Florida v Kentucky

Bubble Banter: Who helped their tournament chances?

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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.

BUBBLE BANTER: All of the action on the fringe of the NCAA tournament

Fred VanVleet
(AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
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Tonight’s bubble action. This post will be updated as the games are completed.

Cincinnati at UCF, 7:00 p.m.
Pitt at No. 12 Miami, 7:00 p.m.
No. 25 Wichita State at Drake, 8:00 p.m.
Ole Miss at Florida, 9:00 p.m.
Georgia at No. 22 Kentucky, 9:00 p.m.
Arkansas at Mississippi State, 9:00 p.m.

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: A Big 12 and a Big Ten showdown

Denzel Valentine
(AP Photo/Al Goldis)
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GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 10 West Virginia at No. 6 Kansas, 7:00 p.m.

The last time these two teams got together, West Virginia actually knocked off Kansas in Morgantown. It was the third time in the last three seasons that WVU has beaten KU at home. So there’s some revenge at stake here. But there’s also the whole Big 12 title race, which West Virginia currently leads. If the Mountaineers win tonight, they’ll be up by two games on Kansas with the tie breaker and just seven games left to play. The Jayhawks regular season title streak could be over if that happens.

THIS ONE’S GOOD, TOO: No. 8 Michigan State at No. 18 Purdue, 7:00 p.m.

We think the Spartans are back to their early season form after wins over Maryland (at home), Northwestern, Rutgers and Michigan. If Michigan State really wants to prove something to the college basketball world, they will go into West Lafayette tonight and get a win. Denzel Valentine vs. Raphael Davis will be fun.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR

  1. Pitt will pay a visit to No. 12 Miami in a game the Panthers could really use a win in. Pitt hasn’t been the most consistent team in the country and without adding a few quality wins they could be looking at the bubble.
  2. Duquesne will be paying a visit to No. 19 Dayton, who moved into a tie for first place in the Atlantic 10 thanks to VCU’s loss on Saturday.
  3. Georgia is right there on the bubble, and they will have a chance to try and push themselves into a better spot when they play at No. 22 Kentucky tonight.
  4. Creighton probably has to win out to have a shot of making the NCAA tournament, and that includes tonight, when they host No. 5 Xavier.
  5. No. 7 Virginia will be hosting Virginia Tech, who picked off the Wahoos in Blacksburg earlier this year.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • No. 1 Villanova at DePaul, 8:30 p.m.
  • No. 25 Wichita State at Drake, 8:00 p.m.