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NCAA Tournament Bubble Watch: SEC Edges Towards Three Bids

The prospects of getting four teams in got dimmer last night.

David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

The SEC got closer to an NCAA Tournament reality in which the conference only gets three teams into the bracket. The Vanderbilt Commodores blew their game against Tennessee, giving the team a sub-100 RPI loss at the worst possible time.

The sole saving grace of the loss is that it moved the Vols to the low 130s in the RPI. That means that even if LSU thumps UT today, Tennessee should stay above the magic 150 line. Therefore, Florida and Vandy's losses to the Volunteers won't be sub-150 RPI losses when the selection committee makes its final judgments. Of course, it only matters in the Gators' case if they beat Texas A&M today.

Last night was mostly quiet in Bubbleville. San Diego State got past Utah State 71-65 to keep the possibility of a one-bid Mountain West alive. TCU lost to West Virginia by 30 to leave only tournament locks alive in the Big 12. Tourney locks are all that's left in the ACC too after Georgia Tech, Pitt, and Virginia Tech all lost. George Washington did secure a win in the Atlantic 10, but like the Florida Gators' win over Arkansas, the victory only kept the team alive and didn't punch any tickets.

The only real trouble spot was in the Big Ten. Michigan got one of those stay-alive wins like George Washington did by beating Northwestern, but two of the acceptable champions bowed out with Iowa losing to Illinois and Wisconsin falling against Nebrasketball. The top four B1G seeds are still alive thanks to having double byes and are all acceptable champions, so we're not on bid thief red alert yet. The other four teams in Big Ten play would be bid thieves, though, so we're going to have to keep an eye on the goings on up north.

Here is where the Bubble Big Board stands today:

Conference Acceptable Champions Bubble Teams
A10 Dayton, St. Joe's VCU, St. Bonaventure, G. Washington
AAC Cincy, Temple UConn, Tulsa, Temple
ACC UVA, Miami, UNC, Duke, ND Pitt, Syracuse
Big 12 Baylor, KU, ISU, OU, Texas, TTU, WVU None
Big East Villanova, Xavier, Seton Hall, Providence, Butler None
Big Ten MSU, UMD, Indiana, Purdue, Iowa, Wisconsin Michigan
Horizon Valparaiso Valparaiso
MAAC Monmouth Monmouth
Mountain West San Diego State San Diego State
MVC Wichita State Wichita State
Pac-12 Oregon, Utah, Cal, Arizona, Colorado, USC, Oregon State None
Sun Belt Arkansas-Little Rock Arkansas-Little Rock
WCC St. Mary's St. Mary's

Conferences in bold have only acceptable champions still left alive.

The biggest bubble game for the SEC today is, of course, Florida-Texas A&M. The knock against the Gators is that, while they have played a truly tough schedule, they just don't have enough wins against good teams. Picking up a third RPI top 50 win over the Aggies today could be just enough to catapult UF ahead of some other bubble teams.

San Diego State continuing to win in the Mountain West by beating Nevada is vital. It'd be best if the top four Big Ten seeds all won, but Indiana beating Michigan is the most key result the SEC would be looking for.

What is true for SDSU in the MW is true for Little Rock in the Sun Belt, but thanks to the SBC figuring out a way to give its top two seeds double byes in an eight-team tournament, the Trojans don't play until tomorrow. Today is, however, when the American and Atlantic 10 tournaments really hit the important games.

According to the Bracket Matrix, UConn and Temple are barely in the field as 11-seeds and Tulsa is one of the first four teams out. The Owls are probably on even less stable ground than the Huskies are because, as the 1-seed in the American, bracketologists are giving them credit for the auto-bid for now.

Temple gets a horrid USF team today, so it's likely nothing changes there. UConn, on the other hand, goes up against projected 9-seed Cincinnati. The Bearcats swept the Huskies in the regular season, so that makes the prospects of UConn not getting another win pretty good. Tulsa, meanwhile goes up against Memphis. The Golden Hurricane won the only game the teams played back on February 28, and it was a home game for Tulsa. Memphis winning would be good, but a Tulsa win wouldn't put the team into the bracket.

The key game in the A10 is projected 9-seed St. Joseph's going up against George Washington. St. Joe's is the pick there as GW is lurking outside the bracket right now, trying to find a way in. The A10 has a pair of projected 10-seeds in VCU and St. Bonaventure that are prime competition against Vandy and would also be with a UF team that has beaten A&M. Wins today by Davidson and UMass, respectively, over those teams would give the SEC guys a boost.