NCAA tournament bubble: A chaotic Saturday could spell doom for these teams' tournament hopes

The bubble shrank significantly on Saturday.

Conference tournament chaos reigned as teams like New Mexico, Oregon, NC State, UAB and Temple scored crucial victories for their NCAA tournament hopes. The Lobos won the Mountain West tournament over San Diego State — a team safely in the field — to clinch their first tournament berth since 2014. Had New Mexico lost to the Aztecs, it would have barely made the field of 68 if it made it at all.

NC State took down in-state rival North Carolina to sneak into the NCAA tournament field. The No. 10 seed Wolfpack became the first team to win five games in five days in the ACC tournament and earn the conference's automatic bid. Without its tournament run, NC State would have assuredly been on the wrong side of the bubble.

And Oregon, a team likely on the outside looking in without an autobid, took down the Pac-12 tournament title with a win over Colorado, another team that was safely in the NCAA field.

In the AAC, pre-tournament favorites South Florida and Florida Atlantic lost to opponents who had no shot of making the NCAA tournament without an automatic bid. UAB took down the regular-season champion Bulls while last year’s Final Four darlings were upended by a Temple team that went 5-13 in the regular season.

The Owls and Blazers will meet Sunday for the AAC title and a spot in the NCAA tournament. Their meeting comes less than two weeks after UAB beat Temple 100-72 in a game that was flagged for unusual betting activity. The line skyrocketed toward the Blazers in the hours before the game at multiple sports books.

No matter who wins Sunday, someone will get bumped from the bubble. Here’s your last look at some of the teams that will be sweating on Selection Sunday.

Teams are listed below in alphabetical order with their and NET rankings as of Saturday evening.

Indiana State (28-6, 17-3 Missouri Valley)

  • KenPom: 45

  • NET: 30

  • Best win: 75-67 vs. Drake

The Sycamores entered the final week of conference tournament play looking for no surprises. As long as seeds held and teams firmly in the NCAA tournament field locked up automatic bids, Indiana State still had a chance.

Sadly, that chance is likely gone. The NCAA tournament is better with teams like Indiana State in it, but the wins by New Mexico, Oregon, UAB, and Temple probably locked Indiana State out of the tournament. Though the NET rankings really like Indiana State, we can see the selection committee pointing to the lack of a strong win over a Power Five conference team as a strike against the Sycamores.

ST. LOUIS, MO - MARCH 10: Indiana State center Robbie Avila (21) waits on the bench to go into the game during the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament championship game between the Indiana State Sycamore and the Drake Bulldogs on March 10, 2024, at Enterprise Center in St. Louis, MO. (Photo by Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Providence (21-13, 10-10 Big East)

  • KenPom: 53

  • NET: 57

  • Best win: 78-73 vs. Creighton

Providence’s NCAA case is in the eye of the beholder. The advanced metrics don’t like the Friars at all despite their 21 wins. Providence is 6-9 in Quad 1 games and just 3-4 in Quad 2 games. The Friars don’t have any bad losses, but do they have enough quality wins?

The Friars could sneak into the tournament field as one of the last four teams in on Sunday. But they probably felt a whole heck of a lot safer earlier Saturday. The results of the Pac-12 and MWC tournaments did them no favors.

St. John’s (20-13, 11-9 Big East)

  • KenPom: 27

  • NET: 34

  • Best win: 80-66 vs. Creighton

The Red Storm won six straight games before losing 95-90 to UConn in the semifinals of the Big East tournament on Friday night. That strong performance against the defending national champs didn’t hurt St. John’s chances of making the tournament very much.

The case against St. John’s is its record in Quad 1 games. The Red Storm are just 4-10 in top-tier games and 6-2 in Quad 2 games. If the selection committee dings St. John’s for its porous record against good opponents, then it’s conceivable the Red Storm could be on the outside looking in on Sunday.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MARCH 14: head coach Rick Pitino of the St. John's Red Storm reacts in the first half against the Seton Hall Pirates during the Quarterfinals of the Big East Basketball Tournament at Madison Square Garden on March 14, 2024 in New York City. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Does St. John's have a good enough résumé to make the NCAA tournament? (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) (Sarah Stier via Getty Images)

Seton Hall (20-12, 13-7 Big East)

  • KenPom: 62

  • NET: 66

  • Best win: 75-60 vs. UConn

Yes, the Big East has three teams firmly on the tournament bubble. The conference is likely ruing what took place around the country on Saturday.

The Pirates finished fourth in the conference during the regular season and lost by 19 to St. John’s in the Big East tournament. That could turn out to be a fateful loss for their bubble hopes. If it comes down to Seton Hall or St. John’s, the committee takes the team that just won by 19 and has a far better NET rating, right? Especially when the losing team looks far worse in the advanced metrics.

Texas A&M (20-14, 9-9 SEC)

  • KenPom: 43

  • NET: 42

  • Best win: 85-69 vs. Tennessee

The Aggies lost to Florida in the semifinals of the SEC tournament Saturday and likely did enough over their first two days of postseason action to get into the NCAA tournament. Wade Taylor IV had 30 points in a 97-87 win over Kentucky on Friday and added 30 again in the loss to the Gators.

Texas A&M won five straight games before the Florida loss after a five-game losing streak. That losing streak happened following the big win over Tennessee and looked poised to put the Aggies on the outside of the bubble. But two wins over Ole Miss, a victory over a feisty Mississippi State and the offensive barrage against the Wildcats should be enough.

Virginia (23-10, 13-7 ACC)

  • KenPom: 68

  • NET: 55

  • Best win: 59-47 vs. Texas A&M

The Cavaliers finished third in the ACC and lost in overtime to NC State in the semifinals of the ACC tournament on Friday night. In a normal year, the No. 3 team in the ACC is easily locked into the NCAA tournament and is more worried about what city it’s heading to for its first game on Thursday or Friday.

Virginia was no ordinary third-place ACC team this season. The Cavaliers drew North Carolina and Duke just once apiece this season and lost both of those games. UVA’s ACC schedule was so incredibly easy this season that the Cavaliers played in just eight Quad 1 games all season … and went 2-6 in them. Their second-best win came against Florida in November. After that, you have to squint to figure out Virginia’s third-best victory. That lack of opponent strength is a big reason why it won’t be a surprise if Virginia doesn’t make the field.