It is the final week of the college basketball regular season and several major conference teams are hanging on to their NCAA Tournament hopes with the slimmest margin for error. Here are some crucial games this week featuring NCAA Tournament bubble teams that could make or break their chances of being selected for the Field of 68.
Boston College at Virginia Tech, Tues 7:00, ESPNU Virginia Tech at Clemson, Sat 12:00, ESPN2
Boston College has dropped six of its last nine, and the team is currently one of the final four at-large bids in my most recent bracketology. If they win at Virginia Tech and avoid a loss against Wake Forest, the Eagles would be in. However, lose to the Hokies, and Boston College finishes with a .500 conference record in a weak ACC which could burst their bubble.
After their massive win against Duke Saturday night, the Hokies should be a safe bet to get into the dance. Beat Boston College and Clemson, and Virginia Tech is without question in the dance. However, lose them both, and Seth Greenberg's group will once again be sweating it out on Selection Sunday.
As for Clemson, their only hope is to win out (which will be a tough task with a game at Duke Wednesday night) and have Boston College lose both of their final two games because there is no way the ACC gets six teams into the Dance this year.
UAB at Southern Miss, Wed 7:00
A victory for the Blazers should clinch the Conference USA crown which as a result gives them the top seed in the conference tourney. It also increases their at-large possibilites should UAB not win the league's automatic bid. With an RPI in the low-mid 30s, they should feel good about their chances but would feel even better picking up a win at a Southern Miss team that currently finds itself on the wrong side of the bubble and could have their tourney hopes dashed if they lose this one.
Cincinnati at Marquette, Wed 8:00, ESPN3
Both teams should be in, but I have documented the importance of getting to 10 wins in Big East play and that would be the plateau the victorious would reach in this game. The loser could possibly finish .500 in conference if they dropped their final game of the year, and would need a win or two in the Big East Tournament to feel safe on Selection Sunday. Plus, both teams are still in play for the seventh and eighth seeds in the Big East Tournament which would give them an ever-important opening-round bye.
Georgia at Alabama, Sat 1:30, ESPN3
The Bulldogs should be in especially if they beat LSU on Wednesday night. Winning this game would give them a 10-6 record in the SEC and definitely give them a slot in the brackets. Alabama is the best of a very weak SEC West and could use another solid win even more so if they fall at Florida on Tuesday night.
Michigan at Michigan State, Sat 1:00, CBS
This could very well be a play-out game for whichever team loses although the battle of Michigan holds a much higher stake for the Wolverines who would finish 8-10 in the Big Ten if they lose to Sparty. Michigan State should beat Iowa on Wednesday. Combine that with a win against Michigan, and they finish 10-8 in conference and lock up an at-large bid.