Thursday, March 13, 2008

Road to Selection Sunday

The first two days of the major-conference tournaments have brought about several changes in the projected bracket and the status of bubble teams – mostly on the negative side. Some are playing themselves in, while others are losing games they can't lose and are playing themselves out. Moreover, teams that are locks have their seeds fluctuating by the hour. Who's in? Who's out? Does anyone at all want an at-large bid? Answers to all that and more in a mid-week update of the "Road to Selection Sunday". Note: Complete "Bracket Breakdown" will be coming Friday.

Teams who locked up a bid:
West Virginia: The Mountaineers needed to beat Providence to feel secure, but they went one further and defeated Connecticut, moving them up to a potential top-eight seed.
Miami (Fl.): The Hurricanes just had to beat North Carolina State in the first-round of the ACC Tournament – and they did it in solid fashion. ‘Canes should go to the Dance.
UNLV: The Rebels survived a close quarterfinal game against No. 7 TCU and won by one, making them a little more comfortable. Clear No. 2 in the Mountain West after UNM lost.

Bubble teams trying to play their way into the NCAA Tournament:
Texas A&M:
The Aggies have been struggling somewhat lately, but their win over Iowa State in the first-round of the Big 12 Tournament put them in good shape to get a bid.
Villanova: The Wildcats had a decent two days, with their win over Syracuse but then a disappointing loss to Georgetown. They will be left sweating on Sunday.
Temple: Although the Owls might still be a long shot to get an at-large bid, they kept their hopes alive with yet another conference win, this time over La Salle in the quarterfinals.
Saint Joseph’s: The Hawks struggled early against Richmond, but they bounced back well and pulled out a key victory. This sets up a must-win game against Xavier.
Florida State: Will all these bubble teams falling, can the Seminoles get into the mix? After their win over Wake Forest Thursday, they have a huge chance against North Carolina.

Bubble teams playing themselves out of the NCAA Tournament:
Arizona: A win over Stanford on Thursday night might have clinched a bid, but the Wildcats fell in the second half. However, their win over Oregon State did pad the conf. win total.
Syracuse: Through one half against Villanova, the Orange looked like an NCAA Tournament team – then the second half began. ‘Cuse has basically no shot after the loss.
Maryland: The Terrapins needed to do a lot of work heading into the ACC Tournament; well, after their loss to Boston College in the first-round, they are completely done.
Dayton: The Flyers could have really used a win over Xavier in the A-10 Tournament, but they barely escaped in the first-round and then didn’t look impressive against XU.
Massachusetts: Do any A-10 teams want at-large bids? The Minutemen blew a lead against Charlotte and fell in the quarterfinals of the tourney. A win would have clinched a bid.
New Mexico: The Lobos needed to get to at least the semifinals to have a chance at an-large bid, but they fell in overtime to Utah in the quarterfinals. They are most likely out of the discussion.
Rhode Island: Whatever hope the Rams had heading into the A-10 Tournament disappeared with their two-point loss to Charlotte in the first-round. Disappointing finish for URI.
Baylor: The Bears just needed to beat Colorado and then play well in the quarterfinals; well, now they will have to sweat it out after falling to Colorado in double-overtime.
Mississippi: The Rebels probably needed two wins to make a run at an at-large bid; well, they didn’t even get one, falling to Georgia in overtime in the quarterfinals.
UAB: Looks like one bid for Conference-USA after the Blazers fell in overtime to Tulsa in the quarterfinals of the tourney. UAB needed to make a deep run, and it didn’t happen.
Arizona State: The Sun Devils had a major chance to pick-up a big win and potentially an at-large bid against USC today, but they couldn’t make plays down the stretch and lost.
Oregon: Like Arizona State, the Ducks could have possibly clinched an at-large bid with a win over Washington State today, but they couldn’t step up when it counted and lost.
South Alabama: The Jaguars are going to be one of the most interesting stories of Selection Sunday; they had a great conference campaign but fell in the semifinals.
Houston: If the Cougars thought they had any sort of hope heading into the Conference-USA Tournament, it doesn’t matter anymore now that they lost to UTEP in the quarterfinals.
Florida: If anyone thought the Gators were still in the mix for an at-large bid, those people are certainly off the bandwagon now. They were dominated by Alabama Thursday.

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