Best I can tell, there are 23 teams in action on Saturday sitting somewhere between the 10 seed line and within reach of getting into the NCAA tournament.
Let’s talk about them.
XAVIER (NET: 63, NBC: Next four out): It’s impossible to overstate just how important Saturday’s win at Seton Hall (14) is for Xavier. The Musketeers entered the day with a 13-8 record, but just a 1-7 mark against Quad 1 opponents. Their only Quad 1 win enter the day came at TCU (65). Their only top 50 win entering the day came against Georgetown (49) at home. They didn’t have anything close to resembling a marquee win, and now they do. With two games left against Butler (8) and a visit from Villanova (13) left on their schedule, the Musketeers still have a couple of more chances, too. They’ll probably want to win at least one of those, and they certainly aren’t a lock just yet, but this is precisely the kind of win that chances the calculus for their tournament chances.
WISCONSIN (NET: 31, NBC: 10): The Badgers had quite the eventful week. They lost at Iowa on Monday. They had one starter quit the team on Wednesday after skipping Monday’s game. They had another starter get suspended for punching an opponent below the belt in that Monday loss. Then they went out and knocked off Michigan State (7) in the Kohl Center on Saturday. The Badgers are 6-7 against Quad 1 opponents, and while they are 13-9 with a Quad 3 loss to their name, a lot has to happen for them to miss the tournament at this point.
STANFORD (NET: 28, NBC: First four out): The Cardinal snapped a three-game losing streak by landing their first Quad 1 win of the season, beating Oregon (15) at home. With a pair of Quad 3 losses on their resume and just a 4-3 record against the top two Quads, Stanford still has work to do to feel good about their place on the bubble, but with the mountain road trip coming up next week, this was close to a must-win. They got it done.
CINCINNATI (NET: 51, NBC: Off the bubble): Cincinnati has turned their season around. Entering Saturday, they have won three in a row and five of their last six. The problem is that they have dug themselves a pretty significant hole to get out of. They entered Saturday without so much as a top 60 win, let alone a Quad 1 win, and they have three Quad 3 losses to their name. They need to start building out a resume, and given that they play in the AAC — a league without a top 30 team in the NET — they cannot miss on chances like this. And they didn’t, coming back from 12 down in the second half to beat Houston (35) at home. That is still just a Quad 2 win, but it’s a start.
TULSA (NET: 69, NBC: Off the bubble): The Golden Hurricane are doing everything they can to put themselves in a position to get an at-large bid to the tournament. On Saturday, they got a buzzer-beating three from Elijah Joiner to knock off Wichita State (32) in Tulsa. They are now sitting in sole possession of first place in the American. They still are without a Quad 1 win, but sitting at 4-4 against the top two Quads helps offset a Quad 3 and a Quad 4 loss.
BYU (NET: 29, NBC: 10): The Cougars knocked off Saint Mary’s (33), 81-79, at home on Saturday, a win that should put them in really, really good position to get an at-large so long as they avoid any terrible losses. They are 5-7 against Quad 1 and 2 opponents, and while four of those five wins are against Quad 2 opponents, that’s misleading. Saint Mary’s is three spot away from being a Quad 1 win. Virginia Tech (53) and Utah State (54) on neutral courts will be Quad 1 wins if they end up being top 50 by the end of the season. BYU is legit, and they should probably get in the tournament.
MEMPHIS (NET: 50, NBC: 10): The Tigers won their second game in a row on Saturday, as they picked off UConn (88) at home. Beating the Huskies doesn’t do much for the Tigers’ resume, but given the way that this season has gone for the Tigers, every win counts. They still don’t have a top 50 win on the season and are just 1-3 against Quad 1 opponents.
MISSISSIPPI STATE (NET: 42, NBC: Play-in game): The Bulldogs have now won two games in a row and five of their last six after beating Tennessee in Starkville on Saturday. With a pair of Quad 3 losses on their resume, and Arkansas (38) dropping down to just a Quad 2 win after losing to South Carolina (76) at home last week, Ben Howland’s club can hardly afford another slip-up. Keep winning, keep moving up the seed list.
TEXAS (NET: 64, NBC: Off the bubble): The Longhorns did what they needed to do this week by beating TCU (65) on the road and knocking off Iowa State (72) at home. They now head into the most important three-game stretch of their season — at Kansas (3), Texas Tech (30), Baylor (1) — with some confidence. They probably should win at least one, if not two of those to feel good about where they are heading into the stretch run.
ARIZONA STATE (NET: 57, NBC: First four out): The Sun Devils ended up splitting the road trip to the Washington schools, which could have been worse considering the fact that U-Dub (48) is a Quad 1 win still. That’s the second Quad 1 win for the Sun Devils, who are now 6-8 against the top two Quads. They’ve put themselves in a good position to get a bid.
PURDUE (NET: 37, NBC: Off the bubble): The Boilermakers did what they needed to and won at Northwestern on Saturday. Purdue’s biggest issue at this point is how many losses they’ve stacked up. They’re 12-10 overall and 2-8 against Quad 1 opponents, and seven of their final nine games are Quad 1 games. That doesn’t include home games against Michigan (34) or Indiana (46). It’s just a brutal, brutal schedule.
FLORIDA (NET: 42, NBC: 10): The Gators did not lose to Vanderbilt on Saturday, which is a good thing. Florida’s computer numbers are strong, but after losing to Mississippi State (42) at home earlier this week, their overall resume is pretty bland. They have home wins over Auburn (26) and Alabama (40), but their only road win came at South Carolina (76) and their three neutral site wins are against teams that look unlikely to get to the tournament. It’s enough to get them a bid, but not a seed that you would expect from a team as good as the Gators were supposed to be.
NORTH CAROLINA (NET: 93, NBC: Off the bubble): Just when we thought that the Tar Heels were going to be able to rally with Cole Anthony back in the mix, they go out and lose at home to Boston College with Cole on the floor. That dream is over.
ALABAMA (NET: 40, NBC: Play-in game): The bad news for Alabama is that they lost at home to Arkansas (38), a game that would have been the kind of Quad 2 win they need to continue to bolster their resume. With just one Quad 1 win to their name, the Crimson Tide need all the help they can get right now. The good news? Penn (151) has played their way into being a Quad 3 loss.
N.C. STATE (NET: 56, NBC: Play-in game): The Wolfpack got smoked at home by Louisville (10) on Saturday, their third straight loss. They now head out on the road for their next three games before returning home to play Duke (6) and Florida State (16). For a team with a 13-8 record, two Quad 1 wins and two Quad 3 losses, that is not an ideal situation.
DEPAUL (NET: 59, NBC: First four out): The Blue Demons lost another heart-breaker, blowing yet another lead and falling at Marquette (22), 76-72. They are now just 1-8 in the Big East, and while the rest of their resume looks pretty good, we’ve reached the point where the losses are just piling up too much. They have to sweep Xavier (61) and at Georgetown (49) next week if they want a real shot at this.
SYRACUSE (NET: 60, NBC: Off the bubble): The Orange fell to 13-9 on the season with a loss at home to Duke (9) on Saturday. That’s now back-to-back losses for Jim Boeheim’s team after they had won five games in a row. They do have three Quad 1 wins, but they have yet to beat a single top 50 team this season.
UTAH STATE (NET: 54, NBC: Off the bubble): The Aggies lost at San Diego State (1) on Saturday, which might seal their fate as an NIT team barring an automatic bid. Wins over LSU (19) and Florida (42) are nice, but with three road losses to sub-95 teams and no more chances to land marquee wins, how are they going to make up for those losses?
TENNESSEE (NET: 62, NBC: Next four out): The Vols are now 12-9 on the season with three Quad 2 losses and a Quad 3 loss on their resume after losing to Mississippi State (43) on the road on Saturday. With just two Quad 1 wins, neither of which came against a top 30 opponent, Tennessee is backing themselves into a corner. The good news? They still play eight Quad 1 games, and that doesn’t include Florida at home. The Vols can survive this if they get hot, but that’s starting to look like a pretty big ‘if’.
VIRGINIA TECH (NET: 53, NBC: Next four out): Virginia Tech lost their third straight game and their fourth in five games on Saturday as they hosted Florida State (16) and lost 74-63. This was one of just three chances that Mike Young’s team had left on their schedule to land resume-changing wins, and the other two come on the road against Duke (6) and Louisville (10). The Hokies are in a tough spot.
TCU (NET: 65, NBC: Off the bubble): The Horned Frogs lost their third straight game and their first in the last six games on Saturday, but it’s understandable — they were playing at Baylor (1). They are still without a Quad 1 win and are now 3-7 against the top two Quads. They have quite a bit of work to do.
WASHINGTON (NET: 47, NBC: Off the bubble): Washington lost again on Saturday, this time at home against Arizona State (56). They’ve now lost five in a row, seven of eight and nine of 11. They’re 12-11 overall and 2-8 in the Pac-12 and play their next three games on the road. They’re off the bubble for now.