Posted by Matt Norlander
We’re now at the point in the season where results on Saturdays and Sundays, ones worth something of Tournament value, have significant meaning and are coming in heavy doses. Yesterday, though the bubble picture remained clogged, there was some movement up and down that should have impact going forward. Some teams (sorry, Marquette, Nebraska, Butler, etc.) had wins that weren’t of as much value. Below, I’ve listed the results that did carry a fair share of weight.
Bad news first. We start with Duquesne, which isn’t used to having a target on its back in late February. Yesterday, the Dukes went to Dayton and done got did, 64-63. With Temple being the only worthwhile W, and now having dropped three of its last four, Duquesne’s taking on hordes of H2O.
There’s been injuries, and success in the face of that adversity, but Virginia Tech, you were swept by the Cavaliers this year. Those previous eight words are never good, no matter the level of basketball or context. A 61-54 loss to Virginia in Charlottesville puts … I mean, an ESPN studio host was joking last night about Seth Greenberg’s annual Sunday-afternoon/evening appearance on the network. It’s not good right now for 17-8 Va. Tech.
Illinois, meanwhile, is a plane that’s dramatically swooshing and swooping and rising and plunging to the earth. Last night, 61-57 loss to Michigan State, which isn’t shameful, but now puts the 17-10 Illini at 7-7 in the Big Ten, the fourth time this season it’s been at .500. Seeding has been killed and now Bruce Weber’s team has been pulled onto the bubble.
Washington State’s loss was the most overlooked from Saturday. The Cougars fell 71-69 to Arizona State, dropping them to 7-8 in the conference and turning the Pac-10 into a three-bid league in one fell swoop. If the Cougs don’t beat Washington in Seattle one week from today – giving WSU a season sweep of the Huskies — then at-large is out of the question.
Memphis, and it’s not just a loss, but a 67-52 — yes, 15 points! — to 12-14 Rice. Goodbye, at-large hopes, I say. A minimum of four C-USA losses and Gonzaga as your best win is sub-par.
Baylor. We tug with this team more than any other. Last night, the Bears lost 78-69 to Texas Tech, and this happened in Waco, hello. Bears are 17-9, 6-6 in the Big 12 and because of this loss, put themselves in position to need to win at least two of these final four regular-season games: Missouri, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State and Texas.
Colorado State. The Rams were teetering. A home loss (final tally, 68-61) to Vegas officially sent CSU overboard. NIT will be a fine consolation for this program, though.
Saint Mary’s is now not just flirting with fire, but dancing over it in defiance. First is loses to San Diego and then Utah State at home, 75-65, blowing a 12-point lead it had late in the first half. Gonzaga and Portland are just around the corner. Lose those two and SMC has no shot. Lose one, particularly Portland, and it’s dicier than an angry cook’s countertop.
Now, who did themselves some good? Well, Gerald Robinson (right) and Georgia defeated Tennessee, 69-63, further layering the SEC East by splitting the season series with the Vols. Bulldogs are now 18-8 and two games above .500 in the conference. LSU and South Carolina are ahead, and those winnable games should help squeeze Jawjuh through the Dance’s door.
The flip side of the Illinois loss was Michigan State’s win. A 15-11 team feasts on a falling foe. The Spartans and Illini are closer in resume now than you might think. Or not. Because Illinois has been pretty bad as of late. The Ws over W clubs, Washington and Wisconsin, are MSU’s binky right now. Clinging tight, no doubt.
George Mason got that 77-71 road win against Northern Iowa. The Valley’s demise (relative term) has been commented on plenty in the past 72 hours. But GMU getting this win could be what locks it into at-large territory by the time the CAA conference tournament begins. UNI’s bracket chances were most definitely busted.
West Virginia was on rockier footing than acknowledged. Since Notre Dame, which got felled by WVU, 72-58, yesterday, will be a 5-seed at worst; this is probably the game that gives the Big East a record-breaking nine teams in The Tournament.Photos: US PRESSWIRE