Feb 19, 2011, 7:19 PM EDT
West Virginia 72, No. 8 Notre Dame 58: West Virginia was on the right side of the bubble coming into today, but knocking off the Irish helps solidify their standing and gives the ‘Eers some room for error down the stretch. West Virginia is now 8-6 in the Big East, but three of their last four games come against ranked teams. As long as WVU avoids a slip-up against suddenly scrappy Rutgers, they will get to .500 in the league, which should be enough to earn a bid.
As for Notre Dame, their road struggles continue. They are now 3-5 in true road games, with all five of their losses coming by at least double digits. The wins came at South Florida, DePaul, and Pitt, a team that Mike Brey has discovered the secret to beating. The Irish have done enough that they should still end up being a top four seed, but this won’t help quiet the doubters saying the Irish are going to be overseeded.
Michigan State 61, Illinois 57: This was a huge win for Michigan State. They came in losers of six of their last eight games, but they looked like a different team in their last two games. Illinois has been struggling as well, so the magnitude of this win isn’t what you would normally expect from a matchup of these two programs in February, but it is important nonetheless. The Spartans simply need wins at this point. The real test will come next week at Minnesota and against Purdue.
For Illinois, the loss is just as important. Like Michigan State, Illinois simply needs to start stockpiling wins. They have lost seven of their last 11 now, and are now 17-10 on the season and 7-7 in the Big Ten. Making matters worse, they have now lost five of their last six on the road. The struggles of both the Illini and the Spartans have been will publicized. Michigan State looks like they are on the right track in terms of turning it around. Illinois? They better show up ready to play when they travel to Ohio State and Purdue.
No. 25 Utah State 75, St. Mary’s 65: This game was essentially dubbed the play-out game. With the win, Utah State finally has beaten a top 90 team, but one win over a WCC opponent is not generally enough to earn an at-large bid. The Aggies are probably in precarious enough position that it would behoove them to win the WAC Tournament. As far as St. Mary’s is concerned, the Gaels have now lost two straight games, including at San Diego, who is a sub-300 team in the RPI. The Gaels have a bit of a stronger resume than Utah State does, so they can better absorb the loss, but this is still a dangerous spot for them to be in. The game against Gonzaga next week is now the most important game of their entire season. It also doubles as a chance for the Gaels to win the WCC outright.
No. 19 UNC 48, BC 46: It was an ugly game, but BC’s defense sparked a late run that got them the ball with a chance to win. Unfortunately, Reggie Jackson’s three rimmed out, and while this loss won’t be a knock on BC’s resume, it certainly is a missed opportunity. The Eagles are firmly on the bubble, as there is that much on their resume beyond wins over Texas A&M and Virginia Tech. A road win against a top 25 team could have pushed them over the hump.
Georgia 69, Tennessee 63: The Bulldogs picked up a huge win on Saturday, going into Thompson-Boling Arena and knocking off the Vols. Georgia was in a dangerous spot if they lost this game. They had blown a couple of chances late in games earlier in the season, and with road trips left against Florida and Alabama, there was a distinct possibility that the Bulldogs could finish the season at .500 in SEC play. Georgia still has work to do, but they can feel much better about their chances for dancing with this win.
UNLV 68, Colorado State 61: This might have been the biggest bubble game of the day. UNLV desperately needed this win. Coming in they had five losses in the MWC, with all five coming to BYU, SDSU, and Colorado State. There was no chance that they could get swept by the top three teams in the conference and still earn an NCAA bid. They still have plenty of work left to do even with this win, however. A win over SDSU or BYU in the MWC Tournament would be a good way to start. For Colorado State, this loss all but guarantees that the Rams will miss the NCAA Tournament if they cannot knock off SDSU or BYU. The good news? The Rams get another shot at both during the regular season.
Virginia 61, Virginia Tech 54: Big loss for the Hokies, who have now been swept by the ‘Hoos. Tech has had a couple of bad road losses this year, losing to Georgia Tech and BC in addition to UVa, but they are also 17-8 on the year and, including this loss, have won 13 of their last 17 games. VT is also undefeated at home in ACC play, and if they can pull off an upset of Duke in Blacksburg next week, the Hokies will be fine.
Alabama 69, Arkansas 56: The Crimson Tide has plenty of wins like this. If ‘Bama truly wants to be considered a serious at-large candidate, they need to beat a couple of teams from the SEC East while cleaning up against their divisional opponents. Their early losses have put them in a huge hole in terms of their RPI, but a strong finish can erase those memories.
Texas Tech 78, Baylor 69: Baylor is in big time trouble. They’ve now lost to Texas Tech at home and Oklahoma in league play, they have no quality wins outside Texas A&M, and they are at .500 in league play. The good news? They play Missouri, Texas A&M, and Texas down the stretch, so there are opportunities to play their way in.
Nebraska 70, No. 3 Texas 67: We’ve already discussed what this loss means for the ‘Horns, but it was also significant for the Cornhuskers. Nebraska is now the Cincinnati of the Big 12. They have a nice record, they have no bad losses, but they didn’t have a marquee win until today. Expect Nebraska to break into some bubble watches this week.
Gonzaga 70, San Francisco 53: The Zags are probably still on the wrong side of the bubble, but this was still an important win. They move a game in front of the Dons for second place in the WCC, and with a game next week against St. Mary’s, there is still a chance for them to win a share of the WCC regular season title.
No. 17 Texas A&M 67, Oklahoma State 66: The Cowboys have their backs against the wall, to the point that they can barely be considered on the bubble after this loss. That changes if they can win at Kansas on Monday, then win out in the Big 12. That only gets them to .500 in league play, however.
Rice 67, Memphis 52: The Tigers are all but out of the at-large conversation at this point, even if they can win the C-USA regular season title.
George Mason 77, Northern Iowa 71: This is another nice win for the hottest team in the country. They still cannot afford another conference loss simply because the rest of their opponents are not very good, but this team is getting very close to being an at-large lock.
Cincinnati 93, Providence 81 OT: The Bearcats are not winning pretty — they blew a 16 point second half lead today — but a win is a win. Cincy gets Georgetown twice, UConn, and Marquette in their last four games. They would be smart to win two of those games.
Marquette 73, Seton Hall 64: The Golden Eagles are now back to .500 in league play, but they are still in big trouble. With the number of close losses to good teams that Marquette has racked up, they are still alive. But they probably need to win three of their last four games, including getting a win at UConn.
Butler 79, Illinois-Chicago 52: Believe it or not, the Bulldogs are still on the bubble. This is a long way from what you would call a resume win, but its a win that Butler had to have.
Florida State 84, Wake Forest 66: The Seminoles should win this game without Chris Singleton, but the impressive offensive numbers? Much of that was the result of garbage time.
Kansas State 77, Oklahoma 62: The Wildcats weren’t as impressive as they were in their win over Kansas, but this is a game they absolutely couldn’t afford to lose.
Missouri Valley: Missouri State was crushed by Valpo. Wichita State lost at home to VCU. Indiana State lost at home to Morehead State. Northern Iowa blew an early lead to George Mason at home. This is a one bid league, folks.
Dayton 64, Duquesne 63: The Dukes were a long shot to get an at-large bid as it is, and losing this game — which knocks them two games off the A-10 pace — ends that hope.
UAB 63, UCF 58: UAB actually has a top 40 RPI. They don’t have — and won’t get — any great wins this season, but if they win out they will have a chance at earning a bid.
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