In the big bubble game of the night,
In the Big 12, Oklahoma State looks assured of dancing now that it got past Bedlam rival Oklahoma in the first round. That should lock up seven bids for the Big 12 and close the book on that conference unless Nebraska pulls off a miracle and wins three more to steal the auto bid.
If you're wondering whether
It wasn't easy -- is it ever for Marquette (a.k.a. Team Bubble Watch)? -- but the Golden Eagles
It's hard to imagine an 11-win Big East team missing. Marquette has wins over Georgetown, Louisville and Xavier, along with six road/neutral wins in the RPI top 75. Despite some so-so overall computer numbers, not giving the committee an excuse to omit them with a loss here likely is enough.
South Florida made a nice late-season push to get into NCAA tournament contention, but Wednesday's
While the Bulls were 9-9 in the Big East, they're only 3-5 vs. the RPI top 50 and 6-11 vs. the top 100, with a bad home loss to No. 191 Central Michigan thrown in. That's not good enough, even with the softness of the bubble.
USF started the day outside the bracket and may have needed to beat Syracuse, too, to have a serious claim. Seton Hall and Notre Dame now take the court tonight knowing that a league rival has fallen by the wayside, opening just a bit more room for the winner of their game.
The good news keeps coming for bubble teams, as favorites keep winning the smaller conference auto bids. That means two things:
1. If big-conference teams don't show some separation later this week, we could be looking at one of the softest and most convoluted bubbles in memory.
2. The bottom of the NCAA tournament bracket is going to be very deep with quality. The best small-conference teams are getting in and there aren't bid thieves from better leagues like the Horizon or Colonial that will push others up a seed line.
Tuesday night, Butler romped past Wright State to take that Horizon auto bid and leave an at-large for someone else. Elsewhere, fringe at-large hopefuls UConn and Charlotte removed themselves from the picture with first-round tourney losses.
Today starts the real business of sifting at the cutline. Here's are the bubble games you need to track:
In auto-bid land, Quinnipiac hosts Robert Morris in the NEC title game while Weber State hosts upstart Montana for the Big Sky crown.
Congrats to North Texas (Sun Belt) and Oakland (Summit) for nailing down auto bids Tuesday night.
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.
Kansas remains locked in as a No. 1 seed, but K-State's hopes of pushing onto that line ended abruptly with two losses this week, including a home shocker to Iowa State. Missouri joins the lock party after getting to 10-6 in the league. The only question, outside of a shock tourney champ, is whether Oklahoma State makes it, and the Cowboys are in solid shape.
Syracuse remains entrenched as a No. 1 seed despite the loss at Louisville. That win very well may send the Cards to the NCAAs.
Is this where it ends for the Big East? Could be.
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.