Will a Big 12 team cut down the nets this year? Have we seen Tubby Smith coach his last basketball game? Do the Merl Cole allegations really shock or upset any college basketball fans? We look at these questions and more in this week’s NCAAB Notebook!
How many ACC teams will go dancing?
In his latest Bracketology release, ESPN tournament guru Joe Lunardi has just five ACC teams participating in the 2022 NCAA Tournament. He has two of those teams—North Carolina and Wake Forest—as being among the last ones into the tournament, with Virginia Tech among his “next four out.” Duke is the conference’s highest seed on the two line, with Notre Dame projected as a 9-seed, and Miami, North Carolina, and Wake Forest all projected as 10-seeds.
It’s shocking for the ACC to have just one team as a “lock” for the tournament. While we all knew the conference was having a down year, few expected teams like Louisville and Florida State to simply fall flat on their faces.
While Notre Dame’s resume should be strong enough to ensure the Fighting Irish get in, the stretch runs for the other three teams will be vital to avoiding a worst-case scenario of no more than three conference representatives in the tournament. The ACC Tournament could be the biggest decider of how many teams hear their names called on Selection Sunday.
Is the Big 12 the conference to beat come March?
Kansas will likely win the Big 12 regular season title, after Texas Tech swept Baylor for the first time since 2005 with a 10-point win on Wednesday night. With a game in hand on both the Red Raiders and Bears, the Jayhawks currently sit one win ahead of both teams in the standings, with Kansas still to travel to Baylor on Feb. 26. That said, all three conference teams could present real problems in the tournament.
Texas Tech is playing some terrific basketball at the moment, with the game last night having a real tournament vibe. However, while they are unbeaten at home, their performance on the road has at times been head-scratching. The Bears must overcome the loss of big man Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua and replace his rebounding, while Kansas needs to improve on the glass at both ends.
The Big 12 and the SEC are currently tied for the lowest price in the TwinSpires NCAA basketball futures market for the conference that will win the NCAA Tournament. Kansas and Baylor are the two main reasons why, but if Texas Tech can continue to defend the way it has, the Red Raiders could be a true dark horse come March.
Is this the end for Tubby Smith?
Wednesday saw the announcement from High Point University that Hall of Fame coach Tubby Smith would be stepping down, with his son assuming the job for the remainder of this season and all of next season. The legendary coach won the 1998 National Championship with Kentucky, and has led five different teams to the NCAA Tournament. One of the classiest and kindest men in the sport, he has been away from the program for multiple weeks after contracting COVID-19 for the second time.
While there has been no official word as of yet, one must assume this will be the end of a truly remarkable career. At 70 years of age, he has a 642-370 record, but had seen his performance slip over the past decade, and he felt like he would end his career coaching his alma mater. If this is the end, Smith will truly be missed by those around the game.
When you rack up four consecutive Quad 1 victories, it makes people stand and take notice. That is exactly what Rutgers has achieved over the past two weeks. The Scarlet Knights’ wins over Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin, and then Illinois on Wednesday night have put them squarely in the conversation to be invited to the NCAA Tournament, giving the Big Ten potentially eight teams in the competition.
Rutgers has some very bad losses on its resume, many from starting the season with a 4-4 record. However, the Scarlet Knights’ 70-68 win over then top-ranked Purdue on Dec. 9 kicked off a 7-2 stretch that righted their season. Sunday sees them pay a visit to those same Boilermakers with a chance to make it five straight Quad 1 wins. Were they to win that game, or the visit from Wisconsin next week, the Scarlet Knights could almost assuredly punch their ticket to the Big Dance.