I think this is the best day of conference tournament action every year. Almost all of the bubble teams still alive in their conference tournaments are in action. In fact, most of the teams in the bracket will be playing Thursday. There is a lot at stake when it comes to selection and seeding.
West Virginia played its way off the bubble Wednesday with a win over Texas Tech. The Mountaineers moved to 19-13 on the season and now get a shot at Kansas. I do not think a loss to the Jayhawks puts West Virginia in danger of missing the NCAA tournament.
Wisconsin was the only bubble team to lose on Wednesday. The Badgers lost to Ohio State to drop to 17-14 for the season. It has been a strange season for Wisconsin, but one that is not going to be good enough to get into the NCAA Tournament.
It's wall-to-wall bubble action today, starting with a likely elimination game in the Big Ten. We will also see if North Carolina can get its second Quad 1 win of the season against the same team it beat for its first one.
NCAA Tournament locks
Locks based on résumé: 28 | Automatic bids secured: 14 of 32 | At-large spots up-for-grabs: 8
Indiana, Purdue, Michigan State, Iowa, Northwestern
Baylor, Kansas, Texas, Kansas State, Iowa State, TCU
On the cutline
|Last Four In||Record||NET|
|First Four Out||Record||NET|
|Next Four Out||Record||NET|
Check out all the teams on Palm's Bubble Watch, the field of the 68 and the entire bracket on the Bracketology hub
Thursday's 'double bubble' games
Michigan vs. Rutgers
12 p.m. | Big Ten Network, fuboTV (Try for free)
| In short, this Big Ten Tournament game is is an NCAA Tournament elimination game for both teams. Michigan is the last team in the projected bracket heading into this game. There is not much hope for the loser of this one. |
| Rutgers is one of the "First Four Out." The winner is guaranteed nothing more than a chance to keep playing. In this case, the next game is against No. 1 seed Purdue.|
Arizona State vs. USC
11:30 p.m. | ESPN, fuboTV (Try for free)
|Arizona State needs this win more than USC does in part because the Sun Devils were swept in the regular season by the Trojans. A win by ASU does not necessarily mean jumping USC in the pecking order, but would give them another shot at in-state rival Arizona.|
|USC would get its eighth Quad 2 win of the season if it beats Arizona State. It could be the win that takes the Trojans off the bubble. They have a regular season win over UCLA and beat Auburn in non-conference play. Losses in each of Quad 3 and 4 are holding them back a little.|
Bubble teams in action Thursday
|vs. Florida, 1 p.m. | SEC Network, fuboTV (Try for free) -- Mississippi State is one of the last four teams in, so there some danger in taking another loss to Florida. The Gators won the only regular season meeting between the two in Starkville. The Bulldogs have five wins over teams in the field, including one over currently projected No. 2 seed Marquette, but are just one game above .500 against the top three quadrants..|
| vs. Texas, 7 p.m. | ESPN2, fuboTV (Try for free) – Oklahoma State has a chance to get the win that may put the Cowboys into the NCAA Tournament today. Beating Texas would make OSU 19-14 overall and .500 against the top three quadrants. A loss changes it to 18-15 overall and two games below .500 against the top three quadrants. Those records are not usually good enough to get in. It's a fine line the Cowboys are toeing. |
| vs. San Jose State, 5:30 p.m. | CBS Sports Network ( Channel finder | CBSSports.com | CBS Sports App ) -- Nevada had picked a bad time to go into a fade. The Wolf Pack picked up both of their quad 3 losses in the last two games of the regular season. They open the Mountain West tournament against San Jose State, which Nevada swept in the regular season. The Wolf Pack needs to get back on track or they could find themselves on the outside looking in. |
| vs. Washington State, 5:30 p.m. | Pac-12 Network, fuboTV (Try for free) – Oregon may need to win the Pac-12 tournament to get in to the NCAA tournament. That starts with Washington State, but game two would likely be against top seed UCLA. The Ducks would get a chance to make a statement to the committee in that one, but they have to get there first. |
| vs. Illinois, 6:30 p.m. | Big Ten Network, fuboTV (Try for free) – Penn State swept the regular season series with Illinois, which is a big part of why the Nittany Lions are in the field for now. After a gut-punch loss at home to Rutgers, Penn State bounced back with two of its best wins of the season at Northwestern and at home to Maryland. The Nittany Lions may be able to make the tournament without beating Illinois a third time, but it would make for a very nervous selection Sunday. |
| vs. Virginia, 7 p.m. | ESPN, fuboTV (Try for free) – North Carolina has a chance to pick up its best win of the season and possibly its second Quad 1 win when they take on the Cavaliers. It would be a big step in the right direction as far as making the NCAA Tournament goes, but a win does not guarantee a spot for the Tar Heels. At least for now, they are still dependent on what other teams do. |
| vs. LSU, 9:30 p.m. | SEC Network, fuboTV (Try for free) – Vanderbilt needs a deep run in the SEC Tournament, if not win it entirely, to overcome some bad losses on its tournament resume as well as a relatively poor record away from home against better teams. After this, the Commodores would get Kentucky, which they just beat at Rupp Arena on March 1, followed possibly by Texas A&M. I think they need all of those to have a good chance to get in the field. The Commodores have a NET ranking of 82 this morning and I wonder what it might be if they lost at Alabama by 10 instead of 57. |
| vs. UNLV, 9 p.m. | CBS Sports Network ( Channel finder | CBSSports.com | CBS Sports App ) -- Boise State's struggled to win on the road against the better teams in the Mountain West, but the Broncos best league road win came at UNLV. They will now have to win that game again to advance in the conference tournament. Boise State has a win over Texas A&M in non-conference play that looks a lot better now than when it was played, and like the other Mountain West bubble teams, two bad losses. |
|vs. NC State, 9:30 p.m. | ESPN, fuboTV (Try for free) -- Clemson has a strength of schedule problem. The Tigers schedule is ranked 106th and features only 11 Quad 1 and 2 games entering Thursday. That is at least three fewer such games than any other at-large candidate. They have four losses in Quads 3 and 4 as well. I think they may need to win the ACC Tournament to get in, but less than that may still be possible.|
|vs. New Mexico, 11:30 p.m. CBS Sports Network (Channel finder | CBSSports.com | CBS Sports App) -- Utah State has an odd-looking resume filled with mostly quad 2 and 3 games. The Aggies are below .500 against each of Quad 1 (1-4) and Quad 4 (1-2). They also have yet to beat a tournament quality team away from home and that will not happen vs. the Lobos either. New Mexico looked like a tournament team for much of this season but faded late. This is a must win for Utah State, although it should be a tough game.|
All references to NCAA Tournament selection records and trends refer only to tournaments going back to 1994 with the exception of 2021. Due to shortened schedules and a relatively small number of nonconference games in 2021, those rankings were not reliable enough to be considered.