Bracket Banter is our daily open thread to discuss all things bracket. Readers can post comments and questions during the night's games, and we will answer those questions as the night goes on.
After a night of upsets (Kentucky, BC), buzzer beaters (Wisconsin), bubbles burst (Nebraska, UTEP, VCU), and dance cards punched (Cincinnati), Thursday night is setting up to be much less exciting.
Easily the biggest bubble battle of the night is out West, with Gonzaga visiting St. Mary's. The Gaels looked like a sure thing just two weeks ago, but since then they have dropped games to lowly San Diego and to fellow mid-major power Utah State. Their OOC win over St. John's keeps looking better and better, but other than that, there isn't too much else on their resume. A win tonight would give them the WCC regular season title, which should be enough for a bid. Gonzaga's at-large hopes have been helped by St. Mary's recent struggles, and a win for them tonight will likely lead to a share of the conference title. That very well could be their only hope for an at-large, since they will end up with double-digit losses and an RPI in the mid-70s.
Back East, the biggest games are in the Big East with West Virginia playing at Pittsburgh and Marquette playing at UConn. The Huskies will be without Jim Calhoun on the sidelines as they face a Golden Eagles team looking to solidify their spot in the bracket. Marquette has three Top 25 wins, which is more than any other bubble team can claim, but those wins all have come at home. A win at UConn would pretty much stamp their ticket and would make 11 Big East bids almost a certainty. West Virginia, meanwhile, will be looking to upset another Top 10 team after their huge home win over Notre Dame this past weekend, while Pitt will be looking to bounce back from their loss to the Red Storm. The Mountaineers need a strong finish to end up in the top eight of the Big East standings and avoid having to play on the first day of the Big East tourney.
Elsewhere in Mid-Majorville, Old Dominion visits James Madison and Milwaukee takes on Cleveland State. The Monarchs likely just need to win their final two regular season games to be an absolute lock heading into the CAA tourney. Cleveland State likely destroyed their chances for an at large in losing their BracketBuster game to ODU over the weekend, and if they want to stay in the discussion, they must win their last two and win the Horizon regular season conference title. That title is also important because it would give them home court advantage throughout the conference tourney.
Also keep an eye on: Georgia at Florida, Penn State at Northwestern, Northeastern at George Mason, Arizona State at UCLA, Arizona at USC