Bubble Banter: It was not a good night for bubble teams

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There is plenty of action happening on the bracketology bubble watch despite it being a relatively slow night for college hoops.

Dave Ommen’s latest bracketology can be found here. Rob Dauster’s Bubble Watch can be found here. The full NET rankings can be found here.

Here is everything you need to know to.

THE BUBBLE WATCH WINNERS …

UTAH STATE (NET: 48, NBC: Next four out): Utah State landed a better-than-the-metrics-say win at Colorado State (95) on Tuesday, which ensures they still are in the mix. Wins over LSU (27) and Florida (45) 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? They don’t play another top 90 team the rest of the season. I don’t see how they can get in without beating San Diego State (1) in the MWC tournament. I’m leaving them here for now because Dave is better than me at this and he says they’re one of the next four out.

N.C. STATE (NET: 61, NBC: First four out): The Wolfpack landed their third Quad 1 win of the season by going into the Carrier Dome and picking off Syracuse (65) on Tuesday night. N.C. State has just one win over a top 50 team, but they do have a pair of Quad 1 wins and a home win over Wisconsin (33). Two Quad 3 home losses weigh things down, but they’ll earn their tournament bid in the next three games: they have to go on the road to Boston College (141) before hosting Duke (6) and Florida State (16) next week.

VIRGINIA (NET: 54, NBC: 11): Virginia landed an overtime win over Notre Dame (51) on Tuesday night, their fourth win in the last five games and their fifth win in the last seven games. The Wahoos are now 16-7 overall with a 6-5 mark against the top two Quads thanks to this win. The problem is they have just a pair of Quad 1 wins to go along with two Quad 3 losses. Perhaps the biggest issue is that UVA has just two potential Quad 1 wins left on their schedule. They can’t afford slip-ups.

TENNESSEE (NET: 68, NBC: Off the bubble): The Vols landed another solid win on Tuesday, picking off Arkansas (38) at home by 21 points. I’m not going to sugar coat it: This is a team with a lot of ground to make up. But the Vols play a tough schedule down the stretch, getting Auburn (14) twice, Kentucky (21) on the road, Arkansas on the road and Florida (45) at home. They need to get hot.

… AND LOSERS

MISSISSIPPI STATE (NET: 41, NBC: Play-in game): The Bulldogs took a loss they really couldn;t afford on Tuesday night, losing by 25 points at Ole Miss in a game they led by 13 in the first half. This is a problem because Mississippi State has two Quad 3 losses and just a single Quad 1 win, which came at Florida (45). Making matters worse is the fact that they only have one more potential Quad 1 win left on their regular season schedule, and it’s against an Arkansas (38) team that is fading awfully fast.

ARKANSAS (NET: 38, NBC: 10): After getting smoked by Tennessee (69) on the road on Tuesday, the Razorbacks have now lost three in a row, four of their last five and six of their last eight. They have two Quad 1 wins and are currently sitting at 4-7 against the top two Quads with a Quad 3 loss at home to South Carolina. They do have good computer numbers and have won four games on the road this season, but they have just one win over a top 60 team, and it’s at Alabama (42). The biggest issue, however, is the fact that this group has lost Isaiah Joe and had star guard Mason Jones get benched. Can they actually turn it around?

RHODE ISLAND (NET: 36, NBC: 10): In a battle for first place in the Atlantic 10, Rhode Island lost at Dayton (5) on Tuesday night. No shame in that, and the truth is that URI’s resume is currently strong enough to withstand it. They’re 18-6 overall and they have just one Quad 1 win, but they are 6-5 against the top two Quads. The loss to Brown (231) is ugly, but as long as URI avoids the landmines on their schedule, I think they can get an at-large even with a loss to Dayton at home in March.

PURDUE (NET: 26, NBC: 9): Purdue has such a weird resume. They have four Quad 1 wins and seven wins against the top two Quads. They’ve blown out some very good teams in their own building. They’ve also been blown out a number of times, including on Tuesday night by Penn State (20) in Mackey Arena. They are 14-11 overall and they still play six of their seven remaining games against teams in the top 35 of the NET. This is what is important to note, with that in mind: The most losses we’ve ever seen for an at-large team is 15, and teams that are not at least four games above .500 rarely get in. Indiana, for example, was 19-16 on Selection Sunday with six Quad 1 wins and three Quad 2 wins and did not get in. Those losses add up eventually.

SYRACUSE (NET: 65, NBC: Off the bubble): The Orange lost at home to N.C. State (61) on Tuesday night, dropping them to 14-10 overall and just 7-6 in a weak ACC. Syracuse has just two Quad 1 wins and has not beaten a top 50 team this season. They have, however, lost to Virginia Tech (79) at home, a Quad 3 loss. With just a 4-9 mark against the top two Quads, it’s time to take Syracuse out of the bubble conversation until they do something like, oh I don’t know, win at Florida State (15) or Louisville (7) in the next eight days?

Kentucky moves scrimmage to Eastern Kentucky for flood relief

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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky will play its annual Blue-White men’s basketball scrimmage in Eastern Kentucky to benefit victims of the devastating summer floods.

The school announced that the Oct. 22 event at Appalachian Wireless Arena in Pikeville will feature a pregame Fan Fest. Ticket proceeds will go through Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief.

Wildcat players will also participate in a community service activity with local organizations in the relief effort.

Kentucky coach John Calipari said the team was excited to play for Eastern Kentucky fans and added, “We hope we can provide a temporary escape with basketball and community engagement.”

The scrimmage traditionally is held at Rupp Arena. It will occur eight days after its Big Blue Madness public workout at Rupp.

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.