Friday, March 13, 2009

Road to Selection Sunday

Yet another crazy day in Championship Week – as if it could get any crazier after the epic, six-overtime classic between Connecticut and Syracuse from last night. There were a multitude of bubble teams in action on Friday, and this could be a make-or-break day for a variety of teams and their NCAA Tournament chances. Several teams that were on the bubble going into Friday have a chance to add a key win to their profile for the Big Dance (but will any of them actually win?), while others have already lost games they needed to win in order to get a bid. Let's take a look at who helped their chances for an invitation and whose hopes took a hit in their quest for a bid.

Teams who locked up a bid:

Ohio State: The Buckeyes likely wrapped up a bid with their quarterfinal win over Wisconsin. Probably fourth in the Big Ten pecking order for seeding.

Bubble teams trying to play themselves into the NCAA Tournament:
Temple: The Owls are now certainly in the at-large discussion after their win over Xavier and berth in the Atlantic-10
final. Could they get in without a win?
Maryland: The Terrapins really helped their case with a very impressive victory over Wake Forest. Not many teams have the trio of marquee wins they have.
San Diego State: The Aztecs might have come close to locking up a bid with their semi-final win over BYU. A win over Utah in the title game and there will be no need to stress.
Utah State: Did the Aggies lock up a win with a berth in the WAC final by beating New Mexico State in the waning seconds? They might be in either way.
Auburn: The Tigers continued their winning ways in the SEC quarterfinals by beating fellow bubble-dweller Florida. They face Tennessee in the semifinals for a chance to lock up a bid.
Saint Mary's: The Gaels looked light years better than they did in the West Coast Tournament; more importantly, so did Patty Mills. This is going to be an interesting case.
USC: The Trojans won their fourth game in a row, defeating city rival UCLA in the Pac-10 semifinals. They have a chance to get the auto bid with a win over Arizona State.

Bubble teams not helping their NCAA Tournament case:

Wisconsin: The Badgers could have locked up a bid with a win over Ohio State, but they fell short late. However, they are still probably in and won’t sweat too much.
Minnesota: The Golden Gophers weren’t expected to beat Michigan State, and still likely have done enough to get in, but could they get squeezed out?
South Carolina: The Gamecocks really hurt themselves with their loss to Mississippi State. They only have one win against the top-50, and might be on the outside looking in.
Virginia Tech: Two years in a row. The Hokies had a chance to really make a case for a bid with a win over North Carolina, but they lost in the closing seconds and are out.

Michigan: The Wolverines had a chance to seal an at-large bid against a Chester Frazier-less Illinois team, but they were outplayed throughout and will now have to wait.
Penn State: Yet another Big Ten that could have locked up a bid with a quarterfinal win, but the Nittany Lions were defeated by Purdue and are now sweating.

Staying in the conversation for a bid:
Tulsa: The Golden Hurricane are now the only non-Memphis Conference-USA team with a remote chance at an at-large bid after defeating UAB. They still might need the auto bid, though.

See you in the NIT:
Kentucky: The Wildcats needed to win the automatic bid to get to the NCAA Tournament, but that is impossible now after their loss to LSU. Disappointing result for UK.

UAB: The Blazers had a small chance at an at-large bid if they could make the C-USA finals, but they were defeated by Tulsa in the semifinals arnd have no shot.

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