Posted by Jeff Borzello
Saturday was enormous for the bubble – of course, by “enormous,” I mean that it made things impossibly crowded at the bottom of the at-large pile. Certain teams played themselves into the picture, while others will inevitably be sweating come Selection Sunday (Seth Greenberg, we mean you). Sunday will be no different; there is no shortage of games with big-time bubble and at-large implications.
Gonzaga 71, San Francisco 67: The Bulldogs did what they needed to do in order to stay in the hunt, even if it wasn’t pretty. Gonzaga has won eight in a row and 10 of its last 11, forging a share of the conference title at 11-3. Can the Zags get into the NCAA Tournament even with a loss Monday in the title game? They have defeated Xavier, Marquette, Baylor and Oklahoma State in the non-conference season, but the RPI is in the 60s and the SOS is in the triple-digits.
Saint Mary’s 73, Santa Clara 64: The Gaels also took care of business in the West Coast semifinals, advancing to the title game. When compared to Gonzaga, they have fewer good wins, with the only top-50 victory coming over St. John’s back in the season opener. Outside of that, the best non-league win was over Long Beach State. On the plus side, they have better computer numbers – but that loss to San Diego is an eyesore.
Florida State 72, North Carolina State 62: If Chris Singleton was playing, the Seminoles would have locked up a bid by now. Without him, though, they needed to prove that they could win without him. Florida State won five of seven to end the season, finishing 11-5 in the ACC. The ‘Noles have a marquee win over Duke, which is carrying their profile right now. Victories over Boston College and Clemson help. They will likely face Virginia Tech in the ACC quarterfinals – can they survive a loss?
Indiana State 60, Missouri State 56: What a devastating loss for Missouri State. The Bears likely needed to win the automatic bid in order to get to the NCAA Tournament; third-seeded Indiana State made sure that didn’t happen. Missouri State simply doesn’t have the profile necessary to get an at-large bid. The Bears don’t have any top-50 wins, with just three coming against the top 100. The best non-league win came over Oral Roberts. It will be a stressful week on the bubble – and I don’t think Missouri State gets in
Kentucky 64, Tennessee 58: Tennessee is probably safely in the field due to its non-conference wins over Pittsburgh and Villanova, but the Volunteers are not doing themselves any favors. They lost six of their final nine games to drop to 8-8 in the SEC. With seven top-50 victories, a win in the SEC Tournament over Arkansas should lock up a bid. If the Vols lose to the Razorbacks, though, this will be an interesting case.
Penn State 66, Minnesota 63: A few weeks ago, this might have been a must-win for Minnesota, not Penn State. However, the Golden Gophers finished the season by losing five in a row and nine of their last 10. On the other hand, Penn State moves to 9-9 in the Big Ten and has a shot heading into the conference tournament. The Nittany Lions have some decent wins over Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan State, but a loss in the conference tournament would be their 14th of the season. That could be tough to overcome.
VCU 79, George Mason 63: We have our first potential “bid thief” of Championship Week. With George Mason already locked into a bid, VCU now has a chance to take one of the few remaining at-large bids if it can win the CAA title and an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Moreover, the Rams might still hold an outside shot at getting an at-large bid should it lose in the championship game. The win over the Patriots was VCU’s third top-50 win of the season.
Boston College 84, Wake Forest 68: The win didn’t really do anything to enhance the Eagles’ profile, but at least they avoided a bad loss. A defeat here and BC would have likely been out of the field. With the victory, the Eagles get the five seed in the ACC Tournament, meaning a rematch with these Demon Deacons. If Boston College defeats Wake Forest in the opening round, we could be in store for a bubble play-in game between BC and Clemson. The Tigers have already defeated the Eagles once.
Photo: US Presswire
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