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March 11, 2011

Rivals.com Daily NCAA Tournament Tracker

Here's our daily NCAA tournament tracker.

We spotlight just the key bubble games to be played today, as well as review important games from Thursday, in the context of how that affects those teams' spots in the NCAA tourney.

We'll continue our tracker through the final days of the conference tournaments. We'll also update as needed the "NCAA locks" chart.

All RPI figures are through Thursday's games and come from collegerpi.com.

NCAA TOURNEY LOCKS (46)

(Teams listed alphabetically by league)

ACC (2): Duke, North Carolina
Atlantic Sun (1): Belmont*
Atlantic 10 (2): Temple, Xavier
Big 12 (5): Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Texas, Texas A&M
Big East (11): Cincinnati, Connecticut, Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, St. John's, Syracuse, Villanova, West Virginia
Big Sky (1): Northern Colorado*
Big South (1): UNC Asheville*
Big Ten (3): Ohio State, Purdue, Wisconsin
Colonial (2): George Mason, Old Dominion*
Horizon (1): Butler*
Metro Atlantic Athletic (1): St. Peter's*
Missouri Valley (1): Indiana State*
Mountain West (3): BYU, San Diego State, UNLV
Northeast (1): Long Island*
Ohio Valley (1): Morehead State*
Pac-10 (2): Arizona, UCLA
SEC (4): Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee, Vanderbilt
Southern (1): Wofford*
Summit (1): Oakland*
Sun Belt (1): Arkansas-Little Rock*
West Coast (1): Gonzaga*

* - won league tournament
ONE-BID LEAGUE REGARDLESS (8)
America East, Big West, Ivy, Mid-American, Mid-Eastern Athletic, Patriot, Southland, Southwestern Athletic
GAMES OF INTEREST

Alabama vs. Georgia, 1 p.m., SEC syndication/Altitude2/ESPN FullCourt: This is an SEC quarterfinal in Atlanta, and it very well could be a sort of NCAA play-in game. Georgia has a solid RPI (39th) and has played a good schedule; the Bulldogs also have nine wins away from home, and nine of their 10 losses have come against teams in the top 31. But they have just three top-50 wins and are 5-10 against teams in the top 100. Also of note: The only loss not to a team in the top 31 came at Alabama. The Tide rolled to the SEC West title, but their RPI is just 85th, which -- in a normal season -- would not be NCAA-worthy. They have just three top-50 wins and four top-100 wins. They played a horrible non-conference schedule and own four losses to teams outside the top 100. But there's the matter of that win over Georgia. Would the selection committee take Georgia even if it has lost twice to Alabama? Can the SEC actually get six teams in the field? This game is intriguing on a lot of levels. One thing seems likely, though: If Georgia wins, it's in.

Boston College vs. Clemson, 2 p.m., ACC syndication/ESPN2: Two bubble teams battle it out in an ACC quarterfinal. BC is slightly ahead of Clemson in the pecking order, but that could change. Clemson won the lone regular-season meeting; that is one of just two top-50 wins for Clemson. But BC has just one, against Texas A&M. Clemson also has one more top-100 win than BC (eight to seven). But BC has fewer "bad" losses than Clemson (one to three). The team that wins this should be at least quasi-comfortable Sunday; the loser, though, will be biting its nails.

Illinois vs. Michigan, 2 p.m., ESPN: This is a Big Ten quarterfinal in Chicago. Illinois looks OK for an at-large bid. The Illini have played a tough schedule, have a good RPI (38th) and own 11 top-100 wins; plus, their Nov. 30 victory over North Carolina looks better by the day. But their best win away from home came on a neutral court against Gonzaga. Beating Michigan would put the Illini safely in. But Michigan has a lot to play for. The Wolverines have lost 12 games and have just three top-50 wins, though they do have nine top-50 victories. They would remove any doubt about a bid if they beat the Illini.

Tulsa at UTEP, 4 p.m., CBS College Sports: This is a Conference USA semifinal and it's on UTEP's home court, where the Miners lost just once in conference play (to already-ousted UCF). UTEP has a slight chance at an at-large bid should it win this; Tulsa has to win this tourney for an NCAA invitation. These teams split in the regular season, with each winning at home.

Lafayette at Bucknell, 4:45 p.m., ESPN2: This is the Patriot League final, and it matches top-seeded Bucknell against the sixth-seeded Leopards, who are 13-18 overall. Bucknell won both regular-season meetings, by 19 at home and by five in overtime at Lafayette. Bucknell has won 19 of its past 20 games, and the Bison are looking at a No. 13 or 14 NCAA seed with a win.

Michigan State vs. Purdue, 6:30 p.m., Big Ten Network: This is another Big Ten quarterfinal. Michigan State took a big step toward nailing down an NCAA at-large bid when it beat Iowa on Thursday (actually, the Spartans avoided a bad loss that could have killed their hopes). Still, there is some doubt because while they have played an extremely tough schedule, they have just three top-50 wins and 13 overall losses. Michigan State would remove any doubt if it beats Purdue, which is in the running for a No. 2 NCAA seed. Purdue swept the season series, winning at home by 20 and at Michigan State by 10.

East Carolina vs. Memphis, 6:30 p.m., CBS College Sports: This is the other C-USA semifinal. East Carolina is seeded eighth and coming off a win over UAB that almost certainly removed the Blazers from at-large contention. Now the Pirates will try to do the same thing to Memphis. Memphis has a legit at-large shot as long as it wins this.

Colorado vs. Kansas, 7 p.m., Big 12 syndication/Altitude2/Mid-Atlantic Sports Network/ESPN FullCourt: This is a Big 12 semifinal. Kansas is safely in the NCAA field and indeed has a solid shot at a No. 1 seed. Colorado is coming off its third win this season against Kansas State, but a pitiful non-conference schedule and a large number of losses (12) mean the Buffs likely are least a bit worried about getting an at-large bid. An upset in this one, though, and those worries are gone. Kansas won both regular-season meetings, by a combined 30 points. Before the Big 12 tourney began, Colorado had won just four games away from home; the Buffs have increased that by 50 percent, which enhances their NCAA hopes.

San Jose State vs. Utah State, 8 p.m.: This is a WAC semifinal in Las Vegas. Utah State ran away with the WAC's regular-season title, but its at-large resume is quite skimpy. Despite a great RPI -- the Aggies are 17th -- they have just one top-50 win and only two top-100 victories. Losing to a Spartans team with an RPI of 153rd would not impress the committee.

Florida State vs. Virginia Tech, 9 p.m., ACC syndication/ESPN2: Once again, Virginia Tech is sweating out its NCAA possibilities, but a victory over FSU likely would mean the Hokies are in. They have just two top-50 wins, including one over FSU in the teams' only meeting this season. One impressive stat for the Hokies: They have nine wins away from home.

Rhode Island vs. Richmond, 9 p.m., A-10 syndication/Comcast-Charter Sports Southeast/Comcast Sports Net Philadelphia: This is an Atlantic-10 quarterfinal in Atlantic City. (Why the league felt it needed to end its tourney on Sunday is anyone's guess. Oh, yeah -- for TV.) Richmond squarely is on the NCAA bubble, and a loss to the Rams could put them on the wrong side of the bubble. Rhode Island won the only regular-season meeting, by four at Richmond.

BYU vs. New Mexico, 9 p.m., CBS College Sports: This is a Mountain West semifinal. Actually, there is no bubble team involved in this game. BYU has a spot sewed up, while New Mexico has to win this tourney to get an NCAA bid. Still, it has some intrigue. BYU has lost three times this season, and two came against the Lobos. A third loss could mean BYU gets a No. 4 seed in the NCAA field.

Arizona vs. USC, 9 p.m., Fox Sports Net: This is a Pac-10 semifinal in Los Angeles. Arizona has an NCAA bid locked up, while the Trojans quietly have inserted themselves into the conversation. USC has won six of its past seven, and included in that stretch was an eight-point home win over Arizona. That is one of five top-50 wins for USC, including a dominant victory over Texas. USC also has eight top-100 wins and played a good schedule. But the Trojans also have 13 total losses, including an unsightly three to teams whose RPI is worse than 200th.

Weber State at Saint Mary's, 10 p.m.: Saint Mary's fell to Gonzaga on Monday night in the West Coast Conference tourney final. This game was added to the schedule Feb. 22, and while beating Weber won't necessarily boost Saint Mary's at-large chances, losing to the Wildcats would be a devastating blow.

Oregon vs. Washington, 11:30 p.m., Fox Sports Net: This is the other Pac-10 semifinal. Washington looks good for an NCAA bid, but the Huskies don't want to give the selection committee any reason to glance closer at the resume, so they need to win this.

Conference tournaments: Four other No. 1 seeds are in action tonight. Bethune-Cookman meets fourth-seeded Morgan State (6 p.m.), the two-time defending league champ, in a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference semifinal in Greensboro, N.C.; Texas Southern faces fourth-seeded Alabama State (9 p.m.) in a Southwestern Athletic Conference semifinal in Garland, Texas; Long Beach State meets seventh-seeded UC Riverside (9:30 p.m., ESPNU) in a Big West semifinal in Anaheim, Calif.; and Kent State plays fourth-seeded Ball State (9:30 p.m., SportsTime Ohio/ESPN FullCourt) in a MAC semifinal in Cleveland.

THURSDAY REVIEW

Washington 89, Washington State 87: Washington lost both regular-season meetings with its archrival, but the Huskies prevailed in this Pac-10 first-rounder. Washington looks to be in good shape for an NCAA bid, while Washington State is NIT-bound.

East Carolina 75, UAB 70 (OT): UAB won the C-USA regular-season crown, but its at-large resume isn't strong (one top-50 win -- over No. 50 VCU). The Blazers will be hoping for a bid Sunday, but their achievements -- the C-USA regular-season title notwithstanding -- mean they will go wanting.

New Mexico 67, Colorado State 61: Colorado State had to win to remain alive in the at-large hunt, but the Rams lost for the fifth time in six games and now can start preparing for the NIT.

Colorado 87, Kansas State 75: The Buffs improved to 3-0 this season against the Wildcats. K-State is safely in the NCAA field, and sweeping the Wildcats provides a big boost for the Buffs.

Georgia 69, Auburn 51: Georgia had to win to keep its at-large hopes alive.

Boston College 81, Wake Forest 67: BC avoided a damaging loss to keep its at-large hopes alive.

USC 70, California 56: USC needed to win this to remain in the at-large conversation.

Memphis 66, Southern Miss 63: Memphis has to win this to remain alive in the at-large chase. The Tigers were 3-0 against Southern Miss this season, winning the three games by a total of 10 points.

Michigan State 66, Iowa 61: It wasn't pretty, but Michigan State got another win to stay alive in the at-large hunt.

UTEP 77, Marshall 65: UTEP remained on the bubble -- albeit on the wrong side for now -- with this win in a C-USA quarterfinal.

Tennessee 74, Arkansas 68: Tennessee looks to be safely in the NCAA field, as the Vols played a monster schedule and have eight top-50 wins.

Virginia Tech 59, Georgia Tech 43: This was a must-win for the Hokies, and they came through.

Conference tournaments: Three other No. 1 seeds were in action today. Long Beach State beat eighth-seeded UC Irvine 79-72 in the first round of the Big West tourney in Anaheim, Calif.; Kent State ousted eighth-seeded Buffalo 73-62 in a MAC quarterfinal in Cleveland; and McNeese State downed fourth-seeded Texas State 91-83 in a Southland semifinal in Katy, Texas.

Mike Huguenin is the college sports editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at mhuguenin@rivals.com.



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