With the major conference tournaments in full swing, our bubble watch really goes into high gear. Last night saw Xavier get a win over a miserable Depaul squad after struggling in the first half, and Southern Cal beat an equally terrible Washington. So, Xavier and USC live to fight another day. Meanwhile, Wake Forest lost, but it was to a solid Virginia Tech squad in a close game, and they are still in the field.
Today has already seen some major winners and losers on the bubble. First, after a truly frightening situation yesterday in which their plane skidded off the runway in a windstorm, Michigan flew to DC this morning and looked plenty rested against Illinois, winning 75-55. This makes it a near certainty that Illinois is out of the field, though I won’t put them out of consideration yet. Also in the Big Ten, Michigan State blew out Penn State and edged closer to wrapping up an at-large bid, though the Spartans still have work to do in order to breathe easy on Sunday.
In a game just finished, California beat Utah. This has two implications: Cal is still alive and could jump into the field with a win over Oregon tomorrow. On the other side of that coin, I can say without hesitation that Utah is done. They were light on quality wins coming into the Pac-12 tourney (along with an RPI of 74) and they were going to need to get by Cal and Oregon to have a shot at an at-large bid.
Going even further into the depths of the bubble, Georgia kept alive whatever minimal chance they have by knocking off Tennessee. Like Utah, Georgia is suffering from a severe shortage of quality wins. Unlike Utah, they have a chance to change that tomorrow if they can knock off Kentucky. That would at least give them a minor argument on Sunday.
And finally, I have to resurrect TCU from the dead. Coming into the Big 12 tournament on a seven game losing streak – most recently to Oklahoma – and with a record of 19-13 overall, 6-12 in the Big 12, I thought TCU had no shot at an at-large. Then, somehow, they beat Kansas today. The Horned Frogs (what a name) still have work to do but this gets them back into the discussion and they could surprise some people on Sunday if they can defeat Iowa State tomorrow.
Before I give you the projection, let me mention a notable result up top too: Duke beating Louisville, 81-77, in the ACC quarterfinals. This keeps Duke in the running for a 2 seed and ends any chance of Louisville pulling off a 1 seed.
So with all of that in mind, let’s get into the projection. Today features a lot more movement than the last couple of days. As always, moves up or down since the last projection are in parentheses after the team’s name. Projected auto qualifiers are in bold, and teams who have clinched bids are bold and underlined.
In since yesterday: Rhode Island
Out since yesterday: Syracuse
New Auto-bid: Bucknell
Eliminated from consideration: Utah
1s: Villanova, Kansas, North Carolina, Gonzaga
2s: Baylor, Oregon, Kentucky, Louisville
3s: UCLA, Florida State, Arizona, Duke (+1)
4s: Butler (-1), Florida, Virginia, Purdue
5s: West Virginia, Cincinnati, SMU, Minnesota (+1)
6s: Notre Dame (-1), Iowa State, Wisconsin, Saint Mary’s
7s: Maryland, Creighton, South Carolina, Dayton (+1)
8s: Wichita State, Oklahoma State (-1), Michigan, Miami
9s: Virginia Tech, Northwestern, Seton Hall, Arkansas
10s: Providence, Michigan State, VCU, Marquette
11s: Xavier, Wake Forest, Vanderbilt, Middle Tennessee, Southern California
12s: Kansas State, Rhode Island (new), UNC-Wilmington, Nevada, Texas-Arlington
13s: Vermont, Princeton, East Tennessee State, Bucknell
14s: Akron, Winthrop, Florida Gulf Coast, Cal-Bakersfield
15s: Northern Kentucky, Iona, North Dakota, Texas Southern
16s: Cal-Irvine, Mount Saint Mary’s, Jacksonville State, South Dakota State, New Orleans, North Carolina Central
Last Four In: Vanderbilt, Southern California, Kansas State, Rhode Island
Today, a few very marginal teams were eliminated from consideration for the NIT (as you’ll see below).
In since yesterday: St. Bonaventure
Out since yesterday: Tennessee
Eliminated from consideration: Pittsburgh, La Salle, Chattanooga, Arkansas State, Temple
Temple was one of the weirdest teams this year… they beat Florida State and West Virginia on neutral courts in the non-con, then managed to lose to all of these teams: UCF twice, Tulsa, George Washington, Umass, UConn twice, New Hampshire, and East Carolina twice. I had them in my projections early on when others didn’t, thinking they’d get it together, but man, did that not happen. Their loss to East Carolina in the American Athletic’s opening round today was the final insult. Here’s the projection:
1s (First Four Out): Illinois State, California (+1), Syracuse, Iowa
2s (Next Four Out): Ole Miss, TCU (+3), Houston, Illinois (-1)
3s: Indiana, Georgia, Utah (-1), Clemson
4s: Alabama, Monmouth (+1), Charleston, Georgia Tech
5s: Ohio State (-2), Texas Tech (-1), BYU, Boise State (+1)
6s: Richmond, Valparaiso, Colorado State, Fresno State (+1)
7s: Central Florida, Texas A & M, Belmont (+1), Saint Bonaventure
8s: UNC-Greensboro, South Dakota, New Mexico (-1), Oakland
Thanks for reading, and look for another projection Friday morning. In the meantime, check out the Bracket Matrix!