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Jay Drew
Jay covers BYU athletics for The Salt Lake Tribune. You can follow him on Twitter @drewjay.

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On-the-bubble BYU wary of bid-stealers on Saturday

It’s going to be a long Saturday on the NCAA Tournament bubble for the BYU basketball team.

Excruciatingly long, actually.

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Saturday morning, most NCAA Tournament bracket experts had the Cougars (23-11) as the last team in the tournament. It is clear that if the Cougars make the big dance, they will be playing in Dayton on Tuesday in a First Four game.

That means the theme of the day for BYU is easy: Beware of the bid-stealers.

Who are they?

The list at the start of the day included North Carolina State, Georgia, Saint Bonaventure, Tennessee, and Providence.

If any of those teams win heir conference tournaments, they could easily take BYU’s spot as the last team in the tournament.

The first three teams mentioned — NC State, Georgia and Saint Bonnies — are probably the ones BYU fans will be cheering the most against today.

Saint Bonaventure meets St. Joseph’s (also a bubble team/potential bid stealer) at 11:30 a.m. MDT in an A-10 semifinal on CBS Sports Network.

Georgia meets Kentucky at 1 p.m. MDT on ABC in an SEC semifinal.

NC State meets Duke at 1 p.m. MDT on ESPN in an ACC semifinal.

Providence meets Creighton on Fox Sports at 6:30 p.m. MDT in the Big East Championship game. Providence might not be as much of a bid-stealer as the others; Some prognosticators, such as Joe Lunardi, have the Friars in the tournament already.

Tulsa beat Louisiana Tech on Saturday morning in the C-USA championship game, earning that league’s automatic bid and probably knocking La. Tech out of the NCAAs (although some brackets have Tech still in the tournament, which could presumably knock out BYU).

The situation is that fluid.

ESPN’s Lunardi has had the Cougars among his Last Four In all weekend. Saturday morning, Jerry Palm of CBSSports.com came around, putting the Cougars in but cautioning that it might not be for long.

Wrote Palm:

"BYU replaced Missouri in the bracket today after the Tigers got blown out by Florida and Minnesota was decimated by Wisconsin. Even though the Cougars appear in the higher seeded play in game, they are in fact the last team in the bracket. They were moved so they could avoid playing on Sunday. If a tournament bid is stolen, it will be theirs. At least that is how it stands at the moment."

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