Update: Notre Dame in the clear for NCAAs after win; Memphis hurting
C-USA is absolutely a one-bid league if UTEP wins the auto bid
This is great news for Rhode Island, Arizona State, Washington and Dayton
Struggling Wake's now looking at something in the neighborhood of a 10 seed
Andy Glockner will offer a full edition of the Bubble Watch each morning, then provide updates as the action plays out. Check back throughout the day for ongoing bubble analysis. All times are ET.
2:05 A.M. UPDATE: HUSKIES DERAILED
Washington rallied past Oregon State in the Pac-10 quarters and actually sneaks into Friday's bracket. Yes, that's how convoluted Thursday was. Bubble Watch will have all the details on Friday morning.
11:20 P.M. UPDATE: SUN DEVILS LEFT IN THE DUST
Say goodbye to another bubble team as Arizona State got ambushed by Stanford in the Pac-10 quarters. This also could hurt Washington, which expected a semifinal showdown with the Sun Devils and now will get a meaningless game with the Cardinal (if it beats Oregon State later on). Now, it's more questionable whether a loss in the Pac-10 final will be enough for the team that finished third in a down year in the Pac-10.
In C-USA, host Tulsa took out Marshall and now, assuming no upset, gets a shot at 1-seed UTEP in the semis (the Miners are pummelling Central Florida, as I write). The Golden Hurricane would be a strong favorite at home against the Southern Miss-Houston winner, so they couldn't ask for a better shot to steal the automatic bid.
9:15 P.M. UPDATE: IRISH REMOVE TOURNEY DOUBTS WITH UPSET
Congratulations to Notre Dame, which ended any doubt about its NCAA Tournament status by beating Pitt. The Irish may have been OK with a loss, but that's moot now.
One of the big side benefactors to today's series of Big East upsets could be West Virginia. The Mountaineers are strongly in contention for a No. 1 seed in the NCAAs, and now would only have to get past Cincinnati, Notre Dame and the Georgetown/Marquette winner to take the Big East Tournament. All the upsets, though, mean the Mountaineers won't be getting another marquee win along the way
Georgia Tech isn't as settled, despite slipping past North Carolina. With a 7-9 ACC mark and 1-7 road record in the league, the Yellow Jackets likely need to beat Maryland tomorrow in the ACC quarterfinals to reserve their place at the edge of the cutline.
In the MAC, 1-seed Kent State was taken out by Ohio in the quarterfinals. Akron, which escaped in double-OT earlier today, is now the highest seed left in the parity-addled league.
6 P.M. UPDATE: MORE C-USA CARNAGE
Conference USA's afternoon bubble carnage is complete with UAB's putrid 58-44 loss to Southern Miss. With Memphis' earlier defeat, C-USA is absolutely a one-bid league if UTEP wins the auto bid, which means bubblers are now rooting very hard for the Miners the rest of the week. The USM-Houston semifinal already will create a bid thief; if the Miners are KO'd, some bubble team gets squeezed.
This C-USA carnage is great news for teams like Rhode Island, Arizona State, Washington and even Dayton, all of which have a chance to play their way into the bracket in the next 72 hours. Even teams like Seton Hall and William & Mary -- assumed buried with no games left to play -- have to at least be in the discussion now.
5:50 P.M UPDATE: WAKE CONTINUES SLIDE DOWN SEED LINES
Wake Forest didn't do itself any good, getting mauled by Miami in its ACC tourney opener. Had the Deacons lost to Clemson last Sunday, they could have been in real trouble. Now they're probably looking at something in the neighborhood of a 10 seed when the dust settles. The collateral damage of that Wake Forest loss is now Virginia Tech has much more risk in its quarterfinal game against Miami. With all the others backsliding around the Hokies, it's not clear that a loss would lead to their demise, but it's now a no-win situation for Virginia Tech.
3:16 P.M. UPDATE: MEMPHIS FALLS OUT OF BRACKET
Memphis' five-hour stay in the bracket ended with a one-point loss to Houston in the Conference USA quarterfinals. You never say never, but it certainly appears the Tigers will not be participating in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2005.
Weirdly, while it opens the path to the final for UAB, it doesn't really help the Blazers, who now very well may need to win the auto bid. Beating Houston will not help UAB's cause.
Thursday morning's full Bubble Watch
Before we set Thursday's bubble table, there are two major issues to address.
1) Louisville could be the surprise snub of Selection Sunday. The Cardinals better hope the committee really values the two monster wins over Syracuse, because there's nothing else impressive in their resume. If teams behind them in the pecking order (like Ole Miss, Washington/Arizona State, Florida/Miss. State, Illinois, etc.) win some games in the next few days, this could get very close.
Louisville went just 11-8 (including Wednesday night) in the Big East and is 2-6 vs. the RPI top 50, with a 22-point home loss to Charlotte and a home loss to Western Carolina (with injury issues involved). The other nine Big East wins were over UConn (twice), Cincinnati, Notre Dame, South Florida, St. John's (a split), Providence, Rutgers and DePaul. There's maybe one NCAA team in that bunch. Their best nonleague wins are Appalachian State and Morgan State. In other words, useless for NCAA purposes.
The softness of the bubble may save the Cardinals. Any other year and they'd be in a ton of trouble. They may still be.
2) Predictably, my e-mail box was filled with those taking issue to Michigan State being moved down to a 6 seed (the Spartans are right on the 5/6 cutline). Here is the response: MSU's profile is not very good, and is clearly the weakest of the four Big Ten heavyweights.
MSU's best win of the season is at Purdue -- in the Boilers' first game without Robbie Hummel, which clearly should be discounted to some extent. Outside of that, the Spartans have beaten Wisconsin at home (and lost to the Badgers by 18 in Madison when they were without Jon Leuer) and Gonzaga. They lost at home to Purdue (with Kalin Lucas still not himself) and Ohio State and didn't have to play the Buckeyes in Columbus. They also lost to Florida on a neutral floor and at UNC and Texas.
While MSU is 11th in both polls, the Spartans are (more accurately, in my opinion) ranked 23rd in both Pomeroy and Sagarin and 24th in the RPI. Why exactly is a team that's 3-4 vs. the top 50 and just 8-7 vs. the top 100 worthy of a top-4 seed? Things can change in Indianapolis starting Friday, but right now, this is what MSU is.
Now on to the Thursday bubble battles. There are no win-and-ins, but there could be a ton on Friday if things play out as mostly expected:
Houston-Memphis (1 p.m. ET): Game before the game the Tigers need to win to have a real chance.
From Wednesday, congrats to Robert Morris (Northeast) and, especially, Montana (Big Sky) for earning auto bids. Anthony Johnson's 34-point second half to lead the Grizzlies back from 20 down at the break to a one-point road win at top-seed Weber State was the stuff of tournament legend. Anatoly Bose is jealous of that outcome.
Remember, records listed are Division I only, per NCAA tournament selection guidelines. All RPI and SOS data are from Wednesday's collegerpi.com RPI report.
Send your very valuable feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org or to @aglock on Twitter. All submissions are read; polite, fact-based ones stand the best chance of a response. Readers who claim their team's record is wrong because they failed to read the previous paragraph will get to watch a copy of Monday's WCC final with Mark Few.
GW: Good wins over top-50ish foes (home league wins judged more strictly).
BL: Bad losses to teams outside top 100 or to direct bubble competitors.
Locks: Duke, Maryland
Duke remains strongly in the mix for a No. 1 seed. Maryland is playing for a protected one. Beyond those two, Clemson and Florida State look set to dance, while Georgia Tech may be playing its way right into the NIT.
SHOULD BE IN
Clemson (21-9, 9-7, RPI: 28, SOS: 22) got the split it needed and should be fine for the NCAAs. We'll keep them and the teams below in territory for now, pending one ACC tournament win, but all three are pretty much assured of a spot. The Tigers are a notch ahead of the 'Noles based on FSU solely cleaning up on the middle/bottom of the league. Clemson has better wins.
Florida State (22-8, 10-6, RPI: 34, SOS: 45) escaped Miami with a one-point win that should ensure an NCAA tournament berth. The 'Noles beat Wake Forest earlier in the week, making their league position pretty clear. They went 0-5 against Maryland, Duke and Clemson and 10-1 against everyone else.
Wake Forest (19-9, 9-7, RPI: 32, SOS: 29) finally stopped messing around and beat Clemson on Sunday night, more or less ensuring an NCAA spot. The Deacons still cost themselves some seeding in the last couple of weeks, though.
IN THE MIX
Virginia Tech (23-7, 10-6, RPI: 51, SOS: 130) did itself a world of good by winning at Georgia Tech on Saturday to get to 10 ACC wins. It's arguably VT's best win of the season, and now it's a lot harder to see the Hokies missing. Losing their ACC tournament opener isn't advised, but given the dearth of quality at the bubble, the Georgia Tech win may be the Hokies' golden ticket.
Georgia Tech (18-11, 7-9, RPI: 43, SOS: 19) now is in very legitimate danger of missing the NCAAs after losing at Clemson and at home to Virginia Tech to finish under .500 in the league. Beyond the upset of Duke, there's not a ton here helping the Jackets. Now they draw North Carolina in the 7-10 game (in Greensboro), with Maryland waiting in the quarters. Tech very well may need to win both.
Locks: Kansas, Kansas State, Texas A&M, Texas, Baylor, Missouri, Oklahoma State
Missouri cost itself some seed position by flopping against Nebraska Wednesday, but should be fine as far as making the NCAAs. Oklahoma State moves into lock category after beating Oklahoma.
Now the rest of the big boys take the court for the quarters. Kansas will be a No. 1 seed in the NCAAs. K-State's looking to hold onto a 2. Below that, there's jousting for protected seed status and location.
SHOULD BE IN
IN THE MIX
Locks: Syracuse, Villanova, Georgetown, West Virginia, Pitt, Marquette
Marquette moved into the lock category after getting to the Big East quarterfinals. Notre Dame also looks very well positioned after wounding Seton Hall's hopes of a bid. In Thursday's quarterfinals, seeding and location is at stake, even for Syracuse, which will be a No. 1 in the NCAAs but isn't sure in which region.
SHOULD BE IN
Notre Dame (22-10, 10-8, RPI: 55, SOS: 49) lured Seton Hall into a half-court slog, which was the exact way to subdue the Pirates and move closer to an NCAA berth. The Irish very well have done enough now, but they'll get a quarterfinal shot at Pittsburgh to make absolutely sure.
IN THE MIX
Cincinnati (18-14, 7-11, RPI: 68, SOS: 10) kept its slim at-large hopes alive with an upset of Louisville to make the Big East quarters. If the Bearcats take out West Virginia, we can take a closer look.
WAIT AND HOPE
Louisville (20-12, 11-7, RPI: 37, SOS: 4) lost its Big East tournament opener to Cincinnati and now may face an unexpectedly uncomfortable wait to see if they make the NCAA field. A full examination of Louisville's at-large profile is not convincing at all. Beyond the two monster wins over Syracuse, there is almost nothing helpful and there are a couple of ugly home defeats, as well. If there are surges from bubble teams from other conferences, this could get very, very close for the Cardinals.
Seton Hall (19-12, 9-9, RPI: 59, SOS: 30) looked very frustrated by Notre Dame, maybe because the Pirates knew they probably had to beat the Irish to make the NCAAs. Now there will be a very long four-day wait to see if their profile holds up. Chances are that it won't. We'll see.
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