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Two days left, NCAA bubble hasn't hurt Bulls badly



(Saturday morning update: USF dropped six spots in today's new RPI ratings, falling to 53, and bubble winners N.C. State and Marshall jumped ahead of the Bulls, with NCSU going up six to 49 and Marshall leaping 13 to 42. Cincinnati jumped 18 spots to 40, so that's now a top-50 RPI win for the Bulls.)

Friday got off to a rough start for USF's bubble hopes, with N.C. State and Marshall scoring key wins, but even with California losing late Friday night to likely grab an at-large spot from the bubble, Bulls fans have to be happy with the way the rest of the bubble played out with respect to USF's NCAA status.

Of the top four teams under USF playing Saturday, three lost --  Texas, Tennessee and Miami can't do anything more to threaten USF. St. Joseph's and Dayton also lost, so that leaves four games Saturday that could be damaging to USF's bubble position:

Marshall vs. Memphis, 11:30 a.m.: If Marshall wins, it changes Memphis to an at-large. Memphis beat UCF by 31 on Friday, so USF fans have to hope for more of the same. The Tigers won by 20 in their last meeting with the Thundering Herd.

N.C. State vs. North Carolina, 1: Joe Lunardi now has NCSU among his "first four in," but that would be upgraded with a win against the Tar Heels. The Wolfpack lost by 19 and 12 in their regular-season meetings with UNC, though John Henson's injury status could help them.

Mississippi vs. Vanderbilt, 3:30: Misssippi is still the last team Lunardi is acknowledging on the bubble despite their win against Tennessee, so that win was doubly good for the Bulls. An upset here would bring the Rebels closer, but still might not be enough to get them in.

Xavier vs. Saint Louis, 3:30: Is Xavier in? Certainly seems like it after the Dayton win, but if they're not a lock, Bulls fans should pull for Doug Woolard's old school at Saint Louis, which is already in.

-- California's loss stings a bit -- their RPI was 34 entering the day, so it's safe to assume they'll at least be on the bubble, if not ahead of USF as a second Pac-12 team in the field. With that damage done, it shouldn't matter whether Arizona and Colorado get in -- the winner will be a very low seed, especially if Colorado (RPI 76 entering the day) can pull it off.

-- In Lunardi's 10:45 update, the Bulls still weren't even in the "last four in" for Dayton, which bodes well with only a handful of games left to impact the Bulls' position. The only teams on his bubble that are still alive in conference tournaments are N.C. State, Mississippi, Arizona and UMass, which would be trouble only with two more wins to take the A-10 title.

[Last modified: Saturday, March 10, 2012 8:44am]


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