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Bubble Watch: 3/13

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It's really, really starting to heat up at this point. Xavier has to win tonight or basically hope every team on or near the bubble catastrophically craps the bed from here on out.

Someone made a thing out of bubbles. I think that's a bat down there at waist level, FYI.
Someone made a thing out of bubbles. I think that's a bat down there at waist level, FYI.
Christian Petersen

Colorado had a must-not-lose game against USC last night, and since basketball games don't generally end in ties, that made it a must-win. They got there, but just barely, surviving the game to the tune of 59-56 over the Trojans. Oklahoma State took things much better against Texas Tech, continuing their hot play by feeding it to the Red Raiders to the tun of 80-62. At this point, I think the smart (play on words!) money is on the Cowboys to be in the field.

Late games involved Georgetown and Stanford as bubble teams. Georgetown spit the bit in a major way in losing to DePaul. The Blue Demons went on an 8-0 run late in the game to pull away and leave the Hoyas with a feeling of deja vu. This is the seventh straight year in which Georgetown has been dumped out of a postseason tournament by a double digit seed. As for Stanford, that one tipped off at 11:48 EST. Google probably stayed up for it, but neither Joel nor I are going to make it.

If you don't know the drill by now, I'm going to list for you below all the games involving bubble teams. They were be listed in bold so you can easily identify them to single out for temporary but passionate hate.

1:00 PM Houston vs (25) Southern Methodist*
Houston has two RPI top 30 wins. They have beaten one other team in the RPI top 200, because they're a bad team and they play in a joke of a conference. These are the kind of opponents that just playing is damaging for a resume; if SMU actually contrives to lose to Houston, they're going to spend the next few days in nervous anticipation of the selection show this Sunday. A classic must-not-lose game.

2:00 PM Wake Forest vs Pittsburgh* ESPN
Pitt is a team that is frankly a lot better than its resume. They are 1-6 against the RPI top 50 (side note: I hate using the RPI because it's just a dumb, dumb metric, but as long as the committee uses it, I'm a slave to it; just know that I'm not willingly doing this to you), but five of those losses came by a total of 15 points. There is a meaningful chance that Pitt can do some real damage in the tournament, but they have to get there first. Losing to a team like Wake would be a real hit to their chances.

2:30 PM Fordham vs Dayton*
I can't even begin to express to you how much I hope Dayton loses this game, misses the tournament, and makes a run to the final of the NIT, where they lose. I mean, it's just overwhelming.

2:30 PM St. John's vs Providence* FOX Sports 1
This is about as close to a bubble elimination game as you can get. Both of these teams are on the cusp but probably need two wins. The winner of this one lives to fight on in that desperate way that teams have this time of year. The loser has to try to process the five stages of grief and move on in less than a week, as they will be playing in the NIT. Hopefully they run into Dayton there.

3:25 PM South Carolina vs Arkansas*
Arkansas ripped off six wins and eight of nine before getting trounced by a not very good Alabama team in their last game of the year. That left them with little to no breathing room going into the SEC tournament. South Carolina is dreadful; losing to them would probably be the end for Arkansas.

5:30 PM Colorado vs California*
This is a bubble two-fer or "six-pointer" for our readers who are also huge fans of using English Premier League terminology. Colorado has a little more leeway than California does, but neither of these teams can comfortably sustain a loss right now. Someone is leaving this game on at-large life support.

6:30 PM Penn State vs Minnesota* ESPN2
So here's something silly: these two teams played March 9th (of this year), and Minnesota mopped the floor with Penn State. Now, less than a week later, they meet in the conference tournament on a neutral site. The Nittany Lions are playing to avoid doing homework; Minnesota is scrapping for their at-large hopes. In theory, only one team should be showing up for this game. They definitely need to pull out a 20th win in this game.

8:30 PM Northwestern vs Iowa* ESPN2
Iowa is basically in at this point. The only reason I mention this game is that Northwestern is bad enough that a loss to them could theoretically push Iowa down the bubble and maybe even off it entirely depending on what else happens around them.

9:30 PM Marquette vs Xavier* FOX Sports 1
This is the most important game of the night. We'll have all the coverage you need right here.