Selection Sunday is only three weeks away. On Monday, JJ and myself completed a field of 65. It’s time to start watching some of these bubble teams so you actually know which teams can actually make the tournament and possibly actually pull off a first round upset come March. Here are my top Bubble games to watch this weekend:
West Virginia @ #16 Connecticut
12 pm ESPN Full Court/ESPN 360
West Virginia, at the moment, has a great shot of getting in the tournament. With a lot of other factors that still need to be played out, a win at Connecticut could really solidify the Mountaineers spot in the tournament.
My Winner – Connecticut
Pittsburgh @ Syracuse
12pm, ESPN/ESPN 360
Syracuse is the ultimate bubble team. It hurt itself with a loss at South Florida, then bounced back against Georgetown, then dropped two at Louisville and Notre Dame. It now has a good opportunity to bounce right back with a win over a team that has only beaten two Big East teams on the road: South Florida and St. Johns. A loss to the Panthers would be damaging.
My Winner – Syracuse
Texas A&M @ Oklahoma
2 pm ESPN/ESPN 360
Both these teams will most likely be in the tournament because the Bubble stinks, but the loser of this game would be in deeper trouble of finding itself on the wrong side of the bubble. But let’s take a look at the Aggies. They still have to go to Baylor and have a home date with Kansas to close the season. If they drop this game to Oklahoma (the most winnable), they could very well lose the next two, which would put them at 7-9 in conference. The Aggies might need this one more.
My Winner – Texas A&M
Mississippi State @ Florida
4 pm, CBS
Florida really needs this one. The one stat that glares out to me is it’s out of conference strength of schedule which is 285. That’s horrible. At 8-5 in the SEC, Florida needs at least two more wins in conference to feel better about itself. With games against Tennessee and at Kentucky remaining, beating an above average MSU team at home is a must.
My Winner – Florida
Ohio State @ Minnesota4 pm ESPN/ESPN 360
Ohio State is 1-9 against the RPI top 50. That win is against a Syracuse team that isn’t very good. With home games against Purdue and Michigan State looming, a win at Minnesota won’t be easy, but might be necessary if the Buckeyes are to make a push for an at-large spot. If it drops this game, it might be in a lot of trouble.
My Pick – Minnesota
#14 Vanderbilt @ Arkansas
4:05 pm, ESPN Full Court/ESPN 360
Arkansas right now is a bubble team that is in a better position than most. Their next two games (@MISS, vs. AUB) are not too difficult, but a win over a team that just beat the number one team in the nation, would leave a great impression on the committee.
My Winner – Vanderbilt
Kentucky @ #1 Tennessee
12 pm, CBS
Right now, if Kentucky got in to the tournament it would be complete garbage. It would get in based on the fact that Kentucky is written on the front of its jerseys. On Friday, the Wildcats lost their freshman sensation Patrick Patterson for the season. He was second on the team in scoring (16.4) and led the team in rebounding (7.7). How will the Wildcats bounce back against a great team who just lost its number one seeding.
My Winner – Tennessee
Villanova @ # 18 Louisville
Here’s another bubble team named Wildcats that needs a win on the road against one of the best teams in its conference. Villanova let a chance slip away at home against Marquette on Monday and now has a great opportunity to redeem itself with a marquee win. The Wildcats could really use this one to separate itself from the rest of the bubble teams and possibly get to that magic number of 10 conference wins.
My Winner – Louisville