Sunday, March 3, 2024

Bracketology Bubble Watch: Michigan State, Gonzaga get big wins; Oregon, Utah lose at home

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Sunday’s schedule is light and will be done before the Super Bowl so everyone has a chance to watch it.

First though, let’s recap a busy Saturday. There were 20 bubble games, some of which had pretty impactful results. Here are some of the biggest winners and losers from Saturday.

Winners

Gonzaga: The Zags picked up their first Quad 1 win of the season in a 89-85 victory at Kentucky. That gives Gonzaga hope, but it has not finished the job in terms of getting an at-large berth. The Bulldogs will likely have to win out until the West Coast Conference Tournament, which means also winning at Saint Mary’s. Their record against better teams is still not good enough and that is the only potential tournament team left of their schedule.

Michigan State: MSU beat Illinois 88-80 to get its second win of the season against a team near the top of the bracket. The Spartans still have some holes in their resume, especially their 2-7 record away from home, but there will be chances ahead to fix that. They are at Penn State and Michigan next week. Those will be the two lowest rated teams they have played away from the Breslin Center so far.

Nevada: The Wolf Pack had a great week in which they got their two best wins of the season. Saturday’s win over San Diego State followed on the heels of a win at Utah State on Wednesday. There are still some challenges ahead in the Mountain West, which is having a banner season, but Nevada is in much better shape than a week ago.

Florida:  Florida pounded Auburn at home to get a second Quad 1 win this season. The Gators are now 2-7 against Quad 1 teams, but only one team has been an at-large team in the quadrant era (since 2018) with a record that poor against the top tier. That was Notre Dame (2-8) in 2022, which was the last team in the field. So, there is still work to do.

Losers

New Mexico:  If you are going to be a Home Court Hero, you actually have to win your home games. The Lobos, who do not have a Quad 1 or 2 win away from home, lost their second consecutive home game, this time to UNLV. That is a Quad 3 loss, which makes it their worst loss of the season so far. Now they hit the road to Nevada and San Diego State. Those are great chances to solve some problems with their tournament profile.

Utah: Arizona State went into the Huntsman Center and completed a season sweep of Utah. The losses to the Sun Devils are the two worst of the season for the Utes and Saturday’s home loss is their first Quad 3 defeat. Utah is heading in the wrong direction, having lost four of its last five. The Utes have a road trip to LA next week to try to turn things around.

Oregon: The Ducks lost at home to Washington State, missing out on a season sweep of the Cougars. They will have to settle for a road-and-road split. A win would have been a nice springboard into the next part of their schedule, which has four road games in their next five. Unfortunately for Oregon, those are must-win games now with the possible exception of the one at Arizona on Mar. 2.

Check out all the teams on Palm’s Bubble Watch, the field of the 68 and the entire bracket on the Bracketology hub  

Bubble teams in action Sunday

All times Eastern

NCAA Tournament locks

Locks based on resume: 3 | Bids secured: 0 | At-large spots remaining: 29

ACC

0

Big East

1

UConn

Big Ten

1

Purdue

Big 12

1

Houston

Pac-12

0

SEC

0

American

0

Others

0

Near the cut line

Note – all references to NCAA tournament selection records and trends based on NET rankings excludes the 2021 tournament. Due to shortened schedules and a relatively small number of non-conference games, those rankings are not reliable enough to be considered.

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