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.
The focus is on the Big Ten tonight, where there are two big bubble battles on tap. The most important bubble game of the night is the match-up between Michigan State and Minnesota. The Gophers' late season slide (they have lost five of six) needs to come to an end this week or else they won't find themselves in the bracket next week. They have a huge week ahead with the Michigan schools coming in, and they need to win three of their last four just to finish 9-9 in conference. If they can't get to 9-9 in conference, a deep Big Ten run would likely be required to lock down a bid. A win for the Spartans would do wonders for their tourney hopes as it would give them the season sweep over the Gophers and make them a virtual lock for at least a 9-9 conference finish.
The other Big Ten bubble team in action is Illinois, which travels to Ohio State. Obviously a road win over the Buckeyes isn't a requirement for the Illini to make the tournament, and at least a 9-9 conference finish looks like a certainty for them with home games against Iowa and Indiana remaining. A win here could turn the focus back towards how high of a seed the Illini could end up with instead of what they need to do to secure their bid.
The two other games of note tonight are Tennessee at Vanderbilt and Virginia Tech at Wake Forest. The Volunteers gave themselves little wiggle room by losing to Georgia over the weekend, and they now have to pick up at least two wins in their last four games to feel good about their tourney hopes heading into the SEC tournament. The Hokies had an even worse loss over the weekend in losing at Virginia, which knocked them out of our latest bracket. They are once again setting the table to be one of the most debated bubble teams come Selection Sunday, and their game at Wake Forest should just be a tune-up for their make-or-break game against Duke this weekend.
Also keep and eye on: Iowa State at Texas, Louisville at Rutgers, LaSalle at Xavier, Houston at Memphis, UNC-Asheville at Coastal Carolina