Bracketology: Maryland, UMass and Ole Miss could still surprise

USA TODAY Sports

Now that Florida has eliminated Alabama from the SEC Tournament and Memphis topped Southern Mississippi to claim the Conference USA crown, here's how the picture looks for potential surprise automatic qualifiers between now and Sunday evening.

Both Alabama and Southern Miss are now very much on the outside looking in after their losses on Saturday, but that doesn't mean the last few teams in my latest projected field -- La Salle, St. Mary's, Tennessee and Middle Tennessee -- are out of the woods. The ACC, Atlantic 10 and SEC could each see a surprise squad win their respective Selection Sunday finals.

With that in mind, here's what to watch in the late afternoon (Eastern time) window of games.

  • In Greensboro, Maryland likely needs to win the auto bid to dance because of a general lack of quality wins (two against Duke, but 2-9 against the rest of the RPI Top 100). The Terps play North Carolina in the second ACC semifinal (approx. 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN/ESPN3D or ACC Network).
  • UMass could garner more consideration if it beats VCU in the remaining Atlantic 10 semifinal in Brooklyn (approx. 4 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network). A win over the Rams would be the Minutemen's third against an RPI top 50 foe and would push their record against the top 100 to 9-8. I still think UMass needs to win both today and tomorrow, however.
  • Florida will take on the winner of the Vanderbilt-Mississippi SEC semifinal (approx. 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC) in tomorrow's championship game in Nashville. The Rebels might just sneak into my next update if they avoid an embarrassing loss to the Commodores, though I fear their schedule strength may be their downfall. Ole Miss has played a staggering 13 games against teams outside of the RPI Top 200, with two late losses against that group. Eight of those wins were out of the conference, and the Selection Committee frowns upon poor non-league scheduling.

In short, if you're the fan of a bubble team, root for North Carolina and VCU and avoid the SEC game in the next few hours.

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