The Wednesday of Championship Week is one of the most important and entertaining days on the college basketball docket outside of the NCAA Tournament. On this day bubble teams play other bubble teams, ending some teams' hopes and giving others life for another day.
This Wednesday of Championship Week is no different. Some teams will miss out on March Madness if they lose today.
Based on a summation of several highly-regarded bracketologists (ESPN's Joe Lunardi, CBS' Jerry Palm and NBC's Dave Ommen), there are nine spots that remain available for at-large teams. Entering the day, there are 21 teams still fighting for those spots. East Tennessee State has moved off the bubble since they won their conference's automatic bid.
Today the Big East, Big Ten, Pac-12, Big 12, SEC and Atlantic 10 all tip-off their 2020 conference tournaments. Many of the teams playing today are either on the bubble playing a team that has no shot of making the tournament and vice versa.
Several other teams are in must-win mode. Here's a list of teams on the bubble that have to win on Wednesday to even have a chance:
-Indiana (vs. Nebraska)
-NC State (vs. Pittsburgh)
-Stanford (vs. California)
-Oklahoma State (vs. Iowa State)
-Arkansas (vs. Vanderbilt)
All of those teams, aside from Oklahoma State, would get a Quadrant 3 loss if they were to fall. Since the Cowboys are so far out of the tournament bubble, there is no way they get in unless they start winning games.
The bubble won't be resolved over one day's worth of work, but it will get a lot clearer. Xavier also plays DePaul on Wednesday but the Musketeers don't necessarily have to win. Xavier's resume relies on the fact they don't have a bad loss (9-0 in Q3 and Q4). A loss to DePaul would be only their second Q2 loss on the season.
Here's where teams stand five days left before Selection Sunday along with their remaining schedule (listed alphabetically):
Arizona State (20-11, 11-7 Pac-12)
Thurs: Colorado/ Washington State (Pac-12 Quarterfinals)
Indiana (19-12, 9-11 Big Ten)
Wed: Nebraska (Big Ten First Round)
The Cornhuskers are one of the worst Power 5 teams in the entire country. Any team that falls to Nebraska would instantly drop a team out of the bubble. Archie Miller's Hoosiers have straddled the tournament line all season and a loss would certainly pop their bubble.
Marquette (18-12, 8-10 Big East)
Thurs: Seton Hall (Big East Quarterfinals)
Memphis (21-10, 10-8 AAC)
Thurs: East Carolina (AAC First Round)
Mississippi State (20-11, 11-7 SEC)
Fri: TBD (SEC Quarterfinals)
NC State (19-12, 10-10 ACC)
Wed: Pittsburgh (ACC Second Round)
The Wolfpack have an extremely confusing resume littered with big wins and questionable losses. Throughout the season, people have been writing NC State off the bubble but then they go and beat Duke. Well, if they lose this time, there is no chance to get retribution.
Purdue (16-15, 9-11 Big Ten)
Thurs: Ohio State (Big Ten Second Round)
Richmond (24-7, 14-4 Atlantic 10)
Fri: TBD (Atlantic 10 Quarterfinals)
Rutgers (20-11, 11-9 Big Ten)
Thurs: Michigan (Big Ten Second Round)
Stanford (20-11, 9-9 Pac-12)
Wed: California (Pac-12 First Round)
The Cardinal split their season series with the Golden Bears and that loss is really pulling down their resume. Unlike several teams in the bubble they don't have to win their way in, but they can't lose to a bad team either.
Stephen F. Austin (28-3, 19-1 Southland)
Fri: TBD (Southland Semifinals)
Stephen F. Austin is another team that other teams the bubble will be keeping an eye on. All they need is two wins and the automatic bid goes to them. However, a loss and then another team hops up onto the bubble to make Selection Sunday a little crazier. Remember, they have a road win at Duke
Texas (19-12, 9-9 Big 12)
Thurs: Texas Tech (Big 12 Quarterfinals)
Texas Tech (18-13, 9-9 Big 12)
Thurs: Texas (Big 12 Quarterfinals)
Tulsa (21-10, 13-5 AAC)
Fri: Memphis/ East Carolina (AAC Quarterfinals)
UCLA (19-12, 12-6 Pac-12)
Thurs: Stanford/ California (Pac-12 Quarterfinals)
Wichita State (23-8, 11-7 AAC)
Fri: Connecticut/ Tulane (AAC Quarterfinals)
Xavier (19-12, 8-10 Big East)
Wed: DePaul (Big East First Round)
Most bracketologists have Xavier just inside the bubble. A loss wouldn't knock them out of the NCAA Tournament, but a win would definitely give them some slight breathing room.
Oklahoma State (17-14, 7-11 Big 12)
Wed: Iowa State (Big 12 First Round)
The Cowboys need a lot, likely a win over Kansas in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 tournament to make March Madness. But, they still have a shot.
Arkansas (19-12, 7-11 SEC)
Wed: Vanderbilt (SEC First Round)
A run in the SEC Tournament is the only way the Razorbacks have a chance to earn an at-large bid. Their path could have three Q1 opportunities, can't count them out until they lose.
Cincinnati (20-10, 13-5 AAC)
Fri: UCF/ South Florida (AAC Quarterfinals)
Things got really interesting for Cincinnati by claiming a share of the American Athletic Conference over the weekend. They are a team with only two really good wins and a handful of bad losses. Bracketologists are split on if the Bearcats should be in with their resume as of now coming from the best non-Power 5 conference.
A loss to UCF or South Florida in the AAC Quarterfinals would likely seal their fate, but if they make to the AAC title game it would be hard to keep them out of the field.
Northern Iowa (25-6, 14-4 MVC)
Northern Iowa was shocked by Drake in the MVC Quarterfinals, really ending their at-large chances. It gave them their third Q3 loss on the season to go with only one Q1 win. They need a ton of help to make the tournament and also a prayer sent to the selection committee.
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