Bracketology: The bid picture is clearing up a bit

USA TODAY Sports

Indiana, Duke and Gonzaga return as top seeds for the final Tuesday bracket of the regular season, with Kansas just edging Georgetown for the final No. 1 slot. While there's still a lot to argue about on the top line, the race for at-large bids is showing some signs of stability.

Thanks to the mediocrity of the teams hovering just above and sitting below the cut line, 60 spots in this bracket -- including automatic bids -- are just about all sewn up with two weeks to go. So, this final lengthy Tuesday breakdown will feature one last high-level look at each conference's bid prospects and a closer look on the teams battling for one of the final eight spots. Those last few spots will receive more emphasis in my final posts of the 2012-13 season.

First, here's today's bracket and rundown.

(1) MIDWEST
Indianapolis (Fri/Sun)
(2) EAST
Washington (Thu/Sat)
Lexington (Thu/Sat) Philadelphia (Fri/Sun)
1 Indiana (Big Ten) 1 Duke
16 Charleston Southern or Southern 16 Norfolk State or Robert Morris
8 San Diego State 8 Butler
9 Oklahoma 9 Creighton (MVC)
San Jose (Thu/Sat) Austin (Fri/Sun)
5 Saint Louis (A-10) 5 Oklahoma State
12 Tennessee or Villanova 12 Belmont (OVC)
4 Marquette 4 Syracuse
13 Middle Tennessee (Sun Belt) 13 Bucknell (Patriot)
Dayton (Fri/Sun) Dayton (Fri/Sun)
6 Minnesota 6 Pittsburgh
11 Virginia 11 Iowa State or Temple
3 Louisville 3 Florida (SEC)
14 Davidson (Southern) 14 Valparaiso (Horizon)
Salt Lake City (Thu/Sat) Auburn Hills (Thu/Sat)
7 UCLA 7 Colorado State
10 Wichita State 10 California
2 New Mexico (MWC) 2 Michigan
15 Montana (Big Sky) 15 Mercer (A-Sun)
(4) SOUTH
Arlington (Fri/Sun)
(3) WEST
Los Angeles (Thu/Sat)
Kansas City (Fri/Sun) Salt Lake City (Thu/Sat)
1 Kansas (Big 12) 1 Gonzaga (WCC)
16 Northeastern (CAA) 16 Niagara (MAAC)
8 North Carolina 8 Oregon (Pac-12)
9 Missouri 9 N.C. State
San Jose (Thu/Sat) Kansas City (Fri/Sun)
5 UNLV 5 Ohio State
12 St. Mary's 12 Louisiana Tech (WAC)
4 Wisconsin 4 Kansas State
*13 Stephen F. Austin (Southland) 13 Akron (MAC)
Austin (Fri/Sun) Auburn Hills (Thu/Sat)
6 VCU 6 Notre Dame
11 Cincinnati 11 La Salle
3 Arizona 3 Michigan State
14 Stony Brook (AmEast) 14 South Dakota State (Summit)
Philadelphia (Fri/Sun) Lexington (Thu/Sat)
7 Illinois 7 Memphis (C-USA)
*10 Boise State 10 Colorado
2 Georgetown (Big East) 2 Miami (ACC)
*15 Princeton (Ivy) 15 Long Beach State (Big West)
FIRST FOUR (Dayton)
Tuesday: To Lexington Tuesday: To San Jose
16 Charleston Southern (Big South) *12 Tennessee
16 Southern (SWAC) 12 Villanova
Wednesday: To Philadelphia Wednesday: To Dayton
16 Norfolk State (MEAC) 11 Iowa State
16 Robert Morris (NEC) 11 Temple

BIDS BY CONFERENCE LAST FOUR BYES ARRIVALS DEPARTURES
Big East: 8 La Salle Boise State Harvard
Big Ten: 7 St. Mary's Princeton Kentucky
A-10: 5 Boise State Stephen F. Austin Mississippi
ACC: 5 Virginia Tennessee Northwestern State
Big 12: 5
LAST FOUR IN

MWC: 5
Iowa State

Pac-12: 5 Temple

SEC: 3 Villanova

MVC: 2 Tennessee PROCEDURAL MOVES
WCC: 2 FIRST FOUR OUT Cincinnati 10 down to 11
1-Bid Conferences: 21 Kentucky Boise State 11 up to 10

Maryland St. Mary's 11 down to 12

Southern Miss. Iowa State, Temple 12 up to 11

Arkansas


NEXT FOUR OUT


Arizona State


Baylor


Iowa


Mississippi

Also considered (in order): UMass, Alabama, Texas A&M, Providence

Note: RPI information is accurate as of Monday, March 4, 2013 and is courtesy Basketball State. TV information is courtesy Matt's College Sports on TV Website.

Atlantic 10

Bids Today: 5/On Friday: 5

Locks (3): Saint Louis, VCU, Butler
The Billikens are in the driver's seat in the A-10 race and lead the way in terms of NCAA seeding, thanks in no small part to a non-league win over New Mexico. Saint Louis is a game up on VCU in the standings and two up virtually, thanks to a February 19th win over the Rams. However, if Saint Louis falls at Xavier on Wednesday, things get interesting. That's because La Salle, two games in arrears, might then be able claim a share of the title (provided that the Explorers don't lose to George Washington on Wednesday) with a win in Saturday's showdown at Chaifetz Arena. Of course, La Salle's title hopes also hinge on VCU dropping one of its last two, most likely at Temple on Sunday. With the way the Rams have been wreaking havoc lately, that's not a bet I'd be willing to make.

As for Butler, which has lost two in a row, they aren't going to fall out of the bracket at this point, but seeding has become an issue, The Bulldogs have dropped from a protected seed a few weeks ago to an 8/9 game today. That situation won't improve if they struggle in their final two contests. Brad Stevens' team needs to at least match Temple's final two results to earn a bye in Brooklyn, thanks to January's win over the Owls at Hinkle.

This Week's Schedules
Saint Louis: @Xavier (Wed.), La Salle (Sat.)
VCU: Richmond (Wed.), @Temple (Sun.)
Butler: @UMass (Thu.), Xavier (Sat.)

Bubble In (2): La Salle, Temple
The Explorers are still hovering around the cut line, remaining in the quartet of teams that just earn the trip to Dayton. Victories over Butler, VCU and Villanova help differentiate La Salle from its competition, but winning at Saint Louis on Saturday would be a nice late boost, particularly if they can earn a share of the A-10 title as a result. A December loss to Central Connecticut State hurts, but just about every bubble team has at least one loss like that -- and several have more. It may be close, and they might head to Southwestern Ohio after the conference tournaments unfold, but the Explorers should be OK.

On Thursday night, the Owls put their fans on another roller coaster ride, as they avoided a late bad non-conference loss against Detroit in a rescheduled Gotham Classic game. Then, on Saturday, they struggled with Rhode Island at the Liacouras Center. Temple's 3-3 record against the Top 50, with the victory over Syracuse at Madison Square Garden the most noteworthy, and 9-5 mark against the Top 100 means they should be a slam dunk. However, three bad losses -- all at home -- deflate the Owls' RPI slightly. If it can somehow disrupt VCU on Sunday, Temple should be safe, as long as it doesn't screw up in the Bronx on Wednesday.

This Week's Schedules
La Salle: George Washington (Wed.), @Saint Louis (Sat.)
Temple: @Fordham (Wed.), VCU (Sun.)

Bubble Out: UMass
The Minutemen, who own just one Top 50 win (which came at fellow bubble team La Salle) and a 7-7 mark against the Top 100, edged back into the bubble picture with an impressive win at Xavier. While UMass falls between La Salle and Temple in the bad loss race with two, a lack of Top 50 wins is the Minutemen's biggest issue. They'll need to stun Butler on Thursday and win a game or two in Brooklyn to have a real at-large chance.

This Week's Schedule: Butler (Thu.), @Rhode Island (Sat.)

Thanks to losses to George Washington and Dayton, who are tied with Charlotte in the standings, the 49ers are in danger of missing the A-10 Tournament altogether, which would make their postseason chances even more miniscule than they are now. Xavier should be in Brooklyn, thanks to an 8-6 league record, and the Musketeers will need to cut down the nets there to dance, as they followed up an impressive win over Memphis with that home loss to UMass.

Five A-10 Games To Watch
Saint Louis at Xavier, Wednesday 9 p.m. ET (FS Midwest/Time Warner Cable Sports Ohio/FCS Central)
Butler at UMass, Thursday 7 p.m. ET (NBC Sports Network)
La Salle at Saint Louis, Saturday 1:30 p.m. ET (NBC Sports Network)
Xavier at Butler, Saturday 6:30 p.m. ET (CBS Sports Network)
VCU at Temple, Sunday 12 p.m. ET (CBS)

ACC

Bids Today: 5/On Friday: 5

Protected Seeds (2): East No. 1 Duke, West No. 2 Miami
The Blue Devils got Ryan Kelly back on Saturday -- and they needed all 36 of his points to hold off the Hurricanes. While Miami can clinch the ACC Tournament No. 1 seed with a win in either of its two remaining very winnable home games, Duke represents the conference on the top line, thanks to an impressive non-conference performance and unbeaten record with Kelly in the lineup. The Hurricanes are certainly still in the hunt; however, they may have to wait until a potential third meeting in Greensboro on Selection Sunday to make their final argument.

Of course, if Duke falls in Chapel Hill on Saturday night, the top seed race will open up just a bit more.

This Week's Schedules
Duke: Virginia Tech (Tue.), @North Carolina (Sat.)
Miami: Georgia Tech (Wed.), Clemson (Sat.)

Near Locks (2): North Carolina, N.C. State
After five wins on the trot, it appears the Tar Heels are peaking at exactly the right time. If they knock Maryland off the bubble in College Park on Wednesday, they'll be a sure lock no matter what happens when Duke visits three nights later.

As for N.C. State, the Wolfpack's final regular season schedule might be considered easy for most squads, but they're a likely adventure for a Mark Gottfried team. Credit to the Pack for taking care of Boston College and Georgia Tech last week, but two tricky games await.

This Week's Schedules
North Carolina: @Maryland (Wed.), Duke (Sat.)
N.C. State: Wake Forest (Wed.), @Florida State (Sat.)

Bubble In (1): Virginia
Much like Maryland in mid-February, the Cavaliers followed up a huge win over Duke with a damaging loss at Boston College. It would be easy to overlook Sunday's one-point setback in Chestnut Hill if not for the half-dozen other losses Virginia has accumulated against teams from outside the Top 100. A sterling 7-2 Top 50 record, featuring four Top 50 wins, might very well go to waste if the Cavaliers manage to struggle in their final two regular season contests.

This Week's Schedule: @Florida State (Thu.), Maryland (Sun.)

Bubble Out: Maryland
The Terps' Wednesday night loss at Georgia Tech should have eliminated them from the conversation. Then, Saturday happened and the bubble picture became even more muddled. A 3-7 record against the Top 100 isn't great, but Maryland will have two shots to improve upon it this week. More troubling than the lack of quality wins is the two bad losses the Terrapins picked up in late February after they'd done so well avoiding them all season.

This Week's Schedule: North Carolina (Wed.), @Virginia (Sun.)

Five ACC Games To Watch
North Carolina at Maryland, Wednesday 7 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Virginia at Florida State, Thursday 7 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
N.C. State at Florida State, Saturday 2 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Duke at North Carolina, Saturday 9 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Maryland at Virginia, Sunday 6 p.m. ET(ESPNU)

Big 12

Bids Today: 5/On Friday: 5

Protected Seeds (2): South No. 1 Kansas, West No. 4 Kansas State
Locks (1): Oklahoma State

The Jayhawks return to the top line this week, even with that atrocious loss to TCU (now 239th in the RPI if you're keeping track). A 9-3 record against the Top 50 -- which grows to 13-3 when you add teams 51-100 -- is too good to ignore from a body of work perspective, particularly after you throw in Kansas' RPI, SOS and road/neutral record. Of course, a loss to a Baylor team playing for its NCAA life on Saturday would likely send them back down to the No. 2 line right before the Big 12 Tournament.

Kansas State will have trouble earning the top seed for next week's proceedings in Kansas City, thanks to the Jayhawks' season sweep, but it can clinch the No. 2 seed in Kansas City by winning its last two. The Wildcats' season finale comes at Oklahoma State, who sits a game behind the league co-leaders in the standings and just a few spots behind K-State on the seed list.

This Week's Schedules
Kansas: @Baylor (Sat.)
Kansas State: TCU (Tue,), @Oklahoma State (Sat.)
Oklahoma State: @Iowa State (Wed.), Kansas State (Sat.)

Near Locks (1): Oklahoma
The Sooners would have been a lock today had they won at Texas on Wednesday. Routing Iowa State on Saturday was a nice way to rebound, but trouble may revisit Oklahoma if it fails to take care of either of this week's second division opponents.

This Week's Schedule: West Virginia (Wed.), @TCU (Sat.)

Bubble In (1): Iowa State
After Saturday's loss in Norman, the Cyclones would be well advised to defeat Oklahoma State in Ames on Wednesday to move to 3-7 against the Top 50. Even then, Saturday's finale in Morgantown is no gimme for a team that already has two losses to teams outside of the Top 100. It could be a long wait until Selection Sunday if Iowa State stumbles this week, particularly if it makes a quick exit in Kansas City.

This Week's Schedule: Oklahoma State (Wed.), @West Virginia (Sat.)

Bubble Out: Baylor
The Bears still have woeful records against the Top 50 (1-8) and 100 (4-10) and two bad early season home losses. After falling to in Austin last night, beating Kansas on Saturday might no longer be enough. The Bears will probably have to beat the Jayhawks and reach the final in Kansas City to have any real hope. With slightly better teams also in position to grab late quality wins in their conference tournaments, Baylor has to take the Big 12 event seriously.

This Week's Schedule: Kansas (Sat.)

Five Big 12 Games To Watch
Oklahoma State at Iowa State, Wednesday 7 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
West Virginia at Oklahoma, Wednesday 9 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Iowa State at West Virginia, Saturday 1:30 p.m. ET (Big 12 Network Regional/ESPN3)
Kansas State at Oklahoma State, Saturday 1:30 p.m. ET (Big 12 Network Regional/ESPN3)
Kansas at Baylor, Saturday 6 p.m. ET (ESPN)

Big East

Bids Today: 8/On Friday: 8

Protected Seeds (4): South No. 2 Georgetown, Midwest No. 3 Louisville, East No. 4 Syracuse, Midwest No. 4 Marquette
Locks (2): Pittsburgh, Notre Dame

The strength of the Big East means it has a half-dozen teams locked up heading into the final week of the regular season. Four of those teams are in line for a protected seed, though Syracuse might be hard pressed to stay in the Top 16 if it doesn't reverse a three-game losing streak soon. Conversely, Georgetown is on the cusp of the No. 1 line on this bracket while Louisville remains in contention for one of those coveted spots. Unlike others, I'm not quite ready to overlook the Hoyas' non-conference slate, as the focus is on a team's entire body of work and the committee does pay attention to the portion of the schedule teams control themselves. The cancellation of the outdoor game against Florida doesn't help Georgetown in this case. However, if the Hoyas can sweep this week and run their win streak to 13 heading into Madison Square Garden, it would be hard to keep them a No. 2.

Pittsburgh and Notre Dame will need to make a run in New York -- a legitimate possibility for both -- to earn a bump up into the Top 16 overall.

This Week's Schedules
Georgetown: @Villanova (Wed.), Syracuse (Sat.)
Louisville: Notre Dame (Sat.)
Syracuse: DePaul (Wed.), @Georgetown (Sat.)
Marquette: @Rutgers (Tue.), @St. John's (Sat.)
Pittsburgh: @DePaul (Sat.)
Notre Dame: St. John's (Tue.), @Louisville (Sat.)

Near Locks (1): Cincinnati
With Saturday's win over Connecticut, the Bearcats are unlikely to be left out thanks to an 8-9 record against the Top 100 and four Top 50 wins. Had it lost that game, however, Cincinnati's seeding slide might have turned into a drop into the NIT. Mick Cronin's team should avoid such a fate easily, provided it handles dreadful USF in its lone remaining regular season contest and wins its Big East Tourney opener. Of course, had the Bearcats defeated Louisville last night, they would have ended any bubble drama early.

This Week's Schedule: USF (Sat.)

Bubble In (1): Villanova
On Sunday, the Wildcats basically gave away a win at Pitt -- one which would have pushed them far closer to a secure place in the field. Villanova has one shot left to make an impression before New York -- Wednesday's home game against league leader Georgetown. Considering the Wildcats have already defeated Louisville, Marquette and Syracuse in Philadelphia, they have to like their chances at grabbing a fifth Top 50 win (against seven losses). Note that a sweep at the hands of Providence might become more of an issue if the Friars keep winning. Losses at home against Columbia early and at Seton Hall late will remain problematic.

This Week's Schedule: Georgetown (Wed.),

St. John's falls out of the picture after Saturday's loss at Providence in its first game without the suspended D'Angelo Harrison. Meanwhile, the Friars have won six of seven to move to .500 in the Big East and 16-12 overall. Unfortunately, losses to Brown, Penn State, DePaul and Boston College don't help the Providence cause. Sweeping Seton Hall and Connecticut and winning a few games at MSG might change that.

Five Big East Games To Watch
St. John's at Notre Dame, Tuesday 7 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Georgetown at Villanova, Wednesday 7 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Syracuse at Georgetown, Saturday 12 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Marquette at St. John's, Saturday 2 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Notre Dame at Louisville, Saturday 4 p.m. ET (CBS)

Big Ten

Bids Today: 7/On Friday: 7

Protected Seeds (4): Midwest No. 1 Indiana, East No. 2 Michigan, West No. 3 Michigan State, South No. 4 Wisconsin
Locks (3): Ohio State, Minnesota, Illinois
At this stage of the season, it's difficult to imagine an NCAA Tournament with fewer than seven Big Ten participants. Minnesota's win over Indiana on Tuesday night locked the Gophers' bid up, while Illinois' four Top 25 wins mean they're in good position, thanks to the mess of the bubble below.

Indiana, firmly in control of the No. 1 overall spot in the NCAA bracket, can clinch the top spot in the Big Ten Tournament with a win in just one of its final two games. Tonight's home game against Ohio State is the more likely of the two, as Michigan will be looking to clinch a quarterfinal bye when the Hoosiers visit Sunday. The Wolverines are part of a four-way tie for second which means one of the quartet will drop down to Thursday's first round. Sunday's win over Michigan State re-established the Wolverines as a No. 2 seed, while the Spartans dropped back down to the three line.

Wisconsin damaged its protected seed prospects with a bad home loss to Purdue on Sunday. While the Badgers remain a No. 4 seed today, they might very well be passed in the final two weeks.

This Week's Schedules
Indiana: Ohio State (Tue.), @Michigan (Sun.)
Michigan State: Wisconsin (Thu.), Northwestern (Sun.)
Michigan: @Purdue (Wed.), Indiana (Sun.)
Wisconsin: @Michigan State (Thu.), @Penn State (Sun.)
Ohio State: @Indiana (Tue.), Illinois (Sun.)
Minnesota: @Nebraska (Wed.), @Purdue (Sat.)
Illinois: @Iowa (Tue.), @Ohio State (Sun.)

Iowa‘s lack of aggression against Indiana on Saturday may have cost it a shot at further consideration. Defeating Illinois tonight will help, but a run in Chicago would be imperative for a team that's currently 4-8 against the Top 100 with three bad losses. Home wins over Illinois (if it happens), Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa State may not be enough with a lackluster non-conference schedule and 4-9 record away from home.

Five Big Ten Games To Watch
Illinois at Iowa, Tuesday 7 p.m. ET (BTN)
Ohio State at Indiana, Tuesday 9 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Wisconsin at Michigan State, Thursday 9 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Illinois at Ohio State, Sunday 12:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Indiana at Michigan, Sunday 4 p.m. ET (CBS)

Missouri Valley

Bids Today: 2/On Friday: 2

Near Locks (2): Creighton, Wichita State
The Bluejays got a huge game from Doug McDermott to defeat the Shockers and clinch the top seed in this week's Arch Madness festivities in St. Louis. Barring a loss to Bradley or Drake in Friday's quarterfinals, Creighton is in excellent shape to be in the field should it fail to win the auto bid.

Things are a little dicier for the Shockers, but three Top 50 wins, including one at VCU, and only one loss against a team from outside the Top 100 (at Southern Illinois), should see them in the field. Wichita State's Friday challenge will come from either the Salukis or Missouri State.

Indiana State can now only make the field with the Missouri Valley tournament title. Saturday's loss at Evansville was the Sycamores eighth against a team ranked 99th or worse. Of course, given how wild the Valley season has been, it's entirely possible that Indiana State or Illinois State or Northern Iowa makes a run in St. Louis.

Missouri Valley Tournament Schedule
First Round: Thursday at 7 and 9:30 p.m. ET (FS Midwest/CSN Chicago/FCS Central/ESPN3)
Quarterfinals: Friday at 1 and 3:30 p.m. ET (FS Midwest/CSN Chicago/FCS Central/ESPN3); 7 p.m. ET (FS Midwest/ESPN3); 9:30 p.m. ET (FS Midwest/FCS Pacific/ESPN3)
Semifinals: 2:30 p.m. ET (FS Midwest/CSN Chicago/FCS Central/ESPN3) and 5 p.m. ET (FS Midwest/CSN Chicago/FCS Pacific/ESPN3)
Championship: Sunday, 2 p.m. ET (CBS)

Mountain West

Bids Today: 5/On Friday: 4

Protected Seeds (1): Midwest No. 2 New Mexico
Locks (3): UNLV, Colorado State, San Diego State
Thanks to an 8-3 record against the Top 50 and 17-4 mark against the Top 100, the Lobos crack the No. 2 line this week. However, I have real concerns as to whether they're passed on the Selection Committee's seed list by teams from conferences with more of a national reputation than the Mountain West. Note that the Lobos' only two Top 50 wins that came against non-league opposition are the result of wins over Big East squads -- Connecticut in the Virgin Islands and at Cincinnati.

On Saturday, New Mexico clinched the top seed for the conference tournament in Las Vegas. Now, the focus shifts to the spot for the No. 2 seed, which will likely go to Colorado State or UNLV, who are both 9-5 heading into the final week. With the Rebels playing a bit better of late, they've jumped the Rams on the seed list. The two 8-6 teams San Diego State and Boise State, who meet on Saturday, are likely to meet again in next Thursday's 4 vs. 5 quarterfinal. That game could be vital to the Broncos' NCAA hopes.

This Week's Schedules
New Mexico: @Nevada (Wed.), @Air Force (Sat.)
UNLV: Boise State (Tue.), Fresno State (Sat.)
Colorado State: @Wyoming (Wed.), Nevada (Sat.)
San Diego State: Air Force (Wed.), @Boise State (Sat.)

Bubble In (1): Boise State
Full credit goes to the Broncos, who managed to handle Colorado State fairly easily on a Saturday when their bubble rivals struggled to win. Plus, their November 28th win at Creighton looks even better after the Bluejays defeated Wichita State -- a team renowned for winning in difficult environments -- earlier in the day. A Boise State bid is by no means assured, but expect to see them hang around Friday's projection even with a loss at Thomas & Mack tonight. Saturday's visit from SDSU (and a potential rematch in Vegas next week) looms larger.

This Week's Schedule: @UNLV (Tue.), San Diego State (Sat.)

Five Mountain West Games To Watch
Boise State at UNLV, Tuesday 10 p.m. ET (Time Warner Cable Sportsnet)
New Mexico at Nevada, Wednesday 10 p.m. ET (CBS Sports Network)
Colorado State at Wyoming, Wednesday 10 p.m. ET (ROOT Sports Rocky Mountain)
Air Force at San Diego State, Wednesday 11 p.m. ET (Time Warner Cable Sportsnet)
San Diego State at Boise State, Saturday 3:30 p.m. ET (NBC Sports Network)
New Mexico at Air Force, Saturday 6 p.m. ET (Altitude 2)

Pac-12

Bids Today: 5/On Friday: 5

Protected Seeds (1): South No. 3 Arizona
Locks (2): UCLA, Oregon
While the Wildcats will likely end up earning the highest NCAA seed, they won't earn the Pac-12 regular season title. The Bruins and Ducks are both two games up on Arizona, who has just one regular season game left. Between, UCLA and Oregon (both 12-4), a slight edge goes to the Bruins, who travel to Washington State and Washington, over the Ducks, who visit Colorado and Utah.

This Week's Schedules
Arizona: Arizona State (Sat.)
UCLA: @Washington State (Wed.), @Washington (Sat.)
Oregon: @Colorado (Thu.), @Utah (Sat.)

Near Locks (2): Colorado, California
The wild card in the Pac-12 race is the Golden Bears, winners of seven straight, who sit a game behind Oregon and UCLA. Cal beat the Ducks in their only meeting and split with the Bruins. Working to the Golden Bears' disadvantage is the fact they have just one game left. Even with a lack of quality wins out of conference, Cal's late push should be enough to keep them in.

At 9-8 against the Top 100, with just a bad loss at Utah on its profile, Colorado should also be set to dance, though completing a sweep over Oregon on Thursday wouldn't hurt.

This Week's Schedules
Colorado: Oregon (Thu.), Oregon State (Sat.)
California: Stanford (Wed.)

Bubble Out: Arizona State
Three straight losses have all but eliminated the Sun Devils from the picture. Yes, Arizona State has a 4-4 record against the Top 50, but it also has a woeful RPI rank (93rd) driven by a weak non-conference schedule and losses at Utah and against DePaul in Tempe. Defeating Arizona Saturday will help a bit, but the Sun Devils will need to cut down the nets in Las Vegas to qualify.

This Week's Schedule: @Arizona (Sat.)

Five Pac-12 Games To Watch
Stanford at California, Wednesday 11 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Oregon at Colorado, Thursday 9 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
UCLA at Washington, Saturday 2 p.m. ET (CBS)
Arizona State at Arizona, Saturday 4 p.m. ET (FSN)
Oregon State at Colorado, Saturday 4:30 p.m. ET (Pac-12 Network)

SEC

Bids Today: 3/On Friday: 4

Protected Seeds (1): East No. 3 Florida
Locks (1): Missouri

The Gators got Will Yeguete, Casey Prather and Michael Frazier II back on Saturday (even if Frazier only played for a few seconds), but they needed to rally late to defeat Alabama. A win on Wednesday over Vanderbilt would clinch the outright SEC title for Florida. Taking care of that accomplishment early would be a good idea, considering the location of the Gators' final game of the season. Unfortunately for Florida fans, the weakness of the SEC is starting to affect their team's seeding, as the bulk of UF's Top 100 wins (8 out of 12) came against teams ranked 51st or worse. Florida will probably need to claim the SEC double to move back to the No. 2 line at this point.

Missouri, even though they're slotted in an 8/9 game right now, is safe, thanks to an 8-8 record against the Top 100 and no bad losses.

This Week's Schedules
Florida: Vanderbilt (Wed.), @Kentucky (Sat.)
Missouri: Arkansas (Tue.), @Tennessee (Sat.)

Bubble In (1): Tennessee
Saturday's bubble troubles illustrate why I don't like to make pronouncements on a team's fate while other games are going on. At 4 p.m. ET, the Volunteers looked out after Georgia swept them rather convincingly in Athens. Six hours later, Tennessee had gone from being the first team out to the last team in. Plus, they passed a bunch of conference rivals that have better overall records. What gives?

Well...in short, all schedules, particularly in the 14-team SEC are not created equal.

  • The Volunteers have as many Top 50 wins (2) as Alabama, Kentucky and Ole Miss combined.
  • They're even in Top 100 wins with the Crimson Tide (7) and have an advantage on the Wildcats (6) and Rebels (5).
  • Yes, Arkansas has more Top 50 wins (3) and a comparable number of Top 100 wins (6), but Tennessee has done slightly better away from home (4-8 compared to 1-10).
  • Plus, Tennessee is playing competently without one of its best players, Jeronne Maymon. That will go a long way with the Committee, especially as Ole Miss and Kentucky haven't fared nearly as well with their injury issues.

Wednesday's visit to Auburn will be a challenge for the Vols, considering Alabama lost there, but if they get past that, Saturday's finale at home against Missouri provides Tennessee with another chance to make an NCAA case.

This Week's Schedule: @Auburn (Wed.), Missouri (Sat.)

Bubble Out: Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Alabama, Texas A&M
Of this group, the Razorbacks and Wildcats likely have the best shot to make the field at this point. Arkansas has a surprisingly high number of quality wins, as you can add a non-league triumph over Oklahoma on a list that includes SEC victories over Florida, Missouri and Kentucky. The problem for the Hogs is that they've only won once away from Fayetteville -- at South Carolina. Winning at Mizzou on Saturday is vital for their hopes and picking up a couple of wins in Nashville next week wouldn't hurt either.

Kentucky has six Top 100 wins, though only one, Missouri, came against a Top 50 opponent. Defeating Florida is a must, especially since the Wildcats' prospects are damaged by their performances so far without Nerlens Noel -- the win over the Tigers being an exception.

The other three teams on this list will probably need to make a run next week to break through. Ole Miss owns a home win over Missouri and sweep of Tennessee, along with a whole lot of wins against teams outside of the Top 150 (13) and two losses against that same group. Making matters worse, those defeats (at South Carolina and Mississippi State) both came late. Alabama has yet to earn a Top 50 win and owns three bad home losses and a defeat at Auburn. Texas A&M, meanwhile, has two Top 50 wins and a 7-7 Top 100 mark ... and losses to Georgia (twice), Vanderbilt and Southern.

This Week's Schedules
Kentucky: @Georgia (Thu.), Florida (Sat.)
Arkansas: @Missouri (Tue.), Texas A&M (Sat.)
Alabama: @Mississippi (Tue.), Georgia (Sat.)
Mississippi: Alabama (Tue.), @LSU (Sat.)
Texas A&M: LSU (Wed.), @Arkansas (Sat.)

Five SEC Games To Watch
Arkansas at Missouri, Tuesday 7 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Alabama at Mississippi, Tuesday 9 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
Florida at Kentucky, Saturday 12 p.m. ET (CBS)
Missouri at Tennessee, Saturday 4 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Georgia at Alabama, Saturday 4 p.m. ET (SEC Network Regional/ESPN3)

Elsewhere

At-Large Bids Today: 1/At-Large Bids On Friday: 1

Protected Seeds (1): West No. 1 Gonzaga
Locks (1): Memphis (C-USA leader)
The Bulldogs held off BYU and blasted Portland to wrap up a perfect West Coast Conference regular season. Next, they'll attempt to complete the double, a necessity if they want to stay on the No. 1 line beyond this week. Gonzaga will likely play Santa Clara, a team it blasted by 43 on February 20th, in Saturday's semifinals.

As for the Conference USA standard bearer, Memphis is two games away from completing a 16-0 league campaign, with Tuesday's trip to West Texas the more difficult of the remaining contests. The Tigers may be a lock, but their seeding took a hit with a loss at Xavier on Tuesday. They don't seem to be in the class of teams that will earn a spot on lines four or five right now.

This Week's Schedules
Gonzaga: WCC Semifinals (Sat.)
Memphis: @UTEP (Tue.), UAB (Sat.)

Bubble In (1): St. Mary's
The Gaels are in good position thanks to a regular season-closing five-game winning streak that included victories over Creighton and BYU. St. Mary's is likely to see the Cougars again on Saturday night. Get past them and a shot to clinch the auto bid -- and likely ruin Gonzaga's perfect WCC run and one seed hopes -- would await.

This Week's Schedule: WCC Semifinal (Sat.)

Bubble Out: Southern Mississippi
The Golden Eagles, still without a Top 50 win, are back, simply because someone has to fill out the First Four and Next Four Out slots. Honestly, I don't see Southern Miss. having much of a shot without winning the C-USA Tournament, even with the Selection Committee's recent tendency to take undeserving teams from that league. Why? Well, the last two teams to earn a bid out of seemingly nowhere from Conference USA -- UTEP in 2010 and UAB in 2011 -- each won the regular season title and beat Memphis. The Golden Eagles, meanwhile, were swept by the Tigers and are out of the championship race.

This Week's Schedule: @Marshall (Tue.), UCF (Sat.)

Wait and See (5): Belmont (OVC regular season champion), Middle Tennessee (Sun Belt regular season champion), Akron (MAC leader), Louisiana Tech (WAC leader), Stephen F. Austin (Southland leader)
Given the state of this season's bubble, it's worth keeping an eye on how these five teams do in their upcoming conference tournaments. Belmont and Middle Tennessee are first up, as they'll be able to clinch their respective auto bids before the major conference tournaments tip up. On the other hand, Akron, Louisiana Tech and Stephen F. Austin all play in conferences that crown champions on Selection Eve.

From an RPI perspective, Belmont (23rd) and Middle Tennessee (26th) look to be in the best shape, but the Bruins get a slight edge, not only because they beat the Blue Raiders head-to-heard but also thanks to a far superior record against the Top 100 (6-2 vs. 1-3, with Middle's win coming against Ole Miss). Plus, Middle Tennessee hasn't played a Top 100 opponent since December 13th, thanks to the weakness of this season's version of the Sun Belt.

Stephen F. Austin, 2-2 against the Top 100 with an RPI rank of No. 68, has the best non-conference win, as they won at Oklahoma on December 18th. Louisiana Tech, 50th in the RPI table, owns a 5-2 record against the Top 100, highlighted by a home win over Southern Miss. Plus, the Bulldogs get two more chances to boost their Top 100 win total with this week's road swing.

Then there's Akron -- No. 45 in the RPI with a 4-3 record against the Top 100, featuring a Top 50 win over Middle Tennessee. The Zips looked to be in good position to grab an at-large, until a loss Saturday at Buffalo ruined their chance at a perfect MAC record. Now, they'll probably need to win two games in Cleveland (the top two seeds get a bye to the semis) -- beating Ohio for a third time in the process -- to make it.

Of course, with Iona grabbing an at-large after falling in the MAAC semifinals last season, all five of these teams may very well be on the board until they very end should they fail to bring home a trophy.

This Week's Schedules
Belmont: OVC Semifinals (Fri.)
Middle Tennessee: Sun Belt Quarterfinals (Sat.)
Akron: Miami (Ohio) (Tue.), Kent State (Fri.)
Louisiana Tech: @New Mexico State (Thu.), @Denver (Sat.)
Stephen F. Austin: Sam Houston State (Thu.), Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (Sat.)

This Week's Conference Finals
Atlantic Sun Championship: Saturday 12 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Ohio Valley Championship: Saturday 7 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
WCC Semifinals: Saturday 9 p.m. ET (Gonzaga) and 11:30 p.m. ET (St. Mary's) (ESPN2)
Big South Championship: Sunday 12 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Southern Championship: Monday 7 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Sun Belt Championship: Monday 7 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
CAA Championship: Monday 7 p.m. ET (NBC Sports Network)
WCC Championship: Monday 9 p.m. ET (ESPN)
MAAC Championship: Monday 9 p.m. ET (ESPN2)

On Friday, I'll have the final bracket before Championship Week. Daily updates begin on Sunday. At that point, we'll have a couple of teams in the field for certain.

In This Article

Topics
Teams
X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.