Well, here goes nothing. For the first time since Billy Gillispie’s first season at Kentucky, ‘Cats fans will wake up on Sunday morning with an uneasy feeling in their collective stomachs about the Wildcats chances of dancing come 6pm. Friday night was exactly what Kentucky didn’t need, but in the spirit of March Madness, the basketball gods have also granted losses to almost all of the bubble teams in crucial games this weekend, and like John Calipari has said before, there will be a lot of “F’s” that still make it in. We’ll get to how the other bubble teams did today in a minute, but I’d like to be the first to say, “Happy St. Patrick’s Day!” to all of the Big Blue Nation. Just remember that even if worse-case scenarios that shall not be named occur tomorrow, there will be no shortage of beer, in all flavors and colors, to drown your sorrows in.
According to NCAA Tournament Chair Mike Bobinski, there are about 13 teams vying for the last 2-6 spots in the Tournament, as of earlier today. Bobinski also said that “The games being played at this point are important, but not more important than what happened over the course of the season.” The NCAA recently took the Last 12 games part of the NCAA selection process out and looks like they’ll be sticking to those guns when it comes to this postseason. it will remain to be seen how much emphasis the committee will put on Nerlens Noel’s injury, but I’m sure either way we’ll find that out immediately after the selection show is over.
BUBBLE WATCH BREAKDOWN:
Ole Miss (Winner) – Ole Miss was probably the biggest (and one of few) winners today by beating Vanderbilt 64-52 to advance to tomorrow’s SEC Final against Florida. There was a Marshall Henderson sighting today for the first time since early January, as he scored 23 points for the Rebels. Marshall made some great shots today, but I still maintain that it shouldn’t be hard for a decent player to score 20 a game when they regularly take twice as many more shots as anyone else on the team. It’ll be hard for the committee to leave the Rebels out at this point.
Southern Miss (Loser) – The Eagles gave all the bubble teams a scare by taking Memphis to double OT in the Conference-USA Championship Game, but eventually fell to the Tigers 91-79. The Golden Eagles had a solid 25-9 record this season, but were 0-5 against the RPI Top 50, and their loss in the conference championship basically has them packing their bags for the NIT.
Maryland (Loser) – Maryland placed themselves back into the bubble picture on Friday after upsetting Duke in the ACC Tournament, but fell today in the Semifinals to North Carolina in a tight 79-76 loss. Maryland’s resume is boosted by their 2 wins over Duke on the season, but are only 2-9 against Top-100 RPI teams not named Duke, not a good look for an NCAA Tournament resume.
Massachusetts (Loser) – UMASS is a team that had a great chance to improve their resume with a win against VCU today, but another bubble team bites the dust, 71-62. It’s hard for me to imagine a world where the 7th place team from the A-10 gets into the tournament, especially over teams that finished 2nd and 3rd in the SEC like Ole Miss and Kentucky.
Alabama (Loser) – I believe with a win today over Florida, Alabama could’ve solidified a tournament berth based on the amount of bubble teams that have lost over the course of this weekend already, but a 15-0 second half run by Florida put Alabama, 61-51 and put them squarely back into uncertain territory come tomorrow night.
As you can see, pretty much the only teams that helped themselves as far as bubble teams go, where the ones who had already lost and were sitting at home. I hate citing “Bracketologists” who overreact to every missed shot on the court it seems like, but of Joe Lunardi’s last 4 teams in, Ole Miss was the only team that was still in their conference tournament as of today. Just my prediction, I’m saying Kentucky is in, but probably against Middle Tennessee in the First Four. Honestly, at this point I’d take it at this point. May your Sunday be stress-free and filled with glorious green beer.