A look at Saturday for bubble teams chasing NCAA Tournament bids:
GAME OF THE DAY
No. 7 Duke faces Virginia Tech in the title game of the ACC Tournament. It's a chance for retiring Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski to win this event for a record 16th time, but it's also a huge game for the Hokies, who may need the automatic bid to make the NCAA Tournament.
Virginia Tech, seeded seventh in this tournament, is trying to become the second team to win it with four victories in four days. The Hokies (22-12) beat No. 25 North Carolina in the semifinals and have won 12 of their last 14 games to put themselves in the at-large conversation. A loss to Duke wouldn't reflect particularly badly on them. The question is whether they need this last victory to get in.
Virginia Tech was just 1-6 in Quadrant 1 games before beating the Tar Heels. Krzyzewski said the issue the ACC is having is that its nonconference performance hurt the rankings of the league's teams, and as a result, the wins teams have earned against each other since then haven't been worth as much.
“Usually the ACC benefits from that because we usually have a great (nonconference) and so we can get nine, 10 teams in. Because wins against four or five different teams produce good numbers for it," the Duke coach said. “You have to do well in the nonconference, and we didn’t do well in the nonconference and we’re paying a price for it. I just wish there was a little bit of a different way of looking at the whole thing.”
TEAMS TO WATCH
Texas A&M: The bubble should be rooting against Virginia Tech on Saturday, and against Texas A&M as well. The Aggies (22-11) have won seven of eight after beating No. 4 Auburn in the SEC Tournament quarterfinals Friday. Texas A&M would strengthen its NCAA Tournament case even more with a win over No. 15 Arkansas in the semis.
Indiana: The Hoosiers' bubble appeared to be on the verge of bursting when they fell way behind Michigan on Thursday in the Big Ten Tournament, but they rallied to win that game and then knocked off No. 16 Illinois in the quarterfinals Friday. Indiana (20-12) was a No. 12 seed in the NCAA Tournament as of Friday morning in the composite Bracket Matrix projection, and the win over the Illini should make the Hoosiers feel a bit safer.
Davidson: The bubble teams should be pulling for the Wildcats (26-5) to win the Atlantic 10 Tournament, simply to deny possible bid thieves Richmond, Saint Louis and Dayton. Davidson faces Saint Louis in the semifinals Saturday.
RISING AND FALLING
We've certainly seen this before from Michigan State (22-11) — a good start to the season, followed by extended periods of angst, followed by a postseason resurgence. Tom Izzo's team has reached the semifinals of its conference tournament and faces No. 9 Purdue. ... North Texas was ranked 39th in the NET ratings before Friday's loss in the Conference USA Tournament. The Mean Green (24-6) can hope for an at-large bid but they've put themselves in a rough position. ... SMU (23-7) keeps improving its profile. The Mustangs routed Tulsa on Friday and can add another big win if they beat Memphis (20-9) in the AAC Tournament semifinals.
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