Bubble Watch - 3/8

The good news for Florida is that their win over Kentucky kept their NCAA chances alive heading into the SEC tournament. Unfortunately, several other teams came up with important wins yesterday as well. Michigan rallied for a road win against Minnesota, Boston College escaped an upset in the last seconds at home against Georgia Tech, and New Mexico got out of Wyoming with a one point win.

The worst news came from the Missouri Valley Conference tournament, where a regular season conference champion Creighton squad that's expected to make the NCAA field even as an at-large team was upset by Illinois State. That means the MWC champion will be a team that otherwise would not have made the field of 65 and reduces the available spots by one unless Creighton is surprisingly left out.

Games more to UF's liking included Iowa surprising Penn State and Virginia stopping Maryland. There aren't a lot of important games over the next couple of days since the big conference tournaments haven't started yet, but here are the relevant ones for UF's bubble status.

VIRGINIA TECH AT FSU (2 PM) - The Hokies have lost five of their last six games and are just 17-12 on the year. The ACC's overall strength has kept them in the NCAA discussion, but a loss here would ensure VT finishes under .500 in conference play. Road wins count at a value on 1.4 in the RPI, and the Hokies picked a good one up last week in Clemson. The Seminoles already defeated Virginia Tech in Blacksburg and are playing for a first day bye in the conference tournament. With FSU one of Florida's losses, them winning here not only helps upgrade the Gators schedule value but also would mean Virginia Tech's chances are done without a lengthy ACC tournament run.

NORTHWESTERN AT OHIO STATE (5 PM) - Northwestern is an unexpected factor in NCAA discussions thanks to a three game win streak which has gotten them to 17-11. The most recent victory was a road win over Purdue, which was impressive. It still shouldn't have had ESPN commentators saying Saturday that the Big Ten's ninth place team should get in over the SEC's third place team (a 21 win, 10-6 in conference South Carolina), but SEC bashing is everywhere among the national media right now. Without another big road win the surge of Northwestern hype probably goes away, and others on the fringe of the tournament hope Ohio State can make that happen.

SIENA VS FAIRFIELD (6 PM) - Siena is the one MAAC team definitely strong enough to get a bid without winning the conference tournament. (Niagara may have a chance with their RPI in the 50s, but it's unlikely.) They're in the semifinals of a tournament being played on their homecourt. As noted earlier with Creighton, when teams like this lose it means one fewer spot for everyone else to squeeze into. It's very important that Siena win this tournament - the finals are Monday night.

SOUTHERN UTAH AT IUPUI (7 PM) - Florida's nonconference schedule continues to be a weight around their ankles as they try to make a run for the NCAA tournament. Some squads like UMKC were so awful they didn't even make their conference tournament. Others like Toledo get to go to their conference's tournament, but with just six wins all year it's impossible to see them doing anything except adding another loss to their record. One of the few non-major conference teams with even a slight hope of improving UF's schedule number is Southern Utah. They head to Indianapolis for the first round of the Summit tournament with a conference mark of 8-10 compared to IUPUI's 9-9. UF needs all the help they can get, and maybe the Thunderbirds can give them a little.


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