For the first half of the second SEC semifinal, it looked like Vanderbilt would end Mississippi's at-large hopes. Then the Commodores, playing their third game in as many days, simply ran out of gas. The Rebels took advantage of Vandy's struggles from beyond the arc to pull away and move into Sunday's championship game against top-seeded Florida.
After yet again comparing Ole Miss' profile to its most likely competition for one of the final at-large spots — Tennessee (a team the Rebels' swept), Middle Tennessee (which beat the Rebels in Murfreesboro) and Virginia (which thinks Ole Miss didn't lose enough games against bad teams) — I think Andy Kennedy's team has to take care of business tomorrow against the Gators ... or at least not get blown out like in the teams' only meeting of the season in Gainesville. There are simply too many reasons for the Selection Committee to leave the Rebels out of the field to chance it. While no power conference team has ever missed the cut with 25 wins, there's a first time for everything. With that in mind, I have Mississippi just in right now, but I don't feel confident in that pick. (For more on my reasons why, check out my mid-afternoon post.)
Maryland put up a valiant effort in a 79-76 loss to North Carolina in their ACC semifinal in Greensboro, but the Terrapins really needed the win, and — again — probably needed to win Sunday to put matters out of the Committee's hands. The Terps' record against the Top 100 now stands at 4-10. Even with two of those wins being against Duke, that's probably not going to be enough, especially considering Maryland's weak non-conference schedule (though it's not quite as lacking as Ole Miss').
The third bubble team in action Saturday afternoon, UMass, joins Maryland as a likely NIT team. The Minutemen could have claimed a third Top 50 win and gotten their Top 100 record over .500, but Va. Commonwealth dispatched them by nine to move on to Sunday's final in Brooklyn.
That means our updated bubble picture looks like this.
I'll have a more detailed look at the eight teams spread between the Last Four In and First Four Out later Saturday evening.