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Posted: Monday March 2, 2009 12:41PM; Updated: Tuesday March 3, 2009 10:47AM
Andy Glockner Andy Glockner >

Every whistle counts as bubble teams sit tight on the edge

Story Highlights

One ref's non-call on Jon Scheyer's travel could doom Virginia Tech

The ACC and Big East lead with five NCAA tournament locks each

There are several big bubble games this week in the Big Ten and SEC

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Jodie Meeks and Kentucky are trying to ward off a trip to the NIT.

What's the power of a missed call? Ask Virginia Tech, which should have had the ball down three against Duke had Jon Scheyer been called for his back-and-forth pivot/moonwalk in the final 30 seconds Saturday in Blacksburg. Instead of having a chance to tie, the Hokies went on to lose by seven, and in today's updated bracket, they are the second team left out of the field of 65.

Think Kentucky fans are on edge right now? After getting pounded at South Carolina, their Wildcats were warded off (literally) by LSU in Lexington and now they're trying to ward off a trip to the NIT. Kentucky was one of the final three teams in today's bracket.

Surely these aren't the only teams that have had their futures potentially impacted by a (non-)whistle, but they're the latest, and these single non-calls show just how tenuous this bubble chase is. In the bigger picture, what's the monetary value -- in tournament revenues, sponsorship, recruiting, etc. -- of making versus missing the NCAA tournament? Let's just say it's much, much more than the cost of the Fox 40s six separate officials swallowed on Saturday.

(Records listed are Division-I only, per NCAA tournament selection guidelines. All RPI and SOS data are from Sunday's RPI report.)


Locks: North Carolina, Duke, Wake Forest, Clemson, Florida State

There are two developments in the ACC this week. First, Florida State joins the lock party after finishing off a season sweep of Clemson (which should make sure it takes care of business Tuesday at home against Virginia). Second, UNC and Duke have separated from the rest as far as landing in Greensboro for the first two rounds of the NCAAs. Duke still remains very much in the mix for a No. 1 seed, as well.


Boston College (20-9, 8-6; RPI: 50, SOS: 51) is in great position after beating Florida State in its only game of the week. The Eagles have two winnable games (at NC State and Georgia Tech at home) left and probably only need one of them to feel good about a bid. Getting both would seal the deal. The Eagles' RPI remains a bit high, but they won at UNC and also beat Duke, so the marquee level is solid in their 4-6 top 50 mark.


The latest example of RPI comedy, unless you're a fan of Virginia Tech (17-11, 7-7; RPI: 59; SOS: 37): The Hokies cost themselves two RPI spots by winning the "wrong" game this week. Losing at Clemson and beating Duke at home would have been worth an extra .0015 in raw RPI points. But since they won on the road and lost at home, each game counted as 1.4 instead of 0.6, which works against the Hokies.

Flawed NCAA math aside, the Hokies missed a huge chance against Duke to assert themselves in the at-large hunt. Now they get UNC at home and then visit Florida State to close the regular season. A 7-9 league mark and 13 losses before the ACC tournament probably isn't going to cut it without a lot of championship week weirdness. They need to win one of those.

The comparison with Maryland (18-10, 7-7; RPI: 58; SOS: 24) is very close, but the Terps get the second-to-last at-large this week and the Hokies are left out because of Maryland's better top-end wins and the head-to-head victory.

Maryland couldn't take out Duke but won at NC State to stay in the mix. The Terps get Wake Forest at home before closing at Virginia. Maryland has beaten top-two seeds Michigan State and North Carolina, but also has a host of blowout losses and a bad home loss to Morgan State. Miami (16-10, 6-8; RPI: 45, SOS: 14) slogged past Virginia to stay in the hunt, but most likely needs to win at Georgia Tech and at home against NC State to get to 8-8 to have a legit chance.

Big 12

Locks: Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas

Kansas got some revenge by smoking Missouri on Sunday, moving closer to a Big 12 regular-season crown. That could be win-win for the league, as Oklahoma still looks positioned to be a one-seed and should get credit for both league losses coming with Blake Griffin out with an injury.


Texas (19-9, 8-6; RPI: 38, SOS: 43) needs to make sure it takes care of Baylor on Monday night. An upset home loss sends the Horns to Lawrence staring 8-8 in the face, and an early slip in the Big 12 tourney could make for some unexpectedly long waiting days in Austin. Wins over UCLA, Villanova, at Wisconsin and over Oklahoma (partly sans Griffin) definitely help. They should be OK, but this isn't yet the mortal lock many assume.


Oklahoma State (19-9, 8-6; RPI: 31; SOS: 12) has five-straight wins after rolling at Colorado and toppling Texas. Now the Pokes have a huge home bubble game Tuesday against K-State. They don't want to need the season finale at Oklahoma to stay above .500 in the conference. Fourth-place and a first-round bye in the Big 12 tourney also remains a possibility.

The game at Nebraska -- and Texas A&M's (20-8, 7-7; RPI: 34, SOS: 35) NCAA hopes -- looked all but over at halftime, but the Aggies came from way back to stun the Huskers at the buzzer. A romp over Iowa State later, they're at 7-7 with a trip to bottom-feeder Colorado on tap. That has to be a win ahead of a gettable game against Missouri that would be popular with the computers and push A&M over .500.

A comparison between those two teams remains very close.

Kansas State (19-9, 8-6; RPI: 73; SOS: 95) got blasted at Mizzou, but after edging Nebraska, remains likely for at least nine league wins with a home game against Colorado remaining. Ten would look a ton better for a team lacking substance in its profile, which makes Tuesday in Stillwater a huge one. Nebraska (16-11, 6-8; RPI: 74; SOS: 31) lost bubble games to both A&M and K-State and is basically done, as is disappointing Baylor (16-11, 5-9; RPI: 63; SOS: 17).

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