March Madness May Lead To March Sadness
All eyes will be on East Lansing, Michigan Sunday afternoon in the key Bubble Watch game.
But, let's take a look at Saturday first. We highlighted five Bubble Watch games today. As of this posting, four lost and one game is just tipping off (Utah State vs Fresno State).
What does this tell you? The stress of life on the Bubble and simply qualifying for the NCAA Tournament is not fun. Nor easy!
It also is going to make the job of the NCAA Selection Committee that much harder. Their job is easier when teams win their way in. Resumes improve with wins. Resumes get cloudier and more competitive when teams lose.
The biggest loser of them all may have been SMU. They have hovered on the Bubble. They were among The Next Four Out in Joe Lunardi’s ESPN Latest Bracketology (March 5 Update). They had an opportunity to improve their resume hosting Tulsa on Sunday, March 7. Alas, more Covid-19 issues have arisen for the Mustangs and the game has been canceled. SMU has not played since a February 8 win at East Carolina. They will try to play in the AAC Tournament. They are slated to play Cincinnati on Friday, March 12 at 2 pm.
Heading into Saturday, these four teams were The Last Four Team In:
Michigan State (plays Michigan Sunday)
Colorado State (lost Friday night to Nevada)
Xavier (lost to Marquette Saturday)
Boise State (lost last three games, including being upset Tuesday by Fresno State)
These were The Next Four Out:
Seton Hall (lost their last four games including St. John’s Saturday)
St. Louis (lost to St. Bonaventure in A10 semifinals)
Utah State (pending Fresno State game tonight)
Duke (lost their last two games including to North Carolina Saturday)
Seton Hall (lost to St. John’s 81-71): The Pirates jumped out to an 18-0 lead….and LOST! Losing a big lead like that and your last four games is no way to impress the Committee. Seton Hall (13-12, 10-9) will need a long run in the Big East Tournament to get themselves back into contention.
St. Louis (lost to St. Bonaventure 71-53): St. Louis probably saw its season come to an end in their semifinal loss to the top-seed Bonnies. The Billikens (14-6, 6-4) were capable of winning an NCAA Tournament game. But, they likely won’t get the chance!
Duke (lost to UNC 91-73): In their biggest game of the year, Duke (11-11, 9-9) scored six points in the first 12 minutes and was never competitive in their loss to UNC. Duke will need to win the ACC Tournament to keep their 24-year NCAA Tournament streak alive.
Belmont (lost in the Ohio Valley title game to Morehead State 86-71): After starting the year 24-1 there was real talk that the Bruins were a real threat to get an at-large bid if they didn't win the OVC Tournament. Unfortunately for Casey Alexander's club they lost two straight to close the regular season and then again the conference title game Saturday. While their 26-4 record is impressive, it is severely lacking quality wins. And because of it, Belmont will probably be watching the NCAA Tournament from home in two weeks.
Xavier (lost to Marquette 66-59): Another opportunity missed. Xavier followed up a resume-enhancing win over Creighton last weekend with back-to-back losses to Georgetown and Marquette this week. The Big East Tournament next week in NYC will define the Musketeer's fate.
BUBBLE WATCH GAMES TO FOLLOW SUNDAY
Michigan State vs Michigan - 4:30 CBS
No one has a bigger game Sunday than Tom Izzo’s Michigan State Spartans. With others around them on the Bubble all losing, opportunity is knocking. A resume-enhancing win over likely 1-seed Michigan would do Sparty wonders in that NCAA Committee room.
Memphis vs Houston - 12:00 pm CBS
This is Memphis’ first Bubble Watch reference. That’s what happens when other teams keep losing. No better way to impress the committee that beat Houston in your final regular-season game. The Cougars are a projected two-seed in the NCAA Tournament. It’s a perfect storm opportunity for Penny Hardaway and crew.