Now that the calendar has turned to March, fans of bubble teams may be refreshing web sites of their favorite bracketologists.
As college basketball’s regular season and conference tournament season nears a close, Athlon Sports will keep you up to date on the key developments through the week. Each day brings key developments for the NCAA Tournament, so in this space, we’ll update which teams look to be in the field, which might be playing themselves out as well as the key games of the day.
Related: College basketball power rankings: Gonzaga takes top spot
MARCH 5 DAILY MARCH MADNESS TRACKER AND BUBBLE WATCH
Baylor on the outs.
Baylor’s NCAA Tournament case was pretty slim to start, with only one top-50 win at home over Oklahoma State on Jan. 21 (the Bears also have a win over RPI No. 51 Kentucky on the road). Baylor’s 79-70 loss to Texas on Monday may be the end of Scott Drew’s NCAA Tournament hopes if the Bears don’t make a strong showing in the Big 12 Tournament. The loss dropped Baylor to 8-9 in the conference and 3-8 in its last 11 games.
Cincinnati looking good despite loss.
Cincinnati’s dysfunctional offense was a mismatch against Louisville, contributing to the Cardinals’ season-high 21 takeaways. Despite a 67-51 loss to Louisville, the Bearcats could remain in the field. In Tuesday morning’s bracket projections, ESPN’s Joe Lunardi had Cincinnati as a No. 9 seed and CBS’s Jerry Palm had the Bearcats as a No. 10. Cincinnati is 2-6 in its last eight, but four of those losses have been on the road (Providence, Connecticut, Notre Dame and Louisville). The Bearcats may have a strong case for the field, but not so strong they can absorb a loss to USF on Saturday.
Siva from the field.
Louisville also had a handful of important developments as it chase a No. 1 seed and a Big East regular season title. Peyton Siva, who went 0 for 9 from the field Saturday against Syracuse, came back to hit 5 of 13 of his shots for 11 points against Cincinnati. The Cards are a half game behind Georgetown for the Big East lead and the top seed in the Big East tourney. The Hoyas play DePaul and Syracuse to finish the regular season while the Cards will have a rematch with Notre Dame from the four overtime classic on Feb. 9. Louisville is 7-4 against the RPI top 50 with the win over the Cats.
Related: Experts debate Indiana's MVP: Zeller or Oladipo?
KEY TUESDAY GAMES
All Times Eastern
Arkansas at Missouri (7 p.m., ESPN)
The Razorbacks have defeated Florida, Missouri, Kentucky and Oklahoma in Fayetteville, but Arkansas had an RPI at No. 80 on Monday thanks to a 1-10 record on the road and on neutral courts. Arkansas’ last chance for a road win will be in Mike Anderson’s return to Missouri. Think the Tigers’ crowd will be fired up?
Related: Key stats of the week
St. John’s at Notre Dame (7 p.m., ESPN2)
The Red Storm are on the outer fringes of the NCAA Tournament bubble, especially after losing to Providence during the weekend. St. John’s may need to win at Notre Dame and/or beat Marquette on Saturday before the Big East Tournament to be a legitimate at-large team.
Ohio State at Indiana (9 p.m., ESPN)
Gonzaga and Duke are putting together nice resumes for No. 1 seeds. Indiana seems to be the best bet for a Big Ten representative on the top line. Rounding out the regular season with wins over Ohio State and Michigan would be a boon to the Hoosiers’ seeding. Meanwhile, the Buckeyes got 24 points from Lenzelle Smith Jr. on Thursday. They need that trend to continue.
Alabama at Ole Miss (9 p.m., ESPNU)
The Crimson Tide fell short in an upset bid at Florida on Saturday. Ole Miss lost to Mississippi State and South Carolina in the last two weeks. Both teams have slim at-large hopes as it is. A loss for either here could mean elimination.
Boise State at UNLV (10 p.m., Time Warner Sportsnet)
The Broncos are starting to look like an NCAA Tournament team again after reeling off four consecutive wins, including a 78-65 win Saturday over Colorado State. That said, Boise State has won only one of its last six road games. The Broncos could be in good position before the Mountain West Tournament if they can defeat UNLV or San Diego State.
BY THE NUMBERS
NCAA TOURNAMENT PROJECTED AT-LARGE LOCKS (35)
ACC (4): Duke, Miami, NC State, North Carolina
Atlantic 10 (3): Butler, Saint Louis, VCU
Big 12 (4): Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State
Big East (6): Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Syracuse
Big Ten (6): Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin
Mountain West (4): Colorado State, New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV
Pac-12 (5): Arizona, Cal, Colorado, Oregon, UCLA
SEC (2): Florida, Missouri
West Coast (1): Gonzaga
ONE-BID LEAGUES (17)
America East, Atlantic Sun, Big Sky, Big South, Big West, Colonial, Horizon, Ivy, MAAC, MAC, MEAC, Northeast, Patriot, Southern, Southland, Summit, SWAC
Note: Conference USA, the Ohio Valley, the Sun Belt and the WAC likely will be one-bid leagues if their proejcted champions win their conference tournaments.
THE BUBBLE: 16 teams