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Bubble Banter: A rant about Wofford and paying attention to what the NET is telling us

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February is here!

And now that we are nearly halfway through conference play, it is time for us to get fully invested in the “who’s-in-who’s-out” discussion. Bubble Banter has never been more important!

Some quick housekeeping before we dive into it:

  • This page will be updated throughout the night. 
  • We’ll update them best that we can, but the NET rankings will be accurate through Thursday morning. 
  • If you see something we missed, if you have an issue with a team we left out or if you want to congratulate us on a job well done, drop a comment below or hit us up here: @RobDauster.
  • This morning, our Dave Ommen released an updated bracket. It is the only bracket you need to be up to date on. 

Onto Thursday’s action.

As of this very moment, Wofford is a top 30 team in the NET rankings, and that is before they play a road game at East Tennessee State (65) on Thursday night, a mid-major battle between two of the SoCon’s best that could play a major role in whether or not the Terriers get an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.

The issue with Wofford this year, the reason why they are not ever going to be viewed as a lock for the NCAA tournament, is because of the lack of high-end wins on their resume. They only have one Q1 win, they haven’t beaten any teams ranked in the top 50 in the NET and they are just 4-4 in Q1 and Q2 games. Even with a Q1 win over ETSU on Thursday, they will only have two Q1 wins to their name, and both of them came on the road against league opponents. They have beaten South Carolina on the road, but the Gamecocks are not currently a top 100 team.

Put another way, Wofford does not have a marquee win.

This brings me to a point that I think we haven’t discussed enough, but one that has to be considered in a year like this when evaluating the dregs of the bigger leagues vs. the powerhouse mid-majors.

When the Selection Committee is evaluating programs that don’t get a dozen chances at Q1 wins, they should feel an obligation to put more stock into where those teams are slotted in the NET, especially if they are ranked as high as Wofford (29) — or Buffalo (23), or Lipscomb (31), or Utah State (33) — is ranked. Those mid-major programs are not going to get anywhere near the same number of chances to pick off the big boys that teams in power conferences will. Their resume is not going to look anything like the resume of, say, Oklahoma, or Indiana, or N.C. State. High-majors are going to get chance after chance after chance to land Q1 and Q2 wins, and it is because of their conference affiliation.

Wofford won’t.

Which is why the selection committee has to heavily weigh the NET. I know that metric was meant as a sorting tool, but the point of that sorting is so that we can accurately determine just how good a win is, no? So if Wofford is considered a better win than Kansas State, Baylor, N.C. State, Ohio State, Nebraska, Texas, St. John’s, TCU (should I go on), then doesn’t that mean we should consider them a better team?

If that’s not what the NET is saying, then please, enlighten me.

As long as there is a committee of human beings in a room picking out who is the best team based on the quantity of quality wins on a resume, mid-major teams are never going to get a fair shake. That is the entire point of having metrics that are built efficiency-based and scheduled-adjusted. It is the great equalizer. It allows us to compare what Wofford is doing in the SoCon to what Florida is doing in the SEC in ways that our puny human brains can’t comprehend.

The NCAA invested all this money in coming up with a metric to determine, as accurately as possible, who the best teams in college basketball are.

They should probably pay attention to it when it’s telling them these mid-major teams are really damn good.

WINNERS

WOFFORD (NET: 29, SOS: 128): The Terriers kept their at-large hopes alive by knocking off ETSU on the road. That is now two Q1 wins, with their only losses coming to high-major tournament teams.

OHIO STATE (NET: 35, SOS: 42): The Buckeyes tried to give this one away. In the final minute, Penn State’s go-ahead basket with 33 seconds left was waived off for coming after the shot clock and the game-tying layup with 19 seconds left rolled off of the rim. The Buckeyes are in good shape right now. They have three Q1 wins — all of which came on the road — and while they had a bit of a losing streak to start Big Ten play, their worst loss is at Rutgers (124), which is just a Q2 loss.

LOSERS

ARIZONA STATE (NET: 61, SOS: 63): You have got to be kidding me. Not only did Arizona State lose the game they couldn’t afford to lose, they got run out of their own gym. By Washington State. Who ranks 230th in the NET, a Q4 loss as bad as any that you’ll see for a team on the bubble to couple with Q3 home losses to Utah (91) and Princeton (159). We had Arizona State as a No. 9 seed entering the day, and I’d probably still have them in without being in a play-in game now, but this is the kind of loss that can drop them multiple seed lines, it’s that bad.

Take it away Khaled:

INDIANA (NET: 44, SOS: 41): After snapping their seven-game losing streak by going into East Lansing and picking off Michigan State, the Hoosiers followed that up by … taking a loss at home to Iowa in a game they never led in the final 30 minutes. The Hoosiers continue to have a resume that makes no sense. They have already played 11 Q1 games, and while they’ve lost eight of them, the Hoosiers also have a trio of wins that can match anyone — at Michigan State (9), Louisville (15), Marquette (21). They are 5-10 in Q1 and Q2 games and their worst loss — at Rutgers (124) — is just a Q2 loss.

The truth is that Indiana’s tournament future is going to be determined by whether or not they can fully turn this thing around. They actually played better against Iowa, but they missed some shots on critical second half possessions that stalled their comeback. We’ll see where this leads, but I do think that Indiana is still pretty comfortably in the tournament as of today.

ARIZONA (NET: 64, SOS: 66): After losing at home to Washington on Thursday, Arizona has now lost four in a four and five of their last six. They have just one win against a top 70 team — Iowa State (13) in Maui — and sit here today with a 4-9 record against Q1 and Q2 opponents. The biggest issue is that this was the last time that the Wildcats play a top 60 team, and their only two remaining Q1 games are road games against the Oregon schools, who are currently sitting outside the top 70.

UCF (NET: 42, SOS: 119): The Knights missed out on another chance to land a Q1 win, dropping a home game to Houston (7) in a game that wasn’t as close as the 77-68 final. It’s simple for UCF: they have the resume of a mid-major team. They are 0-2 against Q1 opponents, they are 3-4 in Q1 and Q2 games and their best win is Alabama (45) at home. Oh, and should I mention the Q4 home loss to FAU (166)?

SAN FRANCISCO (NET: 50, SOS: 138): It was probably a stretch keeping the Dons in bubble contention entering today, but after a loss at Gonzaga on Thursday night — their third straight loss — USF now officially needs to win the automatic bid to dance.

Nike ‘working to identify issue’ that caused Zion Williamson’s shoe to blow out

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Nike released a statement on Thursday saying that they are “working to identify the issue” that caused the left shoe of Duke star Zion Williamson to burst open, leading to the 285 pound freshman to slip and injure his right knee.

“We are obviously concerned and want to wish Zion a speedy recovery,” Nike said in a statement obtained by ESPN. “The quality and performance of our products are of utmost importance. While this is an isolated occurrence, we are working to identify the issue.”

The injury was termed a “mild knee sprain” by Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski after the game.

“The knee is stable,” he added. “We don’t know how long he’ll be out.”

Nike stock dropped 1% the morning after the incident.

No. 1 Duke lost 88-72 to No. 8 North Carolina at home on Wednesday evening after the injury, which occurred just 30 seconds into the game.

Dan Patrick Show: Should Zion Williamson end Duke career after knee injury?

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Duke’s Zion Williamson faces a tough decision following a scary knee injury against North Carolina: try and return for March Madness or rest up for the NBA.

DAUSTER | Zion should do whatever makes him happy

Dan Patrick Show: Nike stock drops after Zion shoe incident

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After Zion Williamson blew out his shoe, Nike stock dropped a full one percent the morning after.

Bracketology: The Zion Williamson factor for Duke

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The pertinent question this morning is the health of Zion Williamson.  Foremost, because he’s an exceptional talent and life is bigger than basketball.

The secondary component is how his injury impacts Duke – both on the court and, subsequently, the Blue Devils’ standing on the Seed List.

If last night were the eve of Selection Sunday, the Committee would be forced to make a tough decision: evaluating Duke while Zion’s future availability is unknown.

Since a decision related to today’s bracket had to be made quickly in the wee hours of the morning with little information, Duke stays put, largely because the Blue Devils own a season sweep of Virginia, and two of its losses occurred with less than a full roster.

Once we know more about Zion’s status, further review will ensue.

BRACKET UPDATE: February 21, 2019

FIRST FOUR – DAYTON
SOUTH REGION Temple vs. Alabama
MIDWEST REGION UCF vs. Utah State
EAST REGION ST. FRANCIS (PA) vs. CANISIUS
WEST REGION NORFOLK ST vs. PRAIRIE VIEW

EAST Washington, DC   SOUTH – Louisville                   
Columbia Columbus
1) DUKE 1) Virginia
16) ST. FRANCIS / CANISIUS 16) LEHIGH
8) Ole Miss 8) Auburn
9) Ohio State 9) WOFFORD
Jacksonville Salt Lake City
5) Iowa State 5) Maryland
12) BELMONT 12) Temple / Alabama
4) LSU 4) Texas Tech
13) OLD DOMINION 13) LIBERTY
Hartford Hartford
6) Louisville 6) Villanova
11) Florida 11) VCU
3) MARQUETTE 3) Purdue
14) YALE 14) TEXAS STATE
Des Moines Columbus
7) BUFFALO 7) Cincinnati
10) Texas 10) TCU
2) Michigan 2) Kentucky
15) LOYOLA-CHICAGO 15) NORTHERN KENTUCKY
WEST – Anaheim MIDWEST – Kansas City
Salt Lake City Columbia
1) GONZAGA 1) TENNESSEE
16) PR VIEW / NORFOLK ST 16) SAM HOUSTON ST
8) Baylor 8) St. John’s
9) Minnesota 9) Syracuse
San Jose San Jose
5) Florida State 5) KANSAS STATE
12) NEW MEXICO ST 12) UCF / Utah State
4) NEVADA 4) Wisconsin
13) HOFSTRA 13) VERMONT
Tulsa Tulsa
6) Virginia Tech 6) Iowa
11) Seton Hall 11) Arizona State
3) Kansas 3) HOUSTON
14) UC-IRVINE 14) SOUTH DAKOTA ST
Des Moines Jacksonville
7) WASHINGTON 7) Mississippi State
10) NC State 10) Oklahoma
2) MICHIGAN STATE 2) North Carolina
15) MONTANA 15) RADFORD

BUBBLE NOTES
Last 4 Byes Last 4 IN      First 4 OUT Next 4 OUT
TCU Temple Clemson Nebraska
Seton Hall UCF Georgetown UNC-Greensboro
Arizona State Utah State Butler Lipscomb
Florida Alabama Furman Dayton

TOP SEED LINE: Duke is the No. 1 overall seed, followed by Virginia, Tennessee, and Gonzaga

Breakdown by Conference …

ACC (8): DUKE, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida State, Louisville, Virginia Tech, Syracuse, NC State

Big 10 (8): MICHIGAN STATE, Michigan, Purdue, Wisconsin, Maryland, Iowa, Ohio State, Minnesota

BIG 12 (8): KANSAS STATE, Kansas, Texas Tech, Iowa State, Baylor, Texas, Oklahoma, TCU

SEC (8): TENNESSEE, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Auburn, Florida, Alabama

Big East (4): VILLANOVA, Marquette, St. John’s, Seton Hall

American (4): HOUSTON, Cincinnati, Temple, UCF

Pac 12 (2): WASHINGTON, Arizona State

Mountain West (2): NEVADA, Utah State

Southern (1): WOFFORD

Atlantic 10 (1): VCU

Mid American (1): BUFFALO

West Coast (1): GONZAGA

ONE BID LEAGUES: Loyola-Chicago (MVC), Canisius (MAAC), Old Dominion (C-USA), Texas State (SBELT), Yale (IVY), Montana (BSKY), Northern Kentucky (HORIZON), Sam Houston (SLND), UC-Irvine (BWEST), Liberty (ASUN), Belmont (OVC), Hofstra (CAA), Radford (BSO), Norfolk State (MEAC), South Dakota State (SUM), New Mexico State (WAC), Vermont (AEAST), Lehigh (PAT), St. Francis (PA) (NEC), Prairie View (SWAC)

Report: Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim hits, kills pedestrian on highway

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Jim Boeheim struck and killed a pedestrian walking outside of his car on I-690 on Wednesday night, just hours after his Syracuse Orange beat No. 18 Louisville at the Carrier Dome.

The man — identified as 51-year old Jorge Jimenez of Syracuse — was in a car with four other people that lost control on the highway, struck a guard rail and came to rest in the middle of the road, according to police. At some point, he got out of the car and was walking along the highway, which is when Boeheim hit him as he tried to avoid the disabled vehicle, which was in the road.

“I am heartbroked that a member of our community died as a result of last night’s accident,” Boeheim said in a statement released on Thursday afternoon. “Juli and I extend our deepest sympathies to the Jimenez family. Out of respect for those involved, I will not be providing further comment at this time.”

The incident occurred at 11:22 p.m. ET.

Boeheim remained at the scene and is cooperating with the investigation. He was given a field sobriety test at the scene and police determined that he was not impaired at the time. Speeds could not be determined, according to police, but Onondaga County District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick told WSYR that Boeheim was driving at the proper speed for a highway.

“We are saddened by the death of a member of our Central New York community,” Syracuse AD Jim Wildhack said. “On behalf of Chancellor Kent Syverud and the entire Syracuse University community, we extend our deepest condolences to all impacted by this tragic accident. Coach Boeheim is in contact with local authorities and cooperating fully. Out of respect for those grieving, there will be no further comment at this time.”