The NCAA Tournament officially starts on Thursday, March 18, 2021, with the First Four Games. In many ways, for Indiana and Michigan State as well as Duke and Georgia Tech, it started Tuesday night. Those four matched up in what amounted to the following - win and stay in Bubble Watch consideration. Lose, and you likely will need to win the conference tournament to punch your ticket.
So, who were the winners and losers? Keep reading to find out.
Michigan State (beat Indiana 64-58): Tom Izzo has done some marvelous coaching jobs. This is one of his best. They have now won four of their last five, including wins over Ohio State and Illinois, to improve to 13-10. One of The Last Four Out, they have resume-enhancing opportunities with back-to-back games against rival Michigan on Thursday and Sunday.
Georgia Tech (beat Duke 81-77 OT): Georgia Tech (14-8, 10-6) not only broke a 14-game losing streak to Duke with its OT win but also helped its at-large profile. When you are The Last Team In and you win, that’s a good thing. Georgia Tech, winners of five straight, ends the regular season at Wake Forest Friday night.
Ole Miss (beat Kentucky 70-62): The Rebels at-large chances were virtually eliminated with a loss at last-place Vanderbilt last weekend. This win keeps their Bubble Watch hopes on life support. They will still likely need to win or make a deep run in the SEC Tournament.
Indiana (lost to Michigan State 64-58): In the first of two bubblicious games, the Hoosiers are seeing their season slip away. They have now lost four in a row, saw their record dip to 12-13, and travel to Purdue this weekend. They will need that win and a few more in the Big 10 tournament to earn a berth. Maybe to even save Archie Miller’s job.
Duke (lost to Georgia Tech 81-77 OT): Jaemyn Brakefield had a chance to win the game at the end of regulation for Duke, but his three-pointer missed. This loss likely means Duke (11-10, 9-8) will need to win the ACC Tournament to claim a berth. They finish the season at North Carolina Saturday.
Xavier (lost to Georgetown 72-66): Xavier followed up a huge win over Creighton with a deflating loss to the Hoyas. The Musketeers were the second to last team in the field and this loss certainly won’t help their cause. Saturday’s game at Marquette just became a lot more important.
Boise State (lost to Fresno State 67-64): Boise State sure has been streaky and now is not a good time to be on a losing streak. The Broncos have now lost their last three games and have seen their seed drop to an 11 in the latest Joe Lunardi Bracketology. It may fall further after this loss. They have won 17 in a row at one point and then swept UNLV and Utah State as recently as two weeks ago.
Wednesday is another day with a slew of important Bubble Watch games. This includes Syracuse vs Clemson (5 pm ACCN); Wichita State vs Tulane (6 pm ESPN+); Uconn vs Seton Hall (7 pm FS1); New Mexico at Colorado State (8 pm); Minnesota at Penn State (7 pm Big 10); Maryland at Northwestern (9 pm Big 10); and Stanford at USC (10:30 pm).