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.
Last night was highlighted by teams at the bottom of the bracket trying to avoid bad losses or trying to pick up that marquee win that their resume was in desperate need of. Tonight is highlighted by some big match-ups at the top of the bracket, particularly Georgetown at UConn and Wisconsin at Purdue.
The match-up between Georgetown and UConn may be one of two teams heading in opposite directions. Georgetown is arguably playing the best ball in the nation, having won 8 in a row, while UConn suddenly cannot win a tough game and has lost three of five. The Huskies' schedule down the stretch is brutal, and a home loss to the Hoyas could make it hard for them to finish above .500 in league play. This is Georgetown's toughest game left, and if they get a win, they would be looking at the potential for a 1 seed heading into the Big East tourney.
The game between Wisconsin and Purdue is a battle for second place in the Big Ten and a battle for a better spot in the Big Ten pecking order. The Badgers are probably still on a high after their weekend win over Ohio State, and a win here on the road will give them a good chance for a 2 seed next week. Purdue looks great on paper (a 20-5 record and an 11 RPI) but they still have zero Top 25 wins. They will get two chances for Top 25 wins on their home court this week as Ohio State visits this weekend. The Boilermakers must win at least one of these two games to prove that they belong in the top quarter of the bracket.
Elsewhere on the Big Ten bubble, Michigan plays at Illinois. It's hard to say which team needs this one more. The Illini have a tough final stetch and may need to pick up this win to ensure at least a .500 finish in league play. Michigan has a been on a roll lately, winning five of their last six, and a 2-0 week (they play at Iowa this weekend) would likely push them into next week's bracket.
The biggest bubble games of the night are in Conference USA, with UAB playing at Memphis and UTEP visiting Southern Miss. C-USA is currently the 8th-rated conference in the country, and a first place finish in the regular season may just be enough to earn a team an at-large bid this year. All four of the teams in action tonight have a chance to finish at the top of the standings and tonight's games will go a long way in determining who ends up on top in the end. A win for Memphis would be huge since it would give them a season sweep over Southern Miss and UAB and their RPI would likely climb into the top 30. UTEP really doesn't have much of an at-large resume, but this trip to Hattiesburg is their toughest road game remaining. If the Miners can pull out a win, they will be in great shape to win the league outright, potentially by multiple games.
A few other bubble games of interest tonight are Louisville at Cincinnati and Vanderbilt at Georgia. Both Georgia and Cincinnati sit on similar spots on the bubble: each of them has beaten the teams they should beat, but they struggle to pick up wins over tournament teams. If the Bearcats go 0-2 this week (some would argue if they just lose this game) the Big East will be down to 10 bids on Monday. If Marquette slips up against Seton Hall over the weekend, that number might be down to nine.
Also keep an eye on: Oklahoma State at Texas, New Mexico at San Diego State, South Carolina at Tennessee, Duke at Virginia, South Florida at Pittsburgh, Iowa State at Texas A&M, Xavier at St. Joseph's, St. Mary's at San Diego, Colorado State at TCU, Montana-Western at Utah State, Duquesne at UMass, Nebraska at Oklahoma