Bubble Tracker: Gonzaga faces SMU in a near must-win game

Selection Sunday is just more than four weeks away, so we will be taking a daily look at the games affecting teams on the bubble. This will get updated as results come in.

LSU picks up a big win over Texas A&M

The Tigers doubled their number of wins over sure tournament teams today with a win over Texas A&M. Although, if things keep going as they are for the Aggies, we may have to rethink that “sure tournament team” idea. That’s their fifth straight conference loss.

Kansas State at Oklahoma State (1 p.m. ET, ESPNews)

The best thing you can say about Kansas State’s tournament resume is that they have no losses to non-tournament teams. This is a tough road game, but a must win for the Wildcats if we are going to still going to be able to say that about them tomorrow.

Washington at Colorado (2 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network)

Washington’s young team has had a surprisingly good year, but the Huskies’ schedule down the stretch could kill their tournament hopes. They have three difficult road games remaining, starting with today against the Buffaloes. They are probably going to have to win at least one of them to take some pressure off the conference tournament.

Purdue at Michigan (2 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

Michigan’s on a slide and not even defending their home court very well. Indiana and Michigan State destroyed them at Crisler in the last couple of weeks. Purdue is a tough matchup for them as well, but the Wolverines have to stop the bleeding. They’ve been without star guard Caris LeVert for six weeks, but he is expected to return today. It remains to be seen how much he’ll play or how effective he will be.

Xavier at Butler (2:30 p.m. ET, Fox)

The Bulldogs have won three in a row, including a big bubble game at Seton Hall last time out. At the moment though, they only have one top 50 win, which came against Purdue in mid-December. This is their best chance to get another before conference tournament play begins.

George Washington at St. Bonaventure (4 p.m. ET)

The Atlantic 10 slogan for this season is “The Bubble Lives Here”. At least four teams are sitting squarely on it as we approach the last month of the season, and these are two of them. GW has the best win of the bunch, which came at home over Virginia, but it may not be enough to overcome losses to Richmond, DePaul and Saint Louis. The Colonials picked up a big win at VCU last weekend, then gave it away by losing at home to St. Joseph’s. That’s why they’re a bubble team.

The Bonnies don’t have much in the quality win department. Their best so far was at Hawk Hill three games ago. The best they can hope for at this point is to separate themselves from the rest of the pack. Winning today is a good step in that direction.

East Carolina at Cincinnati (4 p.m. ET, ESPN)

The Bearcats have been on something of a roll, winning five of their last six. However, that loss was at Memphis and is their worst of the season. The schedule is set up for Cincinnati to finish strong. Games like this are important because the loss is so damaging.

Alabama at Florida (5:30 p.m. ET, SEC Network)

The Crimson Tide have played themselves onto the bottom of the bracket with a good run of play lately. They have some good wins, but have not played well on the road in the league. With four tough road games left, that could be a problem for them come Selection Sunday.

The Gators need this one too. They have played a good schedule, but haven’t had a lot of successes. Florida has done well at home against other teams that it could be competing with for a spot in the field. This is another chance for a win of that type.

Alabama's resume was helped by beating Texas A&M this week. (USATSI)
Alabama’s resume was helped by beating Texas A&M this week. (USATSI)

Saint Louis at VCU (6 p.m. ET, CBSSN)

The Rams were leading the A-10 a week ago, but since then have blown a late lead at home to George Washington and picked up their worst loss of the year at UMass. Their next four games, the first three of which are at home, can only hurt them. VCU is in must-win mode every night if they still harbor hopes for an at-large bid. Wisconsin at Maryland

A lot of people are jumping on the Wisconsin bandwagon, but I’m not there yet. That’s because I’m looking at a schedule with road games against Maryland, Michigan State and Iowa in the next four, plus a trip to Purdue to end the regular season. The Badgers are playing better, but they are going to have to win at least one of those games to have any at-large hopes.

Oregon State at California (6:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network)

This is a big game for both teams. Cal’s problem on their tournament resume is that they are a home court hero. They can’t fix that problem today, but home court heroes have to get it done on the home court. They were dominant against Oregon Thursday night. They can’t still be celebrating that win and expect to win this one.

The Beavers are also home court heroes, with all six of their top 50 wins coming in Corvallis. They can fix that tonight, but this may be the best chance. They still have to play their in-state rivals, as well as both LA schools on the road.

Texas Tech at Baylor (8 p.m., ESPNU)

Texas Tech is similar to Kansas State in that they haven’t fared well at all against better teams, and what little good the Red Raiders have done has been at home. This would be a huge win for Texas Tech’s tournament hopes. Nobody is easy to beat on the road in this league, but Baylor has lost a couple already.

Tulsa at Connecticut (8 p.m., ESPN2)

UConn gets another shot at a league contender. The Huskies are 0-4 against the other top teams in the American conference, and that is the primary reason they’re on the bubble at all. Wins over Texas and Michigan outside the league are keeping them afloat.

Tulsa won the first meeting between these two at home and is coming off a win at SMU on Wednesday. This would be a great pickup for them, and obviously a game they have shown that they are capable of winning.

Georgia at Mississippi State (8 p.m. ET, SEC Network)

Georgia’s bubble hopes are hanging on by a thread, and one of their biggest problems is that the Bulldogs can’t win away from home. We won’t be talking about them again for a while if they can’t win on the road today.

La Salle at St. Joseph’s (8 p.m. ET)

The Hawks have a relatively weak profile. They don’t have many losses and no bad ones, but only three top 100 wins, and none against sure tournament teams. La Salle is way below the Mendoza line in the RPI, but they beat Dayton earlier this year. It’s a city rivalry game that the Hawks have to take seriously.

Gonzaga at SMU (10 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

Frankly, Gonzaga’s at-large hopes may ride on this game. The Zags have just two top 100 RPI wins, which came over fellow bubblers UConn and Washington in the Battle 4 Atlantis. They’ve had several more chances and come up short. If they can’t win this one, I don’t think they can withstand a loss in the league tournament.


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