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Bubble Banter: Thursday’s winners

Mar 14, 2013, 3:12 PM EST

Big 12 Basketball Tournament - Quarterfinals Getty Images

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Iowa State: The Cyclones were probably in a good enough spot that they could have gotten an at-large bid to the tournament even with a loss to Oklahoma on Thursday afternoon, but thanks to a late-second half surge, Fred Hoiberg’s club is headed back to the Big Dance. They now have four top 50 wins, an 8-8 record against the top 100 and, if all goes according to plan, a third shot at knocking off Kansas.

Southern Miss: The Golden Eagles are barely on the bubble at this point, but there’s still a slim chance thanks to their strong RPI. But USM doesn’t have a single top 50 win and only one win against a team higher than 95th in the RPI. It’s going to take a lot of luck for them to get an at-large bid without earning the Conference USA automatic bid, but there’s still a chance.

Tennessee: The Vols got a win against Mississippi State on Thursday in the SEC tournament, which was important more for the fact that they couldn’t afford a loss to the Bulldogs in their current bubble situation. With four top 50 wins and nine top 100 wins, the Vols should feel decent about their current chances. Their RPI of 55 is a bit concerning, and with a matchup against fellow bubbler Alabama in the quarterfinals on Friday, that could end up turning into a play-out game. As is always the case with bubble teams, my advice is to just keep on winning.

Maryland: The Terps are still alive! But barely. Maryland needs to beat Duke tomorrow, and they probably need to hope that they get a chance to beat North Carolina on Saturday. If they win that, and then lose to Miami in the ACC title game … they still may not get in. But that’s their best chance.

UMass: The Minutemen have some work left to do, but they have a chance at getting themselves into the tournament with a strong performance in Brooklyn this week. They beat GW on Thursday night, but with just one top 50 win, Derek Kellogg’s club probably needs to pick up a win or two more to really have a chance at an at-large. To be fair, seven wins between 51-100 gives them a sneaky-good profile.

Iowa: The Hawkeyes made their first step on Thursday night, knocking off Northwestern in the first round of the Big Ten tournament. They have a lot of work left to do, however. There are some good wins there, but a non-conference SOS of sub-300 and three sub-100 losses are ugly. Beat Michigan State on Friday, and then we’ll talk.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.