Remember, a new BP65 tomorrow morning. Let's start with a game from Tuesday night, however:
San Diego State 67, UNLV 52
Just when you thought they were out, San Diego State is back in the discussion. If you're keeping count at home, that's now four teams from the Mountain West on the bubble. The Aztecs have moved their own RPI into the Top 50 while UNLV still manages to stay in the Top 15. San Diego State also moves into an effective tie with UNLV with only four losses in conference. And with the worst part of their schedule over with, they have a real shot to finish even higher. As for the Rebs, they are still considered a Tournament lock by most pundits, but I don't really see it. If they can't beat Air Force at home, they could finish the season fourth in the Mountain West. I'm more of a believer than I used to be in the idea that the MWC will get three Tournament bids. But four? Pushing it. Of course, I still think UNLV will be one of those three.
Maryland 85, North Carolina State 70
NC State's Tournament hopes have been dead for a while, but Maryland's are growing daily. They're getting hot at the right time, shooting the lights out in Raleigh. 50% from the field and 7-for-11 from behind the arc is a good formula for a big scoring night. They're still only 5-6 in the ACC, but the overall record is up to a nice 19-7. And the RPI is now 32nd. With wins over Michigan State, Illinois, Clemson and Duke, an 8-8 ACC record could be enough for the Terps. But that won't be a picnic with Duke and Carolina both left. A key will be their next game, at struggling Clemson, this weeekend.
Wake Forest 67, Clemson 65
Speaking of Clemson, another loss now has them right back on the bubble. They're 5-6 in the ACC with an RPI of 29. Basically, they're Maryland. But unlike Maryland, they lack any marquee wins. In fact, they lack a single win over a ranked team this season. Remember that they played an incredibly easy out-of-conference schedule that built up their record and confidence, but that did no help to their resume. I don't even know if 8-8 will cut it as far as the Tournament goes. They absolutely need to beat Maryland at home this weekend, or they'll likely fall out of the BP65 altogether. The Tigers have lost four of their last five games, but three of them have been by two points or less. A tough run, and they deserve better, but every team in America would prefer a cheap Tournament bid on Selection Sunday to sympathy on a tough-luck miss on Selection Monday.
Mississippi 71, LSU 70
Could be the final death blow to an LSU team that has been a total enigma this year. For anyone on ESPN.com earlier tonight, they were my vote for disappointing team of the year. I'll hear arguments for UConn also, although they were expected to struggle a little after losing four players to the first round of the NBA draft. Duke was a debatable choice, and Arizona definitely had no place being there. How can you have an RPI of 7 and be a massive disappointment? By the way, can someone who actually watched this game explain to me how a team can shoot more than 1/3 better than their opponent (61% to 45), outrebound them 36-21, only get called for 11 fouls the entire game.... and lose? In all of this let's not forget that Ole Miss still has a shot at a bid themselves. They are a decent 6-5 in the SEC, with an RPI inside the Top 60. Right now they're still the 8th team out of the conference, and as good as the SEC has been they won't get 8 teams, but they have a legitimate shot at moving up and stealing a bid. As surprisingly bad as LSU has been, Ole Miss has to be a pleasant surprise.
Mississippi State 84, Arkansas 60
Speaking of the out-of-control SEC, how about Mississippi State making a run? After dropping Arkansas to 4-7 in the SEC, the Bulldogs are now only a game out of the SEC West lead. It's the weaker side of the conference for sure, but an SEC West Championship would probably secure a Tournament bid. And I don't think anyone views Ole Miss as an inpenetrable leader. Unfortunately, that 14-10 overall record isn't going to impress anybody. And an RPI of 69, even after this win, is pretty bad. It's not their fault that teams like LSU and Alabama haven't really made for a good strength of schedule, but a good Tournament team takes advantage and wins more than 14 games. I'd like to talk about Arkansas, but I'll be honest, the SEC is making my brain want to explode. Your guess is as good as mine. Let's just see where the chips fall.
Drake 62, Wichita State 58
The Shockers had been on a run, they'd gotten me back on the bandwagon, and now.... they lose to Drake? This was one of those games you write off as a win as you look ahead to future games. But at this point in the year, Wichita State just can't afford this blip. If they don't win their final three regular season games they are done, period. The RPI is back out of the Top 70, and I can't see any reason to pick them over surging teams like Mississippi State and Maryland. On the bright side, Wichita State has to be an early favorite in the NIT, right?
Duke 78, #21 Boston College 70
This victory for Duke is a huge help for North Carolina, although I'm sure that Blue Devils fans don't see it that way. As anyone who has seen this Duke team play this year knows, they are actually a pretty good team. On any given night they can beat anyone. They have just struggled to be efficient on the offensive side of the floor consistently. Tonight's game is a good example of what they are like when everything is clicking. Let's remember, Boston College has played outstanding defense this year, even with the loss of Sean Williams. Back at 6-6, Duke is looking pretty much a lock for atleast 8-8. Even 9-7 looks like a legitimate possibility. Either way, Duke is getting into the Tournament.
#11 Washington State 65, Washington 61
This is now two straight season sweeps for this unbelievable Cougars team. Let's remember that Wazzu hasn't been this good in more than 40 years, while Washington has consistently been elite. This would be like Kansas State sweeping Kansas. Twice. As for the Huskies, they had been playing well of late, and the collapse of California had moved them up to the 7th team in the Pac-10. But I still feel like seven teams is a push for this conference. Not to mention that Washington's RPI is 82nd. They could really use a win at Pitt this weekend. But don't hold your breath. I find it hard to believe that this Washington team has the maturity and athleticism to play with Pitt. I also find it hard to believe they will be able to play their way into anything but a decent NIT seed.