February 23, 2013
Six bubble games to keep an eye on this weekend:
No. 17 Marquette at Villanova (6:00 p.m. ET, ESPN): The Wildcats put themselves into really good position to earn an at-large bid when they won at UConn last Saturday. But Villanova's work is far from down, as an 18 point loss to Columbia weighs down what otherwise appears to be a solid profile — they also have wins over Syracuse and Louisville at home. An RPI in the mid-50′s with a non-conference strength of schedule sitting in the 160′s does not a lock make, which is why taking care of business against yet another Big East contender would be huge for Jay Wright's ball-club.
Baylor at Oklahoma (5:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU): As of now, Baylor is not an NCAA tournament basketball team. They have an RPI in the 60′s, their best wins are at home against Oklahoma State and at Kentucky. They've lost in Waco to both Charleston and Northwestern. That's simply not enough. But a win at Oklahoma would do a lot to make that resume look prettier. The Sooners are a top 25 team in the RPI, which should be enough to get the Bears on the right side of the bubble for the time-being.
NC State at North Carolina (4:00 p.m. ET, ESPN): Roy Williams has done a masterful job gaming the RPI this season. His team has managed to put together one quality win this season — beating UNLV, a team notorious for their road struggles, at home — while getting embarrassed in their four biggest road games of the season. They've also lost at Texas, yet the Tar Heels are sitting at 26th in the RPI as of today. Simply put, they need to do more if they are going to feel comfortable about their at-large chances.
Southern Miss at No. 21 Memphis (1:00 p.m. ET, FSN): The late surge by the Tigers has probably been enough to get them into the Field of 68 even if they lose to Southern Miss and miss out on the automatic bid from Conference USA, but nothing is guaranteed. The Tigers have one top 50 win — at USM — while the Golden Eagles only have two top 100 wins — at Denver and at UTEP. USM probably is not going to be receiving an at-large bid, so Memphis shouldn't toy with their chances by losing.
Missouri at Kentucky (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPN): Here's the chance for Kentucky to prove their doubters wrong. If this team is going to make the NCAA tournament without Nerlens Noel, they absolutely have to win this game. After getting embarrassed at Tennessee, the Wildcats looked much better at the start of Wednesday night's game against Vanderbilt. They couldn't put the Commodores away, but they hung on for the win. Can UK do the same against Missouri on Gameday?
Auburn at Ole Miss (5:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3): Ole Miss losing to South Carolina put a huge dent in their at-large chances, but as of today, the Rebels still have a chance. They cannot, however, afford another loss to a team at the bottom of the SEC. Andy Kennedy's club needs to win out.
The rest of the weekend bubble action:
Iona at Indiana State (11:00 a.m. ET, ESPNU)
Clemson at Maryland (12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
Alabama at LSU (1:30 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
Iowa at Nebraska (2:00 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)
Boise State at Fresno State (10:00 p.m. ET)
Washington at Arizona State (11:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)
No. 20 Pitt at St. John's (Sun. 12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
La Salle at Richmond (Sun. 2:00 p.m. ET)
Georgia Tech at Virginia (Sun. 2:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
Temple at Charlotte (Sun. 4:00 p.m. ET)
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.