Over the next few days, I’ll be releasing a bubble watch based on ESPN’s Joe Lunardi’s 16 bubble teams from the previous day. This will help serve as a guide for important games to watch as conference tournaments continue to roll, and to help determine what teams need to do in order to participate in the big dance on Selection Sunday.
LAST FOUR BYES:
Kansas State: The Wildcats have a huge game scheduled for 12:30pm today against TCU. If they can win this game, they’ll likely be a lock for the tournament no matter what happens in the rest of the Big 12 tournament.
Saint Mary’s: Saint Mary’s doesn’t control their own destiny. They exited the WCC tournament in the semifinals, leaving their fate in the hands of their fellow bubble teams.
Providence: The Friars should be on the right side of the bubble come Sunday, but a win over Creighton in the Big East tournament today at 2:30pm would help solidify their resume and make them almost a lock.
Baylor: The Bears face the Mountaineers of West Virginia today at 9:30pm. Baylor has struggled against WVU so far this season, and desperately needs this win for some small sense of security on Sunday, as their resume currently has them closer to the ‘last four in’ than ‘last four byes’ after a few quality wins by bubble teams yesterday.
LAST FOUR IN:
Texas: The Longhorns snuck out of the first round of the Big 12 tournament with a win over Iowa State. They’ll face a struggling, but overall strong, Texas Tech team at 7:00pm tonight. Unfortunately, they’ll likely be without star big-man Mo Bamba due to a day-to-day injury.
USC: As the #2 seed in the Pac-12, the Trojans received a first round bye in the tournament. Tonight at 9:00pm, they’ll face an Oregon State squad fresh off an overtime victory. USC defeated Oregon State in both of their previous meetings this season.
UCLA: As the 4th seed in the Pac-12, the Bruins got to rest up during round one. They’ll have a tough matchup against the 5th seeded Stanford Cardinal at 5:30pm tonight. The two teams split their regular season meetings, with each team winning at home.
Louisville: The Cardinals got an important win over Florida State last night. Unfortunately, the task that faces them is daunting. To help solidify their spot in the dance, they’ll have to take down the top seed in the ACC and #1 team in the AP Poll, Virginia, today at 12:00pm.
FIRST FOUR OUT:
Alabama: The Crimson Tide will face Texas A&M at 1:00pm this afternoon. These two teams met just five days ago, in a tight game that the Aggies sneaked out of with a win by a two point margin. It’s an unfortunate matchup for an Alabama team that desperately needs this victory.
Syracuse: Syracuse doesn’t control their own destiny. They exited the ACC tournament in the 2nd Round, leaving their fate in the hands of their fellow bubble teams.
Marquette: The Golden Eagles narrowly escaped a bad DePaul team last night. They’re going to need to step it up if they want to take down Villanova, which they have failed to do so far this season, tonight at 7:00pm in what is essentially a must-win game to get into March.
Oklahoma State: The Cowboys were able to get a much needed win over a struggling Oklahoma yesterday in the first round of the Big 12 tournament. If they can beat Kansas today at 3:00pm, which they’ve already done twice this season, they have a really good shot at being in the bracket.
NEXT FOUR OUT:
Notre Dame: Boy, is this a different Fighting Irish team than a few weeks ago. A healthy Bonzie Colson has made all the difference in getting this team back on the bubble following a crazy comeback win over Virginia Tech. An important ACC quarterfinal game against Duke awaits them at 7:00pm tonight.
Penn State: Penn State doesn’t control their own destiny. They exited the Big 10 tournament in the semifinals, leaving their fate in the hands of their fellow bubble teams.
Boise State: The Broncos were the beneficiaries of a first round bye in the Mountain West tournament. They’ll face Utah State in the quarterfinals tonight at 9:00pm. Boise State will likely need to make it to at least the MWC Championship game to go dancing.
Nebraska: Nebraska doesn’t control their own destiny. They exited the Big 10 tournament in the quarterfinals, leaving their fate in the hands of their fellow bubble teams.
I’ll be extremely surprised if Oklahoma and Arizona State don’t appear on tomorrow’s version of bubble watch after very early exits in their conference tournaments yesterday. After hot starts, both of these teams have had meteoric falls, and should be worried about their future come Selection Sunday.