We’re two days away from Selection Sunday and with so many important games affecting the bracket from top to bottom, today’s projection focuses on what’s on the line this afternoon and evening.
While Thursday’s college basketball tournament schedule was bubble intensive from the afternoon deep into the night, Friday’s lineup highlights a wider variety of teams. With the ACC Tournament heading into its semifinal stage, spots on the No. 1 seed line are potentially up for grabs this evening, while the Pac-12 and Mountain West Tournaments could both have serious bubble impact. Potential bid thieves lurk in the Big 12 and Big East, while the conferences that will crown their champions on Sunday, including the Big Ten, SEC and American Athletic all feature a mix of games that could shake up both the protected seed and cut line landscapes.
After today’s full bracket, I’ll run through all of the key matchups for Friday. It’s an exhaustive, and potentially exhausting, list.
Note: Auto bid holders in this section are noted by the conference names in parentheses. Arrows indicate movement up or down seed lines relative to Thursday’s projection. New entrants are marked with an asterisk. Teams that have clinched bids are in all caps.
1. East (Washington, D.C.)
Columbia, South Carolina (Fri./Sun.)
San José, California (Fri./Sun.)
Des Moines, Iowa (Thu./Sat.)
Jacksonville, Florida (Thu./Sat.)
4. West (Anaheim, California)
Salt Lake City, Utah (Thu./Sat.)
Hartford, Connecticut (Thu./Sat.)
Tulsa, Oklahoma (Fri./Sun.)
2. South (Louisville, Kentucky)
Columbus, Ohio (Fri./Sun.)
San José (Fri./Sun.)
Des Moines (Thu./Sat.)
3. Midwest (Kansas City, Missouri)
Salt Lake City (Thu./Sat.)
Last Four Byes: Arizona State, TCU, Florida, Ohio State
Last Four IN: St. John’s, Temple, Alabama, Belmont
First Four OUT: NC State, Indiana, Texas, Creighton, Lipscomb
Next Four OUT: Oregon, UNC Greensboro, Clemson, Nebraska
For more on the Last Four In and First Four Out, check out today’s cut line breakdown.
Bids by Conference: 8 Big Ten, 8 SEC, 7 ACC, 7 Big 12, 4 American, 4 Big East, 2 Mountain West, 2 Ohio Valley, 2 Pac-12, 2 West Coast, 22 one-bid conferences
Early afternoon window
With VCU being the Atlantic 10’s lone at-large prospect, bubble teams need the Rams to win all three of their potential games in Brooklyn.
If Florida wins its rubber match with the Tigers, it should be safely in. LSU, meanwhile, is still playing for a potential No. 1 seed even with Will Wade suspended from coaching and Javonte Smart’s playing status questionable.
The Cougars are likely looking at a No. 3 seed, but they need to win the American Tournament title to have any shot at a 2.
Another matchup of a bubble team looking to improve its status (Ohio State) and a No. 1 seed candidate (Michigan State).
Late afternoon window
Fans of bubble teams need to keep an eye on Memphis, which is hosting the American Tournament this season. The Tigers defeated the Knights at home on January 27th, 77-57.
Wisconsin is in contention for a top-four seed, while Nebraska needs to keep winning to get back into the bubble conversation. The Cornhuskers will be aiming for their third win in as many days.
South Carolina’s January 22nd home win over Auburn helped the Gamecocks earn a top four seed and quarterfinal bye. And they’ll need it since they don’t have the profile, particularly on the non-conference side of things, to contend for an at-large. This is yet another game in this window for bubble fans to worry about.
Early evening window
Fourth-seeded Xavier is another squad lurking that could pop someone’s bubble by seizing an unexpected automatic bid.
Keno Davis’ CMU squad will do its best to knock off Buffalo and ensure a two-bid MAC.
Finally, a game without bubble implications. Florida State might be able to improve upon its current No. 4 seed by knocking off a Virginia team that’s in the driver’s seat for the No. 1 overall seed in the bracket.
Kansas State is another team looking to improve upon its spot on the four line, while Iowa State would like to rise above the 7-8 range its fallen to of late.
Cincinnati will aim to eliminate another potential surprise auto bid challenger.
Minnesota can further solidify its bid by defeating Purdue for the first time in a little less than two weeks.
Alabama can lock up a bid by knocking off Kentucky, but given how the Wildcats have dominated the SEC Tournament, that’s a tall order. John Calipari’s team is also aiming to shore up its No. 1 seed credentials.
Late evening window
If Colorado defeats Washington, the Pac-12 is likely to earn two bids, if not three.
Just one year ago, San Diego State knocked Nevada out at this very stage. Plus, the Aztecs defeated the Wolf Pack in San Diego this season.
Seton Hall defeated Marquette in Newark on March 6th, part of a recent three-game winning streak that has the Pirates rising up the bracket.
While North Carolina swept the regular-season series, you’re likely aware that Zion Williamson didn’t really feature in either one of those games. Duke can stake its own claim for a No. 1 seed by knocking off the Tar Heels with him back in the lineup this evening.
Sure, West Virginia has a losing record and finished last in the Big 12, but the Mountaineers are now just two wins away from securing the conference’s automatic bid.
Temple could use another quality win or two for its at-large case, but the Owls must beat Wichita State tonight to get a shot at earning them.
Iowa defeated Michigan in Iowa City back on February 1st, 74-59. The Hawkeyes’ seeding could use another Quad 1 win, while the Wolverines are playing for a spot on the No. 2 line.
It’s another rare Friday game with no bubble implications. However, Tennessee is very much in the hunt for one of the four No. 1 seeds.
Late night window
While Arizona State is looking increasingly safe, Oregon might just need a Pac-12 Tournament title to reach the field. The pair split their regular-season series with both winning at home.
On Thursday night, the New Mexico Lobos pushed Utah State in the quarterfinals. Tonight, the Aggies’ at-large bid could be on the line against a Fresno State squad they split with in the regular season.
Once again, I’ll be back with updates throughout Friday as events warrant.