Texas schools rise and fall

if TCU When he sees his name on the field this particular Sunday, he may have Jamil Nelson Jr. to thank for getting him there.

With nine teams projected in the men's NCAA Tournament in the latest USA TODAY Sports Bracketology predictions and four teams in the preliminary reveal of the Top 16, the Big 12 has become a dogfight of a conference where every win is a resume boost. But among those projected teams, the Horned Frogs entered Saturday as one of those teams that still needs to prove they're worthy of the bid, and in such a deep conference, picking up wins over the bottom half of the Big 12 teams is essential, as is The Road vs. No. 10 Kansas State.

After a mediocre first half, the Horned Frogs woke up and took a 10-point lead with seven minutes to go and looked good as they took a five-point lead with 30 seconds left.

Then came a bad foul on a 3-point shot, with all free throws going in, to keep Kansas State alive. After both teams exchanged a pair of free throws, a bad turnover inside led to the Wildcats tying the game with 15 seconds left, the game seemingly headed to overtime and the Horned Frogs having a devastating collapse in Manhattan.

But the son of the St. Joseph legend stepped up on what looked like a disorganized final play. With a defender in his face, Nelson nailed a three-point shot to give TCU the lead with one second left, and the entire court Kansas State It was unsuccessful, giving TCU the victory it desperately needed.

It wasn't a Quadruple 1 win, but it was necessary for the Horned Frogs to win three of their next four games (Texas Tech, Baylor And B.U) are Quad 1 games, meaning TCU will enter its toughest stretch of the season with a top-four finish in the Big 12, which will get them to an automatic berth in the conference tournament quarterfinals. That's why the horned frogs are the biggest winners and losers in the bubble on Saturday.

Winners

Florida

Don't look now, however FlosIda It's getting hot, going on the road to Beat Georgia Earning their seventh win in their last eight games while picking up a Quadruple 2 win. The Bulldogs ambushed Florida offensively in the first half, leading by as much as 11 in the first frame, but the Gators' defense tightened its grip in the second half to hold Georgia to shooting 37% in the final 20 minutes . The backcourt duo of Walter Clayton Jr. and Zion Poulin are also leading this team to success, as they have averaged 34.4 points per game in the last eight contests.

The Gators have turned around a 1-3 start in conference play with wins in Kentucky And a big win at home against Reddish brown In recent weeks, and while it's not pretty, the best they can say about its seven losses this season is that they all came against Quad 1 opponents. Florida will have a chance to bolster its resume and perhaps reach a projected 7 seed on the road. Alabama next week.

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SEC teams in Mississippi

Magnolia State's SEC schools should maintain their current positions in the projected field after picking up victories over the conference's cellar dwellers.

Chris Jans would prefer his team to reach the 64th pitch instead of playing in the top four like last season, and Win over Arkansas It has been given Mississippi State Three straight wins after starting SEC play at 3-6, puts them in the middle of the pack. North Starkville Mississippi He used a second-half comeback against Missouri to end a three-game losing skid that knocked the Rebels off the top of the SEC.

Next up for both teams is the second meeting this season between the two teams. Ole Miss beat Mississippi State in the first game at home, and Wednesday's matchup between the in-state rivals could be the one that determines in March who makes the tournament and who doesn't.

cincinnati

The first season in the Big 12 wasn't very nice cincinnatibut the Bearcats remain in the NCAA Tournament picture after their capture Road victory at UCF. Cincinnati looked like it would pull away from the Knights with a double-digit lead in the second half, but UCF was able to get even late. But Cincinnati was able to get a layup from Simas Lukosius off a turnover to give the team the lead for good.

It's hard to argue for a team with a losing conference record to make the tournament, especially when it entered Saturday with losses in three of its last four games, but a win over UCF gives Cincinnati its third Quad 1 win, all while owning a net. The ranking is 38th, just one point behind fellow bubble team TCU, which it will face next Saturday. The Bearcats certainly have work to do to get out of the top four picture, but Saturday's win keeps them in the hunt.

pittsburgh

There are few teams that play as well as pittsburgh Now, who won his fifth straight match 27-point win over Louisvillesupported by Blake Henson, who scored an impressive 41 points with nine three-pointers.

This was a huge turnaround for a team that was 10-7 and just 1-5 in the ACC a few weeks ago, as the Panthers now find themselves in fourth place in the conference. A shaky start to the season is why Pittsburgh doesn't have a projected tournament berth at the moment — it will sit in the next four rounds — but if the Panthers continue to perform at the level they are at now, it will be hard to deny them a bid. They can also pick up another Quad 1 win next week on the road against another ACC bubble team in Wake Forest.

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Mountain West hopefuls in general

If the Mountain West can truly lure six teams to the big dance, it will need consistency from the conference's overall contenders. Boise State Was able to do that, while Colorado State He had the best win of the day in the conference.

Colorado State, which currently ranks 9th in the projected category, could move up a spot after taking control A 20-point win over conference-leading Utah State, giving the Rams their fourth Quad 1 win of the season while keeping them in the hunt for the conference title. On the other hand, Boise State handled business against Fresno State in a 90-66 wina necessary victory for a team that is currently one of the last four teams participating in the tournament.

Colorado

There was no team that needed to win more Colorado Saturday, which entered the day losing in four of the last five days and was coming off a loss to a resurgence University of California a team. Against a bad Southern California team, things looked dire when the Buffaloes were down by 16 points with about 10 minutes left in the game, but were able to come back strong to force overtime in the final seconds of regulation. A second overtime was needed, but Colorado was able to prevent the Trojans from tying the game in the final second. Winning by three pointsIt was only the second win on the road this season.

Recent struggles have pushed Colorado into the next four outside of the projected field, so it will be uphill to clincher a spot again, but the Buffaloes can't afford to go winless on a trip to the Los Angeles schools. The team can only hope that a win gives them momentum going into a big game next Saturday when Colorado hosts fellow bubble team Utah.

Losers

Texas, Texas A&M

The two soon-to-be SEC rivals are on track to make the tournament, but matchups against highly ranked opponents on the road would have given a big boost to Texas And Texas A&M They should have won, or at least made it a convincing match.

But neither team got close with Texas With a 21-point loss to Houston While Texas A&M gave up 100 inches A 25-point loss to Alabama.

In terms of staying in the NCAA Tournament picture, Texas State is okay for now, but could miss out on a seed if it doesn't fall out of the bottom half of the Big 12. Its final three road also doesn't help that its regular season games come against top-tier opponents, which puts The Longhorns are in dangerous territory if they can't pull off another impressive win.

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It was a week to forget for the Aggies after they had major doubts Vanderbilt loss On Tuesday, their third loss in Quad 3 this season. The Aggies were big risers after that Tennessee was hit last weekbut things need to be corrected quickly if Texas A&M wants to avoid falling into a double-digit seed position.

Wake Forest

One of the top four teams, Wake Forest He could have jumped into the final four with his first Quad 1 win v. Virginia.

Instead, the Demon Deacons are now 0-5 against Quad 1 teams.

Wake Forest entered the first day of the 49ers in Division I averaging at least 80 points per game, but fell victim to Virginia's defensive prowess, shooting just 35% on the day while scoring a season-low 47 points. Despite the struggle, Wake Forest stuck around and had several opportunities to take a late lead, but they were unable to capitalize despite the Cavaliers shooting 1-for-11 from the free throw line.

Saturday was a missed opportunity for Wake Forest to bolster its resume, but all hope should not be lost; She will have opportunities to strengthen in what will be a big week coming up for the Demon Deacons: they host Rising pittsburgh On Tuesday and duke on Saturday in what are largely turning out to be must-win games.

butler

after Defeat of Creighton On the road two weeks ago to achieve a fourth successive win, butler He looked ready to cement his place in the tournament in the final month of the regular season.

The first half against the Bluejays at home on Saturday was promising with the Bulldogs leading by one point, but the second half was dismal. Creighton's offense surged while Butler went cold, including 1-for-11 behind the arc after hitting five 3-pointers in the first half. By the end, Butler suffered a 22-point loss at home.

It's been a tough couple of weeks for the Bulldogs, as they have lost three of their last four, with all of the losses coming to teams ranked in the top 16 in the rankings. USA TODAY Athletic Trainers Poll. At 16-10, Butler is in contention for a championship due to its four Quad 1 wins, and has two more games against Quad 1 opponents at the easier end of the regular-season schedule in theory, but the Bulldogs can't afford any missteps to push back toward the top four teams out of place. .

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