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Bubble Banter: Objective, mathematically-correct evidence that the bubble sucks

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Here is our most recent bracket projection.

I spent some time on the podcast this week lamenting how week the bubble is this season and how this year, more than any other year that I can remember, the bubble is particularly atrocious.

You can hear that around the 18:00 mark below.

But I wanted to elaborate on it, because I found some data that can back this up more than just anecdotally.

Torvik, which is a college hoops analytics database similar to KenPom and KPI, has a metric that he calls “bid%” that, based on things like the NET, a team’s resume and their power rating, determines a number that projects how likely it is that team will get into the NCAA tournament. It’s not a crystal ball, but it is a way to objectively compare and contrast just how good teams are, year over year, on the bubble.

So let’s take a look at it, shall we?

In 2018, there were three teams with a bid% of at least 69 that did not receive an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament and five total with a bid% over 45 that were relegated to the NIT: USC (75.4), Louisville (69.3), Saint Mary’s (69.3), Middle Tennessee (47) and Marquette (45.1).

If the tournament started today, there would be as many as five projected at-large teams with a bid% under 45.

Now, some of that depends on teams like Nevada, Gonzaga, Wofford and VCU winning their automatic bid, which would eliminate bid thieves from the equation. Assuming that does happen, the bid%s for the last five teams projected by NBC Sports to receive at-large bids to the tournament this season are: Seton Hall (38), Butler (20.8), UCF (52), Oklahoma (68.1) and Temple (15.7). Georgetown (5.9) and UNC Greensboro (9.7) are projected as the first two teams out.

There’s your objective evidence.

The bubble, mathematically speaking, sucks.

To the action:


ST. JOHN’S (NET: 49, SOS: 64): The Johnnies picked up another Q2 win on Tuesday, beating Butler in overtime at home. They re now 4-4 against Q1 and 4-1 against Q2 with a pair of Q3 losses. As of today, they are in a pretty good spot, but they’ll get their last shot as beating one of the Big East’s elite on Sunday when they host Villanova.

BUFFALO (NET: 22, SOS: 95): I’ve put Buffalo in the conversation here simply because they play in a league where a loss would really hurt them, and one of their big wins during non-conference play — at West Virginia — has become pretty unremarkable. The Bulls have some margin for error, but not as much as they did two months ago.


ALABAMA (NET: 43, SOS: 23): The Crimson Tide got smoked on the road by Mississippi State on Tuesday night, dropping them to 2-6 in Q1 games. They do have six Q2 wins, but a trio of Q3 losses weighs their profile down. A win over Kentucky is going to hold value the rest of the season, however, and Avery Johnson’s team will get two more chances at Q1 wins at home in the last week of the season.

ARKANSAS (NET: 62, SOS: 44): When you’re trying to make up ground on the bubble, the last thing you want to do is lose to a team like Missouri, but that’s exactly what the Razorbacks did on Tuesday night. That said, a win at LSU is going to look even better after LSU won at Kentucky, but just two Q2 wins is not going to be enough. For comparison’s sake, Alabama has two Q1 wins and six Q2 wins. Arkansas has just three Q1 and Q2 wins total.

BUTLER (NET: 53, SOS: 29): Butler missed on a great chance to add another Q1 win to their resume on Tuesday night when they lost in overtime at St. John’s. As it stands, they just don’t have much at the top end of their profile to talk about. Butler is 1-7 against Q1 — with the one being a neutral court win over a Florida team that beat them by 34 on the road — and they lost to Georgetown at home. Winning at either Marquette or Villanova is a requirement.

TEXAS (NET: 33, SOS: 7): Texas fell at home to Kansas State (27) in a game that would have been really nice for their resume. As it stands, the Longhorns are now 14-11 overall and 6-6 in the Big 12. The fact that they have four Q1 wins (including North Carolina, Purdue, Kansas and at Kansas State by 20) and have playing the No. 7 schedule in the country helps. Their remaining schedule is: Oklahoma State, at Oklahoma, at Baylor, Iowa State, at Texas Tech, TCU. I think 3-3 will be enough to get them in, even with a loss in the Big 12 tournament. Are you ready for a 15 loss Big 12 team to dance? Because it’s probably going to happen.

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

SOUTH REGION Temple vs. Alabama

EAST Washington, DC   SOUTH – Louisville                   
Columbia Columbus
1) DUKE 1) Virginia
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
Hartford Hartford
6) Louisville 6) Villanova
11) Florida 11) VCU
3) MARQUETTE 3) Purdue
Des Moines Columbus
7) BUFFALO 7) Cincinnati
10) Texas 10) TCU
2) Michigan 2) Kentucky
WEST – Anaheim MIDWEST – Kansas City
Salt Lake City Columbia
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
Tulsa Tulsa
6) Virginia Tech 6) Iowa
11) Seton Hall 11) Arizona State
3) Kansas 3) HOUSTON
Des Moines Jacksonville
7) WASHINGTON 7) Mississippi State
10) NC State 10) Oklahoma
2) MICHIGAN STATE 2) North Carolina

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


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.”