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Bubble Watch: Who is still in danger of missing the NCAA tournament?

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It’s that time of the year again, which means that we are diving head first into our annual NCAA tournament bubble watch.

The way that I see it, there are 37 teams that can now be considered locks to be an at-large bid. They are listed as ‘IN’ in the conference by conference breakdowns below. Those 37 teams come from eight conferences, which means that, at most, eight of those 37 teams will be automatic bids.

RELATEDBubble Watch | Bracketology | Automatic Bids

Do the match, and that means that with the way things currently stand, there are 29 at-large locks, meaning that there are six available at-large bids to be earned and, by my count, 10 teams with a realistic shot of getting in. Then there are six more —  so 16 teams in total — that can either lock up or earn their at-large bid this week.

That’s how tight things are at the moment.

Dave’s latest bracket can be found here. The full NET rankings can be found here.

So with all that in mind, let’s get into the full NCAA tournament bubble watch:



ACC BUBBLE WATCH

IN: Florida State, Duke, Louisville, Virginia

N.C. STATE (NET: 54, NBC: Play-in game): The Wolfpack picked up the win that they needed by beating Pitt (107) in the second round of the ACC tournament, setting them up for a date with Duke (6) and a chance to just about lock up their at-large bid. They have just four Quad 1 wins, and their 8-10 record against the top two Quads is nothing special. The good news is that Georgia Tech (72) is now a Quad 2 loss, meaning that the Wolfpack now have just the two Quad 3 losses. Their saving grace right now is that 22 point win over Duke in Raleigh, but the truth is that N.C. State is right on the cut-line. They are going to want to win a game in the ACC tournament, and potentially more, if they don’t want to sweat out Selection Sunday.


AMERICAN BUBBLE WATCH

IN: Houston

WICHITA STATE (NET: 41, NBC: First four out): The Shockers closed out the regular season with a win, picking off Tulsa (76) at home by 22 points. Wichita State is now 23-8 on the season, but they only have a pair of low-end Quad 1 road wins, Quad 2 wins over VCU (68) and Oklahoma (46) at home. They don’t have any truly terrible losses, but with just a single top 50 win on the season, I think the Shockers are going to have an uncomfortable Selection Sunday. The fact that they are 9-8 against the top two Quads without a bad loss — depending how you few Temple (116) on the road — is something of a saving grace at this point. I think they need to win a couple of games in the AAC tournament, but I do not see a way that they can get to Selection Sunday feeling comfortable because they cannot get a win against Houston until the title game. They will, however, get Cincinnati in the semifinals, which would likely be a play-in game.

CINCINNATI (NET: 51, NBC: 12): The Bearcats erased a big second half deficit and won on a tip-in at the buzzer at home against Temple (116) on Saturday, a bucket that saved their chances of actually getting into the NCAA tournament. Cincinnati has a pair of Quad 1 wins — Houston (20) at home and Wichita State (41) on the road — and a 9-6 record against the top two Quads. But they have also lost four Quad 3 games. Of note: They are listed as the American champions in Dave’s projection because he assumes the No. 1 seed is the champ until they get knocked out of their league tournament, but I think it is important to note here that both Cincinnati and Wichita State are right on the bubble cut-line. If things play out according to seed, they would get the Shockers in the semifinals. That would likely turn into a play-in game.

MEMPHIS (NET: 58, NBC: Next four out): Memphis lost at Houston (20) to close out the regular season, which means that the Tigers are going to have a lot of work to do in the AAC tournament if they want to be on the right side of the bubble on Selection Sunday. I think Memphis needs to win at least two games to really fell confident about a bid. They have three Quad 3 losses compared to just two Quad 1 wins. It’s doable, but they need to root for all the bubble teams ahead of them to lose.


ATLANTIC 10 BUBBLE WATCH

IN: Dayton

RHODE ISLAND (NET: 57, NBC: Next four out): The Rams avoided disaster when they beat UMass (136) by one on the road on Saturday. At this point, I do not see how the Rams can get an at-large bid without beating Dayton at some point during the Atlantic 10 tournament, but that won’t happen unless they play in the title game. On the other hand, it makes it more likely that they will not need to beat the Flyers in order to get it done.  They only have one Quad 1 win — at VCU (68) — and they also have a Quad 4 loss at Brown (224), and now that their NET is in the high-50s, they no longer have that to hang their hat on, either.

RICHMOND (NET: 38, NBC: First four out): The Spiders closed out their regular season with wins over Davidson (75) at home and at Duquesne (94). They are 3-4 against Quad 1 opponents With just a 6-6 record against the top two Quads. (It’s worth noting here that, as of this posting, Davidson is 75 in the NET. Richmond swept Davidson. The cut-off for Quad 1 road wins and Quad 2 home wins is 75. This is the problem with the sorting tools and relying only on the Quad 1 number. Davidson being ranked 75th and 76th is irrelevant in terms of how good they are, but it changes everything with Richmond’s profile.) They also have a Quad 3 loss, Richmond does not have any margin for error, not with so many teams on the bubble playing their win in over the last couple of weeks. Unfortunately for Richmond, they won’t play Dayton until the Atlantic 10 tournament title game, which eliminates their chance to land that elite win unless it earns them the automatic bid. On the other hand, it makes it more likely that they will not need to beat the Flyers in order to get it done.

SAINT LOUIS (NET: 49, NBC: Next four out): The Billikens are not that far away from the bubble after they won their last five games of the regular season. They are 2-5 against Quad 1 teams, 4-7 against the top two Quads and 15-8 against Quads 1-3. For comparison’s sake, Texas Tech is 10-13 against the top three Quads. Now, the difference is that Tech has some elite wins. Saint Louis won at Richmond (38) and at Rhode Island (57), but their wins over VCU (65) at home and at Kansas State (99) don’t look great. Throw in a Quad 3 loss to Duquesne (94) at home, and Saint Louis has some work to do. I think they need to beat Dayton in the semifinals to get in.


BIG 12 BUBBLE WATCH

IN: Baylor, Kansas, West Virginia, Oklahoma

Texas Tech and Texas play each other in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 tournament on Thursday, which essentially means that will be a play-in game.

TEXAS TECH (NET: 22, NBC: Play-in game): The Red Raiders could not find a way to get a win over Kansas (1) at home on Saturday afternoon, and that means that they are almost assuredly going to have a stressful Selection Sunday. Texas Tech is now 18-13 on the season, but they have just three Quad 1 wins. The win over Louisville (8) is going to hold up really well, and they did pick up a win over West Virginia (17) at home, but with just a 7-13 mark against the top two Quads, I think the Red Raiders are going to want to win at least one Big 12 tournament game. They are 10-13 against Quads 1-3, which is even more worrisome. It would be awfully surprising to see this group end up missing the NCAA tournament, but that might be where we are right now.

TEXAS (NET: 69, NBC: First four out): The Longhorns did all that work, winning five straight games to get themselves right into the middle of the bubble conversation, only to turnaround and get absolutely hammered by Oklahoma State (61) at home. It’s not the end of the world — it’s only a Quad 2 loss, after all — but Texas only has seven total Quad 1 and 2 wins. They do have five Quad 1 wins — including at Texas Tech (22) and Purdue (32) — but that probably won’t be enough. I think they need to win two games in the Big 12 tournament to really feel comfortable on Selection Sunday. One might get the job done, especially since they get Texas Tech in their opener.


BIG EAST BUBBLE WATCH

IN: Seton Hall, Villanova, Creighton, Butler, Providence, Marquette

XAVIER (NET: 45, NBC: Play-in game): The Musketeers lost the game that they couldn’t afford to lose, falling to DePaul in the first round of the Big East tournament, and suddenly this team looks like they are in some real trouble. Xavier has a weird resume. They are now 19-13 overall and 8-10 in the Big East, but they have just three Quad 1 wins and only one win over a top 35 team — at Seton Hall (15). They are 3-11 against Quad 1 opponents, but they make up for that with a 7-2 mark against Quad 2 teams, no bad losses and strong metrics. Their only loss to a sub-40 opponent came at Wake Forest (111). They are not in a comfortable spot.


BIG TEN BUBBLE WATCH

IN: Maryland, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Rutgers

Dave has Indiana as a No. 9 seed and Rutgers as the most comfortable No. 10 seed. For all intents and purposes, he is saying they are a lock. He is the best in the business at this, so I am going to listen to him. They are both in.


PAC-12 BUBBLE WATCH

IN: Oregon, Colorado, Arizona, USC, Arizona State

UCLA (NET: 76, NBC: 11): The Bruins are going to head into the Pac-12 tournament in something of a weird spot after losing at USC (43) at the buzzer on Saturday evening. The Bruins are now sitting at 18-12 on the season with a 12-6 record in the Pac-12 after a rough non-conference season. They have a brutal Quad 4 loss to Cal St. Fullerton (262) and a Quad 3 loss to Hofstra (118), but they also have six Quad 1 wins, including a sweep of Arizona (10) and Colorado (23), and a 9-10 record against the top two Quads. They should be in a good spot, but they are going to be one of the teams that will enter next week needing to win a game or two if they really want to feel good about their at-large chances. They’ll get the winner of Stanford and Cal in the quarterfinals.

STANFORD (NET: 30, NBC: Play-in game): The Cardinal missed on a massive opportunity to land a marquee win at Oregon (12) on Saturday, meaning they are heading into the Pac-12 tournament needing to add something to their resume. They are now 4-7 against Quad 1 opponents, 7-10 against the top two Quads. They also have a Quad 3 loss — at Cal (148) — to their name. It could be worse for Stanford, but I do believe they need to win at least one, and probably two, games in Las Vegas to avoid ending up on the wrong side of the bubble.


SEC BUBBLE WATCH

IN: Kentucky, Auburn, LSU, Florida

ARKANSAS (NET: 47, NBC: Off the bubble): Arkansas kept the dream alive with a win over Vanderbilt in the opening round of the SEC tournament. They have four Quad 1 wins, and while they don’t have any Quad 3 or 4 losses, they do have six Quad 2 losses. With just a 6-12 mark against the top two Quads, I can’t see Arkansas getting into the tournament without a pretty significant run in the SEC tournament. They get South Carolina today.

MISSISSIPPI STATE (NET: 50, NBC: Next four out): The Bulldogs kept the dream alive with a win over Ole Miss (86) in the last game of the regular season. They are currently sitting at 7-9 against the top two Quads with just two Quad 1 wins to go along with a pair of Quad 3 losses. The only team that they have beaten that is currently projected for the NCAA tournament is Florida (33).

TENNESSEE (NET: 63, NBC: Off the bubble): The Vols had some ground to make up heading into this game, and a chance to beat Auburn (35) at home was exactly what they needed to start doing that. But it didn’t work out that way. They lost by 22 points, and at this point I think Tennessee likely needs to either win the automatic bid from the SEC or make a deep run in the SEC tournament.


BUBBLE WATCH FOR EVERYONE ELSE

IN: San Diego State, BYU, Saint Mary’s

NORTHERN IOWA (NET: 36, NBC: First four out): Northern Iowa is in serious trouble now. The Panthers lost to Drake (167) by 21 points, and I’m not sure they did enough this season to be able to survive that loss. UNI has just one Quad 1 win — at Colorado (20) — and they beat South Carolina (63) on a neutral court, but they are 5-3 against the top two Quads. Now, after this loss, they have three Quad 3 losses. I want to see them get an at-large — every one of their non-Quad 1 losses is league game — but there isn’t much else here beyond simply having a 23-6 record. I want to see the Panthers get a shot in the tournament because I’ll always err on the side of the mid-major, but I think that’s a long shot.

The biggest issue is that they are going to be sitting around for a week, watching as the rest of the teams on the bubble go and take their shots at Quad 1 and 2 wins while avoiding the kind of bad loss that they took in their league tournament. We can argue about whether or not that is fair, but it is pointless at the end of the day. UNI probably has not done enough to get in.

2020 NBA Draft Prospect Profile: Saddiq Bey is the most underrated player in this class

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Villanova wing Saddiq Bey is the most underrated prospect in the 2020 NBA Draft class.

At 6-foot-8 and 216 pounds, Bey — a 20-year old sophomore — averaged 16.1 points and shot 45 percent from three for Villanova this past season, but the crux of his potential as a pro actually comes on the other end of the floor.

Bey is one of the most versatile defenders in this year’s draft class. He was the best defender on Villanova this season, a year where the Wildcats finished 36th nationally and second in the Big East in adjusted defensive efficiency, according to KenPom. Throughout the season, he was given the first crack at guarding every opponent’s best perimeter weapon, from Marquette’s Markus Howard to Seton Hall’s Myles Powell to Kansas’ Devon Dotson. He has the length, the agility and the ability to flip his hips, which allows him to keep the quicker guards from turning a corner and beating him to the rim. He’s also able to navigate screens and keeps shooters from getting open looks off of pindowns.

Over the course of the last five years, Villanova has grown into being a program that is known for their ability to develop NBA role players. Part of the reason their alumni have success in the NBA is that Jay Wright loves switching defensively and does not mind having his guys guard bad matchups. That was no different this past season. It’s why I project Bey as a plus-defender in the NBA. It’s not hard to find clips of him walling up against bigger defenders and holding his own in the post. And while he’s not a great rebounder statistically, it’s also not all that hard to find examples of him boxing out much bigger, much better rebounders in front of the rim.

He’s a three that can stay in front of point guards and hold his own against fours in the paint.

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Those are the kind of defenders that you want in the NBA draft, especially when they shoot the ball as well as Saddiq Bey does.

On the season, Bey hit 45 percent of his three while shooting more than five threes per game. He finished the season in the 98th percentile nationally in terms of spot-up shooting, according to Synergy, and he also showed the ability to catch-and-shoot on the move. Villanova’s offense doesn’t feature all that many situations where players run off of pin-downs, but there are a few examples of Bey running off of screens and hitting threes. Playing in Villanova’s system also allowed him to showcase his feel for being able to move with a driver to free himself for a clean look. He’s not year a great shooter off the dribble but that’s something that he can continue to develop with time and work.

The other thing that interests me about Bey is that he does have some ability as a playmaker. He was 5-foot-8 as a freshman and 6-foot-1 at the end of his sophomore season. He was a point guard growing up, and you can see it in his reads as a point guard. He can see when no one tags the roller. He has shown the ability to make cross-court passes off the dribble when a tagger leaves a shooter in the corner. He’s not Trae Young, but he doesn’t need to be to be effective as a 3-and-D wing in the NBA.

Now, there are some real concerns about him and what his ceiling can be because his has a startling lack of burst off the dribble and finishing around the basket. He’s not blowing by anyone. His first step is slow, and his strides are not long. He’s not going to cross up a defender and get to the bucket; one of the weaknesses in his game is that he can get sloppy with his dribble. He’s not a blow-by artist, either, and in theory, that’s fine. The role he’s going to be asked to play in the NBA won’t put him in may isolation situations.

The concern is that he struggled to beat closeouts as well. In the NBA, he’s going to be a floor-spacer with gravity, meaning that his value is in forcing a defender to remain attached because of the threat of his jumper. In order for him to be more than that, he needs to be able to makes defenses pay when they succeed in running him off of the three-point line, and I think there’s an easy fix here.

I mentioned it earlier, but Bey has short strides. You’ll see it in the example below:

Bey is able to use his dribble to get Creighton’s Ty-Shon Alexander, one of the best defenders in the Big East, off balance. He gets his shoulders past Alexander, but his first step after the crossover is a short stride; he needs two dribbles to get from the three-point line to a ten-foot pull-up, and that gives Alexander ample time to contest.

Bey is never going to be an explosive slasher, but putting in the work to lengthen his stride on his first step should make him a more effective player off the bounce.

And when he does that, I don’t see any way that he doesn’t follow in the footsteps of Josh Hart and Donte DiVincenzo — and Ryan Arcidiacono, and Jalen Brunson, and Mikal Bridges, and Eric Paschall — in becoming a good role player that finds a way to last in the NBA.

Saddiq Bey is one of the safest picks in this year’s NBA draft, and given the success Villanova players have, I cannot understand why he isn’t valued higher by the industry.

Matt Haarms decides to leave Purdue, enter transfer portal

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue center Matt Haarms has entered the transfer portal and intends to play his final college season at another school, coach Matt Painter announced Monday.

The slim, 7-foot-3 Haarms was one of the Big Ten’s top defenders and played a key role during the Boilermakers’ 2019 NCAA Tournament run, when he replaced injured center Isaac Haas in the starting lineup.

But Haarms lost the starting job following a hip injury in December and wound up averaging 8.6 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2 blocks per game while shooting 52.4% from the field.

He finished fourth on Purdue’s career list for blocks with 210.

Louisville’s Nwora enters NBA draft after All-America season

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Louisville forward Jordan Nwora has announced on social media that he will enter the NBA draft.

Nwora was selected to The Associated Press All-America third team as a junior. His decision to turn pro was expected after limited participation in last year’s NBA combine because of a knee injury. He returned to the Cardinals and was named Atlantic Coast Conference preseason player of the year before going on to average 18 points and 7.7 rebounds per game while shooting 44% from the field. The 6-foot-7 Nwora was named to the AP’s All-ACC first team.

The Buffalo, New York, native said on his verified Twitter account that the abrupt end to the season was “heartbreaking and awful” because he believed No. 14 Louisville (24-7) was ready to win the NCAA championship. But he noted that community health and safety should be the priority because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Nwora called Cardinal teammates and coaches his family in his post and added, “I will proudly represent Louisville wherever I go.”

Florida guard Scottie Lewis returning for sophomore season

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Florida guard Scottie Lewis, one of the Southeastern Conference’s top defenders, is returning for his sophomore season.

Lewis made the announcement Monday via social media by saying “we have some unfinished business.”

“My dream of playing in the NBA is still a top priority, but my heart is in Gainesville!” he added. “I am excited for the journey that lies ahead. My story hasn’t even started, and trust me the best is yet to come!”

A McDonald’s All-American in high school, the 6-foot-5 Lewis had been considered a one-and-done prospect when he arrived in Gainesville last summer. But his defensive prowess overshadowed his offensive skills for much of his first collegiate season.

The New Jersey native averaged 8.5 points and 3.6 rebounds to go along with a team-leading 36 blocks. He was second on the team with 36 steals.

He was at his best in SEC play, averaging 9.2 points and shooting 43.6% from 3-point range. He scored a career-high 19 points in the team’s regular-season finale against Kentucky. The postseason was canceled amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Gators (19-12, 11-7 SEC) now await word on a pair of sophomores: point guard Andrew Nembhard and versatile forward Keyontae Johnson.

Nembhard entered the NBA draft last year before withdrawing his name and returning for a second season. Johnson led Florida in scoring this season, averaging 14 points, and was second on the team with 7.1 rebounds. He also led the team with 38 steals.

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More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

College Basketball’s 2020 Coaching Carousel

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The college basketball coaching carousel is rolling for the 2020 offseason. Keep up to date on the college basketball hot seat and college basketball coaching changes this spring.

To help keep track of all of the movement, CBT has created this page to stay up to speed.

As the offseason continues, and new hires are made, we’ll update this list with every coaching change.

Be sure to follow our Twitter account @CBTonNBC for the latest college basketball news and notes.

THE 2020 COACHING CAROUSEL

High Major College Basketball Coaching Carousel

NONE YET

Mid Major College Basketball Coaching Changes

AIR FORCE

  • OUT: Dave Pilipovich

One of college basketball’s toughest jobs has opened up. Pilipovich spent just over nine seasons with the Falcons, 110-151 record. Air Force only made one CIT appearance during Pilipovich’s tenure — never finishing higher than sixth in conference play.

  • IN: Joe Scott

Air Force went back to Joe Scott as head coach. Scott is a 16-year veteran who previously coached the Falcons from 2000 through 2004. During the 2003-04 season, Scott led Air Force to the NCAA tournament. After the season, Scott departed to coach at Princeton, his alma mater. Scott also spent nine seasons as the head coach at Denver.

ALABAMA STATE

  • OUT: Lewis Jackson

Following 15 seasons at the helm, Lewis Jackson resigned as head coach. An accomplished alum at the school, Jackson made two NCAA tournament appearances and an NIT. But the Hornets haven’t made the postseason since a CIT berth in 2014, struggling to only eight wins in three of the past four seasons.

ALCORN STATE

  • OUT: Montez Robinson

Alcorn State announced they wouldn’t be renewing the contract of head coach Montez Robinson after five seasons. Things appeared promising for Robinson early in his tenure. The Braves had back-to-back second-place finishes in the SWAC and a notable 18-14 finish in 2016-17. Things didn’t sustain, however, as Alcorn State struggled to stay at .500 the next three seasons.

CENTRAL ARKANSAS

  • OUT: Russ Pennell

Pennell took a leave of absence from the program on Dec. 16th, and three weeks later the two sides “agreed to part ways.” UCA was 1-9 on the season when Pennell took his leave of absence. Under interim head coach Anthony Boone, the Bears have gone 9-11 with a 9-10 record in the Southland.

  • IN: Anthony Boone 

The interim tag was lifted from Anthony Boone as he’s the new head coach at UCA. A five-year associate head coach with the program before taking over at midseason in 2019-20, Boone was solid down the stretch. The Bears were 9-13 and a notable 7-3 at home once Boone took over.

EVANSVILLE

  • OUT: Walter McCarty

Just 18 months into his tenure with the Purple Aces, McCarty was placed on administrative leave in December and was eventually fired in January after multiple incidents of what was termed “inappropriate conduct” by McCarty. At the time, Evansville was 9-4 on the season with a win over then-No. 1 Kentucky in Rupp Arena.

  • IN: Todd Lickliter

Lickliter has since been hired as his replacement. He had been the head coach at Butler and Iowa back in the 00’s, and was hired by McCarty as an assistant coach when he got the job. Evansville has lost their last 18 games and became the only team in college basketball history to beat the No. 1 team in the country and go winless in league play in the same season.

GEORGIA SOUTHERN

  • OUT: Mark Byington

Head coach Mark Byington took the James Madison job after a successful seven-year stint. Byington led Georgia Southern to four 20-win seasons and a CBI appearance during his tenure. The past three seasons, the Eagles had 20-win campaigns, so Byington’s consistency will be missed.

  • IN: Brian Burg

Texas Tech assistant coach Brian Burg is taking over at Georgia Southern. Burg spent the past four seasons with the Red Raiders under head coach Chris Beard. Burg also spent time at Campbell, North Carolina Central and Little Rock.

GRAND CANYON

  • OUT: Dan Majerle

To date, Grand Canyon is probably the best job that has opened up during the carousel. He had been the head coach there for seven season, but never won a league title or earned a bid to the tournament. It’s a program that has money, plays in a league that can be won and has a desire to invest in the hoops program. Their homecourt is absolutely electric. Rick Pitino has been a name that has been linked with the job this offseason.

  • IN: Bryce Drew

After taking the year off to do television, Bryce Drew is back on the sidelines. The former Valparaiso and Vanderbilt head coach gets a fresh chance to lead an up-and-coming program. Drew’s energetic presence should fit in nicely at Grand Canyon, a program that’s developed a tremendous homecourt environment  with an underrated fanbase. Drew had success recruiting McDonald’s All-Americans to a place like Vanderbilt. It’ll be fascinating to see the type of talent he can draw to Grand Canyon.

IDAHO

  • OUT: Don Verlin

Verlin was fired over the summer after 11 seasons in Moscow following the disclosure of NCAA violations that were committed during his tenure. Verlin had a 177-176 record as the Idaho head coach.

  • IN: Zac Claus

Claus has acted as the interim coach since the change was made over the summer, and last month he was officially named head coach. The Vandals are 7-22 this season and currently sitting at 3-15 in the Big Sky.

ILLINOIS-CHICAGO

  • OUT: Steve McClain

McClain was let go after five seasons with the Flames. He went 18-17 this season, a disappointing record given the talent he had at his disposal. He had finished above .500 in league play for each of the last three years.

  • IN: Luke Yaklich

UIC made a notable local hire with former Texas and Michigan assistant Luke Yaklich. Credited with being one of college basketball’s up-and-coming assistants, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, Yaklich returns to the Land of Lincoln. Yaklich was a successful high school coach in the Chicagoland area and previously was an assistant at Illinois State as well.

IONA

  • OUT: Tim Cluess

Cluess was one of the best and most consistent mid-major coaches in college basketball, and he opted to step down from Iona due to the health problems that have kept him off of the sideline for much of this season. This is a good job, one that is going to attract some relatively big names. The early favorites for the role are Rick Pitino and former assistant Jared Grasso.

  • IN: Rick Pitino

The most shocking hire of college basketball’s offseason is already done. Rick Pitino is back in the college game. After spending time away from basketball and joining a Greek pro team, the former national champion head coach takes over the Gaels. Pitino is an iconic name in the sport, a legendary coach and a master recruiter. Seeing what a hungry Pitino is capable of at Iona will be one of the 2020-21 season’s more intriguing mid-major subplots.

JAMES MADISON

  • OUT: Louis Rowe

James Madison is moving on from an alum. Rowe only lasted four seasons as head coach. Going 43-85 overall and 21-51 in CAA play, the Dukes never finished higher than seventh in the conference under Rowe. Rowe’s ouster was the least-surprising move during this college basketball coaching carousel.

  • IN: Mark Byington

The Dukes were able to pluck Mark Byington from Georgia Southern to be their new head coach. In seven seasons with the Eagles, Byington had four 20-win seasons and a CBI appearance. The past three seasons, Byington led Georgia Southern to 20-win seasons.

LOYOLA MARYMOUNT

  • OUT: Mike Dunlap

Veteran coach Mike Dunlap is out after six seasons with the program. Things looked positive with a semifinal appearance in the CBI last season before the Lions finished only 11-21 this season. It was the only postseason appearance for Loyola Marymount in six years. Dunlap finished with an 81-108 record.

  • IN: Stan Johnson

Marquette associate head coach Stan Johnson has been tabbed as the new Loyola Marymount coach. Spending the past five years with the Golden Eagles, Johnson helped Marquette to multiple NCAA tournament appearances. Johnson has also been an assistant with Arizona State, Drake, Utah and Cal State Northridge.

NORTHERN COLORADO

  • OUT: Jeff Linder

The Bears will seek a new head coach after Linder left for the Wyoming job. In four seasons, Linder turned Northern Colorado into a consistent winner. The program has three straight 20-win seasons and back-to-back 15-5 records in Big Sky play. Postseason success also came thanks to a CIT title in 2018. Linder made a strong mark in just four seasons and will be tough to replace.

  • IN: Steve Smiley

Northern Colorado promoted Steve Smiley to replace Linder. An associate head coach with the Bears since 2016, Smiley also spent time as an assistant at Weber State. Smiley also brings experience from the JUCO ranks as well. Replacing Linder will be tough. But Smiley’s presence on Linder’s staff means he’s seen the program’s recent formula to success.

SAMFORD

  • OUT: Scott Padgett

Following six seasons at Samford, the program moved on from former Kentucky star Scott Padgett. It seemed like Padgett had things going in the right direction with a 20-win season and CIT appearance in his third season. But the Bulldogs never came close to achieving those benchmarks in Padgett’s final three seasons. Padgett is a former assistant under Manhattan coach Steve Masiello and also spent time at Samford before getting the head job.

  • IN: Bucky McMillan

Samford turned to the local high school ranks to fill its head-coaching vacancy. Mountain Brook High School coach Bucky McMillan takes over the Bulldogs after a 12-year run and five state titles. McMillan isn’t a typical hire but he’s run a winning program before.

SOUTHEAST MISSOURI STATE

  • OUT: Rick Ray

The school announced the removal of head coach Rick Ray on March 3rd. In five years with the Redhawks, Ray never found his footing, going 51-104 overall and 27-59 in OVC play. The former Mississippi State head coach has spent time as an assistant at Clemson, Purdue, Northern Illinois and Indiana State.

  • IN: Brad Korn

SEMO is turning to the Big 12 for its new head coach. Brad Korn has spent the past five seasons under Bruce Weber’s staff at Kansas State — the past four as an assistant coach. Korn has also spent considerable time as an assistant coach at Southern Illinois and Missouri State.

TARLETON STATE

  • OUT: Chris Reisman

Stepping down as men’s basketball coach due to a promotion, Reisman is remaining with Tarleton State. Reisman will serve in an administrative role as assistant athletic director after two seasons as head coach. Tarleton transitions into Division I this season as a member of the WAC.

  • IN: Billy Gillispie

Returning to the Division I level is the controversial former Kentucky and Texas Tech head coach. Gillispie spent the past four seasons as coach and athletic director at Ranger College in the junior college ranks. Gillispie took Ranger to back-to-back tournaments the past two seasons.

UAB

  • OUT: Rob Ehsan

Ehsan replaced Jerod Haase as the head coach of the Blazers. But after four years, he was let go. Ehsan finished at .500 or above in every season that he was in charge, winning 20 games twice and finishing with a record of 76-57 and 38-34 in league play. The overwhelming favorite to replace him is Andy Kennedy, an alum and a former assistant at the school.

  • IN: Andy Kennedy

After a two-year hiatus, Andy Kennedy is back on the sidelines. The former Ole Miss boss is returning to his alma mater with this decision. Following 12 years with the Rebels, Kennedy resigned and spent the past two seasons in the broadcast booth. Although Kennedy has a notable 266-169 mark as a head coach, he only has two NCAA tournament appearances in 13 seasons as a head coach. The Big Dance will be the benchmark Kennedy will be expected to achieve at UAB.

UNC WILMINGTON

  • OUT: C.B. McGrath

McGrath was relieved of his duties as UNCW head coach in mid-January after the program got off to a 5-14 start to the season, losing their first six games in CAA play. In two and a half years at the helm of the Seahawks, McGrath had a 26-60 overall record and a 10-32 mark in league play. Assistant coach Rob Burke was named the interim head coach.

  • IN: Takayo Siddle

The Seahawks went back to Kevin Keatts with their hire to replace McGrath, grabbing Siddle, who is currently an N.C. State assistant coach, to take the program over. Keatts brought them to two NCAA tournaments in three years before leaving for Raleigh and being replaced by McGrath.

WESTERN ILLINOIS

  • OUT: Billy Wright

Head coach Billy Wright will not have his contract renewed for the 2020-21 season, the school announced March 3. Over six seasons, the former assistant at the school went 53-115 overall with a 20-74 mark in Summit League play.

  • IN: Rob Jeter

Returning to the head-coaching ranks is Jeter. The former Milwaukee head coach amassed a 184-170 mark in 11 seasons with the school, making two NCAA tournament appearances. Jeter has most recently spent time as an assistant at Minnesota and UNLV.

WESTERN MICHIGAN

  • OUT: Steve Hawkins

After 17 seasons as head coach, and 20 overall at the school, Steve Hawkins is out at Western Michigan. The veteran head coach’s contract will run out and not be renewed. Hawkins finishes with two NCAA tournament appearances and a 291-262 at Western Michigan.

  • IN: Clayton Bates

Western Michigan opted to promote associate head coach Clayton Bates to be the program’s new head coach. Bates has been an assistant with the Broncos on-and-off since 2000 as he brings plenty of experience with the program.

WYOMING

  • OUT: Allen Edwards

Things changed quickly at Wyoming under Edwards. His first season, Wyoming claimed the CBI and won 23 games. The second season made it back-to-back 20-win seasons. Years three and four saw Wyoming only win 17 total games. The Cowboys saw the program plummet the past two seasons.

  • IN: Jeff Linder

Wyoming moved quickly to secure Northern Colorado’s Jeff Linder as the Cowboys’ next head coach. Linder is coming off of a strong four-year stretch with the Bears. Following a rebuild, Linder helped the Bears to three straight 20-win seasons — including a CIT title in 2018. Linder was an impressive 48-28 in Big Sky play during his tenure at Northern Colorado.