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February 24, 2010

Rivals.com Daily NCAA Tournament Tracker

Here's our daily NCAA tournament tracker.

This is a big day in the ACC and in the Atlantic 10. Some teams can take big steps toward nailing down NCAA at-large bids, but others can slip further down on the tournament bubble.

We'll continue this through the final days of the conference tournaments.

We'll also update, as needed, the "NCAA locks" chart included in this feature.

NCAA TOURNEY LOCKS (26)
ACC (2): Duke, Wake Forest
Atlantic 10 (3): Richmond, Temple, Xavier
Big 12 (5): Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State, Texas, Texas A&M
Big East (5): Georgetown, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Villanova, West Virginia
Big Ten (4): Michigan State, Ohio State, Purdue, Wisconsin
Horizon (1): Butler
Mountain West (2): BYU, New Mexico
SEC (3): Kentucky, Tennessee, Vanderbilt
West Coast (1): Gonzaga
ONE-BID LEAGUE REGARDLESS (16)
America East, Atlantic Sun, Big Sky, Big South, Big West, Ivy, Mid-American, Mid-Eastern Athletic, Northeast, Ohio Valley, Patriot, Southern, Southland, Southwestern Athletic, Summit, Sun Belt.

GAME OF THE DAY

Clemson at Maryland, 9 p.m., ACC syndication/Sun Sports/ESPN FullCourt: Maryland is in second place in the ACC, but the Terps have some work to do to lock up an NCAA bid. They have three RPI top-50 wins and are under .500 (5-7) against teams in the RPI top 100. This is big for Clemson, too. The Tigers have zero road wins over teams in the top 100. Their final four games are against NCAA-caliber teams, and there's a chance the Tigers could lose them all -- which would send them to the NIT. In the teams' first meeting, a nine-point Clemson win at home on Jan. 31, Maryland guard Greivis Vasquez was held to 10 points and committed nine turnovers. He must play better if the Terps are to win.

BUBBLE WATCH GAME OF THE DAY

Dayton at Temple, 6:30 p.m., Atlantic 10 syndication/Comcast Sportsnet Philadelphia: Temple is tied for the A-10 lead in the loss column, and this is the Owls' toughest remaining game. Dayton, meanwhile, has struggled on the road against good teams. Actually, the Flyers have split their past 10 games overall and at 7-5 and seventh place in the league, they are nearing desperation mode when it comes to an at-large bid.

OTHER GAMES OF INTEREST

Virginia Tech at Boston College, 7 p.m., ESPNU: Virginia Tech (21-5) is in third place in the ACC, but the Hokies still are not an NCAA lock. The main reason is a pitiful non-conference schedule and just two RPI top-50 wins. Beating BC won't help in that regard, while a loss to the Eagles would hurt.

Florida State at North Carolina, 7 p.m., ESPN: It's bad enough that UNC (14-13) will miss the NCAA tournament; could the Heels also miss the NIT? Florida State will look to add to the Tar Heels' misery and climb more firmly onto the NCAA bubble with a victory in Chapel Hill. UNC is 92nd in the RPI, and a victory would make FSU 7-6 against teams in the RPI top 100.

DePaul at Cincinnati, 7 p.m., Big East syndication/Fox Sports Ohio (in certain parts of Ohio)/Mid-Atlantic Sports Network/Sportsnet New York/ESPN FullCourt: Cincinnati has lost four of its past five, but the Bearcats can remain alive in the NCAA at-large chase if it they beat the Blue Demons. Then comes the real heavy lifting for the Bearcats: at West Virginia, vs. Villanova and at Georgetown. In other words, the opportunity exists for them to feel good about themselves for a few more days before the reality of a pending NIT bid sinks in.

Vermont at Stony Brook, 7 p.m., Northeast Sports Network/MSG network: Stony Brook can lock up the America East regular-season title with a win over Vermont, which trails the Seawolves by a game in the league race. The Am East regular-season winner is guaranteed to play host to the league tournament title game if it gets that far.

UAB at UCF, 7 p.m.: UAB has long-shot NCAA at-large hopes and also remains alive for the Conference USA regular-season title. Thus, a loss to UCF would not be good.

Marquette at St. John's, 7:30 p.m., Big East syndication/Mid-Atlantic Sports Network/ESPN FullCourt: Marquette has won six of its past seven and has a shot at a top-five finish in the Big East race. The Golden Eagles also are in good shape for an at-large bid, assuming they don't fall apart down the stretch. Losing to St. John's might be a sign that things were beginning to fall apart.

Saint Joseph's at Charlotte, 7:30 p.m.: Charlotte has lost three in a row and now is in danger of missing out on the NCAA field. The 49ers' next two games -- this one and a contest at George Washington -- are eminently winnable, but then come contests against Rhode Island and Richmond. Charlotte's defense has been shaky of late and must improve quickly.

Xavier at Saint Louis, 8 p.m., Fox Sports Ohio (in certain parts of Ohio): Xavier is tied for the Atlantic 10 lead in the loss column, but Rick Majerus' Saint Louis team has won six in a row -- including home upsets of Dayton and Rhode Island -- and is just a game behind the leaders. While SLU has no at-large hopes, it can win the league's regular-season title. In that scenario, you wonder how many bids the A-10 would get.

Auburn at Ole Miss, 8 p.m., SEC syndication/ESPN FullCourt: Ole Miss has lost three in a row and five of six and barely has an NCAA at-large pulse. The Rebels are 2-4 at home in SEC play and need to win this to keep their at-large hopes alive.

Purdue at Minnesota, 8:30 p.m., Big Ten Network: Purdue has won nine in a row and is in great shape to win the Big Ten's regular-season title and nab a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. The Boilermakers pounded Minnesota by 19 on Jan. 5 in West Lafayette, but Minnesota is 13-2 at home -- including double-digit victories over Ohio State and Wisconsin. Minnesota has no NCAA at-large hopes, but the Golden Gophers still can hurt Purdue with a win.

Alabama at Mississippi State, 9 p.m., Comcast-Charter Sports Southeast/ESPN FullCourt: Mississippi State has won three of its past four to move into a tie atop the SEC West with Arkansas. In the process, the Bulldogs also have kept their NCAA at-large hopes alive. While this win wouldn't necessarily improve Mississippi State's NCAA resume, a loss could prove fatal.

USF at Villanova, 9 p.m., Big East syndication/Sportsnet New York/Mid-Atlantic Sports Network/ESPN FullCourt: Villanova has lost two in a row and three of its past five to fall out of the lead in the Big East. In addition, the Wildcats probably are now looking at a No. 2 seed instead of a No. 1. USF, meanwhile, has lost three of four and is in desperation mode when it comes to staying alive in the NCAA chase. This basically is a must-win game for the Bulls, who haven't scored more than 65 points in any of the past four games after scoring at least 70 in six games in a row.

San Diego State at BYU, 9 p.m, CBS College Sports: Winning in Provo would be a huge boost for San Diego State, which has won six of their past seven (the only loss in that stretch came by two in overtime at New Mexico). BYU, which is an NCAA lock, won by two in San Diego last month. SDSU has just two top-50 wins and just one top-100 road win; that win came against UC Santa Barbara, which may not be in the top 100 when the season ends.

Texas A&M at Baylor, 9 p.m., ESPNU: Both these teams are NCAA locks and now are worried about getting a first-round bye in the Big 12 tourney and about their NCAA seedings. A&M won by seven at home over Baylor on Feb. 6, but the Bears are 12-1 at home this season.

Oklahoma State at Texas, 9 p.m., ESPN2: Oklahoma State needs another "good" road win, and skidding Texas gives the Cowboys a shot to earn that win. This is the first of three big games in a row for Oklahoma State; they follow this game with a home contest against top-ranked Kansas before going on the road to play Texas A&M. This is the second meeting between these teams; Texas won by 12 in Stillwater on Feb. 1.

TCU at UNLV, 11 p.m., The mtn.: UNLV is out of the running for the Mountain West regular-season title, but the Runnin' Rebels' NCAA at-large hopes remain alive -- assuming they can beat the Horned Frogs, who have lost six of their past eight.

TUESDAY REVIEW

Georgetown 70, Louisville 60: The Hoyas had lost two in a row, so this was a good road win for a team that needed any kind of win. Conversely, Louisville needed this. The Cardinals are 2-6 vs. teams in the RPI top 50 and 6-9 against top-100 teams, and they have a difficult closing stretch: at Connecticut, at Marquette and vs. Syracuse. Louisville needs to win at least one of those to be able to feel comfortable about an at-large bid.

Florida 75, Tennessee 62: This was a huge victory for the Gators, who now are 3-6 against RPI top-50 teams and 7-7 against top-100 teams. The win also moved the Gators ahead of the Vols in the SEC East race. Florida closes with Georgia, Vanderbilt and Kentucky, with only Vandy at home. One win likely would be enough to get the Gators in the NCAA field, but winning twice would remove a lot of the mystery.

Illinois 51, Michigan 44: Obviously, Illinois wanted to win. But a victory over Michigan doesn't help the resume; instead, a loss would have been a big hit. The Illini did enough to subdue the disappointing Wolverines and now close the regular season with three games that could greatly help their NCAA cause -- vs. Minnesota, at Ohio State and vs. Wisconsin. Winning two of those would lock up a bid; winning one would mean Illinois had some work to do in the Big Ten tourney.

Kansas State 83, Texas Tech 64: As with Illinois, K-State was trying to avoid a bad loss. The Wildcats rolled, keeping them in good shape for a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tourney.

New Mexico 72, Colorado State 66: New Mexico is another team that was looking to avoid a bad loss. The Lobos are in great shape to win the Mountain West, and Saturday's game at BYU should determine the league's regular-season title.

Evansville 55, Northern Iowa 54: We didn't even list this as a "game to watch" because we figured there was no way the worst team in the Missouri Valley could beat the best team, even if the worst team was playing at home. We were wrong. This certainly isn't crippling to UNI's potential at-large hopes, but it does increase the urgency surrounding Saturday's home game with Illinois State, which is third in the league.

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


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