Bracket Bits: Inside weekend bubble games
Matchups against contending teams tend to grab our attention, and we have some good ones this weekend: Duke at Louisville, Miami at North Carolina, Kentucky at Texas AM, Purdue at Indiana, and Oklahoma at West Virginia. But with three weeks to go, let’s turn our focus instead to some of the weekend’s bubble games. The race is on …
A weekend on the bubble:
Saint Mary’s at Gonzaga – Both the Gaels and the Zags are battling for an at-large spot. A season sweep helps Saint Mary’s, a split puts Gonzaga in the driver’s seat for an outright WCC regular-season crown.
Butler (at Villanova) – As we noted in our Bubble Banter debut, the Bulldogs are 0-5 against the Big East’s top three (Xavier, Providence, ‘Nova). It would help to have at least one win over that group.
St. Bonaventure (at Dayton) – Coming off a loss at LaSalle, the trip to Flyer-land takes on that much more meaning for the Bonnies.
Oregon State (at Oregon) – The Beavers were among the final at-large teams “in” on Friday; for a team that has struggled away from home, a road win against their rival would really help.
Florida (at South Carolina) – Despite its strong RPI numbers, the Gators have just two Top 50 wins and three wins (if you count LSU) against at-large teams in the bracket. Another one, especially on the road, would be huge.
Clemson (at NC State) – For a host of reasons, the Tigers need to win their ACC road games against teams below them in the standings.
Cincinnati (vs. Connecticut) – The Bearcats probably need to beat either UConn (for a season sweep) or SMU down the stretch. Winning both would be even better; and both are at home.
LSU (at Tennessee) – This is a virtual must-win for the Bayou Bengals. Bubble teams simply can’t afford to lose these types of matchups late in the season.
Texas Tech (at Oklahoma State) – Coming off of three straight wins, it’s no time to let a winnable road game slip away; not with trips to Kansas and West Virginia still on the docket.
Pittsburgh at Syracuse – An NCAA bid isn’t secured for either. And while this isn’t a “make-or-break” game, good wins always matter. It’s a little more important for the Panthers, whose profile is lighter on quality W’s.
Colorado at UCLA – Critical for the Bruins after the home loss to Utah; time is running out. The Buffaloes could use a road win against a “contender” even if the Bruins are marginal right now.
Michigan (at Maryland) – We have doubts about the Wolverines, whose 3-8 record against the Top 100 isn’t ideal. Huge opportunity to put a sweep of the Terps on their resume.
Tulsa (at UCF) – Golden Hurricanes can ill afford an unsightly loss.
Temple (at Houston) – The Owls may be sitting high in the American Standings, but their overall at-large profile is iffy. How do they rebound from the Villanova pounding?
Monmouth (at St. Peters) – After Friday’s home loss to Iona, urgency grows for the Hawks, whose losses are draining the life out of their good wins. A double-loss weekend could very well end their at-large hopes.
Seton Hall (at St. John’s) – Another example of a game that a bubble team needs to win.
Wisconsin (vs. Illinois) – Losing at Michigan State didn’t change the Badgers overall profile much. We won’t be able to say the same if they lose at home to a battered and bruised bunch from Champaign.
Enjoy the craziness. Madness is right around the corner.