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Biggest Snubs from March Madness



Selection Sunday is the moment of truth for college basketball teams hoping to make it to the big dance. But for a few unlucky teams each year, it becomes Rejection Sunday as they watch the NCAA men’s tournament bracket unveiling together only to hear Greg Gumbel call out other teams’ names.

This year’s Selection Sunday was no exception, with many bubble teams anxiously awaiting their fate. Some had surged into tournament contention in March, while others stumbled into Selection Sunday with a string of losses. Some teams had demanding schedules and barely made it above .500, while others had impressive records but lacked quality wins to secure a spot in the tournament. Regardless of their circumstances, they all hoped for a shot at March Madness, but only a few were lucky enough to see their dreams come true.

Biggest Snubs

Rutgers (19-14, 10-10, NET: 40, KenPom: 35)

Despite being projected to make the NCAA tournament in almost every mock bracket, the Scarlet Knights’ unusual profile made them vulnerable to exclusion. Their non-conference schedule lacked challenges, and their performance in the Big Ten season showed they could beat any team and lose to anyone.

On the one hand, Rutgers had impressive wins against Purdue and Penn State and pushed Purdue again into the Big Ten quarterfinals. They also beat Indiana and Maryland. On the other hand, their 2-4 record in Quadrant 3 games was the worst among bubble teams, and they suffered embarrassing losses to last-place Minnesota, Nebraska, Temple, and Seton Hall. The Scarlet Knights’ inconsistency ultimately cost them a spot in the tournament, leaving them to wonder what might have been.

Clemson (23-10, 14-6, NET: 57, KenPom: 64)

Clemson’s résumé had much going for it as a bubble team, including an above-.500 record in Quadrant 1 and 2 games and impressive wins against Penn State, Pittsburgh, Duke, and NC State. They also had a solid 14-6 record in a down ACC.

However, their non-conference schedule ranked a lowly 334th, and their numerous losses in Quadrant 3 or 4 games were their undoing.

The selection committee has always been critical of weak non-conference schedules, and Clemson’s certainly fit that bill. But their losses to 28-loss Louisville, South Carolina, Boston College, and Loyola Chicago sealed their fate. It’s tough to make the NCAA tournament with hideous defeats on your résumé, even with impressive wins. Unfortunately for Clemson, their lack of consistency and poor scheduling decisions cost them a spot in the tournament this year.

North Carolina (20-13, 11-9, NET: 46, KenPom: 47)

North Carolina made painful history on Selection Sunday by becoming the first team to miss the NCAA tournament since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1985 after being ranked as the AP preseason No. 1 team. Despite having four returning starters from last year’s national runner-up team, the Tar Heels never found their form this season. They struggled in Quadrant 1 games, only managing two wins, with one coming against a struggling Ohio State team that finished second-to-last in the Big Ten.

Even a solid performance in the ACC quarterfinals was needed to secure North Carolina’s spot in the tournament. The Tar Heels fell to Virginia in a defensive battle, and disappointment was evident on their faces as they realized their fate. For a team with such high expectations, missing the tournament was a tough pill to swallow and a reminder that success in college basketball is never guaranteed.

Vanderbilt (20-14, 11-7, NET: 81, KenPom: 80)

According to Bart Torvik’s T-Rankings, Vanderbilt has been the 30th-best team in the country since February 1st. The Commodores finished the season strong, winning 10 of their last 12 games, including victories over Kentucky, Mississippi State, Auburn, and Tennessee. If Selection Sunday were based on the 68 teams playing the best at the end of the season, Vanderbilt would be a lock. However, the committee evaluates the entire body of work, which includes Vanderbilt’s early season losses to Grambling and Southern Miss. These losses, combined with their low NET ranking of 81 and KenPom ranking of 80, worked against them.

Ultimately, Vanderbilt was in a similar position to the 2022 Texas A&M Aggies. Like the Aggies, the Commodores hit their stride too late in the season. Despite their impressive finish, Vanderbilt’s early season struggles proved too challenging to overcome in the eyes of the selection committee.

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Nikola Jokic has 3 career 30-point triple-double with 0 turnovers




Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic recorded his third career 30-point triple-double with zero turnovers, the most in NBA history since the league began tracking individual turnovers in 1977-78, in Wednesday night’s 134-124 win over the Houston Rockets.

The two-time MVP posted 32 points, 10 rebounds, 15 assists, and one steal in 34 minutes of action. Jokic, 28, finished 12-of-19 (63.2%) shooting from the floor and drained a 3-pointer.

Referring to a couple of NBA betting sites, the Denver Nuggets hold third-shortest odds to repeat this season in 2024. Sportsbooks are showing better odds for the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks.

Plus, he shot 7-of-8 (87.5%) at the foul line. It was his seventh triple-double of the season, leading all other players. Entering the night, all other NBA players had combined for just eight triples.

The two other times Jokic logged at least 30 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists with zero turnovers on 60% shooting was last season and back in 2018-19.

Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic leads the NBA in triple-doubles, double-doubles, total rebounds, etc.

Additionally, the five-time All-Star leads the league in double-doubles with 17. Los Angeles Lakers star Anthony Davis trails with 15, followed by Domantas Sabonis (13), Rudy Gobert (12), Joel Embiid (12), Evan Mobley (12), and Tyrese Haliburton (12).

Furthermore, Jokic has posted 94 triple-doubles on at least 50% shooting, the most in NBA history. The nine-year veteran leads NBA Hall of Famers Oscar Robertson (92) and Magic Johnson (86).

Through 18 games this season, Jokic leads the league in total rebounds (237), defensive rebounds (175), true shooting percentage (70.1%), field goals (205), player efficiency rating (34.6), win shares (4.1), box plus/minus (15.7), and value over replacement player (2.7).

According to the Basketball-Reference database, Nikola Jokic has a 90.9% chance of being inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

In Wednesday’s victory, Denver outscored the Rockets 41-26 in the opening quarter. Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. scored a season-high 30 points, and guard Jamal Murray added 16 points after missing 11 games.

“One of the security guards said, ‘Hey, great win tonight.’ I said it was a great outcome,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “I wouldn’t call it a great win. It was a great outcome.”

Denver had lost twice to the Rockets in November, including a 19-point loss in Houston five days earlier. The Nuggets improved their NBA-best home record to 9-0, whereas the Rockets fell to 0-7 on the road.

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Kevin Durant praises In-Season Tournament because so far it gives him a ‘different vibe’




The In-Season Tournament’s group stages are over and teams are getting prepared to face the quarterfinals and finally end the last rounds in Las Vegas. As the first edition unfolds, the competition is slowly earning some new fans, including basketball players.

Kevin Durant recently counted himself as a satisfied customer of the NBA’s new invention, as he reveals that the game’s atmosphere provides a different vibe from the regular-season exhibitions.

Following the Suns defeat to the Toronto Raptors this Wednesday, the superstar addressed the fact that they qualified to the quarterfinals and will face the Los Angeles Lakers next week. The winner will make it to the next round which will be played in Las Vegas.

The In-Season cup has been gathering new positive reviews lately, and Durant further explained how the new look, the customized courts, unique jerseys and branding have given an interesting feel to it. As a player, he gave his personal perspective on the tournament.

“We have played in bigger games. But obviously fans love seeing high intensity games in the regular season, that is why we got the tournament, to please the fans. They weren’t satisfied with the level of ball we were playing in the regular season,” he said.

However, the 35-year-old knows that the real purpose behind this competition is not to satisfy the athletes, but to convince the customers that this could eventually become a new, celebrated tradition in the NBA.

“It’s not really how we feel, it’s about how the consumer feels about what they see. Hopefully they enjoy it,” the Phoenix star explained. “Whatever the consumer and the fan wants, the NBA and Adam Silver will do their best to give it to them. Us as players will continue to go about our business as we always do.”

Players and coaches differ on their perspectives over the In-Season Tournament; not everyone is satisfied after competing

Even though Cleveland picked up their third win of the In-Season Tournament on Tuesday against Atlanta, they didn’t make it to the next round due to the point-difference rule. Even though they finished second in their group, the Cavs needed to score more points to qualify.

“It’s kind of different,” Darius Garland expressed. “It’s not respecting the game as much as I want it to be. I took a shot with like 25 seconds left and I didn’t feel comfortable doing it. I think the in-season tournament is really great. The point differential is the thing that people around the league would like to change I believe.”

On the other hand, Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau says the competition met its intended purpose, as they earned the wild-card spot into the quarterfinals.

“I guess it’s met its intended purpose,” the New York trainer said Tuesday night following their 115-91 win over the Charlotte Hornets. His player Josh Hart said the point-differential rule is “weird”, but “it’s an interesting concept.”

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Lakers want Bulls’ DeMar DeRozan, Alex Caruso




According to the latest NBA rumors, the Los Angeles Lakers seem more interested in trading for Chicago Bulls guards DeMar DeRozan and Alex Caruso than Zach LaVine.

During a guest appearance on “Hoops Tonight,” Jovan Buha of The Athletic mentioned that Los Angeles is reportedly targeting DeRozan and Caruso instead of LaVine.

“I’ve actually heard that they’re more interested in DeMar DeRozan and Alex Caruso. A.C., he’s the one that got away,” Buha said.

“Lakers fans, it still bothers them. Inside of the organization, it’s still a very divisive topic. And then DeMar is someone the Lakers have courted for several years now.”

Per multiple NBA betting sites, the Los Angeles Lakers hold seventh-shortest odds to win this season’s 2024 championship. Sportsbooks are showing better odds for the Boston Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks, Denver Nuggets, Phoenix Suns, Golden State Warriors, and Philadelphia 76ers.

LaVine, 28, is owed $129 million over the next three seasons. The two-time All-Star is earning $40.06 million this season and $43.03 million in 2024-25. His deal also carries a 2026-27 player option worth $48.9 million.

Meanwhile, DeRozan is earning $28.6 million this season. The three-time All-NBA member is in the final season of the three-year, $81.9 million contract he inked with the San Antonio Spurs as part of the sign-and-trade agreement with Chicago. Also, Caruso is making $9.46 million this season and is slated to earn $9.89 million in 2024-25.

NBA Rumors: Los Angeles Lakers pursuing DeMar DeRozan and Alex Caruso, not Zach LaVine trade

“Both of those guys are on more manageable contracts,” Buha added. “Alex has a partial guarantee for next season, DeMar is an expiring contract. DeMar comes in, he’s that over-the-top shotmaker that the team seemingly doesn’t really have outside of when LeBron’s jumper is falling.

“And then Alex Caruso, one of the best point-of-attack defenders in the league, one of the best perimeter [shooters] in the league, period. We’ve seen the success he’s had next to LeBron and AD in a Lakers jersey.

“So I think both of those guys make more sense within what the Lakers need. There’s real interest in all three guys, but from what I’ve heard DeMar and Alex are higher on their priority list.”

Through 18 starts this season, LaVine is averaging 21 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 35.3 minutes per game. He’s also shooting 44.3% from the field, a career-low 33.6% outside the arc, and 86.6% at the foul line.

In Chicago’s 124-97 blowout loss to the Boston Celtics, he scored only two points on 1-of-9 (11.1%) shooting from the field and missed three 3-point attempts in 25 minutes of action. LaVine left with a sore right foot and did not return.

The Bulls will likely trade LaVine this season, but his new team might not be the Lakers.

More NBA rumors are on the main page.

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