Posted on: March 10, 2011 11:03 am
Edited on: March 10, 2011 12:27 pm

Poppin' Bubbles: Picture starts to clear up

Posted by Jeff Borzello

Wednesday marked the first day in a five-day stretch where the bubble and at-large picture will change on a near-hourly basis. With the BCS-conferences kicking off their league tournaments, several teams face must-win situations and others need to search for a marquee victory. This is the last impression many bubble teams will get to make on the committee – they need to take advantage. By the time Saturday afternoon rolls around, many of the fringe bubble teams will have weeded themselves out, while at least two or three bubblers will become locks after a couple of wins. Take a look at the winners and losers of Wednesday, as well as what games matter the most for Thursday.


Marquette: The Golden Eagles punched their ticket to the NCAA tournament, beating West Virginia and becoming the 11th lock from the Big East. They now have five top-25 wins on their resume, improving to 20-13 overall. Without any sub-100 losses and an improving computer profile, Marquette has a chance to pass Villanova on the S-curve with a win over Louisville today.

Colorado: The Buffaloes couldn’t afford another bad loss – and they barely escaped Iowa State, needing late-game heroics from Alec Burks to get the win. The victory doesn’t improve Colorado’s profile; it simply doesn’t ruin it. With a third game coming up today against Kansas State, the Buffs can punch their ticket. As it stands right now, Colorado would be in. It has five top-50 wins and wins in five of its last seven.

Missouri: Because of the soft bubble, the Tigers were likely locked into the NCAA tournament regardless of their Big 12 tournament performance. However, they avoided some serious stress on Selection Sunday by hanging on to beat Texas Tech. Had Missouri lost to the Red Raiders, the terrible road record and lack of big wins would have been analyzed more closely.


Nebraska: The Cornhuskers needed to make a run to the Big 12 title game in order to have a chance; they didn’t even get out of the first round. A turnover by Lance Jeter on the final possession against Oklahoma State will relegate Nebraska to the NIT. A poor finish and a terrible non-conference resume will be too much to overcome.

Baylor: Without Perry Jones, not too many people expected the Bears to make the requisite run they needed to get an at-large bid. But getting blown by Oklahoma was a surprise. Baylor can now settle the debate of the most disappointing team in the country – at least Michigan State has a chance of making the NCAA tournament.

Thursday’s bubble games to watch:

Boston College vs. Wake Forest: The Eagles are fourth in the ACC pecking order right now; a loss here would send them packing. A win sets up a potential play-in game against Clemson.

Virginia Tech vs. Georgia Tech: After last week’s disaster of a performance, the Hokies need to win two games in the ACC tournament. A win over the Yellow Jackets will pit Tech against Florida State.

Michigan State vs. Iowa: The Spartans have already lost to the Hawkeyes once, although they did enact some revenge with a blowout win late in the season. Michigan State obviously needs to win this one to set up a quarterfinal match-up against Purdue.

Penn State vs. Indiana: The Nittany Lions have some good wins, but 13 losses is an eyesore. A run to the title game might be necessary – it starts against the Hoosiers, and could continue in the quarterfinals against Wisconsin.

Colorado vs. Kansas State: Colorado avoided a bad loss against Iowa State, and now could lock up a bid with a third victory over Kansas State. A loss here and the Buffaloes could be in trouble.

Memphis vs. Southern Miss: The Tigers probably have the best at-large profile in the conference, but they finished two games out of first place. They need to knock off a very good Southern Miss team, and then also likely beat UAB in the semis to have any semblance of a chance.

UAB vs. East Carolina: The Blazers don’t have a tremendous profile in terms of wins, but they did win Conference-USA outright and have very nice computer numbers. A run to the title game could get them consideration – a victory over East Carolina is a must.

Colorado State vs. New Mexico: Neither team has much of a case at this point, but if one were to reach the championship game, we can revisit their profiles. The loser is done.

USC vs. California: The Trojans stayed on the bubble with a win last weekend at Washington, but will need to pick up two wins in the Pac-10 tournament. A victory over the Golden Bears will likely bring a date with top-seeded Arizona.

Washington vs. Washington State: This could be a monster game. Washington needs a win to truly feel comfortable about its at-large hopes, while Washington State could get right back into the hunt with a big win over the Huskies.

Georgia vs. Auburn: The Bulldogs lost to Alabama in the season finale, but need to beat Auburn in order to gain a rematch with the Crimson Tide in the quarterfinals. That contest will be a de facto play-in game, but Georgia needs to get there first.

Tennessee vs. Arkansas: Given the terrible bubble, the Volunteers simply have too many good wins not to get a bid. A win here would end all doubt, though.

Photo: US Presswire

More College Basketball coverage
Posted on: March 5, 2011 2:28 pm
Edited on: March 6, 2011 12:58 am

Bubbles boiling over on Saturday

Posted by Jeff Borzello


With so many teams still teetering on the edge of the bubble, this weekend is the last opportunity for dozens of teams to send a message to the committee before the conference tournaments. Fortunately, there are a ton of bubble battles and must-win situations throughout the day. The games might be overshadowed by conference tournaments and top-25 match-ups, but keep it locked here for all your bubble action.

Note: This page will be updated all day, with bubble discussion and analysis.

USC 62, Washington 60: This game threw as much of a wrench into the bubble picture as any game all day. If Washington won, the Huskies would have likely locked up a bid and USC would have been out of the at-large discussion. Now, who knows? The Huskies lost three of their final five games to end the season, going 11-7 in the Pac-10. They have two wins over UCLA and a victory over Arizona, but the non-conference resume is porous. Three sub-100 losses also don't look good. They need to beat Washington State in the quarterfinals on Thursday. USC is squarely in the mix right now. The Trojans still have to make up ground on the teams in front of them, but at least they are in the picture. They won five of six to end the season, own wins over Washington, UCLA and Arizona and have a couple of nice non-conference victories over Texas and Tennessee. This could be an interesting case on Selection Sunday if USC wins two in the Pac-10 tourney.

Texas 60, Baylor 54: Baylor had a shot to play itself in the field at home against a team that seemingly every bubble team has beaten the past few weeks – and the Bears couldn’t get the job done. 7-9 in the Big 12, an RPI in the 70s, three sub-100 losses – should I keep going? A win Saturday night would have given Baylor a legitimate shot, adding to its two wins over Texas A&M. Without the victory, the Bears have an awfully barren profile. Depending on how things play out, Baylor might be auto-bid or bust.

Colorado 67, Nebraska 57: A head-to-head battle between two Big 12 bubble teams just clarified the at-large pecking order within the conference. The Buffaloes were my last team in the field heading into the weekend, and this win should keep them up there. They have five top-50 wins, including two over Kansas State and one over Texas. The three bad losses are an eyesore, but at least they’re .500 in the Big 12 after winning three of four. As for Nebraska, losses in three of its final four games and an awful non-conference profile will do them in.

Utah State 72, Louisiana Tech 30: Well, that wasn’t very nice. The Aggies absolutely destroyed Louisiana Tech, sending a message with the margin of victory. They finished the conference campaign with a 15-1 record, and the RPI has now moved into the top 20. Given the soft bubble, it is going to be very tough turning down a team with those numbers. On the flip side, though, Utah State has just two top-100 wins, with a borderline top-50 victory over Saint Mary’s. I think the Aggies are in good shape, although any loss in the WAC tourney is a bad loss.

San Diego State 66, Colorado State 48: About two weeks ago, Colorado State was 8-4 in the Mountain West and looking good for a bid heading into a difficult stretch. Well, the Rams went 1-4 down the stretch and are now going into the conference tournament needing to win it. They have two top-50 wins, although one is over Southern Miss. Colorado State has a very weak non-conference resume and three sub-100 losses. The Rams went only 1-5 against the top three of the MWC.

UAB 66, East Carolina 48: The Blazers won the outright Conference-USA title with the victory. While the Blazers are not really in great position for a bid (in my opinion), a regular-season title combined with their excellent computer numbers, and they are in the mix. UAB came into the day with an RPI of 28, and has now won seven of eight to the end the season. Now, for the negatives. The best non-conference wins are over Kent State and VCU, and the three top-50 wins – Southern Miss and a sweep of UCF – turn into zero top-50 wins by the morning. The Blazers should play it safe and win the auto bid. 

Butler 76, Cleveland State 68: The Bulldogs knocked off Cleveland State for the third time this season, earning a spot in the Horizon League title game on Monday. They have now won seven in a row, moving to 21-9 overall. Outside of those three wins over the Vikings, though, Butler has just one other top-50 win – on a neutral court against Florida State. When you throw in all the bad losses the Bulldogs have, it might be best for them to just win the automatic bid.

Seton Hall 85, Marquette 72: Big East getting 11 bids? Hold off on that for just a few minutes. The Golden Eagles seemed like a lock after winning at Connecticut last week, but back-to-back losses to Cincinnati and Seton Hall put them squarely on the bubble. Marquette drops to 9-9 in the Big East and 18-13 overall, meaning another loss would be the 14th of the season. The Golden Eagles don’t have any bad losses and own four top-25 wins. They need to win at least on in the Big East tourney.

Oklahoma 64, Oklahoma State 61: Oklahoma State had very slim at-large hopes heading into the weekend, but now the Cowboys are heading into the Big 12 tournament with only the automatic bid as an option. The Cowboys have some good wins, including over Kansas State and Missouri, but 6-10 in the Big 12 simply won’t get it done.

Memphis 66, Tulane 61: The Tigers are still hanging in there, despite a long list of bad losses and negatives on the resume. They technically have six top-50 wins, although that number can quickly drop to two if UCF and Southern Miss fall out of the top 50 at some point. A run to the Conference-USA final is necessary for Memphis to think about getting a bid.

UCLA 58, Washington State 54: Washington State had an outside shot at a bid if it could pull off the upset over UCLA and then make a run in the Pac-10 tourney. With Klay Thompson suspended and Reggie Moore injured, though, the Cougars couldn’t get it done, falling in overtime. They have wins over bubble teams Baylor and Gonzaga, as well as two over Washington, but 9-9 in the Pac-10 and three sub-100 losses don’t look good.

Indiana State 61, Wichita State 54: Without a single top-50 win on the resume, the Shockers had little-to-no shot at hearing their name called on Selection Sunday without the automatic bid. Getting to the title game and being competitive was a necessity; they did neither.

Michigan 70, Michigan State 63: The intrastate battle had big-time bubble implications. With the win, Michigan now owns a season sweep of Michigan State – a significant trump card if the two teams are on the fence come Selection Sunday. Unfortunately for the Wolverines, their only other top-50 win was over Harvard. They still have work to do in the conference tournament. Michigan State dropped to 9-9 in the Big Ten, joining a logjam of potentially four teams. The Spartans have better wins than Michigan, with victories over Wisconsin, Washington and Illinois. A loss in the league tournament would be their 14th of the season, tough.

Alabama 65, Georgia 57: Alabama kept its at-large hopes alive with an impressive home win, bringing its SEC record to 12-4. If Florida loses at Vanderbilt this weekend, the Crimson Tide will earn a split of the SEC title. The Tide already had solid wins over Kentucky and Tennessee, but their non-conference resume is horrendous and they have a slew of bad losses. They might need to win their first SEC tourney game. Georgia would have clinched a bid with the road win, but the Bulldogs are still in decent shape. They have a solid computer profile and zero bad losses. They need to avoid bad losses in the SEC Tournament.

Missouri State 60, Creighton 50: The Bears needed to come back again in the Missouri Valley tournament, overcoming a halftime deficit. It remains to be seen whether they even have an at-large shot, but the best way to end the questions would be to win the title game on Sunday.

VCU 62, Drexel 60: It might be time to dust off the VCU profile after Jamie Skeen’s buzzer shot sent the Rams to the semifinals. Quality wins over UCLA and Old Dominion are more than some bubble teams can claim. A litany of bad losses and a 12-6 CAA record brings the profile down.

Clemson 69, Virginia Tech 60: A huge bubble match-up in the ACC could result in neither team making the NCAA Tournament. Virginia Tech went down 24-9 in the first half and was never able to recover. With this and the blowout home loss to Boston College during the week, all the good will the Hokies picked up with their win over Duke has disappeared. As for Clemson, the Tigers join Tech at 9-7 in the ACC. However, Clemson’s two best wins are over Boston College and Florida State – not exactly marquee victories. Both teams might need two wins in the league tournament. 

Richmond 68, Duquesne 56: Richmond continues to do what it has to do in order to get a bid on Selection Sunday. The Spiders ended the first half on a run and then coasted for most of the second half. They finished 13-3 in the Atlantic-10, winning their last four games, and 11 of their last 13. Richmond doesn’t have many marquee wins, but it does own a neutral-court victory over Purdue. Avoiding a bad loss in the conference tournament is a necessity.

Illinois 72, Indiana 48: The Fighting Illini certainly took care of business on Saturday, jumping out to a big lead early to avenge an earlier loss to the Hoosiers. Of course, the victory doesn’t do much to enhance the profile, other than the fact it gets them to 9-9 in the Big Ten. With wins over North Carolina and Wisconsin, as well as victories over fellow bubble teams Gonzaga, Michigan State and Michigan, Illinois should be in good shape.

Others: Maryland ended its season on a sour note, losing at home to Virginia by 14; Dayton finished 7-9 in the Atlantic-10, completing a disappointing regular season. 

Photo: US Presswire

More College Basketball coverage
Posted on: March 1, 2011 4:27 pm

Can Missouri shed "Paper Tigers" label?

Posted by Jeff Borzello

On a short turnaround, Missouri can be one of the most difficult teams to prepare for in the NCAA Tournament. The Tigers play the “Fastest 40 Minutes” in college basketball (well, not really, but that’s for another time), and they create problems with their transition offense and pressure defense.

With all that said, will Missouri even get out of the first round?

Of the teams that are supposedly “locks” from the BCS conferences, Missouri has the fewest number of road wins and the fewest number of top-50 wins. Using simply those numbers, one could surmise that the Tigers are borderline incapable of beating quality teams away from home. That wouldn’t be far off.

In its six Big 12 road games against teams in the top-100, Missouri is 0-6. It has lost those six games by an average of more than 10 points per contest.

The Tigers will be put to the test on the road again tonight against Nebraska, which desperately needs a win to get back in the at-large hunt. Given Missouri’s road woes, though, a home victory over the Tigers isn’t even that impressive.

Of course, the NCAA Tournament isn’t played on the road – it’s played at neutral sites, where Missouri is 3-1. Also, the Tigers won’t be playing conference opponents who are used to their up-tempo and frenetic style of play.

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I think Missouri could be a tough out in the NCAA Tournament due to its plethora of athletes and scorers, and the presence of Ricardo Ratliffe and some other match-up problems in the frontcourt.

While I still believe that, it remains to be seen if the Tigers are able to beat NCAA Tournament-quality teams. They haven’t defeated a top-50 team since January 17, against a struggling Kansas State team. Additionally, the win over the Wildcats is the only top-50 victory in 2011. The other three wins came back in December.

At home, Missouri feeds off the home crowd, turning one transition lay-up or turnover into a 12-0 run. The Tigers don’t have the same energy or “spurtability” on the road.

If Missouri wants to make a run in the NCAA Tournament, it needs to show it is capable of beating quality teams away from Columbia.

The majority of the country isn’t quite sold on these potential “Paper Tigers” just yet.

Photo: US Presswire

More College Basketball coverage
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 24, 2011 12:03 am
Edited on: February 24, 2011 12:17 am

Thank you, Jacob Pullen

Jacob Pullen put K-State on his back in a bubble showdown with Nebraska

Posted by Eric Angevine

Thank you, Mr. Pullen, for saving us from the ludicrous spectre of a Nebraska at-large bid.

Thanks for scoring 27 points in a defensive slow-dance of a game.

Thanks especially for hitting 10 of 11 free throws.

Without you, that 61-57 K-State win in Lincoln might not have happened, and then we'd hear more about how the Huskers deserve to be in the NCAA tournament, when such an assertion flies in the face of empirical evidence. Saturday's home win over Texas was a great parting gift for the Big Ten-bound program, but there's little to suggest that they would perform a similar feat if allowed into the Big Dance this season. The shocker over Texas probably would have been dismissed as the ultimate fluke had the Huskers not pulled a similar feat against Texas A&M in late January.

Nebraska is one of three power conference schools that has never won an NCAA tournament game. Northwestern's presence on that list is an act of omission, since they've never qualified for the event. In the case of South Florida and Nebraska, it's an act of commission, since they've been there but haven't gotten it done. To put a further caveat on the concept, USF has only been a member of the Big East since 2005, so that's not quite the same thing, is it?

Tonight's game between the Wildcats and Huskers was played in front of a pro-Nebraska crowd that filled the Devaney Center to the rafters. It was a dogfight for postseason placement, but you couldn't tell by the sound. On television, the crowd produced little more than a dull roar even when the home team was threatening, and only the students seemed to be willing to stand up for their team. Even the horn that sounded halftime and end of regulation was muted - it sounded more like an outtake from an old Ben Webster record than an urgent signal of time running out.

But time has run out on Nebraska's at-large hopes, and good riddance. Lance Jeter and Jorge Brian Diaz have lead the Cornhusker scoring effort this year, with both just eking into double figure averages in points per game by virtue of fractions of a point. Once upon a time, Nebraska got 9.5 points per game from Christian Standhardinger. After six games this season, he decided to quit on the team and go to La Salle. He was so excited to get out of Lincoln that he celebrated with some amorous action in a city park and killed the whole deal.

Now the Huskers are left to wax semi-thrilled about the off-and-on decent play of All-McDonalds American (OK, Brazilian) Andre Almeida. Talk about a bait-and-switch.

Jacob Pullen reminded us that there is talent all over the court when Frank Martin's purple warriors take to the floor. Even in the midst of a troubling season of their own, the Wildcats have the players and the coach to make something of themselves over the next couple of weeks. If one of these two teams had to come out of this late-season slog atop the bubble, let it be K-State.

Photo: US Presswire
Posted on: February 21, 2011 10:07 am
Edited on: February 21, 2011 1:27 pm

Coach Speak: Billy Clyde Gillispie to Wyoming?

Could Billy Gillispie make his coaching comeback at Wyoming?

Posted by Eric Angevine

Coaching Search

I’m happy to report that, as of this morning, no other coaches have been fired. Wyoming’s Heath Schroyer is the only DI head man to be sent packing in such a disrespectful – and, it should be said, damaging to the school’s reputation – manner. I thought today I’d look and see who the locals are hoping to hear from regarding the vacancy.

Robert Gagliardi, who writes the Cowboy Chronicles blog for the Laramie Boomerang, lists former Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie (above), current Kansas assistant Joe Dooley, Florida assistant Larry Shyatt and BYU assistant Dave Rice. Let’s rate the likelihood of each:

Billy Gillispie: Low

I firmly believe Billy Clyde will coach again, and probably do quite well, but this is not the job for him. Things went wrong for Gillispie – a native Texan -- the minute he stepped foot outside of his home state. Even a great recruiter is going to have difficulty selling the high plains experience to talented players. Gillispie seems tailor-made for C-USA, where image rehabilitation is all the rage.

Joe Dooley: Low

Slick-haired Dooley is Bill Self’s top assistant, and as such, he can afford to wait for an offer from a front-running mid-major program. He was considered for several low-profile rebuilding jobs over the summer and chose to stay at KU. He’s probably much better off waiting out the Jayhawks’ tourney run and hoping for a shot at an established bracket buster.

Larry Shyatt: Medium

Bringing back a former head coach to the same job is not unheard of (see South Alabama’s Ronnie Arrow) but it is incredibly rare. Shyatt left Wyoming on a high note in 1998 to take over for Rick Barnes at Clemson, and is now a highly valued assistant to Billy Donovan at Florida, but he is a little over a month away from his sixtieth birthday, and may be interested in returning to Laramie to finish out his career.

Dave Rice: Medium

This is another case of an assistant who might be better off waiting for a better gig. The factors in favor of jumping now include the fact that BYU is headed to the WCC next season, and the certainty that the Cougars have all eyes on them as the Jimmer Fredette era winds up. It could be tough to decide how best to use that mojo.

Interestingly enough, Rice was the only member of this short list who responded to Gagliardi’s inquiries. His email was as noncommittal as you’d expect, but it was a response:

I was part of 2 interim staffs during my 11 years as an assistant at UNLV and so I understand that Coach Langley and his staff are working hard to help the players have a strong finish to their season.  In my mind there is currently a staff in place at Wyoming.  The players and staff don’t need the distraction of coaching speculation.  While I know that is inevitable, I have always made it a point to never comment on a job that is not available.  Likewise my entire focus now is helping Coach Rose and our staff prepare our team to play TCU on Saturday.

Coach Langley is Frank Langley, who was named the interim coach when Schroyer was fired. Interim coaches rarely take over full-time, and the scenario that seems most likely is that Wyoming will court some rainmakers, though they will give Langley the courtesy interview. Obviously, nobody is going to express open interest in the job as long as there's basketball left to play, so the value of making the early move seems negligible, if it exists at all.

Obviously, I can't rank any current candidate as High probability. This is a tough job in a conference in flux, and a coach with juice isn't going to be thrilled at the notion of working for an employer who just pulled the rug out from under another member of the coaching fraternity. Someone will eventually take the job, but this has the potential to be an embarrassing, drawn-out process for the Cowboys brass if they don't act decisively.

Quotable Coaches

Today's quotes belong to the coaches who made a twisted mess out of the top 5 this week.

"We had time to work on things when Rob was injured. There really wasn't an adjustment. There was an adjustment last year because of the timing. As a coaching staff, we adjusted at the first practice. This is who we have. This is how we have to push forward."

-Matt Painter still has to downplay the impact of Robbie Hummel's season-ending injury in the wake of a win over No. 2 Ohio State
"No one ever asked him to play in the low post before he got here. He couldn't catch the ball last year. Last year we never passed it to him. He could be unguarded and nobody would pass him the ball. Now people are frustrated because he's not finishing. Well, that means that someone is throwing him the ball. That's because guys are starting to trust him and he's learning how to play in there."

-Frank Martin talks about sophomore Jordan Henriquez' sudden emergence in a huge upset of No. 1 Kansas
"My hope was that by March we'd have a dangerous, scrappy, opportunistic team that could beat anybody in the country if they didn't bring their 'A' game or if they overlooked us. It appears we've hit that in late January and February."

-Steve Lavin discusses his rapid turnaround of St. John's following an upset of No. 4 Pitt

“With us making only four 3s, I'd have said ‘No way,' and I thought if it got out of the 50s, we'd be in trouble.''

-Nebraska coach Doc Sadler still can't believe his team's 70-67 home victory over No. 3 Texas

Photo: US Presswire

Posted on: January 19, 2011 2:35 pm
Edited on: January 19, 2011 2:40 pm

Former Nebraska player cited for sex at park

Posted by Matt Norlander

How ironic: doing some exploring is the very thing that will prevent Christian Standhardinger from becoming an Explorer.

Less than two weeks after declaring he would enroll with the La Salle, Standhardinger, the former Nebraska forward couldn't keep his sex drive in his pants while in a public place. Because of that, it's going to cost him a spot with the Explorers.

Yesterday La Salle announced the incoming transfer. Today, they've removed themselves from him.

Standhardinger — the sound of that name as it relates to this crime is not lost on me, I promise — was cited for public indecency early Wednesday morning. This unintentional hit on his name, and La Salle by proxy, means he's getting cut off from the program before ever arriving on campus.

Police spokeswoman Katie Flood said Wednesday that an officer found the 21-year-old Standhardinger and a 19-year-old woman engaged in a sex act a few hours before dawn Sunday in a Lincoln park.

Standhardinger and the woman were cited for public indecency and for being in the park after hours.

From all of us who've risked that pleasure in a car and gotten away with it, let me say, I'm sorry, Christian. It seems the Lincoln Police aren't as easy-going as many an officer who merely taps on the window with a flashlight (that's gotta be horrifying, but isn't the thrill why you're at the park in the first place?) and asks you to be on your merry way.

La Salle coach John Giannini said today, "Christian has recently been made aware of a personal situation that demands his full attention. We believe it is in the best interest of all parties that Christian Standhardinger does not attend La Salle University."

Harsh! Getting booty comes with a price in some shape or form, but this is tougher medicine to take than a stage 5 clinger.

The 6-8 Munich, Germany, native was putting up 9.5 points per game prior to his transfer announcement in December.

Photo: AP
Category: NCAAB
Tags: Nebraska
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com