It was a busy Wednesday night in college basketball, as it seemed like the entire bubble universe was in action. Some teams played as if they wanted to be a part of the NCAA Tournament, while others succumbed under the pressure.
Syracuse likely punched its ticket with a buzzer-beating win over Duke. The Orange still have a high R.P.I. in the 70’s, but it is hard to see the Committee leaving Boeheim and company out with three top 25 wins and at least a .500 record in the best conference in the nation.
Wake Forest kept its hopes alive and hang on to their current spot (the last team in in my latest bracketology). Wake came from behind to beat a game Pittsburgh squad and moved within two games of .500 in conference play. They will need to win at least one of their two remaining regular season games versus Louisville or at Virginia Tech in order to have a realistic shot at the big dance.
TCU and Kansas State continued to trend downward and outward of the tournament. TCU’s loss at Kansas drops them to 6-9 in conference play with tough games versus West Virginia and Kansas State remaining. K State is now 6-9 as well, but with an easier road to .500 in the Big 12 than TCU. Still, both teams will need to finish strong in order to hear their names called on Selection Sunday.
Providence got a huge win at Creighton, thanks to a huge shot by Kyron Cartwright. The Friars are now 7-8 in the Big East with three winnable conference games remaining. Thus, they have officially put themselves in the NCAA Tournament discussion and are trending in the right direction.
Seton Hall kept their heads above the proverbial bubble with a solid win over Xavier in Newark. They, too, move to 7-8 in conference, but more importantly, pick up their second top 25 win.
Georgetown successfully ended all hopes of an at-large bid by losing at home to lowly DePaul. For the Hoyas, it was a slow death, but at least it’s over now. JTIII suffers his second straight extremely disappointing season.
Michigan avoided disaster by holding on to beat an improved, but still bad loss if it happens, Rutgers team. The wolverines remain relatively comfortable big dance participants at the moment.
Illinois State avoided a bad loss to Southern Illinois, but just barely. The Redbirds still have an impressive R.P.I., but they may need to win the conference tournament to get an NCAA berth and will surely have to avoid a loss to anyone other than Wichita State.
California, a 10 seed in my latest bracket, had a golden bear opportunity (sorry) to cement their spot in the NCAA Tournament with a home win versus Oregon. However, despite leading for most of the game, Cal was unable to finish the job, thanks to a Dylan Brooks three-point dagger. The Bears are likely to get in, but should still be a bit nervous unless they do some damage in the Pac 12 tournament.
In a game that was played inside the bubble, Vanderbilt won at Tennessee, as both teams continue to move in opposite directions. Vandy, one of my “first four out,” and Tennessee, one of my “last four in,” may have just traded places. Both are 15-13 overall, with Vanderbilt a game over .500 in conference, while the Vols are now a game under.
Arkansas continued its hot play with a 86-77 win over Texas A&M. The Hogs are looking to inch up from their current 10 seed projection.
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