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USATSI

After a couple of days off while the smaller conferences were in the spotlight, Bubble Watch is back for the stretch run of the season.

Many people overrate the importance of conference tournaments. To the NCAA Tournament selection committee, they are no more important than any other games. The main difference between the conference tournaments and regular season games is that they are typically at neutral sites. That gives teams a chance to pick up wins away from home, which the committee likes to see.

The other thing about conference tournaments is that it is the last chance for team to improve their tournament resume. Once they lose, the book is closed. For bubble teams, the desperation ratchets up. Expect to see some of that Wednesday.

Here are the bubble teams in action Wednesday, starting with a "Double-Bubble game" in the ACC Tournament. All times Eastern

"Double-Bubble" game

Syracuse vs. NC State

ACC Tournament, 12 p.m. (ACC Network)


Syracuse is the team closer to the bracket of these two. The Orange have not been good away from home this season, posting just a 2-7 mark. One of those wins came over the Wolfpack, which was part of Syracuse's sweep of the regular season series. This is not necessarily a game that puts the Orange in the field, but it gets them to that game.

NC State has a resume that is lacking in quality, but the Wolfpack recently picked up a win at Virginia that gives them hope. They need a deep run in the ACC Tournament to improve their record over competent opposition. They are just 4-8 vs Quads 1 and 2, and 7-9 vs the top three quadrants. You can count on one finger the number of teams since 1994 that have earned selection to the NCAA Tournament that was two games below .500 against that group of teams.

Other bubble teams in action


vs. Butler in Big East Tournament, 6 p.m. (FS1) -- Xavier was off to a great start this season, but has not been close to what it was since coming back from a COVID pause. The Musketeers have lost five of their last seven, and four of those losses were to teams that are unlikely to make the NCAA Tournament. They have managed to avoid the really damaging losses so far, but a loss today would erase that too.

vs. Duke in ACC Tournament, 6:30 p.m. (ACC Network) -- Louisville's tournament resume is generally inoffensive but lacks some pop. That is a problem for another day. The Cardinals have wins over Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech at home and a sweep of the Blue Devils. The loss at Miami is the only black mark on the resume, but the lack of a higher quality win also stands out.

vs. Notre Dame in ACC Tournament, 9 p.m. (ACC Network) -- The Tar Heels have played well down the stretch of this season and are likely to make the tournament if they can avoid another bad loss. The Irish have been feisty lately and only lost by one point at UNC earlier this season.