Bracketology Bubble Watch: Texas, Florida, Arizona State have opportunities to pick up important victories
The breakdown of all the teams in action Saturday who are on the bubble to make the NCAA Tournament
We have roughly 150 games going on this Saturday, so there is a lot of action involving teams all over the bracket and those trying to get in. It's a big day for several bubble teams, but it is hard to call anything must win with five weeks still to play. Some of these teams can make life much easier for themselves though.
There are three "Double Bubble" games featuring teams on the bubble going against each other.
Butler at Georgetown, 12 p.m.: Both of these teams are on the fringes of the bubble and would be more damaged by a loss than helped by a win. Butler has a split of Florida this season and win over St. John's at home, but has been awful on the road. The Hoyas have been more inconsistent, showing the ability to win a tough game, but also losing a couple they shouldn't.
VCU at St. Bonaventure, 2 p.m.: VCU is a game back of Davidson in the Atlantic 10 standings, but the better NCAA Tournament at-large candidate because of wins over Temple and Texas in non-conference play. The Bonnies are struggling this season, so a loss for VCU would be damaging.
Arkansas at South Carolina, 3:30 p.m.: The Razorbacks are hanging around the cutline mostly due to wins at LSU and at home over Indiana before the Hoosiers tanked. South Carolina is better than its 10-11 record would indicate and especially at home, but the Hogs need to keep its hot streak going.
vs. Virginia Tech, 12 p.m.
This is a great opportunity for Clemson to pick up a quality win. Virginia Tech coach Buzz Williams has been trying to keep things afloat while Justin Robinson and PJ Horne sit out with injuries. Even shorthanded, the Hokies were good enough to hold NC State to 24 points on the road. A win Saturday would be Clemson's best of the season so far.
at Tulsa, 12 p.m.
Temple is on a quest to send out retiring coach Fran Dunphy with an NCAA Tournament berth. A win over Houston has helped that cause, but these are the kind of games Temple needs to win. Most of the games left on the Owls schedule can only hurt their tournament hopes.
at LSU, 2 p.m.
Despite a NET ranking of 20, Auburn is on the high side of the bubble largely due to a lack of quality wins and poor play on the road. The Tigers only Quadrant 1 win is against Pac-12 leader Washington, at home, of course. Their only other win against a team in the bracket came against Alabama last week. A win Saturday means we are done talking about Auburn as a bubble team for a while.
at Iowa State, 2 p.m.
TCU has played five conference road games and lost them all. The Frogs are still looking for their first Quadrant 1 win. Victories at home over Texas and Baylor and a lack of bad losses are what is keeping TCU near the bottom of the bracket for now, but they need something eye-catching. A win over Iowa State on the road would be huge for TCU.
at Pitt, 2 p.m.
NC State has shown in the last week that it can lose badly whether it scores 24 points or 96. Maybe a trip to Pittsburgh, which has lost six in a row, can start pointing the Wolfpack in the right direction again. They are at the point where a loss here could put them on the wrong side of the fence.
vs. Boston College, 2 p.m.
The Orange have a couple of big road wins that have kept them in the tournament hunt and allowed them to overcome home losses to Old Dominion and Georgia Tech. It's that kind of inconsistent play that has Syracuse in the bottom half of the bracket. This is the kind of game NCAA Tournament teams win, and the Orange needs to avoid another bad loss.
at Tennessee, 4 p.m.
The Gators have played a tough schedule, but have not been up to the challenge so far. They need both quality and quantity wins to get back into tournament contention. None would be bigger than going on the road and taking down No. 1.
vs. Texas Tech, 4 p.m.
Oklahoma has unique profile in that it has not played a game against a Quadrant 4 opponent. That has inflated their schedule rating somewhat, but the Sooners have still played a pretty good schedule. They lack quality wins though, with victories at home over Wofford and TCU ranking as the best. Saturday gives them a great chance to improve that.
vs. Jacksonville, 5 p.m.
Lipscomb needs to keep winning and winning big if it hopes to sneak into the field as an at-large team. They will be heavy favorites against Jacksonville and need to play like it.
vs. Western Carolina, 7 p.m.
The Terriers are facing what we used to call an RPI killer in NET No. 286 Western Carolina. Fortunately for Wofford, it can mitigate the strength of schedule damage in the NET by running up a big score.
vs. Creighton, 8 p.m.
Seton Hall is living off of early season wins over Kentucky and Maryland, but not for much longer if the Pirates don't stop this skid they are riding. They have lost six out of eight, including both games to DePaul. This is the start of an easier part of the schedule for Seton Hall and the Pirates need to take advantage of it.
at West Virginia, 8 p.m.
Which Texas will we see Saturday -- the one capable of beating North Carolina and Kansas or the one capable of losing to Providence and Radford? The Longhorns play to the level of their competition like no other team. Saturday brings a trip to last place West Virginia. Good Texas needs to start showing up more often.
at Vanderbilt, 8:30 p.m.
Alabama has not been a very good road team, although if the Crimson Tide misses the tournament, home losses to Texas A&M and Georgia State will be a big reason why. Bama plays three of the next four on the road, but two of those are to non-contenders. This is how they can begin to make up for those bad losses.
at Purdue, 8:30 p.m.
It appears that Nebraska has nothing left in the tank for a tournament push. Isaac Copeland's injury has not only taken a key contributor out of the lineup, it has made a thin team even more so. However, the Huskers are in the Big Ten, which means quality opposition almost every time they take the floor and a chance to turn things around. Mackey Arena, where Purdue is undefeated, seems like an unlikely spot to break a six game losing streak, but that is the task at hand.
vs. Washington, 10 p.m.
Arizona State is coming off of one of the worst losses any team in the bracket has – a 91-70 pounding by Washington State in Tempe on Thursday night. The Sun Devils have also lost at home this season to Princeton and Utah, but beat Kansas. Go figure. Because the league is so bad, this is the last chance for ASU to pick up a win of any quality this season, and now they need it.
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