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Bubble Watch: NC State could be NIT-bound; good news for Xavier

The same can be said for Ole Miss, but in the opposite direction. The Rebels almost certainly were not an at-large selection heading into Saturday, and now it appears a win over Vanderbilt would not be enough to change their current status. That implies the Rebels now need to win the SEC's auto-bid to make it, meaning wins over Vandy and Kentucky.

It's unclear what the disclosure means for NC State, but the timing should concern Wolfpack fans. Coming immediately after the semifinal loss, you can reasonably think the committee was waiting on that result and now has the Wolfpack out as an at-large. We'll see, though.

UPDATE (3:30 p.m.): More bubble drama in the early afternoon games as no one can take advantage and stake a claim.

• Marshall may have seen its hopes evaporate in a C-USA final evisceration at Memphis. The Thundering Herd were the last team in Saturday AM's bracket, but that was a bit of a faux position, since they either would be in as the auto bid or suffer a loss that could end up sending them to the NIT.

• In the ACC, a controversial late call broke North Carolina's way and might condemn North Carolina State to the NIT, as well. The Wolfpack will be kicking themselves for a couple of late turnovers, as well, and looking back on a series of missed opportunities late in the season to grab the one win that could have put them in.

• In the Atlantic 10, it's St. Bonaventure that will be on every bubble team's radar tomorrow. The Bonnies are in the final and will steal an at-large spot from someone if they beat the Saint Louis/Xavier winner.


After a relatively quiet day, bubble madness erupted again Friday night with multiple results that blurred the bracket.

• Colorado's upset of Cal in the Pac-12 semis means either the Buffaloes or Arizona will head to the NCAAs as the league's auto bid. Cal's résumé may be strong enough to hold on for an at-large, so a spot may have disappeared for someone else.

• Xavier scored the game's final seven points to edge Dayton, most likely ending the Flyers' hopes while putting itself in much better shape. Either the Musketeers or Saint Louis will have a lot of fans Sunday as they try to stop bid thief UMass or St. Bonaventure.

• Tennessee fell to Ole Miss in the SEC quarters, probably meaning NIT for the Vols and keeping the Rebels' unexpected at-large run alive for another day.

• Miami (Fla.) lost to Florida State and now will have a very long 42 hours or so to see if its profile can hold up.

• Texas also lost, but the Longhorns may have done enough yesterday to survive.

• Nevada was upset in the WAC semis, falling into the at-large pool. That's another mid-major conference champ now at the mercy of the selection commitee while Louisiana Tech or New Mexico State will dance.

Mix in New Mexico's win at UNLV, juggling the Mountain West pecking order, and Kansas losing, possibly opening up a 1-seed for someone else, and the committee (and yours truly) have a lot more work ahead.

Here's a quick rundown of Saturday's important bubble games:

Marshall-Memphis (11:30 a.m.): Tigers try to deny an auto-bid thief, maybe push the Herd out altogether.

NC State-North Carolina (1 p.m.): This looks like a win-and-in, lose-and-50/50 game for the Pack.

Mississippi-Vanderbilt (3:30 p.m.): Rebels need this win and then we can reevaluate at-large hopes.

Xavier-Saint Louis (3:30 p.m.): Musketeers appear to be in good shape; this would eliminate all doubt.

Long Beach State-UC Santa Barbara (10 p.m.): Bubblers are praying LBSU wins to avoid at-large candidacy.

A quick reminder on the standard rules of engagement:

1) Auto bids go to the best RPI of the conference leaders (based on fewest league losses) or best RPI left in the conference tournament.

2) Records listed are Division I only, per NCAA tournament selection guidelines. All RPI and SOS data are from Friday's RPI report. GW = good wins. BL = bad losses. (N) = neutral-site game.

Locks: Duke, North Carolina, Florida State

The Big Three in the league all stay alive, with Duke and Florida State meeting in the semis. NC State gets a chance to punch its ticket against North Carolina, which is in the driver's seat for a 1-seed in the NCAAs after Kansas' loss on Friday. Is Virginia safe? In any other year, probably not. This one? Appears so.




Virginia (22-9, 9-7; RPI: 52, SOS: 82)

This is not a good profile, but in a year where the bubble is a fiasco, it should hold up. Losing to NC State in the quarters is making this a lot closer than many think. The Cavaliers should thank their lucky stars they won in OT at Maryland in the season finale. A loss there may have led to disaster.GW: Michigan, at Oregon, Miami?, at NC State?BL: Virginia Tech?, TCU(N)?, at Clemson

North Carolina State (20-11, 9-7; RPI: 49, SOS: 32)

A huge win over Virginia in the quarters has NC State in position to make it at the gun. If the Pack can't beat North Carolina in the semis, it will be very, very close and up to the whims of the committee.GW: Sweep of MiamiBL: Georgia Tech, at Clemson, at Stanford?

Miami (19-12, 9-7; RPI: 59, SOS: 43)

The Canes lost to Florida State in the quarters and now very well may miss the NCAAs. Being passed by late-moving NC State isn't helping matters.GW: at Duke, Florida StateBL: None, really

Locks: Kansas, Missouri, Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas State

Kansas' loss to Baylor in the semis may end up costing KU a 1-seed on Sunday, or at least may send the Jayhawks out West. Missouri retains an outside chance at a 1 if it can beat Baylor.




Texas (20-13, 9-9; RPI: 48, SOS: 19)

Despite a loss to Missouri in the semis, the Horns appear to be in pretty good shape to make it. It doesn't appear at this point that they would even land in the First Four, but we'll see.GW: Temple, Iowa State?, Kansas State?BL: Oregon State (N)

Locks: Syracuse, Georgetown, Marquette, Louisville, Notre Dame, Cincinnati

West Virginia and UConn will be fine. Seton Hall still looks like it should squeak in. South Florida is very questionable. Syracuse will be a 1-seed. Georgetown and Marquette could be elbowing each other around at the 3-seed cutoff.


Connecticut (20-13, 8-10; RPI: 32, SOS: 3)

UConn ate a tough loss to Syracuse, but has done enough. We'll see where they're seeded. The Huskies simply have too many wins against a schedule that grades out very well to miss the NCAAs.GW: Florida State (N), at Notre Dame, Seton Hall?, West Virginia twice (home/neutral), Harvard? BL: at Rutgers, at Tennessee?, at Providence

West Virginia (19-13, 9-9; RPI: 56, SOS: 15)

After maybe seeing at-large hopes under threat after losing to UConn, a ton of other teams lost and now WVU looks comfortably safe.GW: Georgetown, Kansas State (N), Miami?, Cincinnati?, Oral Roberts? at South Florida?BL: Kent State?, at St. John's, Pitt?


Seton Hall (20-12, 8-10; RPI: 67, SOS: 50)

Like West Virginia, the Pirates benefited from not playing any games later in the week. Now, the probably will hold on and make it.GW: Georgetown, UConn?, West Virginia?, Saint Joseph's?BL: Rutgers, at Villanova, Rutgers, at DePaul

South Florida (19-13, 12-6; RPI: 53, SOS: 28)

The Bulls wastefully couldn't close the deal against Notre Dame and now have a very anxious wait. The profile is similar to Northwestern's, with better league finish but more bad losses.GW: at Louisville, Seton Hall?, Cincinnati?BL: Old Dominion (N)?, Penn State (N), at Auburn

Locks: Michigan State, Ohio State, Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, Purdue

After Ohio State's win in East Lansing, the winner of the Big Ten tournament has a chance at a 1-seed. Six teams will dance and it may stay at that number. Northwestern looks like it will miss ... again.




Northwestern (18-13, 8-10; RPI: 61, SOS: 18)

The Wildcats suffered a crushing OT loss to Minnesota that may end up costing them their first-ever NCAA bid. There are no bad losses, but there are way too many against one solitary top-50 win.GW: Michigan State, Seton Hall (N)?, at Illinois?BL: Illinois?

Locks: None

Down goes Cal, and the auto bid will go to Arizona or Colorado. Whether Cal and/or Washington (although the Golden Bears clearly should come first) gets in is up to the whims of the committee.




California (24-9, 13-5; RPI: 37, SOS: 83)

The Golden Bears lost in the semis to Colorado and now need to see what the committee thinks. Their best win is over No. 65 Oregon. That's not a good thing. They went 3-0 against Washington and the Ducks in the regular season.GW: Swept Oregon?, at Washington?BL: at Washington State, at Oregon State, Arizona?

Washington (21-10, 14-4; RPI: 70; SOS: 88)

As things continue to develop, they look very bleak for the Huskies despite their regular-season league title. That would be the only hook the committee has to take them. The overall profile after two bad losses to end the season is not worthy, even in this terrible bubble year.GW: Oregon?, Sweep of Arizona??BL: Home to South Dakota State by 19, at UCLA

Oregon (22-9, 11-5; RPI: 65, SOS: 94)

The Ducks lost late to Colorado in the quarters and now almost certainly will be heading to the NIT.?GW: at Arizona?, Washington by 25??BL: Oregon State

Arizona (22-10, 12-6; RPI: 73, SOS: 115)

The Wildcats will play for the auto bid and now that Cal lost, will need it to make the field of 68.?GW: at Cal, at New Mexico State??BL: at UCLA?, at Arizona State

Locks: Kentucky, Florida, Vanderbilt, Alabama

The league might only get four after Tennessee lost in the quarterfinals. Can Ole Miss or Mississippi State sneak in?




Tennessee (17-14, 10-6; RPI: 84, SOS: 31)

A good run, but losing to Ole Miss in the quarters likely means curtains for the Vols, unless the committee gives them substantial credit for the absence of Jarnell Stokes earlier in the year.GW: Sweep of Florida, Vanderbilt, Connecticut, Mississippi??BL: at Georgia, at Charleston, at Oakland, Austin Peay

Mississippi State (21-11, 8-8; RPI: 66, SOS: 66)

It appears the Bulldogs will miss the NCAAs after a bad first-round loss to Georgia. That's just too many poor results down the stretch of the season. GW: at Vanderbilt, Alabama, Arizona?, West VirginiaBL: Georgia 2x, Akron?

Mississippi (20-12, 8-8; RPI: 54, SOS: 48)

The Rebels beat Tennessee and now get a shot at Vanderbilt in the semis. They have to win that one, at the very least.GW: Mississippi State?, Miami (Fla.)?BL: at Auburn

Locks: Temple, Saint Louis

Saint Louis is now the favorite after Temple's quarterfinal exit. Xavier swiped one from Dayton to take a huge step forward. The winner of that Saturday semifinal will try to stop a bid thief in UMass or St. Bona.




Xavier (20-11, 10-6; RPI: 43, SOS: 45)

The Musketeers scored the last seven points of the game to pip Dayton by a point and vey likely punch its ticket in place of a huge rival. Very satisfying. If they can beat Saint Louis next, that would seal it.GW: at Vanderbilt, Purdue, St. Joe's?BL: at Hawaii, at La Salle?

Dayton (20-12, 9-7; RPI: 73, SOS: 69)

The Flyers wrapped up a typically Dayton season with a totally Dayton defeat, losing all offensive composure down the stretch and giving a game to Xavier. There are a lot of good things about this profile, so if you want the "mystery" inclusion, this would be the team, but they may have burned one too many favors with this loss.GW: Alabama, Saint Louis, Xavier, at Temple, Minnesota??, Ole Miss?BL: at Miami (Ohio), Buffalo by 29?, Rhode Island, Duquesne?, at Richmond

Locks: UNLV, New Mexico, San Diego State

San Diego State and New Mexico will play for the title. UNLV drops behind both in the pecking order. Colorado State looks like it will make it, to get four for the league.


Colorado State (19-11, 8-6; RPI: 28, SOS: 5)

The Rams lost to San Diego State but probably have done enough to make the field. GW: San Diego State, New Mexico, UNLVBL: at Stanford?, at Boise State



Auto bid: Creighton

Locks: Wichita State

Congrats to Creighton, which staved off upstart Illinois State in overtime for the conference tournament crown. Both the Bluejays and Wichita State should find themselves as top-6 seeds, and the Creighton win spares the at-large pool from a bid thief.





Locks: Memphis

Memphis looks to improve its seed and KO Marshall, perhaps keeping the Herd out of the dance entirely. Southern Miss has wobbled down the stretch but should get in.


Southern Miss (23-8, 11-5; RPI: 19, SOS: 47)

The Golden Eagles fell in the semis, wrapping up a suspect stretch run, but they have enough quality Ws to be in the field of 68.GW: Memphis, Ole Miss, at Colorado State, sweep of New Mexico State?BL: at UAB, at Houston, at UTEP


Marshall (20-12, 9-7; RPI: 43, SOS: 26)

The Herd gave themselves a chance with the upset of Southern Miss in the semis. The auto bid is there for the taking ... if they can win at Memphis. If they can't, could the Herd survive as an at-large? The profile is stronger than many suspect. They played a very demanding nonleague slate, which the committee likes, and have six top-60 wins. GW: Southern Miss 2x, at Cincinnati, Iona BL: UAB, at Tulsa, at East Carolina

Auto bid: Saint Mary's

Locks: Gonzaga

The Gaels staved off the Bulldogs in overtime and did the league double, pushing them ahead of the Zags in the curve. BYU's questionable profile, remarkably, may hold up.




BYU (23-8, 12-4; RPI: 46, SOS: 94)

The Cougars, amazingly, may benefit from this week's carnage. Once left for bracket dead, they may scrape into the bracket despite a fairly unimpressive profile.GW: GonzagaBL: at Utah State?, Loyola Marymount?

Auto bids: Murray State, VCU, Harvard

Locks: None

This is going to be really close for a number of teams in this list. Long Beach can take care of its own business on Saturday. The rest in this category hope the 49ers do just that.




Long Beach State (22-8, 15-1; RPI: 36, SOS: 130)

I think the 49ers should get an at-large, if needed, but they can render that situation moot by getting revenge on UCSB for last season's title game loss. If they do lose, will ambitious scheduling offset that and the lack of quality wins? The win at Pitt came before the Panthers caved in. The win over Xavier was when X was still suspension-addled.GW: at Pitt, Xavier (N)BL: at Montana, at CS-Fullerton

Drexel (27-6, 16-2; RPI: 67, SOS: 209)

This is going to be a long wait, but is looking more and more possible for the Dragons. They look the part but there's not a ton in the actual resume that can defend an at-large berth. They'll have to hope the long winning streak and the conference championship are enough despite a very poor SOS.GW: VCU, at Cleveland State? BL: at Georgia State, at Delaware, Norfolk State (N)

Iona (25-7, 15-3; RPI: 41, SOS: 145)

An incredibly big question right now is should the Gaels be ahead of Drexel in the pecking order. With 15 road/neutral wins and a 5-3 top-100 mark, you can't dismiss them even without a marquee win. Too many bad losses from a modest conference, though, might be their downfall.GW: None, reallyBL: Fairfield (N)?, Manhattan, at Siena, at Hofstra

Oral Roberts (27-5, 17-1; RPI: 50, SOS: 190)

The Golden Eagles may have been able to endure a loss in the final to South Dakota State. It's less clear whether they can survive a semifinal loss to Western Illinois. How much credit that win over depleted Xavier is worth in the eyes of the committee will go a long way toward determining whether they can somehow squeak in as an at-large.GW: at Xavier (when shorthanded), South Dakota State?, Akron?? BL: UT-San Antonio (N), Western Illinois (N)

Middle Tennessee State (24-6, 14-2; RPI: 57, SOS: 181)

The Blue Raiders inexplicably lost to 9-seed Arkansas State in the Sun Belt quarterfinals and probably saw their at-large hopes end. That's a second straight sub-200 loss to end the season.GW: Ole Miss (N), at UCLA?BL: at UAB, at Western Kentucky, Arkansas State (N)

Other auto bids: Davidson (Southern), Loyola MD (MAAC), Belmont (Atlantic Sun), UNC-Asheville (Big South), South Dakota State (Summit), Detroit (Horizon), Lehigh (Patriot), Montana (Big Sky), LIU-Brooklyn (NEC)