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Bracketology 2020: Texas is back on the right side of the NCAA tournament bubble

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The first Tuesday of March 2020 was a very good night overall for bubble teams, with the Longhorns the biggest winner.

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NCAA Basketball: Texas at Oklahoma Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports

As Tuesday night’s bubble-heavy college basketball schedule wound down, it looked like the Oklahoma Sooners were going to further cement their place in the field of 68 while simultaneously dealing the rival Texas Longhorns‘ hopes a damaging blow. But at least one bank in Norman was open late enough for the visitors to steal a vital win.

Matt Coleman III’s shocking three in the final seconds extended Texas’ overall win streak to five — with three of those on the road. As a result, the Longhorns, the second team out in Monday’s bracket, enter the field at the expense of the Wichita State Shockers. (Note that Monday’s first team out, the NC State Wolfpack, remain on the wrong side of the cut line following their loss to the Duke Blue Devils.)

Here’s what the picture surrounding the bracketology cut line looks like on the morning of Wednesday, March 4.

Last Four Byes: Indiana, Oklahoma, USC, Rutgers
Last Four IN: Texas, Stanford, Utah State, Cincinnati
First Four OUT: Wichita State, NC State, Purdue, Richmond
Next Four OUT: Tennessee, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Mississippi State

Tuesday’s other results led to some shuffling on the bubble beyond Texas’ entry in the field. There’s even a new name on the radar after another late Tuesday finish.

NCAA Basketball: Maryland at Rutgers
Rutgers players and fans celebrated like the Scarlet Knights clinched an NCAA berth last night.
Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
  • Rutgers earned itself a little breathing room by recording a fourth Quadrant 1 victory, 78-67 over the Maryland Terrapins. Naturally, that game was in Piscataway, so the Scarlet Knights’ record in true road games still stands at a woeful 1-8 heading into Saturday’s trip to Purdue. Steve Pikiell’s team should be safe, but if the Selection Committee feels like punishing teams that can’t win away from home, all bets are off.
  • Speaking of the Boilermakers, they completed a season sweep of the Iowa Hawkeyes, with an impressive 77-68 victory at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. That’s Purdue’s fifth Quad 1 win, but Matt Painter’s club is still the highest-ranked NET exclusion today, at 35th, thanks to a 16-14 overall record. As I mentioned on Tuesday’s episode of College Basketball Coast to Coast, unless a team’s non-conference schedule is truly top-five-level amazing, a record that’s at least four games over .500 is likely going to be needed for selection.
  • Idle Wichita State departed the field, while fellow projected American Athletic First Four squad Cincinnati hangs in after rallying for a 79-67 win at South Florida without Jarron Cumberland.
  • Richmond remains among the “First Four Out” after an 80-63 home victory over the disappointing Davidson Wildcats. On Friday night, the Spiders visit a Duquesne squad that hammered the final nail into the VCU Rams’ at-large hopes with an 80-77 overtime triumph at the Siegel Center.
NCAA Basketball: Tennessee at Kentucky
Tennessee’s win at Kentucky might have been the most impressive performance of the night.
Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

The SEC dominated the rest of the night’s bubble action.

  • In Tuesday’s biggest shock, Tennessee vaulted back into the picture by overcoming a 17-point deficit at Rupp Arena to defeat the Kentucky Wildcats by an 81-73 count. The Volunteers are now 17-13 overall following consecutive wins over the Florida Gators and a Wildcat squad that was in line to jump to a No. 2 seed after Maryland’s loss.
  • South Carolina let a big first half lead against Mississippi State slip away before recording an 83-71 win that merely allowed the Gamecocks to jump the Bulldogs in the queue.
  • Finally, the Alabama Crimson Tide saw their at-large hopes go up in smoke, thanks to a 87-79 loss to a Vanderbilt squad that earned just its second SEC win of the season and first away from Memorial Gym. Nate Oats’ squad now sits at 16-14 overall.

Wednesday is another huge night for the bubble, with Rhode Island , the sixth team out, hoping to end the Dayton Flyers’ perfect Atlantic 10 season, Indiana hosting Minnesota, the Arkansas Razorbacks looking to get back on track by defeating visiting LSU, and the Providence Friars aiming for a fifth straight win when Xavier visits. I’ll have another update of the cut line picture, reflecting all of these results, on Thursday morning.