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NCAA tournament bubble watch: Providence, Memphis help cause

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Three weeks away from Selection Sunday means NCAA tournament bubble teams are feeling the pressure to bolster their profiles in hopes of keeping their postseason hopes alive. 

Here’s a look at which teams enhanced and stained their résumés the most in Saturday’s action. 

PROFILE WINNERS

Providence: The Friars (16-12) started the day as one of the “last four in” the projected field of 68. Their 84-72 home victory over Marquette (and Markus Howard’s 38 points) moved them closer to the safety zone. Providence’s NCAA profile is peculiar in the sense that it features four résumé-staining Quadrant 4 losses. However, it also showcases seven Quadrant 1 victories, which is more than any bubble team. 

STATEMENT WIN: Kansas makes case as NCAA tournament’s top No. 1 seed

Memphis: The Tigers (19-8) picked up a much-needed 60-59 win over fellow bubble team Houston. Memphis has regrouped with two consecutive wins after losing three in a row before that. This victory alone over a Houston squad leading the American Athletic standings won’t push coach Penny Hardaway’s team into the projected field of 68 because a NET score in the 60s doesn’t do any favors, but beating Houston counts as a marquee win, which Memphis was desperately lacking on its résumé. 

Arkansas: The Razorbacks (17-10) are currently on the outside looking in as a bubble team that needs to keep winning to have a shot at the NCAAs. So beating SEC foe Missouri 78-68 on Saturday was necessary to keep those hopes alive. Arkansas only has a 4-9 record in league play (the committee doesn’t look at that), but has a top-50 NET score, top 15 non-conference strength of schedule and no Quad 3 or Quad 4 losses on its profile. 

Syracuse: The Orange (15-12) have a way to go to really enter the at-large bid discussion but winning games it should like Saturday against Georgia Tech will only help that cause. Syracuse’s NET score in the 60s isn’t good and neither are just two Quadrant 1 wins on the NCAA portfolio. But if Syracuse can pick up a couple of marquee victories in the final weeks of ACC play, it’s in business to push to the right side of the bubble. 

PROFILE LOSERS 

Purdue: The Boilermakers (14-13) fell 71-63 to Michigan at home in a must-win game to stay in the NCAA tournament hunt. It’s the fourth consecutive loss for Purdue, which now slips further to the wrong side of the bubble with a near-.500 record. The Boilermakers have an appealing NET score of 34 (and the committee has proved in the past how much it harps on this) and no horrible losses to go with four Quadrant 4 wins. But if there aren’t enough wins on the profile, it won’t matter.

Florida: The Gators (17-10) entered the day as a projected No. 11 seed and Saturday’s 65-59 loss to Kentucky won’t change that seed line. But if it gets close on Selection Sunday the loss could matter considering it would’ve given UF a résumé-lifting Quad 1 road win. Florida has a NET score in the 30s an top-15 strength of schedule, but it’s also one bad loss away from drifting to the wrong side of the bubble. 

Rhode Island: The Rams (19-7) fell in overtime to Davidson 77-75 and could potentially see their seeding line dip from No. 10 to a less safe No. 11. Rhode Island has an exceptional NET score in the low 30s but also owns only one Quadrant 1 win on its résumé. Another Quad 2 win over Davidson would have helped offset those profile shortcomings. 

Richmond: The Spiders (20-7) had won five in a row to leapfrog to one of the “last four in” the projected field this February. But mid-majors don’t have much room for error — meaning Saturday’s 75-71 loss to St. Bonaventure will likely shove Richmond out of the field. A NET score in the 40s is decent, but only two Quad 1 wins means the committee will already be harping on one portfolio shortcoming. 

North Carolina State: The Wolf Pack (17-10) came up with a huge win over Duke earlier this week, but couldn’t pull off another Quadrant 1 victory in falling to Florida State 67-61. A NET score in the 50s is the biggest profile flaw right now if the committee conducted a blind resume test. But adding to N.C. State’s five Quad 1 wins would have catapulted the Wolf Pack much further to the safety zone. Expect them to stay at the No. 10 seed line. 

Mississippi State: The Bulldogs (17-10) lost to SEC foe Texas A&M after starting the day as one of the “first four out” on the projected bracket. Expect MSU to slip further to the wrong side of the bubble after this road loss. It’s not a résumé stain, but it is a loss that makes the next few weeks look bleak as far as tournament hopes go. Ben Howland’s team needs to start winning or it’s NIT. 

Oklahoma: The Sooners (16-11) lost to Oklahoma State 83-66 and as a result will take a hit from a projected No. 10 seed to a No. 11 seed — which is much closer to the wrong side of the bubble than fringe teams would prefer. Even though it was a road loss, now this puts OU in a position of needing to enhance its credentials in the final two weeks of the regular season. This team has a NET score in the 40s but is drastically lacking in the Quadrant 1 win department with just one. 

***

NCAA tourney explainer:

  • Quadrant 1 wins: Home games vs. 1-30 NET teams; Neutral-site games vs. 1-50 NET; Away games vs. 1-75 NET
  • Quadrant 2 wins: Home games vs. 31-75 NET; Neutral-site games vs. 51-100 NET; Away games vs. 76-135 NET
  • Quadrant 3 wins, losses: Home games vs. 76-160 NET; Neutral-site games vs. 101-200 NET; Away games vs. 136-240 NET
  • Quadrant 4 wins, losses: Home games vs. 161-plus NET; Neutral-site games vs. 201-plus NET; Away games vs. 241-plus NET

Note:  Mostly all statistical data are used from USA TODAY Sports veteran bracketologist Shelby Mast. WarrenNolan.com and the NCAA’s NET rankings are also a reference point. 

Follow college basketball reporter Scott Gleeson on Twitter @ScottMGleeson.

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Sports Digest: Westbrook-Gorham Rotary Club high school road race canceled

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The Westbrook-Gorham Rotary Club’s Patriots Day road race for high school runners has been canceled, race director Owen McCullough announced in an email on Tuesday.

The annual race was scheduled to take place on Monday, April 20. It is a 2.2-mile race open to local high school students.

SOCCER

GERMAN LEAGUE: Thomas Müller signed a two-year contract extension with Bayern Munich.

The 30-year-old attacking midfielder’s contract had been due to expire at the end of next season but he is now tied to the team until 2023.

Müller has been with Bayern for 20 years, winning eight German titles and the 2013 Champions League, and marked his 500th senior game for the club in November.

OBIT: Former Atlético Madrid coach Radomir Antic, who led the club to the Spanish league and Copa del Rey titles in 1996, has died. He was 71.

The club did not provide a cause of death for Antic, who also briefly coached Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The former Serbian player managed Atlético over five seasons in 189 official matches, the fourth most in club history.

COLLEGES

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Ohio State assistant Carrie Banks has been hired as the new women’s basketball coach at Omaha, athletic director Trev Alberts announced Tuesday.

Banks was an assistant and recruiting coordinator for four seasons with the Buckeyes. She replaces Brittany Lange, who was fired last month after seven seasons.

“Carrie rose to the top of our applicant pool because of her depth of experience as a coach and recruiter,” Alberts said. “She has done a terrific job as an assistant coach at Ohio State, and she is ready to lead her own team.”

TENNIS

HALEP RECOVERING: Two-time major champion Simona Halep’s injured foot is well enough that she has started running on it without pain.

Halep said in a video posted on Twitter on Monday that she still is not healed to the point that she can play tennis.

The injury dates to February and caused her to withdraw from the hard-court tournament in Indian Wells, California, that eventually was called off because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The spread of the illness has forced all professional tennis tournaments to be postponed or canceled until at least mid-July.

That includes the cancellation of Wimbledon, where Halep would have been the defending champion this year.

BASEBALL

COURT: Former All-Star first baseman Todd Helton pleaded guilty to driving under the influence as a first offense and has served 48 hours in jail as part of his sentence.

Helton crashed his vehicle on March 18, 2019, in Knox County and required emergency medical care. No other cars were involved and one else was hurt. Helton was given a misdemeanor citation for DUI.

Knox County assistant district attorney Sean F. McDermott confirmed to The Associated Press that Helton also received unsupervised probation for 11 months, 29 days, with his license suspended for a year. Helton also had to pay a $350 fine and attend a Victim Impact Panel.

FOOTBALL

LABOR DEAL: Ron Mix likes what he has seen and read regarding the new labor agreement between the NFL and its players.

The Pro Football Hall of Famer, a board member with the Pro Football Retired Players Association and a retired attorney, believes players from every generation will benefit from the deal struck last month that runs through the 2030 season. Mix retired after the 1971 season.

“Ten years ago, the CBA helped correct the low pension benefits for retired players,” Mix says. “A baseball player who played the same time as me and the same number of years and inducted into the Hall of Fame receives a pension of $100,000 a year. My pension is $20,000. The current players and owners should really be applauded for making sure the new CBA addressed the pensions and the needs of the thousands of players who left with broken bodies and minds.

“The new benefits are significant, improve players’ benefits by doubling in many instances. Aside from approved benefits, the new formula calls for $550 a month per vested season. This increases the pension benefits significantly for all players.”

Recently, the labor agreement’s validity has been challenged by attorneys for safety Eric Reid, and questioned by others. They believe language changed from the deal the players voted on to the one now in force should void the agreement.

Mix prefers to concentrate on the positive aspects of the CBA that narrowly was approved by the NFL Players Association membership, 1,019-959.


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Lego National Championship on BYUSN 4.7.20

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Today’s BYUSN featured a taste of what this year’s National Championship could’ve been like. Slow-motion animator Jared Jacobs used his talent to create a Lego National Championship that features Voice of the Cougars Greg Wrubell’s call as BYU defeats Kansas. Plus, Jacobs made hosts Spencer Linton and Jarom Jordan a lego version of BYUSN following the championship.

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With Games Paused, Sports Companies Shift to Making Medical Supplies

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Wheeler said he and his technicians have consulted with physicians at Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women’s Hospitals, along with experts at Harvard and M.I.T. to expeditiously produce the best possible masks.

They have retrofitted some machinery and fabrics from their sneaker production, but are also working with new materials, including nonwoven, melt-blown fabrics. Those could help New Balance to provide N95 masks, which block 95 percent of airborne particles that are 0.3 microns or larger, and can be used in emergency rooms.

In Charlotte, N.C., TheMagic5, a fairly new company that produces goggles for competitive swimmers, has been sending custom-built goggles at cost ($15) to several dozen emergency medical workers, nurses and doctors in New York after they send the company scans of their faces. The project is in the early stages, but the initial testing suggests the goggles can be worn by health care professionals for long stretches without pain, adjustment or fogging up.

“I was thinking, how bad would I feel if we didn’t help, if we didn’t even test whether they could work,” said Rasmus Barfred, a triathlete and one of the company’s founders, who lives in New York. “I think a lot of people in sports think that way, too.”

While much of the sports world has focused on producing gear that protects medical personnel, the Formula One effort, nicknamed Project Pitlane, is aimed at helping patients. Covid-19 can cause severe breathing difficulty in its worst cases, but the CPAP machines could help keep people off the ventilators, which are in short supply.

According to Shipley, the U.C.L. medical engineer, data from Italy and China shows that patients who use CPAP machines soon after infection are 50 to 60 percent less likely to need a more invasive ventilator, which also requires sedation.

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