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Bubble Watch: March 12

Today the bubble goes from the fairly docile state of the last two days to absolutely nuts for the rest of the week.

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

In yesterday's action, Miami and Texas avoided bad losses while Pitt dropped completely out of contention by losing to NC State, who locked their place up (if they hadn't already). Today the Big 12, Big 10, and Big East get their bubble teams involved as everyone looks to lock down a win that the committee can't ignore.

Illinois vs. Michigan- 12 PM

The Illini have been fading recently and cling on to a slim hope of an at-large bid, which is a better hope than Michigan has. Illinois only has one bad loss and Michigan would not be another one, but they have to beat the Wolverines to add to their sum of 5 top 100 wins. As of publishing, Illinois trails at the half 40-23, which may spell the end for them.

Auburn vs. Texas A&M- 3PM

The Aggies had surged through most of January and February to the tune of a 10-2 run during conference play and on to the right side of the bubble. However, they have stumbled a bit down the stretch and now find themselves in need of a marquee win to stamp their place in the field. Auburn is not that, but they are a loss that would really hurt A&M's chances due to their 163 RPI ranking.

Boise State vs. Air Force- 3 PM

The Broncos are one of the year's surprise stories, having come out and stormed to a regular season Mountain West title. While they went 3-1 against the conference other two powers, San Diego State and Colorado State, they only have 1 other top 100 win to the credit this year. All this leaves them in a precarious position of being in need of good wins, but facing the bottom half of a pretty poor league. All the Broncos can do is win games at this point to stay alive and hope they can take down SDSU or CSU again if they don't win the auto-bid.

Old Dominion vs. Middle Tennessee- 3:30 PM

The Monarchs are proof that a non-power conference team other than Gonzaga and Wichita State can schedule smartly and set themselves up with a chance to grab an at-large bid. They sport 7 top 100 wins, 5 of which came from outside C-USA. They do have some really bad losses, which hurts them since their chances to add quality wins are sparse in the league, but if they can keep winning, their case among the mid-majors will start to stand out.

UCLA vs. USC- 5:30 PM

UCLA finds themselves at 19-12 with a 51 RPI and 5 top 100 wins, none of which would necessarily turn the committee's collective head. They need to win today and at least once more to leapfrog the teams between them and inclusion in the field. USC is 199th in RPI and lost last Wednesday when these two played, but they can play spoiler to their neighbors tonight if they knock them off.

Indiana vs. Northwestern- 6:30 PM

The Hoosiers had two cracks at adding a 5th Top 50 win in their last two games, but fell short against Iowa and Michigan State, who both sewed up their bids in beating Indiana. This is not a similar opportunity, but for Indiana to put the close misses of this season right, they have to first beat Northwestern. The Wildcats are the only sub 100 team to beat Indiana this year, and they did it at the end of February to start the 3 game losing streak that has made this a must win for Indiana.

Texas vs. Iowa State- 7 PM

The Longhorns did what they needed to do last night against Texas Tech and are still in the field for now, but they are toward the bottom of the group of at large teams and could use this win as insurance against the bubble shrinking. ISU would represent their 4th top 50 win and put them in a position to watch the rest of the conference tournaments in comfort even if they fail to make the Big 12 title game.

Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State- 9 PM

OSU only has 18 wins this season and went 8-10 in the Big 12, but beat Kansas, Baylor twice, and Texas twice. They have marquee wins and only two bad losses, but another win to make their overall line more impressive may be what the committee needs to see. Beating Oklahoma would give them 7 top 50 wins, which would surely be enough to get them in even without making the magic 20 win mark.

Ole Miss vs. South Carolina- 9 PM

Ole Miss didn't do themselves any favors by losing their final regular season game to Vanderbilt and have to get back on the winning track to survive whatever happens elsewhere this week. South Carolina is just barely in the top 100 in RPI and would add another decent win for the Rebels, their 9th over top 100 competition. I don't know that it would make them a sure thing, but it sure would help them rest easier as the bubble gets smaller.

Miami (FL) vs. Notre Dame- 9 PM

The Hurricanes kept things interesting yesterday against Virginia Tech before eventually winning by 10. setting up a rematch of a 5 point loss they suffered to Notre Dame earlier in the year. Some are saying this win would make Miami a lock but it would only be their 3rd top 50 and 7th top 100 win to combat their 4 sub 100 losses, so I am not as sure of that. What I do know is that they are in trouble if they lose this one.

Colorado State vs. Fresno State- 11:30 PM

The days final bubble matchup is just barely today. March Madness icon of yesteryear Larry Eustachy has his Rams on the cusp of a rare at-large bid. They are 5-4 against the top 100, proving that they have the chops to hang in there with good teams, and their overall 26-5 record is impressive, if not convincing. The Mountain West could end up as a three bid league, but only if CSU and Boise take care of business in the tournament.