And we had a horse come off the pace and grab my last at-large slot today: Rhode Island. The Rams have some deficiencies, but Miami-FL, Florida and Kentucky spit the bit last night. Cincinnati did so on Tuesday. Michigan, Northwestern, San Diego State...just as many holes and they don't have the cap feather of being hotter than a $2 pistol at the moment. The Rams are. The #48 RPI is acceptable. They are 10-1 in their last 11 and have won six straight, including one over Dayton with whom they are tied for 2nd in the A10. They have played FOURTEEN true road games and won 9 of them. They might have a hard time staying in, but today they look better than a lot of floundering Bubble Boys.
The Bubble by the Numbers
--31 Automatic Bids. That number will not change this season.
--34 At-Large Bids. That also is a static number.
--29 teams are LOCKS or listed in black. The black teams could miss, but at this stage it would be extremely surprising if they did. It would take a real meltdown to miss at this stage.
--I have 7 other teams listed in blue (I upgraded OK State, Texas A&M, Tennessee, BYU, and Minnesota and downgraded Boston College to "Bubble IN" today) which means they are on their way, but still have a little work to do. Of these 36 black and blue teams, 11 are conference leaders. That means 25 at-large slots look fairly secure at this stage.
--Hence, the Bubble stands at 9 slots right now. That's down two from last week. This will shrink over the coming days, and on Selection Sunday it is usually no more than four or five. Teams in green are Bubble-IN and those in red are Bubble-OUT.
The other big news from last night was the Bubble bloodbath that occurred in the SEC and Kansas' damaging loss at Texas Tech. Actually, the bigger news is that some teams had their seasons ended. Let's get to that.
The A-Sun and Big South continue, while the Valley and Northeast crank it up.
Last night's games have been updated in the One Stop Shop. The chalk was pretty good again, going 8-2 and making the running tally 19-3 for higher seeds. One of those "upsets" was in the Sun Belt as #9 FIU nipped #8 UL-Lafayette by 2. FIU has had some injuries this season and is much healthier now, so this was an upset in seed only. FIU is a better team.
It was all Northern Iowa for a long time, but Creighton remembered who they were and close hard. UNI still won the tie-breaker and kept the won seed. Illinois State is the #3 and has an outside shot, but it would be surprising if UNI or Creighton did not take this one. And, the Jays are hot, winners of 10 straight, and the favorite.
Robert Morris dominated this league for most of the season. They were 13-1 before stumbling in a couple of game and haven't really crush teams in their last two. So, the door is open, but the Colonials are the fave. Mt. St. Mary's, Long Island, and Sacred Heart logjammed in a tie for 2nd.
Last Night's GOI
--Texas A&M 72, at Colorado 66. Aggies avoid disaster.
--Georgia 90, at Kentucky 85. Wildcats find disaster. Gonna need a BIG run here at the end.
--at Minnesota 51, Wisconsin 46. Gophers stay on the good side.
--at Mississippi State 80, Florida 71. Gators will have to win at home vs Kentucky and may need a win or two in the SEC tourney.
--at Missouri 73, Oklahoma 64. This huge win allowed Mizzou to hold out hope for a share of the Big 12 crown as Kansas crashed and burned at Texas Tech. Weird, wild stuff.
--at NC State 74, Boston College 69. Eagles cannot stand not being on the Bubble.
--at Pitt 90, Marquette 75. Panthers strengthen their 1-seed hand.
--Northwestern 64, at Purdue 61. Wildcats get right back in the mix by scoring a huge win while much of the Bubble faltered.
-- at UTEP 70, UAB 52. Blazers must win CUSA tourney.
--North Carolina 86, at Virginia Tech 78. Hokies probably need to beat FSU and make a little run in the ACC tourney.
--Cal at Arizona. Cats really need to hold serve at home in these last two games lest they slide out.
--Illinois at Penn State. Lions cannot afford losses of any sort due to their bad RPI for an AL team (#66 today).
--Tennessee at South Carolina. Hard to imagine a bigger game. SEC East title on the line, as the winner will have a one game lead going into their final game this weekend. If UTenn wins, they win the tie-breaker by sweeping SCar. SCar is playing for their NCAA lives. Tennessee is trying to stay off the Bubble. It's BIG.
--Saint Joseph's at Temple. Owls have to win out to the A10 final to hold even slim AL hopes.
--Providence at Villanova. Friars could do themselves a lot of good with a monster road win.
--Dayton at Xavier. X has their nose in front, but would fall into a three way tie for first with a loss. Dayton is trying to stay off the Bubble.