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09 November 2019 09:17

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North Carolina Tar Heels men's basketball Duke Blue Devils men's basketball University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

NCAA tournament bubble watch: College basketball winners, losers

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.

If UNCG can win in the semifinals Sunday and lose a close title game to a dominant Wofford team Monday, there's a slim chance this mid-major sneaks into the field without having to claim the league's auto-bid. Furman might have a better chance at an at-large if it wins Sunday (it's a must-win for any hope) because its profile features a non-conference victory over Villanova and a NET score of 43. Dayton: The Flyers (21-10, 13-5 A-10) handled Duquesne 78-67 Saturday and likely have a better chance to an at-large bid than Davidson since they at least have one Quad 1 victory and their NET score is practically the same as the Wildcats. Alabama: The Crimson Tide (17-14, 8-10 SEC) lost to Arkansas 82-70 in the SEC regular-season finale for an outcome that likely moves them from "the last four in" to one of the "first four out." Alabama has résumé-staining Quadrant 3 losses to Georgia State and Northeastern on its profile so losing the last three and six of its last eight doesn't equate to a recipe for any security heading into the final week before Selection Sunday. It's going to take a win or two for 'Bama in the SEC tournament next week to solidify its tourney ticket, and Saturday's loss also means the Tide are lined up to be an unfavorable No. 10 seed in the 14-team tourney.

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.

MORE SETON HALL: With Nova win, Willard should be Big East Coach of the Year DJ Laster scores a career-high 32 points to help Gardner-Webb win the Big South and punch a ticket to the NCAA tournament with a win over Radford. Laster scored a career-high 32 points and Gardner-Webb took command with a first-half run and beat Radford 76-65 on Sunday to win the Big South tournament championship and earn its first trip to the NCAA tournament. Members of the Gardner-Webb team celebrate winning the Big South conference championship and punching thier first-ever ticket to the NCAA tournament. Donald Hicks had 17 points, Polite 15 and Carlik Jones 14 for Radford (22-11), which was trying to win its fourth conference title and seeking a repeat of last season, when it followed a dramatic championship victory with its first win in an NCAA tournament game. Morant, Murray St. win first bid to NCAA tourney Ja Morant scored 22 of his 36 points in the second half and Murray State beat Belmont 77-65 on Saturday night in the Ohio Valley Conference championship to earn an NCAA tournament bid.

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"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.