Sun Feb 27 09:00am EST
The final full Saturday slate of the regular season made for plenty of activity in and around the NCAA tournament bubble. Here's the highlights of who made up ground and who took a hit.
Go figure that the Hokies' first win against a ranked opponent this season would come against the No. 1 team in the land (yes, I know, it's debatable). The upset of Duke, though, which included an impressive late comeback, put them on the right side of the NCAA tournament bubble. It's not in stone, however, because a loss either Tuesday at home to Boston College or Saturday at Clemson will have them right back in danger. It wouldn't be late February in Blacksburg without this fine-line situation, would it?
It's becoming clearer and clearer as K-State continues to roll: This is the team most likely to get a seven-, eight-, nine- or 10-seed that no one will want to draw on Selection Sunday. Mizzou is now 1-6 on the road in the Big 12, but this is still an impressive win for the Wildcats, who essentially clinched it with a 9-0 run late while senior stalwart Jacob Pullen was on the bench with four fouls. Monday night should be quite interesting, as K-State heads on the road to take on Texas and go for its fifth straight win. The Wildcats have won in each of their last two trips to Austin.
Overcoming a 22-point deficit to defeat the fifth-ranked Longhorns will go down as a marquee win, but it's far from Colorado's first. It's the Buffs' fifth win against an RPI Top 50 team, which helps negate an RPI of 77 and a schedule that ranks as the nation's 69th strongest. This win simply puts Colorado back into the bubble discussion, though it's far from in. Its two remaining regular-season games — at Iowa State and vs. Nebraska — are both very winnable. Even with those, the Buffs would likely still have to get at least one win in the Big 12 tournament.
The Eagles trailed early on at Virginia, and a loss would have all but ended their at-large push. Like Colorado, BC isn't quite in, but now a Tuesday night trip to take on Virginia Tech becomes a must-watch.
The Bears just won't let us write them off for good, will they? The pulse is still faint, and Saturday's win was far from pretty. No one is expecting them to sweep the season's final week, which includes a trip to Oklahoma State and a home game against Texas. But at least they're still playing for something.
Nebraska (18-10 overall, 6-8 Big 12; Lost at Iowa State, 83-82)
The Huskers couldn't build off of last Saturday's upset of Texas, and two losses this week pretty much punched their ticket to the NIT. Colorado should be taking notes.
The Tigers still have four RPI Top 50 wins and an RPI of 33, but this loss looks brutal. Six of their eight losses have now come by 13 points or more. C-USA is looking more and more like a one-bid league.
Despite the still-shiny league record, Alabama's RPI of 89 and SOS of 138 means that this is likely the last questionable loss the Tide can afford to swallow. They can, however, offset it with a win at Florida on Tuesday.
A week ago, at 8-3 in the league, Colorado State was the front-runner for the Mountain West's third bid. Three consecutive losses later, and the Rams have not just been passed up by surging UNLV, but they now need a sweep of their final two games to keep the NCAA tourney dream alive. The problem? They're at San Diego State next Saturday.
The Vols still have friendly numbers that matter — seven RPI Top 50 wins, RPI of 34, SOS of 3 — but this loss just might have done them in. Losing to the trainwreck that is Mississippi State is just not a good look whatsoever. The Vols have now dropped five of their last seven and, in all, it was a week to forget for the program.