by Jerry Palm
There will be a lot of focus on the bracket busters this weekend, but there aren't too many bubble teams involved in that event. One game that got a lot more interesting though is Utah State at St. Mary's. The Gaels gagged one away at 300+ RPI San Diego this week and put what looked like a pretty secure tournament berth, not to mention a conference title, in jeopardy.
The Aggies haven't beaten anyone all year. They have 23 wins and not a single one of them has come against a top 100 RPI foe. So far, they have proven then can lose to a bad team (Idaho ), but haven't proven they can beat a good one.
Another game that could have some bubble implications is Cleveland State at Old Dominion on Sunday. The Vikings are co-leaders in the Horizon league, but are missing a top 50 RPI win. A road win against the Monarchs might give them a boost if they slip up in the conference tournament.
VCU at Wichita State looked like a potentially bubbly game when it was announced, but two big losses at home for the Rams this week were a buzzkill.
Missouri State at Valparaiso could help the winner perhaps, but probably only if the winner also wins its league regular season title.
Among the bigger schools, Boston College has a chance to make a splash this Saturday at the Dean Dome when they take on North Carolina.
Oklahoma State is a home court hero, and they can't really do anything to fix that when they host Texas A&M this weekend, but you take quality wins where you can get them.
In the Big Ten, all eyes are focused on Purdue and Ohio State, but Illinois at Michigan State on Saturday has big bubble implications. The Spartans are just 13-11, and no matter how good your schedule is, that record isn't going to cut it (some of you may remember Georgia in 2001 - this doesn't compare. Nothing even remotely compares). The Illini have been fading some too, and they have the Buckeyes next, so this one is even more important.
The whole top of the Pac 10 seems to be on the bubble, and I wouldn't necessarily rule out haven't-beaten-anyone Arizona either. The Wildcats host Washington in a big game in both the conference race and the tournament chase.
Finally, Georiga begins the final, brutal stretch of its schedule with a game at Tennessee. The Bulldogs also have game at Florida and Alabama remaining, and may have to win at least one of those to feel any level of comfort entering the SEC tournament. It's also a big game for Tennessee, which is 16-10 overall and cannot afford to slip too much with games at Vanderbilt and home against Kentucky left.
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