Bracketology: Illinois’ bubble bursts against Michigan

There’s one fewer bid contender after Thursday afternoon’s early action.

The Illinois Fighting Illini needed to defeat Michigan in Thursday’s Big Ten Tournament second round to set up a late quality win opportunity against Wisconsin in Friday’s quarterfinal round. After first digging themselves out of an early 14-2 hole to take a 16-14 lead, the Fighting Illini collapsed, all the way to a 73-55 defeat.

While Illinois has a 3-6 record against the RPI Top 50, including a pair of wins over teams in the top 10, Baylor and Maryland, a 5-12 mark against the Top 100 is probably not going to cut it. Making matters worse for the Illini, they have fallen to a miserable 4-10 in games played away from Champaign.

With this result in mind, here is an updated look at my projected NCAA cut line heading into the late afternoon games.

Avoiding Dayton: Oklahoma State, Purdue, Georgia, BYU
Of this group, only the Cowboys are in action Thursday, taking on Oklahoma at night. The Boilermakers and Bulldogs enter their respective conference tournaments in Friday’s quarterfinal round, while the Cougars are in the green room waiting.

Last Four IN: Colorado State, Indiana, Texas, Temple
The Rams, Hoosiers and Longhorns are all in action Thursday evening, but the Owls are off until Friday.

First Four OUT: Texas A&M, Miami, UCLA, Old Dominion
The entire group that is just outside looking in takes the court on Thursday, with the Aggies, Bruins and Monarchs in action before primetime.

Next Four OUT: Tulsa, Stanford, Iona, Illinois
With Thursday afternoon’s loss, the Fighting Illini fall from the top of this quartet to the bottom. Like the Gaels, Illinois has no games to play, while Stanford plays Utah Thursday evening and Tulsa starts American Athletic Conference Tournament play in Friday’s quarterfinals.

I’ll have further updates as this busy Thursday afternoon unfolds. I have a full listing of important games with TV info in Thursday’s bracket post.

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