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Bracket Bits: Mid-week bubble games worth tracking

Dave2015It will be a decisive week for several teams along the bubble.  For starters, we have a variety of power conference teams trying to maneuver their way through league tournaments.  We also have some quality mid-major programs with viable profiles who are waiting and watching as events unfold.

With that in mind, here’s a quick peek at some mid-week bubble games that could have significant bracket ramifications come Sunday night …

WEDNESDAY
Clemson vs. NC State (ACC) … Whether both of these ACC bubble teams can make the final bracket remains to be seen.  But this has the look and feel of a potential elimination game.  It likely depends on how the Selection Committee uses its newly minted NET ratings for selection and whether or not the Committee’s prior emphasizes on a team’s non-conference strength of schedule remains part of the current equation.  For what it’s worth, each team’s SOS and NC-SOS are still noted on the NCAA’s official team sheets.

Syracuse vs. Pittsburgh/Boston College (ACC) … The Orange may be the safest of the ACC teams listed here, but … let’s also acknowledge that SU is 3-8 vs. Quad 1 and has four losses to non-tourney teams.  Adding a fifth such defeat (and likely a 3rd Quad 3 loss) could potentially move their resume out of the semi-safe zone.

Providence vs. Butler (Big East) … The Friars will get a closer look if they reach the Big East title game and a few other things break their way.  Beyond that, Ed Cooley and Company have been known to make a little noise at Madison Square Garden.

TCU vs. Oklahoma State (Big 12) … The Horned Frogs picked up a huge road win at Texas to close the season and own a sweep of Iowa State.  They also have a win over bubbly Florida.  They might not be “out” with a loss, but they would feel a whole lot better by avoiding another loss to a non-tournament team.

St. John’s vs. DePaul (Big East) … While the Red Storm are riding into Championship Week a little above the cutline, a third loss to the Blue Demons would leave them with a fifth or sixth loss to a non-tournament team (depending on how the BE tourney play out).  Would a sweep of Marquette, a win over Villanova, and a narrow victory over VCU be enough to offset such a collection?  Maybe. Maybe not.  It could be risky.

THURSDAY
Florida
vs. Arkansas (SEC) … At 17-14, the Gators could really use a couple of wins in Nashville.  Their profile includes a huge win at LSU, but also a 3-11 mark vs. Quad 1 and a rather paltry 6-12 record against Quads 1/2.  Despite their solid NET rating, it’s hard to believe an ending 17-15 mark would be good enough.  Arkansas has a longer journey, but a run to the title game could make things interesting.

Georgetown vs. Seton Hall (Big East) … The Pirates greatly improved their outlook thanks to those closing wins against Marquette and Villanova.  Georgetown could well be right along the cutline given its better-than-people think performance against Quads 1/2.  The Hoyas are 5-6 vs. Quad 1 (having won at Marquette and beaten Villanova), and have 11 Quad 1/2 wins combined.

Creighton vs. Xavier (Big East) … Creighton boasts a strong SOS, a win at Marquette, and some other solid resume points (i.e. worse loss is Quad 2 St. John’s).  The Bluejays are also 17-13, meaning they may need a couple of wins in New York to feel better about their at-large chances.  As for Xavier, few teams are playing better in the Big East, and they could still have a shot if the bubble fades away.

Indiana vs. Ohio State (Big 10) … Despite the Hoosiers’ volume of quality wins, that long losing streak in the middle of the Big 10 season has left them little, if any, margin for error.  Meanwhile, Ohio State has stumbled down the stretch.  Although there are no absolutes here (not yet, anyway), this, too, has the feel of a de-facto elimination game.

Minnesota vs. Penn State (Big 10) … The Golden Gophers maybe fine either way, but adding a fifth loss to a non-tournament team could make their profile much more iffy, especially if we see some chaos between now and the weekend.

 

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