There is plenty of action happening on the bracketology bubble watch despite it being a relatively slow night for college hoops.
Here is everything you need to know to.
THE BUBBLE WATCH WINNERS …
UTAH STATE (NET: 48, NBC: Next four out): Utah State landed a better-than-the-metrics-say win at Colorado State (95) on Tuesday, which ensures they still are in the mix. Wins over LSU (27) and Florida (45) 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? They don’t play another top 90 team the rest of the season. I don’t see how they can get in without beating San Diego State (1) in the MWC tournament. I’m leaving them here for now because Dave is better than me at this and he says they’re one of the next four out.
N.C. STATE (NET: 61, NBC: First four out): The Wolfpack landed their third Quad 1 win of the season by going into the Carrier Dome and picking off Syracuse (65) on Tuesday night. N.C. State has just one win over a top 50 team, but they do have a pair of Quad 1 wins and a home win over Wisconsin (33). Two Quad 3 home losses weigh things down, but they’ll earn their tournament bid in the next three games: they have to go on the road to Boston College (141) before hosting Duke (6) and Florida State (16) next week.
VIRGINIA (NET: 54, NBC: 11): Virginia landed an overtime win over Notre Dame (51) on Tuesday night, their fourth win in the last five games and their fifth win in the last seven games. The Wahoos are now 16-7 overall with a 6-5 mark against the top two Quads thanks to this win. The problem is they have just a pair of Quad 1 wins to go along with two Quad 3 losses. Perhaps the biggest issue is that UVA has just two potential Quad 1 wins left on their schedule. They can’t afford slip-ups.
TENNESSEE (NET: 68, NBC: Off the bubble): The Vols landed another solid win on Tuesday, picking off Arkansas (38) at home by 21 points. I’m not going to sugar coat it: This is a team with a lot of ground to make up. But the Vols play a tough schedule down the stretch, getting Auburn (14) twice, Kentucky (21) on the road, Arkansas on the road and Florida (45) at home. They need to get hot.
… AND LOSERS
MISSISSIPPI STATE (NET: 41, NBC: Play-in game): The Bulldogs took a loss they really couldn;t afford on Tuesday night, losing by 25 points at Ole Miss in a game they led by 13 in the first half. This is a problem because Mississippi State has two Quad 3 losses and just a single Quad 1 win, which came at Florida (45). Making matters worse is the fact that they only have one more potential Quad 1 win left on their regular season schedule, and it’s against an Arkansas (38) team that is fading awfully fast.
ARKANSAS (NET: 38, NBC: 10): After getting smoked by Tennessee (69) on the road on Tuesday, the Razorbacks have now lost three in a row, four of their last five and six of their last eight. They have two Quad 1 wins and are currently sitting at 4-7 against the top two Quads with a Quad 3 loss at home to South Carolina. They do have good computer numbers and have won four games on the road this season, but they have just one win over a top 60 team, and it’s at Alabama (42). The biggest issue, however, is the fact that this group has lost Isaiah Joe and had star guard Mason Jones get benched. Can they actually turn it around?
RHODE ISLAND (NET: 36, NBC: 10): In a battle for first place in the Atlantic 10, Rhode Island lost at Dayton (5) on Tuesday night. No shame in that, and the truth is that URI’s resume is currently strong enough to withstand it. They’re 18-6 overall and they have just one Quad 1 win, but they are 6-5 against the top two Quads. The loss to Brown (231) 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 at home in March.
PURDUE (NET: 26, NBC: 9): Purdue has such a weird resume. They have four Quad 1 wins and seven wins against the top two Quads. They’ve blown out some very good teams in their own building. They’ve also been blown out a number of times, including on Tuesday night by Penn State (20) in Mackey Arena. They are 14-11 overall and they still play six of their seven remaining games against teams in the top 35 of the NET. This is what is important to note, with that in mind: The most losses we’ve ever seen for an at-large team is 15, and teams that are not at least four games above .500 rarely get in. Indiana, for example, was 19-16 on Selection Sunday with six Quad 1 wins and three Quad 2 wins and did not get in. Those losses add up eventually.
SYRACUSE (NET: 65, NBC: Off the bubble): The Orange lost at home to N.C. State (61) on Tuesday night, dropping them to 14-10 overall and just 7-6 in a weak ACC. Syracuse has just two Quad 1 wins and has not beaten a top 50 team this season. They have, however, lost to Virginia Tech (79) at home, a Quad 3 loss. With just a 4-9 mark against the top two Quads, it’s time to take Syracuse out of the bubble conversation until they do something like, oh I don’t know, win at Florida State (15) or Louisville (7) in the next eight days?