First of all, I just want you all to know I'm proud of you. February is no picnic anyway, and this year we spat in the face of God by adding an additional day to the month. It's over now, though, and it's time to celebrate the beginning of the best month of the basketball season.
The most important part of the NCAA tournament is making it, and whether or not your team is on the bubble, there's no better annual drama than watching dreams achieved or dashed in real time. In the interest of helping you find these stories playing out in real time, we'll be breaking down every bubble game from now until Selection Sunday. Included with all the expected information will be the seed line upon which each team currently lands per the Bracket Matrix. Let's begin.
Cincinnati (12, last 4 in) @ Houston, 1pm, ESPN
UC is clinging to the bottom of the bracket, and this represents their last chance to get a really good win before the later rounds of the conference tournament. Their 4 Q3 losses are in almost perfect balance with their 8-5 record in Q1/2 games. Dropping this one would be a huge opportunity lost for UC.
Xavier (10) @ Georgetown, 2pm, CBS
You guys probably already know about this one. It's the first in a potentially season-defining stretch for X as they close the year with three straight Q1 games. Muskie fans would need 2 of 3 of these to breathe easy, and at a resurgent Providence and home to the inconsistent but dangerous Butler Bulldogs are tough games. This is almost a must-win for X if they don't want to be sweating it out in a couple weeks.
Rhode Island (10) v. Saint Louis, 2pm, ESPNU
URI is 7-6 in the top two tiers and only has one loss in Q3/4, but their best win is at VCU. Saint Lou is a tricky Q2 opponent, but adding another win in this one would make their impeding clash with Dayton almost playing with house money. Even a loss here doesn't tank the Rams.
Indiana (9) v. Illinois, 2pm, B10 Network
Indiana's ticket is basically already punched; they're in almost the same position Xavier is. Snagging this Q1 win would move them safely off the bubble entirely.
Wichita State (11) @ Southern Methodist, 4pm, ESPNU
The American is probably going to top out at 3 bids this year, and there's a realistic scenario in which they get just 1. The Shockers desperately need to grab 2 of their last 3, as they can't afford to drop their Q3 finale against Tulsa and could use some more wins at the top of their resume. SMU is a Q2 game on the road, and it's an opportunity Wichita State would rue missing if they didn't grab it. Like UC, they're not too far from needing the auto bid.
Colorado @ Stanford (12, last 4 in), 6pm ESPNU
A massive 13 of Stanford's 19 wins are in Q3/4, which isn't going to impress the committee much. They've got a chance to pick up a Q1 win at home before two Q1 games on the road to close out the season. The good news for Stanford is that they can completely revitalize their resume in the next week. The bad news is that they've not looked too much like a team capable of doing that to this point. If they can grab a win here, a split in the last two would have them breathing easy.
That's it for a solid first day of March in bubble games. We'll be doing this every morning until the names are called, so check back as we go. Welcome to the best month of the year.