by Jerry Palm
Pittsburgh's loss to Connecticut in the Big East tournament on Thursday has opened up the battle for the last two spots on the top line of the bracket a little bit (we'll assume Ohio State and Kansas are safe).
Keep in mind though that Pitt lost to UConn, not South Florida. The Huskies are a top 4 seed. The profiles of Pitt and Notre Dame, a winner over Cincinnati on Thursday. At the moment, I have the Irish ahead, but they may have to win on Saturday to stay there.
Meanwhile, waiting in the wings is Duke, which doesn't have near the quality of wins of the Big East schools. Their best wins are North Carolina and Temple, both at home, and Kansas State in Kansas City. It's hard to think of Duke catching either without an ACC tournament win, including beating the Tar Heels in the final.
San Diego State is still sitting there also, with just the two losses to full-strength BYU. If they win the Mountain West tournament, they might get consideration as well. Again though, the lack of quality wins could be a problem. The Aztecs best would be, UNLV three times, twice on the road, including today, plus maybe depleted BYU.
Syracuse, Purdue, and Wisconsin could possibly make a run as well. The Orange could get a crack at Notre Dame themselves. If Purdue or Wisconsin won the Big Ten tournament, beating Ohio State on Sunday, they might have a case, but would probably need a fair amount of help.
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