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Bracketology 2021: The ACC and Mountain West (but mostly the ACC) dominate Friday’s conversation

While there are still three Mountain West teams in the field, the identity of one has changed. As for the ACC, its postseason gathering has turned into a mess.

NCAA Basketball: Mountain West Conference Tournament- Utah St vs UNLV
After defeating UNLV in the Mountain West quarterfinals, Utah State replaces Boise State in the field.
Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Before I get to Friday’s bracket, here’s a recap of what happened on a busy conference tournament Thursday:

  • The day began with an absolute bombshell, as Duke withdrew from the ACC Tournament due to a positive CoVID test. That ended the Blue Devils’ season and knocked one big name off the at-large board. This will be the first NCAA Tournament without the Blue Devils since 1995.
  • On the court in Greensboro, Virginia beat Syracuse at the buzzer in the first of the day’s four quarterfinals.

That win helped solidify the Cavaliers as a No. 4 seed, while the Orange hang around, barely on the right side of the cut line despite the loss.

Then Friday also opened with yet more ordinance from Greensboro Coliseum, as Virginia has a positive CoVID test. So, Friday’s first semifinal between Georgia Tech and UVa is canceled, with the Yellow Jackets earning a place in the final, where they’ll meet the winner of North Carolina-Florida State.

There’s been no word on how this test will affect Virginia, or Syracuse for that matter, heading into Selection Sunday. It’s something we will all need to be mindful of over the next three days and a potential warning of issues to come in Indianapolis.

  • It was set to be a similar story in Kansas City. That’s where Baylor will meet red hot Oklahoma State and Texas will look to defeat Kansas for a third time in tonight’s all-lock Big 12 Tournament semifinals.

Update 1:58 p.m. ET: You can add Kansas to the list of teams eliminated from their conference tournaments due to CoVID issues.

  • There’s bubble danger at Madison Square Garden, however, as the first semifinal on Friday night will pit eighth-seeded Georgetown against fifth-seeded Seton Hall. While the Pirates are the fourth team out of this projection, the Hoyas are 11-12 and not an at-large threat. Creighton is now a four seed and currently holds the auto bid after Georgetown’s win over struggling Villanova (who I’ve dropped from a three to a six because of their struggles while shorthanded). The Bluejays will meet surging UConn in the nightcap in New York.
  • Both Penn State and Minnesota attempted to make things interesting in the Big Ten’s second round at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. However, Ohio State and Wisconsin were able to prevail to move on to an all-lock Quarterfinal Friday. In Thursday’s lone head-to-head bubble matchup in Indy, Maryland defeated Michigan State, 68-57. That earned the Terps some breathing room, while the Spartans will have to wait it out.
  • The Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas was bubble central as all four Mountain West quarterfinals had at-large importance. That includes San Diego State’s narrow 69-66 win over Wyoming, as a Cowboy win would have further complicated the picture. In game two, Boise State, who was without key forward Abu Kigab (shoulder), lost to Nevada for a third time. The Broncos have dropped four in a row now, two without Kigab. However, the Selection Committee generally considers injuries only during seeding, not selection. And that’s a red flag for a team that’s on a losing streak. So, Utah State, an easy 74-53 winner over host UNLV, enters the field to replace the Broncos. Colorado State took down Fresno State by 10 in the nightcap to remain in.

After evaluating the teams near the cut line with fresh eyes, I promoted Drake to the “Last Four Byes” group, which sets up a pair of ACC vs. Mountain West matchups in the First Four. In my opinion, pairing deserving mid-majors against middling power conference teams is what that event really should be.

  • Elsewhere in Vegas, the Pac-12 Tournament’s quarterfinals featured one blowout, three overtime sessions, and a three-point regulation finish. Friday’s semifinal lineup features three locks and yet another potential party crasher, as fifth-seeded Oregon State knocked off fourth-seeded UCLA after the first overtime session of the day. At 14-12 against Division I opposition and owning a ranking of 101st in the NET, the Beavers are not an at-large threat. So bubble fans will want to cheer for their in-state rival, Oregon, in tonight’s first semifinal.
  • In the SEC, six of the eight quarterfinalists are locks, while a seventh, sixth-seeded Ole Miss, is in the “First Four Out” group. The Rebels will likely leap into Saturday morning’s bracket with a win over LSU in tonight’s final game in Nashville. The real interloper here is 15-13 Mississippi State, 77th in the NET. The Bulldogs survived a late Kentucky rally to end the Wildcats’ dream of earning the auto bid they needed to reach the field. That earned Miss. State a game against Alabama that the Bulldogs must win to keep themselves alive.

You can find more info about today’s schedule in its dedicated viewing guide and on Conference Tournament Central. For more about the cut line picture, check out this detailed post.

The Bracket

Stars (✴️) indicate new entrants, while arrows (⬆️ ⬇️) indicate movement up and down the seed list since Thursday. In a change for this season, teams that have won their auto bids are in gold-colored cells.

Rundown

IN (2): Coppin State (MEAC), Utah State
OUT: Boise State, North Carolina A&T State (MEAC)

On Thursday evening, N.C. A&T became the third team to withdraw from its conference tournament due to CoVID issues, following Northern Iowa and Duke and ahead of Virginia.

Last Four Byes: UCLA, Michigan State, VCU, Drake
Last Four IN: Louisville, Colorado State, Utah State, Syracuse
First Four OUT: Saint Louis, Boise State, Ole Miss, Seton Hall
Next Four OUT: Memphis, St. John’s, Xavier, SMU

Once again, I’ll have further bubble updates during Friday, as needed, with a new bracket on Saturday morning.