The bubble expanded yesterday. Or it shrank. I’m not great on which action verb we use for when things go well for bubble teams. Any road, the teams that don’t have a secure place in the NCAA tournament were happy after yesterday’s action. Loyola-Chicago, with an 102 year old Sister Jean looking on, knocked off Drake. That was good news as one more bid stealer went by the wayside. Rutgers, Michigan, and Memphis all solidified their cases a bit more, and Wisconsin
What all of that means is that Xavier controls their own destiny even after the first wave of conference tournaments. Wednesday is a must win. Lose that and Xavier fans can rest easy on Selection Sunday, but not in a good way. The Musketeers probably need to win two, but nothing happened this weekend that means the road has gotten harder.
Today there’s not a lot going on the bubble. Monday and Tuesday of Championship Week(s) are generally the tropical wave off Africa that presages an oncoming hurricane. The WCC will play a couple of good semi final games and two bids, the SoCon and the Sun Belt, will be settled.
San Francisco v. Gonzaga, 9:00 PM, ESPN
This is probably as close to a bubble game as there is today. By all rights the Dons should be in. USF is a nine seed on the Bracket Matrix, is 24th in the NET (3-5 Q1), and 21st in the KenPom. Still, the committee does weird things sometimes and it’s conceivable they punish the Dons harshly for a Q4 loss and 14 of their 23 wins coming in the bottom two quadrants. Cheer against San Fran if you hope things get really petty, but they should be in.
Games to watch
Louisiana v. Georgia State, 7:00 PM, ESPN2
This is not a bubble game by any stretch of anyone’s imagination. This is March, though, and if you don’t want to watch low-majors jumping around with glee at the thought of getting destroyed by a one seed, I’m not sure why you’re here. These games are great in terms of drama and human pathos if not basketball.
Chattanooga v. Furman, 7:00 PM, ESPN
ESPN owns the rights to both of these games. This is the time of year that every college ball junkie lives for and that casual fans really get into. What does the ESPN family of networks do? Puts the games up against each other. Just some nonsense. Give Chattanooga credit for scheduling aggressively this year. They almost got themselves into the at large conversation by finishing top 70 in all of the metrics that matter. The Mocs are surely ruing the 17-2 run they allowed to Murray State that turned a two point game into an 11 point loss. Playing in the SoCon means that there is no room for error though, and this one is win or go home for both squads.
Charleston v. UNCW, 8:30 PM, CBSN
Pat Kelsey honks can take in this game. Kelsey left Winthrop for more money at a program that is currently significantly worse. The Cougars staggered down the stretch to gather the six seed in the CAA tournament. UNCW isn’t strong this year though, so Kelsey’s charges must like their chances to go dancing with just two more wins.