Yesterday’s action was a mixed bag for bubble teams. Clemson managed to not win despite being up just shy of 20 thanks to scoring 16 points in the final 31:48 and an amazing 7 points in their last 19 possessions. That gag job means NC State did win, which puts the Wolfpack in slightly stronger position and the Tigers functionally dead and buried (one assumes).
Elsewhere, TCU turned a 14-point lead with 6 minutes left into a one-possession win as a furious Oklahoma State rally came up just short. St. John’s likely punched a ticket by running DePaul out of the gym in the second half of their game at Madison Square Garden to avoid a Q3 loss they couldn’t afford.
In today’s action...
Just FYI, no auto bids will be awarded today or tomorrow in something of a lull for net-cutting. Saturday will make up for that. Patience.
NC State v. Virginia, 12:30pm, ESPN
I’m back on my computer instead of mobile, so we’re bringing back so formatting. I’m sure you all missed it dearly. Anyway, NC State kept its head above water by winning yesterday, but nothing more. They’re 9-8 in the top 2 quadrants, but still have 2 Q3 losses and the worst non-con schedule on the bubble weighing them down. A win over Virginia would cement their status, but Virginia never loses shockers in March, right?
Indiana v. Ohio State, 12:30pm, Big Ten Network
Indiana has beaten Michigan State twice, Wisconsin, Marquette, and Louisville. They also have 14 losses, though all of those have come in the top 2 quadrants. People hate their resume, mostly because they don’t know what to do with it. Meanwhile, OSU is 18-13, has a Q3 loss, and beat Indiana at their place earlier this year. The winner of this game isn’t definitely in, but the loser is definitely out. I think.
Arkansas v. Florida, 1:00pm, SEC Network
Florida is in on most brackets, but - at 17-14 - it’s easy to see how they could fall out. They’ve got a great win at LSU propping them up, but you can’t imagine they can afford to drop this one. Arkansas is also 17-14 but well off the bubble, and losing to them would obviously rob Florida of further chances to better their record. These teams played once, back in January, and Florida won an incredibly ugly game by 6.
Texas Christian v. Kansas State, 2:30pm, ESPN
TCU has been on the bubble for a while, and to their credit, they beat Texas and slid by Oklahoma State. They’re probably doing okay, but a win over K State would be the cherry on top of their resume. They lost to the Wildcats twice by a total of 22 points in the regular season, so I wouldn’t bet the farm on their winning this one. If they lose, it’s not super damaging beyond the fact of being a missed opporunity.
Xavier v. Creighton, 2:30pm, FS1
You already know.
Tulane at Memphis, 3pm, ESPNU
I think Memphis is probably done and dusted, but losing this one would surely make it so. Winning it does them no good, because Tulane is terrible and adding a Q4 win isn’t going to improve a resume. #AmericanRising
Northern Illinois v. Toledo, 6:30pm, ESPN+
Toledo is 25-6. They have some bad losses, but they’ve also got a 4-2 record in the top 2 quadrants and - as seen in the previous sentence - 25 total wins. They need to avoid bad losses and hope for chalk, but teams with similar resumes are somehow becoming media darlings. Weirder things have happened. It goes without saying that a loss to anyone other than Buffalo in the MAC tournament ends the dream.
Penn State v. Minnesota, 7pm, Big Ten Network
At 19-12, Minnesota feels weirdly like a lock, which is basically saying I think they’d be in if they hit Selection Sunday at 19-13. They have two excellent wins in Purdue and at Wisconsin, they’re 10-12 in the top 2 quadrants, and Penn State is a Q2 opponent. I don’t see a loss here dropping them out, though obviously they’ll want to get to the 20-win mark just to be safe.
Alabama v. Mississippi, 7pm, SEC Network
Mississippi is in. Alabama has plenty of work to do. They somehow beat UK, but they’re just 17-14 and have 2 Q3 losses. I think they need at least two wins to make their way back into the conversation, which would mean winning this one and then beating UK again. That would line them up with a shot at Tennessee. Two wins might get them there, three surely does when one considers the competition. A loss before that point sends them packing.
St. John’s v. Marquette, 7pm, FS1
If you don’t think St. John’s made it by beating DePaul last night, you have to think winning this one would put them in. Marquette has faltered a bit, but this is a chance for a Q1 win to leave in the committee’s mind for Sunday. It’s basically house money in my mind for a Johnnies team that just needed to avoid a bad loss this week. Mission accomplished already.
Texas v. Kansas, 9pm, ESPN2
Here’s a polarizing team; a veritable Indiana of the south. Texas has some of the best wins on the bubble, but they’re also just 16-15 after all. They should either be rewarded for playing a challenging schedule or punished for not winning enough games, depending on whom you ask. No matter how gaudy the top end of the resume is, there’s no way they get in at 16-16... right? I’ll be cheering extra hard for the Jayhawks in this one.
Georgetown v. Seton Hall, 9:30pm, FS1
I think Seton Hall is home and dry, but I’ll bet they’d love one more win to help them sleep easy heading into the weekend. Georgetown, meanwhile, is in that first/next four out vortex. Patrick Ewing’s young Hoyas have a scary core group coming back next year; dipping their toes into the NCAA tournament this season would be a valuable experience for them. This would give them another Q2 win to take them to 7-4 there and give them a chance to run their Q1 record to 6-6 on Friday. I think one win puts them in, two makes them secure.