Losses are rarely good, and there is still much debate on whether or not a character-building loss is really all that good. There were three teams around the South that took tough losses Tuesday that definitely put their NCAA Tournament chances in jeopardy.
Record: 18-10, 7-6 ACC
Big win(s): None
Bad loss(es): Stanford, Georgia Tech
Record vs. RPI top 50: 1-8
Record vs. RPI top 100: 3-0
With its loss to North Carolina Tuesday N.C. State has now lost three games in a row and five of its last eight. All five losses have come at the hands of top 25 teams, but the lack of a signature win this season really hurts the Wolfpack.
What comes next: The Wolfpack play at Clemson, home against Miami and at Virginia Tech to finish the regular season. If N.C. State doesn't run the table, it had better make a really deep ACC Tournament run.
Record: 16-10, 7-6 ACC
Big win(s): Duke
Bad loss(es): Maryland
Record vs. RPI top 50: 1-6
Record vs. RPI top 100: 2-4
Miami used its win over Duke on Feb. 5 to work its way into the NCAA Tournament. But losses to Florida State and North Carolina over the last two weeks pushed the Hurricanes onto the bubble and Tuesday's loss at Maryland crippled the 'Canes.
What comes next: The Hurricanes play at home vs. Florida State, on the road at N.C. State and at home vs. Boston College to finish the regular season. Miami needs to win out and could quite possibly need to knock off either Duke, North Carolina or Florida State in the ACC Tournament to get into the NCAA tournament.
Record: 19-9, 6-7 SEC
Big win(s): Vanderbilt, West Virginia, Alabama
Bad loss(es): Arkansas, Georgia, Auburn
Record vs. RPI top 50: 3-3
Record vs. RPI top 100: 3-4
When it comes to RPI -- because the system doesn't take margin of victory into account -- Tuesday's loss to Kentucky is just a loss to a superior team. But Mississippi State had a 13-point lead at halftime and didn't trail until the four-minute mark. As soon as the Bulldogs surrendered the lead they fell apart.
Mississippi State lost out on the chance for that final big-time signature win that would have surely gotten them into the NCAA Tournament. Now the Bulldogs have to hope the Selection Committee doesn't punish them with the 'eye test' for blowing that lead. But losing its last four games will surely hurt more.
On the flip side of that 'eye test' coin, the Selection Committee may look at Mississippi State as a team that could put together a good enough game to make a run in the NCAA Tournament. For 36 minutes Tuesday the Bulldogs sure looked like a team that could beat anybody. Who knows how, or if, the Selection Committee puts the 'eye test' to use. Only time will tell.
What comes next: The Bulldogs play at Alabama, at South Carolina and at home against Arkansas. Mississippi needs to win out and then win a couple of games in the SEC Tournament. And if the Bulldogs lose in the SEC Tournament they have to drop that game to Kentucky or Florida, or maybe Vanderbilt. An upset at the hands of Tennessee or South Carolina will cripple their chances.