Bubble Banter: Ole Miss, Illinois with clutch wins while Tulsa, Iowa take bad losses

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WINNERS

  • Ole Miss: The Rebels further solidified their NCAA tournament profile thanks to a Stefan Moody jumper with 2.7 seconds left to give them a win at Florida. Ole Miss was an eight seed in our latest bracket, meaning they have breathing room. The Rebels host Arkansas on Saturday, and a win not only would give them a sweep in the season series, but it would likely put Andy Kennedy’s club in a position where they can feel safe about dancing barring a collapse down the stretch.
  • UConn: The Huskies are still a long way away from being anything remotely close to a tournament team this season, but in pounding Tulsa at home on Thursday, UConn took another step in the right direction. They’ve won three straight games, but they’re still barely inside the RPI’s top 100 and, frankly, probably need to win out to have an actual shot at an at-large.
  • Illinois: The Illinois used a 21-0 run that spanned the end of regulation and the start of overtime to avoid what would have been a crushing loss at home to Michigan. The Illini are probably slotted right above the cut line right now, but they’re now 7-5 in the Big Ten with a huge opportunity this weekend with a game at Wisconsin.
  • Purdue: Purdue avoided a second straight loss by knocking off Rutgers on the road on Thursday, meaning that they have now won five of their last six games and remain tied for second in the Big Ten. They’re still, at best, within striking distance of the cut line, but with road trips to Indiana, Ohio State and Michigan State remaining, the chances will be there for Purdue to make themselves a tournament team.

LOSERS

  • Tulsa: The Golden Hurricane have played just 10 RPI top 150 opponents this season, and in their last two games, two of those opponents have beaten them. SMU won at Tulsa, and UConn blew them out in Storrs. Tulsa’s a fun story and it’s impressive that Frank Haith has been able to get this team to the top of the American, but they’re probably right on the cut line as of today.
  • Iowa: The Hawkeyes followed up their big wins over Michigan and Maryland by … losing at home to Minnesota? Performances like that are why you can’t trust Iowa, and if we learned anything last season, it’s that the Hawkeyes are capable of a collapse. That said, even with Thursday’s loss, they’re probably still in the No. 7-8 seed range.
  • Stanford: The Cardinal have now lost three of their last four games to fall to 7-5 in the Pac-12, three games off the pace of the leaders. On Thursday, they lost by 16 at Utah, which isn’t exactly a blemish on their resume but instead a missed opportunity to improve their bubble position. The Cardinal are in right now, but they’re in that No. 10-11 seed range, which means they don’t have much room for error. The best thing that could happen to them, beyond a win at Arizona to close out the season? Seeing Texas make a late run in the Big 12.
  • St. Mary’s: The Gaels were already in a bad spot, and they got smothered and covered like Waffle House hash browns by BYU.
  • Old Dominion: The Monarchs are slowly fading from the bubble pictures. A loss to UT-San Antonio on Thursday night, which dropped them to 7-4 in a mediocre Conference USA, puts them in a really tough spot to come back from.