A look at the five most notable games on Tuesday's schedule:
Penn State at Ohio State
The roller coaster ride otherwise known at the Penn State basketball season continues. After a two-week hiatus from the bracket, the Nittany Lions jumped back into the field this week after their ugly and stunning road win at Illinois. It was Penn State's second straight win over a tourney-caliber team and it padded a Big Ten resume that now includes wins over the league's top three teams (with two of those wins coming on the road). Even with that impressive conference resume, though, Penn State's bid is still not secure. The Nittany Lions' RPI is a sub-par 62, their non-conference SOS is an atrocious 321, and their best OOC win came against Mount St. Mary's. All of those numbers mean that for Penn State to get a bid, they still might need to win three of their last four games - the toughest of which comes tonight at Ohio State. A win here would almost guarantee Penn State 11 wins in conference, which would make them a lock for a bid. A loss here would put a ton of pressure on the Nittany Lions to beat Illinois on March 5. For Ohio State, this game is the start of a huge week. The Buckeyes have lost three straight, including a head-scratcher at Northwestern on Wednesday, and have fallen to the bottom of the 8 line in our latest bracket. With six Top 50 wins on their resume already, Ohio State is probably safe barring a total collapse down the stretch, but losses here and to Purdue this weekend would mean they could finish no better than 9-9 in conference.
Pittsburgh at Providence
A week ago, Providence was the most attractive Big East bubble team and was an 11 seed in our Field Of 65. Now, after their awful performance at home against Notre Dame, their at-large hopes are on life support. Their 19-point loss to the Irish on Saturday dropped them to 8-7 in conference and behind ND and Cincinnati in the Big East pecking order. To have any chance at a bid, the Friars are going to have to win out, which will be next to impossible given the schedule they have left. Sandwiched around a game at Rutgers is this game, against the new No. 1 team in the country, and a road game at red-hot Villanova. Tonight they face a Pitt team that, if it can win this game, has a good chance of winning out and maybe winning the Big East title. The Panthers host Marquette and UConn next week, and if they win those games and if Louisville (who has the tie-breaker over them) loses once down the stretch, Pitt would get the #1 seed in the Big East tourney and pretty much lock up a spot on the 1 line.
Florida at LSU
Neither of these teams are in danger of falling out of the bracket, but this game is still very important in terms of seeding. LSU, which has now won eight in a row, beat Arkansas and Auburn last week to move up to the 7 line in our latest field. They've feasted on the pathetic SEC West all season en route to their 11-1 SEC record. In any other year, that conference mark would easily be worthy of a much higher seed, but in LSU's case, a non-existent OOC resume and the overall medocrity of the league has really hurt their seeding. Fortunately for the Tigers, they get a couple of chances this week to prove themselves. They host Florida tonight and then play at Kentucky on Saturday, and if they win both games, they will have beaten all four of the other tourney-worthy SEC teams - and they'd likely move up to the 5 line as a result. A win by the Gators here would be huge for their resume as well. They have been floating around the 7-10 lines for almost two months now and they are in desperate need of a marquee road win. Florida has lost its last three SEC roadies (to Tennessee, Kentucky, and Georgia), and for the season, they have just two true road wins (Vanderbilt and Auburn). Like LSU, the Gators have plenty of opportunities to move up (or down) the bracket over the next two weeks. They host Tennessee on Sunday, and then finish up their regular season next week with a road game at Mississippi State and a home game against Kentucky.
Florida State at Boston College
Do FSU fans know what to do with themselves right now? For the first time in what seems like a decade, the 'Noles are far from the bubble - in a good way - and have their sights on a 4 or maybe even a 3 seed if they can navigate through their tough remaining schedule. FSU won two more big games last week (Miami at home and Virginia Tech on the road) to move to 8-4 in the ACC, and in the process they added to one of the more underrated resumes in the country. Tonight they face a Boston College team that is in a little trouble after suffering a disappointing loss at Miami on Saturday. The loss was BC's third in its last four games and it dropped them down to a 9 seed this week. Unlike FSU, though, BC's remaining schedule after this game is pretty easy, and barring a total collapse, that should help them secure a spot in the field. The Eagles play at N.C. State and at home against Georgia Tech next week to close out their regular season, and if they win out (including tonight) they'll likely get back up to the 7 line. If BC were to lose this game and then lose to the Wolfpack, they would start to be evaluated against Maryland and Miami on the ACC bubble. The Eagles, remember, got swept by the Hurricanes this season, but won at Maryland in the only meeting between the two teams.
BYU at San Diego State
We are in the minority amongst bracketologists in having both of these teams currently out of the field (especially BYU), but if you look at what each team has remaining it is very difficult to come up with a scenario where both teams get an at-large. The Aztecs need to win their last four games (BYU, at TCU, CSU, and UNLV). This is definitely doable, but it got a lot harder when starting forward Billy White went down with a knee injury late weekend; he will be out for this one. If the Aztecs do manage to win out, then they will finish no worse than second place and a trip to the MWC finals would probably be enough for an at-large bid. If SDSU is able to have a 2-0 week they will likely find themselves back in the bracket next week. This is the Cougars' last chance of the season to pick up a good road win in conference. We really don't understand why so many people have the Cougars so safely in the field. All they really have OOC is a win over Utah State, and they have now been swept by UNLV in league play. This game and their next two (at home against Utah and at Wyoming) will really determine their fate. Winning tonight at SDSU would be a great start and would give them the season sweep over the Aztecs. They just need to hope that UNLV losses a couple so that they can finish a few games ahead of the Rebels and be considered second in the MWC pecking order.
Also receiving votes: Syracuse at St. John's, Texas A&M at Nebraska