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Bubble watch: ASU’s competition on the bubble of the NCAA Tournament

Arizona State's De'Quon Lake reacts to a call during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Colorado in the first round of the Pac-12 men's tournament Wednesday, March 7, 2018, in Las Vegas. Colorado defeated Arizona State 97-85. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

The Arizona State Sun Devils put themselves in a dangerous position by losing to Colorado in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament Wednesday.

That might not be as evident when looking at the resume Bobby Hurley’s team boasts, but it certainly is when looking at the possible wins other bubble teams could pick up while ASU sits on the sidelines.

A few teams are some of the strongest in their conference, making it a possibility they could win their entire conference tournament and effectively send a bubble team to the NIT. Others, though, are like the Sun Devils as lower seeds in its conference tournament and could put together one or more massive wins.

ESPN’s bracket expert Joe Lunardi breaks down his four sections of the bubble into “First Four Out,” “Next Four Out,” “Last Four In” and “Last Four Byes.”

Arizona State was not listed in the groups before the Pac-12 Tournament loss but sat in the “Last Four In” group prior to Thursday’s action. Following an Alabama win that day, however, Arizona State then moved into the “First Four Out” section.

Alabama and Providence would then go on to both take down No. 1 seeds in its respective conference tournaments on Friday, standing out amongst the rest of the bubble teams and moving them off of Lunardi’s groupings.

After Friday’s action, Lunardi put the Sun Devils back into the “Last Four In” group, where they remained until Sunday afternoon. Arizona State was then placed back into the “First Four Out” group, just a few hours ahead of Selection Sunday.

Here’s a look at where those other 15 teams stand in their play this week.


Notre Dame: Like Oklahoma State, the Fighting Irish got some necessary wins in the conference tournament, but couldn’t pull off the big upset to really bump up their stock. After beating Pittsburgh and Virginia Tech, they fell to No. 5 Duke 88-70.

Louisville: Louisville was another team that failed to pull off a monumental upset to boost its resume. They were beaten by No. 1 Virginia 75-58 on Thursday.

Baylor: To continue our theme, Baylor had a terrific chance to pick up a signature win against No. 18 West Virginia, but couldn’t get a win on Thursday night.


Marquette: Coming out on top against DePaul in a game they were favored in, the true test for the Golden Eagles would come on Thursday against Villanova, a No. 1 seed for Lunardi. Like some of the previous teams, they didn’t win, dropping to the Wildcats by 24 points Thursday.

Oklahoma State: The Cowboys got a big bump after beating Oklahoma in the Big 12 Tournament Wednesday night. They couldn’t capitalize on another chance, though, losing to No. 9 Kansas 82-68 in the next round on Thursday.

Middle Tennessee: Another wrinkle of the bubble is mid-majors favored to win their conference tournaments not doing so, putting some tough decisions on the committee. That’s the Blue Raiders, as they fell in the C-USA Tournament quarterfinals to 16-17 Southern Miss in overtime. After being “in” after Thursday’s games, it appears Middle Tennessee’s weak schedule might cost them, as they were moved to “out” following Friday’s action.

Syracuse: Syracuse had that chance to further their case with an upset, but fell to No. 12 North Carolina by 19 points in the ACC Tournament Wednesday. They were moved down in favor of Baylor by Lunardi on Friday night.


Oklahoma: In a rare bubble team vs. bubble team matchup, Oklahoma lost to Oklahoma State in the Big 12 Tournament Wednesday night, now adding doubt to their NCAA Tournament chances.

Texas: Texas came up short against No. 14 Texas Tech Thursday to avoid worrying about its fate on Sunday. A 73-69 loss might come back to haunt them.

St. Bonaventure: The Bonnies fell to Davidson in the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament semifinal Saturday. Regardless, they enter into Lunardi’s list of teams as receiving a bid to play in the NCAA Tournament.

Saint Mary’s: The No. 2 seed in the WCC Tournament, Saint Mary’s lost in a slight upset to third-seed BYU in the semifinals. Could that loss be enough for them to miss the cut?


UCLA: UCLA did its job, beating Stanford 88-77 Thursday to advance to the Pac-12 semifinals. They played well against No. 15 Arizona on Friday, bringing the game to overtime, but couldn’t get the win that Alabama and Providence got over a conference tournament’s No. 1 seed.

USC: Like UCLA, it was mission accomplished for USC, but to a greater extent. They avoided a fate like Arizona State and beat Oregon State and Oregon on the way to the Pac-12 Tournament title game. They played Arizona close in the first half, but ultimately fell to the Wildcats.

Florida State: The Seminoles are relatively new to this list and also lost its first game in the ACC Tournament, an 82-74 loss to Louisville.

NC State: After starting Sunday off of Lunardi’s list altogether, the Wolfpack are back in. NC State was upset in the ACC Tournament by Boston College, putting their NCAA Tournament hopes in jeopardy.

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