Bracketology 2011: Penn State Somehow Wins, While USC And New Mexico Fall

Penn State, who was in the Next Four Out group of Friday morning's bracket projection, moves into the First Four Out group after upsetting Wisconsin in their Big Ten quarterfinal by the unbelievably low score of 35-33. Thanks to a lack of quality non-conference wins and struggles away from State College, the Nittany Lions really need to beat Michigan State tomorrow to have a realistic chance of getting in the field, and even then they'll likely need help.

In the Pac-10, USC, playing without suspended head coach Kevin O'Neill, fell to top seed Arizona, a defeat that all but seals the Trojans' NCAA fate. While USC has five top 50 wins, they also have six bad losses on their profile--two against Oregon and one at Oregon State with Jio Fontan in the lineup, and defeats to Rider, TCU, and Bradley without him. Those are likely enough to send USC to the NIT.

New Mexico would have had a serious case for consideration had they beaten BYU for a third time this season, but Jimmer Fredette had no interest in that. He scored 52 in the Cougars' 87-76 Mountain West semifinal win. That victory puts BYU back in the thick of the conversation for a two seed.

Richmond moved on to the Atlantic 10 semifinals after topping Rhode Island, 55-45. The Spiders have been living on the edge of the bracket for the past few weeks, so they'd love to keep winning and earn the conference's auto bid. A game against a Temple team that has a shot at a top five seed is next for Chris Mooney's team.

Utah State advanced to tomorrow's WAC championship game with an unconvincing 58-54 win over No. 8 seed San Jose State in the first semifinal of the night. With 28 Division I wins, it would be difficult to believe the committee would leave the Aggies out were they to lose Saturday evening, but with only two wins against the RPI Top 100 to their credit, Stew Morrill's team better not take any chances.

But the biggest thrill and controversy came at the end of the late evening window, as Virginia Tech escaped their ACC quarterfinal with Florida State after the officials overturned Derwin Kitchen's game-winning buzzer-beater.

So, as this Friday evening winds to a close, here are my updated Last Eight In and First Eight Out. Keep in mind, things may change for tomorrow morning's bracket, after I sleep on things for the night.

Next Four In (avoiding Dayton): Illinois, Colorado, Virginia Tech, Richmond
Last Four In (First Four-bound): Clemson, St. Mary's, Georgia, Boston College
First Four Out: Alabama, Memphis, Penn State, USC
Next Four Out: VCU, Missouri State, New Mexico, Washington State

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