, NBC seed: Play-in game): The Bruins have a trio of really impressive wins: Kentucky on a neutral, at Arizona in the only game they played, at USC. They are 8-8 against the top two Quadrants, although they do have a pair of Quadrant 3 losses. I’m higher on UCLA than most, and as long as they can beat the winner of Stanford-Cal and get to the Pac-12 semifinals, I think they’re in with enough room to avoid getting stuck in a play-in game.

USC (RPI: 34, KenPom: 46, NBC seed: First four out): There are two issues with USC’s résumé in my mind: They lack elite wins (their four Quadrant 1 wins are Middle Tennessee State, New Mexico State, at Utah and at Oregon) and they have a brutal loss to Princeton at home, although that did come without a couple of rotation players. USC certainly needs to beat the winner of Washington-Oregon State in the quarterfinals, and I’d recommend getting past Utah/Oregon/Washington State in the semis to avoid a stressful Selection Show.

Collin Sexton (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)


NOTRE DAME (RPI: 69, KenPom: 27, NBC seed: Out): We can pretty much throw Notre Dame’s resume out the window. Here’s what you need to know: At full strength, with a healthy Bonzie Colson and Matt Farrell, they beat Wichita State in the Maui Invitational. They also lost to Ball State at home and Indiana on a neutral. Without him, they stunk, but Bonzie is back and the Irish almost won at Virginia over the weekend. I think they’d need to win three games — Pitt, Virginia Tech and then Duke — to have a shot at an at-large, but if they get that done, I think they would have a real chance.

ALABAMA (RPI: 58, KenPom: 53, NBC seed: Play-in game): The Crimson Tide looked like they were definitely headed to the NCAA tournament, potentially as a top six seed, after a win over LSU on Feb. 13th. They’ve since lost five straight to fall to 17-14 on the season and 8-10 in the SEC. The catch is that all five of those losses were to top 40 teams and four of them came against Quadrant 1 opponents. They are 9-12 against the top two Quadrants with wins over both SEC co-champions (Auburn and Tennessee) as well as a win over Rhode Island and an 18-point win at Florida. One of their two Quadrant 3 losses came in a game where they were left with just three players against a Minnesota team that was in the top 25 at the time. It’s just a weird, weird profile. At the very least, they have to beat Texas A&M in the 8-9 game. They might be able to survive a loss to Auburn in the quarters.

PROVIDENCE (RPI: 42, KenPom: 72, NBC seed: 10): The Friars have wins over two of the top three teams in the RPI — Villanova and Xavier — at home. They’re also 8-9 against the top two Quadrants. In theory, that should be enough. The problem? They have three Quadrant 4 losses. The rest of the RPI top 50 has three Quadrant 4 losses combined. I’m not even going to pretend to know what to make of that, so I’m just going to say that they have to beat Creighton on Thursday if they are serious about dancing.

Tyus Battle (Abbie Parr/Getty Images)


SYRACUSE (RPI: 39, KenPom: 51, NBC seed: Play-in game): Two important things happened this week for the Orange: They beat Clemson on Saturday and Miami won their fourth-straight one-possession game to climb into the top 25 in the RPI; the Orange won at Miami. A 6-10 mark against the top two Quadrants isn’t great, neither are road losses to Georgia Tech or Wake Forest, but the Orange will get North Carolina in the second round of the ACC tournament if they beat Wake Forest on Wednesday. Two wins and they’re in.

LOUISVILLE (RPI: 46, KenPom: 34, NBC seed: Next four out): Everything about Louisville’s résumé is just so blah. They have three Quadrant 1 wins, but they came at Florida State, at Virginia Tech and at Notre Dame. They have no bad losses but they are 4-12 against the top two Quadrants. They really, really, really needed that win over Virginia. Alas. If the Cards can take care of Florida State on Wednesday, they’ll have a shot at Virginia in the quarters. They need those two wins to have a chance.

MARQUETTE (RPI: 57, KenPom: 50, NBC seed: Play-in game): The Golden Eagles looked dead in the water for a while before winning four of their last five games to get back into the mix. They have four Quadrant 1 wins and an 8-10 mark against the top two Quadrants with a pair of Quadrant 3 losses. This is a pretty standard bubble profile. Beat St. John’s on Wednesday and Villanova on Thursday and they’re in. That simple.


Ed Cooley takes over at Georgetown with lofty aspirations

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WASHINGTON – Ed Cooley’s task at Georgetown is to bring a once-storied program back to prominence in a competitive conference that has three teams still part of March Madness in the Sweet 16.

Cooley’s lofty aspirations go beyond lifting the Hoyas up from the bottom of the Big East Conference. After leaving Providence, which he took to the NCAA Tournament seven times in 12 years, he already is talking about trying to coach Georgetown to its first championship since 1984.

At his introductory news conference Wednesday that felt like a pep rally, Cooley said he wanted current and former players to envision cutting down nets and watching “One Shining Moment” with the nets hanging around their necks. He promised wins – many of them – and plotted a path forward that he knows will involve some tough times.

“It’s a process, and the process now, because you have a changing landscape in athletics, you’ll have an opportunity to probably move it quicker than you would have 10, 20 years ago,” Cooley said. “We’re going to lose some games. It’s OK. Losing’s part of growth. But over the course of time, it will pay off.”

Georgetown has lost a lot the past couple of years under Patrick Ewing, who was fired earlier this month after six seasons. The team went 7-25 this season after going 6-25 last season and lost 37 of 39 games in Big East play.

While Cooley at Providence was responsible for four of those defeats, the 53-year-old distanced himself from Georgetown’s recent run of losing.

“I don’t have anything to do what happened yesterday,” he said. “My job is to move us forward from today.”

Cooley’s mere presence is an acknowledgement that Georgetown needed a major change to become relevant again. After late Hall of Fame coach John Thompson’s 27-year-old run led to longtime assistant Craig Esherick succeeding him and then son John Thompson III and Ewing getting the head job, Cooley is the school’s first outsider in the position in a half-century.

His only connection to the Hilltop – beyond coaching in the Big East – is his daughter, Olivia, attending Georgetown. Cooley, a Providence native, said her desire to live in the Washington area played into his decision to leave for a conference rival.

It was certainly no accident that athletic director Lee Reed and school president John J. DeGioia used phrases like “new era” and “new chapter” when discussing Cooley. DeGioia said he believes Cooley will “uplift and restore this team” to compete at the highest levels of the sport.

“He has a proven record of success,” Reed said. “We knew we needed a leader, someone who understood our identity and could reimagine Georgetown basketball to fit today’s unique basketball landscape.”

That landscape, including players being able to profit off the use of their name, image and likeness (NIL) and more easily transfer schools, are the biggest changes Cooley has seen since landing his first head job at Fairfield in 2006. He expects to be aggressive, and given the high volume of Georgetown players coming and going via the transfer portal, could rebuild the roster in his image sooner rather than later.

“You have to find student-athletes that fit the way you want to play, your style of play, that fit you as a coach,” Cooley said. “We need to find players that can play for me that can attend Georgetown, not the other way around.”

Cooley acknowledged that some luck is needed but also stressed recruiting local talent to keep the best players in the region around. That’s just one building block to putting Georgetown back on the map, which Cooley wants the time and latitude to do.

“The word patience is always hard because everybody wants it and they want it right now,” he said. “Everybody wants it right now. Have a little bit of patience.”

Texas’ Arterio Morris plays amid misdemeanor domestic violence case

Amy Kontras-USA TODAY Sports

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

Russell Lansford-USA TODAY Sports

Wichita State hired Paul Mills away from Oral Roberts to turn around its languishing men’s basketball 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 Thursday 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.

“I absolutely love Paul Mills. He’s like a brother to me. So happy for him and his family, for Wendy and the girls,” said Tang, who has Kansas State playing Michigan State in the Sweet 16 on Thursday night. “He’s going to be incredible because he is passionate about young people and about developing young men.

“There’s no throttle, like, hold-back governor on him in terms of love and what he pours into his guys.”

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.

“He’s the one that told me, he said, ‘Tang, 10s hangs with 10s and one hangs with ones,’” Tang said, “and he’s a 10 and he’s going to have some 10s around him.”

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.

“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.”

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.