Bracketology Bubble Watch: Arkansas, Wisconsin among 25 teams near cut line of NCAA Tournament in action
Saturday's schedule is loaded with teams looking to get to the Big Dance
Another Saturday, another 140 or so games and almost the entire bubble is in action. There are only four weeks and a day to go until Selection Sunday so the time for teams to make their case is starting to wind down.
There are three double-bubble games where both teams are near the cut line for the NCAA Tournament. In the SEC, Mississippi State is at Arkansas. In the Atlantic 10, VCU is at Richmond and in the Bug Ten Illinois, which is new to the bubble, is at Rutgers.
Here are all the bubble teams in action Saturday starting with three double-bubble games then followed the by the rest of the bubble teams playing with all times listed ET.
Bubble teams in action Saturday
|Team||Saturday's game||Time (TV)||Breakdown|
|Mississippi State at Arkansas||1 p.m. (SECN)||The Bulldogs are just 1-6 vs Quadrant 1 opponents with that one win coming at Florida. They also have a couple of bad losses to Louisiana Tech and New Mexico State. It is going to take more than a win at Florida to overcome that.|
|Arkansas vs. Mississippi State||1 p.m. (SECN)||Arkansas continues to wait for the return of guard Isaiah Joe. The Hogs have missed him dearly as they have gone 0-3 since his injury. They have a nice part of the schedule here with three out of four at home. They have to take advantage of that, Joe or no Joe.|
|VCU at Richmond||4 p.m. (CBSSN)||A double-bubble battle between two teams in my first four out. Richmond and VCU each have a quality non-conference win, which gives them an advantage over Rhode Island if the rest of their resumes catch up. VCU only has three wins against teams in Quadrants 1-2 and that is probably not going to get it done. One of those is against the Spiders at home.|
|Richmond vs. VCU||4 p.m. (CBSSN)||Richmond beat Wisconsin on a neutral floor early in the season and won at Rhode Island, but the lack of overall quality wins otherwise is holding the Spiders back as well. This would be a big win for either team.|
|Illinois at Rutgers||4:30 p.m. (BTN)||The Illini were added to the bubble because of a three game losing streak that has brought them back to the pack. Two of those losses have come at home. Now they have four of their next six on the road beginning with Rutgers. The status of guard Ayo Dosunmu, the leading scorer for Illinois, is unknown after he was injured on the final play of the loss to Michigan State.|
|Rutgers vs. Illinois||4:30 p.m. (BTN)||Rutgers needs to win away from home. In the meantime, the Scarlet Knights have to continue to do what they do best, which is win at the RAC. The inability to win away from home actually puts more pressure on the home games because you don't want to have to make up for losses there.|
|Oklahoma at Kansas||12 p.m. (ESPN)||You want to make your bones in the Big 12, go win at the Phog. Oklahoma is coming off wins over West Virginia and Iowa State, but those were at home. This isn't a bid clincher if the Sooners win – too much time left -- but it would be a big step toward that.|
|Purdue at Ohio State||12 p.m. (Fox)||The Boilermakers picked up their first road win of any significance at Indiana last Saturday and now they need to repeat the feat. At 14-11 and back to back road games coming up, they can play themselves out of contention in a hurry.|
|Rhode Island vs. Saint Joseph's||12 p.m. (CBSSN)||Rhode Island has a sweep of VCU but have not beaten anyone better than that. The Rams also have a loss at Brown and at home to Richmond. At some point, they need a signature win, but they were not able to get it done at Dayton last week.|
|Syracuse at Florida State||12 p.m. (ESPN2)||The Orange have lost three out of four and now have one of their last two opportunities to get a signature win in the regular season. The other chance comes at Louisville on Wednesday. A pair of losses here and we won't have to talk about Syracuse as a bubble team for the first time in a while.|
|Texas Tech at Oklahoma State||1 p.m. (CBS)||It may seem odd to think of Texas Tech as a bubble team, but the Red Raiders have a poor record against better teams, a mediocre record against competent teams and four of their next six on the road, where they are 2-4. I think Texas Tech probably better than its resume, but until its resume catches up, it is a bubble team.|
|Texas at Iowa State||2 p.m. (ESPN2)||Texas is in desperate need of higher quality wins, but they would take one against ISU as well. Based on the Cyclones' current ranking, it would be the Longhorns third best win of the season. Texas is done with Baylor and Kansas in the regular season, but they do get one more shot at West Virginia.|
|Wisconsin at Nebraska||2:15 p.m. (BTN)||The Badgers are just 14-10, which is barely enough to get consideration most seasons. They have not lost to a team of this caliber since Thanksgiving weekend and this would be a bad time to end that streak.|
|Georgetown at Butler||2:30 p.m. (Fox)||Georgetown is probably not long for the bubble. The Hoyas sit at 14-10 with a rough stretch of games ahead beginning with a matchup with the Bulldogs at Hinkle.|
|Notre Dame at Duke||4 p.m. (ESPN)||The Irish have not been a terrible home team. In fact, except for its game against Maryland, they have been reasonably competitive. This is another step up in class for a team desperate for a win of this caliber.|
|Houston at SMU||6 p.m. (ESPNU)||The Cougars are only on the bubble because of the games they have left, which include a game with Cincinnati and home-and-home with Memphis. They need to win games like this to protect themselves against slip-ups there.|
|South Carolina vs. Tennessee||6 p.m. (SECN)||The Gamecocks have beaten Kentucky and won at Arkansas and Virginia, but have not yet done enough to overcome losses to Boston U and Stetson at home. They have gotten hot though and need to stay hot until the better opponents show up.|
|USC vs. Washington State||8 p.m. (P12N)||USC could use some higher quality wins and games with Colorado and Arizona are forthcoming. In the meantime, the Trojans need to take care of business in games like this.|
|Florida vs. Vanderbilt||8 p.m. (SECN)||The Gators are just barely in the bracket and the fastest way out is to lose at home to Vanderbilt. Better games are coming.|
|Northern Iowa at Loyola-Chicago||8 p.m. (ESPN2)||This would not be the worst loss in the world for UNI as the Panthers try to pursue an at-large bid, but it would be better to lose to the Ramblers at Arch Madness and not before.|
|Saint Mary's vs. Pacific||8 p.m.||St. Mary's enters a three-game homestand against the league's non-contenders. The Gaels already have two bad home losses that could keep them out of the tournament. One more could be fatal.|
|Virginia at North Carolina||8 p.m. (ESPN)||I find myself reminiscing about how a win at North Carolina could define a season. Not this year. The Tar Heels have lost at home to Georgia Tech, Boston College, Pitt, Wofford and Clemson (!) this season already. The Cavaliers are actually trying to avoid a bad loss.|
|BYU at San Diego||10 p.m. (CBSSN)||Here is another game where BYU can only hurt itself. The Cougars take on the ninth-place Toreros with absolutely nothing to gain.|
|Utah State at Fresno State||10 p.m. (ESPNU)||USU is just biding its time until the Mountain West Conference Tournament starts. The Aggies are done with San Diego State and now they are just trying to avoid adding to their list of bad losses.|
|Stanford vs. Arizona||10:30 p.m. (P12N)||Stanford is in the process of tanking away a great start to the season. The Cardinal have lost six out of seven to play their way down the bracket. No doubt injuries to Bryce Wills, who returned against Arizona State and Oscar da Silva more recently have contributed to their issues, but they need to find a way to win regardless of who Stanford runs out on the court.|
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