NCAA

2018 Bubble Watch: Oklahoma is moving to the edge, Louisville back in contention

2018 Bubble Watch: Oklahoma is moving to the edge, Louisville back in contention

There are so many teams circling around the bubble in 2018, which is both a good and a bad thing. Right now they have four teams sitting on the bubble, including yes Oklahoma. Still, most projections have six to eight teams from the conference in the tournament.

Only Florida moved completely to the good side of the tournament bubble of the teams in last week’s bubble watch.  However, Utah, Georgia, LSU, and Temple all moved to bad side of the bubble. Additionally Bobby Hurley’s Arizona State has slipped to the top of the bubble along with Alabama.

READ MORE: BRACKETOLOGY ROUND-UP, VIRGINIA TECH CONTINUES TO CLIMB AND MID-MAJORS HAVE THE EDGE

Oh and if a mid-major favorite loses in their conference tournament, all sorts of madness will ensue around the bubble.

Of the teams listed, they are battling for roughly 10 spots in the field of 68.

All rankings and records are as of Thursday, March 1 at 12:00 pm

Arizona State (19-9, 7-9 Pac-12)
RPI: 40     BPI: 44      KenPom: 38   SOS: 56
Once safely in the field of 68, the Sun Devils have started to slip because of recent results. Three straight losses, one to a team trying to hop above .500 is pulling Arizona State down. Without that Kansas or Xavier victory, they might be in big trouble. 

Alabama (17-13, 8-9 SEC)
RPI: 59     BPI: 53      KenPom: 58   SOS: 10
A four-game losing streak has the Crimson Tide heading in the wrong direction. Relying on one of the best strength of schedules in the country, Alabama likely needs one or two more wins to feel comfortable on Selection Sunday.

Oklahoma (17-12, 7-10 Big 12)
RPI: 36     BPI: 43      KenPom: 46    SOS: 13
The Sooners stay on the bubble watch this week despite their win over Kansas State ending a six-game losing streak. The Wildcats are another team sitting on the bubble and their win only seems to give them an edge in head-to-head comparison. They followed that with a 23-point loss to Baylor in Waco, where the Sooners never showed up. Oklahoma could very well be in the play-in round of the Big 12 tournament. They’re still probably in the dance, but by no means are they comfortable.

St. Mary’s (CA) (27-4, 16-2 WCC)
RPI: 37     BPI: 23      KenPom: 23     SOS: 165
Their atrocious non-conference schedule is really hurting them now. The Gaels can only afford one loss now and that is to Gonzaga in the WCC Championship.

Kansas State (20-10, 9-8 Big 12)
RPI: 62      BPI: 50     KenPom: 47     SOS: 74
Back-to-back losses on the road to two NCAA tournament teams does not hurt the Wildcats, but they are in a tough position to win games in the Big 12 tournament. Senior night against Baylor is vitally important for Kansas State.

Providence (18-12, 9-8 Big East)
RPI: 42     BPI: 73      KenPom: 72     SOS: 18
Not much movement from the Friars this week. A loss to a non-ranked team though may bump them off the bubble.

Baylor (18-12, 8-9 Big 12)
RPI: 56     BPI: 35      KenPom: 29     SOS: 20
There are so many Big 12 teams left on the bubble that at least one of them will be left on the outside. Their domination, especially Jo Lual-Acuil Jr.’s, over Oklahoma may be enough to keep them inside the tournament, for now.

St. Bonaventure (23-6, 13-4 A10)
RPI: 21     BPI:  57     KenPom: 67     SOS: 84
A triple overtime thriller against Davidson reminded everyone how fun the Atlantic 10 conference once was. Even though they escaped, the Bonnies cannot afford a loss until the A10 Tournament Championship.

USC (21-9, 12-5 Pac-12)
RPI: 31     BPI: 45      KenPom: 41     SOS: 43
Despite Chimezie Metu’s involvement in the FBI probe he helped the Trojans get a key bubble victory over Utah. It also officially moved the Utes off of the bubble. They’re in a decent position, but the ‘Quadrant 1 victories’ category is nearly empty for the Trojans. If Rhode Island, Nevada, or Middle Tennessee State lose in their conference tournaments, USC may be a team that is hurt the most.

MORE NCAA: VT HEAD COACH TELLS FANS TO ‘QUIT CUSSING’ IN GAME

Louisville (19-10, 9-7 ACC)
RPI: 38     BPI: 33      KenPom: 34     SOS: 30
Its going to be interesting to see what the committee decides with Louisville. A second win over Virginia Tech now gives them three wins over potential NCAA Tournament teams. However, they are in the powerful ACC and do not have a single bad loss.

Syracuse (18-12, 7-10 ACC)
RPI: 49     BPI: 52      KenPom: 53     SOS: 16
The Orange lost to Boston College and probably saw their NCAA hopes go up in smoke. Even with Tyus Battle going off in the last half of the season, Syracuse has to make an ACC tournament run to even be considered now.

Texas (17-13, 7-10 Big 12)
RPI: 61     BPI:  41     KenPom: 43     SOS: 21
A spirited battle at Kansas without Mo Bamba, did nothing to move the Longhorns up or down on the bubble watch. They need another strong win to get in.

UCLA (19-10, 10-7 Pac-12)
RPI: 54     BPI: 60      KenPom: 56     SOS: 58
The Bruins desperately needed two wins against Utah and Colorado on the road and got neither of them. Barring a run in the Pac-12 tournament, UCLA will not be in the tournament this season. But hey, they got Shareef O’Neal.

BIG TEN TOURNAMENT: BRACKET, PREVIEW, PREDICTION

Other teams:

Marquette (17-12, 8-9 Big East)
RPI: 64     BPI: 48      KenPom: 49     SOS: 28

Nebraska (22-9, 13-5 Big Ten)
RPI: 57     BPI: 59      KenPom: 50     SOS: 99

Washington  (19-10, 9-7 Pac-12)
RPI: 51     BPI: 108   KenPom: 93     SOS: 48

Utah (18-10, 10-7 Pac-12)
RPI: 58     BPI: 80      KenPom: 63     SOS: 59

NC State (20-9, 10-6 ACC)
RPI: 46     BPI: 47      KenPom: 39     SOS: 55

Mississippi State (21-9, 9-8 SEC)
RPI: 67     BPI: 63      KenPom: 59     SOS: 92

 

Games to Watch This Week:

No. 1 Virginia vs. Louisville 3/1 – 8:00 pm

No. 20 West Virginia at Texas 3/3 – 12:00 pm (ESPN)

Alabama at Texas A&M 3/3 – 2:00 pm (ESPN2)

Baylor at Kansas State 3/3 – 2:00 pm (ESPN)

No. 18 Clemson vs. Syracuse 3/3 – 2:00 pm

Creighton vs. Marquette 3/3 – 2:30 pm

Louisville at. NC State 3/3 – 6:00 pm (ESPN)

UCLA at USC 3/3 – 10:15 (ESPN)

Maryland's Serrel Smith Jr. is transferring, taking another depth hit

Maryland's Serrel Smith Jr. is transferring, taking another depth hit

Maryland sophomore guard Serrel Smith Jr. will transfer the team announced on Tuesday. Without him, the Terps have completely lost more guard depth from last season. 

Smith played in 27 games last season off of the bench. In only eight minutes of action a game, he scored 40 points total on 56 shot attempts. 

He will have to sit a year unless the 6-foot-4 guard obtains a waiver. Smith will have two years left of eligibility left. 

"I want to thank Maryland and Coach Turgeon for these past two years - they've been nothing but amazing," Smith said in a school release. "My time at Maryland was filled with memories and relationships that I will always cherish! After careful consideration, I have decided to enter my name into the NCAA transfer portal and explore my options."

The Terps were already extremely thin at the point guard position before the announcement of Smith's decision to transfer. As a four-year starter, Cowan held the point guard position down for several seasons without much need for depth on the bench. Even in a limited capacity, Smith did not show that he could rise to be a starter next season. 

Eric Ayala ran some sets last year at the point and is likely going to be the starter next season. Primarily, he has been the two-guard in his two years with Maryland. Ayala as the point guard will allow Darryl Morsell and Aaron Wiggins to be on the floor at the same time. 

Point guard was a position that Turgeon and his staff were heavily targeting in the grad transfer market. In each instance, they missed out on bringing one to College Park.

Two incoming freshmen, Aquon Smart and Marcus Dockery, who signed their letter of intent could also provide some relief at the position according to Verbal Commits. Neither should be expected to rise to be a starter in their first year.

Smith is the third Terp to transfer this offseason. The fifth since the start of the 2019-20 season. 

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Ranking Mac McClung's transfer options from best to worst

Ranking Mac McClung's transfer options from best to worst

There were several options on the table for Mac McClung when he entered the transfer portal. So many that his first list to narrow down the field of teams he is considering was seven. 

Seven is too many for any fan base to try and get their hopes up on landing the 6-foot-2 combo guard. Likely, as is the trend, he will likely cut that list in half before his commitment announcement. 

But, not each school offer is weighed the same. There are benefits for McClung at one school that the others might not offer. Playing time and his role are surely going to be factors. Considering he just entered the NBA Draft process, he probably wants a program that will get him to that level. 

To try to predict where he would go, let's consider the reasons why the sophomore left Georgetown. He was the guy for the Hoyas - a Big East program with a former NBA player as a coach. This is no mid-major star trying to get more attention. The spotlight was on McClung and the connections he had could continue to build under Patrick Ewing. Getting recognition might not be as strong as you would typically see from other transfers. 

When McClung announced his intent to transfer, his noted concern was wanting to be a part of a family and help the team succeed. In his two years with Georgetown, there was massive turnover among the players. Transfers, top players graduating early, everything. 

Having the team succeed is another aspect. All Georgetown had to show was an NIT appearance during McClung's time on the Hilltop. Likely, the team was going in the opposite direction next season.

Lastly, given his size and abrupt decision to leave the Hoyas, NBA scouts likely will want McClung to develop more as a point guard. He's too small and not consistent enough of a shooter to play as a shooting guard.

This reasoning would provide more explanation into why he wanted to leave the Hoyas, more than just a minor riff with Ewing. With Jahvon Blair, the addition of a grad transfer and a high school recruit coming in, they were set at that spot. Minutes at the point were likely going to be limited for McClung.

Keep in mind as well, McClung will have to sit a year unless he gets a waiver, which is not expected. 

1. Texas Tech

Spotlight: Moderate
Family Environment: Fair
Winning Outlook: Very High
Need a Point Guard: Yes

Texas Tech has emerged as a consistent top 25 threat every season. Before the cancelation of the tournament, they had made the Elite Eight in back-to-back seasons and were the runner-ups in 2019. Head coach Chris Beard has this program in the right direction and will likely be a contender for years to come.

In Lubbock, McClung will not have to be the best player on the roster. Although, the talent isn't too high where McClung can't emerge as the guy again. The Red Raiders have established themselves as a transfer destination, which does take a hit in the family environment. But it also shows that they would welcome McClung with open arms. 

Beard also has the experience of turning guards into NBA prospects, with Jahmi'us Ramsey and Jarrett Culver.

In two years they will need a PG, whether Ramsey leaves for the draft this season or the next. McClung could find all of his needs at Texas Tech.

2. BYU

Spotlight: Moderate
Family Environment: Good
Winning Outlook: High
Need a Point Guard: Yes

Last season BYU surprised many as a legitimate contender in the national landscape of college basketball. With their new head coach Mark Pope, the veteran team was thought to contend for a run in the NCAA Tournament. 

Many of the faces from that squad have left, though point guard Alex Barcello will still have his senior year. But they are in a position to be just as good next year by adding Purdue transfer Matt Haarms.

Barcello will be gone by the time McClung suits up. And Pope able to keep a big core of players in his first season is a huge nod to him creating a family environment. 

Of course, BYU is not a Power 5 school and will not get the same attention as Georgetown. Nevertheless a good landing spot for McClung to thrive.

3. Memphis

Spotlight: Moderate
Family Environment: Unknown
Winning Outlook: Moderate
Need a Point Guard: Perhaps

Penny Hardaway has only been the coach of the Tigers for only two seasons, so it is hard to gauge some areas that we've associated with McClung. Still, Memphis has instantly attracted stars and is projecting upward for the next few years. 

None of the key figures on the roster have stayed there for two seasons, and the ones that have are underclassmen. The family environment is hard to grade. But, the team does not appear to be fully set at the point guard spot.

Going to the Tigers could be a little bit of a risk without much set in stone, but it still could bode well for McClung. 

4. Arkansas

Spotlight: Moderate
Family Environment: Unknown
Winning Outlook: High
Need a Point Guard: Unlikely

First-year head coach Eric Musselman has yet to firmly establish himself in the SEC. As a new coach, there were a lot of transfers out of the program so another situation where it is hard to determine what the environment is like. 

On the floor, the team showed promise and potential to have a good tenure under Musselman. They likely will have another good season and will trend upward in the foreseeable future. 

In the SEC he'll get attention and could be the best player on the Razorbacks. Where it gets murky though is that they are out of scholarships to offer according to VerbalCommits. Someone will have to be forced out if McClung goes there. 

5. Auburn

Spotlight: Low
Family Environment: Good
Winning Outlook: Moderate
Need a Point Guard: No

There's always an influx of talent coming into Auburn and that is no different over the next couple of seasons. For next season, they have a five-star and a four-star recruit coming in as a point guard which will make that position a full one. McClung might not be getting the reps he would like at the point and would have to battle for a spot. 

There is a good family environment in terms of players that go to Auburn stay under Bruce Pearl. They even are familiar with bringing in transfers, however, they are currently out of scholarships as well according to VC. 

Competition-wise, they will be taking a slight hit, as they are losing their entire starting five this offseason. 

6. USC

Spotlight: Moderate
Family Environment: Low
Winning Outlook: Low
Need a Point Guard: Likely

Going from the spotlight of the Big East to the Pac-12 actually diminishes value slightly, but McClung will likely be the best player for the Trojans once he suits up. 

At USC he will have a greater chance to be competitive in that league and better odds to get to the NCAA Tournament. There are some point guard options currently on the roster and coming in, but none are certainly a lock two seasons from now. 

Most importantly, though, is the family atmosphere. For various reasons, there has been a lot of transfers over the years with several players also turning pro. Much like Georgetown, it could be a revolving door of players coming in and out. 

7. Wake Forest 

Spotlight: Moderate
Family Environment: Unknown
Winning Outlook: Very low
Need a Point Guard: Likely

While several of the teams on McClung's list have relatively new coaches, none are entering their first season like Steve Forbes at Wake Forest. 

He brings a good reputation while at his former school, East Tennessee State, but how that translates remains to be seen. It still is going to be a rebuild for the Demon Deacons. 

Going to Winston-Salem doesn't appear to be much of a better landing spot for McClung than Georgetown did. 

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