Selection Sunday is now just one week away, and the wait will be an agonizing one for Murray State. The Racers, who rolled through the Ohio Valley regular season with a perfect 16-0 record, were tested by archrival Morehead State in Friday night's tournament semifinal, but the Belmont Bruins, finalists in each of their first three OVC campaigns, did one better. Rick Byrd's team repeated the result of the 2013 league final, topping the Racers 88-87 and sending them to the NIT, despite their No. 25 national ranking and 25-game win streak. Why? Well, Steve Prohm's team, ranked 68th in the RPI table, did very little outside of the conference. Scheduling is always a struggle for traditional mid-major powers. Still, Murray State did very little with the chances it had, falling to a woeful Houston team at home and getting trounced at Xavier. So, the Racers season ended with the Illinois State Redbirds being their most impressive non-OVC victim.
Those Redbirds could very well be in the field on Monday afternoon. They upset Missouri Valley top seed Wichita State, an absolute NCAA lock, in the Arch Madness semifinals on Saturday afternoon. Fans of bubble teams coast-to-coast may want to find some purple and gold to wear on Sunday, as they'll need a Northern Iowa Panthers victory over ISU (CBS, 2 p.m. ET) to prevent a valuable at-large bid from disappearing.
The Panthers jumped into the Top 16 of this projection following the Valley semis, replacing the Shockers. The other major changes among the protected seeds since Friday's bracket are a swap on the top line, with Duke jumping Villanova, following the Blue Devils win at North Carolina, and Notre Dame passing Utah for a spot on line three, following the Utes bad loss at Washington, their third in their last five outings.
I'll have more on how Saturday affected the bubble picture and a look at Sunday's action after the full bracket and rundown.
|(1) MIDWEST |
|Louisville (Thu/Sat)||Charlotte (Fri/Sun)|
|1||Kentucky (SEC)||1||Virginia (ACC)|
|16||Coastal Carolina/North Florida||16||Montana/St. Francis-Brooklyn|
|↓ 8||Dayton||8 88||Xavier|
|9||N.C. State||↑ 9||LSU|
|Jacksonville (Thu/Sat)||Seattle (Fri/Sun)|
|5||West Virginia||5||North Carolina|
|12||Wofford (SoCon)||122||Harvard (Ivy)|
|4||Louisville||↑ 4||Northern Iowa (MVC)|
|13||Stephen F. Austin (Southland)||↑ 13||Central Michigan (MAC)|
|Columbus (Fri/Sun)||Pittsburgh (Thu/Sat)|
|↑ 14||South Dakota State (Summit)||↑ 14||William & Mary (CAA)|
|Omaha (Fri/Sun)||Omaha (Fri/Sun)|
|↑ 10||Davidson (A 10)||↓ 10||Ole Miss|
|2||Wisconsin (Big Ten)||2||Kansas (Big 12)|
|↑ 15||Bucknell (Patriot)||15||N.C. Central (MEAC)|
|(4) WEST |
Los Angeles (Thu/Sat)
|Pittsburgh (Thu/Sat)||Charlotte (Fri/Sun)|
|1||Villanova (Big East)||1||Duke|
|*16||BELMONT (OVC)||16||Texas Southern (SWAC)|
|↑ 9||Oregon||↑ 9||Cincinnati|
|Jacksonville (Thu/Sat)||Portland (Thu/Sat)|
|13||Louisiana Tech (C-USA)||13||Valparaiso (Horizon)|
|Columbus (Fri/Sun)||Louisville (Thu/Sat)|
|6||SMU (AAC)||↓ 6||Wichita State|
|↑ 3||Notre Dame||3||Iowa State|
|14||Georgia State (Sun Belt)||14||UC Davis (Big West)|
|Portland (Thu/Sat)||Seattle (Fri/Sun)|
|↑ 7||Michigan State||7||San Diego State|
|↑ 10||Boise State (MW)||↓ 10||Oklahoma State|
|2||Arizona (Pac-12)||2||Gonzaga (WCC)|
|↑ 15||Albany (AE)||15||New Mexico State (WAC)|
|FIRST FOUR (Dayton)|
|Tuesday: To Louisville||Tuesday: To Jacksonville|
|*16||Coastal Carolina (Big South)||↓ 12||BYU|
|16||North Florida (A-Sun)||12||Texas|
|Wednesday: To Charlotte||Wednesday: To Columbus
|*16||Montana (Big Sky)||↓ 11||Indiana|
|16||St. Francis-Brooklyn (NEC)||*11||Temple|
* = new team
|BIDS BY CONFERENCE||AVOIDING DAYTON||ARRIVALS||DEPARTURES|
|Big 12: 7||Oklahoma State||Belmont||Charleston Southern|
|Big Ten: 6||Purdue||Coastal Carolina||Eastern Washington|
|ACC: 6||Georgia||Montana||Murray State|
|Big East: 6||Colorado State||Temple||Texas A&M|
|SEC: 5||LAST FOUR IN|
|A 10: 3||Indiana|
|MVC: 2||FIRST FOUR OUT|
|WCC: 2||Texas A&M|
|One-Bid Conferences: 21||Miami|
|NEXT FOUR OUT|
Also considered (in rank order): Richmond, Pittsburgh, Green Bay, Rhode Island, Buffalo
The Saturday Bubble
As for the bubble picture, the final regular season Saturday of 2014-15 was stuffed with meaningful contests.
The day closed with the BYU Cougars getting themselves into West Coast Conference quarterfinals by surviving Santa Clara, 78-76. Dave Rose's team is one step closer to safety, but has to be careful in Monday's semifinal, where the sixth-seeded Portland Pilots will provide the opposition.
The LSU Tigers did exactly as I predicted on Friday, following up an awful home loss to Tennessee with a win at Arkansas. It's going to be awfully tough for the Committee to leave the Bayou Bengals out now.
The same cannot be said for the Tigers #SECBasketballFever rivals. Yes, Georgia avoided disaster by winning at Auburn, avoiding a second horrible league sweep (South Carolina already claimed two wins over the Bulldogs), but other results did not help the Dawgs' RPI. Texas A&M fell to Alabama, though the Aggies were without their best player, Danuel House, who was out with a head injury. That result dropped the Aggies out, and House's health is certainly something to watch as the scene shifts to Nashville for the SEC Tournament, where A&M might have to beat LSU for a third time to book a bid. Later, Ole Miss lost to Vanderbilt in Oxford, an awful home loss that dropped the Rebels from the SEC Tournament three seed to the six, costing them a bye to the quarterfinals.
Illinois, who was the first team out on Friday, falls further back after a loss at Purdue, who is considerably safer now. The Boilermakers' in-state rivals, Indiana, is not, however, following a third straight loss, this time at the hands of Michigan State at home. The Hoosiers are now seeded in the First Four.
Boise State and Davidson are now in far better position, as each easily claimed the top seeds in their respective conference tournaments. One of the Broncos' main Mountain West rivals, Colorado State, jumps into the quartet just avoiding Dayton, thanks to Indiana's struggles and a win over Utah State.
Keep an eye on the Old Dominion, who have quietly won six in a row and just might be able to sneak in if it fails to win the Conference USA crown and there's enough carnage elsewhere. The Monarchs defeated both VCU and LSU early in the season.
Three auto bids are on the line Sunday, meaning four total teams will join Belmont in ALL CAPS on Monday. The Yale Bulldogs could have joined the Bruins on Saturday, but they were stunned at Dartmouth Big Green, while Harvard Crimson defeated Brown Bears. That sets up a one-game Ivy League playoff on Saturday at the Palestra in Philadelphia.
Big South Championship, 12:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
The Coastal Carolina Chanticleers will look to win the title again on their home floor, as they face a Winthrop Eagles team they actually lost to by seven in Conway back on Jan. 28. The winner of this one is likely a 16 seed, with the Eagles most likely ticketed for Dayton with a win. The Chants will have a shot at a bye if they win.
Missouri Valley Championship, 2 p.m. (CBS)
A three-bid Valley (and the dream ending for one anonymous bubble team) requires an Illinois State win over Northern Iowa, who is a lock. The Panthers routed the Redbirds in Cedar Falls, but only one by a single point in Normal.
Atlantic Sun Championship, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
Either the North Florida Ospreys or USC Upstate Spartans will be making their first-ever NCAA appearance, probably in the First Four. The Ospreys will host in Jacksonville, but the Spartans swept the regular season series.
In Sunday's non-elimination showcases ...
Tulsa at SMU, 3 p.m. (ESPNU)
The Golden Hurricane could really use a quality road win, especially over a Mustang team that defeated them 68-57 on March 7. Plus, the winner gains the top seed in the American Tournament in Hartford, meaning it will avoid hosts UConn, who will be the sixth seed, until the final.
Wisconsin at Ohio State, 4:30 p.m. (CBS)
Thanks to Big Ten expansion, these two have not met during the regular season. The Buckeyes could sure use a victory for some comfort, considering they are 2-6 against the Top 50.
My next update will come on Monday, and it's possible you'll see a new name or two at that point.