Bubble Watch - 3/1-2

The most important game for UF today is their own, of course. Take care of Tennessee and you're in good shape, although still not secure for an NCAA tournament bid. The Gators got major help in the SEC East standings on Saturday, with Vanderbilt throttling South Carolina and LSU handing Kentucky another loss.

That means a win today would give UF a tie with the Gamecocks for first in the division with two games remaining. The national picture was bright as well, with Georgetown's upset of Villanova the only bad news on the day. Here are today's games to watch (other than the showdown in Gainesville.)

MICHIGAN AT WISCONSIN (2 PM) - The Wolverines are right on the fringe in every tournament indicator. Their RPI is in the 40s, they're .500 in conference play, and sit at eighth place in the Big Ten. Road wins count extra in the RPI, so a victory against a Wisconsin team expected to make the NCAA field would be very big for them. After this, Michigan has just one more game to play, a visit to Minnesota, making this a must win if they hope to finish with a winning Big Ten mark. The Badgers triumphed when the teams met in Ann Arbor, and UF would like for them to do that again.

CINCINNATI AT SYRACUSE (2 PM) - If the Bearcats win this one, they'll secure no worse than a .500 Big East record with a less than challenging final week that includes a road game at USF and a home game with Seton Hall. With an RPI in the vicinity of 50, Cincinnati needs a quality road win and this is their last shot at getting one. Syracuse is one of Florida's losses, meaning it could be an unfavorable comparison point if the Bearcats win. Beyond that, it always benefits the Gators when someone on their nonconference schedule picks up a win.

PROVIDENCE AT RUTGERS (2 PM) - How absurd is the lovefest some media people have with this year's Big East? During one broadcast Saturday, ESPNU "analyst" Dickey Simpkins declared that Providence is in the NCAA field. Not on the bubble, actually in the field. That would be the same Providence which is 71st in the RPI, has a record of 17-11, a loss to Northeastern and has dropped five of their last eight. But they beat Pitt the other day so that should be good enough, right? Rutgers stinks, but sometimes teams coming off a huge win choke the next game. All the other bubble teams would love to see that happen here.

MARYLAND AT N.C. STATE (7:30 PM) - N.C. State winning is always good for Florida since they're one of UF's out of conference victories, and here the Wolfpack get a chance to knock down Maryland's momentum they got out of last week's Noth Carolina win. The Terrapins did play competitively against Duke in the midweek game, but close losses get you NIT trips. A loss here would ensure Maryland can't finish any better than .500 in ACC play, and that's with a tough home game against Wake Forest next up on their schedule.

VILLANOVA AT NOTRE DAME (Monday 7 PM) - The Wildcats helped give one bogus Big East NCAA contender some life by losing to Georgetown Saturday. They could do it again by falling against the Fighting Irish. ND's 16-12 and has to win both their final regular season games to avoid a losing Big East conference record. They played competitively but came up short Saturday on the road against UConn. A home game against a St. John's team with a losing record is all Notre Dame has left on their schedule after this, meaning a Villanova win seals their NIT fate unless they make a major run at the conference tournament.

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