SATURDAY’S FIVE BIGGEST BUBBLE LOSERS
La Salle: La Salle had a chance to pick up the kind of win that they could lock up an NCAA tournament bid on Saturday … and they missed. By a lot. The Explorers were crushed by St. Louis, losing 78-54, hanging around with the Billikens for about 25 minutes before getting run off the court down the stretch. La Salle has some good wins and just one loss, and while they may feel comfortable right now, they’ll want to avoid losing early on in the A-10 tournament to feel safe.
Minnesota: The Golden Gophers have a profile that is strong enough that, even if they lose in the first round of the Big Ten tournament, is probably deserving of an at-large bid. The issue with Minnesota is that, after losing to Nebraska and Purdue in the final week of the regular season, is that they have just been so bad for long late in the season that it’s tough to remember what they did in November and December. they probably deserve a bid, but that doesn’t mean they are one of the top 37 teams.
Oklahoma: The Sooners looked to be sitting pretty after lighting up Iowa State last Saturday, but that was before they went and lost to TCU, which is about as bad of a loss as a team in a major conference can suffer during league play. The interesting thing about Oklahoma’s profile is that they are a long way from feeling comfortable. A loss in the first round of the Big 12 tournament will make for a long weekend heading into Selection Sunday.
Xavier and Providence: The Musketeers and the Friars both had a chance to play their way into the dance with a big road win (at Butler and at UConn, respectively) and a couple wins in their league tournament. They both lost.
Louisiana Tech: The Bulldogs are going to need to earn the WAC’s at-large bid. They had a slight chance before this week, but after getting drubbed by both New Mexico State and Denver on the road, LTU has no shot of dancing without the autobid.
Other Bubble Losers: San Diego State, Oklahoma, Colorado, Arizona State, Providence
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.
This post will be updated throughout the night.
Butler (KenPom: 41, RPI; 67) at Seton Hall (KenPom: 31, RPI: 37), 6:30 p.m.
LSU (KenPom: 53, RPI: 76) at South Carolina (KenPom: 45, RPI: 28), 7:00 p.m.
Nebraska at Wisconsin (KenPom: 51, RPI: 62), 7:00 p.m.
Saint Joseph’s (KenPom: 48, RPI: 30) at George Washington (KenPom: 71, RPI: 34), 7:00 p.m.
Missouri at Vanderbilt (KenPom: 35, RPI: 58), 9:00 p.m.
No. 14 Iowa State at Texas Tech (KenPom: 59, RPI: 51), 9:00 p.m.
Michigan (KenPom: 46, RPI: 56) at Minnesota, 9:00 p.m.
Washington (KenPom: 80, RPI: 57) at Utah (KenPom: 44, RPI: 16), 9:00 p.m.
San Diego State (KenPom: 65, RPI: 47) at Fresno State, 11:00 p.m.
GAME OF THE NIGHT: LSU at South Carolina, 7:00 p.m.
LSU attempts to stay atop the SEC standings when they travel on the road to face South Carolina. The Gamecocks have been very tough at home this season and they’re trying to form a potential four-way tie in the conference standings if they’re able to win this one (and Texas A&M wins tonight). It will be intriguing to see how Ben Simmons fares against South Carolina’s stingy defense.
THIS ONE’S GOOD, TOO: Saint Joseph’s at George Washington, 7:00 p.m.
An important game in the Atlantic 10 as Saint Joseph’s heads to the Smith Center to play surging George Washington. The Colonels have won three straight games as they try to stay with VCU and Dayton and make a move to tie the Hawks in the league standings. CBT’s Rob Dauster will be in the building for this one, so make sure to follow him on Twitter for updates.
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR
- No. 21 Baylor will have a tough one in the Big 12 when they go on the road at Kansas State. The Wildcats just knocked off Oklahoma and the Octagon of Doom is a very tough place to play, even if Kansas State is struggling in the standings.
- No. 16 SMU will try to stay in the lead in the American as they host Tulsa. The Golden Hurricane could really use a road win like this for its postseason chances.
- An intriguing Pac-12 contest tips as Washington heads to Utah. The Pac-12 standings are a mess right now, but these two teams still have a chance to make one final move for the regular season title if they start building momentum now.
- In the SEC, Alabama hosts No. 15 Texas A&M, a team that has lost three of its last four games. The Aggies will be favored in this road contest, but this one could be interesting because of Avery Johnson’s unique connection to Texas A&M. Avery Johnson Jr., a transfer guard sitting out this season at Alabama, played for the Aggies last season, so he could have some useful tips for his dad on slowing down Texas A&M’s potent offense.
- No. 20 Providence will be looking for revenge when they head to Milwaukee to face Marquette. The Golden Eagles currently sit eighth in the Big East standings, but they did win on the road by a point over the Friars earlier this season.