As regular seasons and some conference tournaments took place over the weekend, there were teams building their case for March, while others slid closer to missing the NCAA tournament and heading to the NIT. Here, then, are some notable winners and losers from this weekend.
Cincinnati- Much as it pains me to say this, UC got a win over Memphis this weekend that puts them in great position heading into the AAC tournament. A loss in the first round there is the only thing that could put them back on the bubble now.
Michigan State- It is currently a bit of a down year for Sparty, but outlasting Indiana cleared up the bubble a bit in the Big Ten and kept MSU from falling back into the conversation about teams with work left to be done. They might not be the powerhouse that we have seen in past years, but it is also foolish to sleep on Izzo in March.
Miami (FL)- They are currently outsiders in the bubble picture, but the Hurricanes beat up on Va. Tech to post an above .500 mark in the ACC and set themselves up on the same side of the bracket as Notre Dame, who they lost to by 5, and Duke, who they beat by 16. A run to the ACC title game through those two would certainly make them a tempting pick for the committee.
LSU- After getting pummeled at home by Tennessee, LSU needed a miracle to restore their at large chances and they got it when Keith Hornsby's buzzer beater gave them a huge win over Arkansas. They might still have some work to do, but LSU's fortunes this week showed why March is so special.
Xavier- After a start-stop conference slate saw X rise and fall on the brackets, a win at Creighton locked up a 9-9 Big East record and got the 3rd win over the final 5 games that they needed to be comfortable. Looks like the Musketeers are playing for seeding now.
Murray St.- The Racers snapped a 25 game winning streak by losing the OVC title game to Belmont on a last second shot. Heart breaker for Murray fans, but calls for them to be included in the tournament field on an at large basis are largely based on hope and accusations of a non-level playing field. Murray played 2 RPI top 100 teams away from home this year and lost the games by a staggering 62 points (27 @ Xavier and 35 to Valpo at a neutral site). Simply put, on a level playing field in one of the bigger conferences, the Racers would have struggled mightily and would not be in the tournament picture right now.
Ole Miss- The Rebels are still looking like a good bet to make the field, but their loss to Vandy this weekend did them no favors. Now losers of 3 of 4, Mississippi needs at least one win in the SEC tourney to feel safe.
Wichita State- The Shockers are definitely in the tournament, but their failure to make the MVC final will most likely move them down to the 4 or 5 line on the bracket, obviously meaning a tougher matchup in the first weekend.
Indiana- The Hoosiers have been in the bubble picture all year, but their loss to Michigan State was their third in a row and made in 4 out of 5. They need to make a mark in the Big Ten tournament, or a slide which first was affecting their seeding may take them all the way out of the tournament.
Tulsa- The Golden Hurricane could have used a win over SMU to boost their resume out of the AAC. With only 2 top 50 wins to their credit all season, Tulsa now must win multiple games at the AAC tournament to get themselves into the field of 68.
And now for your lone bubble game today...
BYU vs. Portland- 11:30 PM
The Cougars are currently in on 74 of 91 brackets, but at an average seed of 11.18. They cannot afford a bad loss at this point and everyone in the WCC except Gonzaga is one. The goal is simple: win until they meet the Bulldogs, or spend Selection Sunday in a mix of despair and crippling anxiety.
If you are into great stories of teams turning their fates around, check out the Paladins of Furman tonight in the Southern Conference title game. They came into the tournament as the bottom seed after a miserable 8-21 regular season, but have now beaten the #2 and #3 seeds on their way to three wins in three days and a date with #1 seed Wofford with a shot at the big dance on the line. Not bubble news, but still a great story.