College Basketball Nation: Ernie Kent

3-point shot: Memphis' young backcourt

July, 8, 2014
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In today's 3-point shot, Andy Katz reports on Memphis' young backcourt and the challenges it faces, experimenting with a 30-second shot clock and Washington State's rebuilding under new coach Ernie Kent.

3-point shot: Coaches must use influence

September, 24, 2013
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1. Former Oregon coach Ernie Kent was hired in an executive role with the National Association of Basketball Coaches. Kent said Monday his goal is to grow the game, about which he said has been "very passionate since he was out of coaching." He said he has seen how much coaches care about student-athlete welfare from visiting schools since he has been out. But this organization needs to be much more forceful in the legislative process. The NABC has lost its activist role of late. The coaches should never be surprised by the draft date (pushed through by the ACC) or complain about the transfer waiver issue as much as they do without really trying to affect change. Coaches have the power in college basketball, much more so than the players. If they want to really force an issue then they must get out front, educate other decision makers and make sure they can actually do something. The governance structure is going to change, with more weight given to the power schools. That shift is coming. So the coaches, who are their best lobbying group, must almost act like legislators. Not knowing about the shift in rules that affect them is ignorant. It should never happen. If Kent is going to have a real effect in his job, then he must act.

2. North Carolina said Monday that P.J. Hairston's status hasn't changed. That means he's still suspended. But the school also must make clear if he can practice or play in anything competitive. Practice starts Friday. This shouldn't take long. Either he is practicing Friday and beyond or he is not. The length of any discipline is up to North Carolina. No one should tell them how long or if he should be suspended. But the fan base and those who contribute to the program should know his status. That is of the public domain. Once that is known, then Hairston and the Tar Heels can move forward with the season.

3. Indiana starts an intriguing season Friday, the one post-Big Ten title and Sweet 16 appearance. The anchors, Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller are gone. So what is Tom Crean looking for in the first week of practice? "Getting this team to understand that transition and help defense require great effort and talking," Crean said. "Also getting the team to understand the next play, the next pass and the next-shot mentality over worrying about the last play."

Ex-Oregon player won't meet with NCAA

June, 15, 2011
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Michael Dunigan is preparing for the NBA draft after playing for a year in Israel and Estonia following his abrupt departure from Oregon. He decided to turn pro following the arrival of new coach Dana Altman, and soon afterward, the school announced it would seek assistance from the Pac-10 after receiving information about former players regarding their eligibility.

Andy Katz reported that Oregon interviewed Dunigan as part of its investigation, but the matter has since been turned over to the NCAA. According to The Register-Guard, the NCAA also requested a meeting with Dunigan but didn't get one.
Dunigan has not spoken with NCAA representatives on the issue, though a request for a meeting was made to Dunigan’s attorney, George Andrews, who declined on his client’s behalf.

"We didn't feel we had anything we wanted or needed to share with them," Andrews said, adding that Dunigan "didn't leave Oregon for anything that happened off the court. ... There was no issue related to him doing anything improperly," such as a possible NCAA violation

Dunigan said he would have been eligible for his junior season at Oregon.

Dunigan of course was well within his rights to decline the meeting with investigators given that the NCAA has no subpoena power. He has denied that his eligibility was in question and isn't obligated to say anything.

But the NCAA investigation does continue to loom over Oregon. Altman and his staff don't have anything to do with the probe, yet they could be hampered by possible sanctions that might come out of it.

The Ducks had a surprising season after Dunigan left and others transferred in the wake of Ernie Kent's firing. Winning the CBI should give the team momentum heading into this year at a time when the Pac-12 lacks a sure-fire favorite.

It would be best for all involved if the NCAA investigation turns up nothing. For Dunigan, his time at Oregon is already in the rear-view mirror.

UNLV names four head coaching finalists

April, 5, 2011
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Naturally, the Wynn placed odds on who would become the next UNLV coach after Lon Kruger left for Oklahoma. Coaches from Bruce Pearl to Shaka Smart to Jerry Tarkanian were listed as possibilities, with Tark's return at 25,000 to 1.

The Wynn will now have to readjust those odds after UNLV named its four finalists, announcing that St. John's assistant Mike Dunlap, former Oregon coach Ernie Kent, BYU associate head coach Dave Rice and Timberwolves assistant Reggie Theus will continue on in the interview process.

"The list has been narrowed down to four outstanding candidates and I am looking forward to continuing the interview process," UNLV athletic director Jim Livengood said in a statement. "We were looking forward to naming our new head coach very soon."

Rice and Theus appear to be the top candidates. Rice played at UNLV, coached for 11 seasons as an assistant there, and has found success at BYU. Theus also played for the Rebels and has coached the Kings and at New Mexico State.

The Wynn had listed Theus as the favorite at 2-1 and Rice right behind him at 3-1. It also had Pearl at 10-1, Kent at 60 to 1, former Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel at 75-1, Duke associate head coach Steve Wojciechowski at 100 to 1 and Dunlap at 125 to 1.

Oregon could take an APR hit, too

September, 22, 2010
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Oregon already has a shortage of scholarship players, and on top of that, the four transferring players who led to it could cause the program to face APR penalties including a reduction in scholarships, according to The Oregonian.
"We're not anticipating this will do us any favors," said Bill Clever, Oregon's director of compliance. "It's not going to raise our APR, certainly, and I don't know that we've started to project what it will be yet."

Oregon's current APR (Academic Progress Rate) for men’s basketball is 944. That's a four-year average, by which the NCAA enforces academic progress, and it contains the 870 score the program earned in 2008-09.

Another score of 870 or below for 2009-10 would drop the team's APR below 925.

Aside from Josh Crittle, Drew Wiley, Matthew Humphrey, Jamil Wilson leaving the program after Oregon fired Ernie Kent, it doesn't help that the academic eligibility of guard LeKendric Longmire is in question as well.

Oregon is also currently looking into whether or not at least one former member of the team accepted extra benefits, and if anything is found, scholarships could be docked from that as well.

So yes, add maintaining a good APR score as another thing the Ducks should concern themselves with while they struggle to stay sane from suffering through one of the worst offseasons in college basketball.
When the most positive thing about your program in the offseason has to do with the gigantic, face-melting, Jerry Jones-would-be-proud scoreboard you're installing in your new basketball arena, you're probably not having a very good offseason. I'm talking, of course, about the Oregon Ducks.

This weekend brought even more bad news. According to a report from the Yediot Ahronot newspaper in Tel Aviv, Israel, Oregon just lost its fifth player since former coach Ernie Kent was fired in March. That player is Oregon center Michael Dunigan, who averaged 9.0 points, 4.9 rebounds and a team-leading 1.3 blocks in 20.3 minutes per game as a sophomore in 2009-10. According to Yediot Ahronot, Dunigan is expected to sign a three-year professional contract with an Israeli team, which would end his college hoops career.

Since Kent's firing, the bad news has just kept on coming. Oregon took forever with its ambitious coaching search. The school set its sights on some of college coaching's premier names, only to be rebuffed time and again; Brad Stevens and Tom Izzo were the search's two loftiest names, and neither one showed any public interest in the job. Then, after a month of fruitlessness, the Ducks settled on Creighton coach Dana Altman, a solid hire with a very good résumé who no doubt fell short of the program's original search-related expectations.

In the meantime, four players transferred out of Oregon. Drew Wiley went to Boise State. Josh Crittle transferred to Central Florida. Matt Humphrey ended up at Boston College and Jamil Wilson landed at Marquette. Point guard Malcolm Armstead also thought of transferring but eventually decided to stay in Eugene.

In all, the transfers mean Altman will begin his tenure with a decidedly decimated roster. Even if none of the departed players (including Dunigan, who was a highly rated but ultimately disappointing prospect) were going to revitalize Oregon immediately, having a bare cupboard after a 16-16 season -- including a 7-11 mark in a soft conference slate -- is, like, not good. In other words, that new scoreboard better be as distracting as it sounds.

Oregon hangs onto Malcolm Armstead

August, 4, 2010
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New Oregon coach Dana Altman recently gave a scholarship release to guard Malcolm Armstead, but the team's leading returning scorer has decided to remain with the Ducks for his junior season.

"Malcolm wanted to make sure the University of Oregon is the best situation for him, but after studying it, he really likes his teammates and likes the university," Altman said. "After going through all that with his parents, they analyzed everything and decided the University of Oregon was still the best."

Armstead's return was important given that Josh Crittle, Matthew Humphrey, Drew Wiley and Jamil Wilson had already transferred out in wake of Ernie Kent getting fired.

Armstead as a sophomore broke the school record for steals in a single season, led the team in assists and scored 10.3 points per game.

It couldn't have hurt that Altman had a previous relationship with Armstead, having recruited him as a junior college transfer while at Creighton.

"We’re glad he’s back," Altman said.

Oregon wins one on the recruiting trail

May, 3, 2010
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Oregon might not have won the news conference with its hiring of Dana Altman, but the new coach is reportedly victorious in a recruiting battle that resulted in an important commitment from point guard Johnathan Loyd, who is the state of Nevada's player of the year.

Signing the 5-foot-9 Loyd would give the Ducks another diminutive point guard after losing senior Tajuan Porter. But really, they're in need of players at this point after Ernie Kent didn't bring in anyone in the early signing period and three of his players received scholarship releases.

Loyd is a late bloomer in terms of garnering recruiting interest, and it'll be interesting to see if Oregon also has an interest in his older brother, Michael Loyd Jr., who last week decided to transfer from BYU.

Altman was hired too late for him to get a legitimate shot to recruit in-state stars Terrence Jones and Terrence Ross, but to get Loyd, he beat out UNLV head coach Lon Kruger, who needed a point guard of his own after recently parting ways with Matt Shaw.

Kruger also happened to be Altman's former boss at Kansas State, so score one for Altman on this day.

Oregon set to hire ... 'Coach TBA'

April, 7, 2010
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Oregon hosted the first of a series of open houses last night at Matthew Knight Arena, which opened its doors to the public for the first time. Fans marveled at the unfinished product.

Of course, what was missing was a new head coach to welcome in the people who Oregon hopes will pack the place. If they check out the team's Web site, they'll learn that the lucky guy is named "Coach TBA."

We're approaching the one-month mark since Ernie Kent was officially dismissed, and Andy Katz has made this determination:
Oregon clearly doesn't have a clue if it is just searching for the next hot name to fill its vacancy. It's so obvious that most of these schools don't have a plan when they fire their coach. You must have an idea of who you can get, and there are ways to do it, before you decide to get rid of your coach. Oregon wasn't going to nab any of the elite names in the game.
John Canzano of The Oregonian reports that Butler has been asked for permission to contact Brad Stevens, but what if that doesn't work? Bob Clark of The Register-Guard has this:
If a decision is to go back to one of the candidates who was unofficially contacted, such as Pittsburgh’s Jamie Dixon or Mark Turgeon of Texas A&M, Oregon will have to raise its offer, because those coaches have now accepted extensions to their current deals, with financial raises.

If the offers need to get very high, maybe it pushes Oregon into a really striking monetary offer to one of the nation’s highest-paid coaches, such as Tom Izzo of Michigan State ($2.8 million) or Billy Donovan of Florida ($3.5 million).

Or maybe Oregon should have stuck it out with Kent?
Well, according to Oregon, it takes the following:

Bachelor's degree required. Extensive collegiate and/or professional basketball background required. Division I coaching experience required. Excellent written, interpersonal and oral communication skills required. Knowledge of NCAA rules and interpretations required. Candidates who promote and enhance diversity are strongly desired.

Yes, that is from Oregon's online job posting for its college hoops coaching vacancy, a position made available when former coach Ernie Kent was ousted at the end of this season. How much money will you make? Salary range is "commensurate with experience." What are your responsibilities? They include recruitment, scheduling, maintaining a balanced, "instruction and leadership," the selection and maintenance of team equipment, including uniforms, fundraising (as directed) and "compiling data and reports," which sounds a more like something a regular business-casual-clad worker in a cubicle farm would have on his job description. What kind of data and reports?

There's nothing particularly notable about this ad, except that it exists. Earlier this offseason, DePaul also posted a want ad for its vacant head coaching position right next to the rest of the school's ads for everything from professors to maintenance workers. When you consider that athletic directors already know who they want to hire and rarely take outside suggestions -- let alone someone who wouldn't be able to call the AD directly and pitch his case -- these ads are entirely unnecessary. But entirely enjoyable.

Anyway, if you're interested in the job, go apply. The gig might be going fast: Oregon has had face-to-face interviews with a variety of candidates and plans to hire a coach before the Final Four, according to former athletic director Pat Kilkenny, who is overseeing Oregon's coaching search committee. Get your resumes and cover letters ready, folks. Put on your finest tie from T.J. Maxx. Time is running out.

Oregon schedules press conference today

March, 16, 2010
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Oregon coach Ernie Kent and athletic director Mike Bellotti are scheduled to hold a press conference in a few hours at Mac Court.

Anyone have a guess on what this might be all about?

Hint, hint.

UPDATE: Oregon has terminated Kent's contract after 13 seasons at the school.

"This was not an easy decision for me, but unfortunately, when I looked at the past five to six years, I did not see the improvement and consistency that I had hoped for, and that we will need to move forward as we open our new arena and seek to reenergize and expand our season ticket base," Bellotti said in a statement.
LOS ANGELES – It’s hard to dissect a hug, but from all accounts, the hugs Ernie Kent gave to his players following Cal’s 90-74 win over his Oregon Ducks were more “thanks for the memories” than “see you soon.”

[+] EnlargeErnie Kent
Jeff Gross/Getty ImagesErnie Kent is 24-39 in his past two seasons at Oregon.
Kent reportedly told his players before the Pac-10 tournament that he would not return next season after 13 seasons as coach at Oregon following the Ducks’ 16-16 season.

After the game, however, Kent, who is 24-39 in his last two seasons at Oregon, refused to comment on his future.

“I will talk about the game and I’ll talk about these two outstanding young men up here, but this is not the place for me to talk about anything else right now,” Kent said. “I’m hoping we’re playing somewhere quite frankly.”

Kent was joined at the postgame press conference by LeKendric Longmire and Tajuan Porter and while Kent was unwilling to talk about the rumors, or “noise” surrounding his future, Longmire had no trouble addressing it.

“As player we try to not to focus on it but personally it sticks with me everywhere I go,” he said. “Coach is a great guy and coming here he’s changed my life tremendously not only as a basketball player but as a young man. I can’t help but respect him for everything he’s done for me and for giving me the opportunity to be here and play on this level. We love coach and we want him and we need him here. We feel like he’s the one who can take us to where we need to be. He’s proven that he can do it so that’s where we are."
Saddle Up is our daily preview of the day's best basketball action. We're officially into that oh-so-awesome part of the season when a healthy portion of your daily hoops regimen will be happening during the day, necessitating Saddle Up's move to the morning. So let's do this.

Because trying to Saddle Up for every specific game on today's raucous conference tournament slate seems somewhat foolish (if not downright impossible) let's instead highlight five numbers, concepts or jargon you should watch out for in the next, oh, 16 hours or so. We'll cover every single game tomorrow, when the task is especially Sisyphean. More fun that way, right?

Special note: I'll be chatting the entire day starting at 12 p.m., alongside Brett, Diamond, and a whole batch of the college hoops faces you know and love. Join us, won't you?

OK, onto the things:

1. Big East bubble madness! The best conference in all the land features at least three teams sitting soundly on the bubble entering today's games -- Seton Hall (probably out), South Florida (probably out) and Notre Dame (probably in). South Florida has the best chance of all three to make an impression on the committee with its second-round game against No. 22 Georgetown. The Hoyas are still a ranked, talented team, but one that's very susceptible to upset, and the Bulls have the confidence of knowing they can beat John Thompson III's team anywhere in the country. (Thanks to Dominique Jones' 29 points and eight rebounds, the Bulls beat Georgetown at the Verizon Center on Feb. 3.)

South Florida's bubble standing will have a lot to do with how Seton Hall -- first-round survivors of one of the craziest games you'll ever see -- fares against Notre Dame. The Pirates have played themselves back into the tournament conversation in recent weeks; beating a hot Notre Dame team in the midst of its own late-season tournament run would be a nice little boost. One of the worst in the conference on the defensive end, Seton Hall will have to either find a way to stop Notre Dame's league-leading points-per-possession numbers ... or do its best to keep pace. Either way, both games should be entertaining. (And South Florida-Georgetown tips in a few minutes. Get that ESPN360 loaded!) Oh, and don't forget about Cincinnati, which could use a win over Louisville and then some to get back into bubbleland.

2. Big 12 bubble sadness! The Big East is full of bubble and seeding implications. The Big 12? Not so much. Joe Lunardi currently lists the Big 12's top seven seeds -- Kansas, Kansas State, Baylor, Texas A&M, Missouri, Texas and Oklahoma State -- as locks for the tournament. The remaining five teams -- Colorado, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Iowa State and Nebraska -- aren't at all on the bubble. It would take a momentous run by any of those five to mean something for bubble purposes. Do any of them have what it takes? Eh. Doubtful. But funny things happen in tournaments, and if any of the bottom five have a chance at a run, we'll seed the seeds of that run in today's first four games.

3. It ain't easy being Northeast. Without getting too fatalist, a word of advice for the Northeast conference tournament winner, which will be either Robert Morris or Quinnipiac: Live it up. The Northeast champion would do well to enjoy tonight's celebration, because being in the NCAA tournament and being from the NEC has for 28 years meant one thing: a first-round tournament loss. Yes, the NEC has been in the tourney for almost three decades now, but the entrant has never won a first-round tournament game, according to the uber-helpful folks from ESPN research. If No. 1 seed Quinnipiac finishes the job, the Bobcats will have won the NEC and made the NCAA tournament for the first time ever. And it'll be the first school to start with the letter Q to ever play in the Big Dance. Triple the party! Could a first NCAA tournament win be all that far behind?

4. The Pac-1? Or 2? Consensus on the Pac-10 has remained relatively stable since, oh, November: This is a one-bid league. Arizona State and Washington have both crept closer and closer to the tournament in the last few weeks, but both are still on the outside looking in; Mike Montgomery's Cal team is the lone at-large inclusion. That said, if either team can force its way through the first few rounds of the Pac-10 tournament -- or, obviously, win it -- they could potentially turn the Pac-10 into a two-big league with an option for three. Bad news for bubble teams. Good news for the west coast's most prominent, and most disappointing, conference.

Which is all a long way of saying that the Pac-10 tournament starts today, officially, with one totally forgettable game: Washington State-Oregon. There is a slight bit of drama here, though, regarding Oregon coach Ernie Kent's job. Yesterday, Kent told his players he'll be out as coach after the season is over. Will the Ducks win one (or, preferably for Ernie, three) for the Gipper? Or will they, like so many other teams faced with obvious coaching turmoil, fold in and end the season on a dour note?

5. The big country. Clean air and kitchens full of food aren't the only reason to turn your attentions westward today. No, there's a rather intriguing conference tournament match up on hand -- Weber State vs. Montana -- the winner of which will represent the Big Sky conference in the NCAA tournament. Both are familiar names; the Wildcats and the Grizzlies share the most conference tournament titles in league history, and today's game will mark the fifth time the two have met to decide the title. Look out for Weber State sophomore guard Damian Lillard, the purest scorer you've never heard of.

Ernie Kent predicts NCAA tournament bid

March, 7, 2010
3/07/10
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Oregon coach Ernie Kent might lose his job in the coming days, assuming the widespread reports he won't comment on are true, but apparently he thinks his team still has something left.

An emotional Kent said at today's team awards banquet that the Ducks will win the Pac-10 tournament, according to The Register-Guard.

There were a couple of other times when Kent had to pause to gather himself when he was speaking to the 200 people in attendance. He made no specific mention of his uncertain job status, but rather emphasized the fact he feels his team has “a lot more” basketball to play.

He predicted the Ducks will win the Pac-10 tournament, which would earn Oregon a berth in the NCAA Tournament. Beyond that, Oregon officials confirmed that paperwork has been submitted to the NIT with the intent of receiving an invitation.

Unfortunately for the Ducks, tiebreakers leave them as the No. 8 seed in the conference tournament, and they'll need a win against last-place Washinton State just to get a quarterfinal game against top-seeded Cal.

Anything goes this year in the Pac-10, but could it be possible that a lame duck with two Elite Eights on his resume would get the last laugh?

Saturday's winners and losers

March, 7, 2010
3/07/10
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Winners from Saturday

Notre Dame: The Irish gave the selection committee another reason to put them in the dance with yet another road win, this time with Luke Harangody and at Marquette -- a team in the tournament field. The Irish are earning their way into the field.

Duke: The Blue Devils likely earned the fourth No. 1 seed with a hammering of North Carolina on Saturday night. Duke also clinched a share of the ACC regular-season title. The Blue Devils passed the eye test of a team that could get to Indy.

Saint Louis: The Billikens won at Dayton, completing a season sweep of the Flyers and finishing in fourth place in the Atlantic 10. Rick Majerus has done an outstanding job with a club that is void of upperclassmen. The Billikens could be a sleeper to win the A-10 in Atlantic City next week.

Baylor: If you’re looking for a sleeper in the Big 12 tournament, it could be Baylor. The Bears ran away from Texas and looked like a team ready to get busy in the postseason.

Kansas: The Jayhawks may have locked up the No. 1 overall seed after winning at Missouri on Saturday. Kansas got inspired play from its key contributors and once again heads into the conference tournament on a high.

Louisville: The Cardinals had to win two of there games this week and did. Louisville beat Connecticut, then lost at Marquette before beating Syracuse on Saturday. That gave the Cardinals a sweep of Syracuse and a likely bid to the Dance in the final game at Freedom Hall.

Tennessee: The Vols did something Lane Kiffin couldn’t do, taking a 17-0 lead on the road in the SEC. Tennessee lit up Mississippi State and had the look of a team that could be a major factor in an SEC tournament that they'll play in their home state just a few hours away in Nashville.

Virginia Tech: The Hokies didn’t have their second-leading scorer in Dorenzo Hudson, survived a nasty moving screen by Gani Lawal on Malcolm Delaney and gutted out a win over Georgia Tech in Atlanta. The Hokies dismissed any doubt about their candidacy with a win.

Washington: The Huskies kept alive their chances of an at-large berth by winning at Oregon State. That win doesn’t get them in the dance, but a loss would have been crushing.

Arizona State: The Sun Devils are in Joe Lunardi’s bracket and they had to beat UCLA to stay in the field. They did, sweeping the L.A. schools this week. But here’s the deal: ASU and Washington are heading for a showdown in the semifinals of the Pac-10 tourney. Loser is out, winner has a pulse.

Memphis: The Tigers had a great week, winning at UAB and crushing Tulsa at home. The Tigers get the sweep of the Blazers. If you’re looking for a second C-USA team to go along with league champ UTEP, it could be the Tigers. They may get a third shot at UAB in the semifinals.

Maryland: The Terps won at Virginia. Yes, UVA was playing without Sylven Landesberg, who has been suspended for the season due to academics, but the Terps still won a road game. That means Maryland gets a share of the ACC title. That’s an outstanding accomplishment for this squad.

Pitt: The Panthers lost to Indiana early in the year without Jermaine Dixon and Gilbert Brown. Pitt could have lost to Providence at home, but when it mattered most the Panthers have come up huge. They beat Rutgers as expected Saturday but that meant Pitt got the No. 2 seed after beating West Virginia and Villanova at home in February. Jamie Dixon has done a phenomenal job with the Panthers. There is no reason Pitt should be No. 2 in the Big East with what it lost.

Losers from Saturday

Rhode Island: Had a shot to convince the selection committee that it was worthy, but lost at UMass a week after losing at St. Bonaventure. The Rams didn’t beat the top three teams in the A-10 (Xavier, Temple or Richmond). URI must win the conference tournament.

Mississippi State: The Bulldogs started a must-win game down 17-0. Mississippi State has blown two chances to win a key home game – to Kentucky and now Tennessee. The Bulldogs didn’t do anything Saturday to convince the selection committee.

Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets may still get into the field. But they gave the selection committee a reason to pause after losing at home to Virginia Tech, sans Dorenzo Hudson, who was hurt. The Yellow Jackets finished seventh in the ACC and had only one conference road win.

Connecticut: The Huskies had an awful week, losing at Notre Dame and then losing at South Florida on Saturday. The Huskies now probably have to get to the Big East semifinals to crawl back into the conversation.

Dayton: The Flyers were teetering on the bubble before the Billikens bulldozed the Flyers late and stole a win. Dayton now probably has to win the A-10 tournament to get a bid.

Villanova: The ‘Cats may have played themselves out of a No. 2 seed by losing at home to West Virginia. Villanova also fell to the No. 4 seed in the Big East tournament. ‘Nova can still make a magnificent run, but it made the journey more difficult.

Kansas State: The Wildcats lost their third home game in the Big 12 by falling to lower-level Iowa State (also lost to Kansas and Oklahoma State). The Wildcats blew a No. 2 seed with the home loss Saturday.

LaSalle: The Explorers were supposed to be a sleeper in the A-10. They won’t even make the tournament in Atlantic City. The Explorers will join winless Fordham in sitting out the conference tourney.

Oklahoma: The disaster season came to a conclusion with a sad effort against Texas A&M. The atmosphere was awful and the Sooners sunk.

North Carolina: The Tar Heels were handed the second-worst loss under Roy Williams. The Tar Heels were embarrassed by Duke and limp into the ACC tournament. It was just awful.

UAB: The Blazers had a huge week with games against UTEP and Memphis. They lost them both and pushed themselves onto the wrong side of the bubble.

Tulsa: The Golden Hurricane got hammered by Memphis and limp into hosting the conference tournament next week. Tulsa was the preseason favorite to win Conference USA.

A few nuggets:
  • Georgetown coach John Thompson III said late Saturday night that Austin Freeman felt fine after the game, his first since being diagnosed with diabetes. Freeman scored 24 points in the win over Cincinnati. Freeman missed the West Virginia game last Monday. Thompson told me that the Hoyas will continue to monitor Freeman’s blood-sugar level and don’t anticipate any problems going forward this season.
  • Notre Dame got Luke Harangody back for the win at Marquette. Harangody played 11 minutes off the bench. Irish coach Mike Brey told me late Saturday night that Harangody will continue to come off the bench this season. He said ‘Gody told him to use him however he wants to ensure the team wins. Brey said the Irish have become mentally tougher in the past few weeks. The Irish were 4-2 without Harangody, beating Pitt and Connecticut at home and winning at Georgetown.
  • KVAL-TV reported that Oregon coach Ernie Kent has been fired and that he was told on Feb. 22 by Oregon athletic director Mike Bellotti. No one will be surprised if this does occur, but Kent told me in a text late Saturday night that this is the same story he has heard the past four years. Meanwhile, Bellottti sent this statement out late Saturday night after Oregon’s win over Washington State: "Ernie and I have talked, and we will continue to talk through the Pac-10 Tournament."

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