Bid thieves lurk as bubble picture clears up; plus, updated bracket
The bubble picture came into much clearer focus on Friday, as several teams that had to win did not. As a result, with less than 48 hours to go until the brackets are revealed, there are only 11 teams left in contention for the eight remaining at-large spots. Below is a look at Saturday's key bubble games (all times Eastern).
Atlantic 10: St. Joseph's 67 St. Bonaventure 48
The Friars no longer have to worry about getting an at-large bid from the selection committee. After being Creighton 65-58 in the Big East championship game, the Friars earned an automatic bid to the field. No doubt they will rest easy tonight.
NOTE: This story was last updated at 1:20:a.m. EST Sunday morning. RPI and SOS numbers are current as of Saturday morning. The bracket will be updated in the afternoon and again at the conclusion of the day's games.
Last Four In
First Four Out
Keeping An Eye On
NC State: The Wolfpack managed to keep their season on life support for longer than expected this week, but they fell short of the ACC championship game after losing to Duke on Saturday. With as many sub-100 losses as top-50 wins, the Wolfpack and conference player of the year T.J. Warren will be playing their postseason basketball in the NIT.
Georgia: The Bulldogs came in third in the SEC, but still needed to win the conference tournament after a terrible non-conference season. Their loss to Kentucky on Saturday means the Bulldogs will not go dancing this year.
Louisiana Tech: Could the Bulldogs, who lost to Tulsa in the Conference USA title game, get an at-large? It's extremely unlikely, but they did win at Oklahoma and finished tied for first in their league during the regular season.
Projected top seeds
The Gators are the top overall seed in the field and have a stranglehold on the top spot in the South. Virginia, meanwhile, won the ACC regular season title outright and is one win away from claiming the league's tourney crown as well after beating Pitt on Saturday. If the Cavaliers pull off that double, they'll secure no worse than a No. 2 seed and will have a compelling case for a No. 1.
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, and the Jayhawks' loss to Iowa State in the Big 12 semifinals likely locked them into a 2-seed in the Shockers' bracket.
Like Florida, Arizona has a death grip on a No. 1 seed. That won't change after the Wildcats lost to UCLA in the Pac-12 championship game. The Badgers made an admirable charge in the second half of their Big Ten semifinal loss to Michigan State after trailing by 16 at the half, but they were never able to get closer than six points in the 83-75 loss. That all but assures that the Badgers won't be able to climb any higher than a No. 2 seed in the dance.
Michigan took care of business in a thrilling Big Ten semifinal against Ohio State on Saturday. They remain in contention for the final No. 1 seed, and would likely get it if they win the Big Ten tournament, pulling off the championship sweep in arguably the country's best conference.
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 and Louisville does the same in the AAC?
NEXT: Team-by-team bubble breakdown, projected bracket, more
Big East (2): Villanova, Creighton
Big Ten (5): Michigan, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Ohio State, Iowa
SEC (2): Florida, Kentucky
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 sealed 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.
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.
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.
St. John's (20-11, RPI: 55, SOS: 46): The Red Storm's furious rally against Providence fell short in the Big East quarterfinals on Thursday 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.
Pittsburgh's win over North Carolina in the ACC quarterfinals makes them the league's fifth lock for the Big Dance.
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.
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 this week hoping to secure an at-large bid to the dance. They've almost certainly done that, and are now just one win away from locking up an automatic bid after knocking off St. Bonaventure in the A-10 semifinals on Saturday. They'll take on the VCU-George Washington winner.
SHOULD BE IN
Xavier (20-11, RPI: 51, SOS: 47): 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 in the Big East semifinals, 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 Xavier's greatest enemies are N.C. State and Georgia, the only true bid stealers left alive.
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.
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.
Despite losing to UCLA in the Pac-12 semifinals, Stanford has done enough to join five of its conference brethren in the lock category.
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 (21-12, RPI: 46, SOS: 22): The Volunteers nearly handed Florida their first loss since December, and first at the hands of an SEC team, but came up just short in the conference semifinals on Saturday. All they can do now hope they've built a strong enough resume to get in the dance. We have them as one of the last four teams in the field.
Another multi-bid league with no bubble teams. San Diego State and New Mexico will meet in a rubber match game in the conference tournament finals before both head off to the NCAAs as their conference's lone representatives.
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. Massachusetts |
|8. Oregon |
9. Kansas State
|4. Michigan State |
|4. San Diego State |
13. Western Michigan
|5. Connecticut |
12. North Dakota State
|5. Ohio State |
|3. Duke |
|3. Louisville |
14. North Carolina Central
|6. VCU |
|6. UCLA |
|7. Baylor |
10. Saint Joseph's
|7. Memphis |
|2. Kansas |
15. New Mexico State
|2. Virginia |
15. Weber State
|1. Arizona |
|1. Michigan |
|8. George Washington |
|8. Oklahoma State |
|4. Creighton |
13. Georgia State
|4. Cincinnati |
13. Stephen F. Austin
|5. Oklahoma |
|5. North Carolina |
14. American University
|3. Iowa State |
|6. Texas |
|6. Kentucky |
|7. New Mexico |
10. Arizona State
|7. Saint Louis |
|2. Wisconsin |
15. Eastern Kentucky
|2. Villanova |