March 14, 2010

Rivals.com Daily NCAA Tournament Tracker

Here's our final NCAA tournament tracker of the season.

Saturday saw 12 conference finals, and there are four more today. There's also a lot of mystery because of those finals.

By our count, there are 61 NCAA tourney locks, which leaves four spots open -- and about seven or eight teams thinking they have a legit shot at filling those spots. Only two -- Minnesota and Mississippi State -- play today.

The RPI figures come fromcollegerpi.com .

NCAA TOURNEY LOCKS (61)
(Teams listed alphabetically by league)
America East (1): Vermont (has clinched bid)
Atlantic Coast (7): Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest
Atlantic Sun (1): East Tennessee State (has clinched bid)
Atlantic 10 (3): Richmond, Temple, Xavier
Big East (8): Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Villanova, West Virginia (has clinched bid)
Big Sky (1):: Montana (has clinched bid)
Big South (1):: Winthrop (has clinched bid)
Big Ten (4): Michigan State, Ohio State, Purdue, Wisconsin
Big 12 (7): Baylor, Kansas (has clinched bid), Kansas State, Missouri, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas A&M
Big West (1): UC Santa Barbara (has clinched bid)
Colonial (1): Old Dominion (has clinched bid)
Conference USA (1): Houston (has clinched bid)
Horizon (1): Butler (has clinched bid)
Ivy (1): Cornell (has clinched bid)
Metro Atlantic Athletic (1): Siena (has clinched bid)
Mid-American (1): Ohio (has clinched bid)
Mid-Eastern Athletic (1): Morgan State (has clinched bid)
Missouri Valley (1): Northern Iowa (has clinched bid)
Mountain West (4): BYU, New Mexico, San Diego State (has clinched bid), UNLV
Northeast (1): Robert Morris (has clinched bid)
Ohio Valley (1): Murray State (has clinched bid)
Pacific-10 (1): Washington (has clinched bid)
Patriot (1): Lehigh (has clinched bid)
Southeastern (3): Kentucky, Tennessee, Vanderbilt
Southern (1): Wofford (has clinched bid)
Southland (1): Sam Houston State (has clinched bid)
Southwestern Athletic (1): Arkansas-Pine Bluff (has clinched bid)
Summit (1): Oakland (has clinched bid)
Sun Belt (1): North Texas (has clinched bid)
Western Athletic (1): New Mexico State (has clinched bid)
West Coast (2): Gonzaga, Saint Mary's (has clinched bid)
TODAY'S GAMES

ACC final, No. 1 seed Duke vs. No. 7 seed Georgia Tech, in Greensboro, N.C., 1 p.m., ACC syndication/ESPN: Georgia Tech has removed any doubt about its spot in the NCAA field with a nice tourney run. Duke, meanwhile, looks as if it will join Kansas, Kentucky and Syracuse as No. 1 seeds -- as long as it wins this. These teams split in the regular season, with each winning at home.

Atlantic 10 final, No. 1 seed Temple vs. No. 3 seed Richmond, in Atlantic City, N.J., 1 p.m., CBS: Both teams are in the NCAA field, and both are playing for seeding. These teams met once this season, with Richmond winning by 17 at home in a game in which its backcourt dominated.

SEC final, Kentucky vs. Mississippi State, in Nashville, 1 p.m., ABC: All the bubble teams will be watching this intently. While UK already has a No. 1 seed locked up, Mississippi State is trying to play itself into the field. While the Bulldogs have forced themselves into the at-large discussion, their resume is not that strong. (More on that in a moment, in the "Saturday Review" section.) UK won in overtime at Mississippi State in the teams' only regular-season meeting after the Bulldogs melted down in the final three minutes of regulation.

Big Ten final, No. 1 seed Ohio State vs. No. 6 seed Minnesota, in Indianapolis, 3:30 p.m., CBS: Minnesota has beaten Michigan State and Purdue on back-to-back days to get here, while Ohio State survived a wild semifinal shootout with Illinois to advance. These teams split their regular-season meetings, with each winning at home. Minnesota looks to have played itself into the NCAA field, but one thing to remember: The NCAA tourney selection show begins at 6 p.m. Eastern time, right after the end of this game. You'd think that would create a problem for the committee. How do they balance what happens in this game with the task of getting the entire field selected and seeded by the time the show goes on the air at 6 p.m.? If in the minds of the committee, Minnesota isn't in the field unless it wins this game, do they come up with two brackets? But how do you handle Ohio State in that case? If nothing else, it's fun to think about.

SATURDAY REVIEW

ACC semifinal, Duke 77, Miami 74: Duke stayed in the running for a No. 1 seed with the win over Miami.

Atlantic 10 semifinal, Temple 57, Rhode Island 44: As it turned out, the Rams needed to beat Temple to have a legit chance at an at-large shot. The Rams faded badly down the stretch, losing six of their last 10. Their RPI has fallen from 13th to 40th, and they are 1-5 against RPI top-50 teams.

Big East final, West Virginia 60, Georgetown 58: The Mountaineers clawed past the Hoyas to finish off another memorable Big East tourney. In doing so, they put themselves in a position to claim a No. 1 seed should Duke lose in today's ACC tourney final.

Big Ten semifinals, Ohio State 88, Illinois 81 (2 OTs) and Minnesota 69, Purdue 42: You couldn't have had two more distinctly non-similar games. The Illinois-Ohio State game was a nail-biter; the Minnesota-Purdue contest was a snooze-inducer. Minnesota placed itself squarely in the at-large discussion, while Illinois seems to be out of the mix. The Illini have five top-50 wins, but they have 14 losses overall and are just 11-14 against teams in the RPI top 200. Minnesota also has five top-50 wins and won at Illinois in the teams' only meeting this season.

Big 12 final, Kansas 72, Kansas State 64: The Jayhawks beat their in-state rival for the third time this season, and in doing so, you have to figure they wrapped up the overall No. 1 seed. K-State still looks good for a No. 2 seed.

Conference USA final, Houston 81, UTEP 73: Regular-season champ UTEP crumbled down the stretch, enabling the seventh-seeded Cougars to pull the upset -- and start bubble teams crying. The loss will make for a tense Selection Sunday for the Miners, who own just two RPI top-50 wins (both over UAB) overall. But they have five top-50 road wins and dominated their conference in the regular season.

Mountain West final, San Diego State 55, UNLV 45: SDSU removed any doubt about an NCAA bid with a dominating defensive performance. These teams met three times this season, with SDSU winning twice. All three games were decided by 10 points. UNLV is safely in the NCAA field.

Pac-10 final, Washington 79, California 75: Both teams made runs late, but Washington's final one came after Cal's. Cal won the regular-season title, and though the Pac-10 is down this season, it's hard to see the selection committee bypassing a regular-season champ from a Big Six league. Cal played the nation's toughest non-conference schedule and did so without forward Theo Robertson, who was injured and returned for conference play; he is one of the Golden Bears' top players. The committee will take his injury into account.

SEC semifinal, Mississippi State 62, Vanderbilt 52: Mississippi State earned its best victory of the season by beating the Commodores. The Bulldogs now are one of the few teams left in the at-large conversation. Still, this was just the second top-50 win of the season for the Bulldogs, who also have four losses to teams outside of the RPI top 100. They have zero top-50 road wins and just two top-100 road wins.

WAC final, New Mexico State 69, Utah State 63: Third-seeded New Mexico State made more plays down the stretch to upset top-seeded Utah State, which had won 17 in a row. This is another tourney final whose outcome made bubble teams cringe. Utah State will be sweating bullets now; though the Aggies have 26 wins and an RPI in the low 30s, they have just two RPI top-50 wins. Will they be rewarded with an at-large bid for a solid non-conference schedule and a dominating regular-season performance in their league?

Mike Huguenin is the college sports editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at mhuguenin@rivals.com.

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