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Posted: Friday March 12, 2010 9:21AM; Updated: Saturday March 13, 2010 12:30AM
Andy Glockner
Andy Glockner>BUBBLE WATCH

Friday update: Georgia Tech helps itself, Illinois gets crucial win

Story Highlights

Georgia Tech upset Maryland in ACC quarters to solidify its resume

Illinois now has a better-than-average chance of making the NCAAs

After smoking Saint Louis on Friday; Rhode Island still needs to beat Temple

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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.

12:24 A.M. UPDATE: MINNESOTA NOT DONE YET

The Gophers aren't dead yet after an overtime win over Michigan State. Now they get a Purdue team that still hasn't hit its stride since losing Robbie Hummel for the season. This is a prime opportunity for Minnesota to notch another quality win and make the tourney final, where they suddenly could have an argument to get in, win or lose.

10:03 P.M. UPDATE: GEORGIA TECH HEPS CASE, FLORIDA SLIPS, DAYTON DONE

Georgia Tech took a huge step toward securing an NCAA bid by downing Maryland 69-64 in the ACC quarters. The Yellow Jackets needed to add some bulk to a profile that contains a win over Duke and a couple other decent home Ws, but also a 7-9 league mark and a 1-7 ACC road record. The Jackets aren't totally safe, but they now have a terrific opportunity to make things secure against the Florida State-NC State winner in the semis.

The news is not as good for Florida, which lost to Mississippi State in the SEC quarters in a result that could end up seeing both teams miss the dance. The Gators are probably still in for now, and the Bulldogs still need at least one more win, but an MSU loss tomorrow combined with other results closing down the bubble could end up seeing Florida get squeezed. The Gators are just 3-8 vs. the RPI top 50 although all eight losses are to top-25 teams. They're also only 9-11 vs. the top 100, although 20 games in that category is a lot.

In the A-10, Dayton lost its composure and another close game and saw its at-large hopes extinguished in a quarterfinal loss to rival Xavier.

6:03 P.M. UPDATE: OLE MISS COULD BE NIT-BOUND

Mississippi became the latest bubble team to fail in its first postseason game, losing to Tennessee 76-65 in the SEC quarterfinals and leaving the Rebels in very rough shape for the NCAAs. They have two very legitimate neutral-court wins over K-State and UTEP, but that's really about it. They didn't beat any of the top four teams in the SEC East in five chances and also were swept by Mississippi State. This looks like an NIT profile at this point, but maybe enough others are falling to leave the door open.

5:05 P.M. UPDATE: RHODE ISLAND STILL HAS WORK TO DO

Rhode Island won its A-10 quarterfinal over Saint Louis, but the Rams still have work to do to get into the bracket. That starts with beating Temple in tomorrow's semifinals. The Rams don't have the quality wins in their resume at this point; they're badly in need of a marquee win to put above a win over Oklahoma State in Connecticut. (That's URI's only top-50 win at the moment with Dayton's late-season fade.)

4:54 P.M. UPDATE: ILLINOIS GETS HUGE WIN

Illinois got its must-win against Wisconsin in the Big Ten quarterfinal and took a very sizable step toward staying in the bracket. The Illini's resume still has a lot of holes in it, though ... Their two big league wins before today were aided by the absences of Jon Leuer (Wisconsin) and Kalin Lucas (Michigan State). They also entered Friday with an RPI of 78 (although it will improve after the win today), which would be the worst ever for an at-large team. That said, Illinois has now beaten Wisconsin twice away from home, defeated Vanderbilt and won at Clemson out of conference. Combined with an over .500 league record, Illinois now has a better-than-average chance of making the NCAAs.

4:48 P.M. UPDATE: AWFUL LOSS FOR VIRGINIA TECH

Virginia Tech may have made an awful mistake by losing to ACC also-ran Miami in the conference tourney quarterfinals. The Hokies looked like they had placed themselves on the right side of the cutline by winning at Georgia Tech over the weekend to get to 10 ACC wins, but losing the first tourney game wasn't a good idea, especially to the upstart 'Canes. Now Seth Greenberg and Co. will have to hope the committee doesn't burn them over their atrocious nonleague schedule which ranked 340th. The Hokies look good enough to make the NCAAs, but they may only end up beating two NCAA teams all season and neither might be a top-8 seed.

Friday morning's full Bubble Watch

Ugh. What a day of bubble carnage. At-large contenders nationwide spit the bit, leaving a gaping hole in the bottom of the bracket and a plethora of uninspiring options for the committee to sift through.

Hey, who wants a 96-team tournament? ( ... chirping crickets ... )

Most notably, Memphis, UAB and Arizona State all likely killed their at-large chances with quarterfinal losses, and in the process rekindled the hopes of teams like Seton Hall, which had very slim aspirations 24 hours earlier. Florida and Georgia Tech took steps forward by not losing. Washington may nail down an NCAA bid merely by beating Oregon State and Stanford. Teams like William & Mary have every right to raise their hand at this point.

But, yeah, let's get 32 more teams in the bracket! ( ... tumbleweeds roll by ... )

Today may be the most important bracket-shaping day. There are a ton of meaningful games:

Illinois-Wisconsin (2 p.m. ET): Illini probably need to win this game to hang on to an at-large spot.

Miami-Virginia Tech (2 p.m.): Hokies would be smart not to lose this game and risk it.

Rhode Island-Saint Louis (2 p.m.): Huge bubble game for both teams, especially the Rams.

Tennessee-Mississippi (3:15 p.m.): Rebels have to get this one to have realistic at-large hopes.

Tulsa-UTEP (4:15): Golden Hurricane could make C-USA two-bid league with a home win.

Dayton-Xavier (6:30 p.m.): Flyers' last stand begins here. They probably need two wins to have a claim.

Georgia Tech-Maryland (7 p.m.): Jackets likely need to win this one or get squeezed out.

Florida-Miss. State (7:30 p.m.): Gators are in with a win; Bulldogs may need another, too.

San Diego State-New Mexico (9 p.m.): Aztecs can lock up a bid with a win, though they may not need it.

Louisiana Tech-Utah State (9 p.m.): Aggies probably will get in, but a loss means two-bid WAC.

Of course, next season, many of the losers of these games may just have to be content with their 18 seed. Doesn't that sound fantastic? ( ... wind blows by gently ... )

Remember, records listed are Division I only, per NCAA Tournament selection guidelines. All RPI and SOS data are from Thursday's collegerpi.com RPI report.

Send your very valuable feedback to bubblewatch@gmail.com 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 have to sell 10,000 seats to a UAB-Arizona State NIT game.

Summary key:
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.

ACC

Locks: Duke, Maryland

Duke remains strongly in the mix for a No. 1 seed. Maryland's playing for a protected one. Clemson and Wake Forest will drop in seeding after first-round exits. Florida State and Virginia Tech look to take advantage of their surprise quarterfinal foes. Georgia Tech still probably needs another win.

SHOULD BE IN

Clemson (21-10, 9-7, RPI: 33, SOS: 23) went out meekly in the ACC tournament, dropping its opener to N.C. State. Clemson has better wins and a sweep of the 'Noles.
GW: Butler (N), Maryland, sweep of FSU
BL: N.C. State, plus league bubblers Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech and Illinois.

Florida State (22-8, 10-6, RPI: 34, SOS: 47) looks set and now gets surprise N.C. State instead of Clemson in the quarterfinals. The 'Noles could lose some seeding with a loss, but they're safely dancing. In the regular season, they went 0-5 against Maryland, Duke and Clemson and 10-1 against everyone else.
GW: Marquette, sweep of Georgia Tech and beat Virginia Tech and Wake Forest (bubble purposes)
BL: Home to N.C. State; swept by Clemson and lost to Florida (bubble purposes)

Wake Forest (19-10, 9-7, RPI: 37, SOS: 28) was awful in a blowout loss to Miami and staggers into the NCAAs having lost five of its last six. The Demon Deacons could very well be looking at a double-digit seed when everything sifts out. Their good wins and the soft bubble should keep them in.
GW: at Gonzaga, Xavier, Richmond, Maryland plus Clemson
BL: Miami twice, UNC at home, at NC State, plus W&M for bubble purposes

IN THE MIX

Virginia Tech (23-7, 10-6, RPI: 53, SOS: 131) now faces an unexpected "no win" game against Miami after the 'Canes pounded Wake Forest. A loss here is not advised, although with so much bubble rubble on Thursday, the Hokies might still be OK either way.
GW: at Georgia Tech, plus Clemson and Wake Forest at home and vs. Seton Hall (all bubblers)
BL: Nothing awful, but at Miami and at BC are hurting

Georgia Tech (19-11, 7-9, RPI: 40, SOS: 20) slipped past UNC in the first round, but now probably needs to beat Maryland to hold on to its spot in the bracket come Sunday. The Jackets got a lot of bubble help on Thursday, but there are a lot of unsettled situations that could push them the wrong side of the cutline if they lose today.
GW: Duke, Siena?, splits with Wake and Clemson?
BL: Swept by FSU in addition to Wake/Clemson splits (bubble purposes), lost at Miami

Big 12

Locks: Kansas, Kansas State, Texas A&M, Texas, Baylor, Missouri, Oklahoma State

Texas continues to slide, K-State impressed in its quest for a 2-seed, Kansas will be a No. 1 and Baylor looks very solid in its move for a top-four perch. K-State vs. Baylor is a great semifinal game.

SHOULD BE IN

None.

IN THE MIX

None.

Big East

Locks: Syracuse, Villanova, Georgetown, West Virginia, Pitt, Marquette, Notre Dame

The Irish move into lock status with their win over Pitt to make the Big East tournament semifinals. Combine the late-season surge with the losses around them in other leagues, and the Irish can book their seat at the dance. West Virginia escaped Cincinnati at the buzzer and has a prime chance to win the tourney and stake a claim to a 1-seed in the NCAAs. Marquette continues to rise and Louisville's tenuous position looks much safer now. The Big East probably will end up with eight bids.

SHOULD BE IN

None.

WAIT AND HOPE

Louisville (20-12, 11-7, RPI: 39, SOS: 5) lost its Big East tournament opener to Cincinnati but got a ton of help on Thursday from other teams behind them losing left and right. Despite a very suspect profile, the Cardinals likely are safe now.
GW: Sweep of Syracuse, beat Notre Dame (w/o Luke Harangody, for bubble purposes)
BL: Charlotte (injury asterisk, but by 22), W. Carolina, at Seton Hall and St. John's?

Seton Hall (19-12, 9-9, RPI: 59, SOS: 31) looked very frustrated by Notre Dame, but with all the carnage on Thursday, maybe everything isn't lost quite yet for the Pirates. Still a longish shot, but not impossible.
GW: Pitt, at Cornell, plus Louisville , ND for bubble purposes
BL: None bad (all in top 75), just a lot of them

Big Ten

Locks: Michigan State, Purdue, Wisconsin, Ohio State

Purdue has won twice since losing Robbie Hummel, but will need to show the committee it can handle a comparable quality team in order to really hold onto its seeding position. Ohio State is actually in the mix for a No. 1 NCAA seed if it can win the Big Ten tourney and get favorable treatment from the committee for Evan Turner's injury games. On the bubble side, Illinois now likely needs to win the second half of its Wisconsin double-dip in the Big Ten quarters after losing at home by 15 on Sunday.

SHOULD BE IN

None.

IN THE MIX

Illinois (18-12, 10-8, RPI: 78, SOS: 42) faces what seems like a must-win quarterfinal against the Badgers. They have four very credible wins (helped by Kalin Lucas' absence against Michigan State), but also some bad losses and are not closing things out very well, either. Even with the wreckage at the cutline, the Illini probably need this win. They'd set a record at this point for worst at-large RPI.
GW: at Clemson, Vandy, Mich St. (w/o Lucas), at Wisconsin
BL: Utah, Bradley, Georgia, plus home to Minnesota (bubble battle)

Minnesota (19-12, 9-9, RPI: 73, SOS: 58) ripped Penn State in the 6-11 game and now gets Michigan State in the quarterfinals. The Gophers probably need to get to the final to have any real claim.
GW: Butler, Ohio State (with Turner), Wisconsin, at Illinois (bubble purposes)
BL: Portland (N), at Miami, swept by Michigan plus at Indiana and Northwestern

Pac-10

Locks: None

Arizona State ended its at-large push ingloriously, getting worked by Stanford. Cal draws UCLA next in its bid to avoid at-large scrutiny, although the Bears are probably fine at this point despite no real credible measureables besides the league title in a down year and an SOS-fueled RPI.

SHOULD BE IN

California (22-9, 13-5, RPI: 20, SOS: 13) handled Oregon and now has a de facto road game against UCLA in the semis. The Bruins already won in Berkeley this season, so it shouldn't be a walkover.
GW: None (home vs. Washington is the best win)
BL: UCLA, at Oregon State

IN THE MIX

Washington (21-9, 11-7, RPI: 52, SOS: 60) finally woke up and rallied past Oregon State in the Pac-10 quarters. That was good enough to push the Huskies into Friday's bracket. Whether they can stay there without winning the auto bid is in question, especially with Stanford as the "no win" semifinal foe.
GW: Texas A&M, split with Cal and Arizona State (bubble purposes)
BL: Oregon, at UCLA and USC in league play

WAIT AND HOPE

Arizona State (22-10, 12-6, RPI: 62, SOS: 75) probably ended its NCAA hopes with a bad quarterfinal loss to Stanford. The overall profile just isn't good enough.
GW: San Diego State, split with Washington (bubble purposes)
BL: at UCLA, swept by Cal (bubble purposes)

SEC

Locks: Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Tennessee

The teams behind the big three are not making this very easy. It's very possible this league only gets four teams in if the three locks all make the semis. Kentucky will be a No. 1 seed in the NCAAs.

SHOULD BE IN

None

IN THE MIX

Florida (21-11, 9-7, RPI: 51, SOS: 32) did something very few teams did on Thursday: win a game it had to. Now it's less clear whether a loss to Mississippi State would condemn the Gators to the NIT. Win the game and they're dancing.
GW: Michigan State (N), Tennessee, Florida St., plus Mississippi State and at Mississippi (bubble purposes)
BL: South Alabama; at Georgia

Mississippi (21-9, 9-7, RPI: 56, SOS: 73) is going to have to beat Tennessee in its quarterfinal. They have two wins better than anything Mississippi State has to offer, so despite the getting sweep by the Bulldogs, the Rebels are in slightly better shape heading into Friday.
GW: K-State (N), UTEP (with Derrick Caracter)
BL: Arkansas (plus swept by Miss. State for bubble purposes)

Mississippi State (21-10, 9-7, RPI: 68, SOS: 103) gets its shot at the Gators and needs to win this one, and probably one more, to feel like they can get in.
GW: Old Dominion, sweep of Ole Miss (bubble purposes)
BL: Rider, at Arkansas, at Auburn, Florida (for bubble purposes)

Atlantic 10

Locks: Temple, Richmond, Xavier

Maybe moving the bulk of the tournament to late in championship week will be a masterstroke for the A-10. Teams like Rhode Island and Dayton now have real chances to play their way into the NCAAs.

SHOULD BE IN

None.

IN THE MIX

Rhode Island (22-8, 9-7, RPI: 41, SOS: 93) took out Saint Joe's to earn a date with Saint Louis in Atlantic City. Beating the Billikens is a must, but the Rams probably will have to take down 1 seed Temple (assuming the Owls handle St. Bonaventure) to have any claim for an at-large.
GW: at Dayton, Oklahoma State (N)
BL: at Saint Louis, at St. Bonaventure, at UMass

Dayton (20-11, 8-8, RPI: 50, SOS: 34) pushed past GW and heads to Atlantic City with its fate in its hands. The Flyers may have to beat all three A-10 locks, but they're certainly capable. First up is rival Xavier in Friday's quarterfinals.
GW: Georgia Tech (N), Old Dominion, Xavier, Charlotte (bubble purposes)
BL: at Saint Joe's, swept by Saint Louis, at Duquesne

Saint Louis (19-10, 11-5, RPI: 83, SOS: 107) got a huge road win at Dayton for a sweep of the Flyers, but despite playing better since freshman Cody Ellis became eligible, likely needs to make the A-10 finals, minimum, to think about an NCAA bid. That would entail beating Rhode Island (again) and then Temple.
GW: Richmond and URI at home, swept Dayton
BL: Missouri State, at Bowling Green, Iowa State, at GW

Colonial

Auto bid: Old Dominion

Old Dominion held off William & Mary for the CAA crown, and likely will be the only team in the NCAAs from this conference.

SHOULD BE IN

None.

IN THE MIX

William & Mary (21-10, 12-6, RPI: 58, SOS: 104) suddenly looks a lot more viable after so many others lost on Thursday. The quality nonleague and road wins are there, but so are three bad league losses (two at home) and a terrible national TV showing at Iona in BracketBusters. The Tribe are now rooting really hard against teams like Mississippi, Mississippi State, Illinois, Rhode Island and Washington, and pulling for UTEP and Utah State to win their auto bids.
GW: at Wake, at Maryland, Richmond (also beat CAA No. 2 Northeastern twice)
BL: UNC Wilmington, at James Madison, Towson, routed at Iona

Mountain West

Locks: New Mexico, BYU

The quarterfinals weren't particularly easy for anyone, but the league's big four will square off on Friday, with large implications for San Diego State, which probably cements a bid with a win over New Mexico.

SHOULD BE IN

UNLV (22-7, 11-5, RPI: 49, SOS: 106) finally beat Utah and looks secure in its NCAA status. Up next is BYU in the semis. Win there and it's a lock.
GW: Louisville (plus at New Mexico and vs. BYU and San Diego St. in league)
BL: Swept by Utah

IN THE MIX

San Diego State (21-8, 11-5, RPI: 31, SOS: 72) almost joined the bubble carnage, but escaped Colorado State by a point, and is probably a win over New Mexico in the semis away from an NCAA bid. UNLV has a couple of better wins, so the Rebels are in better shape.
GW: New Mexico, UNLV (both at home in league)
BL: at Pacific, at Wyoming

Missouri Valley

Auto bid: Northern Iowa

UNI pulled away from Wichita State in the second half of the MVC final to nail down the title and remove any at-large doubt. Now Wichita State waits and hopes, but likely is headed to the NIT.

SHOULD BE IN

None

IN THE MIX

None

WAIT AND HOPE

Wichita State (24-9, 12-6, RPI: 42, SOS: 100) doesn't appear to have the quality wins to entertain serious at-large hopes, despite all the freefalling on Thursday.
GW: Texas Tech?, Northern Iowa
BL: at Illinois State, at Drake, at Evansville

Conference USA

Locks: None

UTEP crushed UCF in the C-USA quarters and now gets host Tulsa while the other side of the bracket will create a bid stealer, either Houston or Southern Miss, after Memphis and UAB both bowed out.

SHOULD BE IN

UTEP (25-5, 15-1, RPI: 38, SOS: 117) should be good to go now. The Miners are good, and even though they lack marquee wins, they have five true road wins in the RPI top 70. That's solid to go with the decisive league crown. If they beat host Tulsa in the semis, they should be strongly favored to win the auto, though.
GW: Sweep of UAB
BL: None, but missed some chances out of conference

WAIT AND HOPE

Memphis (23-9, 11-3, RPI: 55, SOS: 84) lost by a point to Houston and quite likely is done as an at-large hopeful. The Tigers also swept UAB, but lost at home to UTEP and don't have much else to help.
GW: Swept UAB
BL: at UMass, at SMU, Houston twice

UAB (23-7, 11-5, RPI: 44, SOS: 96) also went out in the C-USA quarters, in poor fashion, and has virtually no chance of getting in now. Despite a couple of nonleague wins, the Blazers got swept by both Memphis and UTEP and don't have a profile worthy of an at-large.
GW: Butler, Cincy
BL: Swept by Memphis, Southern Miss.

Others

Auto bids: Saint Mary's, Butler

Locks: Gonzaga

Butler pounded Wright State to complete a 20-0 romp through the Horizon League. The Bulldogs will be joined by Saint Mary's and Gonzaga from the WCC after the Gaels routed the Zags to claim the auto bid.

SHOULD BE IN

Utah State (25-6, 14-2, RPI: 30, SOS: 105) rolled in its quarterfinal game and, by all rights, should get into the NCAAs regardless at this point. If the Aggies make the WAC final, it really should be enough.
GW: BYU, Wichita State (for bubble purposes)
BL: at Long Beach State

IN THE MIX

None.

Other Auto Qualifiers

- Cornell (Ivy)
- East Tennessee State (Atlantic Sun)
- Montana (Big Sky)
- Murray State (Ohio Valley)
- North Texas (Sun Belt)
- Oakland (Summit)
- Robert Morris (Northeast)
- Siena (MAAC)
- Winthrop (Big South)
- Wofford (SoCon)

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