12:30 P.M. (EASTERN TIME).
John Gasawayespin Insider
- ESPN Insider sponsor of ESPN University Basketball
- I started beating university tournaments in 2004.
- Wrote for the Basketball Prospectus and the Wall Street Journal.
The bubble is tight. Wichita State made a big leap forward by winning 68-63 at home over Houston to secure its chances at an at-large bid.
This team has traveled a winding and sometimes difficult road to get to this point. Former coach Gregg Marshall resigned last November after an internal investigation into allegations of physical and verbal abuse.
Isaac Brown became interim head coach and Wichita lost two of its first three games. However, they lost to Missouri and Oklahoma State, opponents that have now established themselves as quality teams.
Like much of this season, the Shockers had to deal with being interrupted by VIDOC-19. When Brown’s men returned to action with one man down, Memphis beat them 72-52.
But Wichita State has not lost since then. The Shockers earned five consecutive victories, contending for the most wins ever.
Tyson Etienne and Alteric Gilbert each scored 16 points and WSU struck 10 times to 3 points against a Cougar defense that had allowed double-digit scores from beyond the arc just once this season. (This also led to the loss of Houston to South Carolina).
Wichita State has gone a few rounds this season, and it’s far from over. Indeed, for the first time, it looks like the trip could end with the Shockers’ first appearance in the NCAA since 2018.
Here is our current projection of the bubble:
Traditional competitive auctions with only one bid (minus Ivy): 20 teams
Locks: 12 teams
Bubble: 46 teams for 36 available spots
Must be in play: 23 teams
Work: 23 teams
ACC: Big 12: Big East: Pac-12: SEC: US: Others.
should be in
Based on the creases in the brackets, Bubble Watch HQ can comment on the seminoles for what will likely be the last time before Leonard Hamilton’s men depart for slot land. When the NCAA released a summary of the 16-team block, FSU was not visible. That decision seemed justified when the Seminoles needed overtime to beat Wake Forest that same Saturday in Tallahassee. Once again Hamilton took a break due to COWID-19 when they faced the Demon Deacons, and Florida State destroyed Virginia 81-60 in their next home game. In terms of non-return, FSU is one of the most effective offenses we’ve seen in major conference games over the last decade.
Virginia Tech Hokies.
Despite a relatively modest number of points in the CCA race, the Hokies are aiming for a place in the middle of the league table without drama. How did Mike Young’s team pull off this magic? The extra-time victory over Villanova in November on neutral ground contributed to this, as did the 5-1 record in Conference games decided by seven points or less. Virginia Tech’s defense has a high percentage of misses at the rim and does well to limit opponents to just one shot. Meanwhile, Keve Aluma has hit 63% from 2 and has notched three double-doubles in his last four outings.
the Cardinals of Louisville
Louisville announced the suspension Sunday during the Super Bowl after coach Chris Mack tested positive for COVID-19. (Get well, coach!) So far, the Cardinals have played a very good defense that rivals that of Florida State and Virginia Tech in the CCA rankings. It’s true that Louisville could still go any day of the season without a win in Quad 1. (This depends on whether Pitt is above or below 75th in the NET rankings). However, this empty space in the profile did not (and should not) prevent maps from appearing in extrapolated brackets, such as the 8th seed or its location.
Meet the Mercury Tigers, who have clung to their status despite a journey of ups and downs. On the one hand, Clemson posted wins by eight or more points against a true who’s who of the tournament’s opponents, namely Purdue, Alabama and Florida State. On the other hand, the Tigers were also sprinkled by Virginia (35 losses), Georgia Tech (18 losses), Duke (26 losses) and the aforementioned Seminoles (19 losses). When you add it all up, you get a respectable spot on the NET, but also a likely No. 8 that could cause serious skepticism about laptops next month.
Completion of task
North Carolina Tarred Heels
The Tar Heels posted a question on Twitter asking for a team to play in Chapel Hill, and Northeastern answered the call. The home team won 82-62, which will likely be the last low-stakes game for UNC for now. Roy Williams’ men finished the season with four games flipping or nearly flipping like a coin. The Heels host Louisville, Florida and Duke and also play an away game at Syracuse. North Carolina enters this cycle as the number 11 predicted frontrunner. A record of 0.500 (or more) on these four games may be enough to win a bet.
Say hello to the first new member of the impressive Bubble Watch Club this season. No, Syracuse is not here because of its last result (a home win against Boston College). The home win over Virginia Tech is the strongest point of this profile and despite the sweep against Pitt, Jim Boeheim’s team is 12-6 tied with North Carolina at the top of the NET and outscoring several teams on the bubble in terms of hitting power. Now, some bad news for the Orange faithful: Syracuse, as our colleague Joe Lunardi likes to say, is on the brink of collapse. The company has been in St. Louis, Richmond and Maryland to get significant purchase offers. But Cusey joins the conversation.
Locks: Baylor, Oklahoma, West Virginia…
should be in
The Longhorns of Texas.
After winning their last two tournaments against Kansas State and TCU, the Longhorns ended a slide in which they lost four of five games. In addition, the NCAA gave Texas fourth place in the men’s 16-man category to face UT against the Horned Frogs. It is, of course, the verdict of a profile win over West Virginia, Kansas, Oklahoma, Indiana and North Carolina. There’s even a chance the Texans, who finished first in the standings last month, can improve their ranking with upcoming games against Oklahoma, the Mountaineers, the Jayhawks and Texas Tech. Shaka Smart’s men are looking for their first win against a top-tier opponent since their two-point victory over West Virginia in Morgantown in early January.
Texas Tech Red Raiders
The most memorable aspect of Texas Tech’s home loss against West Virginia was the sending off of Chris Beard in the dying seconds of the game, after he literally went to the ground to make his point to the referees. The game was not only theatrical, but it also brought to light a problem that marred an otherwise excellent defense throughout the Big 12 season. Against the Red Raiders, the opponents bombed from the perimeter. The Mountaineers hit 7 of 14 shots, and the Big 12 shot 41% from 3 against Texas Tech. If the opponents settle down far from home, Beard’s team could be even stronger than the expected 4th place finish.
It took the Jayhawks a while to find a way to win games this season, but after a week off for the first time in over a decade, Bill Self’s boys seem to have found the answer. It’s a very good protection. No Big 12 team forced a higher percentage of fouls inside the arc in the league, Jalen Wilson and David McCormack took care of the defense, and KU as a team accomplished all this without committing an offense. Two games against Iowa State and one against Kansas State helped Kansas win 16-7 and move up to sixth place.
Oklahoma State Cowboys
Technically, the state of Oklahoma is not eligible for the post-season. However, the Cowboys have appealed the decision to the NCAA and while the appeal is pending, USO will be allowed to participate in the tournament. That’s exactly what the Cowboys are doing: Cade Cunningham is the Big 12’s top scorer and is expected to be No. 1 or close to it in the 2021 NBA Draft. Mike Boynton’s team, ranked No. 7, excels at forcing holes on defense and focusing on offense. Oklahoma State loves to go to the line.
should be in
Marcus Zegarowski, who was named Big East Player of the Year in the preseason, scored 25 points in the Bluejays’ 86-70 victory over Villanova in Omaha. Hitting 71% of his 2’s and 46% of his 3’s (on 12-26 shooting at the other end of the arc), Creighton repeated his feat with the same staggering accuracy he achieved in January’s 89-53 victory over Seton Hall. Of course CU’s offense could explode at any time, and a big win against a tournament favorite has the potential to boost the No. 6 placement Creighton has shown in the series. If and when that happens, you have to give Greg McDermott’s defense some credence. The Bluejays are tied with UConn for the title of best D game in the Big East.
Facing numerous COVID-19 stoppages, Xavier struggles to perform well enough to make his best win count. In December, the Musketeers hosted Oklahoma in Cincinnati and won 99-77. Many rests followed, however, and Travis Steele’s team is now recovering from two consecutive losses against UConn (in a game in which James Booknight did not play) and St. Les Mousquetaires were 11-4 in the NET rankings in the 40s and an expected 8th place finish in their rankings. This spot in the Dud Brackets seemed like a stepping stone, but given the struggles of this team, Xavier needs to win as soon as possible to keep this spot alive.
Completion of task
Seton Hall Pirates
The Pirates have won four consecutive victories and with a record of 10-5 in the Far East, Kevin Willard’s group is quickly dispelling the terror of what was once an exciting search for candidates. Seton Hall looks to be on his way to finishing 10th, and Sandro Mamukelashvili carries almost as much offensive load as Miles Powell did for this team last year. Mamukelashvili scored 25 points against DePaul, no mean feat in a game where his team scored just 60 points in an eight-point win in Newark. It’s a very good inside defense, and even with very few problems in the Great East, Seton Hall makes a lot of trips to the line.
The Connecticut Huskies.
Not only did James Booknight come back from an elbow injury after missing eight games, but he also put in an impressive performance in the moments that Coach Dan Hurley brought him down. The Huskies channeled the same energy and won 73-61 at home over Providence. A win in Quad 3 allows UConn (10-5) to stay where it was before tipoff, on the edge of the bubble, as one of the last teams to get in or one of the first to get out. With a NET ranking in the top 50, the potentially rejuvenated Huskies can raise that profile significantly with a win this weekend at Villanova. A win against the Wildcats at Finneran Pavilion would match Connecticut’s win on neutral ground against USC in December.
St. John’s Red Storm
At some point, in the standoff between the Red Storm team’s wins and the team’s NET rankings, something will have to give. Mike Anderson’s men have won six of their last seven games in the Big East, but their numbers in NCAA metrics were still in the 70s in what became a 93-84 victory over Xavier in Queens. Whether it was due to the score, the loss of Georgetown, Marquette and Butler, or something else, at 14-8, St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, was the only team to lose. St. John’s is in the following four places, in parentheses, until further notice. Julian Champagne and Posh Alexander are a great duo, and this attack goes at Anderson’s favorite (high) pace.
Locks: Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Iowa.
should be in
The Badgers have lost three of their last four games, and depending on the fate of Penn State and Maryland, Greg Gard’s men may not have beaten an NCAA tournament team since mid-January at Rutgers. Bubblewatch already described the recent layoffs in Wisconsin and here’s another one. The Badgers hit just 8 of 36 times in a 77-62 loss against Iowa in Madison. And, at the risk of denying the Hawkeyes’ defensive prowess, it was against the previously allowed Iowa defense. Since Wisconsin entered the game with a No. 5 spot, the Badgers’ spot dropped. This process must continue.
Boilermakers from Purdue
Trevion Williams held Michigan State to a 28-point lead in 31 minutes in Purdue’s 10-point home victory over the Spartans. While an overall record of 14-8 and a score of 9-6 in the Big Ten race seems manageable enough, those numbers include a win over Ohio State and victories over Minnesota and Indiana. This staff has put a number 6 in the brackets pretty regularly with Purdue. The Boilermakers prefer a methodical rhythm and like to break their offensive glass.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights
The Scarlet Knights made Michigan sweat. With the Wolverines seemingly out of the game, Rutgers rallied and made things a little more interesting before losing by seven points in Ann Arbor. Steve Pikiell’s squad is expected to finish at the top of the list, which will strictly be the program’s best ranking in the era of modern tournaments. It’s also the only program spot since 1991, when Rutgers was seeded No. 9 (and lost to Arizona State in the final 64). Don’t be fooled by the apparent normality around RU. It’s a big deal.
Completion of task
Minnesota Golden Gophers
The good news for Minnesota fans is that this profile could take a loss in Indiana and bring a lot of money to the team. The Golden Gophers entered the game in Bloomington as the No. 10 seed, a spot awarded by program officials in recognition of the team’s victories over Michigan, Ohio State, Iowa and Purdue. The bad news is that Minnesota’s extreme weakness outside of home continues (the Gophers are 0-8 when playing on an opponent’s field). That doesn’t have to be a problem in the NCAA tournament, but the Big Ten’s lowest defensive rebounding percentage in the league may be.
The outlook, which seemed rather bleak when Illinois won in overtime at Bloomington to cut the Hoosiers back to 4-6 in the Big Ten, now looks much more encouraging. Since then, IU has won three of its four games, the most recent being an 82-72 home victory over Minnesota. In the model’s calculations, Indiana is in 11th place, and Archie Miller’s squad will maintain that position for all four crucial games. With home games against Michigan State and Michigan State and away games against Rutgers and Purdue, the Hoosiers can offer everything from a safe spot in midfield to free skate on the bubble on selection Sunday.
The Terrapins did what they needed to do, winning two home games against Nebraska and winning 13-10 and 7-9 in the Big Ten. Mark Turgeon’s boys are barely off the tournament field, and the Terrapins have the best chance for another important win in their next game. Maryland plays at Rutgers, and a win there would take its place alongside wins already over Illinois and Wisconsin (not to mention a home win over Purdue and a season sweep at Minnesota). The Terps still have a chance.
should be in
The Trojans have a 13-to-1 record for the 2021 calendar year and have been climbing the ladder all along. Andy Enfield’s team is in fourth place, and a lockout is likely to follow soon here at Bubble Watch. Compared to their respective conferences, USC’s defense was almost as good against the Pac-12 as Michigan’s defense was against the Big Ten. Evan Mobley makes headlines, but it was really a team effort in Los Angeles. Tahj Eddy won the Pac-12 game, Isaiah Mobley outperformed his little brother on the offensive glass, and in Team SC limited conference opponents to 44% of shots on their 2.
A loss at Cal, like Colorado’s 71-62, is considered a Quad-3 loss. This is CU’s third defeat of the season, with home defeats against Utah and away defeats against Washington. Before the defeat in Berkeley, Ted Boyle’s team was seeded 6th. Now, at 16-6 and with what the committee will likely consider three bad losses, that seed will likely drop. At the same time, a team that has won over USC, Oregon and Stanford (twice) has a few more assets on its resume.
Mick Cronin’s squad, ranked No. 9 by a score of 15-5, is completely dependent on Pac-12 teams other than USC to determine the quality of UCLA’s victories. The Bruins lost to Ohio State and San Diego State, so a three-point home victory over Colorado is now a distant memory and no longer the subject of this profile. To say the least: This game is the Bruins’ only win against a top-tier opponent. UCLA will have a chance to change that when they close out the season with games against Buffalo and the Trojans.
Completion of task
Ducks of Oregon
This year could be the year the quackery against Eugene is over. The Ducks’ aggressive defense forces Pac-12 opponents to rotate 21% of their possessions. Without these stats, the Oregon team is hardly better than the rest of the league. Maintaining all the ups and downs, UO has won three in a row and is now 7-3 in the Pac-12. Eugene Omoruyi scored 19 points for the Ducks in a 63-61 win in Arizona, allowing players from both teams to scrape together just 58 points to put up an impressive stats line (it was the slowest game of the season in the Pac-12). Dana Altman’s team is ranked No. 11 and appears to be on the rise.
With cities like VCU, UConn and St. Louis. In St. Louis, Stanford spent much of the bubble season on the border between indoors and outdoors. On the one hand, the Cardinals can boast of their victories over Alabama and UCLA. On the other hand, Jerod Haase’s men are just 9-6 in the Pac-12, with losses to Arizona and Utah. The NET ranking, which has dropped into the 60s in recent days, doesn’t help. Stanford now faces a rather crucial two-game road trip. The wins over Washington and Washington State may not draw much attention, but they actually bring the Cardinals closer to a relatively good result. Two defeats, on the other hand, would have seriously jeopardized their chances.
should be in
A relatively mild schedule the rest of the way gives the 15-5 Tennesseans a chance to finish fourth in the team’s pre-season poll. Rick Barnes’ men close out the season with a home game against Kentucky and away games against Vanderbilt and Auburn. Volunteers have reached this stage thanks in part to the highest turnover rate in the SEC league. In fact, Tennessee has a modest, but still significant lead over conference opponents in sessions in which no turnovers were committed. It may seem like a dangerous way to live in March, but it has proven effective in defeating Kansas, Colorado, Arkansas and Missouri.
When the Bubble Watch screamed in the hours after the Super Bowl, the staff was unsure if they should lock Missouri up. The question now is whether the 13-6 Tigers will be up and running soon. This team has lost three in a row (at Ole Miss, in overtime at home to Arkansas and Georgia), the last two times without Jeremiah Tilmon in the lineup. The Tigers entered the match against the Bulldogs, who were seeded fifth. However, this seed could drop with the ranking of NET, which was once in the top 10 and is now in danger of dropping into the 40.
The Gators played their first game in 13 days after the KOVID-19 break and got an away game against perhaps the hottest team in the league. The result, perhaps unsurprisingly, was that Arkansas lost by 11 points. Mike White’s team is in seventh place, and Florida’s profile includes wins over West Virginia, Tennessee and LSU. Despite this, UF has lost two in a row, and the next home game against Georgia promises to be bigger than expected.
The Arkansas Razorbiks
The Razorbacks have won seven SEC games in a row and are on track. The team that was in danger of falling off the projected field just a month ago is now considered a likely No. 8. In his second season in Fayetteville, Eric Musselman plays the defense that was so familiar to rivals in Mountain West Nevada when the coach was there. The Hogs limit their opponents to a single shot and force them into a series of turnovers. Musselman’s team has a shot at the top of the standings, as Bobby Portis and Michael Qualls entered the 2015 tournament as the No. 5 seed.
Completion of task
A 13-point home win over Tennessee on Saturday sums up what LSU does best. Cameron Thomas and Javonte Smart combined for 45 points, the Tigers hit 20 of 31 attempts inside the arc, and Will Wade’s men dropped the ball just 11 times in the 67-point game. LSU’s high 2-point accuracy and low turnover rate distinguished it from most of the SEC’s competing offenders throughout the season, and those strengths are now paying off. The Tigers seemed to be a likely number 10 before the win over Thefts, and now that expectation seems on the low side. There were bugs at LSU that said he hadn’t won any big games. A win against Tennessee solves that objection very well.
Ole Miss Rebel
Ole Miss is making her debut here on Bubble Watch with wins in four consecutive matches and a NET ranking that has climbed to the 50s. Devontae Schuler scored 31 points for South Carolina. The Rebels dropped to 12-8 overall and 7-6 at the SEC. Of course, Kermit Davis and his men literally have to earn the invitation. It’s a team that was swept aside by Georgia, who scored just 28% of their three points in the conference. But at least Ole Miss was now playing on her own in spades. The Rebels close out the games against Mississippi State, Missouri, Vanderbilt and Kentucky. A 3-1 in that time would give Ole Miss a 10-7 SEC file and a hearing from the Defendant’s Committee.
Completion of task
Wichita State Shocks
In 40 minutes of basketball, the Shockers may have started in third or fourth place, only to find themselves in the thick of the action for the next four eliminations. A five-point win at home against a ranked opponent like Houston would have the same effect. But Wichita State will have to work to keep its place in the bubble. With two games left in the season finale against SMU, Isaac Brown’s squad will conclude with away games at Tulane and Temple. But at 13-4 and a win over the loaned Cougars, the Shockers are now close enough to take their chances. Good job, Coach Brown.
Perhaps in the distant future, the committee will be completely replaced by a measure that measures the difficulty of replicating a team’s victories and defeats, taking into account the opponents and the places where these records were set. If this happens and the strength of the shot (SOR), the win of the bubble (WAB) or something similar tips the scales, it’s good news for SMU. In an SOR world, the Mustangs would be ranked 10th at 11-4. In the real world, however, Tim Yankovic’s people on the grid become fifties and populate the edges of the bubble. Keep winning, SMU.
should be in
Barring unforeseen setbacks, BYU appears to be on track for the least intense qualifying Sunday in the West Coast Conference – a key goal Gonzaga hasn’t reached since Saint Mary’s in 2017. (Although the Cougars and Gaels probably would have had drama-free qualifying Sundays in March if they had). Mark Pope’s team looks to be a potential candidate for the No. 8 spot after victories at San Diego and Utah, and a win on neutral ground against St. Louis.
Loyola Chicago Ramblers
Congratulations to the Ramblers who won a tie for first time this season. Prior to its 54-52 home victory over Valparaiso, Loyola Chicago had lost by no more than five points at the 0-3 scoreline. Porter Moser’s team has two more home games, both against Southern Illinois. With their top 10 ranking and a record of 19-4, the Ramblers are well on their way to reaching their current 9th place in basketball.
the Aztecs of San Diego State
The Aztecs opened the regular season with wins over UCLA and Arizona State (in Tempe) in their first five games. Brian Dutcher’s team is in the midst of the toughest Mountain West race in years. SDSU is currently in first place, although the Aztecs have a better NET ranking than Purdue, Rutgers or Virginia Tech. San Diego State has won six consecutive games since the last two played at Utah in mid-January.
Completion of task
After a 67-64 home victory over St. Bonaventure, the Rams forced their Atlantic 10 rivals to turn a profit on a remarkable 25% of their assets. Adrian Baldwin and Nah’Shon Hyland have the two highest steal percentages in the league, and even when an opponent is holding the ball, Hason Ward regularly blocks their shots. In short, it’s a defense for Mike Rhoades’ 2019 team, a group that has had a host of No. 8 seeded players, to only lose to UCF in the 64th final. WKU looks to finish a little higher than 11th this year. A place to aspire to, but the defense the Rams play could see the program win its first NCAA Tournament since 2016.
Boise State Broncos
Greetings from the Mountain West Conference, where it is widely believed that the league may field four teams in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 2013 semester. The Broncos were at the top of the MWC in 2021 until Leon Rice’s men lost two away games in Nevada. BSU is now listed in parentheses as the No. 11 seed, having won at his expense at BYU and Colorado. Boise State closes out its regular season with a series of two important games in San Diego.
Despite trailing by 10 points in the second half, Drake Loyola managed to beat Chicago by one point in Des Moines. This victory marks a complete turnaround after the Bulldogs’ defeat against the Ramblers 24 hours earlier at the same Field 27. The win was also achieved without AU top scorer Shankwan Hemphill, who missed both games against Loyola due to a broken leg. It is unknown if Hemphill can be back in time for a possible NCAA tournament, but it looks like his team can really make it. Drake is 20-2, and the Bulldogs had a good record before beating the Ramblers in Quad 1.
Saint Bonaventure Bonnie
Few bubble teams have a profile more focused on conference play than the Bonnies, who have had just two off-conference opponents (Akron and Hofstra) due to a COVID hiatus at the beginning of the season. The good news for Mark Schmidt and his men is that St. Bonaventure played very well in the Atlantic 10, combining solid defense with a large dose of offensive punch. At this point, if to mock, the brackets provide for a No. 11 placement for a team with a NET ranking in the 30 and a good percentage of wins in a limited number of games. Note that even in VCU’s three-point loss, Jalen Adaway was terrific, scoring 23 points on 13 shots and grabbing eight rebounds.
In a public bubble, Mountain West, Colorado State, defeated the other three major league contenders 1-1: Boise State, San Diego State and Utah State. So far, this record and a NET ranking in the 40s have been enough to reward the Rams with a spot among the last teams on the field or a spot among the first teams off the field. It is at least one of the most precise plans in the country, and the CSU is implementing all of them without a single senior member of the rotation. But can Nico Medved’s men maintain that position if the MWC calendar no longer offers Quad-1 opportunities? We’ll know soon enough.
State agencies in Utah
Currently in Utah, it appears that COWID-19 is on pause. (According to the MWC office, there have been safety and health concerns.) No games are scheduled until next week, when Boise State hosts a two-game series. Returning to the game, the Aggies are alive and well in the bubble discussion, thanks in large part to a two-game sweep against San Diego State in mid-January. Conference opponents made less than 40% of their 2 against the front line anchored by Neemias Queta. If Team Queta can make it that far, the 6-foot-5 junior has a good chance of becoming the best rim protector in the NCAA tournament. A win or two against the Broncos next week will improve NET’s ranking, which is in the 40s and 50s.
St. John’s Louis Billikens
The only surprise in SLU’s 78-57 home victory over La Salle came from coach Travis Ford, who took Jordan Goodwin off the field at 2:20. This athletic performance prevented the seniors from doing a triple double. Instead, Goodwin took over the bench with 16 points, 15 boards and eight assists. The Billikens, along with Richmond, were ranked as one of the preseason favorites in the Atlantic 10 before the KOVID-19 break. At 11-3, SLU may finally get going and be ready to get out of its current state of four first outs.
Make Richmond proud. The Spiders were challenged by multiple dropouts from COVID-19 and injuries to Nick Sherrod and Connor Crabtree at the end of the season, but Chris Mooney’s team still has a chance to break through. Richmond’s win over Loyola Chicago in Indianapolis in December is the rock on which the Spiders built their record for a high place finish. The Ramblers’ win on neutral ground is Quad 1, which is NET more impressive than UR’s 80-74 win under Davidson. Mooney’s men start next week with a 10-4 home record against Crosstown’s VCU rival.
Residents of the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers
Charles Bessey is being traded as a late first round draft pick in 2021. The 6-foot-2 junior has blocked shots all season, dominated the defense and scored many points on offense. In the Hilltoppers’ 73-71 victory at Alabama in December, Bessie scored a 27-12 double-double against one of the strongest defenses in the country, as we now know. All of this makes you wonder why WKU is so low on the bubble list. The losses to Charlotte and Louisiana Tech enabled Rick Stansbury’s group to achieve a NET rating in the 1970s. The rest of the way will improve this figure somewhat, but an equally viable trick might be to deactivate ABU to get an automatic offer.