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Bubble Banter: Alabama and Providence are dancing, but Nevada’s loss pops a bubble

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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 Thursday.

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.


EVERYONE ON THE BUBBLE: One day after Nevada erased a double-digit deficit to knock of UNLV the Wolf Pack found a way to trail by 30 points to San Diego State at the half. As good as SDSU has been playing of late, the Aztecs are not a team with anything close to a chance of getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. No one in the Mountain West is … well, except for Nevada, who is a lock for the tournament as the No. 11 team in the RPI. Our first and only bid thief! We just don’t know who the thief is just yet.

UCLA (RPI: 34, KenPom: 45, NBC seed: 11): UCLA’s Pac-12 tournament came to an end of Friday night, as the Bruins lost in overtime to top-seed Arizona behind another mammoth performance from their star center Deandre Ayton. At this point, I think UCLA will be in. They have three Quadrant 1 wins, an 8-9 record against the top two Quadrants and that one Quadrant 3 loss to Colorado at home. But what they have that’s more impressive than the rest of the teams around them on the bubble is a trio of really, really good wins: Kentucky on a neutral court, Arizona on the road, USC on the road. The committee values big wins, and those carry more weight than other Quadrant 1 wins.

KANSAS STATE (RPI: 52, KenPom: 43, NBC seed: 8): The Wildcats got the win that they needed on Thursday night against TCU. That should be enough to get them into the tournament and out of a play-in game, even with this loss to Kansas. If there is a concern, it’s that their best wins are against TCU and at Texas. If anything, I think that — combined with their atrocious non-conference SOS — will drop them a seed line lower than you might expect them to be.

USC (RPI: 33, KenPom: 36, NBC seed: Play-in game): The Trojans knocked off Oregon in the Pac-12 semifinals, setting themselves up with a game against Arizona for the tournament title and an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. If they win they’re in. If they lose, I don’t think that it dings them enough to miss out on the tournament, but it will be close. They do not have a win over a team that is guaranteed to be in the NCAA tournament; New Mexico State and Middle Tennessee State are their best wins.

MISSISSIPPI STATE (RPI: 68, KenPom: 62, NBC seed: Out): The Bulldogs needed to make a run to the SEC title game to have a real shot at hearing their name called on Selection Sunday. On Friday night, they lost to Tennessee in the quarterfinals. The NIT it is.


ALABAMA (RPI: 45, KenPom: 51, NBC seed: Play-in game): Alabama outscored Auburn 50-22 in the second half, turning a 10-point deficit into an 18-point win in the quarterfinals of the SEC tournament and, with that win, punched their ticket to the Big Dance. As it stands, Alabama now has seven Quadrant 1 wins and an 11-11 record against the top two Quadrants with three losses to Quadrant 3 opponents. They’s beaten the SEC co-champions Tennessee and Auburn a total of three times and have a win over Rhode Island. Their worst loss of the year — Minnesota — came in a game where they had just three players on the floor at the end of the game at a time when the Gophers were a top 25 team.

ST. BONAVENTURE (RPI: 22, KenPom: 65, NBC seed: 9): The Bonnies avoided a loss to Richmond on Friday night, and that should just about get them into the tournament. Their biggest issue at this point is avoiding the kind of dreadful loss that would hurt their résumé enough to allow some of the other bubble teams to pass them, but it’s hard to see that happening with a date with Davidson appearing likely in the semifinals.

PROVIDENCE (RPI: 35, KenPom: 66, NBC seed: 10): If the Friars weren’t in the dance before today, they are now. They erased a 17-point second half deficit to knock off Xavier, the Big East regular season champs.

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


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.


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.