After Ball State's 88-80 loss on Wednesday evening to fellow bubble team Central Michigan, things look bleak for the team's chances at an NCAA Tournament at-large bid.
However, it is not time to count Ball State out just yet from an at-large possibility. Fellow bubble squads Purdue and Michigan State also had a rough start to the Big Ten Tournament, both losing their first game.
The Boilermakers' 62-60 loss to Rutgers likely takes them out of at-large contention. Although Purdue went 4-1 versus Top 25 teams this season, they finished with several bad losses, including to Ohio, Georgia Tech and Michigan State.
Indiana beat Michigan State 111-109 in a thrilling four overtime game, the longest ever in Big Ten Women's Tournament history. The Hoosiers look for another victory on Friday over No. 17 Maryland to continue their run.
Friday's Big Ten quarterfinals include several key matchups for Ball State fans to follow. Rutgers plays No. 13 Ohio State at Noon. A win would probably remove any doubt for an at-large bid. Nebraska plays Michigan at 6:30. Michigan is likely a tournament lock after beating Penn State by a score of 77-48, but many still say the Huskers have work to do.
Minnesota and Iowa will face each other, both needing wins to gain some ground in the argument for an at-large bid.
In the SEC Tournament, Alabama's 71-64 loss to Kentucky on Thursday takes away any chance of them rallying for an at-large bid and that most certainly means the SEC gets seven teams in, with only LSU on the border. The Tigers play Texas A&M at 3:25 p.m. Friday in the conference quarterfinals, and a win would secure a tournament spot.
In the Pac-12 Conference Tournament, bubble teams California and USC both got wins on Thursday over lower ranked teams, but will have a chance to truly wrap up an at-large berth when they play Friday against UCLA and Stanford.
The Big East and Big 12 also have a pair of teams on the bubble: Creighton, Villanova, Oklahoma and West Virginia. However, their conference tournaments don't begin until the weekend.
Dayton, Western Kentucky, Florida Gulf Coast and Quinnipiac are all projected in the tournament as automatic bids, but would be close to an at-large bid if any of them lost in their conference tournaments.
In order to stay on the bubble, Ball State needs to beat Eastern Michigan on Saturday. After the conclusion of that game, final seeding in the MAC Tournament will be known.