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SLU remains on bubble but chances took a hit Saturday night

SLU remains on bubble but chances took a hit Saturday night

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NCAA Perfect Bracket

FILE - This Wednesday, March 20, 2019, file photo shows a basketball with March Madness 2019 in a rack before Michigan practice at the NCAA college basketball tournament in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File)

For four days, St. Louis University was getting the results it needed.

The Billikens started last week relying on other teams to lend them a hand in regard to their NCAA Tournament at-large hopes.

Butler beat Xavier. Nevada beat Boise State. LSU beat Ole Miss.

All of those, and more, were helpful to SLU, which was included in the field Saturday morning by ESPN’s Joe Lunardi and CBS Sports’ Jerry Palm. The Billikens, it appeared, had a legitimate chance of sneaking in.

But then Georgetown and Oregon State shook things up by winning conference tournaments Saturday night and taking spots in the 68-team field they wouldn’t have otherwise received.

Did the bubble burst for SLU? Lunardi and Palm both say yes. As of Sunday morning, ESPN listed the Billikens as the second team out and CBS Sports had them the third team out.

Everyone will find out who is actually in the NCAA Tournament during the selection show, which starts at 5 p.m.

If SLU ends up among the first four teams out, it will become an alternate in the event a team in the field has to withdraw due to COVID-19 within 48 hours of the selection announcement.

The Billikens are No. 43 in the NCAA’s NET rankings, ahead of No. 45 Drake and No. 56 Louisville, which Lunardi believes will make the tournament. They have a considerable advantage in the NET over No. 72 Wichita State, which Palm has included, and No. 70 Michigan State, which both have in the field.

However, no one knows which data points – NET, quad records, road wins -- are most important to each committee member.

Coach Travis Ford believes SLU’s encounter with COVID should be considered because of the extreme situation. The Billikens had 11 players contract the coronavirus and had 33 days without a game. Their two worst losses came in the wake of the layoff.

Some people believe that COVID layoffs should be considered while others say they should not because a majority of teams endured some degree of interruption.

The degree to which the committee factors in COVID is probably the biggest question surrounding SLU’s status because the Billikens had one of the most severe outbreaks and longest layoffs in the country, certainly among teams in the bubble mix.

If the Billikens are not selected, they are expected to accept a spot in the National Invitation Tournament.

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