Maryland Terrapins Layman works to shoot around Duke Blue Devils Kelly during ACC Championship game in Greensboro

Bubble Banter: Maryland, Ole Miss headline Friday’s big movers

Leave a comment

This page will be updated throughout the day. Come back and feed your bubble fix. You can find the Bubble Losers here.

It’s a massive day for teams on the bubble’s cutline, as the Atlantic 10 and the SEC quarterfinals today could determine a handful of bids, for both the NCAA tournament and the NIT. Here’s what to watch for today:

Maryland: Finally, someone on the bubble decide to make a serious play for an at-large bid. The Terps picked up a massive win over Duke — the second time this season that they have beaten their rivals — which puts them that much closer to the cut line. It becomes all the more important due to the number of bubble teams that can currently be found on the bubble losers list. That said, the Terps probably aren’t in just yet. Their non-conference schedule is an embarrassment, and they piled up some ugly losses in league play. Maryland fans should hope that they beat North Carolina in the semis. A loss to Miami in the ACC tournament title might be enough to get them in. Regardless of what happens, anything short of the automatic bid, and the Terps will be sweating it out on Selection Sunday.

Ole Miss: The Rebels look like they may end up dancing after all. On Friday evening, the Rebels erased a 13 point second half deficit thanks to 11 points in the final six minutes from Derrick Millinghaus — who also happened to hit the game-winning runner with 1.1 seconds left on the clock — and knocked off Missouri, 64-62. Ole Miss now has two top 50 wins (both Missouri), but they do have eight top 100 wins. The problem? Two sub-200 losses on the road. The Rebels simply cannot afford to lose to Vandy on Saturday if they want to dance.

UMass: The Minutemen have a chance to make a move tomorrow. They entered Friday as the sixth team out of the bracket, according to our Dave Ommen. They beat Temple on Friday, which is unquestionably helpful. The Owls are a tournament team and another top 50 win. But UMass needs more if they want to leapfrog all of the teams currently in front of them. They get VCU on Saturday. Win that game, and they might actually be an NCAA tournament team. It would be nice to see someone play their way into the tournament instead of earning a bid thanks to the rest of the country losing.

Southern Miss: The Golden Eagles are a long shot. They probably need to make it to the Conference USA tournament finals to even have a prayer of getting an at-large bid. But they beat UTEP on Friday, getting themselves one step closer.

Alabama: The Crimson Tide are probably the biggest bubble winner of the day to this point. Not only did they inch themselves that much closer to the bubble, but they did it by knocking off a team directly in front of them — Dave Ommen has the Tide as the one of the first four out. Alabama still has some work left to do thanks to a myriad of awful losses from the middle of the season. They get Florida on Saturday. Win that, and we’ll talk.

Everyone else on the bubble: You know who loved the happenings of today? Middle Tennessee State. You know who else did? St. Mary’s. And Boise State. And Oklahoma. And all of the other teams that have already finished their seasons and are currently playing the waiting game. Because thus far, it’s been ideal for those teams. Tennessee, La Salle and Virginia all lost. Alabama won, but if they lose to Florida tomorrow, they won’t be getting an at-large bid. Now those bubble teams need to root for Ole Miss, Kentucky and UMass all to lose tonight.

  • Ole Miss vs. Missouri (10:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
  • Oregon vs. Utah (11:30 p.m. ET, Pac-12)

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament chances take a major blow in loss to No. 16 SMU

SMU guard Nic Moore (11) shoots over Gonzaga forward Kyle Wiltjer (33) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
(AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
Leave a comment

Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.

The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.

It wasn’t pretty.

And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.

Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.

The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.

But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.

POSTERIZED: Cal’s Jaylen Brown has his dunk contest entry

California's Jaylen Brown lays up a shot against Oregon State in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Leave a comment

Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: