We’re two days away from Selection Sunday and with so many important games affecting the bracket from top to bottom, today’s projection focuses on what’s on the line this afternoon and evening.
While Thursday’s college basketball tournament schedule was bubble intensive from the afternoon deep into the night, Friday’s lineup highlights a wider variety of teams. With the ACC Tournament heading into its semifinal stage, spots on the No. 1 seed line are potentially up for grabs this evening, while the Pac-12 and Mountain West Tournaments could both have serious bubble impact. Potential bid thieves lurk in the Big 12 and Big East, while the conferences that will crown their champions on Sunday, including the Big Ten, SEC and American Athletic all feature a mix of games that could shake up both the protected seed and cut line landscapes.
After today’s full bracket, I’ll run through all of the key matchups for Friday. It’s an exhaustive, and potentially exhausting, list.
Note: Auto bid holders in this section are noted by the conference names in parentheses. Arrows indicate movement up or down seed lines relative to Thursday’s projection. New entrants are marked with an asterisk. Teams that have clinched bids are in all caps.
1. East (Washington, D.C.)
Columbia, South Carolina (Fri./Sun.)
1. Virginia (ACC) vs. 16. FAIRLEIGH DICKINSON (NEC)/NORTH DAKOTA STATE (Summit)
8. UCF vs. 9. Oklahoma
San José, California (Fri./Sun.)
↑5. Marquette vs. 12. New Mexico State (WAC)
4. Kansas State (Big 12) vs. 13. Old Dominion (C-USA)
Des Moines, Iowa (Thu./Sat.)
6. Auburn vs. 11. TCU
3. Michigan vs. 14. Harvard (Ivy)
Jacksonville, Florida (Thu./Sat.)
7. WOFFORD (SoCon) vs. 10. Syracuse
2. Tennessee vs. 15. COLGATE (Patriot)
4. West (Anaheim, California)
Salt Lake City, Utah (Thu./Sat.)
1. Gonzaga vs. 16. Prairie View (SWAC)/Norfolk State (MEAC)
8. Louisville vs. 9. Washington (Pac-12)
Hartford, Connecticut (Thu./Sat.)
5. Wisconsin vs. *12. Alabama/Belmont
4. Florida State vs. 13. LIBERTY (ASUN)
6. Cincinnati vs. 11. Florida
3. Purdue vs. 14. NORTHEASTERN (CAA)
Tulsa, Oklahoma (Fri./Sun.)
7. Iowa State vs. 10. Minnesota
2. LSU (SEC) vs. 15. BRADLEY (MVC)
2. South (Louisville, Kentucky)
Columbus, Ohio (Fri./Sun.)
1. Kentucky vs. 16. IONA (MAAC)
8. Iowa vs. ↓9. Baylor
San José (Fri./Sun.)
5. Nevada (MW) vs. ↓12. St. John’s/Temple
4. Virginia Tech vs. 13. UC Irvine (Big West)
Des Moines (Thu./Sat.)
↓6. Maryland vs. 11. SAINT MARY’S (WCC)
3. Kansas vs. 14. Montana (Big Sky)
7. VCU (A 10) vs. 10. Arizona State
2. Duke vs. 15. GARDNER-WEBB (Big South)
3. Midwest (Kansas City, Missouri)
1. North Carolina vs. 16. Sam Houston State (Southland)
↑8. Seton Hall vs. 9. Utah State
Salt Lake City (Thu./Sat.)
5. Mississippi State vs. 12. MURRAY STATE (OVC)
4. Texas Tech vs. 13. Vermont (Am. East)
6. Villanova (Big East) vs. 11. Ohio State
3. Houston (American) vs. 14. Georgia State (Sun Belt)
7. Buffalo (MAC) vs. 10. Ole Miss
2. Michigan State (Big Ten) vs. 15. NORTHERN KENTUCKY (Horizon)
Last Four Byes: Arizona State, TCU, Florida, Ohio State
Last Four IN: St. John’s, Temple, Alabama, Belmont
First Four OUT: NC State, Indiana, Texas, Creighton, Lipscomb
Next Four OUT: Oregon, UNC Greensboro, Clemson, Nebraska
For more on the Last Four In and First Four Out, check out today’s cut line breakdown.
Bids by Conference: 8 Big Ten, 8 SEC, 7 ACC, 7 Big 12, 4 American, 4 Big East, 2 Mountain West, 2 Ohio Valley, 2 Pac-12, 2 West Coast, 22 one-bid conferences
Early afternoon window
12 p.m., NBCSN: Rhode Island Rams vs. VCU Rams (Atlantic 10 quarterfinal)
With VCU being the Atlantic 10’s lone at-large prospect, bubble teams need the Rams to win all three of their potential games in Brooklyn.
12 p.m., ESPN: Florida Gators vs. LSU Tigers (SEC quarterfinal)
If Florida wins its rubber match with the Tigers, it should be safely in. LSU, meanwhile, is still playing for a potential No. 1 seed even with Will Wade suspended from coaching and Javonte Smart’s playing status questionable.
12 p.m., ESPN2: UConn Huskies vs. Houston Cougars (American quarterfinal)
The Cougars are likely looking at a No. 3 seed, but they need to win the American Tournament title to have any shot at a 2.
12:30 p.m., BTN: Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Michigan State Spartans (Big Ten quarterfinal)
Another matchup of a bubble team looking to improve its status (Ohio State) and a No. 1 seed candidate (Michigan State).
Late afternoon window
2:30 p.m., ESPNU: Memphis Tigers vs. UCF Knights (American quarterfinal)
Fans of bubble teams need to keep an eye on Memphis, which is hosting the American Tournament this season. The Tigers defeated the Knights at home on January 27th, 77-57.
3 p.m., BTN: Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. Wisconsin Badgers (Big Ten quarterfinal)
Wisconsin is in contention for a top-four seed, while Nebraska needs to keep winning to get back into the bubble conversation. The Cornhuskers will be aiming for their third win in as many days.
3:30 p.m., ESPN: Auburn Tigers vs. South Carolina Gamecocks (SEC quarterfinal)
South Carolina’s January 22nd home win over Auburn helped the Gamecocks earn a top four seed and quarterfinal bye. And they’ll need it since they don’t have the profile, particularly on the non-conference side of things, to contend for an at-large. This is yet another game in this window for bubble fans to worry about.
Early evening window
6:30 p.m., FS1: Xavier Musketeers vs. Villanova Wildcats (Big East semifinal)
Fourth-seeded Xavier is another squad lurking that could pop someone’s bubble by seizing an unexpected automatic bid.
6:30 p.m., CBSSN: Central Michigan Chippewas vs. Buffalo Bulls (MAC semifinal)
Keno Davis’ CMU squad will do its best to knock off Buffalo and ensure a two-bid MAC.
7 p.m., ESPN: Florida State Seminoles vs. Virginia Cavaliers (ACC semifinal)
Finally, a game without bubble implications. Florida State might be able to improve upon its current No. 4 seed by knocking off a Virginia team that’s in the driver’s seat for the No. 1 overall seed in the bracket.
7 p.m., ESPN2: Iowa State Cyclones vs. Kansas State Wildcats (Big 12 semifinal)
Kansas State is another team looking to improve upon its spot on the four line, while Iowa State would like to rise above the 7-8 range its fallen to of late.
7 p.m., ESPNU: SMU Mustangs vs. Cincinnati Bearcats (American quarterfinal)
Cincinnati will aim to eliminate another potential surprise auto bid challenger.
7 p.m., BTN: Minnesota Golden Gophers vs. Purdue Boilermakers (Big Ten quarterfinal)
Minnesota can further solidify its bid by defeating Purdue for the first time in a little less than two weeks.
7 p.m., SEC Network: Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Kentucky Wildcats (SEC quarterfinal)
Alabama can lock up a bid by knocking off Kentucky, but given how the Wildcats have dominated the SEC Tournament, that’s a tall order. John Calipari’s team is also aiming to shore up its No. 1 seed credentials.
Late evening window
9 p.m., Pac-12 Network: Colorado Buffaloes vs. Washington Huskies (Pac-12 semifinal)
If Colorado defeats Washington, the Pac-12 is likely to earn two bids, if not three.
9 p.m., CBSSN: San Diego State Aztecs vs. Nevada Wolf Pack (Mountain West semifinal)
Just one year ago, San Diego State knocked Nevada out at this very stage. Plus, the Aztecs defeated the Wolf Pack in San Diego this season.
9 p.m., FS1: Seton Hall Pirates vs. Marquette Golden Eagles (Big East semifinal)
Seton Hall defeated Marquette in Newark on March 6th, part of a recent three-game winning streak that has the Pirates rising up the bracket.
9:30 p.m., ESPN: Duke Blue Devils vs. North Carolina Tar Heels (ACC semifinal)
While North Carolina swept the regular-season series, you’re likely aware that Zion Williamson didn’t really feature in either one of those games. Duke can stake its own claim for a No. 1 seed by knocking off the Tar Heels with him back in the lineup this evening.
9:30 p.m., ESPN2: West Virginia Mountaineers vs. Kansas Jayhawks (Big 12 semifinal)
Sure, West Virginia has a losing record and finished last in the Big 12, but the Mountaineers are now just two wins away from securing the conference’s automatic bid.
9:30 p.m., ESPNU: Wichita State Shockers vs. Temple Owls (American quarterfinal)
Temple could use another quality win or two for its at-large case, but the Owls must beat Wichita State tonight to get a shot at earning them.
9:30 p.m., BTN: Iowa Hawkeyes vs. Michigan Wolverines (Big Ten quarterfinal)
Iowa defeated Michigan in Iowa City back on February 1st, 74-59. The Hawkeyes’ seeding could use another Quad 1 win, while the Wolverines are playing for a spot on the No. 2 line.
9:30 p.m., SEC Network: Mississippi State Bulldogs vs. Tennessee Volunteers (SEC quarterfinal)
It’s another rare Friday game with no bubble implications. However, Tennessee is very much in the hunt for one of the four No. 1 seeds.
Late night window
11:30 p.m., ESPN: Oregon Ducks vs. Arizona State Sun Devils (Pac-12 semifinals)
While Arizona State is looking increasingly safe, Oregon might just need a Pac-12 Tournament title to reach the field. The pair split their regular-season series with both winning at home.
11:30 p.m., CBSSN: Fresno State Bulldogs vs. Utah State Aggies (Mountain West semifinal)
On Thursday night, the New Mexico Lobos pushed Utah State in the quarterfinals. Tonight, the Aggies’ at-large bid could be on the line against a Fresno State squad they split with in the regular season.
Once again, I’ll be back with updates throughout Friday as events warrant.