Welcome back to the best week before the best week in sports. Tickets are being punched left and right, that one dude on Fairfield made his coach cry, and Brad antagonized a fanbase on Twitter. The nice people who pay me every other Thursday offered me a little bit of extra work the past couple of days, so I’m going to do a little light googling to get back up to speed.
Here’s how things sit at this point:
- A dozen auto bids have already been decided: Wright State (Horizon), UNC Greensboro (SoCon), South Dakota State (Summit), Radford (Big South), Murray State (Ohio Valley), Michigan (Big Ten), defending 1963 national champions Loyola-Chicago (Missouri Valley), LIU Brooklyn (NEC), Lipscomb (Atlantic Sun), Iona (MAAC), Gonzaga (WCC), and College of Charleston (CAA).
- There are 20 auto bids left up for grabs. The Patriot League final is tonight, and the rest come in an avalanche of basketball on Saturday and Sunday.
- Nebraska went 13-5 in the Big Ten and probably isn’t getting in. Sorry, Tim Miles; next year, get your DOBO to schedule someone in the non-conference.
Much like Marshawn Lynch, we’re just about that action, boss. There’s plenty of it tonight, so let’s get right to it. Teams in bold are on the bubble; assume all games are in conference tournament play on a neutral site unless otherwise specified.
Louisville v. Florida State, Noon, ESPN
The Cardinals have no losses outside of the top two quadrants, but their record in those games is a brutal 4-12. They’re looking like a first four out team right now. Beating Florida State would give them another quadrant 1 win, 20 wins on the year, and the chance to bolster their resume again tomorrow. A loss would probably send them to the NIT. If they could have held a four-point lead with .9 seconds left against UVa, they’d be in a much better spot.
The Bracket Matrix has FSU as a nine seed, so they’re probably fine even if they lose this one.
Arizona State v. Colorado, 3pm, Pac-12 Network
Arizona State beat Xavier and Kansas away from home before most people had their Christmas shopping done. Since then, their best win is at Utah, and that was two months ago. The Sun Devils’ resume is decent on the whole, but the shambles that has been their conference season has them on the bubble. Today’s game is a classic must-not-lose that would probably doom ASU to the NIT.
Oklahoma v. Oklahoma State, 7pm, ESPNU
The Bracket Matrix has Oklahoma as a 9 right now and OK State as in the first four out. If the Cowboys win here, those two positions could flip. Both of these teams need at least this game to feel anywhere close to safe on Selection Sunday, as they’re both sitting on just 18 wins right now. The loser of this one is not going to hear its name announced during the contrived, unnecessarily bloated process built around revealing the bracket.
Colgate at Bucknell, 7:30pm, CBSSN
This is the Patriot League final, so one of these teams is about to punch a ticket and the other is going to start planning out that fantasy baseball draft. The last time these two played, Colgate was up 61-51 with 50 seconds at Bucknell and somehow contrived to lose in regulation. Going from a win probability of 99.7% to a loss without overtime is the biggest collapse on the season in college basketball; the only way it could have been more devastating is if they had pulled the same trick with a tournament bid on the line. They’ll have the chance tonight.
Syracuse v. UNC, 9pm, ESPN
The Orange are probably on the outside looking in right now, but they have the chance for a huge resume win tonight. Losses to Wake, Ga Tech, and Boston College are weighing them down; a win against UNC would make them 7-10 in the top 2 quadrants and make a solid case for their inclusion.
Iowa State v. Texas, 9pm, ESPNU
Texas has good wins - 5 in quadrant 1 and 3 in quadrant 2 - but not enough wins overall; they’re just 18-13 on the year. If they win this one and then lose to KU in the next round, it’s a long wait to Selection Sunday at 19-14. If they lose today, forget about it.
Marquette v. DePaul, 9:30pm, FS1
The Golden Eagles have already lost to DePaul once, which is a black mark on their resume. Doing it twice would likely be fatal. They’re at 18-12 and 8-10 in the top two quadrants, but that DePaul loss and a loss to Georgia at home are hurting them; they’re going to have trouble getting in without a couple more wins.