Let's take a look at the bubble games of note Wednesday, and who the day's winners and losers were.
VCU (defeated Richmond 68-58): VCU won its sixth straight game, solidified itself as the top team in the Atlantic-10, and might be playing themselves off the Bubble Watch with the win over its crosstown rival. Nah'Shon Hyland had 20 points and 12 rebounds for the Rams, who can improve on their latest projection as an 11-seed in Joe Lunardi’s latest Bracketology.
Loyola (defeated Valparaiso 54-52): The 22nd-ranked Ramblers improved to 19-4 but had to survive a last-second shot to avoid a bad home loss. Loyola has now won 12 of its last 13 games and gets eight days off before getting back in action. Keith Clark led the way tonight with 16 points.
Maryland (beat Nebraska 79-71): Continuing with the theme of teams winning by not suffering a bad loss, the Terrapins swept last-place Nebraska with its eight-point win. Maryland, which sat atop the list of First Four Teams Out in ESPN’s latest Bracketology, made 13 three-pointers for its second win in as many days. They get a chance for their fourth straight win at Rutgers on Sunday.
Duke (defeated Wake Forest 84-60): The Blue Devils, who are not even on Joe Lunardi’s list of Last Four Out now, inched closer to getting into the discussion for a bid with tonight’s thrashing of the Demon Deacons. Duke, who played its first game since the opting out of Jalen Johnson, still has work to do but a loss tonight might have been crippling. Matthew Hurt made eight of nine from the field to lead the way with 22 points. They get Virginia on Saturday for a resume-enhancing opportunity.
Seton Hall (beat DePaul 60-52): Seton Hall traveled the same road as Loyola tonight - played well enough to avoid a bad home loss. The Pirates were seeded 10th in the latest Bracketology but needed a second-half rally to beat last-place DePaul. A loss would have placed them closer to the Bubble.
Boise State (defeated Utah State 76-68): Derrick Alston, Jr. scored 26 points to lead the Broncos to a win in the first of an important two-game series between the two teams battling for the regular-season title in the Mountain West. Both are clearly Bubble teams as well. Utah State was in the field as the league’s automatic qualifier in the latest Lunardi Bracketology. Boise State was in the First Four Teams Out. The two teams play again Friday night in another crucial Bubble Watch game.
Indiana (beat Minnesota 82-71): These two teams had two of the last four byes in Lunardi’s latest projection. The Hoosiers helped their cause with this home win. As usual, it was Trayce Jackson-Davis leading the way with 20 points and 10 rebounds.
Richmond (lost to VCU 68-58): See VCU above. The Spiders, who are among the Last Four Teams Out according to Lunardi, had a chance for an impressive win but fell to city rival VCU. They get a chance to even the season series when they host VCU in the final regular-season game for both teams on March 3.
Utah State (lost to Boise State 76-68): See Boise State above. Utah State will have a chance to avenge tonight’s loss and hold on to first place in Friday’s rematch in the two-game series. A loss and Boise State takes over first place and a spot in Lunardi’s next Bracketology projections.
Minnesota (lost to Indiana 82-72): See Indiana above. If Richard Pitino’s squad does not hear their name called on Selection Sunday, their record away from The Barn may be why. They lost for the eighth time on the road in Big 10 play to the Hoosiers. The good news is they only have one more road game at Penn State on the schedule.
Note: The SMU/Tulane and Syracuse/Louisville games were postponed.
Bubble games of Note on Thursday: Wichita State/Houston, San Diego State/Fresno State, and a pair of Pac-12 games between Oregon/Colorado and Stanford/Washington.
Check back Friday for a review of Thursday’s winners and losers as well as a look ahead to a weekend full of Bubble Watch games.