We discussed earlier this week about Boise State's untimely loss to Fresno State. Another rescheduled game this week saw another Mountain West bubble team suffer a blow to their resume. That was Colorado State, who was the victim of a last-second three-point field goal that gave Nevada the 85-82 win over the Rams.
The silver lining for Colorado State is that this is only a Quad 2 loss for them, instead of the Quad 4 loss for Boise State. Even better for both the Rams and Broncos, some of the other bubble teams haven't fully taken advantage of their miscues, namely Seton Hall.
Seton Hall's Wednesday loss to Connecticut dropped the Pirates to 13-11 overall and currently out of the field, putting Boise State back in and giving the Mountain West three bids in today's projection, but Colorado State and Boise State are currently the last two teams in.
As we check out today's bracket projection, you'll note we have our first official ticket punched to the NCAA Tournament. The Liberty Flames are back in the NCAA Tournament out of the Atlantic Sun. And this is before they even play their championship game. That's because their opponent in the A-Sun final is North Alabama, who is still in a transitional period into Division 1, and therefore ineligible for the NCAA Tournament. So win or lose, Liberty is dancing.
So here is today's bracket update.
Last Four Byes: North Carolina, Louisville, VCU, Drake
Last Four In: Michigan State, Xavier, Colorado State, Boise State
First Four Out: Seton Hall, Ole Miss, Utah State, Stanford
Next Four Out: Duke, Saint Louis, Syracuse, SMU
Bids by Conference
Big Ten - 9
ACC - 7
Big 12 - 7
SEC - 6
Big East - 4
Pac-12 - 4
Mountain West - 3
American Athletic - 2
Atlantic 10 - 2
Missouri Valley - 2
West Coast - 2
One-bid leagues - 20
Saturday has plenty of bubble action, including some key games in two conference tournaments.
In the Atlantic 10, a huge semifinal tips off at 6:00 when Saint Louis (Next Four Out) takes on Saint Bonaventure. A win for the Billikens would move them closer to the cut line and give them a chance at getting off the bubble completely. A win for the Bonnies should just about put them in the field, but by no means would they be a lock. The Bonnies would be among the last four byes if they didn't have the automatic bid at the moment.
The A-10's remaining other bubble team, VCU, takes on a dangerous Davidson team in the second semifinal. The two winners today get a week off before meeting in Dayton on March 14 for the Atlantic 10 championship. Richmond lost any remaining hope it had for the dance when they lost to Duquesne in the second round.
Out in St. Louis, Arch Madness has reached their quarterfinal round and the two big dogs in the race both advanced to today's semifinals, but in very different fashions. Top-seeded Loyola-Chicago had no trouble with Southern Illinois to set up today's semifinal with Indiana State. Drake, on the other hand, didn't even take the court for their quarterfinal. Northern Iowa had a COVID issue and had to drop out of the MVC tournament, automatically advancing Drake to the semifinals against Missouri State.
The dreams of a two-bid Valley are still alive and if Loyola and Drake can advance today, it becomes more likely to be a reality. Even with a loss to Indiana State, the Ramblers are probably a near-lock for the tournament. Drake, however, cannot afford a loss to Missouri State.
We will also dish out a tournament bid in the Ohio Valley. The top two seeds, Belmont and Morehead State, both advanced to today's championship game.
Elsewhere Saturday, Duke and North Carolina tangle in Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels can perhaps improve their NCAA seeding with a win, while Duke has to win to give themselves a shot. A loss puts them at 11-11 and a lot of work would have to be done in the ACC tournament.
In the Big Ten, Illinois visits Ohio State. The status of Ayo Dosunmu is still unknown but the Illini have rallied in his absence. A win over the Buckeyes would really help cement their spot on the top line. A win for the Buckeyes not only puts them back in the mix for the top line, but also improves the chances for SEC champion Alabama. It's going to be a run ride to figure out the last spot on the top line. Gonzaga, Baylor and Michigan are pretty much sure bets at this point to headline their respective regions.
Here's a rundown of today's conference tournament action, including one championship game and a number of other tournaments getting underway.
Ohio Valley Championship
No. 2 Morehead State vs. No. 1 Belmont, 8:00, ESPN2
America East Semifinals
No. 6 UMass Lowell at No. 1 UMBC, 2:00, ESPN+
No. 4 Hartford at No. 2 Vermont, 4:00, ESPN+
Atlantic 10 Semifinals (in Richmond, VA)
No. 4 Saint Louis vs. No. 1 Saint Bonaventure, 6:00, CBSSN
No. 3 Davidson vs. No. 2 VCU, 9:00, CBSSN
Colonial First Round (in Harrisonburg, VA)
No. 9 Towson vs. No. 8 Elon, 3:00
No. 10 UNC Wilmington vs. No. 7 William & Mary, 7:00
Missouri Valley Semifinals (in St. Louis)
No. 4 Indiana State vs. No. 1 Loyola-Chicago, 1:00, CBSSN
No. 3 Missouri State vs. No. 2 Drake, 4:00, CBSSN
No. 3 Sacred Heart at No. 2 Bryant, 12:00, ESPN3
No. 4 Mount St. Mary's at No. 1 Wagner, 2:00, ESPN3
Patriot League Quarterfinals
No. 9 Loyola (MD) at No. 1 Navy, 12:00, ESPN+
No. 7 Boston University at No. 2 Colgate, 1:00, ESPN+
No. 6 Bucknell at No. 3 Lafayette, 2:00, ESPN+
No. 5 American at No. 4 Army West Point, 3:00, ESPN+
Southern Conference Quarterfinals (Asheville, NC)
No. 8 The Citadel vs. No. 1 UNC Greensboro, 12:00, ESPN+
No. 5 East Tennessee State vs. No. 4 Chattanooga, 2:30, ESPN+
No. 7 Mercer vs. No. 2 Wofford, 5:30, ESPN+
No. 6 VMI vs. No. 3 Furman, 8:00, ESPN+
Summit League Quarterfinals (in Sioux Falls, SD)
No. 8 Omaha vs. No. 1 South Dakota State, 6:45, ESPN+
No. 7 Western Illinois vs. No. 2 South Dakota, 9:45, ESPN+
Sun Belt Quarterfinals (in Pensacola, FL)
East No. 3 South Alabama vs. West No. 2 Louisiana, 6:00, ESPN+
West No. 4 Arkansas State vs. East No. 1 Georgia State, 6:30, ESPN+
East No. 6 Troy vs. East No. 2 Coastal Carolina, 8:30, ESPN+
East No. 4 Appalachian State vs. West No. 1 Texas State, 9:00, ESPN+
West Coast Quarterfinals (in Las Vegas)
No. 5 Loyola Marymount vs. No. 4 Saint Mary's, 9:00, ESPNU
No. 7 Santa Clara vs. No. 3 Pepperdine, 12:00 midnight, ESPN2
And now a rundown of the action in the power conferences and more.
Florida State at Notre Dame, 12:00, ESPN2
Pittsburgh at Clemson, 12:00, ACCN
Virginia at Louisville, 4:00, ESPN2
Duke at North Carolina, 6:00, ESPN
Virginia Tech at North Carolina State was canceled.
The big game, of course, is Duke and North Carolina. As noted above, Duke really needs this one to have some hope heading into next week's ACC tournament.
South Florida at Wichita State, 1:00
The Shockers look to avoid a bad loss and keep their spot as the AQ in the American and would wrap up the regular season championship in the American.
Oklahoma State at West Virginia, 2:00, ESPN2
Iowa State at Kansas State, 5:00, ESPN+
The Cowboys and Mountaineers are playing for seeding in both the Big 12 and NCAA tournaments. West Virginia will try to keep pressure on Villanova for a spot on two line.
Georgetown at Connecticut, 12:00, CBS
Villanova at Providence, 2:30, FOX
Butler at Creighton, 5:00, FOX
Seton Hall at St. John's, 7:00, FS1
Xavier at Marquette, 9:00, FS1
Villanova wrapped up the Big East title earlier this week with their win over Creighton. Now, it's about staying on the two line. Then on FS1, it's a pair of bubble teams. Xavier looks to keep their spot in the field against a Marquette team that recently won in Chapel Hill. Seton Hall absolutely cannot afford a loss to the Johnnies. Entering the Big East tournament at 13-12 would give them absolutely no room error.
Rutgers at Minnesota, 12:00, FOX
Indiana at Purdue, 2:00, ESPN
Illinois at Ohio State, 4:00, ESPN
The Illini and Buckeyes meet in a huge showdown with NCAA No. 1 seed implications. Rutgers had a bit of a stumble but can get themselves right against a Minnesota team that has hit rock bottom and will enter the Big Ten tournament 0-10 away from home. Indiana has at least won away from home, but are in a world of trouble if they can't win at Purdue today.
Utah State at Fresno State, 11:00, FS1
UNLV at Wyoming, 11:00, CBSSN
Utah State will look to avoid the same fate that Boise State suffered earlier this week, a loss to Fresno State. A win keeps them near the cut line. A loss would be devastating going into the conference tournament.
Arizona State at Utah, 2:00, FS1
USC at UCLA, 4:00, CBS
The USC/UCLA winner will be at least the No. 2 seed in the Pac-12 tournament and will be huge Oregon State fans Sunday. If Oregon State upsets Oregon, the USC/UCLA winner would claim the regular season Pac-12 title. The Ducks win the title if they win the Civil War.
South Carolina at Kentucky, 12:00, ESPN
Mississippi State at Auburn, 1:00, SECN
Alabama at Georgia, 2:00, CBS
LSU at Missouri, 3:00, SECN
Texas A&M at Arkansas, 5:00, SECN
Vanderbilt at Ole Miss, 7:00, SECN
LSU at Missouri is the highlight game here. LSU could use a win at Missouri to move them away from the bubble and secure third place in the SEC. A loss for Missouri could inch them closer to the always-dangerous 8/9 game in the NCAA Tournament. Alabama hopes to keep the pressure on the Big Ten teams, namely Illinois and Ohio State, in their quest for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament after already locking up their first SEC regular-season title since 2002.