Time for a new feature that hopefully can last the next 10 days or so – namely taking a daily glance at what games matter to those tenuous tournament teams that can use a little help.
You know, like Maryland.
Just so everyone’s on the same page, this is going to entail a very broad definition of “the bubble” – namely any team that has a chance to play its way in or out of the field without a conference tournament title. Hence, all those Sun Belt quarterfinals on Wednesday night? Not listed here.
Based on that loose criteria, here’s nine games that warrant some attention in the next 24 hours:
* North Carolina at Virginia Tech, 7: The Hokies could really use a victory, but a loss does plenty of good for Maryland. Not only would Tech be weakened, it would also make it highly probable the Terps could earn the No. 7 seed in the ACC tournament with a victory at Virginia.
* Boston College at N.C. State, 7: The Eagles are a near-certain tournament team, and finish with N.C. State and Georgia Tech. Win one, and pretty much all speculation ends for Al Skinner’s team.
* Miami at Georgia Tech, 7:30: The Hurricanes’ soft-landing continues with a trip to Atlanta. It’s a don’t-screw-up-at-any-cost night for Miami, which doesn’t need the black eye of losing to a team that’s 1-13 in the ACC on its recent resume.
* Georgia at Kentucky, 8: The Wildcats have a pseudo-knockout game this weekend against Florida. Pencil them out, though, if Georgia somehow comes into Rupp and escapes with a win.
* Florida at Mississippi State, 8: It’s really a perfect trap game for the Gators, whose resume doesn’t match up to their record. The Bulldogs, though, are struggling, having lost five of six entering their last game of the season at the Hump.
* Wisconsin at Minnesota, 8:30: The Golden Gophers have dropped five of seven, and their only Big Ten road victories have come at Indiana, Iowa and (oddly enough) Wisconsin. Back at Williams Arena for their last two games, Minnesota would be wise to snag a couple victories to silence any concerns. Wisconsin looks reasonably safe as an at-large team, but an extra road win wouldn’t hurt. Minnesota’s more vulnerable, so if you’re rooting for Maryland, you’re also rooting for Bucky Badger.
* Texas A&M at Colorado, 9: Texas A&M would probably be in if the tournament began today. If the Aggies lose in Boulder, that certainty goes out the window. The Buffaloes are that bad. A&M shouldn’t have too many problems.
* Colorado State at San Diego State, 10: The Aztecs have no egregious losses, which keeps them in the at-large discussion despite a thin resume. Losing at home to 10-19 Colorado State is a no-no.
* Air Force at UNLV, 10: Air Force is 0-for-2009, and the Falcons scored only 38 points in their first game against UNLV. The Runnin’ Rebels have some nice wins, but are bubble-bound because of some shaky losses. As of now, they’d probably be in, but losing to a horrible Air Force team might constitute an unforgivable sin in the eyes of the committee.