9:03 p.m. update: Third time's a charm for Aztecs
San Diego State got the revenge it wanted, and it could lead to a significant shake-up in the bracket. It seems likely now the Aztecs will bump BYU from the West regional and stake a claim to at least a 2-seed. That would push BYU into the Southeast Regional in New Orleans (the other Thursday/Saturday regional) ... and now seeding is very much up in the air for the Cougars, who are 3-2 without Brandon Davies (two blowout losses).
6:13 p.m. update: Harvard's bubble outlook
What was a good day for bubble teams has turned unfavorable in the late afternoon. Penn State likely punched its ticket to the dance by rolling past Michigan State and into the Big Ten title game. With four or five credible wins and only one bad loss, the Nittany Lions' profile (relatively) holds up well to others at the cutline.
The news worsened when Richmond, which wasn't 100 percent safe, beat Temple to make the A-10 final and, for all intents, lock up an at-large. Now all bubblers will have to root for the Spiders to beat Dayton on Sunday to keep the Flyers from thieving a bid for themselves.
And, if it was it was going to happen, the way the Ivy playoff went down made Harvard a favorable at-large candidate. Douglas Davis' leaner at the buzzer pushed Princeton past the Crimson and into the NCAAs, while dropping Harvard into the at-large mix, as its résumé features a low-30s RPI and wins at Boston College and over Colorado. I don't know if Harvard will quite get there, but having the Crimson as an at-large option is another issue for fellow bubblers.
3:40 p.m. update: Teams watching from home get lift
If you're a bubble team already done with your season, you're pretty happy with the way this afternoon has gone. After Memphis snatched the auto bid from C-USA, Michigan, Clemson and Alabama each lost in their semifinals, with the Tide getting overrun by Kentucky. The Wolverines are in decent shape to make the tournament, but Clemson and Alabama will be two heavily debated teams right at the cutline, so the fact that neither won today helps teams like Saint Mary's, Boston College and VCU. It also gives Penn State an enormous opportunity in the second Big Ten semifinal against Michigan State.
1:51 p.m. update: Memphis swipes C-USA auto bid
Memphis only led once in the C-USA final, but it was for the final seven seconds and that was good enough to swipe the C-USA auto bid from UTEP in a 67-66 win. The Tigers trailed by 12 late before a furious rally and now don't have to sweat an at-large evaluation that may have ended badly for them. UTEP is not a candidate for an at-large.
After a huge series of results on Friday, the bubble picture hasn't really cleared up very well at all. There are a lot of spots still available at the cutline, but the bubble profiles are so incomparable and flawed that it's really impossible to determine any concrete order based on a consistent application of criteria.
Entering play on Saturday, there are eight at-large spots available for 16 teams of variable quality. Here's how the breakout looks:
• Last four first-round byes: Illinois, Colorado, Michigan, Virginia Tech
• Last four in (First Four in Dayton): Penn St, Alabama, Georgia, Memphis
• First four out: USC, Clemson, VCU, Saint Mary's
• Next four out: Boston College, UAB, Harvard, Missouri State
Starting with Virginia Tech and ending with Saint Mary's, you can make logical arguments for almost any ordering of the teams. I spent about 90 minutes last night looking over this batch and still don't have a ton of conviction about any of it.
It's worth noting that Memphis being the last team in is a phantom position, since today's bracket has UTEP as the C-USA auto bid. By this afternoon, the Tigers will either have won the title and the auto bid or lost and likely would miss an at-large. Either way, an at-large spot almost certainly will open up -- unless, of course, Utah State loses the WAC title game and Boise State claims an unexpected spot in the field.
If one is available, Clemson can get there by beating North Carolina. Otherwise, it will take another round of evaluation to see if the order is correct. Also note that Penn State and Alabama also play semifinals, and if they lose, they're not assured of holding on to their tenuous at-large positions.
In auto-bid land:
• America East: Stony Brook at Boston U. (I have family ties to the Seawolves)
• Big West: UC-Santa Barbara-Long Beach St. (UCSB is way more talented than .500 in league play)
• C-USA: Memphis at UTEP (as detailed above, Memphis may need to win to get in)
• Ivy: Princeton-Harvard (Most likely an elimination game for both)
• MAC: Akron-Kent State (Hot Ohio-on-Ohio action)
• MEAC: Morgan State-Hampton (Two comparable teams trying to avoid Dayton)
• Southland: UT-San Antonio-McNeese St. (Roadrunners could create bracket conflict as Southwest host)
• SWAC: Grambling-Alabama St. (Grambling could dance at 13-20)
• WAC: Boise State-Utah State (USU must win or an at-large spot vanishes)
Records listed are Division I only, per NCAA Tournament selection guidelines. All RPI and SOS data are from Friday's collegerpi.com RPI report.
GW = good wins.BL = bad losses.(N) = neutral-site game.
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Locks: Duke, North Carolina
Both league heavyweights won their quarterfinals, although North Carolina needed a buzzer-beater to subdue Miami. Both will be favored to win their semis. If Duke can win out, the Blue Devils could poach a No. 1 seed in the NCAAs. Carolina looks to be playing to secure a No. 2. In bubble land, did Seth Greenberg's luck finally change for the good? His club may make the NCAAs by a fingertip.
SHOULD BE IN
Florida State (21-10, 11-5; RPI: 55, SOS: 81)Season completeThe Seminoles looked like they had beaten Virginia Tech at the buzzer, but a video review probably/maybe/assumedly showed that Derwin Kitchen's fingertips were still touching the ball when the red light flashed and his game-winning jumper was waived off. Chris Singleton remained on the sidelines, but hopefully the 'Noles will get him back for the NCAAs next week.GW: Duke, Baylor (N)?BL: at Auburn
IN THE MIX
Virginia Tech (21-10, 9-7, RPI: 60; SOS: 89)Next game: Sat. vs. 2-seed Duke in ACC semifinalAfter several seasons of feeling snubbed on Selection Sunday, the Hokies may have finally caught a break. In the closest video replay I have seen, they beat Florida State on an overruled basket. It appears on screenshots to be the correct call, but boy was that close. With a lot of other bubble teams winning on Friday, though, VT shouldn't feel 100 percent safe. They have the chance to lock things up by beating Duke again.GW: Duke, Florida State (twice), plus batch of other OK WsBL: Virginia (2x), at Georgia Tech
Clemson (21-10, 9-7; RPI: 53, SOS: 75)Next game: Sat. vs. 1-seed North Carolina in ACC semifinalClemson looked really good (or BC looked really bad) on Friday and made an impressive statement for an NCAA berth. The Tigers sure could use an upset of North Carolina, though, to provide the marquee win the they still lack. They're not a lock by any means at this point with a lot of pieces moving around.GW: BC twice, VT and FSU at home? Plus at C of CBL: at Virginia, at NC State
Boston College (20-12, 9-7; RPI: 58, SOS: 36)Season completeBC's in a ton of trouble after Friday's events, which included a manhandling by Clemson and a lot of other bubble teams winning games. It's hard to see this working out for the Eagles at this point.GW: Texas A&M (N), sweep of VT, plus so-so collection of others.BL: Yale
Locks: Kansas, Texas, Texas A&M, Kansas State
Kansas and Texas will meet in a highly anticipated rematch for the Big 12 tournament crown after the Longhorns faded down the stretch and let Kansas poach a seventh straight league championship. Colorado is feeling decent about its chances despite a seven-point loss to KU.
SHOULD BE IN
Missouri (22-10, 8-8; RPI: 36, SOS: 45)Season completeThe Tigers got handled by A&M in the quarterfinal and now await their Selection Sunday seeding and location. They feel like the consummate 8-9 game team at this point.GW: K-State, Vanderbilt, Old Dominion, vs. Illinois?BL: None, really
IN THE MIX
Colorado (20-13, 8-8; RPI: 65, SOS: 48)Season completeThe Buffs couldn't handle Kansas and now must sit and wait with a profile that would be very marginal some years but could be good enough in this one. They have a decent number of quality wins that could offset the questionable RPI number that would be the highest given an at-large since the NCAA changed its formula (unless someone else this year gets in with a higher one).GW: Texas, Missouri, three-game sweep of Kansas State, (plus Colorado State, for bubble?)BL: at San Francisco, at Oklahoma
Locks: Pitt, Villanova, UConn, Notre Dame, G'town, Louisville, St. John's, Syracuse, WVU, Cincinnati
Louisville and UConn will square off in the title game, with UConn playing its fifth game in five days. Louisville's OT win over Notre Dame may end up costing the Irish a No. 1 seed. How high can the winner on Saturday go? A 3-seed is most likely, but could a 2 be in the offing?
SHOULD BE IN
Marquette (20-14, 9-9; RPI: 63; SOS: 26)Season completeThe Golden Eagles ran into a big effort from Louisville and exited the Big East tourney at the quarterfinals. That probably will be enough for them to dance, but who knows with the team that never makes things easy.GW: at UConn, West Virginia (N), plus a trio of good home league wins (WV, ND, Syracuse)BL: at Seton Hall and 14 overall.
IN THE MIX
Locks: Ohio State, Purdue, Wisconsin
Ohio State is the only top team left after Purdue was crushed by Michigan State and Wisconsin lost to Penn State in a horrific but very meaningful game for the Nittany Lions.
SHOULD BE IN
Michigan State (18-13, 9-9, RPI: 38, SOS: 9)Next game: Sat. vs. 6-seed Penn State in Big Ten semifinalsRight on cue, the Spartans cued up a great performance, ripping Purdue to stake their claim to an NCAA bid. A review of resumes probably pushes them ahead of Illinois in the s-curve. Now they get a surprise semifinal against Penn State, so a finals appearance clearly is possible.GW: Purdue (N), Washington (N) (plus Wisconsin and Minnesota at home)BL: Swept by Michigan (for bubble purposes), at Iowa
IN THE MIX
Illinois (19-13, 9-9; RPI: 46, SOS: 15)Season completeThe Illini blew a big late lead and lost to Michigan, capping an underachieving season in style. Is there any way Illinois can actually miss the NCAAs? They have two really good wins and two very bad losses, but the overall depth of the profile is enough to keep them in this year (you'd think, anyway).GW: UNC, (plus MSU and Wisconsin at home), Maryland (N)?, Gonzaga (N)?BL: Illinois-Chicago (N), at Indiana
Michigan (19-12, 9-9; RPI: 49, SOS: 17)Next game: Saturday vs. 1-seed Ohio State in Big Ten semifinalsThe Wolverines were looking the NIT squarely in the face before pulling off a huge rally to dump Illinois and make the semifinals. It looks pretty decent now for Michigan, despite the lack of a marquee win. They certainly can end discussion of both of those topics with an upset of the Buckeyes on Saturday.GW: Sweep of Michigan State, Illinois (N) HarvardBL: at Indiana
Penn State (18-13, 9-9; RPI: 43, SOS: 5)Next game: Saturday vs. 7-seed Michigan State in Big Ten semifinalsWhen does so ugly look so pretty? When it's a second win over Wisconsin this season and a 36-33 victory that puts the Nittany Lions in position to claim an at-large. They have a grand opportunity to add to the dossier with a semifinal meeting with Michigan State. Is a win there enough? Probably.GW: Wisconsin (N) plus MSU, Illinois and Wisconsin at home in league playBL: Maine
(Conference Tournament Bracket)
Locks: Arizona, UCLA
Bubblers are happy now that Arizona and Washington will face off in the final. There will be no bid thief in the Pac-10. The Huskies will dance even with a very so-so resume. I'll leave them in the category below for clarity and semantics' sake, but they should be safe now.
SHOULD BE IN
Washington (21-10, 11-7; RPI: 41, SOS: 50)Next game: Saturday vs. 1-seed Arizona in Pac-10 finalNot that beating Oregon does much, but not losing to the Ducks means that Washington should feel 100 percent comfortable with its NCAA chances by making the final. Now they get a revenge chance at Arizona, who edged them on a maybe-it-should-have-been-a-goaltend block by Derrick Williams in Tucson.GW: Arizona, Sweep of UCLABL: at Oregon, at Oregon State, at Stanford (plus swept by Wazzu)
IN THE MIX
USC (19-14, 10-8, RPI: 67; SOS: 39)Season completeThe Trojans may have come up a win short after losing to Arizona in the semifinals. It would be unprecedented for a team with six 100+ RPI losses, including three 200+ defeats, to land an at-large. I know some of those happened before Jio Fontan's arrival, but the resume with him may not be impressive enough to overcome it. Depends what the committee values.GW: Texas, at Tennessee, Arizona, UCLA, at WashingtonBL: Rider (N), Oregon twice, at TCU, at Oregon State, Bradley (N)
Locks: Florida, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Tennessee
Georgia gagged away its quarterfinal with Alabama and now may be in serious bubble trouble. The Tide isn't completely safe, either, but has a chance against Kentucky on Saturday to ice things.
SHOULD BE IN
IN THE MIX
Georgia (21-11, 9-7; RPI: 45; SOS: 40)Season completeUh oh. In a hailstorm of bad execution and bad decisions, the Bulldogs kicked away a huge late lead and lost to Alabama in OT. This is now going to be a very nervous couple of days for Georgia, which is just 5-11 against the RPI top 100 and can't even sell a "we only lose to top-40 teams" story now that they have fallen twice to 'Bama in the span of a week. Georgia fans have a vested interest in a number of Saturday games now.GW: Kentucky, at Tennessee, UAB?, Colorado? (for bubble purposes)BL: None, really
Alabama (21-10, 12-4; RPI: 78, SOS: 127)Next game: Saturday vs. E2-seed Kentucky in SEC semifinalsWith a Houdini-like escape, the Tide slipped past Georgia and grabbed an enormous bubble win. The Tide would be wise to take advantage of a huge chance against Kentucky. Otherwise, they're in the hands of a committee that needs to weigh its very odd resume against other contenders. Bama's RPI would be way higher than the worst team picked as an at-large (63rd in RPI) since the adjustments to the formula a number of years ago.GW: Kentucky, at Tennessee, Georgia (twice, for bubble purposes)BL: Iowa (N), St. Peter's (N), at Arkansas?
Locks: Xavier, Temple
One side of the bracket looks normal, with Temple and Richmond squaring off. The other side is "holy heck, what happened?!?!" weird, with 9-seed Dayton wearing white uniforms against 12-seed (the last team let into the postseason tourney) Saint Joseph's. We'll have a bid thief in the final regardless of Saturday's results.
SHOULD BE IN
Richmond (25-7, 13-3; RPI: 56, SOS: 141)Next game: Saturday vs. 2-seed Temple in A-10 semifinalsThe Spiders may have done enough by beating Rhode Island in the quarters. Of course, if they can beat Temple, they'll surely be in and would have a great chance at claiming the auto bid.GW: Purdue, VCUBL: Georgia Tech (N), Bucknell (at home)
IN THE MIX
Locks: San Diego State, BYU, UNLV
Just another day in the MWC, with Jimmer Ferdette dropping a 52-point piledriver on nemesis New Mexico and D.J. Gay dropping a final-seconds teardrop that brought tears to the eyes of UNLV. BYU-SDSU III should be epic and could be for a 2-seed (or better??) in the West regional.
SHOULD BE IN
IN THE MIX
New Mexico (20-12, 8-8; RPI: 66; SOS: 76)Season completeThe Lobos' at-large hopes are probably done by a combination of Jimmer's offensive onslaught and Dairese Gary's knee injury. Solid-looking team at full strength, but without the profile to match.GW: BYU twice, Colorado (plus Colorado State twice?)BL: Swept by Utah, vs. UNI, at Wyoming
Auto bids: Belmont (A-Sun), Bucknell (Patriot), Butler (Horizon), Gonzaga (WCC), Indiana State (MVC), LIU (Northeast), Morehead State (OVC), Oakland (Summit), Old Dominion (CAA), St. Peter's (MAAC), UALR (Sun Belt), UNC-Asheville (Big South), Wofford (SoCon)
Locks: George Mason, Utah State
Can Memphis nip an at-large with a tight loss at UTEP in the C-USA final? Can Utah State save an at-large for someone else by winning the WAC crown? They edged San Jose State to move into (presumed) lock status.
SHOULD BE IN
IN THE MIX
Memphis (24-9, 10-6; RPI: 31, SOS: 52)Next game: Saturday at UTEP in C-USA finalThe Tigers took advantage of the soft draw, pounding East Carolina to get a crack at UTEP for the auto bid. Can they survive a loss and still make it? They don't have any great wins, but they have a lot of decent ones. We'll see.GW: Sweep of UAB, at Gonzaga (bubble purposes), some 50-60ish league winsBL: at ECU, at Rice, at SMU
VCU (23-11, 12-6; RPI: 51, SOS: 86)Season completeFriday was not a good day for teams like VCU, which have to sit around and watch bubble teams win games left and right. The Rams may really end up ruing that L4 that closed out league play. They have some very credible wins on the resume, but a T-3 finish in the 10th or so best league rarely is rewarded.GW: at ODU, vs. GMU, vs. UCLA, at Wichita State?BL: at South Florida, at N'eastern, at Georgia State
Missouri State (25-8, 15-3; RPI: 41; SOS: 125)Season completeThe Bears are another team that wasn't happy with what went down on Friday. After falling to Indiana State in the Valley final, they probably don't have the quality of profile to be a serious at-large consideration.GW: Sweep of Wichita StateBL: at Tulsa?, at Evansville
Saint Mary's (23-8, 11-3; RPI: 44; SOS: 98)Season completeThe Gaels beat Weber State in an after-tournament regular-season game but aren't in good shape at all with the way things went elsewhere on Friday. There's really not a ton of meat to their profile.GW: St. John'sBL: at San Diego
Harvard (21-5, 12-2; RPI: 32, SOS: 155)Next game: Playoff on Saturday vs. Princeton in New Haven, Conn.As the bubble gets tighter, an at-large for the Crimson seems pretty unlikely, since it would entail eating another loss to Princeton to be considered. Best suggestion: win the playoff game and go dancing.GW: at Boston College, Colorado (for bubble purposes)BL: at Yale
UAB (22-8, 12-4; RPI: 30, SOS: 79)Season completeDespite a solid RPI, I don't see any way the Blazers get an at-large after falling in their opening game of the C-USA tourney against an East Carolina team they swept in the regular season. UAB simply lacks the quality wins in a year where C-USA was decent and had quality depth, but had no great teams and no great wins available.GW: None, reallyBL: at Arizona State