Bubble Rooting Interests, Wednesday Edition

Yesterday's key results, in rough order of importance:

  • Butler took the Horizon auto-bid, very likely limiting that conference to one bid.
  • Marquette advanced to the second round of the Big East tournament, which should have them feeling pretty safe. A lot of their wins are of little value, but they do have enough top wins that they'll probably survive.
  • Villanova choked away a big lead in losing to South Florida. While most bracketologists had them up in the 7-seed range, I'm suddenly not sure they're in the tournament at all. Losing 7 of their last 9, with the two wins being narrow escapes against Seton Hall and DePaul, does not inspire confidence. There's a good chance they still make it, but they spent the last month or so backing from Final Four discussion to the bubble.
  • Princeton defeated Penn to set up a one-game playoff for all the marbles in the Ivy League.
  • Three of our four prior opponents won to help bolster our SOS: UConn, Oakland, and Bowling Green. EMU was not so kind, but really, nobody would have thought EMU was a good win anyway.

Today's relevant games:

Big XII First Round:

  • (8) Nebraska vs. (9) Oklahoma State (12:30, ESPN3): Nebraska remains at the very fringe of the bubble discussion. Personally, I think they're auto-bid or bust at this point; their abominable non-conference schedule and losing record in the Big XII makes them extremely unlikely to get in, but Oklahoma State can take them from "highly doubtful" to "zero chance".
    Importance: minimal
  • (5) Colorado vs. (12) Iowa State (3:00, ESPN3): Colorado's much more likely to make it than Nebraska. A win here is necessary for them to stay alive, but it's probably not enough. That said, Colorado swept K-State (their prospective quarterfinal opponent), so I wouldn't feel too comfortable that K-State would finish the job, so let's see a repeat upset finish the Buffs for good.
    Importance: moderate
  • (7) Baylor vs. (10) Oklahoma (7:00, ESPN3): Baylor is even more likely to be dead (in terms of at-large hopes) than Nebraska, but you can never have too many nails in the coffin.
    Importance: minimal
  • (6) Missouri vs. (11) Texas Tech (9:30, ESPN3): Thanks to a solid non-conference run, Missouri is pretty solidly locked in even though they have the same conference record as Colorado; knocking out one long-shot bid-thief is better than nothing.
    Importance: minimal

Big East Second Round:

  • (8) Georgetown vs. (9) UConn (12:00, ESPN): Previous opponent; both are locks, so that's the only noticeable effect.
    Importance: minor
  • (5) St. John's vs. (13) Rutgers (2:30, ESPN): Root for the team that's locked in.
    Importance: minimal
  • (7) Cincinnati vs. (15) South Florida (7:00, ESPN): Ditto.
    Importance: minimal
  • (6) West Virginia vs. (11) Marquette (9:30, ESPN): Same, plus Marquette is still a semi-bubble team (losing to West Virginia probably doesn't knock them out, but it can't hurt us).
    Importance: moderate

Conference USA First Round:

  • (8) East Carolina vs. (9) Central Florida (1:00): Neither team has any at-large hopes. UCF's RPI suggests that they might (somehow despite being 6-10 in the 8th best conference, they're in the low 60s), but I think it's fair to say that no team that loses eight straight in a high-mid conference has a prayer.
    Importance: none
  • (5) Southern Miss vs. (12) Tulane (3:30): On one hand, a tougher opponent is more likely to put a definitive end to Memphis's hopes. On the other hand, a weaker opponent gives them no opportunity to improve their profile. What with the RPI vastly overrating the top half of Conference USA this year, I think the latter is slightly more important, especially as Southern Miss's profile isn't a complete abomination in itself.
    Importance: minor
  • (6) Marshall vs. (11) Houston (7:30): Same rationale as above.
    Importance: minor
  • (7) SMU vs. (10) Rice (10:00): No at-large hopes here, and Tulsa (despite the 2 seed in the conference) doesn't have any either.
    Importance: none

Mountain West: Only the 8/9 game (Wyoming-TCU) is today, and that's of no importance whatsoever.

Pac-10: The 7/10 and 8/9 games in the Pac-10 are also of no consequence at all, except in clearing a path for the top seeds (and even there the effect is minor at best).

Western Athletic: All we care about is getting Utah State to win the whole thing, and they don't play until Friday.

Thursday will see the last tournaments tipping off (the ACC, SEC, and of course the Big Ten), make-or-break quarterfinals in the Pac-10 and Big XII, likely the end of any bid-thief threats in the Big East, a bubble-fringe showdown in the Mountain West (though that team will have to get through BYU to have any real chance), a second preliminary round in the WAC before Utah State gets involved, and fringe bubble candidates in CUSA trying to dodge profile land mines before they get a crack at UAB.

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