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Friday, November 28, 2014
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Maneater Bracketology: Tigers fall; bubble small(er)

I guess Missouri is hoping to knock off a No. 1 seed in the second round. The awful loss earlier today will surely drop them to an 8 or 9 seed, and they'll have to face the likes of Kentucky, Duke, Syracuse or West Virginia — and that's only if they get past the first round.

Could they drop to a No. 10 seed? Probably not. The reason for that, in part, is that the bubble is shrinking, so mediocre teams such as Notre Dame and Florida are going to keep the 10-11 seeds. The big news (or lack thereof) today is that the bubble continues to shrink.

The Big East tournament presented a couple opportunities to make the bubble tighter. If Seton Hall beat Notre Dame and South Florida beat Georgetown, those three teams would be sweating it out until Selection Sunday. Instead, ND moves to a lock and SFU can say hello to the NIT. Seton Hall has a slight chance of still making it, but it's doubtful.

On Thursday, there are a number of exciting games with bubble implications. Here's an updated bubble math:

With Notre Dame becoming a lock and Seton Hall and SFU dropping out, as well as the assumptions that Cal and Utah State will win their conferences, I believe there are 15 true bubble teams and only six spots.

In good shape

Georgia Tech: Beat North Carolina on Thursday and they're in. If they lose, they probably have more than a 50 percent chance of making it. But they'd be much better off winning.

Florida: With the way the bubble is shaping up, the Gators are probably safe to return to the tournament for the first time since winning back-to-back titles. A win against Auburn on Thursday might be just enough.

Arizona State: The same stands for the Sun Devils. Get to the Pac-10 semis and beat Washington, and they're in.

In bubble trouble

Memphis: The reason I still keep Seton Hall in the picture is that teams like Memphis are still in the picture. If the Tigers get to the C-USA championship, there's a good chance they get to the NCAA tournament. But are they more deserving than Seton Hall? I don't think so, but the selection committee will probably differ.

San Diego State: The Aztecs probably need to beat New Mexico in the Mountain West semis and have a good showing in the championship. If not, look for a team like Dayton or Rhode Island to slip past them.

Illinois: Beat Wisconsin and they're probably in. Easier said than done, though.

Ready to pounce

Ole Miss: While other bubble teams are fading, the Rebels are enjoying a first-round bye in the SEC and are sliding up toward the NCAA tourney.

Washington: See Arizona State.

Dayton: A win over Xavier might be enough. I think the Atlantic 10 has a good shot at four teams now, but it's up to which team wins more: Dayton or Rhode Island.

Rhode Island: See Dayton.

Fat chance

Mississippi State: The Bulldogs will need to beat Florida and probably Vanderbilt just to be in the discussion.

Saint Louis: They face the same problem as Dayton and Rhode Island, only have a taller order because of fewer key wins.

UAB: Even if they beat Memphis, what argument do they have? They're already 0-2 against the Tigers. The Blazers probably need to win the C-USA.

Seton Hall: Their chances are on life support following the loss to Notre Dame. But if bubble chaos occurs, who knows?

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