Wednesday Update: Villanova down but not out, Butler pleases bubblers
There were dramatic auto-bid snatches (hello, UALR!), one-game playoffs forced (well done, Princeton) and bid thieves subdued (the bubblers thank Butler!), and all anyone wants to talk about is ... Villanova?
Yup, the Wildcats are the story of the night in Bubble Watch after throwing away a 16-point halftime lead and suffering a horrible last-second loss to South Florida (3-15 Big East) in the first round of their conference tournament.
The immediate aftermath on Twitter was fierce, with the vast majority of people immediately ushering the Wildcats out of the bracket completely. That's not happening. There's no way the committee, with a mandate to evaluate the entire résumé of an at-large team, will omit a team with six RPI top-50 wins with all of the flotsam at the bottom of this year's at-large pool. Villanova will become the first team in the 64/65/68-team era to make the NCAAs after losing its last five games.
The real question now is where to seed a team that finished 5-10 in its final 15 games, including coming very close to losing nine straight to close things out. Nova was a 7-seed entering Tuesday, and a drop to a 10-seed or so by Sunday looks very possible at this point. Now watch them make the Sweet 16 ...
Elsewhere, congratulations are in order for those Butler Bulldogs (Horizon), Oakland Grizzlies (Summit) and the Trojans from Little Rock (Sun Belt) for auto-bidding their way into the NCAAs (
Now things really start to cook. Here's some of what's on tap for Wednesday:
-- Marquette takes on West Virginia in the second round of the Big East tournament. The Golden Eagles are in OK position right now, but a win would clinch things for them.
-- The Big 12 tournament kicks off with bubble team Colorado needing to beat Iowa State to keep hopes alive.
-- In auto bid news, Robert Morris plays at Long Island in the NEC final and Montana will play at Northern Colorado in the Big Sky final.
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 Tuesday'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 Bearcats locked up their spot with a really impressive two-win week. In the process, they may have edged the league closer to 10 bids than 11. Notre Dame's resume is begging for No. 1 seed consideration. Georgetown is begging for Chris Wright to get healthy. Jay Wright is begging for his team to stop a staggering free fall.
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.
Butler most likely saved an at-large for someone else by taking out homestanding UW-Milwaukee to snag the Horizon's auto bid. Will that help someone in this category or go to a middling high-major? Can the Ivy actually squeeze out an at-large? We could be asking that Saturday night if Princeton wins the playoff with Harvard for the auto bid.