As we near Selection Sunday once again, let’s discuss some stories and situations in the world of college basketball.
First up, the bubble. In my years of watching college basketball – let alone compiling bracketology – I have never seen a weaker bubble. One could say that the mid-majors have improved this season, and I’d agree. However, their non-conference schedules still need vast improvement to keep up with the high-major schools. For example, a 17-12 Clemson is looked at virtually identically with 25-4 Murray State on the bubble at the moment. This isn’t because Clemson is as good as Murray State on the court (truthfully, they are not), but because playing in the ACC brings with it a huge strength of schedule boost and countless quadrant 1 and 2 opportunities while the Ohio Valley brings mainly potential bad losses and no help when it comes to SOS or NET. It’s not necessarily fair or just, but it should provide further incentive for schools like Murray State to schedule as many high-majors as possible in the non-conference.
Here’s a quick look at tonight’s bubble matchups:
Marquette (23-6) @ Seton Hall (16-12) – It’s pretty simple. Seton Hall needs to beat either Marquette or Villanova in their final two games. Surprisingly, the Pirates match up more favorably with Marquette and thus have a huge opportunity tonight in Newark. After a heartbreaking double-OT loss at Georgetown last weekend, followed by a tearful postgame presser from Myles Powell, it’s time to regroup and put together a full 40 minutes. If not, the consequences may be severe.
LSU (24-5) @ Florida (17-12) – A golden opportunity looms for the once-surging Florida Gators in Gainesville tonight. Their win in Baton Rouge is the resume highlight at the moment for Florida and a sweep would likely cement their place in the field. Another fact to follow is the proceeding matchup at Rupp Arena with Kentucky – a game the Gators will not want to feel they may need.
Providence (16-13) @ Creighton (16-13) – Seemingly back from the dead, Creighton knocked off Marquette in Milwaukee last weekend and has emerged back in the bubble conversation. However, home dates with Providence and DePaul are still absolute must-wins for the Jays. Barely alive to begin with, it starts tonight where a win is a necessity.
Georgetown (18-11) @ DePaul (14-13) – Similar to Creighton, Georgetown faces a virtual must-win tonight when they travel to Chicago. Beneficiaries of a soft bubble, the Hoyas have come on of late to join the “First 4 Out” party. Should they survive a very underrated Max Strus and Co., they will be handed a golden opportunity to play Marquette and quite possibly, play themselves into the field.
Ohio State (18-11) @ Northwestern (12-17) – While the Buckeyes currently sit in a decent spot, a loss to bottom-dweller Northwestern could create a dicey situation. Coming off a drubbing at Purdue, Chris Holtmann’s men need not overlook the Wildcats and take care of business. If not, Ohio State could be potentially facing a short trip to Dayton for the First Four.
Clemson (17-12) @ Notre Dame (13-16) – The fact that the first team outside the field is a team playing in the loaded ACC and has acquired just 1 Q1 win is exemplary of how soft this bubble truly is. Nonetheless, Clemson can keep searching for wins. Notre Dame, however, can only hurt the Tigers – who likely need this game more than most. They’ll return home for a matchup with Syracuse which will also fall under Q2, leaving them a gutsy road into the field with either 1 Q1 win or a need for a conference tournament run.
Georgia Tech (13-17) @ North Carolina State (20-9) – Many seem to be undervaluing the Wolfpack who, despite a rather average profile (hence 9-10 seed range), sit more comfortably in the field than many realize. NC State finishes the season with tonight’s visit from Georgia Tech followed by a trip to Boston College. Two wins would surely cement their place in the field.
Ongoing Conference Tournaments
Atlantic Sun: Simply put, a rematch in the A-Sun Final between Lipscomb and Liberty would be quality, quality television. It’s a toss-up for me.
NEC: A wide-open tournament, FDU comes in red hot as the two seed while St. Francis (PA) and Sacred Heart loom as viable options for the bid as well. I’ll take the chalk here.
Prediction: St. Francis (PA)
Horizon: A rather comfortable pick personally, I’ll take experience over the regular season champion.
Prediction: Northern Kentucky
Big South: Chris Clemons is absolutely electric for Campbell, but his luck may run out. The #2 seeded Highlanders come in with several big, big wins this year – they’re built for the spotlight.
Ohio Valley: It’s the matchup we’ve all been accustomed to seeing in this tournament. Belmont vs Murray State. Dylan Windler vs Ja Morant. They’ve met twice already this season with the Bruins taking both games. Is the third time finally the charm, or will Ja Morant have too little help to push the Racers to the top? The loser will sweat it out for an at-large bid until Selection Sunday.
Patriot: Experience, experience, experience. This season will be no different in the Patriot.
We’ll end with a fun final segment. My All-American First and Second teams (but why does my opinion matter, right?). Enjoy!
Zion Williamson , Cassius Winston , Carsen Edwards , Markus Howard , Rui Hachimura
Grant Williams , RJ Barrett , DeAndre Hunter , PJ Washington , Ja Morant , Ignas Brazdeikis
All in all, welcome back to