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Bubble Rooting Interests, Tuesday Edition

Yesterday's key games
went well:

  • Old Dominion, already a lock, took the Colonial auto-bid instead of VCU (a team at the fringe of the bubble, who would probably be under serious consideration if not for losing their last four conference games);
  • Gonzaga took the West Coast auto-bid over St. Mary's (who has a chance to take a profile-killing loss in a rare post-tournament game against Weber State but will otherwise likely make it);
  • and Oakland advanced to the Summit League final, improving our win over them slightly.

Today, we have 20 games lined up, but 10 are in definite one-bid conferences. Of those, three are of mild interest due to including a past opponent (all times Eastern):

  • Summit League final (9:00, ESPN2): Oakland vs. Oral Roberts
    Importance: minor
  • MAC first round (7:00): Bowling Green vs. Northern Illinois and Eastern Michigan vs. Akron
    Importance: very minor

None of these are going to make too much difference, as there's no chance of anyone stealing a bid because of them, but it wouldn't hurt to improve some of our wins. Oakland is the most important of the three, because let's face it, Bowling Green and EMU aren't going to look too impressive regardless.

Two major conference tournaments start tomorrow:

Big East First Round

  • 12:00, ESPN2: UConn vs. DePaul. Previous opponent, plus it's better to get the potential bid-thief out.
    Importance: minor
  • 2:00, ESPN2: Rutgers vs. Seton Hall. Who cares. We don't want either one winning the tournament, but nothing short of that is getting them anywhere near the dance.
    Importance: none
  • 7:00, ESPNU: Villanova vs. South Florida. Villanova is in anyway, so may as well knock out the bid-thief.
    Importance: very minor
  • 9:00, ESPNU: Providence vs. Marquette. This could push Marquette to the edge of the bubble due to their significant number of "RPI anchor" games in non-conference and back-to-back bad losses. It's no guarantee that Marquette would be knocked out by this, but it does give us a much better chance of leaping them.
    Importance: significant

A-10 First Round: Only one of these has any significance at all for us. None of the teams playing today have a chance of an at-large; the only real effect is setting up Richmond's matchup in the quarterfinals. A terrible loss looks like the only realistic way for Richmond to fall out, so pull for St. Louis over Rhode Island (7:00, CBS College Sports). But even if the worst happens, Richmond is likely in, so don't be too disappointed if this doesn't happen.
Importance: very minor

In the Ivy League, Penn hosts Princeton in the regular season finale; a Princeton win would force a one-game playoff with Harvard for the title and the auto-bid. In yesterday's comments there was some discussion of whether Harvard would merit an at-large if needed; I don't think it's likely (particularly since they'd be adding a loss to Princeton in order for that to be relevant), but we may as well make certain it doesn't come up.
Importance: minor

Finally, the day's biggest bubble game: the Horizon League final, Butler vs. UW-Milwaukee (9:00, ESPN). Milwaukee's catastrophic non-conference season means they have no real chance of an at-large; Butler is not assured of one should they lose either, but they have a far better chance. A Butler win more or less guarantees that the Horizon is a one-bid league (the third co-champion, Cleveland State, probably needed to beat Butler in the semis to have a chance); a Milwaukee win would give them a realistic shot at a second.
Importance: major

Wednesday, things start to heat up as the Big XII, CUSA, and Pac-10 tip off (although all the relevant Pac-10 teams have a bye).