Bubble Games to Watch: February 26
Last night had just one game to watch and in that, we saw Iowa State get back on track by clobbering Oklahoma. The Sooners are now 5-10 in Big 12 play, good enough for 7th place, and are still safely in the field of 68 right now. That’s how weak this bubble is, folks. Tonight we have much more action on the docket including a chance for Ohio State to seal their NCAA Tournament bid, a make or break game for both Toledo and Utah State, and Butler’s last ditch effort to get in.
22 Iowa at Ohio State 6pm CT BTN
As mentioned above, with a win, Ohio State should be a stone cold lock for the tournament. Should the Buckeyes lose like they did at Maryland this past weekend, there are still more opportunities to lock in their bid with their final 4 games consisting of this one against Iowa, Purdue, Wisconsin, and Northwestern sprinkled in there. Lose out and we’ve got issues, win one and they’re good, win two and Ohio State should be moving up a seed line.
Alabama at South Carolina 6pm CT ESPN 2
This is a really interesting game. Alabama has a strange resume with some top notch wins and head scratching losses. They are already firmly in the field, however, South Carolina actually has an outside chance of playing their way onto the bubble. The Gamecocks have really turned it on in SEC play and hold wins over Florida, Mississippi State, Auburn, and Ole Miss. Yes, they also have some bad losses (Stony Brook, Wyoming, etc) but with a strong finish, there’s no saying the Cocks can’t get some buzz.
Providence at Butler 6pm CT FS1
I think the Friars’ bubble has burst, it would take them to win out and make a run to the Big East title game AND get some help from teams above them losing to sneak in the tourney. However, Butler is right on the cut line and is in need of some quality wins. This won’t be a quadrant 1 win, but it will help the Bulldogs moving forward. This Providence team did just beat St. John’s and due to the out-of-the-ordinary scheduling from the Big East this year (s/o Kevin Willard) this is the first meeting between the two teams.
Toledo at Ball State 6pm CT ESPN+
Currently in the First Four Out, the Rockets have a real chance to grab an at-large bid. Their season has now become a “one game at a time” mentality. Any loss would end their hopes of an at-large. They’ve got just 4 games remaining in the regular season including tonight and the first 2 are on the road. The latter two feature one of the teams that has beaten Toledo already, Eastern Michigan.
Saint Louis at VCU 6:30pm CT CBSSN
The Rams host an underachieving Saint Louis team that was preseason favorites to win the conference. There is still a ton of talent on this Billikens team, it is just whether or not Travis Ford can get the most out of them tonight. VCU looks to extend their lead in the A-10 with a win and just four games to go. A loss wouldn’t doom them, but it would put a dent in their resume.
Temple at Memphis 8pm CT ESPNU
The Owls are looking to hang on to their bid right now as they head to Memphis this evening. The Tigers can really score the ball and their senior star Jeremiah Martin has been excellent in the month of February averaging over 30 points per game. Temple will need to contain Martin in order to win this one.
San Diego State at Utah State 8:30pm CT CBSSN
Fresh off their win over Nevada, the Aztecs hit the road and play one of my Last Four In teams, Utah State. The Aggies lost the first meeting on the road by 5 and need to win here to avoid falling out of the tournament. There’s only one game left on the schedule that can help them and that is against Nevada this weekend. Avoid a lookahead spot here and take care of business Saturday and I don’t see how the committee can keep this team out.