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NCAA March madness basketball tournament bubble watch 3/3

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Man, look at all those search terms in the headline.

West Ham United v Shrewsbury Town - The Emirates FA Cup Third Round Replay
My man is really watching those bubbles.
Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images

Yesterday, as we mentioned at the time, was not a banner day for bubble games. Today we have a lot more going on. Let’s jump right in.

Oh, by the way, teams in bold are the ones on or around the bubble. Teams in not bold are just the opponents they happen to be playing.

St. John’s at Providence, noon, FOX

Despite having beaten both Xavier and Villanova, the Friars are right on the cut line according to people who study such things. Because this game is at home, beating St. Johnathan’s is only going to be good for a quadrant 3 victory at this point. Providence needs to avoid dropping this one, or they’ll head to the Big East tournament needing multiple wins to make a case on Selection Sunday.

Alabama at Texas A&M, 2pm, ESPN2

There’s almost nothing at stake here for Alabama in terms of hurting their resume, but this game represents a great chance for them to add a big quadrant 1 win. Picking up this game could move the Tide out of danger of having to go to Dayton, which is a strong motivator in my book. The Aggies are only 19-11 and 8-9 in conference play, but they’re a 7 in the Bracket Matrix, which tells me they’re not in bubble danger at this point.

Baylor at Kansas State, 2pm, ESPN

Both of these teams are in Dayton right now according to the Bracket Matrix. Baylor’s RPI is 55, and K State’s is 63, so neither of them is feeling comfortable at all at this point. At 17-12, Baylor especially needs to stockpile wins; you’re not getting an at-large bid at 18-14 or whatever. This is nearly an elimination game for KSU at an at-large and probably is one for the Bears.

Louisville at NC State, 6pm, ESPN

Both of these teams are in need of wins; the Bracket Matrix has NC State as a 10 and Louisville as an 11 right now. The bubble usually shakes out in favor of power conference teams simply because they’re not going to be adding bad losses, but neither of these teams can afford to miss the chance to add a good win. One of them is (obviously) going to do just that today.

Marshall at Middle Tennessee, 7pm, not on TV

MTSU is in line for the Conference USA auto bid, but if they don’t get it, they’ve made a decent case for themselves as an at-large. They’re 5-5 in the top 2 quadrants and haven’t lost a game in quadrants 3 and 4. It probably goes without saying that dropping their final CUSA regular season game would torpedo that.

St. Bonaventure at St. Louis, 8pm, not on TV

Here’s a team with real bubble trouble. The Bonnies have a solid RPI of 23, but they have 3 losses in quadrants 3 and 4 and their best win is... at Buffalo? URI at home? The Bonnies are the last 10 seed on the Bracket Matrix; adding another quadrant 3 loss would put them on thin ice heading into the A-10 tournament.

UCLA at USC, 10:15pm, ESPN

USC is looking like a 10 seed right now and desperately trying to avoid falling to the play-in games (or worse). UCLA, on the other hand, is currently on the outside looking in. Without a good win today, the Bruins are likely heading into the Pac-12 tournament needing to make a deep run to feel anything close to comfortable on Selection Sunday. If they’re not playing with desperation by the time people working second shift get home and tune in, you have to wonder what might inspire that.