Three who helped their stock most:
1. Akron (23-4, 12-0)
Akron will be the favorite to win the MAC tournament in a couple weeks, but the Zips have to keep winning to maintain hope of an at-large bid in case they don't. An 88-81 overtime victory at second-place Ohio on Wednesday was Akron's 19th win in a row, the longest streak of any team in the nation. Despite that impressive run, the Zips are far from an NCAA tournament shoo-in since they have only four top 100 wins and their most notable victory came against Middle Tennessee State. If Akron finishes the MAC regular season unbeaten but trips up in the conference tournament semifinals or finals, the selection committee will have to at least take a long look.
[Also: Penn State shocks No. 4 Michigan]
2. Creighton (23-7, 12-5)
To avoid making its regular season finale against Wichita State into a potential must-win, Creighton had to defeat Bradley on the road Wednesday night. The Bluejays did just that, rolling to an 80-62 victory after four losses in their previous six games sent them tumbling out of first place and toward the bubble. With victories over Wisconsin, Akron, Cal and Arizona State counterbalancing a couple of bad league losses, Creighton is still in fairly good shape. If the Bluejays beat Wichita State at home on Saturday, their spot in the field of 68 is secure. If they lose that one, they'd probably be wise to avoid a quarterfinal exit in Arch Madness or the wait for Selection Sunday will be very anxious.
3. Ole Miss (21-7, 10-5)
The Rebels couldn't secure an NCAA tournament bid just by beating Texas A&M but they could have lost one. That's why it was encouraging to see Ole Miss take care of business by turning back the Aggies 82-73. For Ole Miss to overcome a modest collection of wins and bad losses to South Carolina and Texas A&M, the Rebels will need more performances like Wednesday night's. They close with Mississippi State, Alabama and LSU, and they likely need to win all three of those and perhaps a game or two in the SEC tournament to play their way into the field of 68.
Other bubble winners: Saint Mary's (Still unbeaten in non-Gonzaga WCC games after pounding Pepperdine); Baylor (It wasn't pretty but the Bears stayed in the at-large hunt by eking out a win over West Virginia); Kentucky (No trouble with Mississippi State, as you'd expect); Boise State (Set up a critical three-game gauntlet against San Diego State, UNLV and Colorado State by beating Nevada)
Three who hurt their stock most:
1. Arkansas (17-11, 8-7)
In Mike Anderson's first season back at Arkansas, the Razorbacks went 1-7 on the road. Amazingly enough, they've gotten worse in his second year. A 65-60 loss at LSU on Wednesday night sunk Arkansas' road record to 1-8, with the lone victory coming against lowly Auburn. That's bad enough to outweigh quality home wins over Florida and Missouri that put the Razorbacks back on the bubble. Arkansas still has Kentucky at home and Missouri on the road this season. Win both of those, and make an SEC tournament run, and perhaps an at-large is a possibility. But considering that only the Kentucky game will be played at Bud Walton arena, the chances of such a surge seem bleak.
2. Maryland (19-9, 7-8)
When Maryland revived its NCAA tournament hopes by upsetting Duke this month, the Terps appeared well positioned to play their way into the field. Much to the chagrin of Mark Turgeon, however, the opposite has happened. Maryland has sandwiched road losses to Boston College and Georgia Tech around a home win over Clemson, a 1-2 stretch that may very well relegate the Terps to the NIT. They're 7-8 in the ACC, they beat nobody of note in non-league play and they have only three victories against top 100 RPI teams. The one saving grace for Maryland is that games against fellow bubble teams Virginia and North Carolina remain, but now a split is not good enough for the Terps. They probably need to win both to maintain at-large hope entering the ACC tournament.
3. Charlotte (18-9, 6-7)
In the last three weeks of conference play, Charlotte has been exposed. Playing without leading scorer DeMario Mayfield, the 49ers have lost five of their last six culminating in a discouraging 88-67 home loss to middling Dayton on Wednesday night. Five Dayton players scored at least 12 points as the Flyers shot 61.7 percent from the field en rout to a rout. Though victories over Butler and La Salle boost Charlotte's stock, it simply hasn't accomplished enough else to make a serious run at an-large bid any longer. The 49ers, now 69th in the RPI, have the look of an NIT team barring an Atlantic 10 tournament run.
Other bubble losers: Wichita State (Still safely in the field for now, but Wednesday's loss to Evansville decreases margin for error); Indiana State (Falling to Drake at home? Four straight Missouri Valley losses? Consider this bubble popped); Arizona State (OT loss at UCLA was an opportunity wasted)
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