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March Madness bubble watch: Conference tourney winners and losers before Selection Sunday

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March Madness bubble watch: Conference tourney winners and losers before Selection Sunday

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SportsPulse: Selection Sunday is just days away. USA TODAY’s Scott Gleeson tells you the teams that still have work to do this championship weekend.
USA TODAY

Selection Sunday is quickly approaching, and it’s win or go to the NIT for a good chunk of NCAA tournament bubble teams competing in conference tournaments. 

With only seven spots open, a dozen or so teams with borderline credentials are looking to enhance their résumés enough to meet the selection committee’s demands.

Here’s a look at the winners and losers from this weekend’s conference tournament action: 

Winners

Florida: The Gators (19-14, 9-9 SEC) essentially punched their ticket to the NCAAs with a 76-73 win over top-seeded LSU in the SEC tournament quarterfinals on Friday. After starting the week as one of the “first four teams out,” Florida handled Arkansas in the second round before nabbing a much-needed Quadrant 1 (top-30 home, top-50 neutral, top-75 road) win over LSU to go with a top-35 NET score. Florida’s 65-62 loss to Auburn in the SEC semifinals is its 15th — another sign of a weak bubble if 15-loss teams are getting in. ► Updated Saturday afternoon

  • Expected seed: No. 10   

Minnesota: The Gophers (21-12, 9-11 Big Ten) were inching near the “last four in” at the start of the Big Ten tournament but capitalized on their opportunities, first getting past a dangerous Penn State team in overtime in the Big Ten tourney’s second round and then upsetting Purdue in the quarterfinals on Friday. Despite getting blown out by Michigan in the semifinals on Saturday, those two Quad 1 victories, the Purdue win in particular, should move Minnesota comfortably away from bubble chaos. Consider them a lock for the NCAAs. ► Updated Saturday afternoon. 

  • Expected seed: No. 9 

Utah State: The Aggies (27-6, 15-3 Mountain West) were relatively safe before the Mountain West tournament, but a win over New Mexico Thursday and then a rout of Fresno State on Friday locked up their bid and took them safely off the bubble. Credit that to a huge win over Nevada a few weeks back and a top-30 NET score. ► Updated Friday night

  • Expected seed:  No. 9 

Losers

Arizona State: The Sun Devils (22-10, 12-6 Pac-12) have now been thrust right back to where they were last year — hoping for no bid thieves as one of “the last four in” — as a result of Friday’s 79-75 loss to Oregon in the Pac-12 tournament semifinals. It’s a good thing ASU got past UCLA with an 83-72 win over UCLA in the earlier round Thursday, otherwise they’d be on the other side of the bubble. What’s still scary about this résumé are two Quadrant 4 losses, and it remains to be seen how heavy the committee focuses on the NET — where ASU is in the high 60s compared to its mid-30s RPI that would have locked it up weeks ago in years’ past. ► Updated Friday night

  • Expected seed:  No. 11 play-in

Ohio State: The Buckeyes (19-14, 8-12 Big Ten) bowed out of the Big Ten tournament with a loss to Michigan State in the quarterfinals on Friday. But Ohio State might have already played itself into the field by escaping Indiana on Thursday in a potential bubble-elimination game between borderline teams. Ultimately, the committee should take into account that OSU’s three consecutive losses to close out the regular season were all without Kaleb Wesson. The sophomore big man’s return in the Big Ten tournament showed what a different team OSU can be with him in the lineup. ► Updated Friday afternoon 

  • Expected seed: No. 11 play-in

Temple: The Owls (23-9, 13-5 American) were upset by Wichita State in the AAC tournament quarterfinals, and now it gets interesting as they’ve fallen to one of the “last four out” range and are in danger of missing the field. Temple’s only got two Quad 1 wins and could’ve really used another one to help offset a non-conference strength of schedule in the 200s and a NET score in the 50s. ► Updated Friday night.

  • Expected seed: No. 11 play-in

Xavier: The Musketeers (18-15, 9-9 Big East) came up short in the Big East tournament semifinals, falling 71-67 to Villanova in overtime. It’s a make-or-break type loss that likely will keep Xavier out of the NCAAs despite a late charge that saw them knock off Creighton, 63-61 — winning six of their last eight. This team is on the outside looking i due to a NET score in the 70s and just too many total losses. ► Updated Friday night.

  • Expected seed:  First four out

Alabama: The Crimson Tide (18-15, 8-10 SEC) couldn’t put up much of a fight against a dominant Kentucky team they upset earlier in the year, falling 73-55 in the SEC tournament semifinals. It’s a respectable loss and ‘Bama got a much-needed Quadrant 1 (top-50 neutral court) win over Ole Miss in the SEC tourney quarterfinals before that Thursday to make it interesting. That’s still only three marquee wins, though. A top-20 strength of schedule is a determining factor in keeping this team close.  ► Updated Friday night

  • Expected seed: First four out

TCU: Although the Horned Frogs (20-13, 7-11 Big 12) got past Oklahoma State on Wednesday, they came up short in a 70-61 loss to Kansas State the next day of the Big 12 tournament and removed the chance to enhance their profile. A top-30 strength of schedule plays in their favor, but playing in the Big 12 — the country’s best NET conference — should equate to more than three Quad 1 wins. ► Updated Thursday

  • Expected seed: No. 11   

St. John’s: The Red Storm (21-12, 8-10 Big East) didn’t come up with a tourney-locking signature victory and definitely didn’t do anything to improve a NET score in the 60s after getting steamrolled by Marquette in the Big East tourney quarterfinals on Thursday. The good news is that St. John’s avoided losing to DePaul in the earlier round. ► Updated Thursday

  • Expected seed: No. 11   

Georgetown: The Hoyas (19-13, 9-9 Big East) started its Big East tournament pursuit as one of the “last four in” and ended it as one of the “first four out” thanks to a 73-57 loss to Seton Hall in the Big East tournament quarterfinals. The Hoyas have five Quadrant 1 wins but a non-conference strength of schedule that ranks 244th. It will be close on Sunday. ► Updated Thursday

  • Expected seed: First four out

Indiana: The Hoosiers (17-15, 8-12 Big Ten) will challenge the committee, because after Thursday’s Big Ten tournament loss to Ohio State, this team now has 15 losses. How could a 15-loss team make the NCAAs? By winning six Quadrant 1 (top-30 home, top-75 road) games. Coach Archie Miller summed up his team’s case: “I think the one thing in this stage when you’re comparing everybody — can you beat a team in the tournament? When you’re able to beat a Marquette or Louisville, you’re able to get a Michigan State twice. You’re able to get Wisconsin here lately. So are we capable? Yes. Did we do enough? I’m not sure.” ► Updated Thursday

  • Expected seed: Next four out

Creighton: The Bluejays (18-14, 9-9 Big East) fell to Xavier in the Big East tournament’s first round, which likely means they’re heading to the NIT. In spite of five consecutive wins before that, there just isn’t enough on this résumé to sway the committee. ► Updated Thursday

  • Expected seed: Next four out

North Carolina State: The Wolfpack bowed out of the ACC tournament by falling to top-seeded Virginia, 76-56, on Thursday. That’s a respectable loss, and N.C. State even led at halftime, so that aids its overall NET score. It encapsulates a lot of N.C. State’s résumé, too. The Wolfpack have a horrid RPI, but a top-35 NET ranking. Ultimately, it might be the non-conference strength of schedule that ranks 352nd keeping this team out. ► Updated Thursday

  • Expected seed: Next four out

Texas: The Longhorns (16-16, 8-10) concluded the Big 12 tournament with a 65-57 quarterfinal loss to Kansas. They now have a whopping 16 losses and are done playing. Still helping their profile is a top-40 NET score that’s far better than an RPI in the 60s. ► Updated Thursday

  • Expected seed: Slim chance

Lost earlier this week/last week

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Belmont: Lost in the Ohio Valley Conference tourney final to Murray State, currently last four in. 

UNC-Greensboro: Lost in the Southern Conference tourney final to Wofford, currently first four out. 

Clemson: Lost in the ACC tournament to North Carolina State on Wednesday, currently next four out. 

Lipscomb: Lost in the Atlantic Sun tourney final to Liberty, currently next four out. 

Furman: Lost in the Southern Conference tourney semifinals to UNC-Greensboro, currently slim chance. 

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