A couple of teams fell from the bubble Wednesday, but two picked up good wins, and one of those was about as good as it gets.
Thursday sees most of the bubble action move out west as the Pac-12 and West Coast Conferences take center stage.
First though, a recap of Wednesday's action.
Mississippi State defeated South Carolina 79-76 in a double-bubble game: The Gamecocks missed a chance to pick up a win over a fellow bubbler, but they will have another chance at the Bulldogs at home later on. They get LSU at home next, which is a must-win as they try to erase the stain of two bad losses.
Mississippi State won't get an opponent like LSU until the SEC Tournament, so the Bulldogs are facing games that are more must-don't lose than must-win. South Carolina is the best team they face in the remainder of the regular season.
NC State beat Duke 88-66: NC State needed a big attention-getting win, and they got a big attention-getting win. The Wolfpack didn't just defeat Duke, they beat them into submission. It is the kind of win that puts a team from beyond the first four out to very likely in the bracket. Don't get too excited though. They still have a return trip to Duke and a home game with Florida State, and three games against teams that can hurt them. They already have seven of those losses this season.
Rutgers lost to Michigan 60-52: Rutgers has been the ultimate home court hero this season, having been undefeated before Wednesday and with only one win away from home so far. It isn't good when a home court hero cannot defend the home floor. And Michigan was without guard Isaiah Livers, who is injured yet again. The Scarlet Knights finish with three out of four on the road and the home game is against league leader Maryland. That isn't promising.
Indiana won 68-56 at Minnesota: The Hoosiers are another team which has been bad away from home, but the Hoosiers got a win at Minnesota which provides a little comfort for them as they pursue an at-large bid. Tougher road games remain, but they do have a couple of winnable home games too.
Cincinnati lost to UCF 89-87 in two overtimes: Cincinnati followed up an indifferent performance against East Carolina with another bad game in a home loss to UCF. That is the Bearcats' fourth bad loss of the season, and more than likely it's going to end up being one too many.
SMU lost 80-72 at Tulane: SMU will drop from the bubble as well after a road loss to the Green Wave, the last place team in the AAC.
Here are the bubble teams in action Thursday. All times Eastern
|Team||Game||Time (TV)||Bubble breakdown|
|Wichita State vs. USF||7 p.m. (CBSSN)||The Shockers will begin a tough part of their schedule this weekend, but in order for that to matter, they need to take care of USF first. Wichita State cannot afford to make the same mistake Cincinnati made Wednesday.|
|Northern Iowa at Indiana State||7 p.m.||The Panthers get a good road test against the Sycamores, who have already beaten Bradley and Loyola-Chicago at home this season. However, they are on a three-game skid, so UNI might be catching them at a good time. It's a must win regardless.|
|Arizona State vs. Oregon||9 p.m. (ESPN)||ASU has played its way into the field for now and this is a chance to play its way up. The Sun Devils' best win of the season – and their only one against a sure tournament team – came at home to Arizona. This would be better than that.|
|USC at Colorado||9 p.m. (ESPN2)||The Trojans are on the higher end of the bubble with their primary problem being a relatively poor record against better teams, and a lack of higher quality wins in general. A win at Colorado would be their best of the season.|
|BYU vs. Santa Clara||9 p.m. (CBSSN)||BYU has to keep grinding until it gets another chance at Gonzaga, which will come Saturday. The Cougars do not want to get into the position where they have to beat the Zags to get in the field.|
|Stanford at Washington||10 p.m. (P12N)||The Cardinal are in a deep funk, having lost seven of eight. The one win was vs. Oregon, but that isn't going to matter if they can't turn things around quickly. Washington may be in last place, but that does not mean the Huskies will be a pushover.|
|Saint Mary's vs. Loyola Marymount||11 p.m. (CBSSN)||Saint Mary's, like BYU, is in a stretch of must-not lose games. And also like BYU, the Gaels still have another shot at Gonzaga coming up. That game may be more important for their tournament hopes than it is for BYU.|