Most of the riff-raff in conference tournaments are cleared out, paving the way for an always-entertaining Selection Sunday Eve.
There’s more than a few teams out there feeling much better about themselves after victories the last few days —- Alabama, Clemson, Colorado, Michigan, Michigan State and Virginia Tech among them —- but are they really safe? The next 24 hours will go a long way in determining that.
It’s possible Sunday will come and just one potential bid thief (the Dayton-Saint Joseph’s winner in the Atlantic 10) will remain alive. There could be more (hello, Penn State).
But plenty will happen on Saturday. An hour before tip-off in the day-long hoops fiesta, here’s what to look for out of every remaining league (ordered by game time):
Memphis has a bizarre profile, littered with lost of conference victories plus a win at Gonzaga. A quick look says the Tigers belong nowhere near the field. But this isn’t a normal year, and they might just have a chance even if they lose to Texas-El Paso (on the Miners’ home floor). UTEP is in a win-and-they’re-in scenario, with the NIT calling if it stumbles.
The Boston U.-Stony Brook winner will wind up on one of the bottom two lines of the S-curve.
Temple is already safely in the field. Richmond can probably sleep easy if it beats the Owls. And spoilers Dayton and Saint Joseph’s meet in the undercard. No bid will be stolen today, but plenty of eyes will be on Atlantic City in the next two afternoons.
Florida-Vanderbilt won’t generate attention from bubble watchers. Kentucky-Alabama will. The Crimson Tide made huge strides with its profile in the last week, sweeping Georgia to strengthen their own case and leave the Bulldogs looking far dicier. Another win will be probably be enough to overcome an anemic nonconference performance. To the Tide’s credit, they are 5-2 against the SEC East while also feasting on the plankton populating the league’s West Division (8-2).
Both Clemson and Virginia Tech have plenty to play for against North Carolina and Duke, respectively. Win, and their cases become even stronger after collecting decent wins on Friday. Lose, and some anxiety remains.
This tournament could be renamed Ohio State and the Wannabes. Michigan and Michigan State did what was necessary on Friday, and now it might be Penn State’s turn. The Nittany Lions survived a 36-33 rock fight against Wisconsin in the quarterfinals, and knocking off Michigan State might just be the final push needed to nudge them into the tournament.
One-bid league. Morgan State or Hampton will represent, most likely in Dayton.
Harvard and Princeton have a one-game playoff to decide the Ivy’s AQ. Harvard would be in the at-large discussion with a loss, so fellow bubblers would rather see the Crimson win and move along to the NCAA tournament.
Texas-San Antonio and McNeese play for a lone bid. McNeese heads to the NIT with a loss.
No NCAA thievery here, though there’s another possible NIT berth at stake if Kent State loses to Akron.
It’s all about seeding and not inclusion as Arizona meets Washington.
Same as the Pac-10, only with Texas and Kansas.
Same as the Big 12, only with Brigham Young and San Diego State.
One-bid territory with Long Beach State and UC Santa Barbara. Long Beach heads to the NIT with a loss.
Grambling (12-20, RPI: 313) and Alabama State (16-17, RPI: 267) battle for a spot in Dayton. The winner will be team No. 68.
Connecticut and Louisville have earned protected seeds at this point. Winner might even have a shot at the No. 2 line, though here’s guessing the winner of the Big East marathon is a No. 3 seed.
Bubblers love them some Utah State, which will steal an at-large berth if it loses to Boise State. If not, this is obvious one-bid territory.
—- Patrick Stevens