Bracketology Implications: 18 Bubble Games Wednesday
Major Bubble Games
Minnesota (17-10, 5-9) vs #6 Michigan St (22-5, 11-3)
Coming off 3 straight losses, Minnesota needs a big win in the worst way. While their overall RPI is not good, they've beaten 6 RPI Top 100 teams, including a shock win at Indiana. Adding Michigan St to their resume suddenly puts them back in the Big Dance picture.. and would give them much needed momentum heading into a rematch with Indiana. This game could change Minnesota's season.
#2 Syracuse (27-1, 14-1) vs South Florida (17-10, 10-4)
Normally, 10-4 Big East teams are NCAA locks. But with the unbalanced schedule, South Florida's record isn't as good as it seems. USF has just one RPI Top 50 win (over Seton Hall) and some questionable losses to the likes of Penn State and Old Dominion. Obviously, it would be a game changer if South Florida managed to beat Syracuse at the Carrier Dome. Don't bank it.
#25 San Diego St (20-6, 6-4) vs Wyoming (18-8, 4-6)
Despite wins over UNLV and Colorado St, Wyoming's tournament hopes are fading fast. A win at SDSU would give them 3 Top 30 RPI wins, something very few teams can claim. San Diego St dropped 12 spots in the AP Poll Monday, and a loss to Wyoming would strip them of any votes. Also, its non inconceivable to suggest that a loss would put them back on the bubble considering they're mediocre RPI. SDSU needs to take care of business before their season spirals out of control.
Tennessee (14-13, 6-6) vs Ole Miss (15-11, 5-7)
Like LSU, Tennessee is also .500 in SEC play. The Vols have had an up and down season that includes wins over UCONN and Florida (twice.) Perhaps that shows those teams weakness more than anything else, but you can't argue that Tennessee is playing better of late. Tennessee has been great at home and can't afford a slip-up here. Ole Miss actually has a much better RPI than Tennessee at 62nd, but no wow wins. A 4-0 finish would certainly give them a chance though, so this game is big for both sides. Both teams need to treat this like an elimination game.
Secondary Bubble Games
St. Joseph's (18-10, 8-5) vs Richmond (14-14, 5-8)
This is a must-win for St. Joseph's. The Hawks beat Richmond on a road, so it seems like a lock, but you never know. If St. Joseph's won, it would set up a huge game against Temple later in the week. A Hawks team that was 20-10, and 10-5 in A10 play would suddenly look like a major NCAA threat.
Long Beach St (19-7, 12-0) vs UCSB (15-8, 9-3)
As much as media, fans, and various computer ranking respect Long Beach St, its hard to see them getting a bit at this point. Pitt's struggles have rendered that win meaningless, which leaves Xavier as the sole big win. Still, if LBSU rolled through their remaining 4 league games and went to the Big West finals, you never know.
Rice (15-12, 6-6) vs UCF (19-7, 8-4)
UCF has some big wins (UCONN & Memphis) and a head-scratching loss (ULL). A trip to Rice is far from easy, but extremely important. A win tonight followed by a win against UTEP sets up a huge game against Memphis next week. But the Memphis game becomes meaningless if they don't get the job done here.
LSU (16-10, 6-6) vs Georgia (12-14, 3-9)
LSU has a decent RPI (65th), and a decent .500 SEC record. They're a very good team at home, but decent overall. This is a must-win game against a sub-par opponent.
Fringe Bubble Games: Bubble Team in Bold
Drexel (23-5, 14-2) vs James Madison (11-18, 4-12)
Drexel's been getting hype with votes in both the AP & Coaches polls. Odd, considering they've lost to Delaware, Norfolk St, and Georgia St. Another win keeps hope (and the hype-machine) alive.
UNCW (9-18, 5-11) vs VCU (23-6, 13-3)
VCU fairs better in other statistical ratings than they do in the RPI. The Rams' best win all season was by a point at Akron. VCU needs to win out, head to the CAA finals, and then hope last year's run gives them extra cachet.
Northeastern (12-15, 8-8) vs George Mason (23-6, 14-2)
George Mason has overcome early struggles to have a fine season. But they only have 2 Top 100 RPI wins, and both came at home. Like VCU, they're only hope is to win out through the conference final and hope for the best.
Duquesne (15-11, 6-6) vs Dayton (16-10, 6-6)
A home loss to Duquesne was one of two straight home losses (the other being to URI) that really ruined the Flyers season. A revenge win would not only feel good, but keep their slim hopes alive.
Marshall (16-10, 7-5) vs Houston (12-13, 4-8)
Marshall's season had a lot of promise, but they've struggled on the road in conference play. Their schedule is very favorable from here and out, including home games against Memphis and Southern Miss. If they went 4-0 the rest of the way, they'd have the makings of a tournament-worthy resume.
Sort of Bubble Games: Bubble Team in Bold
La Salle (18-9, 7-5) vs #22 Temple (21-5, 10-2)
La Salle is quietly going about their business and having a very solid season. A win would push them into the 60's of the RPI and at 8-5 in a good A10, they'd have to be taken seriously.
Iowa St (19-8, 9-5) vs Texas Tech (8-18, 1-13)
While I have Iowa St as a #9 seed right now, others feel they are closer to the bubble. A shock loss to Texas Tech would put them right back on the bubble.
UTEP (13-13, 6-6) vs Southern Miss (22-5, 9-3)
With the 11th best RPI, you'd figure Southern Miss was as safe as can be. But this would ignore the committee's history of non-BCS bias. The loss to Houston raised a lot of eyebrows, and so would a loss to UTEP. This is far from a lock win (UTEP just won at Memphis), and Southern Miss is probably not as big of a lock as you might think.
Memphis (19-8, 9-3) vs East Carolina (12-13, 3-9)
Basically, the same sentiment as the Southern Miss game applies here. Despite the solid Top 30 RPI, the Tigers don't have a load of eye-catching wins, and the home loss to UTEP gave the doubters fodder. This is an easy game, so a loss against ECU would be devastating.
Akron (19-8, 11-1) vs Bowling Green (14-12, 7-5)
Akron's a solid team with a solid #63 RPI. In a different conference, they'd be a bubble team, but in the MAC, they have virtually no chance.. which is why this is the "sort of" category.