SATURDAY’S FIVE BIGGEST BUBBLE WINNERS
Kentucky: If the Wildcats wanted to play in the NCAA tournament this season, they had a choice on Saturday: beat Florida, or win the SEC tournament. And after digging themselves a seven point hole with 7:33 left in the game, Kentucky clamped down, closing the game on an 11-0 run and picking up the kind of win that, as of today, will likely have them sitting on the right side of the bubble. It’s not done yet — Kentucky probably cannot afford to lose to whoever they are going to end up facing in the first round of the SEC tournament — but the dream is still alive. And that’s what’s important.
Boise State: The Broncos picked up a massive win, all-but locking up an NCAA bid when they knocked off San Diego State at home on Saturday afternoon. Boise State gets a rematch with the Aztecs in the first round of the MWC tournament, and whoever ends up losing that game will likely have a bit of a nerve-wracking Selection Sunday. But with how weak the bubble currently is, wins over SDSU, Colorado State, UNLV and at Creighton — and bad losses coming without key players — should out weigh NC SOS issues.
Tennessee: The Vols are basically in the same place as Kentucky after beating Missouri on Saturday afternoon: they’re in the tournament as of today, but a) they cannot afford to lose their first round game in the SEC tournament and b) they could probably win another game or two to ensure that they aren’t too close to the cutline when those bid thieves get to stealin’.
Baylor: Aaaaand, all of a sudden, Baylor is back in the conversation. That’s how weak the bubble is right now. Baylor had lost five of six and eight of 11 entering Saturday, with one top 50 win and four top 100 wins. Then they beat Kansas — by 22 — and they are a couple wins in the Big 12 tournament from an at-large bid.
Everyone on the bubble: The best news for bubble teams on Saturday? Belmont won their automatic bid. Creighton and Wichita State both advanced to the Missouri Valley title game. Middle Tennessee State is still alive in the Sun Belt tournament. And Louisiana Tech? They got drubbed in their last two regular season games, knocking them off the bubble. Making sure those mid-major teams in at-large contention don’t need an at-large is the key for teams sitting on the cutline.
Who else helped their profile?: Southern Miss, Middle Tennessee State, Alabama, Cincinnati, UMass, Iowa State, Ole Miss
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.