Bracketology Bubble Watch: NC State has huge opportunity to pick up a quality win vs. Duke
Saturday is a busy and important day for teams on the NCAA Tournament bubble
Just about every team on the bubble is in action on Saturday as we are now four weeks from Selection Sunday. There is still time for most teams to make a move, but that clock is ticking.
A few teams have chances to make big statements, but one thing this very soft bubble has shown us so far is that not many teams have shown the ability to do that.
There is one double-bubble game on Saturday involving two teams fighting for their lives.
UNC-Greensboro travels to face Wofford in a battle between Southern Conference teams who are each 22-4 and in the top 50 of the NET. The Terriers won the first meeting by 29 points and and are the better at-large candidate because of a better non-conference schedule.
at Vanderbilt, 12 p.m. -- ESPNU
Auburn needs quality wins, but Vanderbilt is having a rough season, so this is one of those games where the Tigers just have to take care of business and wait for the next opportunity.
at Louisville, 12 p.m. -- ESPN
The Tigers could be catching Louisville at a good time if the Cardinals are still hanging their heads about blowing that 23-point lead against Duke in a loss on Wednesday night. Like NC State, Clemson is looking for a big win away from home to impress the committee.
at TCU, 12 p.m. -- ESPN2
Oklahoma needs to beat somebody. Anybody. The Sooners have lost five straight to drop to 15-10 overall, but have played an unusually strong schedule. That is about the only thing keeping their hopes alive at the moment.
Texas has done enough damage to itself on its home court this season with losses to VCU, Providence and Radford. The Longhorns have three of their next four on the road. They really need to take care of the home court.
vs. Indiana, 2 p.m. -- ESPN2
The Gophers' loss at Nebraska has put them on the bubble, but on the better side of it. Minnesota is only 3-7 against Quadrant 1 opponents and has losses to Boston College and Illinois. Indiana in in position to make a late push, but needs to find the form that helped the Hoosiers get off to a 12-2 start.
vs. Florida, 2 p.m. -- ESPNU
Alabama has been playing hit and miss basketball for about six weeks. The time has come for the Tide to start stringing together hits, especially in games against teams that are not currently in contention.
This is not quite a double-bubble game, but if Florida can get hot, it still has time to make a run at an at-large bid.
at Air Force, 4 p.m.
at Dayton, 4 p.m. -- NBC Sports Network
The Rams hope to stay tied with Davidson atop the Atlantic 10 standings, but have to win in a tough place to do so. The Flyers are just one of three A-10 teams in the top 100 of the current NET ratings.
at Duke, 6 p.m. -- ESPN
NC State is one of the teams that not only most needs to make that big statement, but has the chance to make the biggest of all – win at overall No. 1 seed Duke. The Wolfpack is still trying to make up for a putrid non-conference schedule and the fact that their few wins of any significance have come at home. There is only one more game on their regular-season schedule that will help them.
at Kennesaw State, 4:30 p.m. -- ESPN+
at USF, 6 p.m. -- ESPNU
vs. Memphis, 6 p.m. -- ESPN2
The Knights have wins over fellow bubblers Alabama and Temple at home, but they should not count on that being enough. UCF's resume is being helped by the fact that their loss at home to FAU earlier in the season has recently moved up to Quadrant 3 from Quadrant 4. The Knights beat USF at home Wednesday night and Memphis is an opponent of similar quality.
at Tennessee Tech, 8:30 p.m. -- ESPN+
Butler is largely a home court hero. That means that defending the home court against teams like DePaul, which is improved but still not a potential at-large team, is vital to their tournament hopes.
vs. Mississippi State, 8:30 p.m. -- SEC Network
Arkansas had a rough week, losing two road games to teams that are not tournament contenders. A win over the Bulldogs would be just the Razorbacks second Quadrant 1 win.
The Sun Devils continue to play to the level of their competition. They beat league leader Washington at home, but sandwiched that game with a blowout loss at home to Washington State and a loss at Colorado last time out. Arizona State needs to start bringing the same effort to games like this that it does to games like Washington.
Oregon was thought to be done with the injury to Bol Bol, but the Ducks do own one of the Pac-12's five non-conference, Quadrant 1 wins. That came over Syracuse. Oregon has won four of its last five and needs to stay hot to have a chance at an at-large bid.
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