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There were no bubble snubs this year, but Syracuse over USC, Oklahoma State is perplexing


The NCAA almost got it perfect.

Almost every team decision they made was totally and completely justifiable.

They left out Saint Mary’s, a 28-5 team out of the WCC that simply refuses to schedule anyone. They left out a USC team that, like Louisville, just did not have enough really good wins on their résumé to justify inclusion. They put the likes of UCLA, Oklahoma, Arizona State and St. Bonaventure into the field.

For the most part, I think the committee almost got all of the teams right.


Except for Syracuse.

The Orange, according to NCAA Selection Committee Chair Bruce Rasmussen, were the last team into the tournament field. They got in just ahead of Notre Dame, who was the team that got knocked out on Sunday morning by Davidson winning the Atlantic 10’s automatic bid.

And I’m sorry Syracuse fans, but I just don’t get the argument for this one. Syracuse had four Quadrant 1 wins — Clemson (11), Buffalo (25), at Miami (288) and at Louisville (38) and a 7-11 mark against the top two Quadrants with two Quadrant 3 losses. When compared with some of the teams that were left out, it just doesn’t make all that much sense to me.

Unless, of course, you’re the selection committee and you value things like the RPI and SOS. The Orange have a much, much better RPI than both Baylor and Oklahoma State (45 vs. 68 vs. 88). Their SOS is 16th. USC’s is 57th. Their best win is better than Middle Tennessee State’s. That’s where the logic has to lie.

And to be frank, I don’t think anyone here got “snubbed”. I do not pity Saint Mary’s at all. They were a tournament team last season returning a senior-laden lineup with an all-american at center and they scheduled no one and lost to Washington State, Georgia and San Francisco. Randy Bennett did this to himself again. If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, then Bennett is clinical.

INSTANT ANALYSIS: East | South | Midwest | West

Baylor lost 14 games. Oklahoma State won some impressive games — they swept Kansas! — but that RPI of 88 is tough to get around. That, combined with a non-conference SOS in the 290s cost them. It is what it is.

Middle Tennessee State lost a couple dumb games down the stretch. Louisville didn’t beat anyone in the top 50 of the RPI. Marquette is … whatever.

The only team that really has an argument to me is USC. Their RPI is 34. They had a top 60 non-conference SOS. They went 6-5 on the road, which included wins at Utah, at Oregon and at Colorado; anyone that follows the Pac-12 knows how hard it is to win at the mountain school. But their best wins were Middle Tennessee State and New Mexico State on a neutral court while they had that awful home loss to Princeton, albeit without a couple of role players.

So I get it.

I wouldn’t have gone that way myself, but no one on the bubble really has that strong of an argument. At the end of the day, the committee went with the résumé that had the least amount of horrible on it.

Here is how the bubble played out:

LAST FOUR IN: UCLA, St. Bonaventure, Arizona State, Syracuse

FIRST FOUR OUT: Notre Dame, Baylor, Saint Mary’s, USC

NEXT FOUR OUT: Marquette, Oklahoma State, Middle Tennessee, Louisville

Ohio State grabs five-star 2019 point guard D.J. Carton

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Ohio State landed one of the biggest commitments so far this summer on Saturday as five-star Class of 2019 point guard D.J. Carton pledged to the Buckeyes.

The 5-foot-11 Carton burst onto the national recruiting scene this spring as he went from a relative unknown into a five-star prospect. Although Carton doesn’t play on a major shoe-company circuit he impressed national scouts and college coaches with his play during the April live evaluation period with Quad Cities Elite — the same program that produced quality college players like Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ and Montana State’s Tyler Hall.

An explosive athlete who can play above the rim, Carton showed a high amount of upside during the USA Basketball U18 tryouts in June as he competed against many of the top players in his class.

Ohio State is landing a key piece at an opportune time as they now have a lead guard of the future to help build around. Carton is only the third five-star prospect to commit from the Class of 2019 so far, as he’s the No. 17 overall prospect in the Rivals national rankings. Carton joins in-state four-star wing Alonzo Gaffney in the Buckeyes’ 2019 recruiting class as Ohio State has the makings of a potential top 10 recruiting class.

With where Ohio State was last summer, with head coach Chris Holtmann taking the job in June and the roster lacking scholarship players, the Buckeyes have had a monster turnaround in the last 14 months. Ohio State now, once again, looks like a scary team when it comes to recruiting as they should be a major factor for some elite prospects.

Alabama lands four-star wing Juwan Gary

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Alabama added a quality wing to its Class of 2019 recruiting haul on Friday as four-star Juwan Gary pledged to the Crimson Tide.

The 6-foot-5, 200-pound Gary has been a known national prospect since his freshman season as the South Carolina native is an athletic two-way wing who thrives in the open court. Although Gary still needs to polish up his jumper, he has the potential to be an impact player in the SEC, especially if Alabama gets him going in transition.

Gary joins four-star forward Diante Smith in the Crimson Tide recruiting class in 2019 as now head coach Avery Johnson and his staff can focus more of their efforts on adding to a potentially strong class. Pulling Gary out of South Carolina — especially in light of recent NCAA tournament success from in-state programs like South Carolina and Clemson — is an impressive recruiting win for Alabama.

Former UCLA guard Billy Knight was facing child molestation charges before suicide

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Former UCLA guard Billy Knight, who took his own life earlier this week, was arrested in June for sexually abusing a nine-year old girl, according to court documents that were obtained by The Mercury News.

The alleged assaults occurred in April of 2017 and Knight was reportedly arrested in Arizona in June. He was being charged with two counts of sexual conduct with a minor, two counts of sexual abuse, and two counts of molestation of a child.

Knight posted a video to YouTube prior to his death saying that he had lived a life of “sin”.

Jalek Felton signs pro contract in Europe

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Jalek Felton’s college basketball career is over.

The former North Carolina point guard has signed a pro contract with Olimpija Lubiana, a club team in Slovenia, they announced.

“I’m happy to join a club like Petrol Olimpija,” Felton said in a statement. “This is a club with a rich tradition, where many NBA players have begun their careers. For me, this is a big step. I know that this will be a great challenge for me and I am ready to go there and work. My agent told me that Olimpija will play in various competitions and that makes me all the more pleased. Playing in such competitions with Olympia in Europe will prepare me for playing in the NBA. The city looks nice and I heard that basketball there is a religion, so this will be an interesting experience.”

Felton, the nephew of former UNC guard Ray Felton, was a five-star prospect that played in 22 games as a freshman with the Tar Heels. But he was suspended from the program in January and, in March, withdrew from school.

He averaged just 2.9 points in his one season in Chapel Hill.

Creighton lands local 2019 commit

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Omaha isn’t exactly thought of as a high school basketball hot bed, but Creighton has had success mining its hometown for talent in recent years, most notably in recent NBA draft picks Justin Patton and Khyri Thomas.

The Bluejays went back to the well Thursday by securing the commitment of Shereef Mitchell, a 6-foot guard from local Burke High School, he announced via social media.

“Being a kid from Omaha you dream of playing for Creighton and in front of the hotown fans,” Mitchell wrote. “That is something I want to do  and I don’t want to turn that opportunity down.

“I can’t wait to play in front of my family, friends and the best fans in the world!”

Burke was offered by Greg McDermott’s staff just earlier this week, adding to a list of offers that included Bradley, Loyola Chicago and South Dakota State.

Burke recently graduated from his Omaha high school, but will reclassify to 2019 after spending a season with Sunrise Christian in Wichita, Kan.

“I really feel like I will be a way better player than what I am right now after my year at Sunrise,” Mitchell told the Omaha World-Herald. “I think I could have a shot at being an impact player right away and possibly starting after a year there.”

Burke averaged 24.6 points and 3.8 assists per game as a high school senior, earning state player of the year honors in the process. He’s hoping to extend the line of Omaha products to thrive at Creighton.

“I’m a kid from Omaha, and getting an offer from Creighton is something kids dream of and it would be hard for me to pass up,” Mitchell told the World-Herald. “Seeing players like Khyri Thomas and Justin Patton, two kids from (Omaha public schools) that are in the NBA, it gives you hope that you can do the same thing.”