Nobody picked up a bigger victory on Wednesday night than Arkansas. The Hogs had been trending the wrong way with recent losses at moribund Missouri and a blowout home defeat to Vanderbilt. Arkansas’ only win of any significance was at home against UT-Arlington.
That changed Wednesday when Arkansas went into South Carolina and came away with a 83-76 victory. Now the Razorbacks have a win that will draw some attention from the NCAA Tournament selection committee. The Gamecocks are not quite at the level of Florida or Kentucky but they are a likely tournament team, and this is a road win. That’s huge for Arkansas.
Don’t get me wrong: Arkansas is still squarely on the bubble, although I have never seen a square-shaped bubble. But, I digress. Arkansas cannot revert to being the team that lost to Vandy and Mizzou. But when the bracket is updated on Friday, the Hogs will be in it.
Wednesday’s other ‘double-bubble’ games
Miami 70, Georgia Tech 61
This is a tough loss for the Yellow Jackets, who fell to 14-11 overall. That is not a good enough record to get tournament consideration. Georgia Tech has lost three out of four, all of which were on the road. At 2-8, the Yellow Jackets’ inability to win on the road is the biggest reason why they’re on the bubble. Georgia Tech has three winnable home games left, which are must-win, but they will likely need to find a way to win one of their remaining road games also.
Meanwhile, Miami did what it does best and that is beat good teams at home. The Hurricanes already own wins over North Carolina and Virginia Tech in Coral Gables, and now they can add the Yellow Jackets to that list. Miami may be able to make the tournament by just winning its home games, but one of those is Duke.
Iowa State now has a sweep of the Wildcats to go with wins at Kansas and Oklahoma State. The Cyclones also beat Miami in non-conference play. If ISU can take care of business at home down the stretch, the Clones should find a spot in the field somewhere. I am going to take them off the bubble for now.
Kansas State still has work to do. The Wildcats are stuck on three top-100 wins, and while those are good wins, they may not stack up as the season wears on. KSU will have to add to that total, and probably by more than one if they are to feel comfortable on Selection Sunday
Oklahoma State 71, TCU 68
TCU continues to struggle against better teams. The loss to Oklahoma State drops the Horned Frogs to 16-9 overall, but only 2-7 against the top 50. After losing four straight, TCU bounced back to win three in a row. However, the Frogs have lost back-to-back again and must guard against that losing streak again reaching four. That will not be easy because the next two games are at Iowa State and Kansas.
Oklahoma State completed the season sweep of TCU. The Cowboys only have one victory against a sure tournament team, but four against fellow fence-sitters. Their home schedule is relatively favorable, save the season-ender against Kansas. OSU isn’t far from being in a comfortable spot on Selection Sunday.
Wednesday’s games involving one team on the bubble
This was big for Providence. The Friars now have back-to-back home wins against teams in the top four of the Big East. Providence is still trying to atone for some early season sins, so there is no reason for the Friars to feel comfortable about their tournament position. They are a bad week away from the NIT.
URI was more like UGH on Wednesday night. That must have been some hangover after that tough home loss to Dayton. The Rams scored only 43 points in a home loss to A-10 also-ran Fordham, which has the third-worst RPI in the league. This is simply inexcusable for a team in the precarious position that Rhode Island was in. This is the Rams’ second bad loss at home this season. If they do not make the NCAA Tournament, that will be why.
Wichita State 87, Southern Illinois 68
The Shockers completed the season sweep of SIU as they continue to string together victories that help them only in the sense that they are not bad losses. They are treading water until they get another shot at Illinois State.
The Hall picked up its the best win of their season Wednesday against the Bluejays. As good as that is, the Pirates will face Villanova and Xavier at home in the next seven days, so they still have a fight ahead of them. One down, two to go.
Alabama 57, Missouri 54
Alabama didn’t win pretty but there are no style points for winning on the road in the league. Mizzou Arena is where Arkansas recently lost.The Crimson Tide are trying to make up for a general lack of quality wins by going for quantity. The schedule is set up for them to do just that.
Illinois State 67, Missouri State 66
The Redbirds are trying to hang on as they await the return of MiKyle McIntosh from knee surgery. McIntosh is the team’s second-leading scorer and rebounder. In the meantime, they need to keep piling up wins however they come. It did not come easy against the Bears.