Last night Valpo, Robert Morris, North Dakota State, and Gonzaga officially punched their tickets to the dance this year. Part of what makes March so great is the conference championship games in one-bid leagues. Those guys didn't go to school with their draft stock in mind or wondering how many Final Four runs they wanted to stick around for before going pro, they joined those programs with the goal of playing on the biggest stage in the sport, the NCAA Tournament, right next to the NBA stars of tomorrow. Even though bubble watch typically ignores those games, that does not mean they are not worthy viewing. Those guys love the game and are playing for a shot at living every college hoops fans dream: being a part of the grand spectacle that is March Madness.
Now then, on the bubble watch for today, which expands from yesterday with some of the bigger conferences swinging into the latter parts of their tournaments.
NC State vs. Pitt- 7PM
Realistically, NC State is off the bubble and in and Pitt is off the bubble and out, but crazy things happen in March and Pitt might just be able to get themselves back into consideration with a decent run in the ACC tournament. The Panthers have staggered down the stretch with a 5-5 run, but have 5 top 100 wins but not much else on their resume. It is still an outside shot for Pitt, but not much of one.
Miami (FL) vs. Virginia Tech- 9PM
These teams met over the weekend and Miami came out 82-61 winners at Virginia Tech. The Hurricanes are on the bottom edge of the bubble which means they have to help themselves out and hope it doesn't shrink at this point. They have been up and down all year and a win here doesn't really help them that much, but they have to keep the season alive tonight to get a chance to add to their resume.
Texas vs. Texas Tech- 9:30 PM
Texas is here because they played a brutal schedule, playing the RPI top 25 11 times overall, but didn't manage to finish a couple of close games. Realistically, they are currently sitting above the cut, but the combination of Texas Tech being resume poison and the reality that the bubble will be getting smaller, not larger, throughout the rest of the week make this an important game for the Longhorns. A win against Baylor last week made them stronger bubble candidates, but they have to at least avoid a bad loss in the Big 12 tournament to keep the momentum.