Just like shamrocks and CSI Rome shows on the Caesar homicide every Ides and sore-armed pitchers, Mr. Bubble makes his return to the scene every year at this month.
So without further ado — does anyone ever use further ado? — college basketball’s patron saint is ready to answer your pressing questions about the upcoming NCAA tournament and global warming.
“Mr. Bubble, sir, will the selection committee consider that Texas point guard Myck Kabongo was unavailable for the Longhorns for 23 games because of, well, bureaucratic paperwork and a little vacation in Cleveland?” — R. Barnes.
Rick, absolutely they will. And if Texas escaped TCU Wednesday night in the late, first-round Big 12 tournament game, the Longhorns (6-3) will have twice as many victories as losses since his return. Mike Bobinski, the chairman of the NCAA selection committee, told me Wednesday that his group will consider the circumstances of a suspended player the same as an injured one, but don’t hold your breath on it making a difference, Rick.
“Player availability makes a difference for whatever reason,” Bobinski said. “If it’s relevant and appropriate and impactful, the answer is yes.”
Could there be anything more relevant than a team missing its best player and a likely NBA draft pick in June? Mr. Bubble thinks not. However, the committee’s more likely to consider inviting Texas to get DeLoss Dodds on television to talk about the wonderful state of basketball.
“Bubblehead, if a team that is on the bubble breaks out new, hideously ugly basketball uniforms for their conference tournament, could it be eliminated from at-large consideration?” — S. Drew.
Mr. Drew, I asked Bobinski that very question, and he said, “If you’re asking me, I’d say yes.” When I followed up and asked if he spoke for all 10 members of the committee, including Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione, he laughed and said, “No, just me.”
Of course, if they watched Cincinnati’s new horrible duds where the tops don’t match the bottoms, I’m sure the entire committee will be on board with rejecting any terribly outfitted bubble teams. The NCAA does have standards, after all.
“Speaking of Baylor, B-Dog, do the Bears have work to do to get included in the Big Dance?” — P. Jackson.
Yes, Pierre, it does need to embellish a résumé that has a last-game win over Kansas on it. That upset may not be enough to overcome a 4-8 record down the stretch. Baylor does have a respectable 63 RPI and a strong 26 strength of schedule and did beat a full-strength Kentucky with Nerlens Noel. But we’d advise the Bears to beat Oklahoma State on Thursday and one more after that to reach the Big 12 final. Jackson’s good and a nice TV draw but he’s no Brittney Griner. Oklahoma State’s a lock to get in and will be one of the hottest teams entering the tournament.
“Bubs, is Oklahoma in? After all, the Sooners have finished strong other than that little hiccup against TCU. Hey, ask Kansas how it likes Fort Worth?” — L. Krueger.
Rest easy. The Sooners should be in. And we will cut them slack for slipping up against the Horned Frogs. I mean, how many times does a team go 0-for-16 behind the line like OU did? Well, twice. OU didn’t scratch a 3-pointer against Baylor last year, and before that, you have to go back to the 1996-97 season. Something was up because OU’s Steven Pledger had hit 27 of its last 54 long-distance tries but went 0-for-5 with three air balls.
OU does get to prove its worth on the court by playing another bubble-worthy team, Iowa State, in Thursday’s quarterfinals. Lon Krueger’s squad has a better RPI and strength of schedule than the Cyclones, and those Blake Griffin commercials are funny, so a clear edge to the Crimson and Cream.
But OU should play it safe and tell Amath M’Baye not to make any taunting gestures as a reminder.
“Mr. B, who you got as the four No. 1 seeds? Kansas in that mix?” — B. Bowlsby.
Absolutely, the Jayhawks will receive a ton of consideration although this is not the Bubble’s favorite Jayhawks team ever. Bill Self’s either.
But Bobinski said Wednesday he was going into the afternoon, inaugural meeting of the selection committee where they cast their first private ballot with seven possible top seeds vying for his first line.
“I can’t speak for the entire committee, but I’ve probably got seven teams in my mind for those first four spots,” he said. “There could be as few as six, but it’s more than four. (The number being considered) is probably as big as it’s ever been.”
My four are Indiana, Duke, Gonzaga and Louisville, but Kansas, Florida, Miami and Michigan are possibles.