Update: Notre Dame in the clear for NCAAs after win; Memphis hurting
Washington rallied past Oregon State in the Pac-10 quarters and actually sneaks into Friday's bracket. Yes, that's how convoluted Thursday was. Bubble Watch will have all the details on Friday morning.
Say goodbye to another bubble team as Arizona State got ambushed by Stanford in the Pac-10 quarters. This also could hurt Washington, which expected a semifinal showdown with the Sun Devils and now will get a meaningless game with the Cardinal (if it beats Oregon State later on). Now, it's more questionable whether a loss in the Pac-10 final will be enough for the team that finished third in a down year in the Pac-10.
In C-USA, host Tulsa took out Marshall and now, assuming no upset, gets a shot at 1-seed UTEP in the semis (the Miners are pummelling Central Florida, as I write). The Golden Hurricane would be a strong favorite at home against the Southern Miss-Houston winner, so they couldn't ask for a better shot to steal the automatic bid.
Congratulations to Notre Dame, which ended any doubt about its NCAA Tournament status by beating Pitt. The Irish may have been OK with a loss, but that's moot now.
One of the big side benefactors to today's series of Big East upsets could be West Virginia. The Mountaineers are strongly in contention for a No. 1 seed in the NCAAs, and now would only have to get past Cincinnati, Notre Dame and the Georgetown/Marquette winner to take the Big East Tournament. All the upsets, though, mean the Mountaineers won't be getting another marquee win along the way
Georgia Tech isn't as settled, despite slipping past North Carolina. With a 7-9 ACC mark and 1-7 road record in the league, the Yellow Jackets likely need to beat Maryland tomorrow in the ACC quarterfinals to reserve their place at the edge of the cutline.
In the MAC, 1-seed Kent State was taken out by Ohio in the quarterfinals. Akron, which escaped in double-OT earlier today, is now the highest seed left in the parity-addled league.
Conference USA's afternoon bubble carnage is complete with
This C-USA carnage is great news for teams like Rhode Island, Arizona State, Washington and even Dayton, all of which have a chance to play their way into the bracket in the next 72 hours. Even teams like Seton Hall and William & Mary -- assumed buried with no games left to play -- have to at least be in the discussion now.
Wake Forest didn't do itself any good, getting mauled by Miami in its ACC tourney opener. Had the Deacons lost to Clemson last Sunday, they could have been in real trouble. Now they're probably looking at something in the neighborhood of a 10 seed when the dust settles. The collateral damage of that Wake Forest loss is now Virginia Tech has much more risk in its quarterfinal game against Miami. With all the others backsliding around the Hokies, it's not clear that a loss would lead to their demise, but it's now a no-win situation for Virginia Tech.
Memphis' five-hour stay in
Weirdly, while it opens the path to the final for UAB, it doesn't really help the Blazers, who now very well may need to win the auto bid. Beating Houston will not help UAB's cause.
Before we set Thursday's bubble table, there are two major issues to address.
Louisville went just 11-8 (including Wednesday night) in the Big East and is 2-6 vs. the RPI top 50, with a 22-point home loss to Charlotte and a home loss to Western Carolina (with injury issues involved). The other nine Big East wins were over UConn (twice), Cincinnati, Notre Dame, South Florida, St. John's (a split), Providence, Rutgers and DePaul. There's maybe one NCAA team in that bunch. Their best nonleague wins are Appalachian State and Morgan State. In other words, useless for NCAA purposes.
The softness of the bubble may save the Cardinals. Any other year and they'd be in a ton of trouble. They may still be.
MSU's best win of the season is at Purdue -- in the Boilers' first game without
While MSU is 11th in both polls, the Spartans are (more accurately, in my opinion) ranked 23rd in both Pomeroy and Sagarin and 24th in the RPI. Why exactly is a team that's 3-4 vs. the top 50 and just 8-7 vs. the top 100 worthy of a top-4 seed? Things can change in Indianapolis starting Friday, but right now, this is what MSU is.
Now on to the Thursday bubble battles. There are no win-and-ins, but there could be a ton on Friday if things play out as mostly expected:
From Wednesday, congrats to Robert Morris (Northeast) and, especially, Montana (Big Sky) for earning auto bids.
Duke remains strongly in the mix for a No. 1 seed. Maryland is playing for a protected one. Beyond those two, Clemson and Florida State look set to dance, while Georgia Tech may be playing its way right into the NIT.
Missouri cost itself some seed position by flopping against Nebraska Wednesday, but should be fine as far as making the NCAAs. Oklahoma State moves into lock category after beating Oklahoma.
Now the rest of the big boys take the court for the quarters. Kansas will be a No. 1 seed in the NCAAs. K-State's looking to hold onto a 2. Below that, there's jousting for protected seed status and location.
Marquette moved into the lock category after getting to the Big East quarterfinals. Notre Dame also looks very well positioned after wounding Seton Hall's hopes of a bid. In Thursday's quarterfinals, seeding and location is at stake, even for Syracuse, which will be a No. 1 in the NCAAs but isn't sure in which region.
Purdue has won twice now since losing
As almost everyone else on the bubble slides back, the Pac-10 candidates at least kept winning their games, so Arizona State and Washington are fair game to discuss. They're slated to meet in a Pac-10 semifinal if they both get there, which could double as an NCAA play-in game.
It may be too late for
The teams behind the big three are not making this very easy. It's very possible this league only gets four teams in if the three locks all make the semis. Kentucky will be a No. 1 seed in the NCAAs.
The great league race ended with Temple and Xavier tied at 14-2 with Richmond a game back. The Owls get the No. 1 seed by virtue of their five-point home win over the X-men. If there aren't any semifinal upsets, the A-10 could end up with just three bids. Disappointing.
Old Dominion held off William & Mary for the CAA crown, and likely will be the only team in the NCAAs from this conference.
New Mexico will be seeded ahead of BYU. Salt Lake City is 300 miles closer to Albuquerque than Houston, so presumably the Lobos would stay in the West and push BYU to the East. We'll see.
UNI pulled away from Wichita State in the second half of the MVC final to nail down the title and remove any at-large doubt. Now Wichita State waits and hopes, but likely is headed to the NIT.
UTEP rallied past UAB Saturday for an enormous win and a league crown by two games over Memphis. The Miners are in pretty decent shape now as a possible at-large, should they need one.
Butler pounded Wright State to complete a 20-0 romp through the Horizon. The Bulldogs will be joined by Saint Mary's and Gonzaga from the WCC after the Gaels routed the Zags to claim the auto bid.
Elsewhere, Utah State is in very legitimate shape for an at-large should they need one.