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Bubble Banter: Purdue, Minnesota are the biggest winners in a wild night

Matt Haarms

Purdue center Matt Haarms (32) celebrates during the second half of the team’s NCAA college basketball game against Iowa in West Lafayette, Ind., Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. Purdue defeated Iowa 104-68. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)


It was a good day for most of the bubble, although there were a couple of teams that saw their at-large hopes go up in flames.

Bubble Banter!


MEMPHIS (NET: 50, NBC: Play-in game): The Tigers have now won three straight games after taking care of Temple on Wednesday night. If they can take care of South Florida on Saturday, they will enter their biggest game of the season -- at Cincinnati (47) -- on a three game winning streak. It is worth noting here that Memphis has not beaten a single team in the top 45 in the NET and that their three best wins — Tennessee (70), Cincinnati (47) and N.C. State (69) — are teams that may not make the NCAA tournament. We’re in late-January and Memphis has as many Quad 3 losses as Quad 1 wins.

MINNESOTA (NET: 45, NBC: Off the bubble): The Gophers picked up their fourth (for now) Quad 1 win over Wisconsin (30) at home on Wednesday. They are 12-10 on the season, but all 12 of those losses have come against Quad 1 or 2 opponents. The biggest red flag with Minnesota is that they have just one win away from home on the season -- at Ohio State (15).

PURDUE (NET: 38, NBC: Off the bubble): Purdue is, apparently, the best basketball team on the planet when they are playing in Mackey Arena. On Wednesday, they scored 61 first half points in a 104-68 win over a very good Iowa (22) team. The Boilermakers are still in a bit of a precarious spot due to the sheer number of losses they have, but with arguably the toughest schedule in all of college basketball left, they will have chances to make up ground.

FLORIDA (NET: 42, NBC: 10): I’m not entirely sure how they did it, but the Gators erased a 22 point second half deficit in the span of six minutes in a win over Georgia (89) at home. That’s a good win only in the sense that it would have been a resume-draining loss. As it stands, the Gators have home wins over Auburn (17) and Alabama (43), but their only road wins came at South Carolina (73) and Vanderbilt (170) and their three neutral site wins are against teams that look unlikely to get to the tournament. It’s enough to get them a bid, but not a seed that you would expect from a team as good as the Gators were supposed to be.

NORTHERN IOWA (NET: 40, NBC: 11): The Panthers took care of business at Valpo (152) on Wednesday night. Their strong NET and wins at Colorado (18) and over South Carolina (73) on a neutral keep the Panthers in the conversation, but losses at Southern Illinois (139) and Illinois State (208) are killers. UNI cannot lose another game unless it is against Loyola-Chicago (92) in the MVC tournament if they really want a chance at an at-large.

N.C. STATE (NET: 69, NBC: Next four out): The Wolfpack bounced back from three straight losses to beat a short-handed Miami (104) at home. N.C. State has just one win over a top 50 team, but they do have a trio of Quad 1 wins so long as Wisconsin (30) stays in the top 30. Two Quad 3 home losses weigh things down, and they do have to go on the road for their next two games before hosting Duke (6) and Florida State (16) in two weeks.

VIRGINIA (NET: 58, NBC: Play-in game): Suddenly, Virginia looks like a team that is starting to figure some things out. They still can’t score, but scoring doesn’t matter all that much when you hold teams like Clemson (97) to 44 points. The Wahoos have now won three straight and four of their last five with a win over Florida State (16) in the mix. The Wahoos have just two Quad 1 wins to their name, a Quad 3 loss at Boston College (145) and only three more chances at Quad 1 wins left. They’re on the cutline right now and can’t afford slip-ups.

UTAH STATE (NET: 55, NBC: Off the bubble): The Aggies avoided a loss at home to UNLV, but they have a lot of work to do and not many chances to improve their resume. Wins over LSU (19) and Florida (42) are nice, but with three road losses to sub-95 teams and no more chances to land marquee wins, how are they going to make up for those losses?


GEORGETOWN (NET: 48, NBC: First four out): The Hoyas dropped to 13-10 on the season with a loss at home to Seton Hall (19) on Wednesday. Georgetown has now lost four out of five and six out of nine. They have just one loss that is not a Quad 1 loss, but a 2-9 mark against Quad 1 opponents isn’t going to get the job done. They’ve beaten one team in the top 55 in the NET.

SAINT LOUIS (NET: 68, NBC: Off the bubble): The Billikens fell in a classic lookahead spot, hosting a good Duquesne (88) team before heading off to play Dayton (5) on the road. With a 2-5 record against Quad 1 and 2 opponents and now a Quad 3 loss to their name, Saint Louis probably has to win at Dayton on Saturday to have a real shot.