Bubble Watch - 2/26

Wednesday brought a mixed bag of results for Florida. Their chances of winning the SEC East took a hit thanks to South Carolina's beatdown of Kentucky. The Gamecocks control their destiny for the division and Florida will not play them in the next three games the way they do Tennessee and Kentucky.

The Vols win over Mississippi State yesterday means there's a three way tie for the second spot which UF will break against UT Sunday.

Nationally things worked out better for UF, with Virginia Tech beating Clemson the only thing any bubble team did of note to enhance their standing with the NCAA committee. Here are tonight's key games for Gator fans to keep an eye on.

LA SALLE AT TEMPLE (7 PM) - One of the Philadelphia area's classic Big 5 games, this features a Temple team that has won five straight and is second in the Atlantic 10 standings. They're at 44th in the latest edition of the Pomeroy rankings, meaning there is plenty of uncertainty whether the Owls will make it into the NCAA event or not. Beating a 14-12 La Salle squad at home won't do a lot for Temple's tournament chances, but an upset would really damage them.

NC STATE AT WAKE FOREST (8 PM) - The Wolfpack aren't a factor for the NCAA tournament at 15-10, but they are one of Florida's credible wins outside the SEC. The non-conference strength of schedule for the Gators can use all the help it can get. NC State's won three of their last four, including an upset of Wake in Raleigh. Repeating that feat on the road would be a definite status boost for the Wolfpack. After this matchup with the Demon Deacons, their next three are all against ACC bubble possibilities meaning UF fans are loving Sidney Lowe and company right now.

MIAMI AT VIRGINIA (8 PM) - Last weekend's win over Boston College got Miami's NCAA possibilities off the canvas, but they've still taken a standing eight count. The Hurricanes had lost six of seven prior to that, and remain just 16-10 and 5-8 in conference play. None of their remaining three regular season games is against anyone higher than ninth in the ACC standings though, so a win streak is possible. Miami was at 46 in the RPI after the BC win, so a road loss to a poor Virginia team would be devastating to their NCAA chances (although Randy Shannon says it would help them more than you'll ever know).

PURDUE AT MICHIGAN (9 PM) - With a 17-11 record, Michigan would be on the wrong side of the NCAA committee's velvet rope right now and the Boilermakers should be able to keep them that way. A loss here would ensure Michigan can't get better than a .500 mark in conference play, and that's assuming they win their final two games on the road. Purdue beat them soundly in West Lafayette earlier this season, and doing so again would likely finish off the Wolverines chances unless they make a lengthy run in the Big Ten tournament.

MEMPHIS AT UAB (9 PM) - As usual, every Conference USA team but Memphis is expected to be on the outside looking in when the NCAA tournament field is announced. The one team with a chance to change that is UAB. The Blazers are 9-3 in conference, with one of those losses coming on the road against Memphis. Coming into the week their RPI was at 39, within the range of consideration for a possible tournament bid, but that's not likely to happen unless they can show they're capable of beating John Calipari's crew. Florida would obviously prefer that not happen.

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