Although conference tournament results often do not sway the opinions of the members of the Selection Committee as some would believe, teams at the edge of the bubble can definitely play themselves into the field if 68, or play themselves out of the field of 68, in tourney action.
And having said that, Thursday definitely had more meaningful developments on the bubble than any day in recent weeks.
After the smoke cleared, here's what has transpired in our brackets:
1) Pac-12 a two-bid league? Or a 1-bid league? We've reconsidered the Pac's plight and believe it will probably be limited to two bids at most, especially after regular-season champ Washington bowed in its first outing in the conference tourney vs. Oregon State. Since the league had no marquee wins of consequence in non-conference play, it goes to reason that the Committee is not going to fish too deep in the Pac. Oregon's loss in the Thursday nightcap vs. Colorado likely bumped the Ducks off of the bubble as well, and Cal is not safe by any means if it loses to the Buffs in one of Friday's semifinals. As for Washington, it c annot simply back on its regular-season crown, because that's not what gets awarded with an automatic bid. And this year in the Pac-12, nothing is automatic.
2) Northwestern? Right now we're saying "out" for the Wildcats after their Friday overtime loss vs. Minnesota in the first round of Big Ten Tourney action. An 18-13 overall mark and an 8-11 Big conference record probably aren't going to cut it.
3) South Florida? This will be a test case for the influence of the Big East. The Bulls could have likely sealed their bid with a win over Notre Dame on Thursday but instead bowed in overtime and are going to be riding the bubble all of the way to Selection Sunday.
4) Mississippi State? A bad loss vs. Georgia on Thursday in the SEC puts the Bulldogs in more bubble trouble. We're just not sure enough teams leaped ahead of the Maroon on Sunday to knock MSU out of the field.
5) NC State? The Thursday win over Boston College at the ACC Tourney in Atlanta shouldn't have moved the needle too much for the Wolfpack, but given the losses elsewhere (Northwestern and Oregon in particular), we have put the Pack back into our field of 68. For the moment.
After Thursday's games, here's how our projected seeds (1 thru 16) for the Big Dance set up as of AM, Friday, March 9..
No. 1 seeds...Kentucky, Syracuse, Kansas, North Carolina.
No. 2 seeds...Duke, Missouri, Ohio State, Michigan State.
No. 3 seeds...Marquette, Michigan, Indiana, Baylor.
No. 4 seeds...Wisconsin, Florida State, Georgetown, Louisville.
No. 5 seeds...Wichita State, Temple, UNLV, Florida.
No. 6 seeds...Gonzaga, Notre Dame, Creighton, Memphis.
No. 7 seeds...Virginia, Saint Mary's, Saint Louis, Murray State.
No. 8 seeds...New Mexico, Vanderbilt, Purdue, San Diego State.
No. 9 seeds...Iowa State, Kansas State, Cincinnati, UConn.
No. 10 seeds...Alabama, BYU, Long Beach State, Colorado State.
No. 11 seeds...California, Washington, Long Beach State, Virginia Commonwealth.
No. 12 seeds...Miami-Fla., West Virginia, Texas, NC State, Southern Miss.
No. 13 seeds...Akron, Belmont, Harvard, Mississippi State, Drexel.
No. 14 seeds...Loyola-Md., Davidson, Detroit, Nevada.
No. 15 seeds...Lehigh, UT-Arlington, South Dakota State, Montana.
No. 16 seeds...Long Island, UNC-Asheville, Norfolk State, Stony Brook, Mississippi Valley State, Western Kentucky.
Last four in...NC State, Southern Miss, Mississippi State, Drexel.
First four out...South Florida, Tennessee, Seton Hall, Arizona.
Next four out...Northwestern, Oregon, Iona, Oral Roberts.