Bubble Watch: Indiana, Cincinnati, Xavier, Wichita State face important tests on Sunday

In case your calendar is not working this morning, welcome to March! Two weeks of madness remains before we move on to the Madness™ itself. On a busy bubble Saturday, some teams helped themselves; others not so much, including two Big 12 teams going in very different directions.  Also, three teams making late surges kept their momentum going.

Sunday’s focus switches to the AAC, where its top three tournament contenders are in action.  That does not include first-place Tulsa, which has not yet done enough to overcome one of the worst nonconference schedules in the nation along with a couple of bad losses.

Before we get to Sunday’s games, here is a look at which teams helped themselves the most and which teams did the most damage to themselves on Saturday, plus where we stand on the bubble.



Rhode Island

Mississippi State





Providence won 58-54 at No. 12 Villanova: This is an enormous win for the Friars and not just because it’s another win against a top opponent away from home. The victory puts Providence at 17-12 overall, which is five games above .500. That’s one more than the historic minimum standard that the committee has used over the last 26 seasons. That gives it a bit of a cushion going into the final two games of the regular season, which are both at home.

UCLA won 69-64 vs. Arizona: I’m not sure which team’s rise from the ashes is more remarkable. UCLA picked up a season sweep of Arizona with its seventh straight win on Saturday night. Only a trip to USC remains in the regular season, and the Bruins’ margin for error is still pretty small.

Virginia won 52-50 vs. No. 7 Duke: The reigning champs also had to resurrect their tournament hopes from a poor start to the season, although the Cavaliers have not come from as far back as either Providence or UCLA. Virginia has now won nine of its last 10, although because the ACC is down this season, only two of those games have been true resume boosters.

Oklahoma won 73-62 at No. 20 West Virginia: The Sooners completed the sweep of West Virginia, which is tanking its way down the bracket, if not out of the tournament entirely. This is Oklahoma’s best win of the season, which is the third time I have written that phrase in the last few weeks. The Sooners aren’t done yet. They still get red hot Texas at home and go to TCU, which just took down Baylor at home.

No. 22 Texas Tech lost 68-58 vs. Texas: Do not let the little number to the left of Texas Tech on scoreboards fool you, the Red Raiders are in trouble. While the loss to Texas is their worst of the season, which isn’t all that bad, it drops them to 10-11 vs. the top three quadrants. That’s not fatal in terms of getting selected to the tournament. Six teams have received at-large bids one game below .500 against that group, including Florida last season. However, only one team has gotten a bid that was two games below .500 against Quadrants 1-3 and nobody worse than that. The Red Raiders finish at Baylor and home vs. Kansas. Barring a major upset, they will enter the Big 12 Tournament 10-13 against Quadrants 1-3. That’s a problem.

Arkansas lost 99-89 at Georgia: With or without Isaiah Joe, Arkansas still loses games like this. The Razorbacks picked up their third worst loss of the season on a list that already includes too many losses to teams that are not NCAA Tournament contenders. They are on the wrong side of the bubble for now.

Utah State lost 66-64 at New Mexico: Utah State added another bad loss to its resume at a bad time. OK, there really is no good time to do that. The Aggies may get a chance to avenge this loss in their first Mountain West Tournament game. They are the two-seed in that event.

Here are the bubble teams in action on Sunday. 

All times Eastern

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