Friday March 11th, 2011

Andy Glockner offers his NCAA seed- or bubble-related thoughts from Friday's conference-tournament games. All times are ET.

12:14 a.m. update: Opportunity knocks for the Blue Devils

Notre Dame lost in overtime to Louisville in the Big East semifinals, and now the door may be open for Duke to barge into the 1-seed line -- if the Blue Devils can win two more games and take the ACC tournament. On paper, Notre Dame's profile is stronger, but the Irish won't have a regular-season or tourney title on it. I wouldn't be outraged if the Blue Devils Wally Pipped ND by beating North Carolina in a rubber match. Maybe the committee could find a way to get both teams into the same region.

11:59 p.m. Upon further review ...

Is that how Virginia Tech finally makes the NCAAs? With Florida State's game-winning jumper waved off on a video review that showed the ball maybe, possibly, barely still on the fingertips of Derwin Kitchen? That was the closest video review I have ever seen. If this was the NFL, FSU would have won. Insane ending and a perfect capper to Va. Tech's annual bubble saga. Does it put the Hokies in? They had to avoid a loss, but with a lot of other bubblers also winning on Friday, I'll stop short of saying this victory clinches things. I'll know more later when I do a full bubble refresh.

11:36 p.m. update: Jimmer helps BYU hit Mountain high

OK, Jimmer. Sorry to have doubted you. The national player of the year favorite flat-out went off on New Mexico, pouring in a career-high 52 points while setting the BYU all-time scoring record in the process. The win pushes the Cougars into the Mountain West final against either San Diego State or UNLV and adds credence to keeping BYU in the mix for a No. 2 seed.

In other news, Penn State grabbed the ugliest big win of the week, holding off Wisconsin in a 36-33 "barnburner" that now positions the Nittany Lions more closely to the at-large cutline. I think they need to beat Michigan State to have a legit claim, but a lot of other bubble teams got very nervous with this win.

Good news for the bubblers: USC lost to Arizona and Utah State held on in the WAC semifinals.

8:55 p.m. update: Michigan State erases all doubts about tourney fate

Anything you can do, I can do better? Michigan State saw Michigan's win over Illinois and one-upped it with a command performance against Purdue that clinches a spot in the NCAAs. Both Michigan schools also now look positioned to avoid a "first-round" First Four game in Dayton. Overall, this is evolving into a very bad day for bubble teams that have finished their seasons. Others are picking up big wins and there are several Bid Thief situations threatening to shrink the bubble further.

6:11 p.m. update: 12-20 Grambling one win from Big Dance

If you were excited about an 11-21 team being two wins from the NCAAs (see: next post), how about a 12-20 team with an RPI of 318 now being one win away? Grambling upset No. 2 seed Jackson State in the SWAC semifinals after dumping 3 seed Mississippi Valley State in the quarters. Now the Tigers, winners of nine of their last 11, get either Texas Southern or Alabama State for an NCAA berth.

5:20 p.m. update: Craziness continues in Atlantic 10

The craziness continues in the A-10, where the lower-seeded team has now won five of six tournament games (including three road wins in the four on-campus, opening-round games). The biggest surprise is Saint Joseph's, now at 11-21 overall, advancing to the semis by taking out Duquesne in overtime. Admittedly, I hadn't looked at the Hawks' profile all season, so a first peek was pretty staggering: Duquesne was their first top-100 win of the season and they were at RPI 174 entering play today. In a situation one of my Twitter followers (@earlyonions) aptly dubbed "Grand Theft Auto (Bid)," the Hawks could be facing Dayton for a chance to win a trip to Dayton for a 16-seed play-in game. Either way, bubble teams will be holding their breath, hoping that either Temple or Richmond wins this tournament and preserves an extra at-large for someone else.

4:42 p.m.: Clemson, Michigan take huge steps toward tourney

With one comfortable blowout and one huge rally, two bubblers moved much closer to the NCAAs. Clemson jumped all over Boston College from the get-go and heads to an ACC semifinal shot against North Carolina. It's hard to see BC being ahead of the Tigers now, which slides the Eagles closer to (and maybe below) the cutline.

Michigan used a huge late run to storm past Illinois and into the Big Ten semifinals against Ohio State. The Wolverines, despite lacking a true marquee win, have been pretty solid down the stretch and are positioned now where it's pretty hard to see enough teams passing them to keep them out. Now they also get to pour on the schadenfreude and root on Purdue to beat Michigan State later, which would improve the Wolverines' position even more.

3:29 p.m. update: Georgia out-Foxed; 'Bama back in?

It was over. Alabama was down 14 with six minutes left and it seemed safe to step out for a quick haircut. Wait, what? Yup, with a collection of poor possessions, missed free throws and one egregious timeout from head coach Mark Fox that nullified a game-winning runner in the final second of regulation, suddenly Alabama is very much alive and Georgia is going to have a very nervous 48 hours. Georgia's best résumé component was the fact that it hadn't had any bad losses. Now that the Dawgs have lost twice to 'Bama in the space of a week, their profile will need a re-evaluation relative to other bubblers.

Meanwhile, Alabama still isn't a lock to dance, but certainly is in far better shape than 30 minutes ago, when the Tide looked headed to the NIT. There are still a lot of flaws to get past. 'Bama has only one nonleague win over a team in the RPI top 200 (over No. 131 Lipscomb) and their RPI would be about 20 spots north of the previous highest RPI to get in (63) since the NCAA adjusted the formula. The Tide now probably a win away from definitely getting in, but even with a semifinal loss, they will be strongly considered -- perhaps at the expense of Georgia?

2:17 p.m. update: Survive and advance for UNC, Ohio State

There's only one point in a game when having the lead matters: at the final buzzer. North Carolina took that to an extreme against Miami, taking its only lead of the game on a Tyler Zeller layup at the buzzer to win by two. (The Heels trailed by 19 points in the second half.) Credit goes to Kendall Marshall for a beautiful, poised drive-and-dish to create the game-winner. The win keeps Carolina alive in its quest for a No. 2 seed. In a weird way, it also helps Duke, which very well could need a title game win specifically over Carolina to have a claim for a No. 1.

Ohio State also tempted fate, but escaped Northwestern in overtime and ended any questions about whether it will have a No. 1 seed on Sunday night. It looks quite likely that the Buckeyes will be in Cleveland and then the East regional.

2:10 p.m. update: Bid thief situation develops in the A-10

The top seed in the A-10 went down as Dayton jumped out to a huge lead on Xavier and held on for a one-point win. This is now a Bid Thief Situation as the league's two other NCAA-caliber teams -- Temple and Richmond -- are on the other side of the bracket. Dayton will face either Duquesne or St. Joe's in the semis, with the final now being assured of a team that had no chance for an at-large.

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