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TGS SPECIAL REPORT...TOURNEY WEEK THUR BRACKET UPDATE

THURSDAY BRACKET UPDATE!


by Bruce Marshall, Goldsheet.com Editor


A look at our updated TGS brackets thru Wednesday....

1-Kansas, Gonzaga, Baylor, Dayton

2-Florida State, Creighton, Kentucky, San Diego State

3-Villanova, Duke, Michigan State, Maryland

4-Louisville, Virginia, Oregon, Seton Hall

5-Auburn, BYU, Butler, Ohio State

6-Iowa, Providence, Michigan, Wisconsin

7-Penn State, Saint Mary’s, West Virginia, Houston

8-USC, LSU, Oklahoma, Illinois

9-Florida, Utah State*, Rutgers, Arizona

10-UCLA, East Tennessee State*, Colorado, Liberty*

11-Xavier, Marquette, Texas Tech, Arizona State

12-Stephen F Austin, New Mexico State, Indiana, NC State, Cincinnati, Richmond

13-Yale*, Vermont, Akron, North Texas

14-Hofstra*, North Dakota State*, Belmont*, Bradley*

15-Little Rock, Northern Kentucky*, UC Irvine, Eastern Washington

16-Winthrop*, Boston U*, NC Central, Robert Morris, Siena, Prairie View

*-Bid secured

Last four byes: UCLA, Marquette, Texas Tech, Arizona State

Last four in: Indiana, NC State, Cincinnati, Richmond

First four out: Wichita State, Mississippi State, Texas, Stanford

Next four out: Arkansas, Purdue, Memphis, Northern Iowa

BRACKET MOVEMENT FROM WEDNESDAY: Due to Colorado’s limp effort vs. Washington State in the Pac-12, resulting in a fifth straight loss for the Buffs, we’ve demoted them to the 10-Line, moving up Arizona, which beat Washington in Las Vegas, to the 9-Line. As for Xavier, its loss to DePaul cost a line, down to 11, with Liberty leaping up to the 10-Line. Indiana also flip-flops with Stanford, the Hoosiers now one of the Last Four In, the Cardinal one of the First Four Out. Boston U’s upset of Colgate in the Patriot finale also shuffled things in Lines 14-16; North Dakota State moves up to the 14-Line (where we had Colgate); UC Irvine moves up to the 15-Line; and AOC’s alma mater Terriers slides into the 16-Line, but clear of the play-in games at Dayton (at least for the moment).

As tourney week began to shift into top gear on Wednesday, there was one auto bid awarded in the Patriot, and it was a doozy of a upset as aforementioned Boston U took down favored Colgate at Hamilton. The Red Raiders, who had gone wire-to-wire in the conference lead all season and seemed poised to secure back-to-back Dance bids, instead went cold down the stretch as the scrappy Terriers earned their first bid since 2011. That also means vet BU coach Joe Jones will join his brother James (Yale HC) in the field of 68.

Mostly, however, Wednesday was about the Bubble’s slow evolution into a solid form by Selection Sunday. Among yesterday’s major on-court developments (we're sure you've heard enough about the off-court doings):

1) Stanford...Already precariously perched on the cut-line entering the Pac-12 Tourney, the last thing the Cardinal needed was a bad loss. Unfortunately, there is no other way to describe the limp 63-51 setback to bottom-seeded Cal. It is hard to see the Tree landing on the right side of the cut-line as it can expect a call from the NIT (if indeed there is an NIT) instead.

2) Xavier...Oh, Lordy, doesn’t the X now regret that loss to Butler in the final seconds last weekend? Instead of a win over the Bulldogs which would have allowed the Musketeers to bypass the opening round of the Big East Tourney at MSG, Travis Steele’s team was forced to deal with the only situation that could probably jeopardize a seed that was hovering in the 10-11 range. That is, a bad loss, which DePaul inflicted on Wednesday, 71-67. We still believe the X is on the safe side of the cut-line, but is going to be spending a nervous few days until Sunday, while keeping a careful lookout for any potential “Bubble thieves” in the conference tourneys.

3) NC State...Effectively in the same boat as Stanford, straddling the cut-line and facing a foe that could inflict an ill-timed bad loss on the eve of Selection Sunday, the Wolfpack, unlike the Cardinal, took care of business, dispatching the Pitt Panthers without much trouble, 73-58. No potential bad losses remain for NCS in Greensboro, with Duke on deck for Thursday and a chance to move clearer of the cut-line.

4) Indiana...Like Stanford and NC State, only bad Big Dance things could have come from a Hoosier loss to Nebraska at Indianapolis on Wednesday. But like the Wolfpack, and unlike the Cardinal, IU had no trouble in an 89-64 rout, holding the Huskers to a mere 30% FG shooting. IU is now back into our brackets, while Fred Hoiberg must be wondering why he took the thankless job in Lincoln after completing a difficult 7-25 slog. Maybe Fred should have waited for a more-promising opportunity. (Note: His old job at alma mater Iowa State might have an opening in the not-too-distant future).

5) Oklahoma State...The Cowboys caused a bit of a stir in the last week by becoming a du jour Bubble candidate, especially after last week’s 81-59 romp at Texas. Well, all of that chatter almost ended before it began in the opening round of the Big 12 Tourney at Kansas City on Wednesday as the Cowboys had to rally late to steal a 72-71 verdict from hard-luck Iowa State. OSU remains the longest of longshots to make the Dance, but if the Cowboys can pull the shocker on Thursday in the quarters vs. Kansas, this conversation becomes a lot more interesting.

6) Arkansas...The Razorbacks live to fight another day on the Bubble after subduing Vandy 86-73 on Wednesday atNashville. One down and three to go before the Razorbacks get back to the neighborhood of the cut-line; a Thursday bubble eliminator vs. South Carolina awaits. For both the Porkers and Gamecocks, anything short of a run to the SEC finale probably lands them each in the NIT.

Meanwhile, the Bubble ought to contract a bit more on Thursday while we also keep an eye on some possible bubble thieves emerging from the power conference tourneys. Games we are watching on Thursday include...

Marquette vs. Seton Hall...Might Wojo’s team be in Bubble trouble if it loses again on Thursday, for what would be a 7th time in 8 games? Perhaps. As for the Hall, it was being mentioned as a possible 2-seed into last week before surrendering a chance at the outright Big East regular-season crown with losses to Villanova and Creighton. The Pirates could still get back to the 2-line, but that might require winning the whole thing at MSG.

Purdue vs. Ohio State...Are the Boilermakers still on the Bubble, even with a 15-14 record? No team has ever earned an at-large big with a win percentage lower than .533, but Matt Painter’s team has a Top 35 NET, wins over Virginia, Michigan State, Wisconsin, and Iowa...and Iowa again. Adding Ohio State’s scalp plus advancing at least to Saturday’s semis would be a nice addition to the Purdue satchel.

Texas Tech vs. Texas...While Joe Lunardi and some Bracketologists think the Red Raiders are safely into the field of 68, we’re not quite as sure, sitting on just 18 wins and a potential fifth straight loss into Selection Sunday.  Especially if unable to get past the desperate Longhorns, whose late-season surge to the cut-line would likely fall short if Shaka Smart’s men can’t advance to at least the semis of the Big 12 Tourney in Kansas City.

Arkansas vs. South Carolina...As mentioned earlier, the closest thing to a Bubble eliminator on Thursday. All the winner gets is a chance to stay on the Bubble; the loser can only look forward to a call from the NIT.

East Carolina vs. Memphis...The Tigers enter Thursday att he far reaches of the Bubble, missing a chance for what could have been a landmark second win over Houston let slip through their fingertips on Sunday. A deep run in Fort Worth might get the Tigers close to the cut-line; the consolation for a loss to ECU would likely be a top seed in the NIT, which might happen anyway. This will also be the postseason debut of the new Dickies Arena (which on the outside looks like a modern version of the old Arena/Checkerdome in St. Louis), which sits a bit west of downtown area in Fort Worth, one of our favorite cities.

Cal vs. UCLA...The expected Bubble showdown vs. Stanford now becomes more of a bad-loss risk for the Bruins. But if Mick Cronin’s men take care of business vs. :"Big Brother" as most expect, UCLA probably moves safely away from the cut-line.

Washington State vs. Arizona State...Considered by most Bracketologists to be on slightly firmer ground than UCLA entering tourney week, ASU is nonetheless suggested to avoid a potential bad loss to the Cougs. If Wazzu, which stomped Colorado on Wednesday behind 30 points from CJ Elleby, winning its first Pac-12 Tourney game since 2009 in the process, can win again, do the Cougs start to look like a potential bubble thief?


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