St. Louis and Georgia Tech Highlight Friday Slate of Bubble Watch Games
Conference tournaments are underway and as we get closer to Selection Sunday, the teams we will be watching intently here on Bubble Watch will diminish.
UConn’s win over Seton Hall should place them firmly in the field and off of Bubble Watch.
These three teams have played themselves into a situation where they will need to win the conference tournament to hear their name called on Selection Sunday - Indiana, Minnesota, Stanford, and Western Kentucky.
Here’s the rest of the slate for Friday and Saturday where the outcomes will go a long way on Selection Sunday.
Friday, March 5, 2021 Bubble Watch Games
St. Louis vs UMass - Atlantic 10 quarterfinal - 1:00 pm NBCSN
The Billikens were a preseason top 25 team. Multiple pauses, including a near-month-long stoppage, de-railed some early-season momentum. St. Louis (13-5, 6-4; NCAA NET 43) has only two Quad 1 wins, but two Quad 3 losses loom equally as large. They are a team capable of winning an NCAA Tournament game. But, first, they have to get there. Anything short of reaching the conference final will do0m those hopes. That makes today a must-win game.
VCU vs Dayton - Atlantic 10 quarterfinal - 3:30 pm NBCSN
Another important Atlantic 10 quarterfinal game. The Rams (17-6, 10-4; NCAA NET 35) are in The Last Four Bye category in Joe Lunardi’s latest ESPN Bracketology. A loss wouldn’t squash their hopes, but a win just might clinch a berth. So, as Al Davis once said, ‘Just Win Baby’. VCU has a 2-4 mark in Quad 1 and 6-0 in Quad 2. None of that will matter with three more wins. One might be enough.
Drake vs Northern Iowa - Missouri Valley quarterfinal - 6:00 pm - ESPN+
Drake is at the top of the line of the four-team Last Teams In listing. You know what that means. Win today! They face 7-seed Northern Iowa, who beat Illinois State yesterday. Drake has had some key injuries, including losing Roman Penn for the season. A loss today, maybe before reaching the conference finals, and it will be a long sweat to Selection Sunday to see how the committee treats those injuries.
Georgia Tech vs Wake Forest - 8:00 pm ACCN
Georgia Tech was not on the radar of Bubble Watch two weeks ago. Five straight wins, including resume-enhancers against Virginia Tech, Syracuse, and Duke, have put Josh Pastner’s squad on the precipice of a berth. They have climbed to Last Four Bye status according to Lunardi. They can take another step forward with a win at Wake Forest.
The only other game to keep tabs on is ODU/Western Kentucky. The Hilltoppers face the Monarchs twice this weekend trying to clinch the East Division.
Saturday, March 6 Bubble Watch Games
Duke vs UNC - 6:00 pm ESPN
The Blue Devils have fallen to Last Four Out status after losses to Louisville and Georgia Tech. They can climb back into consideration with a win at UNC. Duke (11-10, 9-8; NCAA NET 58) would fall into the must-win the conference tournament with a loss.
Seton Hall vs St. John’s - 7:00 pm FS1
Seton Hall has lost three in a row and in danger of missing the tournament. This falls into the must-win category. The Pirates (13-11, 10-8; NCAA NET 56) are The FIRST Team out in that four-team pod. There’s nowhere to go but up, but to do that, a win over the Red Storm is necessary.
Xavier vs Marquette - 9:00 pm FS1
Xavier (13-6; 6-6; NCAA NET 53) has gone 2-4 in their last six games to put them in a position where this final regular-season is important. The Musketeers are in The Last Four In category and a loss will only make the Big East Tournament that much more important. Xavier only has one Quad 1 win. This won’t add to that count, but a loss would be worse.
Utah State vs Fresno State - 11 pm FS1
Utah State (16-7, 14-4; NCAA NET 47) will look to win its fourth game in a row heading into the Mountain West Conference Tournament. A win will also keep their at-large selection a possibility. They are the Second Team Out according to Lunardi, so a loss would put them in the category of needing to win the conference tournament, which they have done the last two years by the way.
The other games to keep an eye on from former Bubble Watch teams: UConn/Georgetown, Minnesota/Rutgers, Indiana/Purdue, Western Kentucky/ODU, Ole Miss/Vandy.