Bubble update, projected bracket, possible bid thieves, more
On Thursday, several teams fell off the bubble, leaving just 13 clubs alive for nine spots in the NCAA tournament entering play on Friday. Below is a look at today's bubble games (all times Eastern).
The Cardinal got blown out by UCLA on Friday night, but they had already done what they needed to do in the Pac-12 tournament to get in the dance. We have them as a comfortable No. 10 seed in our up-to-date bracket.
The Musketeers were unable to get past Creighton for a win that would have locked them into the field of 68. Even after the loss, they avoid one of the de facto play-in games in the SI.com up-to-date bracket. They're 3-5 against the top 50, with two of those wins coming over Creighton and Cincinnati, both of which are in the top 15 in RPI. No bubble teams that are on the outside of our current bracket are still alive in their conference tournaments, which means the Muskies greatest enemies are N.C. State and Georgia, the only true bid stealers left alive.
It was simple: A win would have gotten the Seminoles into the field. A loss would keep them out. They lost.
The Tigers' only really impressive win this season came at home against UCLA back in early December. They couldn't add another one Friday against the nation's No. 1 team, getting routed by the Gators in the SEC quarterfinals.
The Panthers were probably going to make the tournament anyway, but their lack of signature wins was cause for concern. After knocking off No. 15 North Carolina in the ACC quarterfinals, they move into the lock category.
The Cornhuskers split their games with the Buckeyes this season, losing by 31 in Columbus and winning by six in Lincoln. They lost by four on Friday after leading by 18 in the second half. They should still make the tournament but that wasn't the best impression to leave with the selection committee.
Atlantic 10: St. Joseph's 70, Dayton 67
St. Joe's clawed out a three-point win. Is there room for both these teams in the Big Dance? The Hawks can feel very secure about their chances. The Flyers can start sweating.
Tennessee couldn't afford to lose to a 14-19 team and still hope to get in the field. The Volunteers took care of business and move on to the SEC semifinals to face No. 1 Florida.
The Golden Gophers got crushed in the Big Ten quarters and likely had their bubble burst in the process.
Providence avoided what would have been a damaging loss to advance to the Big East tournament final, where suddenly the auto bid is within their grasp.
NOTE: This story was last updated at 2:15 a.m. ET Saturday. RPI and SOS numbers are current as of Friday morning. The bracket was updated at 6:15 p.m. ET and will be updated again at the conclusion of the day's games.
Last Four In
First Four Out
Keeping An Eye On
Illinois: The Fighting Illini needed to advance to at least the Big Ten championship game to entertain hopes of a bid. Their upset bid of Michigan on Friday came up just short in a one-point loss, so they'll have to settle for the NIT.
N.C. State: By beating Syracuse on Friday, the Wolfpack did more than just advance to the ACC tournament semifinals. They put themselves in contention for one of the final at-large bids to the dance. If they end up playing and beating Duke in the semifinals, they could conceivably get in the field of 68 without claiming the ACC crown.
Georgia: The Bulldogs are the No. 3 seed in the SEC tournament. Could a trip to the finals get them into the field if it includes a semifinal win over Kentucky? Not likely.
Projected top seeds
South: No. 1 Florida, No. 2 Michigan
The Gators are the top overall seed in the field and have a stranglehold on the top spot in the South. As for Michigan, Jordan Morgan's game-winning layup with nine seconds left gave the Wolverines a one-point win over Illinois and kept alive their hopes of a No. 1 seed. A loss not only would have kept Michigan off the top line, it could have knocked it all the way down to a No. 3 seed. The Wolverines will next meet Ohio State in the semifinals on Saturday.
Wichita State won the Missouri Valley tournament last Sunday and will carry a perfect 34-0 record into the Big Dance. A showdown with in-state rival Kansas in the Elite 8 would make for great theater, but the Jayhawks are still hoping to rise to the top line if they win the Big 12 tournament to go with their regular season crown.
Like Florida, Arizona has a death grip on a No. 1 seed. Villanova was slotted for the top line, too, until losing to Seton Hall in the Big East quarterfinals. Could the Wildcats actually tumble to a No. 3 seed if Duke or Virginia win the ACC tournament or Louisville does the same in the AAC?
East: No. 1 Wisconsin, No. 2 Syracuse
It's the Badgers' turn to try on the role of No. 1 seed after several other candidates lost in recent days. Wisconsin would likely have to win the Big Ten tourney title to keep this spot. That won't be easy with a potential games against Michigan State looming in the semifinals and top-seed Michigan in the championship game.
It has been a terrible end to the season for the once No. 1 Orange. After losing to N.C. State in the ACC quarterfinals on Friday, the Orange will likely slip down a line in the tournament. It wasn't that long ago that they were one of the last two unbeaten teams in the country. Now, they'll likely be no better than a No. 3 seed when the brackets are revealed on Sunday.
NEXT: Team-by-team bubble breakdown, projected bracket, more
ACC (4): Virginia, Duke, Syracuse, North Carolina
Big East (2): Villanova, Creighton
Big Ten (5): Michigan, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Ohio State, Iowa
SEC (2): Florida, Kentucky
No Longer In Contention
LSU (19-13, RPI: 77, SOS: 78): A win over Kentucky would have been just the beginning of what LSU needed to go dancing. A loss keeps them squarely out of the field.
California (19-13, RPI: 54, SOS: 29): The Golden Bears were one of the many teams that probably needed at least one good win to solidify their tournament resume this week. They came up just short on Thursday, losing 59-56 to tourney-bound Colorado and ceding their spot in our bracket. Cal accomplished enough in the regular season, most notably a win over Arizona, to at least hold onto a shred of hope heading into Selection Sunday, but it is most likely NIT-bound.
Georgetown (17-14, RPI: 64, SOS: 12): The Hoyas became the first bubble team during Championship Week to secure a bid to the NIT by suffering a terrible loss at the hands of DePaul in the Big East tournament. They were already teetering on the edge of the field coming into the week, buttressed by five top-50 wins, but held down by 13 losses, including three outside the top 100. The loss to the lowly Blue Demons seals Georgetown's fate as an NIT team.
Florida State (19-13, RPI: 56, SOS: 37): The Seminoles entered the ACC tourney in the chase for an at-large bid but needed to pick up at least one signature win to earn the blessing of the selection committee. They came up short of that on Friday, as regular season conference champion Virginia handled them in the second half and coasted to a 64-51 win. Look for the Seminoles as one of the top seeds in the NIT.
St. John's (20-11, RPI: 55, SOS: 46): The Red Storm's furious rally against Providence fell short in the Big East quarterfinals and so too will their hopes of earning a bid to the NCAA tournament. St. John's has just one top-50 win, is 6-10 against the RPI top 100 and has two losses outside the top 100. If it's any consolation, the Red Storm will likely earn one of the top seeds in the NIT.
UW-Green Bay (24-6, RPI: 62, SOS: 141): The Phoenix dominated the Horizon League all season, but fell in the conference tournament semifinals to UW-Milwaukee. They went 4-3 against the top 100, a record that includes a win over Virginia, but they're likely to be left out when the brackets are announced on Sunday.
IN THE MIX
Pittsburgh (25-8, RPI: 43, SOS: 73): The Panthers had already solidified their case for the tourney by avoiding what would have been a bad losses with a win over Wake Forest on Thursday. If there were any slight chance that they could slip out of the field, they eliminated it with an impressive 80-75 win over North Carolina in the ACC quarterfinals behind 19 points and 21 rebounds from Talib Zanna. Pittsburgh will next take on Virginia in the semis on Saturday, but a once-vulnerable squad is now comfortably in the field of 68.
There are no bubble teams in this league. There is debate in some corners as to SMU's worthiness as a lock, but not here. The Mustangs have four top-30 wins, an RPI of 45 and a KenPom rating of 26. Losses to Louisville and Memphis in the final week of the regular season and Houston in the AAC quarterfinals may have marginally damaged their seeding but didn't jeopardize their spot in the field.
And if you're thinking that the Cougars are a possible bid thief because they upset SMU on Thursday, don't get too excited. Houston's next opponent is Louisville, which annihilated Rutgers by 61 points -- you read that right -- in its AAC tournament opener.
IN THE MIX
Dayton (23-10, RPI: 39, SOS: 58): Will four top-50 wins, a 10-7 record against the top-100, an RPI of 39 and a KenPom ranking of 52 be enough to get Dayton into the field of 68? The bet in the SI.com bracket is yes, but just barely. After losing to St. Joe's in the A-10 quarterfinals, the Flyers are one of the last four teams in our projected bracket.
Saint Joseph's (22-9, RPI: 41, SOS: 69): The Hawks entered their A-10 quarterfinal matchup with Dayton as one of the last four teams in the SI.com bracket. After beating the Flyers 70-67, the Hawks will definitely hear their names called on Selection Sunday, regardless of what they do the rest of this weekend. They have a great chance to advance to the finals, though, after St. Bonaventure upset top-seed St. Louis on Friday. St. Joe's will take on the Bonnies at 1:30 p.m. ET on Saturday.
SHOULD BE IN
Xavier (20-11, RPI: 51, SOS: 47): With the Musketeers' win over Marquette on Thursday, they strengthened a tournament case that already appeared to be on solid footing before the game. They'll meet Creighton in the Big East semis, but a loss to the Blue Jays won't look bad at all. The Musketeers should be safely in the field of 68.
IN THE MIX
Providence (21-11, RPI: 53, SOS: 63): The Friars weren't going to punch their ticket to the dance by beating Seton Hall, but they could have been consigned to the NIT with a loss to the Pirates. By avoiding that fate, they advanced to the Big East championship game. At this point, it's simple: A win on Saturday gets the Friars into the field with the automatic bid. A loss will have them glued to their TVs on Sunday night unsure of what their fate will be.
IN THE MIX
Nebraska (19-12, RPI: 41, SOS: 26): The Cornhuskers let an 18-point second-half lead over Ohio State slip away in Friday's Big Ten quarterfinals, falling 71-67 after appearing to have a win well in hand. Despite the loss, they should still end a 15-year NCAA tournament drought. Nebraska boasts four top-50 and eight top-100 wins, the No. 41 RPI and the No. 47 ranking on KenPom. A win over the Buckeyes would have made the Huskers a lock for the dance, but they still appear to be safely in the field.
Minnesota (19-13, RPI: 49, SOS: 5): The Golden Gophers needed to win Friday's game against Wisconsin to have any real confidence in getting an at-large bid on Sunday. Instead, they lost by 26 points. They will be a very dangerous team in the NIT, but their chances for a spot in the field of 68 have all but evaporated.
Like the AAC there are no bids up for grabs here. Oklahoma State lost in overtime to Kansas in the Big 12 quarters but its only two losses since the return of Marcus Smart both came in overtime to ranked opponents, and the Cowboys beat the Jayhawks two weeks ago as part of a late four-game winning streak.
SHOULD BE IN
Stanford (19-11, RPI: 47, SOS: 28): The Cardinal advanced to the Pac-12 semifinals with an easy win over Arizona State on Thursday. With five top-50 wins, all of which came over teams that should be in the NCAAs, it's safe to call the Cardinal a tournament team. They'll meet UCLA in the Pac-12 semifinals.
IN THE MIX
Arkansas (21-11, RPI: 60, SOS: 81): It was just one week ago that the Razorbacks appeared to have a tourney bid well in hand. They had a sweep of Kentucky to their credit, as well as two other top-50 wins and were riding a six-game winning streak. That's how quickly life on the bubble can change. A bad loss at Alabama in the regular season finale put the Hogs in jeopardy, and their quarterfinal loss to South Carolina, a team ranked 146th in RPI, put them on the outside of the current bracket.
Tennessee (21-11, RPI: 46, SOS: 22): The Volunteers drubbed South Carolina on Friday in the SEC quarterfinals. The SI.com bracket had them as one of the last four teams in the field at the start of the day, and while a win over the Gamecocks doesn't move them out of that tenuous spot and into the lock category, other results around the country left fewer teams that can jump up and knock them out of the field. While Tennessee still can't feel safe, it can clinch a spot for good by beating Florida on Saturday or with losses by the handful of teams chasing them for one of the last berths.
Missouri (22-11, RPI: 50, SOS: 75): It's officially breath-holding time for the Tigers, as they failed to pick up a true resume-building win in the SEC tournament by losing to Florida on Friday. Two top-50 wins and a 7-8 record against the top 100 probably won't be enough to earn the Tigers an at-large bid. They'll likely end what has been a disappointing season in the NIT.
Another multi-bid league with no bubble teams. If San Diego State and New Mexico can both get through their semifinal matchups on Friday, they'll meet in a rubber match game in the conference tournament finals.
West Coast Conference
IN THE MIX
BYU (23-11, RPI: 31, SOS: 24): The Cougars are firmly on the bubble after losing to Gonzaga in the WCC finals earlier in the week. They went 3-6 against the top 50 -- with the wins coming over Gonzaga, at Stanford and on a neutral-court against Texas -- and 8-7 against the top 100. In our most recent Bracket Watch, they're one of the last teams in the field, set for a play-in game against Providence.
Field of 68
|1. Wichita State |
16. Texas Southern/Wofford
|1. Florida |
16. Mount St. Mary's/Coastal Carolina
|8. Baylor |
|8. Oregon |
9. Kansas State
|4. Oklahoma |
|4. San Diego State |
|5. Michigan State |
12. Southern Miss
|5. Ohio State |
|3. Duke |
|3. Cincinnati |
14. North Carolina Central
|6. VCU |
|6. Saint Louis |
|7. Kentucky |
|7. New Mexico |
10. Arizona State
|2. Kansas |
15. American University
|2. Michigan |
15. Stony Brook
|1. Arizona |
16. Utah Valley
|1. Wisconsin |
16. Weber State
|8. George Washington |
|8. Oklahoma State |
|4. Iowa State |
13. Georgia State
|4. Creighton |
13. Stephen F. Austin
|5. Connecticut |
|5. North Carolina |
|3. Virginia |
|3. Louisville |
14. North Dakota State
|6. Memphis |
|6. Texas |
|7. Massachusetts |
|7. UCLA |
10. Saint Joseph's
|2. Villanova |
|2. Syracuse |
15. Eastern Kentucky