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.
Over the last 72 hours, the bubble has gone from a fun thing to criticize to a full-blown laughingstock. Virginia Tech, Colorado, Baylor, Alabama, Penn State, Clemson, Minnesota, Maryland, Memphis, and Southern Miss all lost critical bubble battles in the past three days, making the already weak bubble weaker than ever.
Those results have had an interesting impact on the three biggest games on tonight's schedule - Tennessee at South Carolina, UCLA at Washington, and USC at Washington State. Washington's seed slipped all the way to the bottom of the 10 line after a home loss to Wazzu over the weekend, and it appeared that a 2-0 week was going to be necessary to keep the Huskies in the bracket for another week. After all the bubble craziness the past three days, though, that might not be the case. A split, plus one Pac-10 tourney win, is probably all Washington needs to go dancing at this point.
Tennessee entered the week in a similar position. The Vols laid an egg at home against Mississippi State on Saturday, which gave them 12 losses on the year and made it seem like a 2-0 week was going to be necessary to keep them in the field. Now, it looks like a split plus one SEC tournament win will be enough to get Tennessee an at-large, despite the fact that they could finish with 14 losses. That would tie Georgia's record from 2001, when the Bulldogs got an at-large at 16-14. Georgia had the No. 1 SOS in the country and eight Top 50 wins that year; Tennessee has the No. 2 SOS and seven Top 50 wins heading into tonight's game against the Gamecocks.
Finally, USC takes on Washington State in a bubble battle that could only happen in the context of a 68-team field. These two teams have a combined nine losses to teams outside the Top 100 (nine!!), yet the winner will still be very much alive for an at-large berth. The loser of this game will need to win the Pac-10 tournament to get a bid; the winner will need to get to to the final to still be in the mix on Selection Sunday.
The Big South semifinals are tonight, with top-seeded Coastal Carolina taking on VMI and second-seeded UNC-Asheville taking on High Point. Top seed Long Island plays St. Francis (PA) in the Northeast Conference quarterfinals, the Atlantic Sun quarterfinals continue with Jacksonville facing North Florida and Lipscomb facing Mercer, and the Ohio Valley quarters continue with Austin Peay taking on SE Missouri State and Tennessee Tech taking on UT-Martin. First round play in the Missouri Valley and American East also begins tonight. Top seed Missouri State will take on the winner of tonight's Illinois State-Southern Illinois game in the MVC quarters on Friday.
Also keep an eye on: Wisconsin at Indiana, St. John's at Seton Hall, Oregon State at Arizona