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Bubble Watching: Tension building

Things started yesterday, but today is when the bubble games take on some real import.

NCAA Basketball: Kentucky at Texas A&M
What do Johnny Manziel and X fans have in common today? We all want the Aggies to win.
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

First off, Xavier. Unfortunately, the Musketeers didn’t do a great deal to bolster their chances last night. Beating DePaul for the third straight time isn’t securing a bid to the tournament. It doesn’t matter much who you ask, Xavier needs to beat Butler to feel any kind of security come Sunday. On the other hand, Paul Sabin of ESPN and 538 has come up with a metric that he believes accurately predicts which teams will go dancing based on the committees previous selections. By using this metric, Strength of Record, alone, you would match the committee 90% of the time. His chances for Xavier making the tournament? 99%. You can read his methodology here and decide whether it makes sense.

Illinois v. Michigan (BTN @ 12)

Illinois isn’t in with a win, but they are out with a loss. Put aside any ridiculous football allegiances you may have and pull hard for the Wolverines.

Michigan St. v. Penn St. (BTN @ 2:30)

The Spartans aren’t in a ton of trouble here, but a loss to Penn St would leave them uneasy. Being conspiracy minded it’s easy to say that a Tom Izzo team could go 0-25 and still get in, but that might not be true. The Nittany Lions could test the allegiance of the committee by leaving the Spartans with 14 losses, tied for most ever for an at large.

Seton Hall v. Marquette (FS1 @ 2:30)

Both of these teams are likely in already. Both are certainly in with a win here. Pick your poison.

California v. Utah (PAC12 @ 5:30)

Cal needs this one and likely one more to get any bubble momentum going. Losing this one drops one more team off the radar.

Iowa v. Indiana (ESPN2 @ 6:30)

This win might be enough to get the Hawkeyes in. They are rampaging through the end of regular season schedule and are playing their best ball at the right time. Indiana is likely dead and buried, but a win over them could send Iowa in.

Vanderbilt v. Texas A&M (SEC @ 7)

Vanderbilt isn’t in with a win, but they are out with a loss. This one is easy, cheer for the Aggies all the way.

Kansas St v. Baylor (ESPNU @ 9)

K-State is in a situation that presents both a great opportunity and a chance for their season to come to a crashing halt. Most bracketologies have the Wildcats on the first four out. Beating Baylor, obviously, vaults them way up that list. Losing to Baylor most likely leaves them on the outside looking in.

USC v. UCLA (ESPN @ 11:30)

Kudos to USC, who barely staggered past a Markelle Fultz less Washington last night. All the Trojans had to do, though, was avoid the bad loss, and they did that. With USC hanging on that line for the last byes, a loss may not doom them and a win would probably seal their spot. Go Bruins!