How about those Spartans? Michigan State has put together back-to-back wins over top five teams and is now in serious contention for a spot in the bracket. The Spartans are actually in Friday's bracket, but their schedule makes them far from secure.
It was not a good day for Minnesota though. The Gophers lost their fourth straight at home to Northwestern for their worst loss of the season. Minnesota is now 13-11 overall and in deep trouble if it can't get things turned around in a hurry.
Finally, Western Kentucky was not able to take advantage of a potential big win at Houston. The Cougars dominated the second half and beat the Hilltoppers 81-57. WKU is still in the bracket, but because of what would have to happen for them to be an at-large candidate, the Hilltoppers likely will have to win the Conference USA tournament.
There are a handful of games Friday, all involving teams from outside the power conferences. Conference races are in play, but for two teams, it's win or pin all their hopes on their conference tournaments. All times Eastern
|vs. George Washington -- 6 p.m. (ESPN+): The first-place Bonnies host George Washington in a game that can only hurt their chances of making the NCAA Tournament. This would be a Q4 loss for St. Bonny if it happened and would be a disaster for its resume.
|at Bradley -- 7 p.m. (ESPN+): Drake is playing even more shorthanded than before. Their best player, ShanQuan Hemphill, is still out for the Bulldogs and he is now joined by second-leading scorer Roman Penn, who is out for the season with a foot injury. It's next-man-up time. Drake cannot afford to lose to Bradley.
|vs. Richmond -- 7 p.m. (ESPN2): The Billikens tournament hopes are fading fast after yet another loss. SLU will have to stop the bleeding at home against a more than competent Richmond squad. The Spiders have wins over Loyola-Chicago and at Kentucky this season.
|vs. Nevada -- 9 p.m. (FS1): Utah State has about reached the point where it has to win the Mountain West Tournament to get into the field, but certainly a loss to Nevada would knock the Aggies off the bubble for good.
|at Southern Illinois -- 9 p.m. (CBSSN): Everything I say about Drake applies to Loyola too – except for the injuries to top players bit. The Ramblers seem to be relatively healthy and ready to make at the MVC regular season title. Losing to SIU would knock them out of the bracket and put their tournament hopes in jeopardy.