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The Dagger: College Basketball Blog

Stock watch: Which bubble teams rose and fell on Saturday?

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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Alabama celebrates a win over Mississippi State on Saturday (US Presswire)

Only two weeks away from Selection Sunday, the bubble is finally starting to shrink a bit.

Teams like Iowa State and Purdue all but sewed up bids on Saturday. And teams like LSU and NC State are now all but out of contention.

Here's a look at how the bubble landscape changed on Saturday featuring five teams whose big wins did the most to raise their stock and five others whose costly losses dimmed their hopes.

Stock up: Iowa State

Whatever slim doubt remained about Iowa State's NCAA tournament credentials is now gone thanks to the Cyclones' impressive 65-61 road win at Kansas State. That keeps Iowa State (21-8, 11-5) tied with Baylor for third place in the Big 12 and moves the Cyclones three games ahead of the fifth-place Wildcats and Texas. They could conceivably contend for a top six seed with a split of their final two games against Baylor and Missouri and a run in the Big 12 tournament.

Stock down: Mississippi State

If Mississippi State looked like a surefire NCAA tournament team three weeks ago, the Bulldogs certainly don't anymore. A 67-50 drubbing at Alabama was Mississippi State's fifth consecutive loss, dropping them to 19-10 overall and 6-8 in conference play. The Bulldogs still have a good shot to make the field of 68 thanks to wins over Arizona, West Virginia, Alabama and Vanderbilt, but their margin for error is now thin enough that they may need to win their final two against South Carolina and Arkansas.

Stock up: Purdue

Despite an above-.500 record in the nation's deepest conference, the knock against Purdue had been that the Boilermakers hadn't beaten anyone of consequence since a November win over Temple. Consider that criticism answered, however, thanks to Purdue's 75-61 win over Big Ten contender Michigan in Ann Arbor. The Boilermakers (19-10, 9-7) can move to a near-lock entering the Big Ten tournament as long as they at least split their final two regular season games against Penn State and rival Indiana.

Stock down: NC State

Already in trouble due to its inability to notch a marquee win this season, NC State added a bad loss to its uninspiring resume. The Wolfpack lost 72-69 to Clemson in overtime despite 18 points from C.J. Leslie and 16 from Lorenzo Brown. With four straight losses and a 1-8 record against the RPI Top 50, NC State (18-11, 7-7) is clearly on the wrong side of the bubble. A win over fellow bubble team Miami on Wednesday night is a must for the Wolfpack to have any at-large hopes, as is a run in the ACC tournament the following week.

Stock up: Alabama

At a time when SEC bubble teams seem more determined to miss the field than make it, Alabama is an exception. The Tide continue to shake off the season-long suspension to second-leading scorer Tony Mitchell, bludgeoning fellow bubble hopeful Mississippi State 67-50 for their third straight win. Alabama (19-9, 8-6) isn't a lock yet, but they're clearly the SEC's fourth-strongest team with only winnable games against Auburn and Ole Miss remaining in the regular season.

Stock down: LSU

LSU's unlikely rise from the depths of the SEC to the periphery of the at-large hunt ended abruptly on Saturday when the Tigers fell 72-48 to middling Ole Miss to drop to 7-7 in league play. A four-game win streak had vaulted LSU into national relevancy because the Tigers had a favorable remaining schedule and a chance to reach 10 SEC wins. Now that the best they can do is 9-7 in league play, they probably don't have the non-conference success to have any realistic NCAA tournament hopes.

Stock up: Washington

Washington has made a habit of following big wins with bad road losses the past few years, so perhaps it's a sign of progress the Huskies avoided another of those on Saturday night. They overcame foul trouble and poor shooting to rally from 13 down in the second half at rival Washington State, eking out a 59-55 win to improve to 20-8 overall and 13-3 in the Pac-12. Washington's non-conference profile is devoid of good wins, but the Huskies have made up for it in league play. Two wins in Los Angeles next week would give them no worse than a share of the league title and all but clinch an at-large berth. A split, and they might want to avoid a first-round Pac-12 tournament loss.

Stock down: Seton Hall

Any progress Seton Hall made by upsetting Georgetown earlier this week was undone on Saturday when the Pirates lost at home in overtime to Rutgers. That extinguishes any hope of Seton Hall (19-10, 8-9) finishing above .500 in Big East play and makes Saturday's road game at DePaul a must-win for the Pirates to get to 9-9. Wins over VCU, Dayton and St. Joseph's out of conference and Georgetown, West Virginia and UConn in Big East play have Seton Hall still feeling good about its chances, but the Pirates would be wise not to tempt fate by losing to the Blue Demons or in the first round of Big East tourney play.

Stock up: Drexel

By defeating Old Dominion to win the CAA title outright on Saturday, Drexel has given itself realistic hope of an NCAA tournament bid even if it doesn't capture its conference tournament title. The Dragons have an RPI hovering in the 70s because of a lackluster non-league performance and a league schedule that featured only one game apiece against the CAA's top teams, but they've also won 17 straight games to get to 25-5 overall. Since bubble teams continue to suffer bad losses every day, that might be good enough if Drexel loses in the CAA tournament.

Stock down: Saint Louis

Some of the margin for error Saint Louis amassed during a six-game win streak vanished Saturday when the Billikens suffered a shocking 64-62 loss to 6-23 Rhode Island. It won't knock Saint Louis out of the field, but it does put some pressure on the Billikens to at least split their two remaining regular season games at home against Xavier and at Duquesne. At 22-6, 10-4, Saint Louis is still alone in second place in the Atlantic 10, but a non-league performance that at one point seemed impressive no longer looks as good because of the struggles of Villanova and Oklahoma.

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