NCAA
Charlie Creme, ESPN.com 649d

Thursday's bracketology winners and losers

Women's College Basketball, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Tennessee Lady Vols, Georgia Lady Bulldogs

Conference tournament play in four of the power five conferences really started in earnest on Thursday and brought a few changes to the bracket. It was largely subtle movement but enough to showcase certain teams that took advantage of opportunities -- and others that didn't.

Winners

Tennessee: Weren't we just discussing whether the Lady Vols would miss the NCAA tournament? Well, two straight blowout wins later and they're a no-brainer tournament team. Thursday they dominated Arkansas on the second day of SEC tournament play. Tennessee moved up a seed line in bracketology to a No. 8. A quarterfinal matchup with Texas A&M offers even more opportunity to climb -- and they'll definitely want to. Their improvement and some other bracket reshuffling landed Tennessee as the No. 8 seed in the Bridgeport Regional. That could mean a potential second-round matchup with UConn -- a meeting perhaps long-awaited by fans but a not-so-enviable tournament opponent for any team at this point.

Auburn: It was anything but pretty, but the Tigers' 47-45 slugfest win over Missouri kept them in the field for now. A loss would have been a huge blow to Auburn's NCAA tournament chances. The Tigers remain far from a lock but have given themselves a chance.

Purdue: The Boilermakers made it harder on themselves than they should have but survived against Penn State with a solid second half to do exactly what Auburn did -- strengthen the case for, but not yet cement, an at-large bid.

Duke: The Blue Devils remain in pursuit of a bid after slipping past Virginia in Azura Stevens' return from the foot injury that sidelined her for the previous seven games. The caveat: Top shooter and perimeter scorer Rebecca Greenwell sat out the game with a minor injury. She will need to be back on Friday when Duke faces ACC tournament top seed Notre Dame. A shocking upset there would put the Blue Devils in.

Losers

Minnesota: In a game the Gophers absolutely had to win, they came up short in the second round of the Big Ten tournament. Minnesota lost four of its final five games and has an RPI in the high 70s. Add that to the poor nonconference schedule and only two good wins all season, and it's now clear that Rachel Banham will be finishing her career in the WNIT.

Missouri: The Tigers are an NCAA tournament team, but with Thursday's tough loss to Auburn, they have lost three straight and it's likely their seed will be negatively impacted. A win might have steadied Missouri. The Tigers enter the postseason with their confidence wavering.

Georgia: It's official: The Lady Bulldogs are not nearly the same team after losing Shacobia Barbee for the season. The offense struggled all night against Vanderbilt on Thursday and Georgia ultimately let a win slip away, falling in overtime. Senior guard Tiaria Griffin left the game in the fourth quarter with a leg injury. Her status going forward could have a negative impact on Georgia's seed. Barbee's loss already has.

UTEP: The Miners had already clinched the Conference USA regular-season title, but they probably flushed any chance of an at-large bid if they can't win the league tournament by falling on Thursday to sub-200 Texas-San Antonio.

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