Bracketology Bubble Watch: NC State hosting Duke leads Wednesday slate of key games
Fifteen bubble teams are in action Wednesday night with one double bubble game ahead
We say goodbye, for now, to a pair of teams that were on the bubble before Tuesday night's games. There is also a very full slate of games on Wednesday that include a huge opportunity for one team and a double bubble game in the SEC.
First though, a recap of Tuesday night's action. And don't forget to take a look at.
Purdue lost 69-65 at Wisconsin: Road Purdue comes up short again, dropping the Boilermakers to just 14-13 on the season and off the bubble for now. If they can take advantage of a home-heavy finishing schedule, we may see Purdue back on this list again.
Wisconsin took another step toward safety with the win over Purdue. The Badgers are now 16-10 overall with a fair amount of home cooking left. However, they are just 10-10 vs Q1-3, so they need to take care of business in those home games.
Florida won 73-59 vs. Arkansas: The Gators are hot now, having won five of six. They are about to hit the road for three of their next four, during which they can do a lot to ensure a spot in the field. They begin at Kentucky, followed by a home game with LSU.
The Razorbacks' miserable run of play continued with a 14-point loss. They have now lost eight of their last 10. To make matters worse, their best win, which came at Indiana, looks worse almost every time the Hoosiers play lately. Arkansas has what should be a couple of relatively easy home games coming up. It better be if it wants to stay in the hunt.
Oklahoma lost 65-54 to No. 1 Baylor: The Sooners fell to just 2-9 vs. Quadrant 1 teams with the loss to Baylor. However, four of those losses are to Kansas and the Bears. Still, this is a team that needs a strong finish to ensure a place at the table when the NCAA sends out invites.
VCU lost 66-61 to No. 5 Dayton: VCU hung tough with the Flyers most of the way but couldn't push past them. The Rams have now lost three straight, but if they hope to make the NCAA Tournament, they need to begin a five-game winning streak to end conference play at Saint Louis.
Illinois won 62-56 at Penn State: The Illini got leading scorer Ayo Dosunmu back, and what a difference he made. Dosunmu dropped 24 on Penn State to lead Illinois to its best win of the season. The Illini are off the bubble for now, and I doubt we will see them return to it.
Here are Wednesday night's games involving bubble teams. All times Eastern
|Team||Game||Time (TV)||Bubble breakdown|
|vs. No. 6 Duke||9 p.m. (ESPN)||NC State has a 2-1 record vs. other bubble teams but six losses to teams not in tournament contention. That is why the Wolfpack are on the outside looking in. If they are to make the NCAA Tournament, this is an important week. They have two games against the league's top three at home. It is their best chance to make a positive impression on the committee.|
|vs. Kansas State||9 p.m. (ESPN2)||A Quadrant 4-heavy nonconference schedule has Texas Tech in some trouble with the NCAA Tournament. It is only 2-8 vs Quadrant 1 teams, with two of those losses to non-contenders. The most recent of those came at Oklahoma State on Saturday. The Red Raiders are also just 8-9 overall against Quadrants 1-3. With three of their next four on the road, they need to avoid losing to the last-place Wildcats.|
|vs. Michigan||7 p.m. (BTN)||Rutgers' chances of making its first NCAA Tournament since 1991 will largely hinge on the Scarlet Knights' ability to beat someone -- anyone -- away from home where they are just 1-8. That is a problem for another day. As the ultimate home court hero in the at-large pool, they need to keep winning at home. That will not be easy against a resurgent Michigan that is now healthy.|
|vs. Tulsa||9 p.m. (ESPNU)||Houston is still on the bubble because it still has some tough games ahead. The Cougars lost to Tulsa 63-61 in their first meeting. The Golden Hurricane do not have much of an at-large chance, but this is a battle for first place in the AAC, so Houston cannot afford to overlook them.|
|vs. Texas A&M||7 p.m. (SECN)||At 14-11, Alabama is on the fringes of the bubble. It has some nice home wins, including Auburn and LSU, but has yet to beat anyone of note away from home. Those games are not left on the schedule. Mississippi State is the Crimson Tide's best road opponent left. None of that matters if they lose to the Aggies.|
|vs. Wyoming||9 p.m. (ESPN3)||Utah State is just biding its time waiting for another shot at San Diego State. That would likely not come before the conference tournament finale. In the meantime, the Aggies are trying to avoid the kind of disaster that would make that game their only chance to get in.|
|at Minnesota||9 p.m. (BTN)||The Hoosiers are just 1-6 on the road and 3-8 away from Assembly Hall this season. They are also coming off a blowout loss at Michigan, which began a stretch of four road games out of five. This is the "easiest" of those road games, but Minnesota is desperate, too, after falling to .500 with a loss to Iowa on Sunday.|
|vs. George Mason||7 p.m.||The Spiders stomped cross-town rival VCU last Saturday and are now done with the portion of the Atlantic-10 schedule where they play teams that can't hurt them. Mason hurt VCU last week, and Richmond must make sure that does not happen to them as well.|
|vs. Providence||8:30 p.m. (FS1)||The Hoyas are coming off a huge win at Butler, which is their best of the season so far. They have also defeated Creighton at home and have three other Quadrant 1 wins. Georgetown has played one of the better schedules. Nine of their 10 losses are to Quadrant 1 opponents. They will need to finish strong, though, and that starts with beating Providence at home.|
|vs. UCF||7 p.m. (ESPNU)||Cincinnati has played well lately, winning seven of eight, including its three best wins of the season. The Bearcats already have three bad losses, and losing to the Knights at home would be a fourth. That might be too much to overcome.|
|at Mississippi State*||9 p.m. (SECN)||The Gamecocks are still trying to overcome home losses to Boston U and Stetson in nonconference play. They do have a win at home over Kentucky and road wins over bubble teams Arkansas and Virginia. There isn't much room for error for South Carolina. Mississippi State is done playing teams that can truly help it in the regular season. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, a lack of higher quality wins along with two bad losses are what is holding them down. This is the first of an important home-and-home between these two as they try to separate themselves from the pack.|
|vs. Boston College||8 p.m.||The Cavaliers have a home win over Florida State and not much of a reason to have them in the bracket otherwise. They have two home losses to fellow bubblers NC State and South Carolina and a 29-point loss at Purdue, which fell off the bubble last night. They also lost to Boston College once this season already. They most likely cannot afford another loss to the Eagles.|
|vs. East Carolina||7 p.m. (CBSSN)||Memphis needs quality wins, but most of all, it needs to start winning again. The Tigers are on a three-game losing streak and two of those losses hurt. A loss to ECU at home and we are done talking about Memphis.|
|at Tulane||8 p.m.||The Mustangs' chances of making the tournament are not that great. They have four of their next six on the road and will have to do some damage there at some point. However, a loss here would make all that irrelevant.|
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