Bubble Watch for Thursday March 11th

Yesterday, it was almost a given that Seton Hall was heading to the NIT.  The three of us who write for this site were all ready to bury the NCAA chances for our beloved Pirates following their 68-56 defeat Wednesday night.  After today, I know I'm not ready to put the Hall back in the tournament, but it has been a good day for the Pirates.  Here's a recap for the day on the bubble and why Seton Hall is in better shape.

-There was a massacre in the Conference USA tournament as both Memphis (RPI: 46, SOS: 64) and UAB (RPI: 40, SOS: 87) lost their quarterfinal matchups.  For Memphis, it was heartbreaking as they lost to Houston 66-65.  The nation's leading scorer Aubrey Coleman hit a leaner with 5 seconds left and the ensuing possession, Willie Kemp was called for a carry with 0.8 left.  A Cougar started celebrating and left the bench, but there was no technical foul was called.  Meanwhile, it was much more clear cut in Southern Mississippi's win over UAB 58-44 as the Blazers basically couldn't hit free throws at all.  UAB was in trouble when Memphis lost because they would of needed a win over the Tigers to avoid having to win the tournament.  As long as UTEP wins the conference tourney, there should only be the one bid and all bubble teams hope that happens.

-Second big result of the night, Arizona State (RPI: 54, SOS: 80) lost in their opening game of the Pac-10 tournament.  The Stanford Cardinal took it to the Sun Devils, winning 70-61.  After being the punching bag of the nation, the Pac-10 suddenly had a chance at two or three tourney teams with the successes of Cal, Washington and ASU.  They can now only have two with the Sun Devils loss.  Also, Washington (PRI: 51, SOS: 70) is hurt by this game as they can't get the win over ASU to give the committee another good win.  Fortunately for them, the Huskies were able to overcome a 12 point deficit with a 20-2 second half run to beat Oregon State 59-52, and keep their bubble hopes alive, but will need to continue winning.  Now, they must make the Finals and may still need that game.  Of course, if UW needs that game, it might not be good for Seton Hall either.

Follow the jump for the rest of the bubble breakdown.

-Bob wrote earlier how if Cincinnati (RPI: 60, SOS: 16) won, that would hurt Seton Hall as the committee could put the Bearcats higher in the Big East pecking order.  I disagreed with him, since they had a 7-11 conference record and needed the Finals to have any bubble chance.  Fortunately, the two of us don't need to know who's right as Da'Sean Butler hit a game winning three-pointer at the buzzer to win the game for West Virginia 54-51.  Also helping the Pirates is a win by Notre Dame, who now qualifies as another top-50 RPI win in the Pirates resume.

-It wasn't all good for the Pirates as Florida (RPI: 53, SOS: 34), Georgia Tech (RPI: 44, SOS: 17) and San Diego State(RPI: 36, SOS: 69) won their opening games tonight.  GT had some trouble with North Carolina, but prevailed 62-58 and their win could eliminate any worries of being left out.  The Aztecs also won a close one, knocking off Colorado State 72-71 and get a chance to play their way in the field with a semifinal game with New Mexico.  They should be in win or loss.  As for Florida, they avoided blowing a double digit lead tonight and beat Auburn 78-69 to avoid a bad loss when they didn't need one.  They have a chance to knock Mississippi State (RPI: 68, SOS: 114) off the bubble tomorrow in the SEC quarters.

-Looking at tomorrow's bubble games, Seton Hall needs the losing to continue, starting with Illinois (RPI: 75, SOS: 40) against Wisconsin.  The Fighting Illini may not be done with a loss, but should they win, they could possibly take the Pirates tourney berth.  Minnesota (RPI: 78, SOS: 49) is a fringe bubble team at best, but if they can beat Michigan State, they could get a second look, so a Spartan victory is needed.  The SEC has another game of interest as Ole Miss (RPI: 56, SOS: 85) takes on Tennessee in a game where the Pirates will be cheering for the Vols to knock off the Rebels.  Finally,in the A-10, Rhode Island (RPI: 42, SOS: 97) and Dayton (RPI: 49, SOS: 31) both must lose if Seton Hall odds to dance are to increase.  And most importantly, there can't be any surprise teams sneaking through into their conference championships. A Cinderella or two will certainly put an end to the Pirates dancing dreams.

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