Thursday: Ducks crashing Pac-10's party may hurt others, more
In Pac-10, bubblers are now rooting very hard for a Arizona-Washington final, as USC (modest chance at an at-large) and Oregon (no chance) are the opponents. Any other combination of results puts at at-large spot in jeopardy Saturday night.
In the Mountain West, New Mexico lines up against depleted and struggling BYU in its semifinal. The Lobos have a very real chance of taking the Cougars down for a third time this season and not only playing for an auto bid, but presenting a profile that's not impossible to consider for an at-large should they lose in the title game to San Diego State or homestanding UNLV.
If two extra bids do go poof because of West Coast carnage, what was looking to be an extremely soft bubble could tighten up rapidly by Saturday night. That makes it all that much more important that bubblers like Colorado, Georgia, Virginia Tech, Boston College and Michigan State all grabbed wins and can firm up their positions with another on Friday. It also means bad things for those teams already done and hoping to squeeze in, like VCU, St. Mary's, Missouri State and now UAB, which was stunned in the C-USA quarters.
At the other end of the bracket, the race for the No. 1 seeds continues and Pitt opened the door a bit with a quarterfinal loss to UConn in the Big East. As discussed earlier, it's reasonable to think that Kansas and Notre Dame, should they win their tournaments, could pass the Panthers, but a third team would also need to do so. Can Duke bump Pitt off the 1-seed line with an ACC crown? That seems harsh, given Pitt's much better schedule strength, quality of wins and regular-season crown in the nation's best conference. Expect the Panthers to hold on to a spot on the top line, with Notre Dame being two wins away from being the second Big East team on that line, squeezing out Duke.
Notre Dame began its three-game quest to nail down a No. 1 seed in style,
There's big bubble news from the Big 12, where
There may be bubble trouble brewing in the West, where
These are not good times in Provo.
We had the day's first bubble burst in Conference USA, where top-seeded
In the SEC,
For the third straight season, Pitt lost its Big East tournament opener after receiving a double-bye (
The Panthers entered today as the No. 2 overall seed on the S-curve and even if Kansas (which barely escaped against Oklahoma State), Notre Dame and Duke all win their respective conference tournaments (or even if BYU looks great in the Mountain West), I don't think those titles should eclipse a profile that includes a Big East regular season championship and six RPI top 25 wins. It's very possible for any of those three teams to make it to the top seed line, but I don't see how all three could do so at the expense of Pitt.
I thought about ending today's column just before the final, crucial paragraph, but I didn't want to be like Big East refs, so you will continue to get 100 percent bubble satisfaction.
After three interesting but (relatively) light days, our national hoops load gets nice and heavy on Thursday as we begin the final four-day push to Selection Sunday. The three remaining major-conference events get under way and the landscape is riddled with critical matchups:
In auto bid news, congratulations are in order for the LIU Blackbirds (Northeast) and the Northern Colorado Bears (Big Sky), who played their way into the dance Wednesday night. No golden tickets are up for grabs on Thursday (
Bubble Watch and Bracket Watch will be daily through Selection Sunday. Enjoy!
Records listed are Division I only, per NCAA tournament selection guidelines. All RPI and SOS data are from Wednesday's collegerpi.com RPI report.
GW = good wins.
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North Carolina stormed past Duke on Saturday night to claim the outright ACC title, boosting its own surging seed aspirations while putting a crimp in Duke's push for a No. 1. Florida State will be the third team in from this league. The real question is: Will that be all?
With the help of Texas losing three of its last five games, Kansas remarkably claimed a seventh straight Big 12 crown and seems headed for a No. 1 seed in the NCAAs. The Horns better figure things out quickly as this team looks nothing like it did three weeks ago, when people were touting it as possibly the national title favorite. The other team in the Sunflower State continues to surge, as well, and joins the lock party. K-State is suddenly looking like a team no one wants to see in their bracket.
The league looks set to get its 11 NCAA bids with Marquette's victory over West Virginia. Villanova and Georgetown are going to be very interesting seeding discussions based on form and injury. Incredibly, the Wildcats could end up getting the league's worst seed.
Purdue's stunning loss at Iowa dings the Boilermakers' hopes for a No. 1 seed in the NCAAs, but the most compelling news is coming from the bubble, where Michigan's second win over MSU has created a mess in the middle.
Arizona won the league. The Bruins remain safe. Washington most likely will be OK. Is there a bid thief lurking in USC with the conference tournament in its home city? This league is the most likely major conference to generate an extra bid out of nowhere.
Tennessee moves up a category simply because the field overall is too weak to find any reasonable way to omit them now that they're .500 in the SEC. They have nine top-50 and 11 top-100 wins. Congrats to Florida for winning the SEC title. The league tourney should be interesting, starting with a possible eliminator quarterfinal between Georgia and Alabama.
Xavier won the league. Temple kept pace. Both will dance. Richmond continues to win the games it needs to win, but probably needs more to survive. No one else has a chance other than an auto bid. Pretty clean picture heading to Atlantic City
The Rebels finished strong and make it three teams in for the MWC. The biggest story will be BYU's continued play without Brandon Davies. If they crash out before the MWC final and San Diego State wins it, the Aztecs could swipe the West region away. It doesn't appear that either Colorado State or New Mexico is a realistic at-large candidate at this point, but one will be done after they meet on Friday. The other should get a third shot at BYU.
No real action of note in this category on Wednesday, but things heat back up with the C-USA quarterfinals on Thursday.