09 November 2019 09:17
Bubble Watch: College basketball winners, losers among borderline NCAA tournament teams With Selection Sunday just a week away, teams hovering around the NCAA tournament bubble might be hitting the panic button right about now. Conference tournaments next week are opportunities for borderline teams to bolster their résumés, but the final regular-season game is also important to the big picture. Seton Hall: The Pirates (18-12, 9-9 Big East) all but secured their NCAA tournament at-large bid by upsetting Villanova 79-75 at home on Saturday in the Big East finale. After losing three in a row to fall out of the projected field in late February, Seton Hall beat the league's two best teams — Marquette and now 'Nova — this past week to jump to a No. 9 or No. 10 seed. A win in the Big East tourney would be nice to help bolster a NET ranking in the 60s, but isn't exactly necessary thanks to those two new Quadrant 1 (top-30 home, top-75 road) victories that pair with non-conference wins over Kentucky and Maryland.
But Saturday's victory is exactly what every bubble team is craving this time of year, and it helped reverse course following Georgetown's 32-point loss to DePaul this week. The reason ASU was a projected No. 12 seed before this has so much to do with the weakness of the Pac-12 as a whole this year, but a Quad 2 road victory only makes Bobby Hurley's team safer heading into the Pac-12 tournament in Las Vegas. Clemson: The Tigers (19-12, 9-9 ACC) entered Saturday as one of the "first four teams out" of the projected field, yet ended the day as likely one of the "last four in" after a convincing 67-55 victory against Syracuse — another Quadrant 2 win to add to their résumé that's highlighted by a top-30 strength of schedule. The one thing hurting Clemson's profile is a lack of Q1 wins, so while Saturday's outcome was ideal, there's still work to be done in the ACC tournament — where this team is likely to be a No. 9 seed in Charlotte. Creighton: The Bluejays (18-13, 9-9 Big East) couldn't afford to lose to DePaul on Saturday if they wanted to stay in the mix for an at-large bid, and Saturday's 91-78 win helped keep Creighton on the right side of the bubble after starting the day as one of the "last four teams in." That's now five consecutive victories for the 'Jays, who had lost four in a row before that and will likely need another win or two in the Big East tournament to be safe.
This team probably only needed to win one game to secure an at-large bid in the final week, but now its tournament fate likely rests on taking care of business in the Big East tournament. Without a deep run in the Big East tournament that includes a Quad 1 win, this is an NIT profile because even with a top-25 strength of schedule, this team still has gone only 1-10 in Q1 opportunities. Belmont: The Bruins (26-5, 16-2 OVC) will be sweating up until Selection Sunday over the course of the next week following Saturday's Ohio Valley Conference tournament final loss to Murray State — which gave the Racers the OVC's auto bid and means Belmont will now be vying for an at-large bid with the rest of the bubble teams. Even before this outcome, Rick Byrd's team was looking at a No. 11 seed thanks to a NET score of 41 and two Quad 1 victories so it's going to take a handful of borderline teams from power conferences playing themselves onto the right side of the bubble to bump Belmont off. Seton Hall basketball punches NCAA Tournament ticket with upset of Villanova Eight months after graduating four three-year starters and two weeks after being left for dead due to a three-game losing streak, the Pirates are headed back to the NCAA Tournament for the fourth straight season.
"They were locked in," said Radford coach Mike Jones, whose team beat Gardner-Webb 75-58 during the season. Gardner-Webb: Laster's huge day helped the Runnin' Bulldogs overcome the absence of Efianayi (18.5 points per game) from the score sheet until he made a pair of free throws with 12:18 remaining. Radford: The game might have been the last at home for Polite, a first-team All-Big South selection who fouled out with 31.6 seconds left. In this week's Rauf Report, we look at why UNC might be the national championship favorite, what NCAA Basketball bubble teams have to do to make the tournament, and more. Murray State and viral sensation Ja Morant became the first team to punch their ticket to the NCAA Tournament on Saturday night, beating Belmont to win the Ohio Valley title.