Saturday, March 7, 2015

Bubble Watching Weekend (March 7-8)

Purdue is nearing a NCAA tournament berth.  However, they'll be facing
an Illinois squad fighting for their lives.

Of course, the UNC-Duke game is the one I'll be all over ... but both those schools are safely in the field.  But there are tons of games featuring schools who need to get it going to make sure they will be playing in the NCAA Tournament.  Here is my list of bubble games this weekend.


17-FRESNO STATE AT BOISE STATE (8p):  Boise is rolling right now and should take care of Fresno State.  Should.

16-GEORGIA AT AUBURN (SEC 4p):  Auburn stinks and Georgia is coming off a close loss to Kentucky.  You'd think this one was in the bag and for a Bulldogs team that fancies itself a tournament team, it better.

15-DAVIDSON AT DUQUESNE (7p):  C'mon, Davidson!  You're making us believers out here!

14-YALE AT DARTMOUTH (7p):  Well, this isn't technically a bubble game, but a Yale win means they will lock a tournament berth for the first time since 1962.  I watched their game with Harvard last night a had a great time.  This is a fun team to watch and it's nice to see the "smaller programs" get into the dance.

13-XAVIER AT CREIGHTON (FS2 2p):  Of all the Big East teams with tournament hopes, the Muskies are the most bubbliest.  They are in a stay-the-course mode right now and Creighton isn't any good.  No let up.

12-WESTERN KENTUCKY AT OLD DOMINION (5:30p):  ODU is trying to gain an at-large bid if they cannot win the C-USA tournament.  Western Kentucky isn't a pushover.  The Hilltoppers won the first meeting between the two.

11-SYRACUSE AT NC STATE (CBS 12p):  State is in right now, but a win over a Syracuse program that was just stung with NCAA penalties and who will be playing their final game of the season could lock them in.

10-MIAMI AT VIRGINIA TECH (12p):  Tech stinks, but these are the games that Miami tends to lose.  The Canes are on the outside of the bubble and must win this game if they want to keep any hope alive.

9-STANFORD AT ARIZONA (CBS 4p):  The Cardinal are on the wrong side of the bubble right now and facing Arizona is kind of bittersweet.  I mean it is an opportunity for a huge, huge, huge win.  Of course, it could be the death knell.

8-ALABAMA AT TEXAS A&M (2p):  A&M are big time bubble right now and Bama isn't a bad team.  Alabama blew out A&M by 21 two months ago.

7-UCONN AT TEMPLE (ESPN2 2p):  Isn't it time for the Huskies to come alive?  The defending champs need to or they are out of the tournament.  Temple is on the inside looking good.

6-OKLAHOMA STATE AT WEST VIRGINIA (2p):  A Cowboys win should vault them into a very good position at making the tournament.  But that certainly isn't a given.

5-KANSAS STATE AT TEXAS (ESPN2 4p):  Who can figure Texas out?  Right now, they are on the outside looking in and playing a must win game.  K State, for their part, has beaten Kansas and Iowa State lately and could come into Austin and play the spoiler role.

4-LSU AT ARKANSAS (ESPN 2p):  The Razorbacks are the 2nd best team in the SEC and LSU needs to get a big win.  After feeling confidence in their chances a while back, the Tigers have lost to Missouri, Auburn and Mississippi State and are coming off a loss to Tennessee.  Again, maybe not a must win but you need to have a good showing.

3-MICHIGAN STATE AT INDIANA (ESPN 12p):  A month ago, Indiana felt good about their tournament hopes while Michigan State was bubbling.  Now the Spartans are going dancing while the Hoosiers are sitting smack dab on the bubble.  While a win may not be necessary, they really need to do something that will make the committee feel good about putting them in.

2-ILLINOIS AT PURDUE (Big Ten Net 4:30p):  Two schools right on the bubble (on both sides of it, according to my projections).  This isn't a play-in game by any means, but a win will be huge for either squad.

1-BELMONT AT MURRAY STATE (ESPN2 7p):  The Ohio Valley Tournament championship game.  Murray State should win ... but what if they don't?  Murray State has a legit chance at an at-large bid and a Belmont win in this one could really scare the bubble teams on this list.  Plus, this one actually determines a tournament berth.  Have fun!


5-USC-UPSTATE AT NORTH FLORIDA (ESPN2 2:30p):  The Atlantic Sun championship game.


3-MEMPHIS AT CINCINNATI (CBS 12p):  The Bearcats are on the nice side of the bubble for now.  But with what could be a wild American Athletic tournament coming this week, a win over Memphis is needed to feel safe.

2-TULSA AT SMU (ESPNU 3p):  SMU is the best team in the American this season and Tulsa desperately needs a win over a team that is in the dance.  The Golden Hurricane are on the outside looking in so this would be a huge victory.

1-MISSOURI VALLEY CHAMPIONSHIP GAME (CBS 2p):  We don't know the teams playing, but it will probably be Wichita State and Northern Iowa.  Both are really good teams that are in the tournament and this will be a pleasure to watch.

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