The Longhorns are now in wait-and-see mode until Selection Sunday, having bowed out of the Big 12 Championship in last night’s semifinals. Texas is slotted 48th in the latest update from ESPN’s Daily RPI, with a 4-11 mark against the RPI Top 50. Fortunately for the Longhorns, most of their comparable bubble peers failed to improve their standing in conference tournaments, while the Horns snagged a big victory over Iowa State.
Yesterday proved fairly uneventful on the bubble, although Colorado’s late-night upset of Cal in the Pac-12 semifinals could lead to one case of bid larceny on the West Coast. Elsewhere, in that dangerous land on the wrong side of the cutline, a few bubble teams kept their hopes alive, as Marshall and Ole Miss grabbed wins in games they couldn’t afford to lose. N.C. State earned a big win as well, but is still probably right in the danger zone. If the Wolfpack wants to feel completely safe on Selection Sunday, a win today would likely erase all doubt.
Marshall vs. Memphis (10:30 A.M. CT, CBS)
This game is already at half on CBS, and the Tigers are continuing their impressive march through the C-USA tournament. The Thundering Herd has a profile that’s certainly worthy of bubble consideration, but would probably still be on the wrong side of things if the bracket were released today.
Marshall is currently 4-4 against the RPI Top 50 and has an impressive 19th-ranked SOS, but one troubling loss to East Carolina taints the résumé. The Herd might still squeak into the field with a loss to the Tigers, but Memphis is in the Big Dance no matter what. Bubble Nation is definitely hoping that Memphis maintains their lead for another 20 minutes.
North Carolina State vs. North Carolina (12 P.M. CT, ESPN)
The Wolfpack is right on the razor’s edge entering today’s play, and the arguments for and against Mark Gottfried’s bunch are both compelling. The Pack is 2-8 against the RPI Top 50 and 7-9 against the Top 100, but all victories came against teams ranked 45th or worse in today’s Daily RPI update. The easiest way for N.C. State to get into the tournament is to earn it with a win over the Heels today. Fans of other bubble teams will be hoping that John Henson is ready to go and that UNC can keep the Wolfpack sweating in the at-large pool.
Xavier vs. Saint Louis (2:30 P.M. CT, CBS College Sports)
Xavier might have punched its dance ticket with a win over fellow bubbler Dayton in last night’s A-10 quarters, but a win over the Billikens would probably clinch things. With two possible bid thieves in the other A-10 semifinal, Bubble Nation is hoping that the winner of this game can also win the league title tomorrow. Those bubblers who need even more help would prefer that Saint Louis is the team to shut out the bid thieves.
Ole Miss vs. Vanderbilt (2:30 P.M. CT, ABC)
Ole Miss is one of those fringe bubble teams that could use some extra help, but the Rebels still have the opportunity to earn a bid themselves. Mississippi is currently just 1-6 against the RPI Top 50, but 6-11 against the Top 100. They’ll have a shot at another quality win today when they face Vandy, which is currently ranked 29th in the RPI. The Rebs would also get a shot at either Kentucky or Florida if they can get past the Commodores, although at that point, a win would equal an auto-bid. Bubble teams will be firmly in Vanderbilt’s corner this afternoon.
Colorado vs. Arizona (5 P.M. CT, CBS)
This game has no real impact on the bubble, as the Pac-12 is required to get at least one bid. (Trust us. We checked the bylaws.) Of course, now the committee has the difficult decision of what other teams are worthy of a bid in this putrid conference. California has been considered the most likely candidate all season long, but their fade down the stretch makes things more complicated. Would the committee leave out regular-season champ Washington for a Cal team that finished second and lost in the tournament semis? Does that mean that the Pac-12 actually ends up stumbling into a three-bid scenario? Trying to sort out this conference’s outlook only gives us a raging headache, so one can only imagine what is happening in the Selection Committee’s war room.
As for the minor bubble implications of this game, Arizona has a marginal edge on Colorado when it comes to at-large profile, so bubble fans should be pulling for the ‘Cats. It’s incredibly unlikely that either team will earn an at-large, but Arizona does have slightly better odds. (Cue Lloyd Christmas.) At this point, even those fractions of a percentage point matter to Bubble Nation.
Long Beach State vs. UC Santa Barbara (9 P.M. CT, ESPN2)
The 49ers reached the Big West title game despite a sluggish start against UC-Irvine in last night’s semifinal. Long Beach would be a very interesting test case for the committee if they were to fall short in the league title game. A loss here would leave the 49ers with a 1-6 mark against the RPI Top 50 and a 2-7 record against the Top 100. With an ugly 150+ RPI loss against Cal State Fullerton, would that be enough to get LBSU into the tournament? Other bubble teams don’t want to find out, so they are pulling for the 49ers to win the auto-bid and preempt the debate.