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Bubble Banter: Just how close is Gonzaga to missing the tournament?

Feb 21, 2014, 1:50 AM EDT

Tyler Haws, Kevin Pangos

There are 23 days left until Selection Sunday. Every morning from now until the bracket comes out, we’ll help you get caught up on the happenings with impact on the bubble from the night before. 

You can see NBCSports.com’s latest bracket here.

BYU (RPI: 42, KenPom: 55) knocked off Gonzaga (RPI: 24, KenPom: 27) on Thursday night, setting up an intriguing scenario as we head into the home stretch.

The Cougars pick up their third best win of the season, which should be enough to get them clear of play-in games for now. Barring a loss to Portland or at San Diego — or an opening round exit in the WCC tournament — BYU should be dancing.

Gonzaga, on the other hand, becomes one of the most interesting cases for the selection committee. The Zags are ranked No. 25 and have a top 25 RPI. But their profile is, frankly, lacking. Their only top 50 win this season came against BYU, which will be weighed against a loss at Portland. They are 1-3 against the top 50 and 7-4 against the top 100, with the best win coming at West Virginia.

Here’s the kicker: their last three games of the regular season are at San Diego, at Pacific and at Saint Mary’s.

The Zags are in the tournament as of today, and they are probably in fairly comfortably. But the margin for error is much slimmer than one will realize looking at the name on their jersey and the number next to it.

THE REST OF THURSDAY’S BUBBLE ACTION

Nebraska (RPI: 51, KenPom: 59) avoided what they couldn’t afford — a loss at home to Penn State. The Cornhuskers have a sneaky-strong profile, which includes wins over Ohio State, Minnesota and Michigan State on the road. I still think they need to get that win over Wisconsin in the season finale to have a real shot.

Stanford (RPI: 48, KenPom: 34) is making a nice, late-season push. They’ve won eight of their last 11 games after knocking off USC. They have four top 50 wins, three of which came on the road. Their two worst losses were both road games in league play. Three of their last five are at home, as well. This team should be dancing.

Saint Mary’s (RPI: 61, KenPom: 65) lost at San Francisco tonight. A top 100 loss on the road wouldn’t be a big deal if the Gaels didn’t have five losses to teams with an RPI of 139 or lower.

Georgetown (RPI: 59, KenPom: 66) lost their second game to Seton Hall this season. Along with a loss to Northeastern the Hoyas are probably on the wrong side of the bubble as of today. But their final four games are Xavier, at Marquette, Creighton and at Villanova. They have a chance to play their way into the tournament.

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