TCU’s NCAA Tournament chances seemed to be minimal at best after a 6-12 run through the Big 12.
A massive upset against the nation’s top-ranked team and potential No. 1 NCAA Tournament seed has the Horned Frogs dreaming big.
Playing with poise down the stretch, TCU stunned top-ranked Kansas 85-82 in the Big 12 quarterfinals on Thursday. The Horned Frogs moved two wins away from the conference’s automatic NCAA Tournament berth in Jamie Dixon’s first season as coach.
“This is what you have to establish, winning a game like this when you go through a tough road, tough losses,” Dixon said. “You’re down, you have a lead, you give it away, they go up and then you find a way. So we’re just trying to teach that fight, that scrappiness and that emotion.”
TCU (19-14) moves on to face No. 23 Iowa State in the semifinals on Friday.
Should the Horned Frogs complete their improbable run to the NCAA Tournament, it certainly will have a trickle-down effect on teams planted on the bubble.
Kansas State may not have to worry about it. The Wildcats may have earned their ticket to the dance already with a 70-64 win over No. 9 Baylor.
One of those Big 12 bubble teams lost: Oklahoma State, 92-83 to No. 23 Iowa State.
The Cowboys closed out the regular season with 10 wins in 13 games after a 0-6 start to the Big 12, so a loss to a Top 25 team should not do too much damage to their hopes.
“We put ourselves in a place to play in the tournament and hopefully get a good seed,” Oklahoma State’s Leyton Hammonds said. “Going to be exciting.”
The Big Ten had numerous teams playing for bubble positioning.
Two helped themselves, two did not.
Michigan moved toward the good side of the bubble by beating Illinois 75-55, a game that should all but kill the Illini’s NCAA Tournament dreams. The Wolverines did it after their plane slid off the runway in a scary situation on Thursday.
Iowa also will be feeling some heat when selection Sunday rolls around after losing to Indiana in the second round.
Michigan State, thought to have no shot at the NCAA Tournament after a rough start to the season, took another step toward the field of 68 with a convincing win over Penn State.
No surprise there, either. The Spartans always seem to find another gear once the calendar turns to March.
“This year, I’d say we’ve had some success in March,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “I mean, what basketball coach doesn’t like March? Everybody loves March.”
The Big East had a few moving parts as well.
Xavier picked up a big resume booster by beating No. 18 Butler 62-57. Seton Hall helped itself with an 82-76 win over Marquette, a game that could leave the Golden Eagles at least a little nervous on selection Sunday.
One game in the Pac-12 may have sent two teams in opposite directions.
California bounced back from a 30-point loss to Utah two weeks ago by holding off the Utes 78-75 in Las Vegas. The Bears may still have some work to do, but at least they won’t have to worry how an early exit from the Pac-12 Tournament will play with the selection committee like the Utes will.
Colorado also will have to sweat it out after losing to No. 7 Arizona.
Georgia managed to keep its NCAA hopes alive at the SEC Tournament by holding off Tennessee. The Bulldogs get a shot at a big boost against No. 8 Kentucky in the quarterfinals on Friday. Vanderbilt earned a similar must-win by beating Texas A&M as did Mississippi over Missouri.
Nevada and Colorado State kept the Mountain West Conference’s hopes for a two-bid season alive by both winning in Las Vegas.