Games are being contested in leagues I haven't thought twice about all year, but suddenly I care because it's March. More pertinently to Xavier's cause, teams with questionable at-large resumes are trying to steal automatic bids or shore up their tournament credentials in these final two weeks. Here are the game's on tonight's docket that could shake up the at-large picture. Not all these teams are on the bubble in an in/out sense, but they're all competing with Xavier for consideration and seeding.
6PM Ohio State at Penn State
Ohio State is very likely in, but they're in a lot the same situation as Xavier is. A loss to a team like Penn State puts them right back in a situation that they do not want to be in. Not likely a game that you need to pay a lot of attention to, but the Buckeyes would regret dropping it.
7PM Tennessee at LSU
If the season were to end today, LSU would sweat their way through the selection show but most likely land in the field of 68. Doing something like losing a home game to Tennessee would not help that. This would be the Big East equivalent of losing to Creighton at home.
8PM Purdue at Michigan St.
The Bracket Matrix has MSU in all 95 of its brackets, but only as averaging an 8.25 seed. Purdue is in 77 of the brackets and down around the ten seed line. Neither is dropping out with a loss here, but both very much could use a security win. Purdue needs this one more.
8PM Miami (FL) at Pitt
Pitt is just barely in contention. If they lose this one, they aren't. Miami is in much the same boat.
9PM TCU at Oklahoma St.
Yet another game in which one team has everything to lose. Oklahoma St. has a very solid 44 RPI right now, but a home loss to TCU (119th) would do a lot toward ruining that. Again, this shouldn't be a game, but TCU will be looking to move up from the one of 95 projected fields that has them in. The Cowpokes merely need to stave off an awful loss to be good to go.
9PM UC at Tulsa
This game pits the Bearcats at (don't laugh) American Conference leaders Tulsa. Yes, Tulsa leads the American. 64 brackets have Tulsa in right now, and UC is in 89. A win for the Golden Hurricane gives them another top 50 victory and inches them closer to off the bubble. UC doesn't have a ton other than security to gain with a win here.
9PM St. John's at Marquette
Want to put a huge dent in the tournament hopes you've spent an amazing last month rebuilding? Lose to Marquette. The fact that this one is on the road wouldn't do a lot to mitigate a loss.
9PM USC at UCLA
UCLA is in the conversation on the basis of their 51 RPI and 23rd strength of schedule, but the lack marquee wins. They should handle the Trojans without issue, but if they drop this rivalry game this also drop out of the bubble picture.
10PM Colorado St. at Nevada
It's another game that one team can't lose if they want to be in contention. Colorado St. is on the edge of the bubble right now. If they lose this game, they need the auto-bid.
10PM Nebraska at Illinois
The Illini didn't look too bad until they dropped three in a row and then beat Northwestern. This game doesn't give Illinois much a chance to pick up a big win, but like a lot of these other teams, they just can't afford. Unlike the other teams, the Big Ten does offer chances for Illinois to make it up.
10PM Boise St. at San Jose St.
This should sound familiar by now: Boise St can't afford to do anything but win. San Jose St is really bad this year, and a loss to them is going to knock the Broncos well down the bubble.
11PM San Diego St. at UNLV
UNLV is all but dead and buried. San Diego St has some work left to do to get in and this game gives them a chance to do that. If you're going to be up late and feel like catching some ball, this one should be a good one to watch, the line is lingering around the visiting Aztecs winning by two.
11PM Oregon at Oregon St.
This forever long Bubble Watch ends in much the same way it started. Oregon is hanging onto the bubble right now, in 92 of the Bracket Matrix' brackets but sitting at a 10 seed. A loss on the road to a rival probably isn't dooming, but winning it lands the Ducks in a spot where a good showing in the Pac-12 tournament seals a bid.