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College Basketball Roundup: Final Edition

We have reached the end of the regular season

NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament - First Round - Portland Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

Greetings, BBN! It’s March at last and teams across the country are gearing up to play their 31st and final regular season game this weekend.

That’s right: from Monday onward it’s nothing but do-or-die postseason, with 68 tickets to a dance getting punched up until next Sunday night. This week some teams have already begun their conference tournaments and several dozen have already been officially eliminated from the NCAA tournament picture.

The Ohio Valley will have its championship game Saturday night, with the A-Sun, Big South, and Missouri Valley soon to follow Sunday. Let’s dive into this week and weekend of college hoops in this final college basketball roundup of the 2022-2023 season:

This Week

Kentucky disappoints in close home loss to Commodores

Coming off one of their most impressive performances of the season in a 32-point blasting of Auburn and riding a four-game winning streak, the ‘Cats crashed back down to earth in an ugly game against NIT-bound Vanderbilt, where after trailing almost the entire second half UK managed to tie the game in the final minute only for Vandy to put it in with 2.6 seconds left and win 68-66 despite Oscar Tshiebwe’s 21 points and 20 rebounds. Kentucky’s NCAA Tournament seeding took a big hit after that one, but thanks to their recent winning streak they should be guaranteed a comfortable spot in the field with one more victory, and likely still avoid the First Four.

Alabama overcomes 17-point deficit at home to slip past Auburn in OT

Looks like the “Iron Goal” rivalry can be as unpredictable as the pigskin original! And to think that the Tigers almost pulled this off just days after their trip to Rupp Arena! But Nate Oats’ Tide are master escape artists—a skill that you can’t be good enough at in March.

Best of the rest:

  • #15 Indiana gets trounced at home 90-68 by Iowa
  • #3 Kansas gets Division 1-leading 15th Quad 1 win of season in close victory over Texas Tech and clinches Bill Self’s 17th Big 12 regular season title
  • #19 Xavier outlasts #20 Providence 94-89

This Weekend

4 tickets get punched

As mentioned above, the Ohio Valley, A-Sun, Missouri Valley, and Big South will all conclude their conference tournaments this weekend and put the first ink on our brackets. Sneaky mid-majors such as Liberty, Winthrop, Morehead State, and others might be shocking a 3 or 4-seed in two weeks, and it’ll all be because of what happens this weekend.

Kentucky goes to Bud Walton Arena for finale

Can’t ask for a much better basketball game to cap a full SEC slate than the ‘Cats and the Hogs in Bud Walton. It’s going to be loud and rowdy in Fayetteville as two teams struggling to meet their preseason expectations try to head into the SEC Tournament with momentum. If the ‘Cats win they’ll be guaranteed the 3-seed in Nashville.

Fast Breaks

Ticket Tracker: 32 auto-bids remaining, 9 minimum at-large bids remaining

In CBS’s Jerry Palm’s Bubble Watch, he estimates that the following 20 teams have resumes currently good enough to guarantee themselves a spot in the field if they lose out starting tonight (given that they all only have one game left and then their conference tournaments that isn’t saying much): Miami, Virginia, Marquette, UConn, Xavier, Indiana, Purdue, Baylor, Kansas, Texas, Kansas State, Arizona, UCLA, Alabama, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Houston, Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s, and San Diego State. Since that post is a couple of days old, I’ll add a few more I think should be locks at this point: Missouri, Duke, Iowa, Creighton, Providence, Northwestern, and Michigan State. That leaves us with at least 9 at-large spots for the rest of the contenders—i.e the bubble teams—to fill. Keep in mind that many of the 27 teams just listed will win their league’s auto-bid—we aren’t going to have 15 bid thieves in the next week!—and there’ll be far more at-large bids available once the major conference champions start cutting down nets.

That’s it for this season’s roundups! Enjoy the final weekend of the regular season, happy bracketing, and go ‘Cats!