Here's what we learned from Thursday's games:
1. UAB looks like they will be joining Missouri State in the NIT. The regular season champs from Conference USA were unceremoniously dumped by East Carolina in the quarterfinals of the conference tourney on Thursday, and as a result, they fell to the First Four Out list in today's bracket. For the last week, we thought an outright C-USA title might be enough for the Blazers, but we also figured they would make at least the semis of the conference tourney. Losing their first game is a crushing blow, and one that they probably won't recover from. They needed at least one win to help offset a 2-4 record against Memphis, UTEP, Tulsa, and Southern Miss combined.
2. UAB's loss is Virginia Tech's gain. The Hokies have been our First Team out since Monday, but they now slide into the field to take the Blazers' vacated spot. Virginia Tech needs to beat Florida State today to stay in the field on Saturday.
3. Colorado officially owns Kansas State, and the Buffs are probably going dancing as a result. They're still not a lock by any means, but it's probably going to be tough for the selection committee to ignore a third win over the Wildcats, on top of wins over Texas and Missouri. (If only they could have beaten someone out of conference...) Kansas State, meanwhile, falls from the end of the 5 line to the top of the 7 line.
4. The Pac-10 is a mess, and it's probably going to get messier. UCLA got blown out by Oregon to fall from a 7 seed to an 8, Washington needed a second-half comeback to edge Washington State, and USC beat Cal to keep their steadliy improving at-large chances going. A strong case could be made that the Trojans deserve a bid if they beat Arizona today. If they do win, and then beat Washington in the final, will the Pac-10 get four bids? Is Washington in danger if they lose in the final to USC? What happens if the Huskies lose to the Ducks in the semis and USC wins the tourney? Could Washington get squeezed?
5. Michigan State (vs. Iowa), Boston College (vs. Wake Forest), Georgia (vs. Auburn), and Tennessee (vs. Arkansas) are safe - for now - after avoiding what could have been bubble-bursting first-round conference tournament losses. Michigan State moved from the Last Four In list to the bottom of the 11 line.
6. Penn State is also still alive after their win over Indiana. The Nittany Lions need at least a win over Wisconsin today to get in. That win might be enough, it might not, depending on what else happens over the next 48 hours.
7. Kemba Walker vs. Gary McGhee is not a fair fight. What a step-back move. Yikes.
8. Pitt's still a 1 seed. The Panthers won the regular season title in the best league in the country and have nine Top 50 wins. Could Duke really get a 1 seed over Pitt despite finishing second in the ACC and potentially needing to win just one tough game to get to the ACC tourney final?
9. Notre Dame looked an awful lot like a 1 seed and Syracuse looked a lot like a 2 seed. Cincinnati and Marquette looked like teams that knew their jobs in New York were already done.
10. Kansas is good enough to sleepwalk their way through at least one round of the Big XII tournament. Missouri looks destined for an 8/9 game after their quarterfinal loss to Texas A&M. The Aggies, meanwhile, could be a 5 if they beat Texas today.
11. Colorado State's bubble is burst, but New Mexico's is still very much intact. The Lobos beat the Rams 67-61 in the MWC quarters last night, setting up a third meeting with BYU today. New Mexico swept the season series from BYU, and if they can pick up a third win, they would be a very interesting at-large candidate. They'll have to hope three wins over the Cougars cancel out an ugly 8-8 conference record.
12. Kent State (MAC), Long Beach State (Big Sky), and McNeese State (Southland) are still the favorites to win their conference tournaments.
We'll keep it simple. Here's what every bubble team has to do today:
Colorado - Win and they are an absolute lock. Lose and they should still be safe, but they will have a long two days of waiting.
New Mexico - Beat BYU (again) and they get serious consideration. They have no chance with a loss.
Penn State - Win and they likely end up on the Last Four In line. They have no chance with a loss.
USC - Win and they will either be the last team in or out. No chance with a loss.
Georgia - Same as Colorado. Win and they are an absolute lock. Lose and they should still be safe, but they will have a long two days of waiting.
Alabama - Win and they are fairly safe. Lose and it's tough to imagine scenarios where they don't get squeezed.
Michigan State - Win and they are an absolute lock. Lose and they should still be safe.
Michigan - Win and they are an absolute lock. Lose and they should still be safe, but it also depends on what Penn State and Michigan State do.
Boston College - Win and they're in, lose and they're out.
Clemson - Win and they likely will be one of the last teams in, lose and they are done.
Richmond - Win and they are an absolute lock. Lose and they should be safe, but it will be a long two days.
Virginia Tech - Win and they are in, lose and they are likely out.
St. Mary's - Nothing really to gain from the Weber State game. They are expected to win big and need to do so.
Last Four In
St. Mary's, Boston College, Alabama, Virginia Tech
First Four Out
UAB, USC, Clemson, Penn State
Next Four Out
Missouri State, VCU, New Mexico, Memphis
Big East (11), Big XII (6), Big Ten (6), SEC (6), ACC (5), A-10 (3), MWC (3), Pac-10 (3), Colonial (2), WCC (2)
America East - Boston University
ACC - Duke, North Carolina, Florida State, Boston College, Virginia Tech
Atlantic Sun - Belmont
A-10 - Xavier, Temple, Richmond
Big East - Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, Syracuse, Louisville, Connecticut, St. John's, West Virginia, Georgetown, Cincinnati, Marquette, Villanova
Big Sky - Northern Colorado
Big South - UNC-Asheville
Big Ten - Ohio State, Purdue, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Michigan State
Big XII - Kansas, Texas, Texas A&M, Kansas State, Missouri, Colorado
Big West - Long Beach State
Colonial - Old Dominion, George Mason
Conference USA - UTEP
Horizon - Butler
Ivy - Princeton
MAAC - St. Peter's
MAC - Kent State
MEAC - Bethune-Cookman
MVC - Indiana State
MWC - BYU, San Diego State, UNLV
Northeast - Long Island
Ohio Valley - Morehead State
Pac-10 - Arizona, UCLA, Washington
Patriot - Bucknell
SEC - Florida, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama
Southern - Wofford
Southland - McNeese State
Summit - Oakland
Sun Belt - Arkansas-Little Rock
SWAC - Texas Southern
WAC - Utah State
WCC - Gonzaga, St. Mary's
Ohio State, Kansas, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame
Duke, BYU, Syracuse, Purdue
North Carolina, San Diego State, Florida, Texas
Louisville, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Connecticut
St. John's, Xavier, Arizona, West Virginia
Texas A&M, Temple, Georgetown, Cincinnati
Kansas State, Vanderbilt, Old Dominion, UNLV
Utah State, UCLA, George Mason, Tennessee
Missouri, Illinois, Florida State, Marquette
Villanova, Gonzaga, Butler, Washington
Richmond, Michigan, Georgia, Michigan State
Colorado, St. Mary's vs. Boston College (FF), Alabama vs. Virginia Tech (FF), UTEP
Belmont, Princeton, Oakland, Kent State
Bucknell, Indiana State, St. Peter's, Wofford
Morehead State, Long Beach State, Long Island, Northern Colorado
Boston University, UNC-Asheville, McNeese State vs. Texas Southern (FF), Bethune-Cookman vs. Arkansas-Little Rock (FF)
(Bracket courtesy Matt Reeves)
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