There is an argument to be made that the quality of hoops you get the week before the tournament is actually better than next week. I don’t necessarily agree, and certainly Gus Johnson (it’s a travesty he doesn’t call the tournament) would not agree, but we have some big-time matchups that could go a long way in narrowing the field. Speaking of Gus, enjoy this throwback.
Here are the Top 10 potential bubble matchups during Championship Week, including a few that are guaranteed to happen.
* denotes a team that needs to win a game before the discussed matchup
10 Providence/Butler – Thursday
The good news for both teams is that they avoid a landmine by playing each other in a 4/5 matchup. Both these teams are likely in, but the winner absolutely solidifies a spot in the field.
9 Ohio State*/Michigan State – Friday
OSU needs to get by Penn State first, but they likely will get a chance at Sparty on Friday. Would a win even get them in? Probably not. They would need to take care of Wisconsin or Iowa as well, I think.
8 Michigan*/Indiana – Friday
Michigan has Northwestern first, which certainly is a must win. Then they would play top-seeded IU, and they absolutely need to win this to get into the field. Michigan only has 3 Top 100 wins.
7 St. Bonaventure/Davidson* – Friday
What’s interesting about this matchup is that Davidson first has to get by the Duquense/LaSalle winner. If either of those teams beats Davidson, then the Bonnies have a potential for a landmine loss. It’s certainly possible that the Bonnies would get in, even with a loss to Davidson. A win, and they are in, even if they lose to VCU in the semis.
6 Vanderbilt*/LSU – Friday
It’s pretty clear that LSU needs to win the SEC Tourney to earn a bid. Vandy, though, can they survive a loss to Johnny Jones’ underachieving squad? With all of the quality mid-majors on the bubble, the ‘Dores need a win, which would put them in. (They also have to take care of either Tennessee or Auburn first).
5 Oregon State*/California – Thursday
The Beavers get ASU first on Wednesday, and if they lose that one, they will likely be right on the cut line because the difference between an 8 seed and an 11 seed is minimal at the moment. Wins over ASU and Cal would definitely put Glove 2.0 in the tournament, which I think we all want to see.
4 G. Washington*/St. Joseph’s – Friday
GW is pretty far out at the moment, but they certainly could do some damage in the A10 Tourney. After taking care of either Mason or SLU (which they will), they could put the Stupid Flapping Hawk on life support with a quarterfinal victory. SJU is in with a win.
3 UConn/Cincinnati – Friday
I think Cincinnati is solidly in, though most don’t. I also think UConn is out, though most have them on the right side of the bubble. The beauty of this one…the winner has a very good shot of getting in, and UConn has no chance with a loss. Cincy needs to avoid a blowout. Simple as that.
2 Winner of UConn/Cincy vs Temple – Saturday
If UConn or Cincy can put together two wins in a row, that would likely lock up a bid. This is probably a play-in game for Temple, who has nothing in the non-conference to provide support for their resume.
1 Syracuse/Pittsburgh – Wednesday
We get this bubbly matchup early in the week, where the loser will be left to sweat out four LONG days. The winner almost certainly makes the tournament. Neither team has done themselves any favors down the stretch, as they have both played pretty mediocre basketball. Will I think both teams eventually make the tournament, Syracuse probably needs the win a little more than Pitt.