A look at the four most notable (bubble) games on Wednesday's schedule:
North Carolina at Virginia Tech and Miami (FL) at Georgia Tech
Maryland missed out on a golden opportunity to lock up an at-large last night, and in the process, they made the already hard-to-figure ACC bubble that much more complicated. The Terps fell to 7-8 in conference by losing to Wake, and they now have to win at Virginia this weekend to keep their at-large hopes alive. In the meantime, Virginia Tech and Miami get to stake their claims to a bid. The Hokies get an opportunity tonight to do what Maryland did two weeks sgo - beat Carolina at home and gain a ton of national recognition as a result. They also get another shot at a quality win Saturday at Florida State. If they manage to split (which is probably the best they can hope for), they would have road wins over Wake Forest, Clemson, Miami (and maybe FSU) on their resume, to go along with home wins over BC (and maybe Carolina). That's pretty impressive. What's not impressive is the Hokies' OOC resume, which might come back to bite them if they finish with the same 8-8 record as Maryland. The Terps have a much better OOC resume, plus they beat VT at home in the only meeting between the two teams. And let's not forget about Miami, who has been sort of lying in the weeds a little bit lately while most of the bubble talk centers around Maryland. The Hurricanes have won two in a row and they have a good chance to make it four in a row with games left at Georgia Tech tonight and at home against N.C. State on Saturday. That would get Miami to 8-8 and put them right in the mix with the Hokies and Terps. The Hurricanes have one decent OOC win (Kentucky) and in conference, they swept BC, and beat Wake, FSU, and Maryland at home (and lost to VT at home). How will this whole mess play out? Probably not as easily as the Big East played out. VT would probably be the most likely to fade away given their tough schedule (a 7-9 finish will end their at-large chances), but if they split and all three teams finish 8-8, the final ACC at-large (or at-larges?) will come down to who beats who in the conference tourney. There is a very good chance that two of these teams face each other in the ACC tourney, and the loser of that match-up would likely be done.
Wisconsin at Minnesota
Both of these teams need just one more regular season win to feel safe. For Wisconsin, that should be pretty simple since Indiana comes to town Saturday for the Badgers' season finale. Minnesota, on the other hand, doesn't have it quite as easy. The Gophers have been in the field for months, but they've struggled mightily since the beginning of February (they've lost five of seven) and they've been especially atrocious on the road, where they've lose five straight. If they can't find a way to win one of their last two games - they host Michigan on Saturday - they'll be on the outside looking in come Selection Sunday. A Minnesota loss tonight would set up what amounts to an elimination game between the Gophers and Wolverines this weekend. If Michigan were to lose that game, they would fall to 8-10 and be done. If they were to win, they would get to 9-9 and be in the field ahead of Minnesota, since they would have swept the Gophers for the season. None of these scenarios are what Minnesota fans had in mind after such a solid start, but those fans can take comfort in the fact the Gophers (a.) already beat Wisconsin once this season and (b.) have lost just twice at home all season - to Michigan State and Purdue, the two best teams in the Big Ten.
Florida at Mississippi State and Kentucky at Georgia
The SEC is looking more and more like it is going to be a four-bid league with Florida or Kentucky being that fourth team. The Gators are clinging to that fourth bid right now, but they are going to win their last two games if they are going to hang on to it. If the Wildcats want to jump back into the field, they are going to have to win their last two games as well, which would include a win in Gainesville on Saturday. That game is shaping up to be an elimination game. The Gators would have to be favored to win that game at home, which is why we kept them in the bracket this week and took Kentucky out. Profile-wise, these teams are very similar. Florida has one "very good" OOC win (Washington) and Kentucky has two "pretty good" OOC wins (West Virginia and Kansas State). Neither has done a heck of a lot in conference either, although Kentucky can hang its hat on a season sweep of Tennessee. Florida can counter with a home win over South Carolina, a team that Kentucky lost to twice. All of this parity, in a down SEC, means that 10 wins is going to be needed for a team to feel safe entering the conference tourney. There is a chance that, in the end, both Kentucky and Florida work their way into the bracket, but come this Monday, only one will be dancing.
Texas A&M at Colorado
The Big XII bubble picture got cleared up a little bit Tuesday night with Oklahoma State's win over Kansas State. The losses by Georgetown and Cincinnati also opened the door the Big XII to perhaps be a six-bid league. The leading candidate to grab the fifth Big XII bid right now is Texas A&M. The Aggies have won four straight games to quietly creep back into the bracket this week as a 10 seed. Their OOC resume, which features wins over LSU and Arizona, is head and shoulders better than the OOC resume of any other Big XII bubble team, and in conference, the Aggies have a great chance to finish 9-7, which would make them a lock. They finish up their regular season with two games this week, beginning with what should be an easy road game at Colorado tonight. Their bigger test comes Saturday at home against Missouri. If A&M were to lose that game and finish 8-8, their fate would depend on how Oklahoma State fares this weekend, as well as how the Aggies and Cowboys do in the Big XII tourney. A&M's computers numbers are good (35 RPI, 38 SOS) but not great, and their "good win" total is good but not great. They have four Top 50 wins, but only one of those came away from home.
Also receiving votes: Marquette at Pittsburgh, Oklahoma at Missouri, Boston College at North Carolina State, Northwestern at Purdue, Vanderbilt at LSU, Memphis at Houston, BYU at Wyoming, Colorado State at San Diego State