Bracketology 2012: Both Bids And Top Seeds Up For Grabs Late

Feb 25, 2012; Durham, NC, USA; Duke Blue Devils guard Austin Rivers (0) drives against the Virginia Tech Hokies during the second half at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Duke beat Virginia Tech 70-65 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Mark Dolejs-US PRESSWIRE

SB Nation's Chris Dobbertean moved Duke up to the top line of today's bracket, but the Blue Devils face stiff competition for the final one seed. Yet the race for No. 1 seeds is not quite as wild as the battle for the last places in the field, filled today by Arizona, Colorado State, Northwestern, and Texas.

On the final Friday of the regular season, the two top seeds in the bracket are all but locked up by Kentucky and Syracuse, while ownership of the other two remains very much in doubt, with another shift on the top line since Monday.

Uncertainty also rains at the bottom of the at-large pool, where things continue to be messy, particularly after a Tuesday and Wednesday night full of mixed results. No current at-large team seeded 10th or lower will truly be able to feel comfortable until it either secures an unlikely conference title or sees its name flashed up on a monitor just after 6 p.m. ET on March 11th.

There will be more on the teams on the edge (either way) and what their fans need to root for over the early part of Championship Week later in this post, but first here's the bracket, which features a new top seed, Duke, who replaces Michigan State -- for the moment -- after the Spartans' Tuesday night loss at Indiana.

Both Duke and Michigan State will be able to add another significant win to their respective dossiers this weekend, if each can get past its closest conference rival. Of course, both of those teams, North Carolina and Ohio State, also find themselves in the hunt for a No. 1. By the time Monday's projection comes around, we'll have a better idea as to which ACC and Big Ten team is in the best position to lock up an anchor position on the bracket, just in time for conference tournaments to roll around and throw the whole picture into chaos again. This is true of the Big 12 as well, as Kansas, the current No. 1 seed in the Midwest, may have to play Missouri again in the championship game in Kansas City.

(1) SOUTH
Atlanta (Fri/Sun)
(2) EAST
Boston (Thu/Sat)
Louisville (Thu/Sat) Pittsburgh (Thu/Sat)
1 Kentucky (SEC) 1 Syracuse (Big East)
16 MVSU/UT Arlington 16 Stony Brook (AmEast)
8 Kansas State 8 Saint Louis
9 Purdue 9 Iowa State
Portland (Thu/Sat) Portland (Thu/Sat)
5 UNLV 5 Florida State
12 West Virginia 12 BYU
4 Temple (A-10) 4 Wichita State (MVC)
13 Iona (MAAC) 13 Arizona/Northwestern
Pittsburgh (Thu/Sat) Nashville (Fri/Sun)
6 Gonzaga 6 Notre Dame
11 Mississippi State 11 Long Beach St. (Big West)
3 Georgetown 3 Michigan
14 Nevada (WAC) 14 Davidson (Southern)
Louisville (Thu/Sat) Omaha (Fri/Sun)
7 Creighton 7 New Mexico
10 Washington (Pac-12) 10 Seton Hall
2 Ohio State 2 Missouri
15 Akron (MAC) 15 Montana (Big Sky)
(4) WEST
Phoenix (Thu/Sat)
(3) MIDWEST
St. Louis (Fri/Sun)
Greensboro (Fri/Sun) Omaha (Fri/Sun)
1 Duke (ACC) 1 Kansas (Big 12)
16 UNCA/Savannah State 16 Bucknell (Patriot)
8 Memphis (C-USA) 8 Virginia
9 Alabama 9 California
Nashville (Fri/Sun) Albuquerque (Thu/Sat)
5 Louisville 5 Murray State (OVC)
12 Colorado State/Texas 12 USF
4 Indiana 4 Wisconsin
13 Drexel (CAA) 13 Middle Tenn. (Sun Belt)
Albuquerque (Thu/Sat) Columbus (Fri/Sun)
6 Vanderbilt 6 San Diego State (MWC)
11 Connecticut 11 Harvard (Ivy)
3 Baylor 3 Marquette
14 Oral Roberts (Summit) 14 Belmont (A-Sun)
Columbus (Fri/Sun) Greensboro (Fri/Sun)
7 St. Mary's (WCC) 7 Florida
10 Cincinnati 10 Southern Miss.
2 Michigan State (Big Ten) 2 North Carolina
15 Valparaiso (Horizon) 15 Long Island U. (NEC)
FIRST FOUR (Dayton)
Tuesday: To Louisville
Tuesday: To Portland
16 Miss. Valley State (SWAC)
↑ 13 Arizona
16 UT Arlington (Southland) 13 Northwestern
Wednesday: To Greensboro Wednesday: To Nashville
16 UNC Asheville (Big South) 12 Colorado State
16 Savannah State (MEAC) 12 Texas

As for the rest of the protected seed group, Indiana looks like solid bet for a place on either line No. 3 or 4, thanks to Tuesday's win over Michigan State, which isn't a bad complement to the Hoosiers' earlier victories over Ohio State and Kentucky. Tom Crean's team would join a strong group of Big Ten teams in that section of the bracket, as Michigan and Wisconsin have also played their way onto the top four lines -- an expected outcome, considering the conference's overall strength. However, since other leagues aren't as top heavy as the Big Ten, Big 12, and Big East (who provide 13 of the 14 protected seeds at the moment), there are openings for a few of the best mid-majors, like Temple and Wichita State, to earn unexpected No. 4 seeds.

After today's rundown, I'll take a look at the teams that surround the at-large cut line, followed by a rundown of what fans of those teams need to watch for in this weekend's early conference tournament action.

BIDS BY CONFERENCE LAST FOUR BYES ARRIVALS DEPARTURES
Big East: 10
West Virginia Arizona Miami
Big Ten: 8 USF Colorado State Weber State
Big 12: 6 MIssissippi State Montana Xavier
SEC: 5 BYU

ACC: 4
LAST FOUR IN PROCEDURAL SHIFTS
MWC: 4
Texas Virginia Up to an 8 from a 9
Pac-12: 3 Colorado State Purdue Down to a 9 from an 8
WCC: 2 Arizona Mississippi State Up to an 11 from a 12
A-10: 2
Northwestern West Virginia Down to a 12 from an 11
C-USA: 2 LAST FOUR OUT

MVC: 2
Miami

1-Bid Conferences: 20 Xavier


VCU


Oregon


NEXT FOUR OUT


N.C. State


St. Joseph's


Dayton


Illinois

Note: All RPI and strength of schedule information is courtesy of BBState.com and accurate as of Friday, March 2, Records reflect only games against Division I opposition, per Selection Committee principles.

Just Avoiding Dayton

West Virginia (18-12, 8-9 Big East, RPI: 52, SOS: 12, non-conf. SOS: 10)
The Mountaineers took care of DePaul at home on Tuesday night to grab their third win in their last 10 games. West Virginia's computer numbers, bolstered by wins over Cincinnati, Georgetown, Kansas State and Miami, along with victories over Akron and Oral Roberts, a pair of underrated conference leaders, mean they should just make it in, though the RPI is starting to become questionable.

South Florida (18-11, 12-5 Big East, RPI: 34, SOS: 19, non-conf. SOS: 18)
The Bulls' 6-8 mark against the RPI Top 100 has become more respectable during the past week, thanks to wins at Louisville and over Cincinnati in Tampa. Before Sunday, USF's best wins came against Seton Hall, Pittsburgh (twice), and Cleveland State -- and that latter pair has faded late in the season. Some bad early season losses (at Auburn and against Old Dominion and Penn State in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off) and a defeat at the hands of fellow bubble team VCU work against the Bulls, though Stan Heath's team was dealing with injuries and suspensions early on. USF can make one final statement before the Big East Tournament by beating West Virginia in the building formerly known as the Ice Palace on Saturday afternoon.

Mississippi State (20-10, 7-8 SEC, RPI: 62, SOS: 67, non-conf. SOS: 50)
Five straight losses -- three of which were rather unexpected -- mean the Bulldogs are now in serious trouble, and Wednesday's overtime win at South Carolina didn't do much to calm Mississippi State nerves. Yes, the Bulldogs won at Vanderbilt, and victories over Alabama, West Virginia and Arizona will provide a bubble boost. However, Saturday's loss in Tuscaloosa ensured Rick Stansbury's team finished 0-5 in road games against its former SEC West rivals, which deflates its road/neutral record. Mississippi State is actually 6-2 in games away from Starkville against non-SEC West opposition. Luckily for the Bulldogs their final regular season game is against Arkansas back at Humphrey Coliseum on Saturday. Win that and the Bulldogs will likely just need to avoid a bad loss in the SEC Tournament to dance.

BYU (22-7, 12-4 WCC, RPI: 46, SOS: 104, non-conf. SOS: 128)
Last Thursday's loss at Gonzaga means the Cougars only own a single victory over a team in the RPI Top 50 -- their victory over the Bulldogs in Provo. Still, BYU's profile is relatively blemish-free, with its worst losses coming against road warriors Loyola Marymount and at Utah State in the first game of the season. Victories over fellow bubble team Oregon and possible auto-bid winners Nevada and Weber State also help the Cougars' case. A potential rubber game with the Zags in the West Coast Conference semifinals looms large for BYU's hopes, but the Cougars will have to get by San Diego in Friday's quarterfinals to make that happen.

The Last Four In

Texas (19-11, 9-8 Big 12, RPI: 53, SOS: 31, non-conf. SOS: 25)
The Longhorns have followed consecutive losses to Baylor and Oklahoma State with close victories over Texas Tech (in overtime) and Oklahoma (thanks to a second half comeback). Wins over A-10 leader Temple and splits with Kansas State and Iowa State keep Rick Barnes' in the field for the moment, though that loss to the Cowboys and consecutive losses to Oregon State and N.C. State at the Legends Classic may give the Committee pause. Those moments of reflection might turn into a solid "pass" if the Longhorns look terrible in their Big 12 quarterfinal next week, unless they happen to shock the world by winning at Kansas on Saturday night.

Colorado State (18-10, 7-6 MWC, RPI: 22, SOS: 4, non-conf. SOS: 40)
The Rams jumped back into the field after Wednesday's home win over UNLV, which completed a Moby Arena sweep of the top three from the Mountain West. Colorado State's computer numbers are excellent, but that's more because of the teams they've lost to (at Duke, UNLV, New Mexico, Northern Iowa and Southern Miss. at home) than their wins. Plus, a 4-9 record away from Fort Collins isn't something to be proud of. Tim Miles' team has one last chance to improve upon that mark before the Mountain West tournament, as a difficult trip to Air Force is on tap for Saturday.

Arizona (21-9, 12-5 Pac-12, RPI: 66, SOS: 99, non-conf. SOS: 95)
The Wildcats' hopes nearly died at the end of their sloppy home win over UCLA, but they held on for to earn their eighth triumph in their last 10 games. That run, most of it without the services Jordin Mayes and Kevin Parrom, has pushed Sean Miller's club back into the picture. However, a relative lack of quality wins (6-8 vs. the RPI Top 100, with a February 2nd win at California is the Wildcats' only one against the Top 50) and an 0-3 record against fellow Pac-12 bubble teams Washington and Oregon mean the Wildcats will likely need to win a couple of games in the Pac-12 Tournament to book a place. First, Arizona closes the regular season with a Sunday trip to Tempe to take on their woeful in-state rivals. Lose to the Sun Devils and the auto bid may be the only way in.

Northwestern (17-12, 7-10 Big Ten, RPI: 50, SOS: 10, non-conf. SOS: 12)
If Greg Gumbel fails to read Northwestern's name out on Selection Sunday, the nightmares of Wildcat fans will likely feature a loop of a pair of close losses to Michigan and Wednesday's game-winning bank shot by Ohio State's Jared Sullinger for the foreseeable future. By all rights, the Wildcats should currently be far from the cut line, but results elsewhere see them barely hanging on, thanks primarily to wins over Michigan State and Seton Hall, excellent computer numbers, and an absence of bad losses. (Seriously, very few teams can claim such a spotless mark against teams from outside of the RPI Top 100 this season.) Unfortunately for the Wildcats, that selling point is in real danger. That's because they close the regular season at Iowa -- a team that's already swept Minnesota and Wisconsin -- this Saturday.

Just Outside Of The Field

Miami (17-11, 8-7 ACC, RPI: 51, SOS: 32, non-conf. SOS: 47)
Three factors work in Miami's favor: a victory at Duke, a win over Florida State with Reggie Johnson out of the lineup, and a relative absence of losses to teams that are outside the RPI Top 100 (Maryland just fell out). However, the Hurricanes' 2-7 record against teams in the field, compounded by an inability to close the deal (see a recent 1-3 stretch, with the defeats coming at the hands of North Carolina, Florida State, and Maryland) and Wednesday night's loss at N.C. State means they can't quite make NCAA plans yet. As it stands right now, the Hurricanes cannot afford a loss in their regular season finale -- a home game against 11th-place Boston College, a team they very well may play again in Greensboro next Thursday.

Xavier (18-11, 9-6 A-10, RPI: 54, SOS: 43, non-conf. SOS: 71)
Up until a 76-53 win over, and subsequent brawl with, Cincinnati on Dec. 10, the Musketeers looked like a surefire tournament lock and solid bet for a protected seed. Xavier hasn't even played .500 basketball since then -- with Tuesday's collapse against Saint Louis the season in microcosm. The highlights of Xavier's profile are a trio of early wins over Vanderbilt, Purdue and, of course, Cincinnati. However, the Musketeers' two best wins post-brawl, over St. Joseph's and Dayton, don't quite pack the same punch. Saturday's regular season finale, a home game with Charlotte, won't provide an RPI boost. Plus, a loss could leave Xavier needing to play an on-campus first round game in the Atlantic 10 Tournament.

VCU (25-6, 15-3 CAA, RPI: 58, SOS: 181, non-conf. SOS: 180)
One of 2011's most debated at-large teams has leaped into the 2012 picture, thanks to a 14-1 run to close the season. The loss came at George Mason by a point, and the Rams avenged that handily in Richmond on Saturday evening. While VCU's winning ways have moved them back into the conversation, a relatively weak CAA and a few poor choices and bad breaks in their non-conference scheduling may keep them out. However, a November 30th win over USF could be a key point of differentiation for the Committee, even though the Bulls' Jawanza Poland was out for that contest. A potential third game with the Patriots in the Colonial semifinals may determine VCU's fate, but Shaka Smart's team will have to defeat either Northeastern or William & Mary in Saturday's quarterfinal to earn that chance.

Oregon (21-8, 12-5 Pac-12, RPI: 48, SOS: 78, non-conf. SOS: 104)
Victories over Washington and at Arizona along with a sweep of Stanford are the only highlights of the Ducks' profile, which lacks a win against the RPI Top 50 (against five losses). This season, that's enough to put Oregon in the discussion, especially they only have one bad loss, a home setback to archrival Oregon State, which they avenged in Corvallis on Sunday. A win over Colorado Thursday night helped a bit, but a loss against Utah on Saturday would be fatal.

Further Out Of The Picture

N.C. State (19-11, 8-7 ACC, RPI: 60, SOS: 25, non-conf. SOS: 65)
The Wolfpack are back in the frame after completing a sweep of Miami on Wednesday night, but their inability to close out Duke back on Feb. 16 and a loss to Florida State 48 hours later will likely cost them on Selection Sunday. Currently, the pair of wins over the Hurricanes are the only ones N.C. State owns against a team ranked in the RPI Top 50 (compared to eight losses), with victories over Texas and Princeton back in November their only other Top 100 wins. Plus, the Pack's profile is burdened by defeats at the hands of Stanford, Clemson, and Georgia Tech. To have a real chance, N.C. State will need to avoid a late questionable loss at Virginia Tech on Sunday and win two to three games in Greensboro next week.

St. Joseph's (19-12, 9-7 A-10, RPI: 55, SOS: 47, non-conf. SOS: 80)
Saturday's home win over Temple was the Hawks' second over an RPI Top 50 opponent this season, as they also topped Creighton in a game that caused quite a sensation back on December 10th. While those victories, along with ones over fellow bubble squads Dayton and Drexel, help, the fact all of them (and wins over La Salle and UMass) happened at Hagan Arena do not. Neither do road losses to Penn and American, a home setback to Charlotte, or Wednesday night's collapse at St. Boanventure. The Hawks' draw in the upcoming Atlantic 10 Tournament will be vital. If they can make it to the semis -- and face Temple or Saint Louis there -- earning a spot in the championship game might just book a bid. However, St. Joseph's may need to win an on-campus first round game to even get to Atlantic City.

Dayton (18-11, 8-7 A-10, RPI: 71, SOS: 58, non-conf. SOS: 63)
Dayton's profile will provide a challenge for the Selection Committee, mostly because it features a little bit of everything. There are some truly helpful wins (at Temple, Saint Louis, Alabama), some OK ones that might help boost the Flyers above other bubble teams (a split with Xavier, Minnesota), a lack of consistency during conference play (like Wednesday night's loss at Richmond), and some bad, and I mean BAD, losses (at Miami (OH) and Rhode Island at home). Since Saturday's game against George Washington won't move the needle much, Dayton needs to make a second consecutive run to the Atlantic 10 final to earn a bid.

Illinois (17-13, 6-11 Big Ten, RPI: 74, SOS: 29, non-conf. SOS: 5)
If UConn is still on the board given its recent struggles, perhaps it's time to give Illinois, owner of victories over Michigan State and Ohio State another look. Much like the Huskies, a strong non-conference schedule forms much of the basis for the Illini's case, though their best win came at home to Gonzaga (with losses to UNLV and Missouri). On the other hand, a pair of bad losses -- a two-point loss at Penn State and a blowout at Nebraska -- and a weak record away from Champaign are minuses, but perhaps not as much as Illinois' dreadful 2-10 mark in its last 10, including Thursday's loss to Michigan. The Illini will likely need the auto bid to make the field, and a win at Wisconsin on Sunday could provide a late jolt toward that goal.

Early Championship Week Bubble Watching

If you're a fan of these bubble teams, here's a rundown of conference tournament outcomes you need to be rooting for as the first weekend of Championship Week unfolds and the first bids are handed out.

Murray State to win the Ohio Valley automatic bid

If the Racers fail to complete their quest to be crowned double champion of the OVC, they will still likely get in, though they'll be far lower than a 6 seed if they do. A second Ohio Valley bid would be a first-ever occurrence and bad news for one unlucky bubble team.

When to watch: Semifinal against No. 4 Tennessee Tech, Friday at 7 p.m. ET (ESPNU), and Championship on Saturday at 2 p.m. ET (ESPN2)

Creighton or Wichita State to claim the Missouri Valley automatic bid

Bubble fans ideally want to see both the Bluejays and Shockers make it to Sunday's MVC championship tilt, if only to ease their nerves. If Creighton gets past Drake in Friday's quarterfinals, it will face either Evansville or Indiana State, each of which beat the Bluejays during the regular season, in Saturday's second semifinal. The two Valley teams to beat the Shockers, Drake and the Bluejays themselves, are on the opposite side of Wichita State's draw.

When to watch: Quarterfinal doubleheaders on Friday at 1 p.m. ET and 7 p.m. ET (FS Midwest/CSN Chicago/FCS Central/ESPN3); Semifinal doubleheader on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. ET (FS Midwest/CSN Chicago/FCS Central/ESPN3); Championship on Sunday at 2 p.m. ET (CBS)

Drexel or VCU to lose early in the CAA Tournament

If the Dragons and Rams reach Monday night's championship game, both will have 27 wins and have finished the regular season on an incredible roll. Drexel enters the CAA Tourney having won 22 of 23 games since back-to-back losses to St. Joseph's and Delaware in early December, while VCU has lost just three games since a loss at Alabama on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Those long runs of success may be too much for the Selection Committee to ignore, if the top two seeds meet for the auto bid on Monday night.

The only factors that may prevent the CAA from grabbing multiple bids is the lack of heft in each team's schedules both in the conference and out -- though mid-majors don't quite have the opportunity to schedule marquee games like the teams in the Power Six leagues do. If the Committee disapproves of the level of competition, the loser will head to the NIT.

When to watch: Quarterfinal doubleheaders on Saturday at 12 p.m. ET (Comcast Network/CSN New England/Full Court/ESPN3) and 6 p.m. ET (Comcast Network/CSN New England/CSS/Full Court/ESPN3); Semifinal doubleheader on Sunday at 2 p.m. ET (Comcast Network/CSS/Full Court/ESPN3); Championship on Monday at 7 p.m. ET (ESPN)

Iona to run through the MAAC Tournament

With an RPI ranking in the neighborhood of 40 and five wins against the Top 100 (albeit with none against the Top 50), the Gaels will be discussed in Indianapolis should they fail to cut down the nets in Springfield, Mass. The three teams to defeat Iona during conference play, No. 2 seed Loyola (Md.), No. 3 Manhattan, and No. 6 Siena, all lurk on the other side of the bracket.

When to watch: Semifinal doubleheader on Sunday at 2 p.m. ET (ESPN3); Championship on Monday at 7 p.m. ET (ESPN2)

The Ivy race to reach an unexpected settlement

Preseason Ivy favorite Harvard is tied with Penn in the loss column, thanks to the Crimson's home loss to the Quakers on Saturday night. Tommy Amaker's team should have little trouble this weekend, even though they have to hit the road to play sixth-place Columbia and fifth-place Cornell. Friday and Saturday will be a little trickier for Penn, even though they're at home. Sure, the Quakers should handle seventh-place Brown easily on Friday, but the following evening sees third-place Yale visit the Palestra. Making matters even more interesting is the fact that the Quakers' game in hand is their traditional season-closing fixture at archrival Princeton, which takes place in New Jersey on Tuesday night.

In short, Harvard needs to win out and hope Penn loses one of their final three to earn the Ivy's automatic bid. If the teams end up tied, there will be a playoff next Saturday for the ticket. While last year's finale between Harvard and Princeton was perhaps the most thrilling game of the 2010-11 season, Crimson fans want to avoid a repeat. So will fans of bubble teams, as Harvard is far more likely to earn an at-large with a loss this time around.

When to watch: Harvard's game at Cornell will be on ESPN3 Saturday night at 7 p.m. ET.

BYU and Loyola Marymount to struggle in the WCC

A week ago, I was chatting with our BYU blogger on Twitter (@vanquishthefoe) about the prospect of the West Coast Conference earning a seemingly ridiculous total of four bids. Gonzaga and St. Mary's, the conference's now traditional top two, are locks at this stage, while BYU is firmly on the bubble, likely needing to beat the Bulldogs in Saturday night's semifinals to make it a trio. Wackiness -- in the form of fourth-seeded Loyola Marymount defeating the Cougars in Monday's championship game -- would need to ensue for a quartet of WCC bids to become a possibility. However, the Lions' success against both the Cougars and St. Mary's, their semifinal opponent should they advance that far, away from Los Angeles makes this a plausible scenario.

Then again, LMU could lose its quarterfinal and make all of this discussion moot.

When to watch: Quarterfinal doubleheader on Friday at 9 p.m. ET (ESPNU); Semifinal doubleheader on Saturday at 9 p.m. ET (ESPN2); Championship on Monday at 9 p.m. ET (ESPN)

Middle Tennessee to win the Sun Belt

The Blue Raiders probably won't earn an at-large bid after their Saturday loss at woeful Western Kentucky (RPI: 222), but 24 (or more) Division I wins and an RPI ranking in the mid-to-upper 40s, along with wins over Akron, Belmont, and Mississippi means they'll be discussed.

When to watch: Quarterfinal doubleheader on Sunday at 7 p.m. ET (CSS/CST/Full Court/ESPN3); Semifinal doubleheader on Monday at 7 p.m. ET (CSS/CST/Full Court/ESPN3); Championship on Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET (ESPN2)

Oral Roberts to claim the Summit Tournament

The Golden Eagles' RPI rank is in the top 40 right now, so they'll definitely be on the board in the Committee room should they fail to win the Summit crown. Oral Roberts is another team with a win over Akron, which complements a victory over a shorthanded Xavier team back in mid-December and competitive losses at Gonzaga and West Virginia. A win total of 26-plus and a 17-1 league mark in the Summit, which sees South Dakota State join the Golden Eagles in the RPI Top 60, also helps ORU's case in this most unique of seasons.

When to watch: Quarterfinal doubleheader on Saturday at 7 p.m. ET (FCS Central); Semifinal on Monday at 7 p.m. ET (FS Detroit/FCS Central); Championship on Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET (ESPN2)

The Rest Of The Friday And Saturday Action

Here's a look at the rest of Friday and Saturday's action, including listings for other televised conference tournament action that won't have much bubble impact. I'll have a rundown of Sunday's games with that morning's projection.

Friday, March 2
Providence at Notre Dame, 7 p.m. ET (Big East Network/Full Court/ESPN3)
The Fighting Irish look to snap a two-game skid and stay in the hunt for a double-bye in the Big East Tournament against a Friar team that pushed UConn closer to the NIT on Tuesday night.

Akron at Kent State, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
The Zips have had two chances to lock up the outright MAC title, but losses to Ohio and Buffalo mean they need to win at archrival Kent State to claim the crown. Otherwise, Akron will need Buffalo to lose to Bowling Green.

Conference Tournaments

Atlantic Sun Semifinals, Doubleheader at 6 p.m. ET (CSS/Full Court/ESPN3)
Regular season champion Belmont faces No. 4 seed East Tennessee State in the opener, while host and No. 2 seed Mercer plays sixth-seeded Florida Gulf Coast in the finale.

Horizon League Quarterfinals, Doubleheader at 6 p.m. ET (Horizon League Network/Full Court/ESPN3)
Since Tuesday's opening round was all chalk, third-seeded Detroit takes on No. 6 Youngstown State in game one, while Butler takes on Milwaukee in what should be a terrific 5 vs. 4 matchup.

Saturday, March 3
Memphis at Tulsa, 12 p.m. ET (CBS)
The Tigers can wrap up the outright Conference USA regular season crown with a win.

Pittsburgh at Connecticut, 12 p.m. ET (ESPN)
After falling at Providence, the Huskies simply cannot afford a loss to the Panthers. (Jim Calhoun's status)

West Virginia at USF, 12 p.m. ET (Big East Network/Full Court/ESPN3)
A home win over Cincinnati and impressive victory at Louisville have pushed the Bulls in, but a victory over the Mountaineers would make it even more difficult to leave them out. Of course, West Virginia has a bubble win need of its own.

Washington at UCLA, 2 p.m. ET (CBS Regional)
The Huskies can clinch the Pac-12 title with a victory, but a loss to the Bruins means Cal can grab a share, and the top seed in the conference tournament thanks to a win over the Huskies, with a win over Stanford on Sunday.

Cincinnati at Villanova, 2 p.m. ET (ESPN)
The Bearcats looked like a surefire NCAA team when they dismantled Marquette on Wednesday night, but a loss to the Wildcats would put their candidacy in a bit more doubt.

Georgetown at Marquette, 2 p.m. ET (Big East Network/Full Court/ESPN3)
The winner will the inside track to the two seed in the Big East Tournament and an outside chance at earning an NCAA 2 seed, particularly with a good run at Madison Square Garden.

Charlotte at Xavier, 2 p.m. ET (FS Ohio/TWC Charlotte)
The Musketeers' case took a serious hit with a second half collapse at Saint Louis on Tuesday. A home loss to the 49ers would be worse, and it would also cost them a bye to the A-10 quarterfinals.

Northwestern at Iowa, 2:30 p.m. ET (Big Ten Network)
The Wildcats would be just about finished from an at-large perspective with a loss in Iowa City, which is a definite possibility.

Boston College at Miami, 2:30 p.m. ET (ACC Network/Full Court/ESPN3)
The Hurricanes' hopes took a hit in Raleigh on Wednesday night. A home loss to the Eagles would extinguish them completely.

Louisville at Syracuse, 4 p.m. ET (CBS)
Hopefully this one will be more entertaining than the Orange's 52-51 win on February 13th.

Vanderbilt at Tennessee, 4 p.m. ET (ESPN)
The Commodores can sew up the No. 2 seed in the SEC Tournament with a victory in Knoxville and a Florida loss to Kentucky on Sunday.

Colorado State at Air Force, 4 p.m. ET (The Mtn.)
Wednesday night's win over UNLV put the Rams in this projection, but a loss in Colorado Springs would likely send them tumbling right back out.

Alabama at Mississippi, 4 p.m. ET (SEC Network/Full Court/ESPN3)
The Crimson Tide will earn a bye to the SEC quarterfinals with a win over a Rebel squad that's won two straight.

Missouri at Texas Tech, 4 p.m. ET (Big 12 Network/Full Court/ESPN3)
A loss to the Red Raiders might just cost the Tigers a shot at a No. 1 seed.

Arkansas at Mississippi State, 5 p.m. ET (SEC on FSN/Full Court/ESPN3)
The Bulldogs look to build on Wednesday's overtime win at South Carolina and keep their position on the good side of the cut line in the process.

Utah at Oregon, 6 p.m. ET (OSN/CSN Northwest)
The Ducks are putting themselves in position for a bid, but a loss to the Utes would guarantee that they'd need to cut down the nets in L.A. next week to make it in.

Seton Hall at DePaul, 6 p.m. ET (Big East Network/Full Court/ESPN3)
The Pirates have had a week to simmer on their home loss to Rutgers. A loss in Rosemont would not help their bubble case.

North Carolina at Duke, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN)
The ACC regular season crown and pole position for a No. 1 seed are on the line at Cameron Indoor.

San Diego State at TCU, 7 p.m. ET (The Mtn./Cox 4)
The Horned Frogs look to sweep all seven Mountain West home games. It's a pity they only managed to beat Air Force away from Fort Worth. The Aztecs, on the other hand, can clinch at least a share of the Mountain West title with a win.

Long Beach State at Cal State Fullerton, 7 p.m. ET (FS West)
A contest with the Titans is all that stands between the 49ers and a perfect Big West campaign. Long Beach State won the first meeting by 15 on January 28th.

Baylor at Iowa State, 7 p.m. ET (Iowa State Sports/Full Court/ESPN3)
As both teams have locked up quarterfinal places at Big 12 Tournament, this one will be important for NCAA seeding. The Cyclones could use another quality win to get them out of the 9-10 range, while the Bears need a win to stay around on the 3 line.

Texas at Kansas, 9 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Perhaps the Longhorns, a team in desperate need of a statement win, will catch the Jayhawks, who have already clinched the Big 12 regular season title, napping tonight.

Wyoming at UNLV, 10 p.m. ET (The Mtn.)
The Cowboys defeated the Runnin' Rebels by a basket in Laramie. They'll have a difficult time repeating that feat in the desert, especially as UNLV needs a win to assure a top three Mountain West finish.

Conference Tournaments

Big South Championship, 12 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Regular season champion UNC Asheville looks to clinch the first bid of the season with a home win over surprise finalist VMI, the No. 7 seed.

Atlantic Sun Championship, Saturday, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Can Belmont repeat? Will the hosts Mercer advance to the Dance? Or, will both have departed in Friday's semifinals?

Patriot League Semifinals, 2 p.m. ET and 4:30 p.m. ET (CBS Sports Network)
Lafayette visits regular season champion Bucknell in game one, while No. 2 seed Lehigh hosts American in the second game of the two-site doubleheader.

Horizon League Semifinals, Saturday, 6 p.m. ET (ESPN3) and approx. 8:30 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
No. 2 seed Cleveland State plays in the first semifinal, while top seed and host Valparaiso features in the nightcap.

Southern Conference Quarterfinals, 12 p.m. ET, approx. 2:30 p.m. ET, 6 p.m. ET, and approx. 8:30 p.m. ET (ESPN3)

My next bracket update, along with a look at the Last Four In and Out, will be out at some point on Sunday morning. From then on, I'll have at least a quick update for each morning of Championship Week.

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