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March 12, 2011
Here's our daily NCAA tournament tracker.
We spotlight conference tourney finals and the key games involving bubble teams to be played today, as well as review important games from Friday, in the context of how that affects those teams' spots in the NCAA tourney.
We'll continue our tracker through Sunday, and we'll also update as needed the "NCAA locks" chart.
All RPI figures are through Friday's games and come from collegerpi.com.
GAMES OF INTEREST
Memphis at UTEP, 11:30 a.m., CBS: This is the Conference USA final and - incredibly (or, more apt, ridiculously) - it tips off at 9:30 a.m. local time. Third-seeded UTEP won the lone regular-season meeting, by 27 points in El Paso on Feb. 26. Fourth-seeded Memphis looked as if it had an at-large chance earlier in the week, but results elsewhere make that an iffy proposition now. Memphis has just two top-50 wins and both are over UAB. But Memphis does have 12 top-100 wins. UTEP also has two top-50 wins, but the Miners don't have as strong an at-large resume as Memphis. In short, if either wants to dance, it had better win this game.
Stony Brook at Boston U., noon, ESPN2: This is the America East tourney final. Fifth-seeded Stony Brook has pulled off two road upsets - including one of top-seeded Vermont - and now is going for a third in a row. Second-seeded Boston U. swept the season series. The winner looks as if it will be a No. 16 seed.
Clemson vs. North Carolina, 1 p.m., ACC syndication/ESPN: This is an ACC tourney semifinal in Greensboro, N.C. Clemson took a step toward an at-large bid by trouncing Boston College on Friday. While the Tigers have nine top-100 wins, they have zero top-50 wins and played a weak non-conference schedule. Beating UNC would be huge for the Tigers. The Heels swept the season series.
Alabama vs. Kentucky, 1 p.m., ABC: This is an SEC tourney semifinal in Atlanta. Alabama is coming off a win over Georgia in a quarterfinal, and a victory over the Wildcats would all but lock up an NCAA bid for the Tide. Alabama beat Kentucky in Tuscaloosa in their only regular-season meeting.
Hampton vs. Morgan State, 2 p.m., ESPNU: This is the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tourney final in Winston-Salem, N.C. Fourth-seeded Morgan State is the two-time defending champ. Second-seeded Hampton lost at Morgan State in the teams' only regular-season game. The winner almost assuredly is going to be a No. 16 seed and could be in the play-in game.
Duke vs. Virginia Tech, 3:30 p.m., ACC syndication/ESPN: This is the other ACC tourney semifinal. Virginia Tech got a much-needed victory Friday night, beating Florida State in a thriller. The Hokies have just two top-50 wins. One of them is over Duke, and another win over the Blue Devils would make Tech an NCAA lock.
Richmond vs. Temple, 3:30 p.m., CBS College Sports: This is an Atlantic 10 semifinal in Atlantic City, N.J. While Temple is an NCAA lock and playing for seeding, Richmond has just one top-50 win and can make things much easier for itself if it can beat the Owls.
Michigan State vs. Penn State, 4 p.m., CBS: This is a Big Ten tourney semifinal in Indianapolis. Michigan State locked up an NCAA bid Friday with a dominating victory over Purdue, while Penn State crawled firmly on to the bubble by beating Wisconsin in one of the ugliest basketball games in recent memory; it was their second victory over the Badgers this season. Penn State improved to 18-13 with the victory and now has four top-50 wins and nine top-100 wins. Penn State does have one egregiously bad loss - at home to Maine on Dec. 21 - but the Nittany Lions may have done enough to garner a bid. Certainly, beating the Spartans for the second time this season would remove any doubt.
Harvard vs. Princeton, 4 p.m., no TV: This is a special one-game playoff for the Ivy League title and it's being played at Yale. The teams split the regular-season series, with each winning at home, and finished in a tie for the title. Since there is no league tourney, a playoff game is needed. Consider this a play-in game for the NCAA tourney, and the winner likely will be a No. 13 seed.
McNeese State vs. UT San Antonio, 4 p.m., ESPN2: This is the Southland tourney final in Katy, Texas. Seventh-seeded UT San Antonio beat top-seeded McNeese State in their only regular-season meeting. A No. 16 seed looks as if it awaits the winner.
Kansas vs. Texas, 6 p.m., ESPN: This is the Big 12 tourney final in Kansas City, Mo. Both are NCAA locks and playing for seeding. KU looks good for a No. 1 even if it loses, while Texas conceivably could be a No. 2 with a victory. Texas beat the Jayhawks in Lawrence in their lone regular-season meeting.
Arizona vs. Washington, 6 p.m., CBS: This is the Pac-10 tourney final in Los Angeles. Both look to be safely in the NCAA field and are playing for seeding. The teams split their regular-season games, with each winning at home.
Akron vs. Kent State, 6 p.m., ESPN2: This is the MAC tourney final in Cleveland, and it matches perhaps the league's fiercest basketball rivals. Top-seeded Kent State split with the sixth-seeded Zips during the regular season, with each winning at home. Kent State likely would be a No. 14 seed if it wins, while Akron has the look of a No. 15 seed.
BYU vs. San Diego State, 7 p.m., Versus: This is the Mountain West tourney final in Las Vegas. BYU swept the season series, but the Cougars had F Brandon Davies in both games. He since has been suspended, which means the Aztecs' frontcourt should have a huge advantage. A No. 2 seed could be on the line for San Diego State if it wins; a No. 3 or even 4 seems likely with a loss. BYU likely would be a No. 3 if it wins and a No. 4 with a loss; the selection committee will take into account Davies' departure.
Long Beach State vs. UC Santa Barbara, 8 p.m., ESPN2: This is the Big West tourney final in Anaheim, Calif. Top-seeded Long Beach State cruised to two regular-season victories over the fifth-seeded Gauchos, winning the games by a combined 34 points. Long Beach State carries an 11-game winning streak into the final. A win likely gets the 49ers a No. 15 seed. UCSB would be a No. 16.
Alabama State vs. Grambling, 8:30 p.m., ESPNU: This is the Southwestern Athletic Conference tourney final in Garland, Texas, and the winner looks like a lock to be in one of the play-in games to determine a No. 16 seed. Fourth-seeded Alabama State has won 10 of its past 11, while sixth-seeded Grambling has won nine of 11. But Alabama State is just 16-17 overall, while Grambling is 12-20. The teams split their regular-season series, with each taking narrow road wins.
Connecticut vs. Louisville, 9 p.m., ESPN: This is the Big East tourney final in New York. Ninth-seeded Connecticut is trying to win five games in five days. Both are NCAA locks and looking to improve their NCAA seeding. Louisville swept the season series, including a two-OT win at UConn.
Boise State vs. Utah State, 10 p.m., ESPN2: This is the WAC tourney final in Las Vegas. Top-seeded Utah State swept the season series, winning the two games over the second-seeded Broncos by a combined 38 points. Utah State is 29-3 and is 18th in the RPI. But the Aggies' at-large resume is skimpy, with just two top-100 wins. Frankly, even though they dominated the WAC, it's hard to make a case for Utah State as a deserving at-large team should they lose this.
Alabama 65, Georgia 59 (OT): Georgia blew a 14-point lead in the final 7:30 of this SEC quarterfinal, and it may have cost the Bulldogs an NCAA bid. Their fate now rests in the hands of others - both other bubble teams and, obviously, the selection committee. It was Alabama's second win over Georgia in the past week and seemingly puts the Tide above the Bulldogs in the at-large pecking order. Four SEC teams are locks. Can the SEC actually get six teams in the field?
Virginia Tech 52, Florida State 51: The Hokies hope this win in an ACC quarterfinal was enough to get them in the NCAA field. FSU sank an apparent game-winning basket at the buzzer, but officials ruled that the ball still was in Derwin Kitchens' hand as the clock hit 0:00.
Clemson 70, Boston College 47: The Tigers rolled in this battle of bubble teams in an ACC quarterfinal. Clemson finishes 2-0 against BC, which certainly did not look like an NCAA team Friday. BC has just one top-50 win and looks to be NIT-bound.
Bucknell 72, Lafayette 57: The top-seeded Bison won the Patriot League tourney final to earn an NCAA bid. Bucknell has won 20 of its past 21 games, and the Bison likely are looking at a No. 14 NCAA seed. They upset Kansas as a No. 14 in 2005.
Michigan State 74, Purdue 56: Michigan State all but nailed down a bid with this thrashing of the Boilermakers in a Big Ten quarterfinal. About two weeks ago, Purdue was in the discussion for a No. 1 seed; now, the Boilermakers look as if they will be a No. 3 or even a No. 4.
Kansas 90, Colorado 83: Colorado could have locked up a bid by beating the Jayhawks in this Big 12 semifinal. Instead, the Buffs have to hope they already had done enough; it should make for a nervous Sunday.
Arizona 67, USC 62: Arizona almost certainly ended USC's at-large hopes with this Pac-10 semifinal win. USC has five top-50 wins and eight top-100 wins. But the Trojans also have 14 total losses, including an unsightly three to teams whose RPI is worse than 200th.
Saint Mary's 77, Weber State 54: The Gaels rolled to the home win, but it's really of no help to their at-large resume. Given the goings-on in some of the major-conference tourneys, the Gaels will be sweating profusely on Sunday as they await a bid.
UTEP 66, Tulsa 54: The host Miners rolled in this Conference USA semifinal.
Memphis 76, East Carolina 56: The Tigers used a big second half to roll to the win in a C-USA semifinal.
Utah State 58, San Jose State 54: Utah State hung on to win this WAC semifinal.
Richmond 55, Rhode Island 45: A loss to the Rams would have been a big blow to Richmond's at-large hopes, but the Spiders pulled away late.
BYU 87, New Mexico 76: It was the Jimmer Fredette show as the Cougars won this Mountain West semifinal. He scored 52 as BYU snapped a four-game losing streak to the Lobos.
Conference tournaments: Four other No. 1 seeds were in action. Bethune-Cookman lost 61-48 to fourth-seeded Morgan State in a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference semifinal; Texas Southern fell to fourth-seeded Alabama State 73-66 in a Southwestern Athletic Conference semifinal; Long Beach State defeated seventh-seeded UC Riverside 74-63 in a Big West semifinal in Anaheim, Calif.; and Kent State ousted fourth-seeded Ball State 79-68 in a MAC semifinal in Cleveland.
Mike Huguenin is the college sports editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.