Bracketology 2020: The bubble is about to boil over

usa today 14123808.0 - Bracketology 2020: The bubble is about to boil overXavier defeated Georgetown on March 1st, but has dropped two in a row since. That puts the Musketeers on the bubble heading into the Big East Tournament. | Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Just a single NCAA tournament automatic bid is up for grabs tonight, but the at-large picture could see some changes as Wednesday unfolds.

On Tuesday, five teams were originally scheduled to secure their places in the 2020 NCAA tournament. However, that number became six yesterday morning, when the Ivy League unexpectedly canceled its tournament, set for Saturday and Sunday at Harvard, due to Covid-19. The conference awarded the auto bid to its regular-season champion, the Yale Bulldogs. As the night unfolded, the Robert Morris Colonials (Northeast), Hofstra Pride (CAA), Northern Kentucky Norse (Horizon League), North Dakota State Bison (Summit League) and Gonzaga Bulldogs (WCC) joined Yale. Amazingly, all five of those teams represented their conferences in Tuesday’s bracket. As a result, there are no real changes to today’s field.

That won’t last. After today’s full bracket and rundown, I’ll preview what’s to come on the bubble today. Wednesday’s conference tournament schedule, while not as deep as most seasons’, still has the potential to alter the picture — particularly at the cut line.

Teams in all caps (except for those that go by their initials) have clinched auto bids (12 so far).

1. South Region (Houston)

Omaha, Nebraska (Fri./Sun.)

1. Kansas (Big 12) vs. 16. ROBERT MORRIS (NEC)/NC Central (MEAC)
8. Saint Mary’s vs. 9. USC

Sacramento, California (Fri./Sun.)

5. Ohio State vs. 12. LIBERTY (ASUN)
4. Oregon (Pac-12) vs. 13. New Mexico State (WAC)

Albany, New York (Thu./Sat.)

6. Michigan vs. 11. UTAH STATE (MW)
3. Maryland vs. 14. Colgate (Patriot)

Tampa, Florida (Thu./Sat.)

7. LSU vs. 10. Marquette
2. Florida State (ACC) vs. 15. NORTH DAKOTA STATE (Summit)

2. West Region (Los Angeles)

Spokane, Washington (Thu./Sat.)

1. GONZAGA (WCC) vs. 16. Siena (MAAC)/Prairie View A&M (SWAC)
8. Arizona vs. 9. Florida

Spokane (Thu./Sat.)

5. Auburn vs. 12. Stephen F. Austin (Southland)
4. Wisconsin (Big Ten) vs. 13. BELMONT (OVC)

Greensboro, North Carolina (Fri./Sun.)

6. Iowa vs. 11. Texas Tech
3. Duke vs. 14. BRADLEY (MVC)

St. Louis, Missouri (Thu./Sat.)

7. Illinois vs. 10. Oklahoma
2. Creighton (Big East) vs. 15. UC Irvine (Big West)

3. Midwest Region (Indianapolis)

St. Louis (Thu./Sat.)

1. Baylor vs. 16. Little Rock (Sun Belt)
8. Houston vs. 9. Arizona State

Tampa (Thu./Sat.)

5. BYU vs. 12. YALE (Ivy)
4. Seton Hall vs. 13. Akron (MAC)

Greensboro (Fri./Sun.)

6. Virginia vs. 11. Stanford/Xavier
3. Michigan State vs. 14. North Texas (C-USA)

Cleveland (Fri./Sun.)

7. West Virginia vs. 10. Rutgers
2. Dayton (A 10) vs. 15. NORTHERN KENTUCKY (Horizon)

4. East Region (New York)

Sacramento (Fri./Sun.)

1. San Diego State vs. 16. WINTHROP (Big South)
8. Colorado vs. 9. Indiana

Omaha (Fri./Sun.)

5. Butler vs. 12. Cincinnati (American)
4. Louisville vs. 13. Vermont (Amer. East)

Albany (Thu./Sat.)

6. Penn State vs. 11. Richmond/Texas
3. Villanova vs. 14. HOFSTRA (CAA)

Cleveland, Ohio (Fri./Sun.)

7. Providence vs. 10. EAST TENNESSEE STATE (SoCon)
2. Kentucky (SEC) vs. 15. Eastern Washington (Big Sky)

Rundown

Bids by conference: 10 Big Ten, 7 Big East, 6 Big 12, 5 Pac-12, 4 ACC, 4 SEC, 3 WCC, 2 AAC, 2 A 10, 2 MW, 22 one-bid conferences

Last four byes: Oklahoma, Rutgers, Marquette, Texas Tech
Last four in: Stanford, Xavier, Richmond, Texas
First four out: UCLA, Wichita State, NC State, Northern Iowa
Next four out: Mississippi State, UConn, Saint Louis, Tulsa

Lowest-ranked NET at-large: Texas (69)
Highest-ranked NET exclusion: Purdue (33, 16-15 overall)

New today (0/68): None
Leaving today: None

What to watch Wednesday

There’s definite bubble action in the ACC, Big East and Pac-12, with the Big 12 and SEC offering contests featuring teams that could work themselves into the picture with a run this week. The 8:30–9:30 p.m. ET window will be particularly packed.

All times are ET.

  • 2:30 p.m. (ESPN), Pittsburgh Panthers vs. NC State Wolfpack (ACC second round): The Wolfpack are currently the third team out, but given how narrow the margins are, they could find themselves in on Thursday morning with a repeat of Feb. 29’s 77-73 home win over the Panthers. If State loses to Pitt, however, it’s a different story.
  • 5:30 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks), Washington Huskies vs. Arizona Wildcats (Pac-12 first round): While the Wildcats aren’t really a bubble team, losing to the Huskies in consecutive outings could give the Selection Committee pause.
  • 7 p.m. (ESPN2), Boston College Eagles vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (ACC second round): Despite a top-60 NET and 19 wins, the Fighting Irish aren’t really in the at-large picture because they haven’t defeated a team in the field. Grabbing tonight’s rubber match with the Eagles won’t change that, but it will give Notre Dame a shot at the Virginia Cavaliers in Thursday’s quarterfinals.
  • 7 p.m. (ESPNU), Iowa State Cyclones vs. Oklahoma State Cowboys (Big 12 first round): Saturday’s blowout road win over the Texas Longhorns was the Cowboys’ third straight and at 17-14 with a NET ranking of 61st, they’re on the cusp of at-large consideration. If Oklahoma State defeats the Cyclones tonight and Kansas Jayhawks tomorrow, it will have a shot.
  • 7 p.m. (CBSSN), Boston University Terriers at Colgate Raiders (Patriot League championship): This is the only bid that will truly be clinched tonight. The Raiders are looking for their second straight tournament trip, while the Terriers last qualified as an America East member in 2011, under current Penn State head coach Pat Chambers.
  • 8:30 p.m. (BTN), Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. Indiana Hoosiers (Big Ten first round): The Hoosiers are the only Big Ten contender that has to play a Wednesday game in Indianapolis. With Nebraska ranked 196th in the NET as of this morning, that brings the danger of a damaging late Quadrant 3 loss.
  • 9 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks), California Golden Bears vs. Stanford Cardinal (Pac-12 first round): After being swept out of Oregon last week, the Cardinal cannot afford dropping their rubber match against their improved archrivals.
  • 9:30 p.m. (FS1), DePaul Blue Demons vs. Xavier Musketeers (Big East first round): The Musketeers went 0-2 in the regular season’s final week, pushing them closer to the cut line. While they swept the Blue Demons, DePaul is capable of dealing an at-large contender a costly defeat. Just ask the Georgetown Hoyas and Marquette Golden Eagles.
  • 9:30 p.m. (SEC Network), Vanderbilt Commodores vs. Arkansas Razorbacks (SEC first round): The Razorbacks are one of a handful of SEC teams that really need to rack up some wins in Nashville to have a chance. However, the Commodores severely dented the bubbles of both the Alabama Crimson Tide and South Carolina Gamecocks in the final week of league play.

I will also be doing a full scrub of the bracket before writing Thursday morning’s post. With that fresh look at the field, expect some changes beyond these games. In the meantime, you can check out my TV viewing guides and full conference tournament coverage over at Blogging the Bracket and and listen to my bracketology interviews on the College Basketball Coast to Coast podcast.

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