Tournament tracker: UK rolls, FSU prevails
Here’s today’s version of our daily NCAA tournament tracker/bubble watch.
We spotlight key games to be played that night, as well as review important games from the preceding day in the context of how that affects those teams’ spots in the NCAA tourney.
Thursday was a slow day in “bubble world,” especially after an eventful Wednesday. The biggest news of the day was that Kentucky remained unbeaten in SEC play and in line for just the third unbeaten season in the league in the past 55 years. In addition, two No. 1 seeds moved on in their league tourneys – Long Island in the Northeast and UNC Asheville in the Big South.
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 come from collegerpi.com.
NCAA tourney locks (48)
ACC (4): Duke, Florida State, North Carolina, Virginia
Atlantic 10 (2): Saint Louis, Temple
Big 12 (5): Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, Missouri
Big East (5): Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette, Notre Dame, Syracuse
Big Ten (6): Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Purdue, Wisconsin
Missouri Valley (2): Creighton, Wichita State
Mountain West (3): New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV
SEC (3): Florida, Kentucky, Vanderbilt
West Coast (2): Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s
One-bid leagues regardless (16): America East, Atlantic Sun, Big Sky, Big South, Horizon, Metro Atlantic, Mid-American, Mid-Eastern Athletic, Northeast, Patriot, Southern, Southland, Southwestern Athletic, Summit, Sun Belt, Western Athletic.
Friday’s games of interest
Providence at Notre Dame, 7 p.m., Big East syndication/SportsNet New York/MASN/Altitude2/ESPN FullCourt: The Irish have lost two in a row and will be looking to close the regular season on a positive note. While the Irish are an NCAA lock, a loss to the Friars would have a negative effect on NCAA seeding. Providence upset UConn in its last outing.
Harvard at Columbia, 7 p.m., no TV: The Crimson enters its final weekend of play in the Ivy League tied with Penn. Harvard beat Columbia by five last month. Harvard finishes the regular season with two road games; the finale is Saturday at Cornell. Penn, which split the season series with Harvard, has three games left; the Quakers have home games against Brown on Friday and Yale on Saturday, then finish at Princeton on March 6.
Indiana State vs. Wichita State in St. Louis, 1 p.m., MVC syndication/Fox Sports Midwest/Comcast SportsNet Chicago/Fox College Sports Central: The top-seeded Shockers take on the eighth-seeded Sycamores in a league quarterfinal. Wichita State is an NCAA lock and is playing for seeding. If the Shockers can double-up and win the league tourney title after also winning the regular-season championship, they likely would be looking at a No. 5 seed, with a No. 4 an outside possibility.
Creighton vs. Drake, 7 p.m., MVC syndication/Fox Sports Midwest/Fox College Sports Central: Creighton is going to the NCAA tourney regardless, but the Bluejays need to be worried about their seeding. A loss to the seventh-seeded Bulldogs in a league tourney quarterfinal would hurt. Creighton is seeded second in the tourney and beat Drake twice by a combined 25 points in the regular season.
Other conference tourneys: There will be two other No. 1 seeds in action today. Belmont takes on fourth-seeded East Tennessee in at Atlantic Sun semifinal in Macon, Ga.; Belmont swept the season series, winning the two games by a combined 34 points. Murray State meets fourth-seeded Tennessee Tech (7 p.m., ESPNU) in an OVC semifinal in Nashville; Murray State swept the season series by a combined 13 points. While Murray State looks good for an NCAA bid regardless, a loss to Tennessee Tech would make for a restless Selection Sunday.
Kentucky 79, Georgia 49: Kentucky moved to 15-0 in SEC play and stayed in the running for the overall No. 1 seed in the NCAA tourney. A win at Florida on Sunday would give UK just the third perfect league season in the past 55 years in the SEC.
Florida State 63, Virginia 60: FSU mounted a furious rally in the final minutes and won it on a 3-pointer by Ian Miller with less than a second left. The victory snapped FSU’s two-game losing streak. UVa has lost four of six and fell into a three-way tie for fourth in the ACC; the Cavs look good for an NCAA bid, but they have just two top-50 wins. FSU wrapped up a third-place finish by itself.
Washington 80, USC 58: Washington now has won 10 of its past 11, and this victory keeps the Huskies alone in first place in the Pac-12 by a game over California. The Huskies finish up the regular season Saturday at UCLA, and as mediocre (bad?) as the Pac-12 is this season, a regular-season champ in a major conference is going to hold some sway with the selection committee. Cal finishes at Stanford, and the Golden Bears own the tiebreaker over the Huskies if it comes to that.
Nevada 65, New Mexico State 61: Nevada clinched the outright WAC title with the victory over the Aggies, who are in second place. This completes a season sweep of NMSU for Nevada, which has a nice record (24-5) but a weak NCAA at-large resume.
Conference tournaments: Two No. 1 seeds were in action. Host UNC Asheville blasted fourth-seeded Charleston Southern 91-64 to move into Saturday’s final against seventh-seeded VMI. And host Long Island beat eighth-seeded Sacred Heart 80-68 in the first round of the Northeast tourney. LIU next plays Sunday against fifth-seeded Quinnipiac in a semifinal.
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