Bracketology: TCU, Creighton taste bubble defeat

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While the Horned Frogs stick around with the loss, the Bluejays had better start making their NIT plans. Elsewhere, the Mountain West and Pac-12’s top seeds survived quarterfinal tests, and you might want to keep an eye on Nebraska in the Big 12.

On Thursday, the TCU Horned Frogs held off a late charge by the Oklahoma State Cowboys to avoid a late bad loss in the Big 12 Tournament’s first round, 73-70. A quarterfinal win over the top-seeded Kansas State Wildcats would have likely ensured Jamie Dixon’s squad’s spot in the field of 68, but the league co-champs prevailed, 70-61. At 20-13 with a NET ranking of 48 and 3-9 record in Quad 1 games, TCU is now left with a long wait until Sunday evening. They still remain a few places above the cut line in this projection.

Conversely, the Creighton Bluejays, now 17-14, likely won’t be on their way to the NCAAs after a narrow 63-61 loss to the Xavier Musketeers in the Big East Tournament’s 4/5 game. Ranked 70th in the NET coming into this afternoon, the Musketeers are likely not an at-large threat, but they are now just two wins away from earning the Big East’s automatic bid, starting with Friday’s semifinal against the Villanova Wildcats.

At 17-15 and sitting 52nd in the NET, the Nebraska Cornhuskers aren’t quite back in the at-large conversation yet, primarily because their Big Ten second round win over the Maryland Terrapins was only their third Quad 1 victory of the season. Compare that to the six the 17-15 Indiana Hoosiers own. But Tim Miles’ squad still has life, even if they’ll have to win three more games to make the field. The Huskers will attempt to continue their run against the fourth-seeded Wisconsin Badgers in tomorrow’s quarterfinals. Like Xavier in New York, Nebraska’s path in Chicago is something for bubble teams to be aware of.

But there was some good news for teams on the precipice this afternoon, as the top seeds in both the Mountain West and Pac-12 Tournaments moved on after scares. The Nevada Wolf Pack held off the Boise State Broncos, 77-69, at the Thomas & Mack Center, while the Washington Huskies took advantage of some poor late-game decision-making by the USC Trojans to advance, 78-75. Both are now two wins away from collecting their respective conferences’ auto bids.

So here’s how the cut line picture stands heading into Thursday evening’s action:

Last Four Byes: Minnesota, St. John’s, TCU, Florida
Last Four IN: Ohio State, Temple, Texas, Belmont
First Four OUT: Indiana, NC State, Oregon, Lipscomb
Next Four Out: Clemson, Alabama, UNC Greensboro, Nebraska

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