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.
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It's going to be a busy night in Bubbleville, as two teams on our Last Four In list and four teams on our First Eight Out list are in action.
The biggest bubble battle of the night takes place in Lincoln, where bracket newcomer Nebraska hosts Kansas State. The game is essentially a must-win for the Huskers, who will need to finish 9-7 in conference and win at least one Big XII tournament game to be position for an at-large. It's hard to see them getting to 9-7 if they don't win tonight, considering they have two tricky road games (at Iowa State and at Colorado) and a home game against Missouri left. Kansas State can probably get a bid with an 8-8 finish and one Big XII tourney win, and if they come away victorious tonight, that mark is very attainable.
The other game tonight involving a Last Four In team is Colorado State at BYU. The Rams missed out on a huge opportunity on Saturday by losing at home to UNLV, and as a result, they need to go at least 2-2 down the stretch to have any chance of an at-large. We certainly don't expect them to beat the Jimmers on the road, but we do expect them to win at Air Force on Saturday. A good showing tonight (even in a loss) would give them some much-needed momentum heading into the weekend.
Of the four games involving teams just off the bubble, the most intriguing is Wisconsin at Michigan. The Wolverine faithful have hijacked our poll questions the last couple of weeks in support of their team, but all of those mouse clicks won't mean anything if Michigan doesn't take care of business in its two remaining home games. A 3-0 finish would get Michigan on the right side of the bubble heading into the Big Ten tournament; a 2-1 mark means they'll have to win two Big Ten tourney games to be in the mix.
In other Last Eight Out action, Baylor plays at Missouri, Boston College hosts Miami, and VCU plays at Drexel. The Bears' final four games are brutal, which makes their loss over the weekend to Texas Tech all the more crushing. They'll need two wins down the stretch to stay alive for an at-large. BC has now lost five of its last seven and needs a win over the Hurricanes tonight to stay in the bracket on Monday, and VCU needs to keep winning games period to keep the Colonial's dream of three bids alive. The Rams wrap up their regular season this week with tonight's tricky road game against the Dragons and a home game against James Madison on Saturday. If they finish 2-0 and make the Colonial final, they will be one of the toughest calls to make on Selection Sunday.
The three other must-watch games of the night are Temple at Duke, Cincinnati at Georgetown, and Florida State at Maryland. The Blue Devils moved up to the 1 line in our bracket this week, and they'll remain there on Monday provided they don't slip up at home against the Owls tonight or at Virginia Tech on Saturday. Cincinnati and Florida State, meanwhile, are in pretty similar positions with to weeks to go in the regular season. The Bearcats will get an at-large if they can win two of their final four games (at Georgetown, UConn, at Marquette, Georgetown). If they go 1-3, they'll have to win two Big East tournament games to feel completely safe. The 'Noles need two wins in their final four games to be a lock, and will need two ACC tournament wins to feel totally safe if they finish 1-3.
Also keep an eye on: Notre Dame at Providence, Purdue at Indiana, Oklahoma at Texas A&M, North Carolina at North Carolina State, DePaul at St. John's, Kentucky at Arkansas, Auburn at Alabama, UNLV at New Mexico, UTEP at East Carolina, Creighton at Wichita State, Missouri State at Southern Illinois