The residents of Bubbleville dodged their first bullet of Championship Week on Monday as Old Dominion held off VCU in the Colonial final. The win moved the Monarchs up to the top of the 8 line in today's bracket, but they could end up as high as a 7 depending on what happens the rest of the week. Elsewhere, Gonzaga avenged last year's WCC finals loss to St. Mary's by knocking off the Gaels 75-63 in Vegas. We thought both teams were fairly safe to get at-larges regardless of the outcome Monday night, and we still feel that way now. The Zags moved up to the top of the 10 line in today's bracket with the win, while St. Mary's fell to the bottom of the 11 line. Depending on what happens the rest of the week, we can see the Gaels perhaps slipping to the 12 line (and maybe to the First Four) on Selection Sunday because of how they finished up (losing four of six), but in the end, we fully expect their name to be called.
There were two other automatic bids handed out Monday night. Wofford knocked off top-seeded Charleston in the Southern final and St. Peter's, who got blown out by Iona twice during the regular season, beat the Gaels 62-57 in the MAAC final. Wofford and St. Peter's are both on the 14 line in today's bracket.
In other small conference action, North Texas and Arkansas-Little Rock advanced to today's Sun Belt final and top-seeded Oakland and Oral Roberts advanced to today's Summit final.
The Big East Tournament gets underway at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday with four first round games - UConn vs. DePaul, Rutgers vs, Seton Hall, Villanova vs. South Florida, and Marquette vs. Providence. If the Big East is going to get 11 bids, Marquette is going to have to avoid the upset against the Friars. The Golden Eagles lost two very winnable games last week (at home against Cincinnati and at Seton Hall) and if they end the season on a three-game skid, we think there's a good chance they end up on the wrong side of the bubble. On the flip side, if Marquette does win tonight, we think they're safe going forward.
The other game with gigantic bubble implications tonight is the Horizon final between Butler and Milwaukee. If Butler wins, the Horizon is a one-bid league and the rest of the bubble can breathe a sigh of reilef. If Milwaukee can somehow find a way to beat the Bulldogs for a third time this season, though, the debate begins: is Butler at-large worthy? We, for one, think that they (barely) are. They have OOC wins over Florida State and Washington State, they tied for the Horizon regular season title, they beat Cleveland State three times, and (conspiracy theory alert) they're Butler. That resume, underwhelming as it is, is probably good enough this year.
The third and final key game of the night is Princeton at Penn. If the Tigers win, they'll face Harvard in a one-game playoff at Yale on Saturday for the Ivy's automatic bid. If the Quakers pull the upset, Harvard would make the tournament for the first time since 1946. The Crimson are the only Ivy League school to never won a regular season championship since the Ivy League was formed in 1956-57.
The Atlantic-10, MAC, and MEAC also begin first round conference tournament play today. The Big Sky plays its semifinals, as Weber State takes on Montana and Northern Arizona takes on Northern Colorado.
Last Four In
Michigan State, Alabama, Boston College, Colorado
First Four Out
Virginia Tech, Clemson, USC, Missouri State
Next Four Out
Penn State, VCU, Colorado State, Washington State
Big East (11), Big XII (6), Big Ten (6), SEC (6), ACC (4), A-10 (3), MWC (3), Pac-10 (3), Colonial (2), Conference USA (2), WCC (2)
America East - Boston University
ACC - Duke, North Carolina, Florida State, Boston College
Atlantic Sun - Belmont
A-10 - Xavier, Temple, Richmond
Big East - Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, Syracuse, Louisville, St. John's, West Virginia, Connecticut, Cincinnati, Georgetown, Villanova, Marquette
Big Sky - Northern Colorado
Big South - UNC-Asheville
Big Ten - Ohio State, Purdue, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Michigan State
Big XII - Kansas, Texas, Kansas State, Texas A&M, Missouri, Colorado
Big West - Long Beach State
Colonial - Old Dominion, George Mason
Conference USA - UTEP, UAB
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 - North Texas
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, St. John's, Kentucky
West Virginia, Xavier, Arizona, Connecticut
Kansas State, Cincinnati, Temple, Georgetown
Texas A&M, UCLA, Vanderbilt, Villanova
Old Dominion, UNLV, Missouri, Utah State
George Mason, Illinois, Florida State, Tennessee
Gonzaga, Richmond, Washington, Butler
Michigan, Georgia, Marquette, St. Mary's
UAB, Michigan State vs. Alabama (FF), Boston College vs. Colorado (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, North Texas, UNC-Asheville vs. McNeese State (FF), Texas Southern vs. Bethune Cookman (FF)
(Bracket courtesy Matt Reeves)
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