Update: Notre Dame in the clear for NCAAs after win; Memphis hurting

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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 UAB's putrid 58-44 loss to Southern Miss. With Memphis' earlier defeat, C-USA is absolutely a one-bid league if UTEP wins the auto bid, which means bubblers are now rooting very hard for the Miners the rest of the week. The USM-Houston semifinal already will create a bid thief; if the Miners are KO'd, some bubble team gets squeezed.

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 the bracket ended with a one-point loss to Houston in the Conference USA quarterfinals. You never say never, but it certainly appears the Tigers will not be participating in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2005.

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.

1) Louisville could be the surprise snub of Selection Sunday. The Cardinals better hope the committee really values the two monster wins over Syracuse, because there's nothing else impressive in their resume. If teams behind them in the pecking order (like Ole Miss, Washington/Arizona State, Florida/Miss. State, Illinois, etc.) win some games in the next few days, this could get very close.

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.

2) Predictably, my e-mail box was filled with those taking issue to Michigan State being moved down to a 6 seed (the Spartans are right on the 5/6 cutline). Here is the response: MSU's profile is not very good, and is clearly the weakest of the four Big Ten heavyweights.

MSU's best win of the season is at Purdue -- in the Boilers' first game without Robbie Hummel, which clearly should be discounted to some extent. Outside of that, the Spartans have beaten Wisconsin at home (and lost to the Badgers by 18 in Madison when they were without Jon Leuer) and Gonzaga. They lost at home to Purdue (with Kalin Lucas still not himself) and Ohio State and didn't have to play the Buckeyes in Columbus. They also lost to Florida on a neutral floor and at UNC and Texas.

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:

Houston-Memphis (1 p.m. ET): Game before the game the Tigers need to win to have a real chance.Southern Miss-UAB (3:30 p.m.): Ditto for the Blazers, who may need the auto bid.Colorado State-San Diego State (5:30 p.m.): Aztecs need to win two to feel somewhat comfortable.Georgia Tech-North Carolina (7 p.m.): Jackets need this one and probably need to beat Maryland, too.Auburn-Florida (7 p.m.): Must-win for the Gators, who may very well need to beat Mississippi State, too.Stanford-Arizona State (9:20 p.m.): Another game-before-the-game encounter ASU must have.Oregon State-Washington (11:40 p.m.): Huskies and Sun Devils are in the same boat.

From Wednesday, congrats to Robert Morris (Northeast) and, especially, Montana (Big Sky) for earning auto bids. Anthony Johnson's 34-point second half to lead the Grizzlies back from 20 down at the break to a one-point road win at top-seed Weber State was the stuff of tournament legend. Anatoly Bose is jealous of that outcome.

Remember, records listed are Division I only, per NCAA tournament selection guidelines. All RPI and SOS data are from Wednesday's collegerpi.com RPI report.

Send your very valuable feedback to bubblewatch@gmail.com or to @aglock on Twitter. All submissions are read; polite, fact-based ones stand the best chance of a response. Readers who claim their team's record is wrong because they failed to read the previous paragraph will get to watch a copy of Monday's WCC final with Mark Few.

Summary key:

GW: Good wins over top-50ish foes (home league wins judged more strictly).

BL: Bad losses to teams outside top 100 or to direct bubble competitors.

Locks: Duke, Maryland

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.


Clemson (21-9, 9-7, RPI: 28, SOS: 22) got the split it needed and should be fine for the NCAAs. We'll keep them and the teams below in territory for now, pending one ACC tournament win, but all three are pretty much assured of a spot. The Tigers are a notch ahead of the 'Noles based on FSU solely cleaning up on the middle/bottom of the league. Clemson has better wins.GW: Butler (N), Maryland, sweep of FSU.BL: None, but handful to bubble competition: league foes Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech, plus Illinois.

Florida State (22-8, 10-6, RPI: 34, SOS: 45) escaped Miami with a one-point win that should ensure an NCAA tournament berth. The 'Noles beat Wake Forest earlier in the week, making their league position pretty clear. They went 0-5 against Maryland, Duke and Clemson and 10-1 against everyone else.GW: Marquette, swept Georgia Tech and beat Virginia Tech and Wake (bubble purposes).BL: Home to N.C. State, swept by Clemson and lost to Florida (bubble purposes).

Wake Forest (19-9, 9-7, RPI: 32, SOS: 29) finally stopped messing around and beat Clemson on Sunday night, more or less ensuring an NCAA spot. The Deacons still cost themselves some seeding in the last couple of weeks, though.GW: at Gonzaga, Xavier, Richmond, Maryland.BL: None awful, but W&M and UNC at home, plus at Miami and N.C. State.


Virginia Tech (23-7, 10-6, RPI: 51, SOS: 130) did itself a world of good by winning at Georgia Tech on Saturday to get to 10 ACC wins. It's arguably VT's best win of the season, and now it's a lot harder to see the Hokies missing. Losing their ACC tournament opener isn't advised, but given the dearth of quality at the bubble, the Georgia Tech win may be the Hokies' golden ticket.GW: at Georgia Tech, plus Clemson and Wake at home and vs. Seton Hall (all bubblers).BL: Nothing awful, but at Miami and at Boston College are hurting.

Georgia Tech (18-11, 7-9, RPI: 43, SOS: 19) now is in very legitimate danger of missing the NCAAs after losing at Clemson and at home to Virginia Tech to finish under .500 in the league. Beyond the upset of Duke, there's not a ton here helping the Jackets. Now they draw North Carolina in the 7-10 game (in Greensboro), with Maryland waiting in the quarters. Tech very well may need to win both.GW: Duke, Siena?, splits with Wake and Clemson?BL: Swept by FSU in addition to Wake/Clemson splits (bubble purposes), lost at Miami.

Locks: Kansas, Kansas State, Texas A&M, Texas, Baylor, Missouri, Oklahoma State

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.





Locks: Syracuse, Villanova, Georgetown, West Virginia, Pitt, Marquette

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.


Notre Dame (22-10, 10-8, RPI: 55, SOS: 49) lured Seton Hall into a half-court slog, which was the exact way to subdue the Pirates and move closer to an NCAA berth. The Irish very well have done enough now, but they'll get a quarterfinal shot at Pittsburgh to make absolutely sure. GW: WVU, Pitt, at Georgetown, at Marquette.BL: Loyola Marymount, Northwestern (N), plus at Rutgers and St. John's in Big East play.


Cincinnati (18-14, 7-11, RPI: 68, SOS: 10) kept its slim at-large hopes alive with an upset of Louisville to make the Big East quarters. If the Bearcats take out West Virginia, we can take a closer look. GW: Vandy (N), Maryland (N), Louisville in Big East tournament.BL: At Seton Hall and St. John's are disappointing; Gonzaga (OT) and Xavier (2OT) could be costly.


Louisville (20-12, 11-7, RPI: 37, SOS: 4) lost its Big East tournament opener to Cincinnati and now may face an unexpectedly uncomfortable wait to see if they make the NCAA field. A full examination of Louisville's at-large profile is not convincing at all. Beyond the two monster wins over Syracuse, there is almost nothing helpful and there are a couple of ugly home defeats, as well. If there are surges from bubble teams from other conferences, this could get very, very close for the Cardinals.GW: Sweep of Syracuse, beat Notre Dame (w/o Harangody, for bubble purposes).BL: Charlotte (injury asterisk, but by 22), W. Carolina, at Seton Hall and St. John's?

Seton Hall (19-12, 9-9, RPI: 59, SOS: 30) looked very frustrated by Notre Dame, maybe because the Pirates knew they probably had to beat the Irish to make the NCAAs. Now there will be a very long four-day wait to see if their profile holds up. Chances are that it won't. We'll see.GW: Pitt, at Cornell, plus L'ville, ND for bubble purposes.BL: None bad (all in top 75), just a lot of them.

Locks: Michigan State, Purdue, Wisconsin, Ohio State

Purdue has won twice now since losing Robbie Hummel, but will need to show the committee it can handle a comparable quality team in order to really hold onto its seeding position. Ohio State is actually in the mix for a No. 1 NCAA seed if it can win the Big Ten tournament and get favorable treatment from the committee for Evan Turner's injury games. On the bubble side, Illinois now likely needs to win the second half of its Wisconsin double-dip in the Big Ten quarters after losing at home by 15 on Sunday.




Illinois (18-12, 10-8, RPI: 74, SOS: 41) actually was one RPI spot behind Illinois State before it lost to Wisconsin, so the Illini now face what seems to be a must-win quarterfinal against the Badgers in Indy. They have four very credible wins (helped by Kalin Lucas' absence in the Michigan State game), but some bad losses and they are not closing things out very well, either.GW: at Clemson, Vandy, Michigan State (w/o Kalin Lucas), at Wisconsin.BL: Utah, Bradley, Georgia, plus home to Minnesota (bubble battle).

Minnesota (18-10, 9-9, RPI: 76, SOS: 55) may have flushed its serious at-large hopes with a disastrous 28-point loss at Michigan. Pounding Iowa on Sunday isn't going to help very much. Wins over Butler and Ohio State (with Evan Turner) also continue to help, but with so many bad losses, the Gophers now need a deep Big Ten run.GW: Butler, Ohio State (with Turner), Wisconsin, at Illinois (bubble purposes).BL: Portland (N), at Miami, swept by Michigan, plus at Indian and Northwestern.

Locks: None.

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.


California (21-9, 13-5, RPI: 20, SOS: 10) beat Stanford to win the regular season title. That's a good feather to have in case at-large consideration is needed. Given the last week's events nationwide, Cal should feel better about its at-large chances should it need a safety net, but an early exit in the Pac-10 tournament isn't advised. GW: None (home vs. Washington is the best win).BL: UCLA, at Oregon State.


Arizona State (22-9, 12-6, RPI: 56, SOS: 70) also did what it had to do, winning out to finish alone in second. The overall profile still lacks a lot of pop, but the win over San Diego State could be important. If the Sun Devils get to the Pac-10 final, possibly beating Washington along the way, they'd be right in the discussion.GW: San Diego State, split with Washington (bubble purposes).BL: at UCLA, swept by Cal (bubble purposes).

It may be too late for Washington (21-9, 11-7, RPI: 50, SOS: 59), but the Huskies are playing some of their best ball of the season. They swept the Oregon road trip and now draw Oregon State again in the quarters of the Pac-10 tournament. The season may hang in the balance in a potential semifinal against Arizona State. It's still not clear if a Pac-10 final will be enough, but it's a lot more possible than a week or two ago.GW: Texas A&M, split with Cal and ASU (bubble purposes).BL: Oregon, at UCLA and USC in league play.

Locks: Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Tennessee

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.




Florida (20-11, 9-7, RPI: 54, SOS: 32) likely is playing for its NCAA life in Nashville, with a win over fellow bubbler Mississippi State in the quarterfinals looking mandatory. The Gators battled at Kentucky on Sunday, but capitulated after a frustrating home loss to Vandy.GW: Michigan State (N), Tennessee, Florida State, plus Mississippi State and at Mississippi (bubble purposes).BL: South Alabama, at Georgia.

Mississippi (21-9, 9-7, RPI: 57, SOS: 69) also got to 9-7 in the conference, but was swept by Mississippi State, so the Rebels will likely draw Tennessee in the quarterfinal, which they must win. They have two wins better than anything Mississippi has to offer, so despite the head-to-head sweep, the Rebels are in slightly better shape.GW: K-State (N), UTEP (with Derrick Caracter).BL: Arkansas (plus swept by Miss. State for bubble purposes).

Mississippi State (21-10, 9-7, RPI: 67, SOS: 101) may have had the worst week of any NCAA contender, losing at Auburn and then getting blown out at home to Tennessee in a game the Bulldogs really needed. They might not have a win over a team that makes the NCAAs and now are staring at a potential loser-is-done SEC quarterfinal against Florida. Even a win there doesn't make things certain, but that one's a must-get.GW: Old Dominion, sweep of Ole Miss (bubble purposes).BL: Rider, at Arkansas, at Auburn, Florida (for bubble purposes).

Locks: Temple, Richmond, Xavier

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.




Rhode Island (22-8, 9-7, RPI: 41, SOS: 91) took out Saint John's to earn a date with Saint Louis in Atlantic City. Beating the Billikens is a must, but the Rams probably will have to take down 1-seed Temple (assuming the Owls handle St. Bona) to have any claim for an at-large.GW: at Dayton, OK State (N)BL: at Saint Louis, at St. Bona, at UMass

Dayton (20-11, 8-8, RPI: 49, SOS: 35) ) pushed past GW and heads to Atlantic City with its fate in its hands. The Flyers may have to beat all three A-10 locks, but they're certainly capable. First up is rival Xavier in Friday's quarterfinals.GW: Georgia Tech (N), Old Dominion, Xavier, Charlotte (bubble purposes)BL: at Saint Joe's, swept by Saint Louis, at Duquesne

Saint Louis (19-10, 11-5, RPI: 83, SOS: 109) got a huge road win at Dayton for a sweep of the Flyers, but despite playing better since freshman Cody Ellis got eligible, likely needs to make the A-10 finals, minimum, to think about an NCAA bid. That would entail beating Rhode Island (again) and then Temple.GW: Richmond and URI at home, swept DaytonBL: Missouri State, at Bowling Green, Iowa State, at GW

Auto bid: Old Dominion

Old Dominion held off William & Mary for the CAA crown, and likely will be the only team in the NCAAs from this conference.




William & Mary (21-10, 12-6, RPI: 60, SOS: 105) lost to Old Dominion for the third time this season and most likely will have to settle for an NIT bid. The Tribe have three outstanding nonleague wins, but only a third-place finish in the CAA and too many 200+ losses in conference, including two at home, to have real at-large hopes.GW: at Wake, at Maryland, Richmond (also beat CAA No. 2 Northeastern twice).BL: UNC Wilmington, at James Madison, Towson, routed at Iona.

Locks: New Mexico, BYU

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.


UNLV (22-7, 11-5, RPI: 48, SOS: 104) won out to finish at 11-5 in the conference and get the 3-seed ahead of San Diego State in the Mountain West tournament. Was that a good thing? Now the Rebels draw Utah, which swept the season series. Losing to the Utes a third time would create some significant questions, even though the Rebels appear mostly safe right now. BYU likely awaits in the semis, where UNLV probably would be OK with a loss, barring a mauling and extreme situations elsewhere.


San Diego State (20-8, 11-5, RPI: 35, SOS: 68) also ended up 11-5 but went 2-4 against the three teams ahead of it in the conference. The Aztecs likely will have to make the MWC final -- which likely will mean beating New Mexico again -- to have a real legit chance. UNLV has a couple of better wins, so the Rebels are in better shape.GW: New Mexico, UNLV (both at home in league).BL: at Pacific, at Wyoming.

Auto bid: Northern Iowa

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.






Wichita State (24-9, 12-6, RPI: 44, SOS: 99) doesn't appear to have the quality wins to entertain serious at-large hopes.GW: Texas Tech?, Northern Iowa.BL: at Illinois State, at Drake, at Evansville.

Locks: None.

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.


UTEP (24-5, 15-1, RPI: 39, SOS: 115) finished 15-1, won the league decisively and has some fairly credible top-100 road wins. It's a decent profile to fall back on, but how far will the Miners need to get in the C-USA tournament? They could draw host Tulsa in the semis, which is a tough break.GW: Sweep of UAB.BL: None, but missed some chances out of conference.


Memphis (23-8, 13-3, RPI: 46, SOS: 78) probably is ahead of UAB at this point after sweeping the Blazers with a road win in Birmingham. The Tigers finished a game ahead in the standings and UAB's win over Butler isn't enough quality to overcome that head-to-head deficit, for now. The two teams could square off in a semifinal game that would eliminate one and put the other in possible position for an at-large.GW: Swept UAB.BL: at UMass, at SMU, at Houston.

UAB (23-7, 11-5, RPI: 40, SOS: 93) is in very bad shape after losing at home to Memphis and then letting one get away at UTEP. Finishing third in this league is not a good place to be. The good news is that the Blazers could draw Memphis in a semifinal elimination match, but it's unclear whether that would be enough for UAB. Being on the outside of the bubble at this stage makes it very hard for a team in a non-power conference to eat yet another loss at make it as an at-large.GW: Butler, Cincinnati.BL: Swept by Memphis (for bubble purposes).

Auto bids: Saint Mary's, ButlerLocks: Gonzaga

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.


Utah State (24-6, 14-2, RPI: 31, SOS: 102) did exactly what it had to do, taking out New Mexico State to win the WAC by three games and end on a 15-game winning streak. That and the wins over BYU and Wichita State make USU's profile fairly strong in this season's bubble battle. They could be just two wins away from the NCAAs now. More good news: Tourney host Nevada is on the other side of the bracket and wouldn't be a possible opponent until the WAC final, which makes it a lot more likely Utah State could survive a road loss.GW: BYU, Wichita St (for bubble purposes).BL: at Long Beach State.



- Cornell (Ivy)- East Tennessee State (Atlantic Sun)- Montana (Big Sky)- Murray State (Ohio Valley)- North Texas (Sun Belt)- Oakland (Summit)- Robert Morris (Northeast) - Siena (MAAC)- Winthrop (Big South)- Wofford (SoCon)