BUBBLE WATCH: Michigan-Indiana game critical for both teams
A look at Thursday for bubble teams looking for NCAA tournament deals:
GAME OF THE DAY
Michigan coach Juwan Howard returns from a five-game suspension as the Wolverines take on Indiana at Indianapolis in a Big Ten tournament game with major ramifications for both teams.
Michigan (17-13) entered Wednesday as the No. 10 seed in BracketMatrix.com’s average of various brackets projected across the country. Indiana (18-12) was one of the top teams expected to miss the 68-team field according to the BracketMatrix.com average.
The Wolverines helped their cause by ending the regular season with a 75-69 road win over No. 23 Ohio State. It marked the last game for assistant coach Phil Martelli replacing Howard, who was suspended after his open hand hit Wisconsin assistant coach Joe Krabbenhoft in the side of the head as the two were in the line of the line. post-game handshake.
Michigan’s resume also includes an 80-62 win over Indiana, which has lost its last nine meetings in this series. The Hoosiers probably need to beat Michigan and maybe do even more damage in the Big Ten tournament to have a chance of winning an NCAA bid.
TEAMS TO WATCH
Florida and Texas A&M: Here is another clash between the bubble teams. Neither Florida (19-12) nor Texas A&M (20-11) can afford a loss when they face off in a Southeastern Conference tournament game in Tampa, Fla. Texas A&M has won four straight.
Notre Dame: How bad has the Atlantic Coast Conference been this season? Consider that Notre Dame (22-9) won the No. 2 seed in the ACC tournament and is still not assured of a general offer. The Fighting Irish should be in good shape as they beat Virginia Tech on Thursday. But a loss could put them at risk.
Wyoming: The Cowboys (24-7) were one of the last four teams on the court Wednesday by BracketMatrix.com average. Now they must face UNLV on the Rebels’ home ground in a Mountain West quarter-final. Wyoming lost 64-57 to Wyoming on March 2.
RISE AND FALL
Virginia Tech (20-12) kept its hopes alive by outscoring Clemson 76-75 on Darius Maddox’s 3-pointer in overtime. The Hokies can really help their case by beating Notre Dame in the ACC Quarterfinals. …Virginia (19-12) was another team in the ACC bubble that advanced, as the Cavaliers beat Louisville 51-50. Virginia still has some work to do and next will face North Carolina. … Oregon (19-13) beat Oregon State 86-72 in a probable first-round matchup of the Pac-12 tournament. The Ducks probably need to win more games this week to have a realistic chance of bidding. … Wake Forest (23-9) and Xavier (18-13) both have cause for concern after suffering stunning overtime losses early in their respective conference tournaments. Wake Forest (23-9) blew a 10-point lead in the final six minutes of regulation time and lost 82-77 to Boston College (7-14). Wake Forest beat Boston College 87-57 during the regular season. Xavier fell 89-82 to Butler and lost six of his last seven games. Xavier led by six with less than 50 seconds left in regulation time, but went 1 for 7 from the free throw line in the final minute. The Musketeers missed their last five foul shots during that streak and finished 13 of 29 at the line. “When you’re not in control of your own destiny, I mean, you’re constantly nervous. Puts a hole in your stomach,” Xavier’s trainer Travis Steele said. “Hopefully we get in there because I think we’re a team that can move up and really do some damage in the NCAA Tournament.”
AP Sports Writer Mike Fitzpatrick contributed to this report.
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