College Basketball Bubble Watch

Updated: March 15, 2009, 1:40 PM ET
By Mark Schlabach | ESPN.com


Bubble Watch takes one final look at the teams sweating it out

Editor's note: This file has been updated to include all games through Saturday, March 14.

The carnage from Championship Saturday was minimal for the dozen or so college basketball teams left on the NCAA tournament bubble.

The good news:

• Memphis won its fourth consecutive Conference USA tournament final, leaving an elusive at-large bid for a team from another league. The Tigers also helped themselves in their campaign for a No. 1 seed by routing Tulsa 64-39, their 61st consecutive win over a C-USA foe. It also was their 25th straight pre-tournament victory, the longest winning streak any team this decade has taken into the NCAA tournament.

• Missouri prevented Baylor from becoming this season's Georgia by beating the Bears 73-60 in the Big 12 tournament final in Oklahoma City. The Tigers grabbed the Big 12's automatic bid and kept Baylor from stealing an NCAA tournament bid.

• Utah defeated San Diego State 52-50 in the Mountain West Conference tournament championship game, possibly leaving the MWC with only two teams in the NCAA tournament (the Utes and BYU). San Diego State is still in contention for an at-large bid, but the Aztecs have a dearth of high-end victories, so they might end up in the NIT.

• Utah State beat Nevada 72-62 in the WAC tournament final Saturday night to earn an automatic NCAA tournament bid. The Aggies might have finished on the wrong side of the bubble if they hadn't won, but no team with as many victories (29) has ever been left out of the NCAA tournament field. We'll never know what the committee might have done with Utah State.

The bad news:

• Southern California came back from a 15-point deficit to beat Arizona State 66-63 in the Pac-10 tournament final in Los Angeles. The Trojans had worked their way back onto the bubble by winning four games in a row, but their nonconference performance and 9-9 finish probably would have kept them out of the tournament field. But by surprising the Sun Devils, USC earned an automatic ticket to the Big Dance.

Four more automatic bids will be awarded Sunday, but only one conference tournament game has bubble implications. Tennessee plays Mississippi State in the SEC tournament final in Tampa, Fla. The Volunteers have done more than enough to earn an at-large bid, but the Bulldogs will have to win their league's automatic bid.

Going into Sunday's games, 27 automatic bids have been awarded. Four more teams will win auto bids Sunday, and 30 teams have done enough to earn either "lock" or "should be in" status in Bubble Watch, bringing the total to 61 teams in the 65-team field.

As long as Tennessee defeats Mississippi State in the SEC tourney final, four at-large bids will remain for 11 teams on the bubble.

Bubble Watch's educated guess for Selection Sunday is that the last four at-large bids will go to Minnesota, Maryland, Saint Mary's and Penn State. The first four out? Creighton, San Diego State, Arizona and Auburn.

Here's the latest Bubble Watch:

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