BUBBLE WATCH: Nervous Sunday awaits for bubble teams
For the teams sliding around on the NCAA Tournament bubble, there are no more opportunities to change their resumes.
The only thing left is to wait for the brackets to be announced Sunday.
Some bubble teams used their respective conference tournaments to leave a good impression on the selection committee. Florida had a good run in the Southeastern Conference before losing to Auburn . Seton Hall made it to the Big East finals before falling to Villanova 74-72 . Utah State left no doubt they’ll be dancing after winning the Mountain West .
Others left the action quickly. If programs like Clemson, Indiana and Texas are left out of the 68-team field, they’ll certainly regret early exits in their conference tournaments.
This year’s Big Dance guesswork could be tougher than normal because it’s unclear how strictly the selection committee will stick to its new NET ranking system when making decisions about what teams get the last few at-large bids.
The NET replaced the oft-criticized RPI, but might prove just as divisive.
Some bubble teams like NC State (No. 34 as of Saturday night), Clemson (No. 35) and Texas (No. 38) have fared well in the NET rankings. Others like Seton Hall (No. 58), UNC Greensboro (No. 59), Alabama (No. 61) and St. John’s (No. 72) won’t have that luxury when the committee is crunching numbers.
The good news for bubble teams is that most of the favorites prevailed in Saturday’s games, thwarting the kind of surprises that lead to unexpected automatic bids. Utah State beat San Diego State in the Mountain West and Buffalo rallied to top Bowling Green in the Mid-American Conference.
One of the notable exceptions is in the Pac-12, where Oregon upset top-seed Washington 68-48 to claim the league title. The Atlantic 10 will also crown an unexpected champion Sunday when Saint Louis and St. Bonaventure face off for the title.
Here are a few teams on the rise and sliding as we reach Selection Sunday:
ON THE RISE
Florida:A couple good wins in the SEC Tournament, especially over No. 9 LSU, put the Gators in a much better bubble position. But Florida will still be a little nervous when the bracket’s announced after a 65-62 loss to No. 22 Auburn on Saturday.
Seton Hall: The Pirates were probably in the NCAA Tournament before this week started, but a nice run to the Big East finals has them feeling very confident.
The Pac-12: There was a small chance coming into this week that the Pac-12 would have the embarrassment of being a one-bid league after a down season. Now it might get three bids with Oregon, Washington and Arizona State making the field, though the Sun Devils aren’t a sure bet to hear their name called.
Memphis: The Tigers’ win over Central Florida on Friday put the program on the fringe of the bubble conversation, but Saturday’s 61-58 loss to No. 11 Houston was a big blow. Memphis appears to be a longshot to make the bracket, but stranger things have happened.
The Mid-Majors: Teams like Belmont, UNC Greensboro, Furman and Lipscomb haven’t been able to improve their resumes for a few days. Watching Oregon steal an automatic bid late Saturday night wasn’t a great way to go into Sunday.
BEYOND THE BUBBLE
Could the Atlantic Coast Conference get three No. 1 seeds? It certainly seems like a possibility.
Duke - with a healthy Zion Williamson - won the ACC Tournament title with a 73-63 victory over Florida State . Then there’s Virginia (29-3) and North Carolina (27-6), which also had fantastic seasons.
The NET rankings are a fan. Virginia was No. 1 as of late Saturday night. Duke was No. 3 and North Carolina was No. 7.
“I hope we get the due that we should get for that level of achievement and because the league has achieved a lot,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said Saturday night.
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