Bracketology Bubble Watch: Can Louisville avoid joining Oklahoma in nervous wait?

Wednesday, we featured seven bubble teams in action. For five of them, the regular season is now over. The chance of making the NCAA tournament for each of those five teams varies.

For Florida State and NC State, the odds are better. Both teams lost in the second round of the ACC tournament, to Louisville and Boston College. Their resumes are similar, but at little different. NC State has some of its higher quality wins away from home, while FSU is a little more of a home court hero. The Seminoles losses are generally better. There isn't anything severely negative in their resumes to think either would be left out entirely, but you never know.

That win over Florida State was big for Louisville, which finds itself in the bracket this morning among the last four in.  Texas also pushed itself a little higher in the bracket with a win over Iowa State in the opening round of the Big 12 tournament.

Syracuse lost to North Carolina in a game that was never especially competitive.  The Orange have completed their body of work.  They played a strong schedule this season, but have a poor record against better opposition and a couple of bad losses.  Selection Sunday will be nervous for Syracuse for the third straight year.

Oklahoma's crash and burn came to an end last night at the hands of its rival, Oklahoma State.  The Sooners now await their fate.  They built themselves a big cushion early in the season with wins over Wichita State and Kansas, among others, but have executed one of the most dramatic tank jobs in recent memory.  Keep in mind that playing badly at the end is not a thing to the committee, but the damage Oklahoma did by playing badly at the end is very real.

Arizona State concluded its own late season implosion last night in a loss to Colorado in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament.  I have the Sun Devils out of the bracket today, and if that holds, they could be the second team ever – and second in two years – to be two No. 1 seeds in non-conference play and miss the tournament. Indiana did it last year. The difference between Oklahoma's and Arizona State's epic dives is that the Sooners were losing to Big 12 teams, while ASU was losing to Pac-12 teams. The carnage inflicted on the Sun Devils' resume was worse.

Washington ended any realistic chance it had at the NCAA tournament with an overtime loss to Oregon State. That is the Huskies' second OT loss to the Beavers this season. They have a couple of nice wins, including one over Kansas in Kansas City, but it is not enough to overcome the fact that so many of their losses have come to non-tournament teams.

CBS Sports bracketology expert Jerry Palm updates his bracket at least once a day during this time of year, and our bracketology page has all kinds of data for you to make your own decisions on bubble teams. But here's his look ahead at the games being played Thursday and how they will impact the 2018 NCAA Tournament field:

Bubble Watch for March 8

vs. Virginia, noon, ESPN: Louisville will look to duplicate the effort it showed when the Cardinals played the Cavaliers last week -- and extend it for another 0.9 seconds. A win does not make Louisville a lock, but it does create some separation between the Cardinals and others fighting for a spot.

vs. Kansas, 2:30 p.m., ESPN2: The Cowboys start the day ranked 85th in the RPI. And if you're a KenPom worshipper, OSU is 51st in those rankings. Neither of those would put then in the field. It is hard to have four wins as good as Oklahoma State has in the sweep of Kansas, home against Texas Tech and at West Virginia and have an RPI that bad, but the Cowboys do. That is largely due to a dismal non-conference schedule and the inability to beat either Kansas State or Baylor. You want to fix OSU's RPI problem without changing the schedule? Beat Baylor at home. That's the difference between 85 and 64. That's why beating Kansas a third time is a must, and may still not even be enough.

vs. Creighton, 2:30 p.m., FS1: The Friars have a couple of very nice wins over Villanova and Xavier, both at home. They also have a couple of bad losses. What is missing is a win away from home against a better team. That is the opportunity in front of Providence today.

vs. Stanford, 5:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network: The Bruins have risen to the top of the pile of Pac-12 bubble teams by simply not blowing it – yet. They have a few nice wins away from home against Kentucky, Arizona and USC, but like many Pac-12 teams in this situation, a high number of losses to non-tournament teams. UCLA will try to avoid adding to that list today.

vs. Texas Tech, 7 p.m., ESPN2: The Longhorns picked up a big win yesterday in the sense that it was not a bad loss. They rose as others blew up around them. Now they have a chance to really make a push with a win over the Red Raiders tonight. A loss may not be fatal, given what else has been going on so far this week.

vs. Villanova, 7 p.m., FS1: The Golden Eagles avoided disaster by holding off DePaul Wednesday night in the opening round of the Big East tournament. Now, they have a chance to pick up their biggest win of the season when they face Villanova. Marquette played the Wildcats tough twice and lost by only three points at home.

vs. Duke, 7 p.m., ESPN: The Irish staged an epic comeback from 21 points down in the second half to defeat Virginia Tech in the second round of the ACC tournament. You could reasonably argue that is Notre Dame's second-best win of the season. Tonight, the Irish go for their best -- and the one that may put them in the NCAA tournament.

vs. Southern Miss, 7 p.m.: The Blue Raiders have a chance to be an at-large team if they lose in the Conference USA tournament, but they are much more likely to miss if they lose to Southern Miss.

vs. Utah State, 9 p.m., CBS Sports Network: The Broncos path to the tournament almost certainly requires a win in the Mountain West tournament. Any outside chance Boise has at an at-large berth requires a loss to Nevada in the championship game.

vs. Oregon State, 9 p.m., Pac-12 Network: The Trojans need some higher quality wins to feel good about being selected as an at-large team in the NCAA tournament. It is hard to see where those will come from in the Pac-12 tournament, but they're certainly not from Oregon State.

vs. Seton Hall, 9:30 p.m., FS1: The Bulldogs beat Villanova and Ohio State, the latter on a neutral floor. That's about it. Another higher quality win would give Butler a boost and it has a chance tonight against Seton Hall.

vs. Oregon, 11:30 p.m., FS1: Utah rounds out the night with its first game in the Pac-12 tournament against Oregon. The Utes are another team that needs quality wins and struggling to find chances for them.  Oregon is not bad, but not an NCAA tournament team either.
CBS Sports Senior Writer

Jerry Palm started writing about sports on the Internet right after Al Gore invented it. He was the first to bring RPI out in the open and is one of the pioneers of predicting the March Madness bracket.... Full Bio

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