Bubble watch: Virginia's win over Duke should result in tournament bid


No bubbles were burst on Thursday night, but one team may have punched its ticket to the big dance thanks to a career performance from one of its players.

Several bubble teams were in action on Thursday night, including a couple with tough tasks against ranked and/or reputable foes. Things turned out well for the teams on the edge of the field of 68.

Virginia 73, No. 3 Duke 68

Joe Harris piled 36 points on the Blue Devils on Thursday, giving the Cavaliers a win that may secure an NCAA tournament bid. Virginia (20-8, 10-5 ACC) added a marquee victory to their resume to go along with their win over Wisconsin on Nov. 28 and owns victories over all three of the ACC's other bubble teams.

California 64, Utah 46

Cal avoided a letdown against a subpar conference foe on Thursday, overcoming an eight-point first-half deficit to run away with its sixth consecutive victory, and eighth in its past nine games. The Golden Bears own two wins over Oregon during that stretch and have also beaten Arizona and UCLA. The downside to Cal's resume is that it does not include a single strong non-conference victory.

Missouri 90, South Carolina 68

Although the Gamecocks aren't a good team, the fact that Missouri picked up a road win should help its chances. Entering Thursday, the Tigers had just one win away from home this season, a 78-36 win at Mississippi State on Feb. 13. A win at Tennessee on March 9 to close the season could do wonders for Mizzou's tournament hopes.

Temple 83, Detroit 78

The Owls overcame an eight-point halftime deficit to earn a victory over a decent non-conference opponent in a makeup game. Like Missouri, Temple has a chance to add one more nice win to its resume in the final game of the regular season, when the Owls welcome VCU to town on March 10.

Middle Tennessee 66, Troy 56

The Blue Raiders improved to 18-1 in conference play and 26-4 overall, with an uninspiring win over a poor Sun Belt squad. MTU's best win remains a 65-62 win over Ole Miss on Dec. 8, meaning it will likely have to win its conference tournament to get an NCAA berth.

No. 25 Louisiana Tech 84, Utah State 61

The Bulldogs annihilated a perennially-strong Aggies squad on Thursday, setting up a tough end-of-season slate of games against New Mexico State and Denver, both of whom are a combined 25-5 in WAC play. Louisiana Tech can't afford a slip-up in those games if it wants to rest easy through the conference tournament, as the Bulldogs don't have any strong non-conference wins to pad their resume.

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