Here is the latest NBC Sports Bracketology. This is where the rankings you see below are from. This post will be updated throughout the night.
Northwestern (RPI: 50, KenPom: 37, No. 9 seed): The Wildcats are dancing. Thanks to the play of the year. Check this out.
Wake Forest (RPI: 45, KenPom: 33, first four out): Northwestern may not even be the biggest winner of the night, as the Demon Deacons landed a win that they desperately needed, picking off No. 8 Louisville at home. Wake Forest is now 18-12 on the season and 8-9 in the ACC with a game left at Virginia this weekend, but what make this win so important is that Wake literally had just one top 60 win entering Wednesday and no top 35 wins. They’d beaten Miami, Georgia Tech and Pitt. They had a win over Bucknell, at Charleston and at Richmond. That was it. With no bad losses to their name, they just needed to prove that they could actually beat the big boys. This doesn’t lock them into a bid, but now a win at Virginia Tech probably would. If not, a win or two in the ACC tournament would. I can promise you this: Wake won’t be one of the first four out tomorrow morning.
Marquette (RPI: 69, KenPom: 32, No. 10 seed): The Golden Eagles are getting closer and closer to punching their ticket to the dance. With a game left at home against Creighton, Steve Wojciechowski’s team is now sitting with four top 30 wins — including a win over Villanova — and nine top 100 wins with St. John’s being the only bad loss in their 11 losses. Beating Creighton should be enough, although avoiding a loss to DePaul, St. John’s or Georgetown in the Big East tournament would be sensible. One thing to watch for with Marquette: Will the committee take into account that three of their four best wins came when the opponents (Xavier twice and Creighton) had lost their star point guard to a torn ACL?
Illinois (RPI: 56, KenPom: 64, first four out): The Illini have made a remarkable run down the stretch of the season, winning their fourth in a row on Wednesday night as they knocked off Michigan State at home on Senior Night to get to 18-12 on the season and 8-9 in the Big Ten with a game left at Rutgers. John Groce’s club has just one top 40 win — VCU on a neutral — but they have five top 50 and 10 top 100 wins. They’re right there with everyone else on the bubble, and while they still have quite a bit of work left to do — I’d say they need to win at least two more game, preferably three, to really feel comfortable on Selection Sunday — the fact that they are even close is impressive.
Georgia (RPI: 52, KenPom: 52, next four out): The Bulldogs are still in the NCAA tournament mix after beating Auburn at home on Wednesday. The Bulldogs have to beat Arkansas in Fayetteville to have a real chance on Selection Sunday. While Georgia has no sub-105 RPI losses and nine top 100 wins, they have no top 45 wins to their name. Even with a win at Arkansas, they probably need to win a game or two in the SEC tournament. But after Yante Maten went down with a knee injury two weeks ago, no one thought that this team would even be in this position right now. So there’s always a chance, especially if J.J. Frazier keeps doing what he’s done the last four games, averaging 31.3 points.
Kansas State (RPI: 67, KenPom: 36, first four out): The Wildcats landed a nice win at TCU that will help them — top 100 road wins are always good — but I think that Kansas State isn’t in quite as good of a position as some may think. They have just three top 30 wins and, after tonight, five top 100 wins. Yes, four of them came away from home, and that is a good thing, but that’s an impressive lack of quality wins for a committee that showed us during the bracket reveal they are valuing wins quite heavily.
USC (RPI: 38, KenPom: 67, play-in game): At this point, here’s what USC cannot do: They cannot lose to either of the Washington teams at home this week, and they cannot lose to anyone in the Pac-12 tournament not named UCLA, Arizona or Oregon. Even then, I would recommended that they probably beat one of those three teams if they really want to go into Selection Sunday without the stress of wondering if your name isn’t going to get called. The Trojans have two top 20 wins this season but just a total of five top 100 wins and a 1-6 record against the other top five teams in the conference.
Rhode Island (RPI: 41, KenPom: 53, play-in game): Rhody won a game that they couldn’t lost at Saint Joseph’s on Wednesday. They play another game they can’t lose on Saturday against Davidson at home. Basically, URI cannot afford to take a loss unless it’s against either VCU or Dayton in the A-10 tournament, and even then, they really lack quality wins. They have two top 25 wins but just four total top 100 wins.
Xavier (RPI: 26, KenPom: 40, No. 10 seed): Xavier, man. They needed their own separate post.
Arkansas (RPI: 28, KenPom: 44, No. 9 seed): The Razorbacks missed a chance to lock up a bid by winning at Florida on Wednesday. They are still pretty safe, but I do think they would do well to win one more game, whether it is against Georgia at home this weekend or in the SEC tournament opener.
VCU (RPI: 23, KenPom: 46, No. 9 seed): The Rams are still probably safe, but after losing at Dayton three days after they lost at URI, VCU is still in a spot where I think they need one more win, whether it is over George Mason at home this weekend or in the first round of the Atlantic 10 tournament next week.
TCU (RPI: 58, KenPom: 41, next four out): The Horned Frogs are probably out after losing at home to Kansas State on Wednesday. They’re now 6-11 in the Big 12 with just two top 65 wins.