Bracketology Bubble Watch: Arizona has big opportunity vs. Pac-12 leading Washington; Texas picks up a good win
The Wildcats could make a statement with a victory vs. the Huskies on Thursday
The bubble focus for Thursday shifts out west, where a couple of fence-sitters in the Pac-12 take the court. There is also a big matchup in the AAC between current leader Houston and preseason favorite UCF.
It was mostly a productive night for the bubble Wednesday. Most of the teams that needed to win did so, however, we say goodbye to Nebraska for now.
After falling to Maryland 60-45, Nebraska's implosion is seemingly complete. The Huskers dropped to 12-10 overall after losing for the sixth straight time. Four of those losses, including the one to Maryland, have come at home.
Here's how the other teams bubble teams in action Wednesday fared:
- Alabama edged out Georgia for the top-rated football recruiting class. The Crimson Tide made it a two-fer in the night cap on the basketball court with an 89-74 victory vs. the Bulldogs. I'll let you decide which result the fan bases care about more. Bama hits the road for the next two games. That has not been good for the Tide, who are 2-5 on the road this season.
- Texas keeps up its pattern of playing to the level of its competition. The host Longhorns knocked off Baylor 84-72 and knocked the Bears out of a first place tie in the conference race. It's the sixth win for Texas over a team in my most recent bracket. Not many teams have more, but at 13-10, the Longhorns still will not be in the bracket on Friday. They travel to West Virginia next before getting home games with Kansas State and Oklahoma State. It won't be easy, but Texas needs to put a winning streak together.
- TCU did what it does best – win at home. The Horned Frogs defeated Oklahoma State 70-68 but it took a buzzer-beater to do it. The Frogs avoided what passes for a bad loss in the Big 12. TCU still could use some Quadrant 1 wins and something of note on the road. That opportunity presents itself Saturday at Iowa State.
- Ole Miss took care of business against the Aggies to end a four-game losing streak with a 75-71 victory. Things figure to get a little more difficult over the next couple of weeks. The Rebels are at Georgia on Saturday to begin a stretch of three road games out of four. The only tournament contender among those opponents is at Auburn next week, but all conference road games are hard.
- Temple easily handled UConn 81-63 and now faces a schedule of games that can really only hurt them. Among those are road trips to South Florida and Memphis, which are the games that offer the best chance of improving the Owls tournament resume. That is, until the season finale against UCF.
- VCU's 60-50 victory at George Washington keeps the Rams a game back of Davidson in the Atlantic 10 standings. Those two teams are starting to separate themselves from the rest of the league. VCU lost on the road to the Wildcats earlier in the season and there is no return trip to Richmond, Virginia. The Rams are the better at large candidate because of wins over Texas and Temple. Davidson's best win came over VCU.
vs. Houston, 7 p.m. -- CBS Sports Network
UCF was the preseason pick to win the AAC, but it is Houston that has shined so far this season. The Knights haven't been awful, but they are squarely on the bubble because their best wins are over fellow bubblers Alabama and Temple at home. They also have a Quadrant 4 loss to FAU on their home floor. This is a chance for a statement win for UCF.
at East Tennessee State, 7 p.m. -- ESPN+
The Terriers lead the Southern Conference, which has three other teams ranked in the top 100 of the NET. ETSU is another of those teams, along with UNC Greensboro and Furman, which won at Villanova earlier this season. Wofford played four potential tournament teams in non-conference play, but couldn't get a win. Winning the league regular-season title is likely the start of any path the Terriers have to an at-large bid.
at Eastern Kentucky, 7:30 p.m. -- ESPN+
Belmont is in the position many teams in non-major conferences face as it tries to keep at-large hopes alive – no margin for error. The Bruins case is pretty sketchy anyway. Their best wins are a sweep of Lipscomb and a win at Murray State. They were swept in their league by Jacksonville State and have a sub-200 loss to Green Bay. The best they can do is win out the regular season and see what happens.
vs. Washington State, 8 p.m. -- Pac-12 Network
Arizona State remains the Pac-12's best at-large candidate, despite being seeded behind Washington in the current bracket. The reason is that the Sun Devils boast three of the Pac-12's five non-conference Quadrant 1 wins. However, they also have a couple of bad losses. They cannot afford to lose to the worst team in the league now.
vs. Washington, 9 p.m. -- ESPN2
Arizona is having a bad week off the court (again) but the Wildcats have a chance to make some waves when Pac 12 leader Washington visits. The Wildcats have a win over Iowa State in non-conference action, but haven't done anything else to back that up. Their current three-game skid started with a weekend to forget in Los Angeles, where the Wildcats lost to UCLA and USC by a combined 44 points. Those are their two worst losses of the season by far. This would be a good time for Arizona to make some amends.
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