That NCAA tournament bubble’s getting awfully crowded

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We’ve slowly started to weed through some bubble teams.  Not that we won’t have any more surprises.  It’s been challenging to pare teams down and provide some separation.  As we head into March, Kansas State, UCLA, and George Mason move off the bubble as teams that should be in the Field of 68. 

Fortunately, we added Colorado back to the bubble before the CU’s victory over Texas.   Maryland missed a chance to join the conversation by falling at North Carolina on Sunday.  Washington State picked up a road win at Washington Sunday night and now owns a sweep of the Huskies.  Both remain on the bubble with two games left before the Pac-10 tournament.  Teams falling off the bubble at this point: Wichita State and Minnesota

Expect a few more teams to leave the bubble as we head into Championship Week.  We may not have a clear picture about the bottom of the bracket until the Friday or Saturday before the bracket is released. 

Bubble Banter highlights the teams we believe are on the NCAA Bubble. If a team isn’t listed, they aren’t a bubble team at the time of the update. RPI and SOS data is credited to CollegeRPI.com.

UPDATED: Monday, February 28

Automatic Bids (31): None decided | Total Spots (68): Number of total teams in the Field.

  • Projected Locks (22): Teams who project to have secured a spot in the 2011 NCAA Tournament.
  • Should Be In (9): These teams are teams in solid position to receive an at-large bid.
  • Bubble: (28): Teams projected to be at or near the cutline for being selected as at-large candidates.
  • Spots available (12): Number of projected available openings for the bracket.
  • Leaving the Bubble: Kansas State (SBI), UCLA (SBI), George Mason (SBI), Wichita State (off), Minnesota (off)
  • Joining the Bubble: None
  • Notes: RPI and SOS data are through 10 p.m. ET (Feb. 27) | Washington/Washington State were updated Feb. 28.
Atlantic 10
Locks: Xavier, Temple | Should Be In: None | Bubble: Richmond
  • Richmond (22-7 | 11-3) | RPI: 62 | SOS: 138 | – Not much has changed for the Spiders. Their win Saturday at Charlotte holds them steady. The win over Purdue continues to be a major helping point, and wins at Dayton and over VCU are okay, too. Richmond can’t afford a loss at St. Joseph’s before a final home date with Duquesne. It may still take a run to the A-10 tournament final depending on what happens around them.
ACC
Locks: Duke, North Carolina | Should Be In: None | Bubble: Boston College, Clemson, Florida State, Virginia Tech
  • Boston College (17-11 | 7-7) | RPI: 46 | SOS: 18 | – The Eagles won at Virginia to avoid an untimely bad loss. Next up is a trip to Virginia Tech – which just upset Duke. BC has still lost 6 of 9 and remains just 1-5 vs. Top 50 RPI teams (Texas AM). The Eagles need to beat Tech and then take care of Wake to improve their standing heading into the ACC Tournament. A loss in either will put some added pressure on the Eagles to win a couple of games in the league tourney.
  • Clemson (19-9 | 8-6) | RPI:69 | SOS: 97 | – After taking care of Wake Forest, it’s off to Duke before a home date with Virginia Tech. Both are critical games, and you have to figure the Blue Devils are going to be feisty after losing at Virginia Tech on Saturday. That said, beating Duke is Clemson’s last chance for a marquis victory. Other than a home win over Florida State, the resume is very average. Clemson has non-league losses to Old Dominion, Michigan, and South Carolina.
  • Florida State (20-8 | 10-4) | RPI: 48 | SOS: 88 | – Overall, Florida State remains in pretty good position given its strong ACC record. A weak non-conferense SOS (no. 227), could still be concerning if FSU stumbles down the stretch. The Seminoles are just 2-4 vs. Top 50 teams, but they do have a home win over Duke. They also beat Baylor in Hawaii. Finishing third in the ACC standings will likely be enough. At this point, that looks promising. FSU closes with North Carolina at home and NC State on the Road.
  • Virginia Tech (19-8 | 9-5) | RPI: 53 | SOS: 85 | – Beating Duke gives the Hokies the type of marquis victory they missed last season. It’s not enough to take VT off the bubble, but their tournament odds certainly improved Saturday night. The Hokies are 2-5 vs. Top 50 teams to go along with three sub-100 RPI losses. Next up, BC arrives before a trip to Clemson. Both have their own spots on the bubble. Winning both would make the ACC Tournament a whole lot easier. A split means that Va. Tech would need to avoid a first-round upset in the league tournament.
BIG EAST
Locks: Connecticut, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, Georgetown, Syracuse, Villanova, Louisville, St. John’s | Should Be In: West Virginia | Bubble: Cincinnati, Marquette
  • Cincinnati (22-7 | 9-7) | RPI: 41 | SOS: 81 | – The win at Georgetown gave UC’s profile a huge boost. It also guaranteed the Bearcats at least a 9-9 finish in the Big East. That’s why Sunday’s loss at home to Connecticut isn’t cause for alarm – provided the Bearcats don’t begin a free-fall that ends in a first-round exit in the Big East Tournament. UC is 4-6 vs. Top 50 RPI teams (Xavier, St. John’s, Louisville, G’town) – a pretty solid mark. While the albatross of a horrible non-conference schedule (No. 281) still lingers, the Bearcats have done enough within the Big East to lessen its impact. One more win should be enough for UC to secure a spot and move off the bubble.
  • Marquette (18-11 | 9-7) | RPI: 51 | SOS: 30 | – After a huge win at Connecticut on Thursday, Marquette kept it rolling with a strong home victory over Providence on Sunday. That’s three straight for MU. The Golden Eagles are 4-10 vs. Top 25 RPI teams – an amazing number of high-level games. A schedule like that helps – if you can find enough victories. Up next is a visit from Cincinnati before a closing contest at Seton Hall. Winning both should be enough to move the Golden Eagles off the bubble. A split wouldn’t be horrible, but it would create some urgency to win at least one game in New York.
BIG 10
Locks: Ohio State, Purdue, Wisconsin | Should Be In: None | Bubble: Illinois, Michigan State, Michigan, Penn State
  • Illinois (18-11 | 8-8) | RPI: 40 | SOS: 17 | – Illinois avoided major problems by taking care of Iowa at home Saturday. Up next is a trip to Purdue – a very difficult challenge. Then, it’s home to Indiana. As long as the Illini take care of the Hoosiers at home, their propsects are favorable heading into the Big Ten Tournament. A loss would put a lot of pressure on Illinois to win a couple of games in Indy. Good wins include N. Carolina, at Gonzaga, Wisconsin, and Michigan State. If it’s a close call among Big Ten teams, the Illini beat both Michigan and Minnesota – teams they played only once in the Big Ten rotation. The loss at UIC is a major sore point.
  • Michigan State (15-12 | 8-8) | RPI: 38 | SOS: 5 | The Spartans were dominated at home Sunday by Purdue after winning two straight. That makes the last two games (Iowa, at Michigan) very important. Michigan State is now just 3-9 vs. Top 50 teams – thanks to Minnesota’s free-fall. Can MSU get to 10 league wins? That might be what it takes to have a chance heading into the Big Ten Tournament. A strong schedule will help, but MSU is squarely on the cutline as we move into March.
  • Michigan (17-12 | 8-9) | RPI: 57 | SOS: 20 | Winning at Minnesota wasn’t a great win, but it knocked the Gophers off the bubble and keeps the Wolverines in the conversation. While there’s not a lot to love about the Wolverine’s profile (2-8 vs. Top 50 teams), they have won 7 of 10 and were a last-second banked-in three pointer at the buzzer from beating Wisconsin. Michigan closes at home against Michigan State. A weak bubble continues to help. Much like Marquette, Michigan has several close losses and a solid strength of schedule. On another note, Michigan lost to Illinois in its only matchup with the Illini; just something to keep in mind. On the flip side, the Wolverines swept Penn State.
  • Penn State (15-12 | 8-8) | RPI: 56 | SOS: 9 | Surprisingly, Penn State gained some bubble ground with its win at Northwestern. For one, it was the Lions’ second road win. It also moved them back to .500 in league play. Penn State has three solid victories at home (Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan State). That’s more than some other teams at the cutline. The flip side is that PSU was swept by Michigan and is still just 2-8 in road games. Up next is a visit from Ohio State, followed by a trip to Minnesota. A split would keep PSU in the conversation heading to the Big 10 Tournament. A pair of losses probably ends the Lions’ run.
BIG 12
Locks: Kansas, Texas | Should Be In: Missouri, Texas AM, Kansas State | Bubble: Baylor, Colorado
  • Baylor (17-10 | 7-7) | RPI: 72 | SOS: 48 | – Baylor has been a hard team to figure out. Major talent with very average results. Last week the Bears lost a home game to Texas Tech and were blown out at Missouri. Then on Saturday, Baylor took care of Texas AM at home, giving the Bears a season sweep of the Aggies. Most likely, that’s a match-up issue. Either way, Baylor is just 2-5 vs. Top 50 teams – both of those the wins over Texas AM. Against the Top 100, the Bears are 5-7 – a lower win total than some other bubble teams. Out of conference, the Bears failed to win a Top 100 RPI game and their non-league SOS ranks No. 209. Now, it’s off to Oklahoma State before a closing game at home with Texas. Winning both would be huge. A split will require the Bears to do some work at the Big 12 Tournament. Two losses would be a major blow.
  • Colorado (17-11 | 7-7) | RPI: 76 | SOS: 73 | – Home wins don’t get much bigger than beating a potential No. 1 seed – ask Virginia Tech. The Buffs certainly improved their at-large hopes with a win over Texas on Saturday. It gives Colorado a 5-7 mark vs. Top 50 teams – a pretty solid total – especially compared to a team like Baylor. Elswhere, however, CU has struggled as a 9-11 mark vs. Top 200 teams suggests. The problem is a horrific non-conference SOS (No. 322). That could give the Selection Committee a reason to leave the Buffaloes at home. Up next is a trip to Iowa State before a home date with Nebraska. Winning both would be advised. A split will keep CU in the at-large picture. Among Colorado’s achievements is a sweep of Kansas State.
MOUNTAIN WEST
Locks: BYU, San Diego State | Should Be In: UNLV | Bubble: Colorado State
  • Colorado State (17-10 | 8-6) | RPI: 47 | SOS: 38 | – The Rams’ at-large hopes took a major hit after the loss at Air Force on Saturday. CSU’s best wins are UNLV and Southern Miss and the Rams’ once strong Mountain West record has fallen a bit. It’ll likely take a win at San Diego State on March 5 to stay in the at-large picture. A loss to Utah in between would be devastating. CSU is 2-5 vs. the Top 50 and 4-7 vs. the Top 100. Early losses to Sam Houston and Hampton remain obstacles.
PAC 10
Locks: NONE | Should Be In: Arizona, UCLA | Bubble: Washington, Washington State
  • Washington (19-9 | 10-6) | RPI: 43 | SOS: 64 | – The loss to Washington State at home could put the Huskies on a dangerous path. UW has now been swept by the Cougars and other than a couple more league wins, their profiles are starting to become very similar. Once a solid tournament team, the Huskies are just 2-5 vs. Top 50 teams and 6-7 vs. the Top 100. Remaining home games with Southern Cal and UCLA are very important now. Winning both might be enough, a split would mean there’s work to do at the Pac-10 Tournament to secure a spot.
  • Washington State (18-10 | 8-8) | RPI: 76 | SOS: 93 | – After pulling an upset in Washington Sunday night, the Cougars now own a season sweep of the Huskies. It also keeps WSU in the at-large discussion. With a weak bubble, who knows. Overall, WSU is still just 2-5 vs. Top 50 teams (both Washington) and 6-7 vs. Top 100 teams. Other notable wins are Gonzaga and Baylor. UCLA and Southern Cal visit to close the season. WCU might need both. A split would keep them in the at-large conversation heading into the Pac-10 Tournament.
SEC
Locks: Florida, Kentucky, Vanderbilt | Should Be In: Tennessee | Bubble: Georgia, Alabama
  • Georgia (19-9 | 8-6) | RPI: 37 | SOS: 29 | – The Bulldogs’ win at Tennessee last week added another Top 50 win to a resume in need of quality wins. After a loss at Florida, Georgia rebounded to beat South Carolina at home – a key victory. Up next is LSU before a road trip to Alabama. A loss to LSU would be problematic. A split would keep Georgia on the right side of the cutline, but might require win or two at the SEC Tournament. Winning out would put Georgia in good position.
  • Alabama (19-9 | 11-3) | RPI: 89 | SOS: 139 | – Losing at Ole Miss Saturday wasn’t a killer, but it does lessen the Tide’s margin down the stretch. How much wiggle room Alabama has depends largely on how the Committee views an overall dominant performance in the SEC West. The Tide’s closing games are at Florida and home to Georgia. Winning both would be best, a split would be testy, and losing both would mean the need for a long run at the SEC Tournament. Whether the Committee will overlook the Tide’s poor start (losses to St. Peter’s, Iowa, Seton Hall) largely depends on how the Tide finish.
BEST OF THE REST
Locks: NONE | Should Be In: George Mason | Bubble: Butler, Cleveland State, Missouri State, Old Dominion, Memphis, Southern Mississippi, UAB, Gonzaga, St. Mary’s, Utah State
  • Butler (20-9 | 13-5) | RPI: 45 | SOS: 79 | – Butler finished its regular season with 7 straight wins to earn the 2-seed and double bye in the Horizon League Tournament. A win over Florida State in Hawaii could still help, but the victory over Washington State isn’t what it once was – although the Cougars could rally. It’s the five league losses – including a sweep by Milwaukee – that’s holding Butler back. Getting to the Horizon League final would put BU right on the cutline.
  • Cleveland State (22-7 | 13-5) | RPI: 39 | SOS: 107 | – Vikings have to reach the Horizon League Tournament final to stay on the bubble.
  • Missouri State (23-7 | 15-3) | RPI: 43 | SOS: 126 | – Missouri State wrapped up the Missouri Valley title by beating Wichita State a second time on Saturday. That helps. However, the Bears’ best non-conference win is Pacific, and they have only two Top 100 RPI wins (both Wichita State). MSU has to reach the MVC Tournament final. After that, we’ll see.
  • Memphis (21-8 | 9-5) | RPI: 33 | SOS: 40 | – A lopsided loss at UTEP after being upset by Rice has knocked the Tigers’ profile down a few pegs. Memphis was also blown out in their prime-time matchups with Kansas, Georgetown and Tennessee. Even with a sweep of both UAB and Southern Miss, the Tigers can’t afford another C-USA loss before the conference tournament. The win at Gonzaga may help, but the Tigers have lost a lot of momentum.
  • UAB (20-7 | 10-4) | RPI: 31 | SOS: 71 | – Thanks to UAB and Memphis losing – and a win at Houston on Saturday – UAB finds itself back on top of Conference USA. An outright title might be necessary to be a solid at-large candidate on Selection Sunday. UAB is 0-5 vs. Top 50 teams but 7-6 vs. the Top 100. Their only bad loss is at Arizona State in November – so that’s somewhat a plus. UAB closes at Southern Miss and hosts East Carolina this week.
  • Southern Mississippi (18-7 | 9-5) | RPI: 42 | SOS: 87 | – After winning 6 of 7, Southern Miss lost at Central Florida to fall out of the C-USA lead. Finding a way to win the outright C-USA title remains USM’s best hope for at-large consideration. The Eagles have a win at California and beat UAB in their first meeting. Southern Miss hosts UAB this week in what could be an elimination game. USM is still just 1-3 vs. Top 50 teams and 6-6 vs. the Top 100. Losses to Colorado State and Mississippi won’t help; neither will a non-conference SOS ranked No. 240.
  • Old Dominion (24-6 | 14-4) | RPI: 27 | SOS: 74 | – ODU ended its regular season by beating William & Mary. The Monarchs finished tied for second in a good Colonial conference. While ODU is in good shape, we’ll leave them here until they win a game or two in the CAA Tournament. Good wins include Xavier, George Mason and Cleveland State. ODU played the No. 15 non-conference schedule and came within 3-points of beating Georetown.
  • VCU (21-10 | 12-6) | RPI: 66 | SOS: 108 | – After losing 4 of 5 down the stretch, VCU is barely holding onto a bubble spot.  Any loss before an appearance in the CAA final will end the Rams’ hopes.
  • Gonzaga (20-9 | 11-3) | RPI: 65 | SOS: 94 | – Gonzaga has won 8 of 9 and moved above the immediate cutline after winning at St. Mary’s in OT on Thursday. The ‘Zags followed it up with an easy win over San Diego on Saturday. They have wins over Xavier, Marquette, and Baylor. The Zags’ home loss to Memphis could still hamper the Bulldogs’ at-large chances, but a strong non-conference strength of schedule bodes well. A 2-6 mark vs. Top 50 RPI teams is somewhat concerning, but a 7-7 mark vs. the Top 100 helps.
  • St. Mary’s (21-7 | 11-3) | RPI: 49 | SOS: 113 | – The Gaels are a perfect example of why we don’t rush to move teams off the bubble. St. Mary’s lost three straight before beating Portland on Saturday. That leaves SMU in a tie with Gonzaga atop the West Coast Conference. An early win over St. John’s helps, and St. Mary’s split with Gonzaga. But the rest of the resume is light (1-4 vs. Top 50 teams and 4-6 vs. the Top 100). In the at-large discussion, the Gaels would currently fall behind Gonzaga.
  • Utah State (25-3 | 13-1) | RPI: 19 | SOS: 102 | – The Aggies have two remaining WAC road games. Win both and it could be hard to leave the Aggies out unless they trip up early in the WAC Tournament. What’s holding USU back is a very light 2-2 mark vs. Top 100 teams – and one of those is Long Beach State (No. 92 on Sunday). That’s why the BracketBuster win at St. Mary’s was huge. Even so, we can’t put USU in the Field of 68 right now.

March Madness 2020: Conference tournament brackets, schedules

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It’s time for the 2020 conference tournament brackets and the 2020 conference tournament schedules to be unveiled.

You know why?

Because it’s time for March Madness 2020!

Below, you will find an image that details every 2020 conference tournament schedule, and as you scroll down you will find each and every 2020 conference tournament bracket.

Make sure that you are ready for the madness.

(Click on the photo chart to enlarge and view all of the 2020 conference tournament schedules.)

To download a full graphic with all of the March Madness games, click here.

Below you will find a link to every one of the 2020 conference tournament brackets.

ACC

  • DATES: March 10-14
  • LOCATION: Greensboro, N.C.
  • TITLE GAME: March 14, 8:30 p.m., ESPN
  • BRACKET and SCHEDULE

AMERICAN

  • DATES: March 12-15
  • LOCATION: Fort Worth, Texas
  • TITLE GAME: March 15, 3:15 p.m., ESPN
  • BRACKET

AMERICA EAST

  • DATES: March 7, 10, 14
  • LOCATION: Campus sites
  • TITLE GAME: March 14, 11:00 a.m., ESPN2
  • BRACKET

ATLANTIC 10

  • DATES: March 11-15
  • LOCATION: Brooklyn
  • TITLE GAME: March 15, 1:00 p.m., CBS
  • BRACKET

ATLANTIC SUN

  • DATES: March 3, 5, 8
  • LOCATION: Campus sites
  • TITLE GAME: March 8, 3:00 p.m., ESPN
  • BRACKET

BIG EAST

  • DATES: March 11-14
  • LOCATION: New York
  • TITLE GAME: March 14, 6:30 p.m., FOX
  • BRACKET

BIG SKY

  • DATES: March 11-14
  • LOCATION: Boise, ID
  • TITLE GAME: March 14, 8:00 p.m., ESPNU
  • BRACKET

BIG SOUTH

  • DATES: March 3, 5, 6, 8,
  • LOCATION: Campus sites
  • TITLE GAME: March 8, 1:00 p.m., ESPN
  • BRACKET

BIG TEN

  • DATES: March 11-15
  • LOCATION: Indianapolis
  • TITLE GAME: March 15, 3:30 p.m., CBS
  • BRACKET

BIG 12

  • DATES: March 11-14
  • LOCATION: Kansas City
  • TITLE GAME: March 14, 6:00 p.m., ESPN
  • BRACKET

BIG WEST

  • DATES: March 12-14
  • LOCATION: Anaheim
  • TITLE GAME: March 14, 11:30 p.m., ESPN2
  • BRACKET

COLONIAL

  • DATES: March 7-10
  • LOCATION: Washington DC
  • TITLE GAME: March 10, 7:00 p.m., CBSSN
  • BRACKET

CONFERENCE USA

  • DATES: March 11-14
  • LOCATION: Frisco, Texas
  • TITLE GAME: March 14, 8:30 p.m., CBSSN
  • BRACKET

HORIZON LEAGUE

  • DATES: March 3, 5, 9, 10
  • LOCATION: Indianapolis
  • TITLE GAME: March 10, 7:00 p.m., ESPN
  • BRACKET

IVY LEAGUE

  • DATES: March 14-15
  • LOCATION: Cambridge, Mass.
  • TITLE GAME: March 15, 12:00 p.m., ESPN2
  • BRACKET

MAAC

  • DATES: March 10-14
  • LOCATION: Atlantic City, NJ
  • TITLE GAME: March 14, 4:00 p.m., ESPNU
  • BRACKET

MAC

  • DATES: March 9, 12-14
  • LOCATION: Campus sites, Cleveland
  • TITLE GAME: March 14, 7:30 p.m., ESPN2
  • BRACKET

MEAC

  • DATES: March 10-14
  • LOCATION: Norfolk, Va.
  • TITLE GAME: March 14, 1:00 p.m., ESPN2
  • BRACKET

MISSOURI VALLEY

  • DATES: March 5-8
  • LOCATION: St. Louis
  • TITLE GAME: March 8, 2:00 p.m., CBS
  • BRACKET

MOUNTAIN WEST

  • DATES: March 4-7
  • LOCATION: Las Vegas
  • TITLE GAME: March 7, 5:30 p.m., CBS
  • BRACKET

NEC

  • DATES: March 4, 7, 10
  • LOCATION: Campus sites
  • TITLE GAME: March 10, 7:00 p.m., ESPN2
  • BRACKET

OHIO VALLEY

  • DATES: March 4-7
  • LOCATION: Evansville
  • TITLE GAME: March 7, 8:00 p.m., ESPN2
  • BRACKET

PAC-12

  • DATES: March 11-14
  • LOCATION: Las Vegas
  • TITLE GAME: March 14, 10:30 p.m., FS1
  • BRACKET

PATRIOT

  • DATES: March 3, 5, 8, 11
  • LOCATION: Campus sites
  • TITLE GAME: March 11, 7:30 p.m., CBSSN
  • BRACKET

SEC

  • DATES: March 11-15
  • LOCATION: Nashville
  • TITLE GAME: March 15, 1:00 p.m., ESPN
  • BRACKET

SOCON

  • DATES: March 6-9
  • LOCATION: Asheville, N.C.
  • TITLE GAME: March 9, 7:00 p.m., ESPN
  • BRACKET

SOUTHLAND

  • DATES: March 11-14
  • LOCATION: Katy, Texas
  • TITLE GAME: March 14, 9:30 p.m., ESPN2
  • BRACKET

SUMMIT

  • DATES: March 7-10
  • LOCATION: Sioux Falls, S.D.
  • TITLE GAME: March 10, 9:00 p.m., ESPN2
  • BRACKET

SUN BELT

  • DATES: March 7, 9, 11, 14-15
  • LOCATION: Campus sites, New Orleans
  • TITLE GAME: March 15, 2:00 p.m., ESPN2
  • BRACKET

SWAC

  • DATES: March 10, 13-14
  • LOCATION: Birmingham, Alabama
  • TITLE GAME: March 14, 6:00 p.m., ESPNU
  • BRACKET

WAC

  • DATES: March 12-14
  • LOCATION: Las Vegas
  • TITLE GAME: March 14, 11:00 p.m., ESPNU
  • BRACKET

WCC

  • DATES: March 5-7, 9-10
  • LOCATION: Las Vegas
  • TITLE GAME: March 10, 9:00 p.m., ESPN
  • BRACKET

Best Bets: Maryland-Michigan State, Auburn-Kentucky highlight a loaded weekend slate

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Saturday’s lines have not yet been put out by the fine folks running sportsbooks. Until they are, we will be using projections from KenPom, Torvik and Haslametrics to analyze Saturday’s games.

No. 24 MICHIGAN STATE at No. 9 MARYLAND, Sat. 8:00 p.m. (ESPN)

  • KENPOM: Maryland 70, Michigan State 67
  • TORVIK: Maryland 69, Michigan State 68
  • HASLAM: Maryland 68, Michigan State 67

The biggest knock on this Maryland team has been their inability to start games well, which is ironic given the fact that the last time these two teams played, the Terps needed a miracle, 14-0 run in the final three minutes to avoid losing a game they led by 15 points in the first half.

I cannot imagine the Terps finding a way to dig a hole like they did against Minnesota on Wednesday, or Ohio State on Sunday, or Northwestern, or Indiana, or Illinois in either of the games they played against the Illini. Gameday will be in town! It will be an 8 p.m. tip! They will be getting the Scott Van Pelt bump! All the narratives!

I expect that, combined with some of the issues that Michigan State has had this season, to push this line up past Maryland (-3), and that makes me want to bet on the Spartans. I know, I know, maybe I just can’t quite Michigan State, but with Rocket Watts, Marcus Bingham and Malik Hall starting to play better, it’s allowed Aaron Henry to focus on being more than just a third-scorer. I also think Xavier Tillman should be able to shut down Jalen Smith the way he shut down Luka Garza in the second half on Tuesday night.

BEST BET: I’m going to stay away from this game unless I can get Michigan State at (+4.5) or higher.

No. 15 AUBURN at No. 8 KENTUCKY, Sat. 3:45 p.m. (CBS)

  • KENPOM: Kentucky 73, Auburn 68
  • TORVIK: Kentucky 73, Auburn 67
  • HASLAM: Kentucky 73, Auburn 68

This is such a weird matchup between two teams that have been brutally inconsistent. Auburn has been depantsed on the road too many times to feel comfortable betting them in this spot, but Kentucky’s shooting splits — they are significantly better from beyond the arc away from home than they are in Rupp — makes terrified to wager on them when they are laying six or seven points. I will not be on a side in this game unless the line just gets complete out of hand in either direction.

BEST BET: My favorite bet here is going to be the under, especially if the total creeps up past 143.

ARIZONA at UCLA, Sat. 10:00 p.m. (ESPN)

  • KENPOM: Arizona 71, UCLA 67
  • TORVIK: Arizona 70, UCLA 66
  • HASLAM: Arizona 69, UCLA 64

First and foremost, there is no way in hell that this line opens at UCLA (+4). The Bruins are the hottest team in the country. They beat Arizona in Tucson. They have won six in a row, ten of their last 12 and are coming off of a win over Arizona State to take over first place in the Pac-12 race. This game will be played in Pauley Pavilion, which was rocking on Thursday night against the Sun Devils. Arizona is the team that is actually UCLA’s rival, and that’s to say nothing of the fact that Mick Cronin and Sean Miller hate each other from their time as rival head coaches in Cincinnati.

I also think it’s important to point out that the metrics have tended to overvalue Arizona this season while UCLA — who ranks outside the top 75 in all metrics — has been playing like a top 35 teams over the last six weeks.

Should I mention that Arizona’s Josh Green will not be playing in this game?

BEST BET: I will be checking this line early and often to see if I can snag the UCLA moneyline while they are getting points. I would probably take the Bruins all the way up to (-1).

No. 13 SETON HALL at MARQUETTE, Sat. 2:30 p.m. (FOX)

  • KENPOM: Marquette 75, Seton Hall 72
  • TORVIK: Marquette 76, Seton Hall 73
  • HASLAM: Marquette 76, Seton Hall 73

I’ve said over and over against that I hate betting on Marquette games because it feels like I am betting on whether or not Markus Howard is going to have himself a day. And I know the numbers. Last season, in three games against the Pirates, Howard averaged just 17.7 points while shooting 21.4 percent from the floor and 21.7 percent from three. In their first matchup this season, Howard finished with 27 points, but it took an 8-for-22 shooting night to get there. Quincy McKnight has been his kryptonite.

That said, this does feel like a sell-high spot for the Pirates. They are coming off of back-to-back home wins and, prior to that, had developed a bit of a habit for slow starts. The last time they played a road game Providence led 34-9 before Seton Hall finally decided to play.

And I think it is worth noting that this will be Howard’s senior night. He’s going to be gunning.

BEST BET: If you can find a player prop for Markus Howard shot attempts, take the over. And if there was ever a time to bet on Howard finding a way to have a blow-up game, this is it. I like Marquette (-3).

No. 19 MICHIGAN at No. 23 OHIO STATE, Sat. 4:00 p.m. (CBS)

  • KENPOM: Ohio State 71, Michigan 67
  • TORVIK: Ohio State 70, Michigan 66
  • HASLAM: Ohio State 70, Michigan 65

This is such a weird matchup. Prior to Wisconsin lighting up Michigan on Thursday night, I would have said that this was a battle between the two Big Ten teams that were playing the best basketball in the league. I think the matchup here actually favors Michigan, to a point. Ohio State plays a gapping defense, which means that they are going to try and prevent penetration by sacrificing open threes. The way that Wisconsin beat Michigan on Thursday night was to stick to shooters in the corner and allow Zavier Simpson to try and win a game by himself. He had 32 points, and Michigan shot just 10 threes on the night, the fewest they’ve attempted in a game since John Beilein’s first season.

On the other hand, Michigan is really good at running teams off of the three-point line, and Ohio State shoots a ton of threes. Put it all together, and if we like the matchup for the defenses on both sides of a rivalry game that will be the second matchup between the two teams on the season, the best bet seems to be obvious.

BEST BET: The total looks like it will be somewhere around 136.5. The first game was 61-58. Hit that under.

No. 16 PENN STATE at No. 18 IOWA, Sat. 12:00 p.m. (BTN)

  • KENPOM: Iowa 78, Penn State 75
  • TORVIK: Iowa 78, Penn State 77
  • HASLAM: Iowa 78, Penn State 75

I love this spot for Iowa. For starters, it’s the ideal spot play that we look for. Penn State is coming off of a home win that they maybe didn’t deserve — they blew a big lead to Rutgers and needed a three with 12 seconds left for a one point win that prevented a three-game losing streak — and will not have to go on the road to play an Iowa team that is coming off of a road loss to Michigan State. Now throw in that the Nittany Lions did not have an answer for Luka Garza the first time these two teams squared off, and all signs point to the Hawkeyes.

BEST BET: I’ll be on Iowa up to about (-4.5).

No. 7 DUKE at VIRGINIA, Sat. 6:00 p.m. (ESPN)

  • KENPOM: Duke 62, Virginia 58
  • TORVIK: Duke 60, Virginia 58
  • HASLAM: Duke 63, Virginia 58

UCLA is my favorite bet of the day. Virginia is my second-favorite bet of the day. As it currently stands, Duke is a top eight team in the metrics and Virginia is more of a borderline top 50 team. But over the course of the last month, the Wahoos have gone 8-1 and are playing as the 31st best team in college basketball. During that same stretch, Duke, who has lost two of their last three games, is playing like the 28th-best team in the country.

As far as the matchup is concerned, I think that Virginia has the size inside to be able to limit Vernon Carey’s effectiveness, and their Pack-Line defense forces opponents to have to settle for jumpers over the top of the defense, and Duke’s shooting is not exactly a strong-suit.

BEST BET: I will be on the Virginia side here without a doubt. If the line is +2.5 or below, I will be on the UVA moneyline. If it’s +3 or above I will take the points.

Bubble Watch: Breaking down every team in at-large conversation

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It’s that time of the year again, which means that we are diving head first into our annual NCAA tournament bubble watch.

The way that it will work is simple: We’ll be looking at every team that our Dave Ommen, the best bracketologist in the business, considers in the mix for an at-large bid. In an effort to keep this somewhat manageable, we are going to assume that the top 36 teams in the field — every team that is a No. 9-seed or above — is “off the bubble”. This does not mean those teams are a lock to dance, it just means that they have given themselves enough room for error that we can take them out of the conversation until they do something dumb.

Dave’s latest bracket can be found here. The full NET rankings can be found here.

So with all that in mind, let’s get into the full NCAA tournament bubble watch:



ACC BUBBLE WATCH

TOP 9: Florida State (NBC: 2), Duke (NBC: 3), Louisville (NBC: 4)

VIRGINIA (NET: 51, NBC: 9): Virginia won for the fifth straight time on Wednesday, blowing a huge lead at Virginia Tech (84) before Kihei Clark saved the day with a buzzer-beating win. They only have three Quad 1 wins and a 10-6 mark against the top two Quads with home dates left against Duke (6) and Louisville (10). They’re getting closer to a spot where they can afford a slip-up, but picking up one of those elite wins should do the trick and get them dancing.

N.C. STATE (NET: 57, NBC: First four out): The Wolfpack fell to 17-11 on the season as North Carolina (94) finished off a season sweep with an 85-79 win in Chapel Hill. N.C. State has a weird resume. They are the proud owners of three Quad 3 losses as well as four more losses to sub-70 teams on the road. That’s not good. But they beat Duke (6) by 22 points in Raleigh, which is just one of their five Quad 1 wins. They are 8-8 against Quad 1 and 2 opponents on the season. It’s worth noting that Markell Johnson, N.C. State’s best player, did not play in one of the three Quad 3 losses — Georgia Tech (78) — so that will be something to monitor for the Selection Committee.


AMERICAN BUBBLE WATCH

TOP 9: Houston (NBC: 9)

WICHITA STATE (NET: 48, NBC: Play-in game): Wichita State bounced back from a tough loss at Cincinnati (53) by knocking off Temple (110) at home. The Shockers likely will not feel comfortable on Selection Sunday regardless of how things play out. They have a pair of low-end Quad 1 road wins, they have beaten VCU (60) and Oklahoma (49) at home, and they don’t have any truly terrible losses, but with just one potential Quad 1 games left on their schedule — all of which are on the road — and with just a single top 50 win on the season, I think the Shockers are going to have an uncomfortable Selection Sunday. The fact that they are 8-7 against the top two Quads without a bad loss is something of a saving grace at this point.

MEMPHIS (NET: 62, NBC: Next four out): Memphis is hanging on by a thread right now, and losing at SMU (81) on Tuesday night is certainly not going to help anything. They are still alive after landed a critical win over Houston (23) at home over the weekend, but Memphis still only has a pair of Quad 1 wins compared to three Quad 3 losses. Memphis is also playing with D.J. Jeffries right now, which complicates matters as well. They end their season like this: at Tulane (172), Wichita State (48), at Houston. I think they need to win all three at this point.

CINCINNATI (NET: 53, NBC: 12): The Bearcats shot themselves in the foot on Wednesday, losing at home to UCF (127). They bounced back and beat Wichita State (48) at home on Saturday, which gives Cincinnati an eighth win over Quad 1 and 2 opponents. As of this very moment, Cincinnati has just two Quad 1 wins and four Quad 3 losses, all of which came to teams sitting outside the top 100. They’re in a bad spot right now, and with just one more potential Quad 1 win on their resume, I’m not sure just how much they’ll be able to do to fix it. Beating Houston (23) on the road next Sunday has become a must-win.


ATLANTIC 10 BUBBLE WATCH

TOP 9: Dayton (NBC: 2)

RHODE ISLAND (NET: 40, NBC: Play-in game): Disaster almost struck for the Rams on Wednesday, as they went into Fordham (272) and barely avoided what would have been a devastating loss. They’re now 20-7 overall with just one Quad 1 win, but they are 7-6 against the top two Quads. The loss to Brown (234) is ugly, but as long as URI avoids the landmines on their schedule, I think they can get an at-large even with a loss to Dayton (5) at home in March.

RICHMOND (NET: 52, NBC: First four out): The Spiders avoided disaster at George Washington (190) on Wednesday. Richmond had their five-game winning streak snapped on the road against St. Bonaventure (113), which is not a bad loss in real life but is a bad loss on an NCAA tournament resume. The Spiders only have one truly terrible loss to their name — Radford (162) got them on a neutral court — but with only three Quad 1 wins and a 4-6 record against the top two Quads, their margin for error is completely gone.


BIG 12 BUBBLE WATCH

TOP 9: Baylor (NBC: 1), Kansas (NBC: 1), West Virginia (NBC: 6), Texas Tech (NBC: 9)

OKLAHOMA (NET: 49, NBC: 10): The biggest winner of the week was, without question, Oklahoma. The Sooners picked up a fourth Quad 1 win of the season with an impressive, 65-51 win over Texas Tech (20). It snaps a three-game losing streak that had dropped Oklahoma to 17-11 on the season and sets them up for a massive trip to West Virginia (17) on Saturday, who they beat at home earlier this month. They are now 17-11 on the season and are sitting with a 4-9 record against the top Quad and nine total wins against the top two Quads. It’s also worth noting they only have two road wins on the season — at Texas (65) and at North Texas (89).

TEXAS (NET: 65, NBC: Next four out): The Longhorns won their third straight game on Monday night, as they beat No. 20 West Virginia (17) despite playing without Jericho Sims, Gerald Liddell and Jase Febres. Suddenly, a team that we had all written off is right back in the mix, as the Mountaineers are a top 20 team in the NET and the kind of elite win that Texas was sorely lacking on their resume. As it stands, the Longhorns are sitting at 17-11 overall and 7-8 in the Big 12. They have three Quad 1 wins, Monday night’s win as well as roadies at Purdue (37) and Oklahoma State (70), and a 5-11 mark against the top two Quads without a bad loss to their name. Saturday’s trip to Lubbock to take on Texas Tech (20) is going to be the make or break game. It’s not a win-and-you’re-win type deal, but I do think that taking a loss to the Red Raiders would mean that the Longhorns will have to beat one of the Big 12’s top four teams in the conference tournament to have a realistic shot at getting to the dance.


BIG EAST BUBBLE WATCH

Top 9: Creighton (NBC: 2), Seton Hall (NBC: 3), Villanova (NBC: 3), Butler (NBC: 7), Marquette (NBC: 7)

XAVIER (NET: 42, NBC: 10): The Musketeers shook off a loss to Villanova (12) at home on Saturday by knocking off DePaul (75) on Tuesday night. The best thing about this Xavier team’s resume is that they really have not taken all that many bad losses. Their worst loss of the season came at Wake Forest (104), which is a Quad 2 loss. It’s the only team ranked outside of the top 35 in the NET that Xavier has lost to. They only have three Quad 1 wins — and two of them are at St. John’s (73) and at DePaul (75) — but they do have a win over Seton Hall (17) in Newark, which helps quite a bit. I personally think that Xavier has to do more work that it looks like. They are just 3-9 against Quad 1 opponents, and that could drop to 1-9 if St. John’s and DePaul fall outside the top 75. With games at Georgetown (58), at Providence (50) and Butler (21), they’ll have three more chances to land Quad 1 wins. I think Xavier probably should win two of those to really feel comfortable.

PROVIDENCE (NET: 50, NBC: Play-in game): The Friars are now the official owners of the strangest resume in college basketball. On Friday, Marquette (24) paid a visit to The Dunk and lost. Providence has now won three straight games and have now won five of their last seven. All five of those wins are Quad 1 wins, and they include a road win over Butler (21), home wins against Creighton (8) and Seton Hall (15), and Saturday’s win against Marquette. The Friars now have seven Quad 1 wins. If you only look at wins, Providence is like a five seed.

The problem is the losses. There are 12 of them, and some of them are really, really bad. Providence lost to Charleston (145) and Long Beach State (298) on neutral courts, at Northwestern (177) and to Penn (144) at home. That’s two Quad 3 losses and two Quad 4 losses. It’s wild that the Friars are even in the conversation with all of that garbage on their resume, but they very much are.

GEORGETOWN (NET: 58, NBC: Off the bubble): The Hoyas are now sitting at 15-13 overall with a 5-10 record in the Big East and games left at Creighton (8) and against Villanova (12) at home. They have four Quad 1 wins and nine wins against the top two Quads, but they are just 4-11 against Quad 1 opponents. I think they need to win out during the regular season to get an at-large bid.


BIG TEN BUBBLE WATCH

TOP 9: Maryland (NBC: 2), Penn State (NBC: 4), Michigan (NBC: 5), Ohio State (NBC: 5), Michigan State (NBC: 5), Iowa (NBC: 6), Wisconsin (NBC: 6), Illinois (NBC: 7), Indiana (NBC: 9)

RUTGERS (NET: 34, NBC: 10):  The Scarlet Knights have one of the weirder resumes on the bubble right now after losing at Penn State (25) on Wednesday. They’re 17-11 overall and they are 9-9 in a Big Ten that is as deep as any league I can remember. They have three Quad 1 wins, just one Quad 3 loss and a 7-10 mark against the top two Quads. Eight of their ten losses are to Quad 1 opponents. They played a tough non-conference schedule, and they have some really impressive home wins. The problem? They’ve only won a single game outside of the RAC this year, and that came at Nebraska (189), who is the worst team in the Big Ten. Their season finishes with Maryland (9) and at Purdue (35). Rutgers has some work left to do, and I really think they will want to win both to feel comfortable on Selection Sunday.

PURDUE (NET: 35, NBC: Off the bubble): Purdue snapped a four-game losing streak when they knocked off Indiana (56) at home on Thursday night. They’re sitting here with a 15-14 record and a 4-11 mark against Quad 1 opponents and an 8-13 record against the top two Quads. They do actually have some pretty good wins, but the issue Purdue is currently facing is the the number of losses, including a Quad 3 loss to Nebraska (189). The most losses an at-large team has ever had is 15. For context, Indiana last season was 17-15 with six Quad 1 wins and nine Quad 1 and 2 wins and they were left out. Their best road win is at Indiana (58). They’re in a tough spot, and I think they need to win their last two regular season games and at least one game in the Big Ten tournament to have a real shot at this.


PAC-12 BUBBLE WATCH

TOP 9: Oregon (NBC: 4), Colorado (NBC: 5), Arizona (NBC: 7), Arizona State (NBC: 8)

UCLA (NET: 76, NBC: Play-in game): The Bruins are making a push to get into the NCAA tournament. After a weekend where they completed a sweet of the mountain schools — the toughest road trip in all of college basketball — the Bruins knocked off Arizona State (45) on Thursday to take over first place in the Pac-12. They have won six in a row and 10 of the last 12. They now own a sweep of Colorado (22), they won at Arizona (9) and while they do have a Quad 3 loss — Hofstra (114) — and a Quad 4 loss — Fullerton (261) — the Bruins are now sitting on five Quad 1 wins, three of which came against top 15 teams, two on the road. The metrics don’t love the Bruins, but this win will help and if the metrics love Arizona and Colorado this much, it should mean quite a bit that UCLA was able to beat them. Their resume isn’t quite as weird as Providence’s, but both of these teams are going to give the Selection Committee a headache on Selection Sunday.

With games left against Arizona and USC (44), the Bruins will have the chances to play their way in. It’s wild to think that we’re here after the way the season started, but we are.

USC (NET: 44, NBC: 10): The Trojans snapped a two-game losing streak with a home win over Arizona (11), which is exactly what Andy Enfield’s team needed. They now have four Quad 1 wins and are sitting with a 9-8 against the top two Quads with an 8-7 mark away from the Galen Center, including five road wins. The home loss to Temple (111) is not ideal, but it is survivable. The Trojans still get Arizona State (45) and UCLA (76) at home. I think they’re still in a pretty good spot, but it’s not going to be comfortable if they don’t win at least one of those two games to finish out the regular season.

STANFORD (NET: 30, NBC: First four out): The Cardinal are now on a three-game winning streak after beating Utah (88) at home. They are just 3-5 against Quad 1 opponents, 6-8 against the top two Quads and have a Quad 3 loss — at Cal (136) — to their name, but they are playing well at the most important time of their season. They still get Colorado (12) at home and Oregon (19) on the road, so there will be chances to improve their resume, but the Cardinal will need to capitalize on those to feel good on Selection Sunday.


SEC BUBBLE WATCH

TOP 9: Kentucky (NBC: 3), Auburn (NBC: 4), LSU (NBC: 8), Florida (NBC: 8)

ARKANSAS (NET: 41, NBC: Next four out): Arkansas won the second straight game with Isaiah Joe back on Wednesday, working over Tennessee (69) in Fayetteville. They have a pair of Quad 1 wins and a 5-10 mark against the top two Quads, but the more important record is this: They are now 17-5 on the season with a healthy Isaiah Joe. It will be very interesting to see how the selection committee handles Arkansas.

MISSISSIPPI STATE (NET: 54, NBC: First four out): Mississippi State significantly dinged their at-large chances by losing at Texas A&M (117) on Saturday. That’s the third bad loss on their resume, and with a win at Florida (32) and a sweep of Arkansas (41) the only notable accomplishments to date, the Bulldogs find themselves in a tough spot. Saturday’s win against Alabama (39) at home on Tuesday helps, but that’s only a Quad 2 win. The Bulldogs have just two Quad 1 wins to date. What’s worse is that they only get one more Quad 1 opportunity in the regular season, and that’s a game at South Carolina (64).

SOUTH CAROLINA (NET: 64, NBC: Next four out): The Gamecocks snapped a two-game losing streak and avoided disaster by beating Georgia (90) in overtime at home on Wednesday. With just one Quad 1 opportunity left on their schedule — at Alabama (39) on Saturday — I think Frank Martin’s club needs to win out to get in, and even that might not be enough.


BUBBLE WATCH FOR EVERYONE ELSE

TOP 9: Gonzaga (NBC: 1), San Diego State (NBC: 1), BYU (NBC: 6), Saint Mary’s (NBC: 8)

UTAH STATE (NET: 38, NBC: 11): After wiping the floor with San Jose State (280), the Aggies have won six in a row and nine of their last ten games, ensuring they are still in the NCAA tournament mix and fully turning around a season that looked like it was lost as recently as five weeks ago. Wins over LSU (29) and Florida (33) are nice, but with three road losses to sub-85 teams and no more chances to land marquee wins, how are they going to make up for those losses? They don’t play another top 100 team the rest of the season. I don’t see how they can feel comfortable about getting in without beating San Diego State (5) in the MWC tournament.

EAST TENNESSEE STATE (NET: 39, NBC: 11): The Buccaneers survived a trip to Wofford (151) on Wednesday night. ETSU has gotten through the toughest part of their schedule. They have a win at UNCG (60) and a win at LSU (33). With a 22-4 record and a Quad 4 loss to Mercer (197) at home, the Buccaneers have to win out and lose to only UNCG or Furman in the SoCon tournament to have a chance, and even that might be a bit of a longshot.

NORTHERN IOWA (NET: 46, NBC: 11): Northern Iowa took care of business against a bad Evansville team on Wednesday. UNI has a win at Colorado (22) and they beat South Carolina (64) on a neutral court, but they are 5-3 against the top two Quads with a pair of Quad 3 losses. I want to see them get an at-large — every one of their non-Quad 1 losses is a road game in league play — but I’m not sure they have done enough to beat out some of these power conference teams.

Bracketology: UCLA makes a case for an at-large

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Here is today’s updated NCAA tournament bracketology projection.

With just over two weeks until Selection Sunday, this year’s Selection Committee is once again going to have some challenging resumes to dissect.

Today’s Case Study is UCLA.

Relegated to a rebuilding year after a sluggish 6-6 start, the Bruins have won six straight games (7 of 8 overall) in the Pac-12 and enter today tied with Oregon atop the league standings. That’s important, because should the Bruins end in a tie – or win an outright regular-season title – it would add a profile component the Committee values.

Back to the most recent stretch, UCLA’s streak includes road victories at Arizona and Colorado, and a home win last night over Arizona State.  In all, UCLA’s profile now includes five Quadrant 1 wins (including the aforementioned two Top Tier Quad 1 road wins) and four wins against likely NCAA teams.

Much like Providence, the Bruins are squarely back in the at-large picture.  Whether they remain is still in question.  They have work to do.  The NCAA’s NET isn’t overly fond of UCLA, but the Bruins are in a similar place to St. John’s (NET 72) a year ago – and the Johnnies went to Dayton, too.

Anyway, here is today’s updated NCAA tournament bracketology. If you’re looking for the NBC Sports Bubble Watch, it can be found here.



The latest look at where our NCAA tournament bracketology projection stands …

UPDATED: February 28, 2020

FIRST FOUR – DAYTON
MIDWEST REGION Rhode Island vs. UCLA
WEST REGION Providence vs. Wichita State
SOUTH REGION  PR VIEW-AM vs. SIENA
MIDWEST REGION ROBERT MORRIS vs. NC A&T

MIDWEST Indianapolis SOUTH – Houston                    
Omaha St. Louis
1) KANSAS 1) Baylor
16) ROB MORRIS / NC A&T 16) PV-AM / SIENA
8) Saint Mary’s 8) Florida
9) Houston 9) Indiana
Sacramento Omaha
5) Michigan 5) Colorado
12) UCLA / Rhode Island 12) CINCINNATI
4) Auburn 4) Penn State
13) NORTH TEXAS 13) VERMONT
Albany Greensboro
6) Wisconsin 6) Iowa
11) NORTHERN IOWA 11) Utah State
3) Villanova 3) KENTUCKY
14) COLGATE 14) BOWLING GREEN
Greensboro Tampa
7) Butler 7) Illinois
10) USC 10) Xavier
2) MARYLAND 2) FLORIDA STATE
15) WRIGHT STATE 15) LITTLE ROCK
EAST – New York WEST – Los Angeles
Sacramento Spokane
1) SAN DIEGO ST 1) GONZAGA
16) E. WASHINGTON 16) RADFORD
8) Arizona State 8) LSU
9) Virginia 9) Texas Tech
Cleveland Spokane
5) Ohio State 5) Michigan State
12) LIBERTY 12) S.F. AUSTIN
4) Louisville 4) OREGON
13) YALE 13) NEW MEXICO ST
Albany Tampa
6) West Virginia 6) BYU
11) EAST TENNESSEE ST 11) Providence / Wichita St
3) SETON HALL 3) Duke
14) HOFSTRA 14) SOUTH DAKOTA ST
Cleveland St. Louis
7) Marquette 7) Arizona
10) Rutgers 10) Oklahoma
2) DAYTON 2) Creighton
15) BELMONT 15) UC-IRVINE

BUBBLE NOTES
Last 4 Byes Last 4 IN      First 4 OUT Next 4 OUT
USC Rhode Island Stanford Arkansas
Oklahoma Providence NC State Memphis
Rutgers Wichita State Richmond South Carolina
Utah State UCLA Mississippi State Texas

Top Seed Line
Kansas, Baylor, Gonzaga, San Diego State
Seed List

Breakdown by Conference …
Big Ten (10)
Big East (7)
Pac 12 (6)
Big 12 (5)
SEC (4)
ACC (3)
West Coast (3)
American (3)
Atlantic 10 (2)
Mountain West (2)

OK, how good are you guys at NCAA tournament bracketology?

Not too bad. Our bracketologist, Dave Ommen, is sitting atop the ranks for the bracket matrix, which cobbles together everyone who does this for a living. So yeah, we’re on our game.

When do conference tournaments begin?

Conference tournaments — when teams can earn automatic berths to the NCAA Tournament — begin on Tuesday, March 3. Most of the league tournaments for that week are mid-major and low-major schools (though those can often be the most exciting games to watch).

There is a full schedule for all 32 conference tournaments here, though check back with us later on for previews for all those tournaments, recaps and highlights from the buzzer-beaters and many dunks for the start of March.

When do Selection Sunday and the NCAA Tournament begin?

Selection Sunday for the 2020 NCAA Tournament is on March 15 (about 4 pm ET), while the games begin a couple days later. The First Four is on March 17 and 18, while the craziness of Round 1 starts on Thursday, March 19.

The Final Four, held in Atlanta this year, starts on Saturday, April 4. The National Title Game is Monday, April 6.

Thursday’s Things To Know: UCLA leads the Pac-12 and Wisconsin wins at Michigan

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Thursday night got weird on the west coast, as the Pac-12 seems to only get drunker and drunker as the season goes on.

1. UCLA IS IN FIRST PLACE IN THE PAC-12 RACE

One of the wildest stories in college basketball this season is that of the UCLA Bruins.

Just two months ago, UCLA lost at home to Cal St. Fullerton, a team that ranks in the bottom 100 in college basketball on every metric that we use to measure these things. It was the second time this season that the Bruins had lost a game to a mid-major opponent in Pauley Pavilion. It dropped UCLA to 7-6 on the season as the calendar turned, which was the same record on the same date that got Steve Alford fired a year prior.

And that wasn’t even the low point!

As of January 15th, UCLA was under .500 on the season. That’s what happens when you start league play by losing three of your first four games. Since starting the season 8-9 and starting Pac-12 play 1-3 and having half of the known world question whether or not he was the right hire for UCLA to make, Mick Cronin has reeled off 10 wins in 12 games. He’s swept Colorado in the last six weeks. He’s won at Arizona. And on Thursday night, the Bruins got a three from freshman Jaime Jaquez with 0.6 seconds left on the clock to knock off Arizona State, who was all alone in first place in Pac-12 entering the night.

I was bullish on UCLA entering the season, but I’ll be honest: I did not think that there was any chance that they could be two games away from winning a Pac-12 title.

But here we are.

2. THAT WASN’T THE ONLY INSANITY OUT WEST

Arizona had a chance to move into a first-place tie with a win at USC on Thursday night, but they weren’t able to get that done thanks to a double-double from Onyeka Okongwu and a 3-for-14 shooting performance from Nico Mannion. The Wildcats shot just 28 percent from the floor and 3-for-26 from three on the night.

And Colorado? They had the same opportunity, but they slept-walked through a half at Cal and ended up losing by 14 points. The only team other team that won with a chance to play their way into first place in the league was Oregon, who beat up on Oregon State despite the fact that they were playing without Chris Duarte.

As it stands, the Ducks and the Bruins are tied for first place. Arizona State is a half-game out in the win column while Arizona and Colorado are a game off the pace.

3. OH, AND WISCONSIN MIGHT BE GOOD AGAIN

The Badgers went into the Crisler Center and beat up on Michigan, who had a healthy Isaiah Livers at their disposal. D’Mitrik Trice had 28 points and Aleem Ford and Micah Potter both chipped in with 18 in the 81-74 win.