Bubble Banter: Xavier, Wisconsin land massive wins for their bubble standing

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Best I can tell, there are 23 teams in action on Saturday sitting somewhere between the 10 seed line and within reach of getting into the NCAA tournament.

Let’s talk about them.

Bubble Banter!

Dave Ommen’s latest bracket can be found here. The full NET rankings can be found here. A full bubble breakdown is right here.

WINNERS

XAVIER (NET: 63, NBC: Next four out): It’s impossible to overstate just how important Saturday’s win at Seton Hall (14) is for Xavier. The Musketeers entered the day with a 13-8 record, but just a 1-7 mark against Quad 1 opponents. Their only Quad 1 win enter the day came at TCU (65). Their only top 50 win entering the day came against Georgetown (49) at home. They didn’t have anything close to resembling a marquee win, and now they do. With two games left against Butler (8) and a visit from Villanova (13) left on their schedule, the Musketeers still have a couple of more chances, too. They’ll probably want to win at least one of those, and they certainly aren’t a lock just yet, but this is precisely the kind of win that chances the calculus for their tournament chances.

WISCONSIN (NET: 31, NBC: 10): The Badgers had quite the eventful week. They lost at Iowa on Monday. They had one starter quit the team on Wednesday after skipping Monday’s game. They had another starter get suspended for punching an opponent below the belt in that Monday loss. Then they went out and knocked off Michigan State (7) in the Kohl Center on Saturday. The Badgers are 6-7 against Quad 1 opponents, and while they are 13-9 with a Quad 3 loss to their name, a lot has to happen for them to miss the tournament at this point.

STANFORD (NET: 28, NBC: First four out): The Cardinal snapped a three-game losing streak by landing their first Quad 1 win of the season, beating Oregon (15) at home. With a pair of Quad 3 losses on their resume and just a 4-3 record against the top two Quads, Stanford still has work to do to feel good about their place on the bubble, but with the mountain road trip coming up next week, this was close to a must-win. They got it done.

CINCINNATI (NET: 51, NBC: Off the bubble): Cincinnati has turned their season around. Entering Saturday, they have won three in a row and five of their last six. The problem is that they have dug themselves a pretty significant hole to get out of. They entered Saturday without so much as a top 60 win, let alone a Quad 1 win, and they have three Quad 3 losses to their name. They need to start building out a resume, and given that they play in the AAC — a league without a top 30 team in the NET — they cannot miss on chances like this. And they didn’t, coming back from 12 down in the second half to beat Houston (35) at home. That is still just a Quad 2 win, but it’s a start.

TULSA (NET: 69, NBC: Off the bubble): The Golden Hurricane are doing everything they can to put themselves in a position to get an at-large bid to the tournament. On Saturday, they got a buzzer-beating three from Elijah Joiner to knock off Wichita State (32) in Tulsa. They are now sitting in sole possession of first place in the American. They still are without a Quad 1 win, but sitting at 4-4 against the top two Quads helps offset a Quad 3 and a Quad 4 loss.

BYU (NET: 29, NBC: 10): The Cougars knocked off Saint Mary’s (33), 81-79, at home on Saturday, a win that should put them in really, really good position to get an at-large so long as they avoid any terrible losses. They are 5-7 against Quad 1 and 2 opponents, and while four of those five wins are against Quad 2 opponents, that’s misleading. Saint Mary’s is three spot away from being a Quad 1 win. Virginia Tech (53) and Utah State (54) on neutral courts will be Quad 1 wins if they end up being top 50 by the end of the season. BYU is legit, and they should probably get in the tournament.

MEMPHIS (NET: 50, NBC: 10): The Tigers won their second game in a row on Saturday, as they picked off UConn (88) at home. Beating the Huskies doesn’t do much for the Tigers’ resume, but given the way that this season has gone for the Tigers, every win counts. They still don’t have a top 50 win on the season and are just 1-3 against Quad 1 opponents.

MISSISSIPPI STATE (NET: 42, NBC: Play-in game): The Bulldogs have now won two games in a row and five of their last six after beating Tennessee in Starkville on Saturday. With a pair of Quad 3 losses on their resume, and Arkansas (38) dropping down to just a Quad 2 win after losing to South Carolina (76) at home last week, Ben Howland’s club can hardly afford another slip-up. Keep winning, keep moving up the seed list.

TEXAS (NET: 64, NBC: Off the bubble): The Longhorns did what they needed to do this week by beating TCU (65) on the road and knocking off Iowa State (72) at home. They now head into the most important three-game stretch of their season — at Kansas (3), Texas Tech (30), Baylor (1) — with some confidence. They probably should win at least one, if not two of those to feel good about where they are heading into the stretch run.

ARIZONA STATE (NET: 57, NBC: First four out): The Sun Devils ended up splitting the road trip to the Washington schools, which could have been worse considering the fact that U-Dub (48) is a Quad 1 win still. That’s the second Quad 1 win for the Sun Devils, who are now 6-8 against the top two Quads. They’ve put themselves in a good position to get a bid.

PURDUE (NET: 37, NBC: Off the bubble): The Boilermakers did what they needed to and won at Northwestern on Saturday. Purdue’s biggest issue at this point is how many losses they’ve stacked up. They’re 12-10 overall and 2-8 against Quad 1 opponents, and seven of their final nine games are Quad 1 games. That doesn’t include home games against Michigan (34) or Indiana (46). It’s just a brutal, brutal schedule.

FLORIDA (NET: 42, NBC: 10): The Gators did not lose to Vanderbilt on Saturday, which is a good thing. Florida’s computer numbers are strong, but after losing to Mississippi State (42) at home earlier this week, their overall resume is pretty bland. They have home wins over Auburn (26) and Alabama (40), but their only road win came at South Carolina (76) and their three neutral site wins are against teams that look unlikely to get to the tournament. It’s enough to get them a bid, but not a seed that you would expect from a team as good as the Gators were supposed to be.

LOSERS

NORTH CAROLINA (NET: 93, NBC: Off the bubble): Just when we thought that the Tar Heels were going to be able to rally with Cole Anthony back in the mix, they go out and lose at home to Boston College with Cole on the floor. That dream is over.

ALABAMA (NET: 40, NBC: Play-in game): The bad news for Alabama is that they lost at home to Arkansas (38), a game that would have been the kind of Quad 2 win they need to continue to bolster their resume. With just one Quad 1 win to their name, the Crimson Tide need all the help they can get right now. The good news? Penn (151) has played their way into being a Quad 3 loss.

N.C. STATE (NET: 56, NBC: Play-in game): The Wolfpack got smoked at home by Louisville (10) on Saturday, their third straight loss. They now head out on the road for their next three games before returning home to play Duke (6) and Florida State (16). For a team with a 13-8 record, two Quad 1 wins and two Quad 3 losses, that is not an ideal situation.

DEPAUL (NET: 59, NBC: First four out): The Blue Demons lost another heart-breaker, blowing yet another lead and falling at Marquette (22), 76-72. They are now just 1-8 in the Big East, and while the rest of their resume looks pretty good, we’ve reached the point where the losses are just piling up too much. They have to sweep Xavier (61) and at Georgetown (49) next week if they want a real shot at this.

SYRACUSE (NET: 60, NBC: Off the bubble): The Orange fell to 13-9 on the season with a loss at home to Duke (9) on Saturday. That’s now back-to-back losses for Jim Boeheim’s team after they had won five games in a row. They do have three Quad 1 wins, but they have yet to beat a single top 50 team this season.

UTAH STATE (NET: 54, NBC: Off the bubble): The Aggies lost at San Diego State (1) on Saturday, which might seal their fate as an NIT team barring an automatic bid. Wins over LSU (19) and Florida (42) are nice, but with three road losses to sub-95 teams and no more chances to land marquee wins, how are they going to make up for those losses?

TENNESSEE (NET: 62, NBC: Next four out): The Vols are now 12-9 on the season with three Quad 2 losses and a Quad 3 loss on their resume after losing to Mississippi State (43) on the road on Saturday. With just two Quad 1 wins, neither of which came against a top 30 opponent, Tennessee is backing themselves into a corner. The good news? They still play eight Quad 1 games, and that doesn’t include Florida at home. The Vols can survive this if they get hot, but that’s starting to look like a pretty big ‘if’.

VIRGINIA TECH (NET: 53, NBC: Next four out): Virginia Tech lost their third straight game and their fourth in five games on Saturday as they hosted Florida State (16) and lost 74-63. This was one of just three chances that Mike Young’s team had left on their schedule to land resume-changing wins, and the other two come on the road against Duke (6) and Louisville (10). The Hokies are in a tough spot.

TCU (NET: 65, NBC: Off the bubble): The Horned Frogs lost their third straight game and their first in the last six games on Saturday, but it’s understandable — they were playing at Baylor (1). They are still without a Quad 1 win and are now 3-7 against the top two Quads. They have quite a bit of work to do.

WASHINGTON (NET: 47, NBC: Off the bubble): Washington lost again on Saturday, this time at home against Arizona State (56). They’ve now lost five in a row, seven of eight and nine of 11. They’re 12-11 overall and 2-8 in the Pac-12 and play their next three games on the road. They’re off the bubble for now.

Kentucky’s Tionna Herron recovering from open-heart surgery

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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky coach Kyra Elzy says freshman Tionna Herron is recovering from open-heart surgery to correct a structural abnormality.

The 6-foot-4 post player learned of her condition after arriving at school in June and received other opinions before surgery was recommended. Senior trainer Courtney Jones said in a release that Herron underwent surgery Aug. 24 at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston and is recovering at home in DeSoto, Texas.

Elzy said Herron “is the definition of a warrior” and all are grateful to be on the other side of the player’s surgery. Herron is expected back on campus early next month and will continue rehabilitation until she’s cleared to return to normal activity.

“Her will and determination to eventually return to the court is inspiring, and it’s that `game-on’ attitude that is what makes her such a perfect fit in our program,” Elzy said in a release. “We are so thrilled for Tionna’s return to our locker room; it’s not the same without our full team together.”

Herron committed to Kentucky during last fall’s early signing period, rated as a four-star prospect and a top-70 player in last year’s class. Kentucky won last year’s Southeastern Conference Tournament and reached the NCAA Tournament’s first round.

Emoni Bates charged with 2 felonies

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SUPERIOR TOWNSHIP, Mich — Emoni Bates, a former basketball prodigy who transferred to Eastern Michigan from Memphis, was charged with two felonies after police found a gun in a car during a traffic stop.

The 18-year-old Bates failed to stop at an intersection Sunday night and a search turned up the weapon, said Derrick Jackson, a spokesman for the Washtenaw County sheriff’s office.

Defense attorney Steve Haney told The Associated Press that the vehicle and the gun didn’t belong to Bates.

“I hope people can reserve judgment and understand there’s a presumption of innocence,” Haney said. “This was not his vehicle. This was not his gun. … We’re still gathering facts, too.”

Bates was charged with carrying a concealed weapon and altering identification marks on a firearm. He was released after his lawyer entered a not guilty plea. Bates’ next court hearing is Oct. 6.

“This is his first brush with the law,” Haney said in court. “He poses no threat or risk to society.”

Less than a month ago, the 6-foot-9 Bates transferred to Eastern Michigan to play for his hometown Eagles. Bates averaged nearly 10 points a game last season as a freshman at Memphis, where he enrolled after reclassifying to skip a year of high school and join the class of 2021.

“We are aware of a situation involving one of our student athletes,” EMU spokesman Greg Steiner said. “We are working to gather more details and will have further comment when more information is available.”

Bates was the first sophomore to win the Gatorade national player of the year award in high school basketball in 2020, beating out Cade Cunningham and Evan Mobley. Detroit drafted Cunningham No. 1 overall last year, two spots before Cleveland took Mobley in the 2021 NBA draft.

Bates committed to playing for Tom Izzo at Michigan State two years ago, later de-committed and signed with Memphis. Bates played in 18 games for the Tigers, who finished 22-11 under Penny Hardaway. Bates missed much of the season with a back injury before appearing in Memphis’ two NCAA Tournament games.

In 2019, as a high school freshman, the slender and skilled guard led Ypsilanti Lincoln to a state title and was named Michigan’s Division 1 Player of the Year by The Associated Press. His sophomore season was cut short by the pandemic and he attended Ypsi Prep Academy as a junior, his final year of high school.

UConn to pay Kevin Ollie another $3.9 million over firing

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STORRS, Conn. — UConn announced Thursday it has agreed to pay former men’s basketball coach Kevin Ollie another $3.9 million to settle discrimination claims surrounding his 2018 firing.

The money is in addition to the more than $11.1 million in back salary Ollie has already been paid after an arbitrator ruled in January that he was improperly fired under the school’s agreement with its professor’s union.

“I am grateful that we were able to reach agreement,” Ollie said in a statement Thursday. “My time at UConn as a student-athlete and coach is something I will always cherish. I am pleased that this matter is now fully and finally resolved.”

Ollie, a former UConn point guard who guided the Huskies to a 127-79 record and the 2014 national championship in six seasons as head coach, was let go after two losing seasons. UConn also stopped paying him under his contract, citing numerous NCAA violations in terminating the deal.

In 2019, the NCAA placed UConn on probation for two years and Ollie was sanctioned individually for violations, which the NCAA found occurred between 2013 and 2018. Ollie’s attorneys, Jacques Parenteau and William Madsen, accused UConn of making false claims to the NCAA for the purpose of firing Ollie “with cause.”

The school had argued that Ollie’s transgressions were serious and that his individual contract superseded those union protections.

Ollie’s lawyers had argued that white coaches, including Hall-of-Famers Jim Calhoun and women’s coach Geno Auriemma, had also committed NCAA violations, without being fired, and indicated they were planning to file a federal civil rights lawsuit.

The school and Ollie said in a joint statement Thursday they were settling “to avoid further costly and protracted litigation.”

Both sides declined to comment further.

Ollie, who faced three years of restrictions from the NCAA on becoming a college basketball coach again, is currently coaching for Overtime Elite, a league that prepares top prospects who are not attending college for the pros.

Dream’s McDonald returning to Arizona to coach under Barnes

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TUCSON, Ariz. — Atlanta Dream guard Aari McDonald is returning to Arizona to work under coach Adia Barnes.

The school announced that McDonald will serve as director of recruiting operations while continuing to fulfill her WNBA commitments. She will oversee all recruiting logistics, assist with on-campus visits, manage recruit information and social media content at Arizona.

McDonald was one of the best players in Arizona history after transferring from Washington as a sophomore. She was an All-American and the Pac-12 player of the year in 2020-21, leading the Wildcats to the national championship game, which they lost to Stanford.

McDonald broke Barnes’ single-season scoring record and had the highest career scoring average in school history before being selected by the Dream with the third overall pick of the 2021 WNBA draft.

South Carolina, Staley cancel BYU games over racial incident

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COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina and women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley have canceled a home-and-home series with BYU over a recent racial incident where a Cougars fan yelled slurs at a Duke volleyball player.

The Gamecocks were scheduled to start the season at home against BYU on Nov. 7, then play at the Utah campus during the 2023-24 season.

But Staley cited BYU’s home volleyball match last month as reason for calling off the series.

“As a head coach, my job is to do what’s best for my players and staff,” Staley said in a statement released by South Carolina on Friday. “The incident at BYU has led me to reevaluate our home-and-home, and I don’t feel that this is the right time for us to engage in this series.”

Duke sophomore Rachel Richardson, a Black member of the school’s volleyball team, said she heard racial slurs from the stands during the match.

BYU apologized for the incident and Richardson said the school’s volleyball players reached out to her in support.

South Carolina said it was searching for another home opponent to start the season.

Gamecocks athletic director Ray Tanner spoke with Staley about the series and supported the decision to call off the games.