After another unpredictable weekend in this incredible season, there's a new team among the four No. 1 seeds, one completely unexpected to occupy one of positions back in the ancient times called "November." Miami, two games up on Duke in the ACC race, joins the Blue Devils and Big Ten powers Indiana and Michigan on the top line. Arizona, who replaced Florida in the lead pack of Friday's projection, falls to join the Gators, Syracuse and Michigan State as today's No. 2s.
Given the number of surprises since Friday morning, there has been quite a bit of shuffling throughout the projected field of 68. I'll go through the state of the at-large pool after today's bracket and rundown.
|(1) EAST |
|Philadelphia (Fri/Sun)||Lexington (Thu/Sat)|
|1||Duke||1||Indiana (Big Ten)|
|16||Niagara (MAAC)||16||Norfolk State or UNC Asheville|
|↑ 8||UCLA||↑ 8||Missouri|
|↓ 9||Wichita State||↑ 9||Saint Louis|
|Kansas City (Fri/Sun)||San Jose (Thu/Sat)|
|↑ 5||Kansas State||↓ 5||Cincinnati|
|12||Middle Tennessee (Sun Belt)||12||Indiana State (MVC)|
|4||Butler (A-10)||↑ 4||Wisconsin|
|13||Akron (MAC)||↑ 13||Stephen F. Austin (Southland)|
|Salt Lake City (Thu/Sat)||Kansas City (Fri/Sun)|
|6||San Diego State||6||N.C. State|
|11||Baylor or Villanova||↓ 11||Memphis (C-USA)|
|↓ 3||Gonzaga (WCC)||↓ 3||Kansas (Big 12)|
|14||Long Beach State (Big West)||14||Montana (Big Sky)|
|Auburn Hills (Thu/Sat)||Philadelphia (Fri/Sun)|
|7||Pittsburgh||↑ 7||Colorado State|
|↑ 2||Michigan State||↑ 2||Syracuse (Big East)|
|15||Northeastern (CAA)||*15||Vermont (America East)|
|(4) WEST |
Los Angeles (Thu/Sat)
|Dayton (Fri/Sun)||Auburn Hills (Thu/Sat)|
|↑ 1||Miami (ACC)||1||Michigan|
|16||Bryant or Southern||*16||Western Illinois (Summit)|
|Austin (Fri/Sun)||San Jose (Thu/Sat)|
|↓ 5||Marquette||5||Oregon (Pac-12)|
|↓ 12||Iowa State||12||Belmont (OVC)|
|4||Ohio State||↑ 4||Georgetown|
|13||Louisiana Tech (WAC)||13||Lehigh (Patriot)|
|Dayton (Fri/Sun)||Austin (Fri/Sun)|
|↑ 6||Oklahoma State||↓ 6||Minnesota|
|11||St. Mary's or Temple||↑ 11||La Salle|
|3||Louisville||3||New Mexico (MWC)|
|14||Valparaiso (Horizon)||14||Harvard (Ivy)|
|Salt Lake City (Thu/Sat)||Lexington (Thu/Sat)|
|7||UNLV||↓ 7||Notre Dame|
|↓ 10||Mississippi||10||North Carolina|
|↓ 2||Arizona||2||Florida (SEC)|
|15||Davidson (Southern)||↑ 15||Florida Gulf Coast (A-Sun)|
|FIRST FOUR (Dayton)|
|Tuesday: To Lexington||Tuesday: To Salt Lake City|
|16||Norfolk State (MEAC)||↑ 11||Baylor|
|16||UNC Asheville (Big South)||*11||Villanova|
|Wednesday: To Dayton||Wednesday: To Dayton
|16||Bryant (NEC)||11||St. Mary's|
|BIDS BY CONFERENCE||LAST FOUR BYES||ARRIVALS||DEPARTURES|
|Big East: 8||Illinois||Vermont||Arizona State|
|Big Ten: 7||North Carolina||Villanova||South Dakota State|
|Big 12: 6||La Salle||Western Illinois||Stony Brook|
|A-10: 5||Iowa State|
||LAST FOUR IN|
|MVC: 3||St. Mary's||PROCEDURAL||MOVES|
|WCC: 2||LAST FOUR OUT||Belmont||11 down to 12|
|1-Bid Conferences: 21||Arizona State||Baylor||12 up to 11|
|Virginia||Villanova||12 up to 11|
|Boise State||Iowa State||11 down to 12|
|St. John's||St. Mary's||12 up to 11|
|NEXT FOUR OUT||Temple||12 up to 11|
Also considered (in order): Stanford, Alabama, Charlotte, California, Iowa, Xavier, St. Joseph's, Air Force
Bids Today: 5/On Friday: 5
Protected Seeds (1): East No. 4 Butler
After taking care of St. Bonaventure on Wednesday, the Bulldogs snapped a two-game road losing streak by holding off George Washington to remain among the protected seeds. Butler's wins over Indiana, Gonzaga and Marquette gain luster on an almost daily basis, while a very early loss at Xavier is the most questionable of four defeats. The other three victors, Illinois, La Salle and Saint Louis, are all on the right side of the bubble at the moment.
Safe for Now (1): VCU
VCU left Charlotte with a win Saturday night and is about ready to wade into a difficult final month of the season, starting Thursday night against a UMass team that's in dire need of a profile-building win. After that home contest and another with George Washington, the Rams face this gauntlet before heading to Brooklyn for the A-10 Tournament: at Saint Louis, at Xavier, Butler and Richmond back home, at Temple. Yikes.
Bubble In (3): Saint Louis, La Salle, Temple
The Billikens and Explorers both took care of Fordham this week, while SLU also won at the Robins Center to complete a 2-0 road trip. On the other hand, the Owls remain in by the slimmest margin possible, as they beat Charlotte and Dayton by two points combined, with the game at UD Arena finishing with one of the more bizarre and inexplicable final minutes I've ever seen. All three teams face rivals on the wrong side of the cut line on Saturday as Temple visits UMass, Charlotte heads out to Saint Louis and La Salle faces Big Five rival St. Joe's at the Palestra.
Bubble Out: UMass, Charlotte, St. Joseph's, Xavier, Richmond
Barring a title-earning run in Brooklyn, it's pretty much a make-or-break week for the Minutemen and 49ers. Charlotte followed up its February 2nd win over UMass with consecutive losses to Temple and VCU, and contests at Butler and Saint Louis await. The Minutemen, meanwhile, rebounded by taking care of Rhode Island and St. Joe's, but a trip to VCU and matchup with Temple at the Mullins Center are on tap this week. As for the Hawks, Musketeers and Spiders, the three fringe candidates need to find consistency and quality wins soon. Xavier might have the best chance to rise, thanks to a run of five games against high-quality opponents (with four at home) to close the regular season.
Five A-10 Games To Watch
Charlotte at Butler, Wednesday 7 p.m. ET (WNDY/WANE 15.2/WJZY 46.2)
UMass at VCU, Thursday 9 p.m. ET (CBS Sports Network)
St. Joseph's vs. La Salle at the Palestra, Saturday 1 p.m. ET (NBC Sports Network)
Temple at UMass, Saturday 6 p.m. ET (CBS Sports Network)
Charlotte at Saint Louis, Saturday 7 p.m. ET (FS Midwest)
Bids Today: 4/On Friday: 4
Protected Seeds (2): East No. 1 Duke, West No. 1 Miami
During a week when seemingly every other team in the protected seed group picked up an L (though this is hyperbole on my part), the Blue Devils and Hurricanes continued their winning ways on the road to their March 2nd rematch in Durham. Of course, Miami had an easier time in wins over Boston College and North Carolina than Duke did in nearly giving up a huge lead against N.C. State and barely escaping Chestnut Hill on Sunday night. Note that Miami is unbeaten with its full roster, while Duke continues to win, albeit not all that convincingly, without Ryan Kelly. Still, the Blue Devils' 7-2 mark over the RPI Top 50 gives them the edge for the No. 1 overall seed in this projection over Indiana, who is 6-3 against that same group.
Safe for Now (1): N.C. State
The Wolfpack nearly dropped their fifth straight road game on Sunday at Clemson, a result that would have edged them closer to the bubble. However, Scott Wood bailed N.C. State out with a three at the end and now the 'Pack has a chance to consolidate with three of four at home, starting with struggling Virginia Tech on Saturday.
Bubble In (1): North Carolina
North Carolina, still 4-6 against the Top 100, with only a single win over a Top 50 opponent (UNLV), might just be coming off two routs (at Miami and Duke) when Virginia visits on Saturday in a key bubble clash.
Bubble Out: Virginia, Maryland
The Cavaliers won at Maryland on Sunday to pick up their sixth Top 100 win -- and move into the Top 100 themselves (No. 86 on Tuesday morning). Still, the six ugly losses are still there, which costs them a place for now, but it feels like Virginia has turned the corner, both on the court and in terms of the computers. Of course, a loss at home to Virginia Tech on Tuesday would create issues, particularly with a bubble showdown at the Dean Dome on the schedule for Saturday. As for the Terrapins, the only good thing coming out of Sunday's loss -- as they now sit at 5-6 in the ACC and 2-7 against the Top 100 -- is that they get almost a full week to prepare for Duke's visit to the Comcast Center. With the Terps' lack of bad losses, upsetting the Blue Devils would provide a bit of hope.
Five ACC Games To Watch
Miami at Florida State, Wednesday 7 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
North Carolina at Duke, Wednesday 9 p.m. ET (ESPN/ACC Network)
Virginia at North Carolina, Saturday 12 p.m. ET (ACC Network Regional/ESPN3)
Duke at Maryland, Saturday 6 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Miami at Clemson, Sunday 6 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
Bids Today: 6/On Friday: 6
Protected Seeds (1): Midwest No. 2 Kansas
The Jayhawks followed an 18-game losing streak with a three-game skid, which ended Monday night with a rout of Kansas State. Still, the streak cost the team once pegged as a potential No. 1 overall seed several spots on the S-curve.
Safe for Now (2): Kansas State, Oklahoma State
The four-game win streak that ended in Lawrence last night moved the Wildcats away from the bubble. That situation shouldn't change as long as K-State takes care of business at home this week against Baylor and West Virginia. its a similar story for the Cowboys, who have won five in a row and now boast four Top 50 wins.
Bubble In (3): Oklahoma, Iowa State, Baylor
The Sooners' RPI ranking of 18th is explained by one fact: Oklahoma has played just seven games against teams currently ranked outside of the Top 100. However, a 3-6 mark against the Top 75 means they're seeded quite a bit lower than the RPI would indicate. Sweeping the season's Bedlam series on Saturday would help, especially considering Oklahoma State's recent rise.
On the other hand, the Cyclones and Bears are just hanging on. Iowa State has yet to pick up a quality Big 12 road win (they did win at TCU, something Kansas failed to do, but they balanced that out by falling at Texas Tech). Baylor, on the other hand, blasted the Red Raiders on Saturday to end a three-game slide, with all of those defeats coming at the hands of fellow contenders. A six-game stretch, starting with a visit from tricky West Virginia on Wednesday, will likely determine whether the Bears play in the NCAA or NIT.
Five Big 12 Games To Watch
Iowa State at Texas, Wednesday 8 p.m. ET (Big 12 Network/ESPN3)
West Virginia at Baylor, Wednesday 9 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Oklahoma at Oklahoma State, Saturday 1:30 p.m. ET (Big 12 Network Regional/ESPN3)
Baylor at Kansas State, Saturday 7 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
Texas at Kansas, Saturday 9 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Bids Today: 8/On Friday: 7
Protected Seeds (3): Midwest No. 2 Syracuse, West No. 3 Louisville, South No. 4 Georgetown
The Orange got James Southerland back in time to beat St. John's on Sunday afternoon, and a bit of a seeding bump as a result. Two road games, the first against Connecticut, await Syracuse this week. Louisville appeared to have righted the ship by following up three straight losses with three wins in a row, until its defense collapsed in the final minutes of regulation at Notre Dame. Five overtimes and a surprise loss later, questions remain heading into this week's games with St. John's and USF. On Monday night, Georgetown earned a season split with Marquette and replaced the Golden Eagles in the Top 16. The Hoyas now own a 3-3 mark against the Top 50 and seven wins over the Top 75, with another opportunity coming up on Friday in Cincinnati. More long term, the two upcoming Syracuse-Georgetown encounters could very well determine the Big East regular season crown.
Other Locks (4): Marquette, Cincinnati, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh
The Golden Eagles' loss on Monday night was their third in their last seven games, which isn't problematic, unless you consider that the wins came against USF (twice), Providence and DePaul. So, you can see why Marquette fell after losing in the Nation's Capital. The Bearcats also dropped from the Top 16 after consecutive losses to Providence and Pitt, with six potentially brutal, seed-determining games coming up on the schedule, starting tonight against Villanova. Saturday's "instant classic" provided the Fighting Irish with a nice boost, and if they aren't tripped up by DePaul or Providence (problematic since its a road game), they'll be in position to make a run at a higher seed over their final five, starting at Pittsburgh on Big Monday. That contest will close a difficult stretch for the Panthers, who visit Marquette on Saturday. Note that Pitt has won seven of eight, with the defeat coming at Louisville by three.
Bubble In (1): Villanova
After following huge wins over Louisville and Syracuse with a loss to Providence at home (which completed a season sweep for the Friars), the Wildcats picked themselves up, dusted themselves off and took care of DePaul and USF with little trouble to stay in the conversation. Nova has two great wins on its profile and two decent ones, over St. John's and St. Joseph's, along with a few questionable losses, though only one against Columbia (again at the Pavilion) came to a team from outside the Top 100. Sweeping this week's difficult road swing to Cincinnati and UConn would do wonders for Villanova's hopes.
Bubble Out: St. John's
St. John's players will be playing in memory of head coach Steve Lavin's father, Cap, the rest of the way. While the Red Storm couldn't get a victory in Syracuse on Sunday, they'll have another chance to grab a third Top 50 win at Louisville on Thursday night. The Johnnies already own wins over Cincinnati (away), UConn and Notre Dame, and a pair of ugly losses to San Francisco and UNC Asheville.
Five Big East Games To Watch
Villanova at Cincinnati, Tuesday 9 p.m. ET (Big East Network/ESPN3)
Syracuse at Connecticut, Wednesday 7 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Georgetown at Cincinnati, Friday 9 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Pittsburgh at Marquette, Saturday 1 p.m. ET (CBS Regional)
Notre Dame at Pittsburgh, Monday 7 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Bids Today: 7/On Friday: 7
Protected Seeds (5): Midwest No. 1 Indiana, South No. 1 Michigan, East No. 2 Michigan State, West No. 4 Ohio State, Midwest No. 4 Wisconsin
Currently, the Hoosiers and Spartans are tied for the Big Ten lead at 9-2, while the Wolverines and Wisconsin are a game back. The Buckeyes are in fifth place, two behind, after falling to both national No. 1 seeds in the past week. Thanks to all of the upheaval nationally, Indiana and Michigan remain on the top line after an unbelievable week that saw the Hoosiers lose on a buzzer beater to Illinois and pound Ohio State and the Wolverines split a pair of overtime games.
While all of that was going on the Spartans handled Minnesota and Purdue with relative ease, setting them up for Tuesday night's huge home game against Michigan. Meanwhile, the indifferent starts to Badgers' overall and Big Ten campaigns are mere memories now, and sweeping this week's schedule -- at Minnesota and Ohio State in Madison -- would further bolster Wisconsin's conference championship and protected seed credentials.
Other Locks (1): Minnesota
The hope from Gophers' surprising start has all but evaporated, thanks to six losses in their last eight. Minnesota is likely to finish with nine or ten Big Ten wins, but thanks to the conference's unbalanced schedule, it's possible the Gophers will back into the field based on their quality early results.
Bubble In (1): Illinois
While the Fighting Illini are not yet out of the woods, last week's victories over Indiana and Minnesota, with the latter in what was assuredly going to be a letdown situation, provide a bit of breathing room. At 4-7, and with five winnable games left in the final eight, a .500 Big Ten mark is in sight for Illinois. That seemed impossible just one week ago.
Bubble Out: Iowa
At 4-7, an 8-10 conference mark is possible for the Hawkeyes, but they'll have to beat one of Minnesota, Indiana or Illinois to get to .500 (provided they aren't upset). However, Iowa doesn't have the quality wins the Illini own (2-7 vs. the Top 50 compared to 5-6 for Illinois, with all of Illinois' victories coming against the Top 25).
Five Big Ten Games To Watch
Michigan at Michigan State, Tuesday 9 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Purdue at Illinois, Wednesday 9 p.m. ET (BTN)
Wisconsin at Minnesota, Thursday 7 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Ohio State at Wisconsin, Sunday 1 p.m. ET (CBS)
Minnesota at Iowa, Sunday 2 p.m. ET (BTN)
Bids Today: 3/On Friday: 3
Other Locks (1): Creighton
The Bluejays were among the disappointments of the week, as they followed up Wednesday's blowout loss at Indiana State with a home loss to Illinois State. As a result, Creighton, the Sycamores and Wichita State share the Valley lead at 9-4. Things may not get better for the Jays, who have neutral-site wins over Wisconsin and Arizona State, this week, as road games at Northern Iowa and Evansville await.
Also, keep an eye on Illinois State at Arch Madness. The Redbirds started the Missouri Valley season with six losses in a row. They've gone 6-1 since.
Safe for Now (1): Wichita State
The Shockers stopped their three-game slide by crushing Missouri State, but trouble awaits. After Wednesday's home game with Drake, a team not to be taken lightly, Wichita State has to visit Illinois State and Indiana State. Drop both of those and the Shockers may need to take care of business in St. Louis, even with wins over VCU and Southern Miss.
Bubble In (1): Indiana State
The Sycamores actually hold the auto bid this week, since they have a 2-1 record against Creighton and Wichita State, but they may not be in the bracket at all in a week's time, as trips to Missouri State and Bradley await. Indiana State very nearly had a letdown after defeating Creighton, as the Sycamore just avoided being swept by a poor Southern Illinois, squad. Even a win over Reggie Johnson-less Miami might not have been enough to make up for that.
Five Valley Games To Watch
Indiana State at Missouri State, Tuesday 8 p.m. ET (FS Midwest/CSN Chicago Plus/FCS Atlantic/ESPN3)
Drake at Wichita State, Wednesday 8 p.m. ET (Cox-Kansas)
Creighton at Northern Iowa, Wednesday 8 p.m. ET (KWWL/ESPN3)
Creighton at Evansville, Saturday 3 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
Wichita State at Illinois State, Sunday 8 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Bids Today: 4/On Friday: 4
Protected Seeds (1): South No. 3 New Mexico
While a home win over Air Force was the ideal way to close out the first half of Mountain West play, the second half of the round-robin started with a less than ideal performance at UNLV. Still, not many teams out there have an 11-4 record against the Top 100. New Mexico will have a chance to grab a 12th quality win (and seventh against the Top 50) when Boise State visits The Pit on Saturday.
Other Locks (2): San Diego State, UNLV
These two meet for the second time on Saturday at the Thomas & Mack Center, where the Rebels will need to complete a surprising sweep of the Aztecs (and to grab a fourth Top 50 win in the process) to stay in the league race. Before that game tips, midweek challenges await for both squads, as the Runnin' Rebels travel to Air Force, who took UNLV to overtime in the Desert, while the Aztecs visit Colorado State ... who took Steve Fisher's team to overtime in their first meeting.
It's never an easy week in the Mountain West, is it?
Safe for Now (1): Colorado State
Surprisingly, the Rams are tied with New Mexico in the loss column at the conference season's midpoint, with an intriguing travel schedule for the second half. Both the Lobos and San Diego State visit Fort Collins, but trips to UNLV and bubble teams Boise State, Wyoming and Air Force could challenge a CSU squad that isn't the greatest away from Moby Arena.
Bubble Out: Boise State, Wyoming, Air Force
The Broncos, back in the Top 50, might just regret Wednesday's one-point loss in San Diego if they don't see "Boise State" pop up during the Selection Show in a little less than five weeks. Defeating Wyoming on Saturday was a nice way to rebound, particularly since it knocked the Cowboys, now 2-7 in the Mountain West, pretty much out of the picture. Stunning the Lobos in Albuquerque on Saturday would certainly re-establish Boise State's candidacy. Air Force is in deep bubble trouble, despite a 5-4 MWC mark, after consecutive road losses to New Mexico and Nevada.
Five Mountain West Games To Watch
UNLV at Air Force, Wednesday 9 p.m. ET (Time Warner Cable Sportsnet)
San Diego State at Colorado State, Wednesday 10 p.m. ET (CBS Sports Network)
Colorado State at Air Force, Saturday 4 p.m. ET (Altitude)
San Diego State at UNLV, Saturday 9 p.m. ET (NBC Sports Network)
Boise State at New Mexico, Saturday 9 p.m. ET (ROOT Sports Rocky Mountain/KABY)
Bids Today: 4/On Friday: 5
Protected Seeds (1): West No. 2 Arizona
Sunday's home loss to Cal cost the Wildcats both a No. 1 seed (for now) and pole position in the Pac-12 race, especially since Arizona doesn't play Oregon again. Thursday night's trip to Colorado will be extremely interesting after the controversial ending to the pair's meeting in Tucson.
Other Locks (1): Oregon
The Ducks split the Rocky Mountain schools' visit, with Saturday's win over Utah snapping a three-game losing streak. It's possible point guard Dominic Artis might return for this week's trip to Washington and Washington State, which would be a major boost to a team which has seen its positioning slip thanks to its struggles since Artis injured his foot.
Safe for Now (1): UCLA
The Bruins head to Cal and Stanford, both of whom are looking to boost their profiles, after sweeping the Washington schools to end a two-game skid. Of UCLA's final seven games, only two -- trips to USC, who has already beaten the Bruins at Pauley, and Washington State -- are against teams that don't have NCAA hopes.
Bubble In (1): Colorado
Much like Illinois and Indiana State, the Buffaloes embraced prosperity this week, by not falling flat on their faces after grabbing a necessary, quality win. Sure, Colorado didn't have an easy time sweeping Oregon and Oregon State, particularly needing to mount a comeback in Sunday night's game in Corvallis, but the deed is done. Visits from Arizona and Arizona State await. If Colorado can sweep that set, a tall order to be sure, they'll be sitting pretty.
Bubble Out: Arizona State, Stanford, California
The Sun Devils, a game out of the three-way tie atop the Pac-12, fell out of this projection after splitting a pair with the Bay Area schools. More troublingly for ASU, the loss to Stanford was its second consecutive failed Saturday comeback. Such difficulties won't help the Devils overcome a weak non-conference schedule, much like Maryland. Stanford and Cal sit two games behind the lead pack, but the Cardinal's 4-7 and Golden Bears' 2-9 marks against the Top 100 mean they're both still very much on the outside looking in. Meanwhile, Washington is all but out of the picture after going 1-6 in its last seven. (The one win, incidentally, came against Arizona State, which doesn't exactly help the Sun Devils' case.)
Five Pac-12 Games To Watch
Oregon at Washington, Wednesday 11 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
UCLA at California, Thursday 9 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Arizona at Colorado, Thursday 10 p.m. ET (Pac-12 Network)
UCLA at Stanford, Saturday 4 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Arizona State at Colorado, Saturday 9 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
Bids Today: 4/On Friday: 4
Protected Seeds (1): South No. 2 Florida
Hours after being anointed the top overall seed, the Gators went out and got thumped by Arkansas and lost Will Yeguete for the remainder of the regular season. While Florida rebounded by sweeping Mississippi State, tonight's visit from Kentucky, the first of two meetings between the two, will be a significant challenge given how the Wildcats have played lately. Note that UK sits just a game behind UF in the SEC standings. Making matters worse, Erik Murphy may not be 100% after he tweaked his ankle late in Saturday's win.
Safe for Now (1): Missouri
The Tigers thumped Ole Miss on Saturday afternoon, an impressive feat considering they lost at Texas A&M on Thursday night. That loss in College Station and one at LSU the Wednesday before are the biggest flaws on Mizzou's profile, which now has three Top 50 wins thanks to Illinois' resurgence. Note that the Tigers visit Arkansas on Saturday.
Bubble In (2): Kentucky, Mississippi
The Wildcats, 1-2 against the Top 50 and 4-6 against the Top 100, can return to the top of the SEC with a win in Gainesville tonight, a development that would be both completely predictable and unexpected at the same time. A pair against Florida and home game with Missouri are Kentucky's only remaining quality win chances, so the Wildcats would be well advised to also continue taking care of business against the SEC's lesser lights, like Tennessee on Saturday.
Ole Miss, on the other hand, is now real in trouble because the conference schedule works towards its disadvantage. A March 5th game against Alabama is the Rebels' lone remaining chance to improve upon a 5-5 record against the Top 100, a mark that features only one Top 50 win.
Bubble Out: Alabama
The Crimson Tide have a respectable record against the Top 100 (6-4 with a win over Kentucky), but Wednesday night's loss horrible 49-37 loss at Auburn was Bama's fourth against a team outside that group. That's simply not good enough, especially since Alabama has only two chances left at picking up a quality win, consecutive road contests against Florida and Mississippi. On Tuesday night, the Tide visits surging Georgia, who at 6-4 could create trouble for the rest of the conference during the rest of the regular season and at the SEC Tournament in Nashville.
Five SEC Games To Watch
Kentucky at Florida, Tuesday 7 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Alabama at Georgia, Tuesday 9 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
Mississippi at Texas A&M, Wednesday 7 p.m. ET (CSS/CST/CSN Houston/ESPN3)
Kentucky at Tennessee, Saturday 1 p.m. ET (CBS Regional)
Georgia at Mississippi, Saturday 8 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
At-Large Bids Today: 1/At-Large Bids On Friday: 1
Protected Seeds (1): East No. 3 Gonzaga
We seem to have reached the point of the season where the WCC starts to weigh down the Bulldogs' profile a bit, though a victory at St. Mary's on Thursday night would provide a healthy bump. The recent success of Kansas State, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma in the Big 12 helps Gonzaga's computer numbers, but the home defeat to Illinois, while not an anchor by any means, is a headscratcher, especially when trying to separate Gonzaga from its competitors for a one or two seed. Then there's the last-second loss at Butler. In short, it's not difficult to imagine where the Bulldogs would be had those two games ended differently.
Bubble In (1 + 2 auto bids): Memphis (C-USA leader), Belmont (OVC leader), St. Mary's
The Tigers won at Southern Miss. on Saturday afternoon to take control of the Conference USA race and grab their first Top 50 win in the process. Memphis gets another shot at the Golden Eagles in relatively short order, just two weeks after the initial meeting between the two. However, the Tigers will be without Antonio Barton, out four to six weeks with a broken foot, for the return game.
Belmont, still No. 20 in the RPI, saw its at-large chances take a major hit with a loss at Murray State on Thursday night. The two may very well meet again for the Ohio Valley Championship on March 9th, provided they aren't tripped up by Eastern Kentucky or Tennessee State in the tournament.
Once again, St. Mary's is the last team in, thanks to a relative lack of quality wins (3-2 vs. the Top 100 with none against the Top 50), though it gets an opportunity at home against Gonzaga Thursday night. The Gaels have won nine in a row since losing in Spokane on January 10th.
Bubble Out: Southern Mississippi, BYU
Both of these squads saw their hopes tumble after 0-2 weeks, though right now those close to the Golden Eagles and the city of Hattiesburg have other things on their minds. Southern Miss. lost to UCF days before they fell to Memphis, while the Cougars lost at San Diego and against San Francisco in Provo. Those were BYU's first losses to teams ranked 101st or worse, not that a 2-6 mark against the Top 100 is bid-worthy anyway. As for Southern Miss., it doggedly remains in the Top 50 despite a lack of quality wins.
Five Other Games To Watch
Belmont at Tennessee State, Thursday 7 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
Gonzaga at St. Mary's, Thursday 11 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Charleston Southern at UNC Asheville, Saturday 2 p.m. ET (ESPN3)
Western Illinois at South Dakota State, Saturday 5 p.m. ET (MidCo SN/FCS Pacific)
Detroit at Valparaiso, Saturday 6 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Of course, with the way the past few weeks have gone, expect plenty of changes for Friday's bracket. At that point, Selection Weekend will be just one month away.