While teams like Seton Hall and Kansas State picked up important bubble wins on Tuesday, the majority of the teams playing for their NCAA Tournament likes faltered. Here’s a quick recap of what happened on Tuesday.
Northwestern: At this point, its tough not to feel terrible for the Wildcats. With a chance to pick up what may have been the most important win in program history, Northwestern once again found a way to lose a heartbreaker, this time 67-55 to No. 11 Michigan. The Wildcats held a 47-43 leads with 85 seconds left in the game, but Michigan buried a pair of threes down the stretch to force overtime and followed that up with a trio of triples to open the extra period. It was the second time this season Northwestern lost to the Wolverines in overtime. They have three other league losses that have come by less than five points. Sitting at 16-11 and 6-9 in the Big Ten, you don’t think those losses hurt? The Wildcats probably need to win out -- including beating Ohio State -- in order for them to have a chance to dance.
NC State: Its amazing how quickly a team’s fortunes can turn. It wasn’t even a week ago that NC State held a 20 point lead on No. 5 Duke in Cameron indoor stadium. At the time, they were in fourth place in the ACC standings, just a game out of the three-way tie for first place. But after blowing that 20 point lead and getting blown out by both No. 15 Florida State and, on Tuesday, No. 7 North Carolina, the Wolfpack appear headed to the NIT. They still have a chance to finish at 10-6 in the ACC, but with their best wins coming against Texas and Miami, Mark Gottfried’s club is going to have to make a run in the ACC Tournament if they want a shot at getting a marquee win.
Miami FL: Its almost time for us to stop talking about Miami as a potential at-large bid. They are 7-6 in the ACC and 16-10 overall. The only reason they hold any hope for inclusion in the tournament is that they beat Duke at Duke earlier this season. Personally, I think the fact that Miami gave up a 10-0 run in the final two minutes of a must-win game at Maryland, including two huge buckets that came off Hurricane turnovers, is much more telling. The final score was 75-70.
Mississippi State: We already touched on them here. I will add this: if the Bulldogs get in, they will be dangerous. This group has top 25 talent, even if it only looked like it for one half in their last four games.
Xavier: So much for the win over Dayton sparking a change in this group. Xavier never looked fully into this game. They were up 21-16 at one point, but committed 16 first half turnovers and eventually get behind by as much as 20 in their 80-73 loss. Xavier did enough in non-conference play to remain under consideration. Their game at St. Louis this weekend is, all of a sudden, massively important.
Illinois: They lost 83-67 to No. 8 Ohio State. They were down 28-8 midway through the first half. Why do I even bother mentioning them?