Three weeks away from Selection Sunday means NCAA tournament bubble teams are feeling the pressure to bolster their profiles in hopes of keeping their postseason hopes alive.
Here's a look at which teams enhanced and stained their résumés the most in Saturday's action.
Providence: The Friars (16-12) started the day as one of the "last four in" the projected field of 68. Their 84-72 home victory over Marquette (and Markus Howard's 38 points) moved them closer to the safety zone. Providence's NCAA profile is peculiar in the sense that it features four résumé-staining Quadrant 4 losses. However, it also showcases seven Quadrant 1 victories, which is more than any bubble team.
Providence Friars guard David Duke (3) dunks and scores against the Marquette Golden Eagles during the second half at the Dunkin Donuts Center. (Photo: Brian Fluharty, USA TODAY Sports)
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Memphis: The Tigers (19-8) picked up a much-needed 60-59 win over fellow bubble team Houston. Memphis has regrouped with two consecutive wins after losing three in a row before that. This victory alone over a Houston squad leading the American Athletic standings won't push coach Penny Hardaway's team into the projected field of 68 because a NET score in the 60s doesn't do any favors, but beating Houston counts as a marquee win, which Memphis was desperately lacking on its résumé.
Arkansas: The Razorbacks (17-10) are currently on the outside looking in as a bubble team that needs to keep winning to have a shot at the NCAAs. So beating SEC foe Missouri 78-68 on Saturday was necessary to keep those hopes alive. Arkansas only has a 4-9 record in league play (the committee doesn't look at that), but has a top-50 NET score, top 15 non-conference strength of schedule and no Quad 3 or Quad 4 losses on its profile.
Syracuse: The Orange (15-12) have a way to go to really enter the at-large bid discussion but winning games it should like Saturday against Georgia Tech will only help that cause. Syracuse's NET score in the 60s isn't good and neither are just two Quadrant 1 wins on the NCAA portfolio. But if Syracuse can pick up a couple of marquee victories in the final weeks of ACC play, it's in business to push to the right side of the bubble.
Purdue: The Boilermakers (14-13) fell 71-63 to Michigan at home in a must-win game to stay in the NCAA tournament hunt. It's the fourth consecutive loss for Purdue, which now slips further to the wrong side of the bubble with a near-.500 record. The Boilermakers have an appealing NET score of 34 (and the committee has proved in the past how much it harps on this) and no horrible losses to go with four Quadrant 4 wins. But if there aren't enough wins on the profile, it won't matter.
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs (17-10) lost to SEC foe Texas A&M after starting the day as one of the "first four out" on the projected bracket. Expect MSU to slip further to the wrong side of the bubble after this road loss. It's not a résumé stain, but it is a loss that makes the next few weeks look bleak as far as tournament hopes go. Ben Howland's team needs to start winning or it's NIT.
North Carolina State: The Wolf Pack (17-10) came up with a huge win over Duke earlier this week, but couldn't pull off another Quadrant 1 victory in falling to Florida State 67-61. A NET score in the 50s is the biggest profile flaw right now if the committee conducted a blind resume test. But adding to N.C. State's five Quad 1 wins would have catapulted the Wolf Pack much further to the safety zone. Expect them to stay at the No. 10 seed line.
Oklahoma: The Sooners (16-11) lost to Oklahoma State 83-66 and as a result will take a hit from a projected No. 10 seed to a No. 11 seed — which is much closer to the wrong side of the bubble than fringe teams would prefer. Even though it was a road loss, now this puts OU in a position of needing to enhance its credentials in the final two weeks of the regular season. This team has a NET score in the 40s but is drastically lacking in the Quadrant 1 win department win just one.
NCAA tourney explainer:
- Quadrant 1 wins: Home games vs. 1-30 NET teams; Neutral-site games vs. 1-50 NET; Away games vs. 1-75 NET
- Quadrant 2 wins: Home games vs. 31-75 NET; Neutral-site games vs. 51-100 NET; Away games vs. 76-135 NET
- Quadrant 3 wins, losses: Home games vs. 76-160 NET; Neutral-site games vs. 101-200 NET; Away games vs. 136-240 NET
- Quadrant 4 wins, losses: Home games vs. 161-plus NET; Neutral-site games vs. 201-plus NET; Away games vs. 241-plus NET
Note: Mostly all statistical data are used from USA TODAY Sports veteran bracketologist Shelby Mast. WarrenNolan.com and the NCAA's NET rankings are also a reference point.
Follow college basketball reporter Scott Gleeson on Twitter @ScottMGleeson.
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