Several bubble teams were in action Wednesday night and a few suffered tough losses with the regular season winding down.
There are no easy games in late February. Contending teams are in the heart of their conference schedules and many are desperate for resume-building wins. Wednesday night, several were unable to boost their tournament hopes and now might be sitting on the wrong side of the bubble. Others, however, held on for much-needed victories.
Georgia Tech 78, Maryland 68
When you're on the bubble, you need to take care of business against the cellar dwellers. Maryland, however, was unable to do so as three Yellow Jackets scored at least 16 points en route to the 10-point win. The Terrapins have three games left before the ACC Tournament, with two of them coming on the road. A win March 6 against North Carolina could put Maryland back in the tournament picture, but for now, the Terrapins are in serious trouble.
Baylor 65, West Virginia 62
Juwan Staten missed a three at the buzzer that would have tied the game as Baylor was able to hold on to a three-point win over West Virginia. Isaiah Austin had 21 points to lead the Bears, who snapped a three-game losing streak with the victory. But it's not time to breathe easy in Waco just yet. The Bears still do not have a signature win that will stand out to the selection committee. Fortunately for them, home games against Kansas State and Kansas in the next two weeks will give them the opportunity to make a statement.
Akron 88, Ohio 81 (OT)
Akron needed overtime, but the Zips stayed perfect in the MAC with a hard-fought win over Ohio. Demetrius Treadwell had 21 points and Jake Kretzer provided 19 more on 5-of-5 shooting from three. Right now, Akron is the favorite to win its conference tournament, and if it does so will not need to worry about an at-large bid. But, of course, it would behoove Akron to win out, just in case it does slip up in the MAC Tournament. Like Baylor, the Zips do not have a single win to point to on the resume, and a loss to Coastal Carolina at the start of the year doesn't help matters either. This appears to have been the toughest hurdle left in the regular season, however. Akron does not face a team above .500 in the league in its final three games.
Kentucky 85, Mississippi St. 55
A 30-point win never hurts when you're looking to stay in the tournament picture. The Wildcats have now won three of four since losing star Nerlens Noel for the remainder of the season, and have three games left before the SEC Tournament. Wednesday, every Kentucky starter scored in double figures, led by 19 from guard Ryan Harrow. Harrow has scored at least 12 points in each of the Wildcats' three games after being held scoreless in losses to Florida and Tennessee. Up next, Kentucky visits a desperate and dangerous Arkansas team on March 2.
Dayton 88, Charlotte 67
If Charlotte had wanted to make a case for an at-large bid, that chance may now be over after the 49ers were blown out by 21 at home. Charlotte let Dayton shoot 62 percent from the field, led by a 6-of-9 performance from Devin Oliver, good for 16 Flyers points. The loss was the third in a row for a reeling Charlotte team that had previously beaten Butler and La Salle -- two teams likely headed for the Big Dance. The 49ers will probably be favored in each of their final three games, and will need all three of them to position themselves for an Atlantic 10 Tournament run, which now seems to be the only way Charlotte can get into the tournament.
Ole Miss 82, Texas A&M 73
A once promising season for Ole Miss took a turn for the worse in late January when the Rebels began a stretch of five losses in seven games. Wednesday, however, Ole Miss won its second straight to start to right the ship. Marshall Henderson had 18 points, all on threes, to lead the Rebels, while Murphy Holloway flirted with a double-double with 16 points and nine rebounds. The Rebels were 10-of-23 from three and their hot shooting just might have kept them on the right side of the bubble. Of course, three more wins to close out the regular season would also be nice.
Drake 67, Indiana St. 56
Like Charlotte, Indiana State probably needed to win out to secure an at-large bid and will now have to rely on a conference tournament championship in order to go dancing. Richard Carter had 15 points to lead Drake, who at 7-10 in the Missouri Valley is playing the rest of the season as spoiler. The Sycamores have now lost four of their last five games and close the regular season at Evansville. A win there could give Indiana State the No. 3 seed in the Missouri Valley Tournament, depending on what Northern Iowa does this weekend.
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