We are less than a month from Selection Sunday and we are starting a new series of posts here on aarontorresonline.com to get you ready for March Madness.
We know you love college basketball. So do we. We also know you love trying to predict what seed your favorite team will earn come NCAA Tournament time. Or maybe your team is firmly on the Bubble and you aren't sure if your team will be included in the field of 68 headed to Indianapolis.
In either case, you will want to visit here often for the next three-plus weeks. We are going to track the Bubble teams and post what games mean the most to those teams who are not a lock to see their name in the bracket unveiling on March 14, 2021. For this exercise, we are looking at teams that might be in the Last Four In category right now all the way through Next Four Out status.
Our plan is to run this feature on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays, which are the busiest days of the college hoops week.
We will make a post on those mornings highlighting the games to pay attention to that night. Then, check back before you go to bed or first thing the next morning as we will provide a nightly recap noting what the result means for the teams on the Bubble.
We have determined our first series of bubble teams by charting our favorite bracketologists and yours like ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, CBS’ Jerry Palm, The Athletic’s Brian Bennett, Heat Check, and the CBB Review. Like most situations in this pandemic season, the situation and the teams we are following will remain fluid. Teams will play themselves off (a bad Quad 3 loss) and onto (Quad 1 win) the Bubble a lot over the next month.
Our goal is to make you more informed as we approach Selection Sunday. We hope you will follow our Bubble tracker posts as we ready ourselves for the Madness of March, something we all missed last year, and hope we get to enjoy this spring. Here’s to One Shining Moment being played following the national championship game on Monday, April 5, 2021. The road to that great musical ending with confetti falling onto the court at Lucas Oil Stadium starts now with our posts following the Bubble teams of this pandemic season.
Let's take a look at the bubble games of note on Tuesday, and who the day's winners and losers were.
UConn (defeated Providence 73-61): The Huskies were one of the "First Four Out" in Joe Lunardi's recent bracket, but returned star James Bouknight from elbow surgery (he was averaging over 20 points per game prior to injury) and dominated a Providence team that they lost to just one week ago in Providence without him. Still, while Bouknight's return was the story, it's been the play of everyone else of late, with Tyrese Martin (18 points) and RJ Cole (13 points) both chipping in big numbers. The Huskies travel to Villanova Saturday. But now fully healthy, look like a tournament team out of the Big East.
Maryland (defeated Nebraska 64-50): Like UConn, Maryland entered Tuesday in Joe Lunardi's "First Four Out" and like UConn got a win in a game they simply couldn't afford to lose. Despite just a 12-10 record overall the Terrapins actually have a solid resume with wins at Illinois, Wisconsin and Purdue and Minnesota at home. In a strange scheduling twist, they will play Nebraska for a second time in back-to-back nights on Wednesday night in College Park. That too, is a must win.
St. John's (defeated Xavier 93-84): Following a loss over the weekend the Johnnies were in Lunardi's "Next Four Out" but managed to pick up a home win over Xavier. Despite the loss this weekend, the Red Storm have now quietly won seven of eight heading into this weekend's matchup with DePaul.
Saint Louis (defeated LaSalle 78-57): Don't sleep on the Billikens. A pre-season Top-25 team and a mid-major darling in December, Coach Ford's squad may be about to take-off following a month-long Covid pause in December. They made amends from a loss to this same LaSalle squad in their second game back with this thrashing tonight behind 19 points from Javonte Perkins. St. Louis has now won four straight games heading into a showdown with Dayton Friday night.
Xavier (loss to St. John's 93-84): The Musketeers are currently a No. 9 seed in Joe Lunardi's bracket so it's probably unfair to call them a "bubble" team, but this is still a program trending in the wrong direction. Xavier is now 0-2 coming out of an extensive Covid pause heading into this weekend's game against Butler.
Bubble games of Note on Wednesday: NC State at Pitt; VCU at Richmond; Nebraska at Maryland; Northeastern at North Carolina; Valparaiso at Loyola (IL); Drake at Northern Iowa; DePaul at Seton Hall; Utah State at Boise State
Check back in the morning for an up-to-date preview of Wednesday's games