A little more than 24 hours before Selection Sunday and things are looking a bit clearer for this year’s field of 68 in the NCAA Tournament.
We know the Arizona Wildcats will be there. It’s almost certain the USC Trojans will be there. But those teams will meet Saturday night to decide the Pac-12 Tournament Championship. An automatic bid eliminates the drama for the Trojans and guarantees a favorable seed for the Wildcats.
We’ve got Arizona back on the 4-line with their win a last night. The win adds another Quadrant I victory to their resumé and makes up for the loss to the UCLA Bruins last month.
We currently have them in the Midwest region — meaning they would need to go through San Diego and Omaha to get to the Final Four — but they could move out West, limiting their travel, with a win tonight. Currently, that spot is held by Gonzaga but a regular season conference championship along with a conference tournament championship would give the Wildcats the best body of work in the west, entering Selection Sunday.
Those are the stakes for tonight. Before that though, let’s see today’s bracket projection.
Last Four Byes: USC, UCLA, Saint Mary’s, Missouri
Last Four In: NC State, Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona State
First Four Out: Louisville, Oklahoma State, Middle Tennessee, Baylor
Next Four Out: Marquette, Notre Dame, Syracuse, Penn State
Last night, the Mountain West Tournament did no favors to the bubble. The Nevada Wolfpack, a sure thing at-large and the heavy favorite to win their conference tournament, got blown out by the San Diego State Aztecs. The Mountain West will now receive a second bid, shrinking the bubble by one.
The Pac-12 appears to have three guaranteed bids in March Madness — Arizona, USC and UCLA — with ASU pending as a fourth.
There aren’t many surefire disaster scenarios remaining for the Sun Devils. If Davidson captures the Atlantic-10 title, meaning Rhode Island and Saint Bonaventure do not, that would scratch a bubble spot. Every other conference tournament has gone according to plan. Louisville and Oklahoma State’s numbers could rise above ASU’s depending on the results of tonight’s ACC Championship and Big 12 Championship.
Tomorrow morning, because of one of these things, the Sun Devils could find themselves on the wrong side of the cut line.
That’s the difference between the Pac-12 getting three bids and four. The two teams meeting tonight couldn’t care less about that though as they’re both getting in. You can catch Arizona and USC with the Pac-12 title on the line on Fox Sports 1 at 8:00 p.m. MST.