Bracket Banter is our daily open thread to discuss all things bracket. Readers can post comments and questions during the nights games, and we will answer those questions as the night goes on.
Do you think if we started a rumor that the NCAA decided to go back to a 65-team tourney because of the weak bubble that it would have any legs? After last night's performance by a few bubble teams (we're talking to you Virginia Tech, Baylor, and Alabama) we wish that rumor were true.
The games in Bubbleville tonight are not as significant as last night, but there are still some important must-win games for bubble teams. Michigan State and Colorado State must take care of business at home against teams in the bottom half of their conference standings (Iowa and Utah), while bracket newcomer Colorado has to navigate through a tricky road trip to Iowa State (just ask Nebraska). The games for Michigan State and Colorado State are warm-ups for critical road games this weekend (Michigan and SDSU), while Colorado returns home for a bubble elimination game against the Huskers.
The other focus tonight will be on teams in the Big XII, MWC, Big East, A-10, and C-USA who have the chance to clinch at least a share of the regular season crown. Kansas has Texas A&M visiting, and if the Jayhawks can pick up a win over the Aggies and then at Missouri over the weekend, they are likely a lock for a one seed. BYU will be looking to secure the top seed in the MWC tourney and avenge their only conference loss of the season in their game against New Mexico. The other important storyline to this game is how BYU will play in their first game without Brandon Davies.
Pitt and Xavier can also clinch at least a share of their conference titles with wins over bottom feeders South Florida and Charlotte. In C-USA, UAB plays at Southern Miss in another key bubble battle. If UAB can pick up the road win, they would only need a home win over East Carolina over the weekend to clinch the outright regular season title. That title could lead to an at-large bid if they need it. If Southern Miss completes a season sweep of the Blazers, they will pass them in the bunched-up C-USA pecking order.
Elsewhere in power conference action, Duke and North Carolina will look to avoid stumbles prior to their weekend showdown in Chapel Hill, which will determine the ACC title. Clemson heads to Cameron Indoor looking to pull off the huge upset that would finally catapult them into the bracket, and down in Tallahassee, Florida State looks to lock down their bid by knocking off the Tar Heels. In Big East play, UConn travels to West Virginia and Cincinnati plays at Marquette. These two games will have a major impact on the final Big East pecking order and on which teams earn first round byes in the Big East tourney.
The Atlantic Sun, Ohio Valley, and Patriot League begin conference tourney play tonight. Heavily favored Belmont, out of the A-Sun, will start things off against a Kennesaw State team they just beat by 43 points on the road. In the Patriot, top-seeded Bucknell kicks things off against Army as the Bison look to get back to the tournament for the first time in five years.
Also keep an eye on: Providence at Louisville, LSU at Georgia, Temple at UMass, Utah State at New Mexico State, Minnesota at Northwestern, Memphis at East Carolina, Maryland at Miami