In the 33 years we've known each other, my dad has dropped a lot of knowledge on me. One thing he's often repeated is the idea that the reward for hard work is more hard work.
Nobody feels that more keenly than bubble teams during championship week. Xavier, Ohio State, and teams from other states pulled their fat out of the fire yesterday. You'll find them all listed below, rewarded for their efforts with another summit to reach.
Elsewhere, St. John's, Creighton, Georgetown, and teams from other conferences stumbled, leaving their fates in the hands of a Selection Committee that has often been as inscrutable as it is unpredictable. Here's what's on the board for today:
Ohio State v. Michigan State, 12:30pm, Big Ten Network
Today's appetizer is a full course. OSU beat Indiana yesterday and now resides at the very bottom of the bubble. A loss means sweating it out hard and rooting for chalk in every one-bid league. On the other hand, maybe nobody on the bubble has a chance to add a better win that neutral site over MSU. It's poised fairly neatly for OSU today.
Florida v. LSU, 1pm, ESPN
It was super important for Florida to not lose against Arkansas yesterday, and they managed to do so. At 18-14, they're solid but not out of the woods yet. Beating LSU would give them a very impressive late-season marquee win. These teams split the regular season matchups, with each winning on the road in overtime. If you've got the day off, this figures to be one to watch.
Central Florida v. Memphis, 2pm, ESPN2
I'm still not convinced Memphis has an at-large way in, but I listed them yesterday and they haven't gotten worse since then. Their beating UCF would at least make it worth discussing, and there's the possibility for more wins beyond that. They beat UCF by 20 at home earlier this year but dropped the return leg by 7.
Nebraska v. Wisconsin, 3pm, Big Ten Network
I'm not seeing Nebraska in on any brackets right now, but they're lingering in the first/next four out on some. A win against Wisconsin could definitely change all that. All 15(!) Of their losses are in Q1/2 and they would be picking up a 4th Q1 win here. It's not out of the question that they could still merit some consideration.
Xavier v. Villanova, 6:30pm, FS1
You already know.
Minnesota v. Purdue, 7pm, Big Ten Network
I have to imagine Minnesota is a lock by virtue of getting to 20 wins against Penn State yesterday, but they can put the issue to bed if they beat Purdue today. They nipped Purdue at home a little over a week ago and will be hoping for more of the same in this one.
Alabama v. Kentucky, 7pm, SEC Network
The Tide got a big win to keep their heads above water yesterday thanks to holding Ole Miss to 19 points in the second half. They're one of a bunch of high-major teams whose resumes are just one collective shrug emoji - 10-12 in Q1/2 games, 2 Q3 losses, 18-14 overall - so winning this one would be a real feather in their cap. Their two-point win over UK in January is basically all that is giving them hope at this point.
Temple v. Wichita State, 9pm, ESPNU
Xavier's former conference mate is now 23-8, but they have only played 15 games in Q1/2 and only have 2 Q1 wins. This is not a chance to add another, but it would help boost their excellent Q2 record even further. I don't know that their precarious bubble position can afford a loss, even a decent one, at this point. Such is the plight of the mid-major.
Arizona State v. Oregon, 11:30pm, ESPN
Arizona State is just barely on the right side of the bubble; Oregon is still making a case from the other angle. They each have 2 Q3 and 2 Q4 losses, which is hard to overcome. This amounts to something of an elimination game as the Pac12 does its best to secure a second bid.