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Texas Longhorns Basketball: A look at the NCAA Bubble After Thursday's Games

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Let's check in to see who else is chasing the last few tournament spots.

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

It is early Friday morning. While Texas lost yesterday, so did several other teams competing for invites to the NCAA tournament. We now have a little more clarity around who is actually likely to be competing for the final few slots of the year end event.

Old Dominion and Texas A&M fell to inferior opponents yesterday, which essentially ended their chances at an NCAA bid. Meanwhile, Miami had its chances, but ultimately could not beat Notre Dame. The Hurricanes will be among the most borderline of cases when the committee is selecting teams.

Just to be clear, I am not a bracket projection expert. But in perusing the various brackets around the Internet, I was able to compile a list of some of the teams that many of the experts believe will be among the toughest cases for the selection committee.

Here is the latest update on teams that are on the fringe of being selected for the NCAA tournament, and what their next games look like.

Teams that (for now) look to be in.

  • LSU Tigers (still playing) -- LSU plays Auburn today. This is a game that they should win. A loss could move the Tigers own.
  • Boise State Broncos (still playing) -- The Broncos are already in decent shape, and have a winnable game today against Wyoming.
  • Colorado State (still playing) -- The Rams are probably in, but an upset win over San Diego State today would likely finish the job.
  • Oklahoma St. Cowboys -- The Cowboys were unable to upset Oklahoma, and are now finished playing. I think Oklahoma State is a lot closer to the edge than has been widely perceived.
  • Ole Miss Rebels -- The Rebels dropped a game against South Carolina yesterday, and now their record must stand on its own.
  • Purdue Boilermakers (still playing) -- Purdue plays Penn State today, which is a game that they expect to win.
  • BYU Cougars -- The Cougars are done playing. They have probably done enough to be in.
  • Texas Longhorns -- Like BYU, all Texas can do is watch games for the next few days.
  • Temple Owls (still playing) -- Temple has a match up today with Memphis. This is a game that the Owls should win, but a loss would put their bid at serious risk.
  • Indiana Hoosiers (still playing) -- The Hoosiers beat Northwestern yesterday. Today they face Maryland. A win probably seals their bid, but it won't come easy.

Teams that (for now) look to be out

  • Miami (Fla.) Hurricanes -- Miami lost last night to Notre Dame, and the Hurricanes can do nothing else to improve their position. Most bracketologists had Miami out before this loss, but a win would have helped their cause significantly.
  • Tulsa Golden Hurricane (still playing) -- Tulsa plays Houston, a game that they should win. If they do get past Houston, they will face off against the winner of Cincinnati and Connecticut.
  • UCLA Bruins (still playing) -- The Bruins have a Friday match up with Arizona. If they manage to win they would take an NCAA tournament spot away from someone else.
  • Richmond Spiders (still playing) -- The Spiders play VCU today, and can still theoretically play their way in to the NCAA tournament.

Teams that absolutely look out

  • Old Dominion Monarchs -- The Monarchs lost to Middle Tennessee yesterday, and are likely out of the tournament.
  • Texas A&M Aggies -- The Aggies lost to Auburn yesterday, and look to be finished.
  • Murray State Racers -- While there is a populist movement to get the Racers in, the selection committee is not comprised of populists.
  • Iona Gaels -- Their case is similar to Murray State's, if a little less discussed.

What has to happen for Texas to make the NCAA tournament

The biggest threats to the Texas Longhorns are probably Indiana, Tulsa, and UCLA. If the Bruins score an upset win over Arizona, it puts Temple, Texas, and Indiana at risk. If this happened in conjunction with a Indiana win over Maryland, Texas could be in serious trouble.

While a win by Tulsa over Houston may not move the needle very much, a second win over Cincinnati or UConn could have a major effect on the bubble.

So for the Texas Longhorns, the best case scenario involves wins by Maryland and Arizona today, as well as an upset victory by Houston. This combination of events would probably seal the deal today for Texas. Even without a Tulsa loss, losses by Indiana and UCLA puts Texas in very good shape relative to its bubble peers.

The other wrinkle that can come into play is if non-at large capable teams win their conference tournament, which cuts the size of the bubble by one spot every time it happens. Tournaments that I will be watching particularly carefully are the American, where UConn has a decent shot of making a run and spoiling things, the A-10, and the SEC, where several non-at large teams still are alive. It seems unlikely the Big Ten will be the source of trouble (I don't see a miracle Penn State run happening), while the Mountain West , Big East, and ACC are proceeding in an orderly fashion.

We will follow the action over the next few days.