Bad news for the bubble: NC State and Oregon swipe bids as wild tournament results continue

Oregon head coach Dana Altman celebrates as he cuts down part of the net after Oregon defeated Colorado in an NCAA college basketball game in the championship of the Pac-12 tournament Saturday, March 16, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Oregon head coach Dana Altman celebrates as he cuts down part of the net after Oregon defeated Colorado in an NCAA college basketball game in the championship of the Pac-12 tournament Saturday, March 16, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Conference tournament season took an even more chaotic turn — and that’s bad news for at least a couple teams on the bubble.

North Carolina State’s thrilling five-wins-in-five-days march through the Atlantic Coast Conferece Tournament pushed one borderline team out of the NCAA Tournament. The Wolfpack were a classic bid thief, snatching their league’s automatic bid as the conference’s No. 10 seed. Now North Carolina — N.C. State’s opponent in its 84-76 victory Saturday night — will have to use an at-large, leaving one fewer berth for the bubble.

Shortly after N.C. State’s confetti-filled celebration in Washington began, Oregon beat Colorado 75-68 to win the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas, meaning another bubble team would be bumped.

“I think we beat five teams that have all won a national championship within the 2000s,” said N.C. State coach Kevin Keatts, whose team indeed defeated Louisville, Syracuse, Duke, Virginia and North Carolina.

There are 32 conference tournaments, and only 10 so far have been won by the top seed. Grand Canyon had a chance to join that group late Saturday night in the WAC, but there are no No. 1 seeds left in the five leagues playing their tournament title games Sunday.

One of those Sunday games — the AAC Tournament final between Alabama-Birmingham and Temple — could include another bid thief if top-seeded Florida Atlantic gets an at-large bid. FAU lost to Temple on Saturday.

In one-bid conferences, it doesn’t change the bubble calculus much when a team comes out of nowhere to take an automatic bid. But in the top leagues, it just means more at-large spots have to be used on teams that were NCAA Tournament locks to begin with.

Among the teams that could be hurt by N.C. State’s run are some of their ACC brethren. Virginia, Pittsburgh and Wake Forest shouldn’t feel all that comfortable on Selection Sunday — although Keatts was happy to lobby for his league.

“We should have seven or eight teams in our league,” Keatts said. “It’s very unfortunate that when you get down to it that people are reporting that we may get four or five. That’s just not right.”

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