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I Slept On It: Bubble Jumble Day

A ridiculously busy Saturday featuring five Top 25 matchups might instead be defined in the story of this season by the impact it had on bubble teams. While Pitt, Texas Tech, and Vanderbilt moved a step closer to a bid, nearly every other team the trio are competing against fell, including a recent March Madness fixture.

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ACC

The home teams claimed the conference's two Top 25 matchups, both of which took place in the early afternoon hours on the East Coast. No. 18 Louisville (21-6, 10-4) took down No. 20 Duke (20-7, 9-5) 71-64, a game that saw Grayson Allen score 29 for the Blue Devils—and foul out with 3:55 to go. Damion Lee led the Cardinals, still playing with a lot of motivation despite a postseason ban, with 24.

Fifth-ranked North Carolina (22-5, 11-3) remains in first, as the Tar Heels had little trouble with No. 11 Miami (21-5, 10-4), blowing out the Hurricanes by a 96-71 score.Six Tar Heels reached double figures in scoring, led by Justin Jackson's 15 (and seven assists). 

Further down the seed list, Pittsburgh (19-7, 8-6) helped its case considerably, by sweeping its season series with Syracuse (18-10, 8-7) 66-52, disappointing most of the largest crowd to see a college basketball game this season.

Even further from the cut line, Clemson (16-11, 9-6) picked up a damaging 77-74 loss at North Carolina State (13-14, 3-11), which wasn't a smart move for a team whose RPI ranked 89th going into the afternoon. Florida State (16-11, 6-9) also dropped a bad one, 83-73 at Virginia Tech (14-13, 6-8), the Seminoles' fourth loss in a row. It's highly unlikely that the ACC gets eight bids now, barring someone making a run in Washington D.C.

Unlike FSU, who fell to Georgia Tech (15-12, 5-9) at home on Wednesday, No. 19 Notre Dame (18-8, 9-5) is in no danger of not making the field because of its 63-62 loss in Atlanta, but the Fighting Irish's seed might be dinged a bit due to the result. With an RPI of 76 and games left against Louisville (on the road) and Pitt (back in Atlanta), Tech could get itself in position where it could have something to play for in D.C.

Big 12

No. 25 Baylor (20-7, 9-5) completely dominated the team just above it in the AP poll, Texas (17-10, 8-6) 78-64 in Austin, and it wasn't anywhere near that close. The Bears, who got 24 points out of Johnathan Motley and another 17 from Taurean Prince, led the Longhorns by 18 and halftime and the hosts never really threatened.

Third-ranked Oklahoma (21-5, 9-5) kept itself in the top seed race and helped Kansas' positioning at the top of the Big 12 by pulling away from No. 10 West Virginia (20-7, 9-5) in Morgantown, 76-62. Buddy Hield scored 29, hitting five of his 11 three-point attempts, to lead the way for the Sooners.

The second-ranked Jayhawks (23-4, 11-3) didn't give that advantage away, even if Kansas State (15-12, 4-10) sternly tested them in Manhattan. But a 72-63 loss won't help the Wildcats' case. KU now leads their main contenders by two games with four to play.

No. 13 Iowa State (19-8, 8-6) took down TCU (11-16, 2-12) as expected in Ames, though the Horned Frogs made it close late, with the Cyclones only winning by nine, 92-83.

Texas Tech (17-9, 7-7), unlike so many other teams in their position on this Saturday, took care of business at Oklahoma State (12-15, 3-10), prevailing 71-61 for its fourth straight win.

Big East

The No. 1 ranking seems to suit Villanova (24-3, 13-1) just fine. The Wildcats took down Butler (18-9, 7-8), which could have used the win for its bubble case, 77-67. Nova has won 37 in a row at its on-campus home, the Pavilion.

No. 8 Xavier (24-3, 12-3), a definite threat for a top seed, knocked Georgetown (14-14, 7-8) down to .500 overall and below that winning percentage in the league 88-70, with Edmond Sumner leading the way with 22 points.

Marquette (17-10, 6-8) was victorious at DePaul (8-18, 2-12) 73-60 in a win that merely keeps the Golden Eagles afloat in the bid race.

Big Ten

No. 17 Purdue's (21-7, 9-6) furious late comeback was to no avail, as No. 22 Indiana (22-6, 12-3) held on for a 77-73 win in the pair's only regular season meeting, although it wasn't a perfect night for the Hoosiers, as Robert Johnson went down late with a leg injury and had to be carried off the court.

Ohio State (18-10, 10-5), needed overtime, but they avoided a trap at Nebraska (14-14, 6-9) 65-62, meaning they still have much to play for in their final three games against national contenders. Finally, Penn State (14-13, 5-9) kept Rutgers (6-21, 0-14) winless in the league 70-58.

Pac-12

Washington (16-11, 8-7) defeated Stanford (13-12, 6-8) 64-53 to keep its at-large hopes alive with a road trip to Oregon on tap for next week, with Wednesday's game at Oregon State (15-10, 6-8) particularly important for the two bubble teams. The Beavers were unable to win at No. 16 Oregon (21-6, 10-4). The Ducks earned a series split with a 91-81 victory, paced by 25 from Tyler Dorsey.

After a lousy weekend in Los Angeles, Colorado's (19-9, 8-7) position is not as secure as it was heading into this week's play. The Buffs dropped their second in a row in embarrassing fashion, 77-53 at UCLA (15-12, 6-8). Tad Boyle's team could really use a win over visiting Arizona on Wednesday to give themselves some breathing room.

SEC

Texas A&M (20-7, 9-5) got itself back on track with a 79-77 overtime victory over No. 14 Kentucky (20-7, 10-4), who now only leads the SEC by a game over the Aggies and South Carolina. Jalen Jones led the Aggies with 24 points and eight rebounds, while Tyler Ulis netted 22 for the Wildcats.

Florida (17-10, 8-6) used a 20-0 run to take an unexpected halftime lead on South Carolina (22-5, 9-5), but due to some poor closing, the blowout turned competitive game also turned into a possible Gator win to an overtime 73-69 overtime victory for the Gamecocks. That snapped a two-game skid for the hosts and deprived UF of a two-game road winning streak. Vanderbilt (16-11, 8-6) picked up a needed win for its tenuous hopes, 80-67 over Georgia (14-11, 7-7), which definitely looks like it won't be going to the NCAAs for a second straight year.

Alabama (16-10, 7-7) picked a bad time (and team) to snap its five-game winning streak. The Crimson Tide dropped a home game, 67-61, to the same Mississippi State (12-14, 5-9) squad it defeated in Starkville (after OT) to begin its winning run. The Bulldogs have won five of their last nine conference games after starting 0-5 in SEC play.

But the Crimson Tide weren't the only SEC bubble team to pick up a bad loss on Saturday. Tennessee (13-14, 6-8) was without its best player, Kevin Punter, for its game against LSU (16-11, 9-5) in Knoxville, and it didn't matter. The Volunteers dominated the Bayou Bengals 81-65. Robert Hubbs III led the Vols, who now have wins over Kentucky, Florida, South Carolina, and LSU this season, with 19, while Ben Simmons had 21 for the Tigers, though he didn't start due to a non-disclosed academic issue.

Ole Miss (17-10, 7-7) is still alive for an at-large, somewhat, and they'll play with hope for another day thanks to a 69-59 win at Auburn (10-16, 4-10).

Arkansas (13-14, 6-8) moved a game closer to .500 by toppling Missouri (10-17, 3-11) 84-72.

American Athletic

Cincinnati (20-8, 10-5) perceived by many (including myself) to be right near the cut line, did itself a huge favor by topping Connecticut (19-8, 9-5) at home 65-60 to complete a season sweep.

Atlantic 10

St. Bonaventure (18-7, 10-4) picked up a huge win for its at-large hopes, especially after losing at La Salle Explorers on Wednesday. The Bonnies won at 15th-ranked Dayton (21-5, 11-3), which has now lost two in a row and fallen out of a tie for first in the A 10, 79-72. So did Saint Joseph's (22-4, 11-3), which followed up its huge home win over the Flyers with a 99-93 road loss at Davidson (16-9, 8-6), the Hawks first such defeat of the season.

Elsewhere

North Florida (20-10, 9-4) took down USC Upstate (9-21, 3-10) 81-78, while NJIT (17-12, 8-5) routed Jacksonville (16-14, 8-5), giving the Ospreys sole possession of first in the A-SunFlorida Gulf Coast (17-12, 8-5) joins the three-way tie for second, thanks to a 68-63 win over Kennesaw State (10-19, 6-7).

Winthrop (20-7, 12-4) now sits alone atop the Big South, as the Eagles edged UNC Asheville (18-10, 11-5) 81-80.
The Bulldogs are now tied for second with High Point (18-9, 11-5) who won 75-72 at Radford (15-13, 8-8).

Hawai'i (22-3, 11-1) seized control of the Big West race by completing a season sweep of UC Irvine (20-8, 9-3) with a 75-71 win at the Bren Events Center. The Rainbow Warriors are a surprising 6-1 in road games this year, with the lone loss coming at Texas Tech.

It required OT and was ugly, but UNC Wilmington Seahawks (21-6, 13-3) remains a game up on Hofstra Pride, who plays today, in the CAA race, thanks to a 59-55 win at College of Charleston (16-11, 8-8).

Eight of the 10 CAA teams are in action today, with leaders UNCW facing the most difficult game out of all of the contenders.

Princeton (18-5, 8-1) followed up its win over Yale with a 77-66 home victory over Brown Bears (7-17, 2-8). The Bulldogs (18-6, 9-1), meanwhile, remain a half-game up on the Tigers, thanks to their 79-58 win at Penn (10-13, 4-5).

Belmont (20-9, 12-3) asserted its OVC dominance with a 95-86 victory over second place Tennessee Tech (18-9, 10-4).

Chattanooga (24-5, 13-3) was unable to lockdown the SoCon regular season crown at home and did damage to its at-large hopes in the process, falling by a 79-64 count to UNC Greensboro (12-17, 8-8). ETSU (19-10, 12-4) is now a game behind the Mocs, thanks to a 77-74 victory at Mercer (18-11, 8-8). Wofford (15-14, 11-5) and Furman (18-11, 11-5) are now tied for third, following the Terriers' 77-73 home win.

Stephen F. Austin (20-5, 13-0) kept its perfect Southland record intact with an easy 88-53 win at Nicholls (7-20, 3-10). With Yale's loss to Princeton on Friday, the Lumberjacks are the only team in Division I that can claim a perfect conference regular season.

IPFW (22-7, 11-3) knocked off Omaha (17-12, 9-6) 94-90 to remain in first place in the SummitSouth Dakota State (21-7, 10-4) routed Western Illinois (9-16, 2-12) 87-67 to stay a game back.

A one-bid WCC is becoming a real possibility and that bid might not go to Gonzaga (21-7, 13-3). Saint Mary's (22-4, 13-3) completed a season sweep of the Bulldogs in Spokane, putting itself in pole position for the top seed in the conference tournament in Las Vegas with a 63-58 win. It's the Gaels' first sweep of the Bulldogs since 1995. The loss puts the Zags' run of 17 consecutive NCAA appearances in serious jeopardy.

Third-place BYU (21-8, 12-4) didn't beat San Diego (8-19, 3-14) by just a bucket in Provo. Oh no. The Cougars held the Toreros to 11 first-half points and 33 overall, while scoring 91 themselves.

As usual, the WAC is New Mexico State's (20-9, 11-1) fiefdom. The Aggies took down Seattle (12-14, 6-6) 70-57 to clinch the top seed in the conference tournament that follows the WCC's at Orleans Arena and the semifinal bye that goes with it (since the conference still has only seven eligible teams).

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