Big Ten Tournament Second Round Preview


The second day of the Big Ten nearly suffered a huge shake-up due to the scary plane incident that Michigan went through yesterday. Luckily all in the Michigan basketball world are safe and the Big Ten Tournament will be able to continue as scheduled.

#8 Michigan vs. #9 Illinois – Noon ET (BTN)

Michigan is probably already in the NCAA Tournament, but Illinois is in desperation mode. Michigan will be wearing a mish-mash of a uniform as not all of their equipment arrived from Ann Arbor due to the plane incident and they also are running low on sleep. Look for Illinois to take advantage of the unfortunate travel issues that caused a lot of stress to Michigan. Illinois can play their way into the dance with a few wins and Malcolm Hill is too good of a player to leave his time in Champaign without a single NCAA Tournament appearance. Prediction – Illinois by a small margin

#5 Michigan State vs. #13 Penn State – 2:30 ET (BTN)

Penn State looked great against Nebraska yesterday afternoon but once the calendar turns to March, it’s Izzo’s world and everyone else is just living in it. Michigan State fans should have a rather stress-free game in this quarterfinal as Penn State doesn’t have anyone who can stop Nick Ward and Miles Bridges. Prediction – Michigan State by 20

#7 Iowa vs. #10 Indiana – 6:30 ET (ESPN)

Who would have ever thought at the beginning of the season that Indiana would be the 10 seed in their conference tournament. Both of these teams need to win at least 2 Big Ten Tournament games to play their way into the NCAA Tournament discussion. I expect this to be the best game of the day with both teams coming out firing. Thomas Bryant is the key for me in this one and I think he ultimately plays Indiana through to face Wisconsin. Prediction – Indiana at the buzzer

#6 Northwestern vs. #14 Rutgers – 9 ET (ESPN)

Rutgers came into DC and dominated Ohio State yesterday. I’ve said it all season that Rutgers is not an easy out in and they proved that immediately in this tournament. Northwestern should be safely in the big dance for the first time in school history, but they definitely don’t want to leave anything to chance. Bryant McIntosh against Corey Sanders will be a fun matchup of two completely different but very talented guards. But Northwestern is too good for Rutgers and too strong defensively for Sanders and company to exploit. Prediction – Northwestern by 8-10


Boeheim “Reluctantly” Makes Case For NCAA Berth


Syracuse came into today’s ACC Tournament quarterfinal game in Brooklyn with a chance to solidify their spot in next week’s NCAA Tournament and take their name out of the dreaded bubble discussion. That did not happen, as the Orange lost a hard-fought battle to NCAA Tournament bound Miami, 62-57.

So now, like last year, Syracuse and coach Jim Boeheim must sit and wait impatiently for the NCAA Tournament selection committee to decide whether the Orange are worthy of a tournament bid.

Boeheim has been through this before, of course, and when asked by ESPN reporter Dana O’Neil about what he thought of his team’s NCAA Tournament prospects, he attempted to brush the question aside without answering.

“It doesn’t matter what I think,” Boeheim said in response to what he thought Syracuse’s NCAA Tournament chances were. “I expect the committee to make a decision,” he said sarcastically.

However, when pressed once more, he couldn’t help himself.

“The facts of the case, last year we had three good wins,” he started. “This year, we have three good wins, three teams in the top ten when we beat them. I see all the time on the bracketology thing, it says ‘Syracuse has six top fifty wins and so does [another] team.’ Well that team doesn’t have any wins against the top twenty.”

That’s a pretty good argument for someone who doesn’t think his opinion matters. Boeheim also had some thoughts on conference strength.

“[The ACC is] universally felt to be – I think by everybody – the number one conference in the country, we finished seventh,” he argued. “Other conferences are talking about getting sixty percent of their teams in the tournament. If we’re the best conference in the country, then we should get more than fifty percent in the tournament.”

Well then, I guess Boeheim does have a strong opinion on what the selection committee should do.

I tend to agree with Boeheim on this one. I think they should and will get in, but it will be close and they could end up in the First Four in Dayton. The Orange currently have an R.P.I. in the low 80’s. That would be the highest R.P.I. ever for an at-large. However, Syracuse is used to that, last year they had the highest R.P.I. ever for an at-large in the mid 60’s.

So, last year’s committee looked past the R.P.I. in Syracuse’s case and I predict they will do so again. It will be hard for the committee to look past the fact that Syracuse was above .500 in the nation’s best conference, like Boeheim argued. It will also be hard for the committee to look past the Orange’s wins over Duke, Florida State and Virginia, again, like Boeheim argued.

So, expect Syracuse to sneak into the 68-team field again this year, but Boeheim and company will be sweating on Selection Sunday. Maybe, just maybe, the committee was watching Boeheim’s reluctant (wink, wink) rant today.



Follow Jamal Murphy on Twitter: @Blacketologist


Gottfried Expresses Disappointment In Final Game As NC State Coach 


The first day of this season’s ACC Tournament was also the last day of Mark Gottfried’s coaching tenure at North Carolina State. The university announced his firing in February, but allowed him to coach the team for the remainder of the season. The long campaign came to an end tonight in Brooklyn after a listless 75-61 loss to Clemson in Brooklyn.

Afterwards, Gottfried spoke about the disappointing season and reflected on his time in Raleigh.

“Well, it’s sad for me. I came to N.C. State hoping to be here the rest of my career. That was my goal, so I’m sad,” he admitted. “Obviously, this past year and this year has been hard, but I got all kind of thoughts, I got everything running through my mind. Deep down, just disappointed.”

Gottfried went on to talk about the success he enjoyed with the program, which belied the university’s decision.

“I think it’s been well-documented, all the amazing accomplishments that have happened at N.C. State,” he said. “When I took the job, I don’t know that anybody anticipated us going to the NCAA Tournament in our first year. Then turn around, do it for three more straight years, two sweet 16s, I can go on and on. Beating number one teams in the country, all those kind of things.”

All of those accomplishments proved not to be enough at N.C. State.

“N.C. State is a wonderful place, different from every other job in this league,” Gottfried explained. “Nobody else is compared daily, the way our guys and our program is to North Carolina and Duke, they’re just not. I’ve said it many times, it’s a tough neighborhood.”

Tough neighborhood indeed and Gottfried held his own in it. It will be interesting to see if his eventual successor will be able to say the same.


New Bracketology – Championship Week – 3/7/17


It’s Championship Week and the best league in the country, the ACC, begins its conference tournament today in Brooklyn. The stakes are high, but the bubble has greatly contracted. Only a couple of teams are in play for the last few automatic bids and they can either play themselves in or out this week.

In this latest edition of bracketology, here’s a look at the NCAA Tournament field as if the season were to end today.


Caution: The predicted field/seeding is highly likely to change from day to day or minute to minute.


*Automatic bids in italics.


1 SEEDS: Kansas; Villanova; North Carolina; Gonzaga.


2 SEEDS: Oregon; Baylor; UCLA; Louisville.


3 SEEDS: Kentucky; Duke; Florida State; Arizona.


4 SEEDS: Butler; Florida; West Virginia; Purdue.


5 SEEDS: Virginia; Cincinnati; Notre Dame; SMU.


6 SEEDS: Iowa State; Wisconsin; Minnesota; Creighton.


7 SEEDS: Miami; St. Mary’s; Dayton; Maryland.


8 SEEDS: Oklahoma State; South Carolina; Virginia Tech; Michigan.


9 SEEDS: Wichita State; Michigan State; Northwestern; VCU.


10 SEEDS: Arkansas; Marquette; Seton Hall; Wake Forest.


11 SEEDS: Xavier; Vanderbilt; USC vs. Rhode Island; Syracuse vs. Providence.


12 SEEDS: Middle Tennessee State; North Carolina Wilmington; Nevada; Texas Arlington.


13 SEEDS: Vermont; Akron; Princeton; East Tennessee State.


14 SEEDS: Bucknell; Winthrop; CSU Bakersfield; Florida Gulf Coast.


15 SEEDS: Northern Kentucky; Iona; Texas Southern; Nebraska Omaha.


16 SEEDS: UC Irvine; Jacksonville State; Mount St. Mary’s vs. NC Central; North Dakota vs. New Orleans.


LAST FOUR IN: USC; Syracuse; Providence; Rhode Island.


FIRST FOUR OUT: Illinois State; California; Kansas State; Georgia.


NEXT FOUR OUT: Illinois; Iowa; Houston; Indiana.


CONFERENCE BREAKDOWN: ACC (10); Big East (7); Big Ten (7); Big 12 (5); SEC (5); Pac 12 (4); Atlantic 10 (3); AAC (2); West Coast (2).



Note: Automatic bids are determined by the conference tournament champion or the highest seeded team remaining in their conference tournament.

Follow Jamal Murphy on Twitter: @Blacketologist.




Bubble Talk with Greg DePalma of Prime Sports Network 


The bubble is all anyone is talking about right now, so I joined Greg DePalma of our partner, Prime Sports Network, for an in-depth discussion on which teams have a legitimate chance to make the NCAA Tournament from all of the major conferences and even a few mid majors, on PSN’s March 3rd college basketball podcast
DePalma also broke down the current at-large picture in his weekly Bubble Report


Melo Trimble Beats Michigan State, Secures Future Banner in College Park

Photo by Jonathan Newton of the Washington Post

Photo by Jonathan Newton of the Washington Post

Maryland fans might have seen Melo Trimble for the last time ever at Xfinity Center Saturday afternoon and he didn’t let them down. The junior guard calmly knocked down a game-winning three pointer in front of 17,950 of his closest friends and family to give Maryland an enormous win over a surging Michigan State.

The win secured Maryland a double-bye in the Big Ten Tournament that will take place just 15 miles from their home in College Park, but it also cemented Trimble as one greatest Terps of all-time.

Trimble has scored 1,626 points through just three seasons, 13th all-time in Maryland history and just over 100 points away from climbing into the top 10.

He has hit several iconic shots including this one against Wisconsin:

This physics-defying one against Rutgers:

And then todays, the biggest shot of Mark Turgeon’s tenure as the Maryland head coach and possibly the last points Trimble will ever score in front of his home crowd:

As Trimble left the floor with his teammates, he was showered by the chant, “one more year.” Only time will tell if Melo will come back to College Park as #2 will have yet another tough decision in the coming months.

I have been lucky to watch Melo Trimble play in person 24 times and on tv another 70 or so, over the three year stretch, which will see Maryland’s third straight NCAA appearance after a four year absence from the dance. And if indeed his last points in Xfinity Center were those 3, myself and every other person who was in the building, will never forget what will be known as “the Melo shot.”



Coaches on the Hot Seat: Examining the ACC and Big Ten


By Bryan Mauro

It’s that time of year again to take a look at all of the coaches in the hot seat in the power conferences. This week we will review the ACC and the Big Ten.  Some of these coaches will be safe, some will not be safe, and one has already lost his job.  Lets get into it:



Mark Gottfried:

When Mark Gottfried was fired earlier this month it was not an unexpected surprise.  NC State had not been playing up to their expectations so far this year, and had recently been getting blown out.  Mark Gottfried did more at NC State than many of his predecessors.  Since NC State won the National Title in 1983, they have made two elite eight appearances and none since 1986. Before Mark Gottfried got there, they had not made the Sweet 16 since 2005. Gottfried got them to the Sweet 16 three of the six years he was the head man in Raleigh.  He won 108 games in Raleigh, but that was not enough.  This year was bad, and this could have arguably been his most talented team.  He had 4-5 potential NBA players on his roster, led by lottery pick Dennis Smith. Gottfried’s successor will need to be one who is able to keep the same level of recruiting that Gottfried had, as Gottfried was able to get top talent.  This new coach will also need to beat Duke and North Carolina.  If you share a state with two powerhouse programs you should probably beat them to be relevant every once in awhile.  The new coach will also need to have thick skin to deal with a fan base that is rabid. They want wins, and want to compete for titles.  Look for the hot mid major names to come running for this job.  Will Wade and Kevin Keatts should be first on NC States coaching search.


Brad Brownell:

Brad Brownell and the Clemson Tigers have not lived up to expectations this year.  They still have a young team with a ton of potential.  I really like the direction that Brownell is taking this program.  He is able to lure top recruits away from the ACC powers, is making a living on transfers, and has done a good job in the rebuild of the Tigers.  Brownell should get some more time. When he arrived at Clemson, former coach Oliver Purnell had left the cupboard pretty bare with talent.  Brownell has had to do a ground floor rebuild, in both culture and talent.  With a brand new renovation to their arena, and playing in sold out ACC gyms every night, he should be able to keep bringing in the top talent.  Brownell is safe.


Big Ten:

Tim Miles:

Tim Miles coaching tenure at Nebraska has been one of great scrutiny.  There are the fans who think he should be fired because he still doesn’t win, and there are those fans who can see the direction the program is going and know that it would be foolish to fire Tim Miles.  Tim Miles has done many good things for the Nebraska program since he has been the coach.  He has a reputation with nationally ranked recruits, and some of these recruits are now considering attending Nebraska.  He led Nebraska to their first NCAA tournament appearance since 1995, and he is scheduling perennial power schools in order to get exposure for his program. Coach Miles has also been victim to some very bad luck in the recent past.   After the miraculous tournament run, he had a season to forget. However star player Terran Petteway was dealing with some family turmoil, which took his mind away from basketball.  2015 was to be a better year and just as Nebraska was starting to gain some traction and establish a foothold in the league, star player Shavon Shields got injured and missed a month.  This year, it’s been more of the same. Before the year even started, sharpshooting guard Andrew White III moved on to Syracuse.  Then during the season, guard Anton Gill, a transfer from Louisville, tore his patellar tendon and had to miss the season.  Star center Ed Morrow dealt with a foot ailment that still doesn’t have him fully healthy.  All this in the midst of a 3-0 start, with wins over Indiana, Maryland and Iowa, in Big Ten play.  Looking at what Nebraska has coming back in Glynn Watson, Ed Morrow, Jordy Tshimanga, Anton Gill, Miami Transfer James Palmer and former 5 Star and Georgetown player Issac Copeland,  Coach Miles’ fortunes in Lincoln could change.  To fire him now and not see this play out, would be foolish in my opinion.


Pat Chambers:

Pat Chambers and Penn State are also on the up.  Penn State has always had a problem gaining traction with recruits in the Philadelphia area.  Pat Chambers got three of the best kids to come out of the city in the recent past, freshman Tony Carr, freshman Lamar Stevens, and redshirt freshman Mike Watkins.  These three players are going to be a force for Penn State in the years to come.  Tony Carr looks like he could be a potential Naismith Player of the Year finalist.  A lot like Coach Miles and Nebraska, Penn State is close to being a contender in this league. For that reason Pat Chambers should also receive a longer look as the coach of Penn State.  Penn State doesn’t have a storied basketball history like some other Big 10 schools, so time may be what Pat Chambers needs and gets.


John Groce:

John Groce is the most enigmatic coach in the Big Ten.  He is on this list because he has not gotten the job done at all.  Boasting top recruiting classes, and having free reign on almost kid to come out of Chicago, Illinois has been in the bottom half of the Big Ten every year but one on John Groces tenure.  He took over a storied program that won, and won a lot.  He is able to get top recruits to go to Illinois, but once they arrive, they don’t really develop. A lot of them  have been in trouble with the law, and most have transferred.  Groce likes to play the Let it Fly style of basketball, not really taking many two point shots or driving to the rim much, his style lets all 5 guys on the floor shoot a three when ever they are open for one.  Illinois has been known to either blow a team out, or get blown out, if there shots are not falling.  John Groce just flat out has not lived up to the lofty expectations that his job brings.  Illinois still has an outside shot of making the NCAA tournament this year, however I don’t know if that is enough to save his job.  He is coaching at a school that expects the NCAA every year, and his boss did not hire him.  Those two things usually mean that they are going to elect to go in a different direction.  John Groce may get fired and it would not surprise me if he did.  Illinois basketball will go after the biggest name they can find, most likely an established coach in one of the smaller conferences.  Think an Archie Miller type.


Chaos in the Big Ten


Chaos in the Big Ten

By Zachery Bonzheim


The regular season is almost over, and no conference has seen a bigger shake-up than the Big Ten. The top teams have fallen, the historically good teams have risen, and the bottom of the barrel is still there.

Back in week 14, Wisconsin was #7 in the nation, Purdue was #16, Maryland was #21, and Northwestern just dropped from #25. Michigan State, Michigan, and Minnesota were on the outside looking in. Minnesota had dropped 5 in a row and Michigan State had gone off the deep end even with Miles Bridges back. Fast forward to present day, week 17. Wisconsin has plummeted to the 22nd ranking, Maryland and Northwestern have found themselves outside the rankings, and Minnesota, Michigan, and Michigan State are now receiving votes. The only teams that have maintained their playing levels are #16 Purdue and the bottom of the conference. As it stands now, Maryland sits tied for third in the conference with Michigan State when they were alone at the top not so long ago. Northwestern who had been stuck at the third and fourth spot all year suddenly trending down and tied at 6th with the Michigan Wolverines. Purdue, who now sits alone atop the conference was consistently sitting with Wisconsin and Maryland. The conference has changed drastically in the last month.

How has the conference shifted in such a dramatic fashion? Purdue has rattled off an impressive 9-2 record in the last 11 maintaining peak for while others fell. Wisconsin started Big Ten play as 10-1, since going 1-4. Maryland started conference play at 8-1 but falling down the stretch at 2-5. Northwestern likewise started strong only to go 2-5 in its last 7.

Well, what about the risers? How could three teams crawl from the pits of the conference all the way into the national conversation receiving votes in the latest AP Poll? Michigan State started hot at 3-0, dropped quite a few in a stretch where the went 1-4, and now are at a point where they are 6-2 in the last 8 with 2 more very possible wins left. Minnesota, like Michigan State, started hot at 3-1, dropped a staggering 5 in a row and now are on a 7 game tear with being favored in their 2 remaining games. Michigan started the conference slate at 4-6. Since their second meeting of Michigan State, the Wolverines have gone 5-1. All of these teams, regardless of how they are doing as of late, are more than likely in the tournament come March. There is perhaps one team that confused everyone a lot more with how their season changed.

The week 3 AP Poll had Indiana at #3 and receiving 2 first place votes. Indiana had a trio of OG Anunoby, Thomas Bryant, and James Blackmon Jr firing on all cylinders. IU was on most experts lists of teams with a real shot of winning it all. Fast forward to the Big Ten season and Indiana sits at 10-2 overall including impressive wins over #3 Kansas and #3 North Carolina. Two incredible wins to counter a respectable loss to Butler and an embarrassing loss to IPFW. How did this nationally ranked and respected team handle the conference play? They started at a 1-4 before a three-game win streak. Many thought this three-game win streak was where the season was finally going to be turned around. Instead, IU has gone 2-7 since. At 16-13 and being ranked 10th in the Big Ten, this year did not turn out as most of the nation believed for this Hoosier squad.


Going into the final week of Big Ten play how do the teams rack up?

Standings (As of Monday, February 27th, 2017)

  1. #16 Purdue 12-4 (23-6) 100% for the Tournament
  2. #22 Wisconsin 11-5 (22-7) 99% Chance for the Tournament
  3. RV Maryland 10-6 (22-7) 94% Chance for the Tournament
  4. RV Michigan State 10-6 (18-11) 93% Chance for the Tournament
  5. RV Minnesota 10-6 (22-7) 100% Chance for the Tournament
  6. Northwestern 9-7 (20-9) 45% Chance for the Tournament
  7. RV Michigan 9-7 (19-10) 75% Chance for the Tournament
  8. Iowa 8-8 (16-13) 2% Chance for the Tournament
  9. Illinois 7-9 (17-12) 7% Chance for the Tournament
  10. Nebraska 6-10 (12-16) 0% Chance for the Tournament
  11. Indiana 6-10 (16-13) 7% Chance for the Tournament
  12. Ohio State 6-10 (16-13) 3% Chance for the Tournament
  13. Penn State 6-10 (14-15) 0% Chance for the Tournament
  14. Rutgers 2-14 (13-16) 0% Chance for the Tournament


There are 5 teams that are basically locked (2 that are literally locked) for the big dance come March. There are really only 2 teams that are on the bubble, both in opposite positions. Michigan’s latest surge has shot them into the comfort of having a 75% chance of making it. Both Michigan and Michigan State saw their chances of making the tournament greatly increased by their recent play. Michigan State saw their percentage increased from 72.2% to 93.1. That 20.9% jump in one week was the third largest in all Division 1. Michigan saw their chance go from 57.7% to 75.2%. Their jump of 17.5% was the fifth-largest one week jump last week. Northwestern’s huge struggles down the line have lowered their chances to 45%. 4 teams are holding onto a thread for a shot at the big dance. A week ago, Northwestern had a 74,4% chance of making the tournament. Their one-week drop of 29.9% is the biggest drop of any team in all of Division 1. Of those teams, Indiana has the best shot at just 6.8%. Indiana who three weeks ago saw their chances to get in at 41.2% have dropped 34.3% to just a 6.8% chance of making it. Their three-week drop of 34.3% put them at fourth biggest three-week fall in the whole nation. And then there are the teams with no shot at the tournament, Rutgers, Penn State, and Nebraska. All three have the only losing records in the conference and have kissed their chances goodbye.

The Big Ten has had huge changes as of late. The middle of the pack has risen and taken back their NCAA tournament spots, the top has fallen, Purdue has been one of the most consistent in the nation, and Indiana not so much. With a final week of games and the conference tournament coming up, this will be one conference to keep an eye on.



New Bracketology – 2/28/17


One day away from March, the bubble has lost lots of air and the NCAA Tournament picture has become more clear.

In this latest edition of bracketology, here’s a look at the field as if the season were to end today.

Caution: The predicted field/seeding is highly likely to change from day to day or minute to minute.

*Automatic bids in italics.

1 SEEDS: Villanova; Kansas; North Carolina; Gonzaga.

2 SEEDS: Oregon; Baylor; Louisville; UCLA.

3 SEEDS: Kentucky; Duke; Butler; Florida State.

4 SEEDS: Florida; Arizona; West Virginia; Purdue.

5 SEEDS: Virginia; Wisconsin; Creighton; Cincinnati.

6 SEEDS: Notre Dame; SMU; Iowa State; Miami.

7 SEEDS: Minnesota; St. Mary’s; South Carolina; Maryland.

8 SEEDS: Oklahoma State; Dayton; Virginia Tech; Xavier.

9 SEEDS: Michigan; Michigan State; Northwestern; VCU.

10 SEEDS: Wichita State; USC; Arkansas; California.

11 SEEDS: Marquette; Seton Hall vs. Wake Forest; Syracuse vs. Vanderbilt; Middle Tennessee State.

12 SEEDS: Illinois State; North Carolina Wilmington; Nevada; Texas Arlington.

13 SEEDS: Akron; Vermont; Monmouth; New Mexico State.

14 SEEDS: Princeton; Belmont; UNC Asheville; Valparaiso.

15 SEEDS: East Tennessee State; Bucknell; Florida Gulf Coast; North Dakota State.

16 SEEDS: Texas Southern; Eastern Washington; UC Irvine vs. NC Central; New Orleans vs. Mount St. Mary’s.

LAST FOUR IN: Seton Hall; Syracuse; Wake Forest; Vanderbilt.

FIRST FOUR OUT: Providence; Rhode Island; Georgia; Kansas State.

NEXT FOUR OUT: Tennessee; TCU; Houston; Georgia Tech.

CONFERENCE BREAKDOWN: ACC (10); Big Ten (7); Big East (6); Big 12 (5); Pac 12 (5); SEC (5); Atlantic 10 (2); AAC (2); Missouri Valley (2); West Coast (2).

Note: Automatic bids are determined by the highest RPI team in each conference.


Weekend Bubble Wrap


As we inch closer and closer to March, every game becomes almost monumental for bubble teams and as we witnessed this past week, a simple two-game losing streak can be the death knell for a few poor squads.

Here’s a look at the weekend’s survivors and casualties, by conference.


In my disgust for Rhode Island’s recent home loss to Fordham, I may have written off the Rams a bit early. Rhody put itself back in the mix with a 10-point win over VCU. The Rams are some damage in the A-10 tournament away from having a legit chance to dance.


Houston kept its slim, slim at-large hopes alive with a 72-71 win at Memphis, Sunday.


Syracuse seemingly got themselves in the tournament with last week’s huge win over Duke, but it would help their nerves to avoid blowouts on the road, like what happened to them at Louisville on Sunday. Cuse is guaranteed to be .500 in league play, which is big, but they still possess a very high R.P.I. in the 70’s and all of their big wins were in the friendly confines of the Carrier Dome and they are 2-8 on the road.

Georgia Tech, very much on the outside looking in, had a chance to enhance its resume on Sunday, but fell to Notre Dame in a typical close game between the two. Tech finishes with Pittsburgh and at Syracuse and will likely have to win both to have any realistic chance at the NCAA Tournament.

BIG 12

Most of the weekend’s casualties came from this ultra-competitive conference, as its inhabitants continue to eat their own. One of those casualties was TCU, who had an opportunity to get a huge win, but just missed, losing at home to West Virginia by one. TCU drops to 6-10 in conference, which is no bueno, and they have two tough Big 12 contests remaining, so the N.I.T. looks to be in their future.

Kansas State, who I had as an 11 seed one week ago, suddenly is on the far outside looking in with binoculars. K State lost for the fifth time in six games, this time by thirty points at 10-18 Oklahoma. That’s not exactly what the selection committee likes to see. They also don’t like 6-10 conference records or R.P.I.’s approaching 70. The Wildcats will not be dancing this season.


Seton Hall hangs on to its tenuous NCAA Tournament spot, after barely winning at DePaul on Saturday. The Hall is now 8-8 in conference play with dates versus Georgetown and at Butler remaining. 9-9 looks to be in the Pirates’ future.

Providence continued its surge with a monster home win versus fellow bubble mate, Marquette, on Saturday. The win puts the Friars right at the doorstep of the dance, at 8-8 in the Big East, with winnable games versus DePaul and at St. John’s remaining. Providence also brought its R.P.I. down to a respectable 52, which could do wonders.

Marquette, on the other hand, is suddenly in a dangerous position. The Golden Eagles are also 8-8 in conference, but they have tough games at Xavier and home versus Creighton on their schedule. They also have an R.P.I. of 72. It could be an uphill battle for Wojo and company.


Michigan has played itself off of the bubble, after (or before) its impressive home win over Purdue on Saturday.

Indiana, way on the outside looking in, may have put Northwestern in a dangerous situation, handing the Wildcats its fifth loss in its last seven games and dropping its R.P.I. to 50. Northwestern is 9-7 in the league, but has two tough games remaining, versus Michigan and Purdue. They would be wise to win one of those.

Some may have thought Michigan State was on the bubble, but those thoughts should be no more, after the Spartans beat struggling Wisconsin, Sunday.


Middle Tennessee State kept its under-the-radar at-large chances alive with a come-from-behind road victory over UAB. The Blue Raiders are now 26-4, including a 23-point win over Vanderbilt, and an R.P.I. in the high 20’s. It is very rare that a team with that high of an R.P.I. gets left out of the NCAA Tournament. Hopefully, as far as the teams from major conferences are concerned, MTSU will take care of business in the conference tournament.

Missouri Valley

Wichita State is not likely on the bubble, after winning twelve straight MVC games by an average of 23 points. They easily got their twelfth at Missouri State on Saturday. The Shockers have no great wins, but they have no bad losses either and with a solid R.P.I. at 40, they should be fine.

Illinois State is a legitimate bubble team. The Redbirds, like Wichita State, are 17-1 in the MVC, they have a win versus the Shockers, but unlike their conference mates, they have a few bad losses on their resume. ISU’s win at Northern Iowa to end the regular season, keeps them with an outside chance at an NCAA bid.

PAC 12

California’s 30-point blowout of Oregon State keeps the Golden Bears in a relatively safe position inside the bubble. But, they have two tough road tests remaining and might want to win a couple games in the Pac 12 tournament to pad their light resume.

USC may have put itself in some danger by losing at lowly Arizona State on Sunday. The Trojans are .500 in conference with two relatively easy games left on the schedule. USC should be fine, barring a collapse.


Tennessee looks to be another casualty of the weekend, after losing their second straight and fourth out of five games, this time at South Carolina by 27 points. The Vols dropped to 7-9 in the SEC and saw their R.P.I. dip into the mid 60’s. Tennessee will need to do major damage in the SEC tournament.

Vanderbilt continued its strong push towards an NCAA tournament berth with a 29-point win over Mississippi State. The Commodores have come out of nowhere, but a fourth ranked strength of schedule and impressive wins over Florida, Iowa State, Arkansas and South Carolina, puts Vandy in a strong position down the stretch.

Georgia kept its slim hopes alive with a win over LSU, while Arkansas remains reasonably comfortable after its win at Auburn.

Follow Jamal Murphy on Twitter: @Blacketologist