Wednesday was the beginning of the big conference tournaments and some bubble teams may have seen their bubbles burst. We’ll look back at some Wednesday action and look ahead to what could be a huge Thursday for tournament purposes.
March 14th Projection
|East Region (Washington, D.C.)||South Region (Louisville)|
|East Region (Washington, D.C.)||South Region (Louisville)|
|Columbia (Mar. 22/24)||Columbus (Mar. 22/24)|
|1. Virginia (ACC)||1. Kentucky|
|16. N. Dakota St. (Summit) / F. Dickinson (NEC)||16. Iona (MAAC)|
|8. VCU||8. UCF|
|9. Ohio State||9. Seton Hall|
|San Jose (Mar. 22/24)||Salt Lake City (Mar. 21/23)|
|5. Buffalo (MAC)||5. Virginia Tech|
|12. Liberty (Atlantic Sun)||12. Murray State (Ohio Valley)|
|4. Kansas State (Big 12)||4. Kansas|
|13. Vermont (America East)||13. Old Dominion (Conference USA)|
|Des Moines (Mar. 21/23)||Hartford (Mar. 21/23)|
|6. Villanova (Big East)||6. Auburn|
|11. Florida||11. Baylor|
|3. Houston (American Athletic)||3. Purdue|
|14. Harvard (Ivy)||14. Northeastern (Colonial)|
|Des Moines (Mar. 21/23)||Columbus (Mar. 22/24)|
|7. Cincinnati||7. Wofford (Southern)|
|10. Oklahoma||10. Temple|
|2. Michigan State||2. Duke|
|15. Colgate (Patriot)||15. Northern Kentucky (Horizon)|
|West Region (Anaheim)||Midwest Region (Kansas City)|
|Salt Lake City (Mar. 21/23)||Columbia (Mar. 22/24)|
|1. Gonzaga||1. North Carolina|
|16. Prairie View (SWAC) / Norfolk St. (MEAC)||16. Bradley (Missouri Valley)|
|8. Utah State||8. Iowa|
|9. Washington (Pac-12)||9. Ole Miss|
|Jacksonville (Mar. 21/23)||San Jose (Mar. 22/24)|
|5. Nevada (Mountain West)||5. Marquette|
|12. Alabama / North Carolina State||12. TCU / Minnesota|
|4. Wisconsin||4. Florida State|
|13. New Mexico State (WAC)||13. UC Irvine (Big West)|
|Tulsa (Mar. 22/24)||Hartford (Mar. 21/23)|
|6. Maryland||6. Mississippi State|
|11. Arizona State||11. Saint Mary's (West Coast)|
|3. Texas Tech||3. Michigan|
|14. Montana (Big Sky)||14. Georgia State (Sun Belt)|
|Tulsa (Mar. 22/24)||Jacksonville (Mar. 21/23)|
|7. Louisville||7. Iowa State|
|10. St. John's||10. Syracuse|
|2. LSU||2. Tennessee|
|15. Sam Houston State (Southland)||15. Gardner-Webb (Big South)|
Last Four Byes: Syracuse, Baylor, Florida, Arizona State
Last Four In: TCU, Minnesota, Alabama, North Carolina State
First Four Out: Indiana, Texas, Creighton, Belmont
Next Four Out: Clemson, Providence, Xavier, Furman
ACC - 8
Big Ten - 8
SEC - 8
Big 12 - 7
American - 4
Big East - 4
Mountain West - 2
Pac-12 - 2
West Coast - 2
One-bid leagues - 23
The highlight of Wednesday’s action going into the day was the big bubble showdown in the ACC between North Carolina State and Clemson. The Wolfpack edged out a 59-58 win, but not without some controversy. Unfortunately for Clemson, this leaves them in a very vulnerable position. Despite having a NET ranking of 36, the Tigers will go into Selection Sunday with a poor 1-10 record against Quadrant 1 teams. That one win came at home against Virginia Tech. Clemson did also beat Syracuse at home but lost against Creighton. It may be very hard to ignore the 1-10 record and I believe that is why Clemson will be left in the dust come Sunday.
As for North Carolina State, I have swapped them and Indiana, after initially putting the Hoosiers in for Clemson. North Carolina State’s NET ranking of 32 is still very good and if the committee takes that into consideration, the Pack may still squeak in. But that is far from a guarantee and they have still need to beat Virginia to feel better about their chances.
Butler took on Providence in the Big East opening round in what also amounted to a bubble elimination game. Well, Butler certainly didn’t look like they belonged in the tournament, as Providence handled the Bulldogs, 80-57. The Friars keep their hopes alive and get a shot at No. 1 Villanova today in the quarterfinals. Butler, at 16-16, is done. The question now is will they have enough to be selected to the NIT.
Wednesday also saw the last tournament ticket punched until 13 will be awarded on Saturday. It was in the Patriot League and we’ve got another team ending a long tournament drought, as Colgate knocked off Bucknell, 94-80, to secure their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 1996. The Raiders look to be entering as a No. 15 seed.
TCU just squeaked by Oklahoma State in the Big 12 tournament and while they did get the win, it wasn’t exactly encouraging and the Frogs were bumped down into the last four in group. But at least they won Wednesday. Oklahoma cannot say the same thing as they were upset by West Virginia, who was mired in an extremely disappointing season. Oklahoma is still in the field, but now they’re more likely to receive a double-digit seed on Sunday.
Thursday is a big day as a lot of bubble teams take the court in an effort to state their final cases for the NCAA Tournament. Here’s your rundown of today’s action.
Atlantic 10 Second Round (in Brooklyn, NY)
No. 8 Rhode Island vs. No. 9 La Salle, 12:00, NBCSN
No. 5 George Mason vs. No. 12 George Washington, 2:30, NBCSN
No. 7 Duquesne vs. No. 10 Saint Joseph’s, 6:00, NBCSN
No. 6 Saint Louis vs. No. 11 Richmond, 8:30, NBCSN
George Washington and Richmond were winners in Wednesday’s first round. Today’s winner advance to meet VCU, St. Bonaventure, Davidson and Dayton, respectively.
ACC Quarterfinals (in Charlotte, NC)
No. 1 Virginia vs. No. 8 North Carolina State, 12:30, ESPN
No. 4 Florida State vs. No. 5 Virginia Tech, 2:30, ESPN
No. 2 North Carolina vs. No. 7 Louisville, 7:00, ESPN
No. 3 Duke vs. No. 6 Syracuse, 9:00, ESPN
As mentioned earlier, North Carolina State has a big opportunity against Virginia. A win could very well be just enough to push them toward enough of a safe status for Sunday. Virginia, North Carolina and Duke are all in play for the top line in the NCAAs. Virginia is a very good bet, if not a lock, to be a No. 1 seed while the Heels and Blue Devils could potentially meet in the semifinals with a No. 1 seed on the line.
American Athletic First Round (in Memphis, TN)
No. 8 South Florida vs. No. 9 Connecticut, 1:00, ESPNU
No. 5 Memphis vs. No. 12 Tulane, 3:00, ESPNU
No. 7 Tulsa vs. No. 10 SMU, 8:00, ESPNU
No. 6 Wichita State vs. No. 11 East Carolina, 10:00, ESPNU
The last of the conference tournaments to tip off include the AAC, where the top four teams all look in pretty good shape to reach the NCAA Tournament. But Memphis is a dark horse in this field. They’ve played well under first-year head coach Penny Hardaway and they are playing the tournament on their home court. A win over Tulane sets them up for a quarterfinal against UCF and a potential semifinal against Houston.
Big 12 Quarterfinals (in Kansas City, MO)
No. 4 Baylor vs. No. 5 Iowa State, 12:30, ESPN2
No. 1 Kansas State vs. No. 8 TCU, 2:30, ESPN2
No. 2 Texas Tech vs. No. 10 West Virginia, 7:00, ESPN2
No. 3 Kansas vs. No. 6 Texas, 9:00, ESPN2
The big story in the Big 12 today is Texas. A win today would give them six quadrant one victories. But a loss drops them to 16-16 and it’s highly unlikely the committee would take them with that record, even with five quadrant one wins, including one over North Carolina. It really is do or die for the Longhorns. As for TCU, a loss today probably doesn’t knock them out yet, but it’ll still be time to sweat with three days of action left.
Big East Quarterfinals (in New York, NY)
No. 1 Villanova vs. No. 8 Providence, 12:00, FS1
No. 4 Xavier vs. No. 5 Creighton, 2:30, FS1
No. 2 Marquette vs. No. 7 St. John’s, 7:00, FS1
No. 3 Seton Hall vs. No. 6 Georgetown, 9:30, FS1
You want to talk bubble? Look no further than the Big East, where just about every game has a team still making a case for the dance. Providence and Creighton are the teams most in need of a win today, while St. John’s could also use one to feel safer. Despite a low NET ranking, Seton Hall, with wins over Kentucky and Maryland and a strong finish to the season which included wins over Villanova and Marquette, is likely in, though a loss today probably ensures a double-digit seed in the field. Georgetown has been up and down and probably needs to win the Big East tournament to get in.
Big Sky Quarterfinals (in Boise, ID)
No. 1 Montana vs. No. 9 Sacramento State, 2:00
No. 4 Weber State vs. No. 5 Portland State, 4:30
No. 2 Northern Colorado vs. No. 7 Southern Utah. 7:30
No. 3 Eastern Washington vs. No. 6 Montana State, 10:00
Mostly all chalk in the Big Sky after Wednesday’s action. The top five teams now join the fray. As we discusses yesterday, Montana is the favorite but Northern Colorado is a strong contender, Eastern Washington is always in play and you can never count out Weber State in this league.
Big Ten Second Round (in Chicago, IL)
No. 8 Ohio State vs. No. 9 Indiana, 12:30, BTN
No. 5 Maryland vs. No. 13 Nebraska, 3:00, BTN
No. 7 Minnesota vs. No. 10 Penn State, 7:00, BTN
No. 6 Iowa vs. No. 11 Illinois, 9:30, BTN
A huge bubble battle tips of Thursday’s action in Chicago. If Ohio State loses, we may have to take a closer look at their resume. They’re currently a No. 9 seed, but very close to a double-digit seed. Indiana, on the other hand, might have to win today to get in. They wouldn’t in as bad of shape as Texas, since the Hoosiers would still have a winning record, but a loss today means there will be a lot of questions on Indiana and a lot of time to nitpick their performance. Indiana may be the most interesting case among the bubble teams. No bad losses will be a big selling point for them. Also keep an eye on Penn State. The Nittany Lions have been playing well of late and could play spoiler, especially against a Minnesota team that’s still trying to make a case.
Big West Quarterfinals (in Anaheim, CA)
No. 2 UC Santa Barbara vs. No. 7 Cal State Northridge, 3:00, ESPN3
No. 3 Cal State Fullerton vs. No. 6 UC Davis, 5:30, ESPN3
No. 1 UC Irvine vs. No. 8 UC Riverside, 9:00, ESPN3
No. 4 Hawaii vs. No. 5 Long Beach State, 11:30, ESPN3
UC Irvine is the clear favorite in Anaheim, having won the regular season title by five games over UCSB and Fullerton. And this is a field that reseeds after each round. This is the Anteaters’ title to lose.
Conference USA Quarterfinals (in Frisco, TX)
No. 1 Old Dominion vs. No. 8 Louisiana Tech, 7:00, Stadium
No. 4 Texas-San Antonio vs. No. 5 UAB. 7:30
No. 2 Western Kentucky vs. No. 10 North Texas, 9:30, Stadium
No. 3 Southern Miss vs. No. 6 Marshall, 10:00
The top four teams make their debut in Conference USA and while Old Dominion is the favorite, this field is pretty wide open. And once again, the tournament will utilize the dual-courts in Frisco.
MAC Quarterfinals (in Cleveland, OH)
No. 1 Buffalo vs. No. 8 Akron, 12:00, ESPN+
No. 4 Kent State vs. No. 5 Central Michigan, 2:30, ESPN+
No. 2 Toledo vs. No. 7 Northern Illinois, 6:30, ESPN+
No. 3 Bowling Green vs. No. 11 Ball State, 9:00, ESPN+
After a day off to travel, the four winners from Tuesday are in Cleveland with the top four seeds. Buffalo is obviously the favorite and the bracket sets up where both teams that beat Buffalo (Bowling Green and Northern Illinois) are on the opposite side of the bracket. Bubble teams everywhere are hoping Buffalo secures the automatic bid.
MEAC Quarterfinals (in Norfolk, VA)
No. 3 North Carolina Central vs. No. 11 Delaware State, 6:00
No. 4 Howard vs. No. 5 Bethune-Cookman, 8:00
The top two teams, Norfolk State and North Carolina A&T, have secured their spots in the semifinals. The other two spots will be filled today. And with the tournament setup, Delaware State has had two days off entering this game, though the other three teams today are playing their first tournament and have had extra rest.
Mountain West Quarterfinals (in Las Vegas, NV)
No. 1 Nevada vs. No. 8 Boise State, 3:00, CBSSN
No. 4 San Diego State vs. No. 5 UNLV, 5:30, CBSSN
No. 2 Utah State vs. No. 7 New Mexico, 9:00, CBSSN
No. 3 Fresno State vs. No. 6 Air Force, 11:30, CBSSN
The higher seeds won Wednesday, making an all-chalk quarterfinals in Vegas. These are actually home games for UNLV. The expectation is Nevada vs. Utah State in the final, but San Diego State and Fresno State could potentially spoil the party.
Pac-12 Quarterfinals (in Las Vegas, NV)
No. 1 Washington vs. No. 8 USC, 3:00, Pac-12 Network
No. 4 Oregon State vs. No. 5 Colorado, 5:30, PACN
No. 2 Arizona State vs. No. 7 UCLA, 9:00, PACN
No. 3 Utah vs. No. 6 Oregon, 11:30, PACN
To clarify for those who may not know, the Mountain West plays at the Thomas and Mack Center, while the Pac-12 is at T-Mobile Arena. The league is two bids, for now, but Arizona State really cannot afford a loss to UCLA. Same goes for Washington against USC, though the Huskies may be more likely to get an at-large than the Sun Devils. If a team is going to spoil the party, it might be Oregon. It’s almost laughable how poor the league has become.
SEC Second Round (in Nashville, TN)
No. 8 Florida vs. No. 9 Arkansas, 1:00, SECN
No. 5 Auburn vs. No. 12 Missouri, 3:30, SECN
No. 7 Ole Miss vs. No. 10 Alabama, 7:00, SECN
No. 6 Mississippi State vs. No. 11 Texas A&M, SECN
Florida and Alabama are the teams to watch for bubble purposes. A loss to Arkansas would really sting for the Gators and Alabama is very close to the cutline. But a win over Ole Miss would be a huge notch under their belt right before Selection Sunday. And Tennessee fans will certainly be keeping an eye on the last game of the night, as the Bulldogs/Aggies winner gets the Vols in the quarterfinals.
Southland Quarterfinals (in Katy, TX)
No. 4 New Orleans vs. No. 5 Lamar, 6:00, ESPN+
No. 3 Southeastern Louisiana vs. No. 7 Central Arkansas, 8:30+
Lamar and Central Arkansas were winners Wednesday, setting up today’s action, with the winners to meet the top two seeds, Sam Houston State and Abilene Christian, in tomorrow’s semifinals.
Sun Belt Second Round (in New Orleans, LA)
No. 5 Louisiana-Lafayette vs. No. 8 South Alabama, 6:00, ESPN+
No. 6 Coastal Carolina vs. No. 7 Louisiana-Monroe, 8:30, ESPN+
South Alabama and Louisiana-Monroe both held serve at home to get the opportunity to travel to New Orleans for today’s second round. Today’s winners meet Texas State and Georgia Southern in the quarterfinals.
WAC Quarterfinals (in Las Vegas, NV)
No. 1 New Mexico State vs. No. 8 Chicago State, 3:00, ESPN+
No. 4 Texas-Rio Grande Valley vs. No. 5 Cal State Bakersfield, 5:30, ESPN+
No. 2 Utah Valley vs. No. 7 UMKC, 9:00, ESPN+
No. 3 Grand Canyon vs. No. 6 Seattle, 11:30, ESPN+
That’s right, a third conference tournament at the same time in Las Vegas, this one in Orleans Arena, where Saint Mary’s won the West Coast tournament. Surprise, surprise, New Mexico State is the favorite. When’s the last time they weren’t? Grand Canyon is also a solid contender in this tournament.