Bubble Watch -- 2/20

Florida's game at Ole Miss today is extremely important to their NCAA tournament chances. The Gators would benefit greatly from adding another road win, and beating Ole Miss would reduce the Rebels potential to be in contention for an NCAA bid as well.

While winning is always the single best thing to boost Florida's hopes, there are plenty of other games to keep an eye on that could also help or hinder Gator postseason possibilities. With three weeks remaining until Selection Sunday, here's the first installment of the FightinGators.com Bubble Watch.

SIENA AT BUTLER - 11 AM

Siena is 15-1 in the MAAC, four games ahead of everyone else in the conference. They won an 8-9 NCAA tournament game last season, and they might be good enough to get an at large this year should they trip up in the MAAC tourney. What the Saints don't have is a victory over anyone of significance - they've lost at Temple, Georgia Tech and Northern Iowa in matchups with other potential NCAA teams. A road win over a ranked opponent in Butler would be a huge help for Siena's at large resume, meaning Gator fans are Butler believers.

SETON HALL AT WEST VIRGINIA - NOON

The Big East is going to get a bunch of teams into the tournament, and deservedly so. The question is just where the line will be drawn, and Seton Hall is starting to get closer to it than other bubble teams would like. The Pirates have rattled off three straight wins to reach 6-7 in conference play, although all of them were against teams below them in the standings. Only one of their four remaining conference games after this is against a team with more than four Big East wins so far. That means a win here would make a winning conference record a realistic possibility for Seton Hall. The Pirates took West Virginia to overtime before losing their first meeting. Florida would appreciate Bob Huggins and company coming through against them again.

BAYLOR AT OKLAHOMA STATE - 1:30

This is a gigantic game for Oklahoma State because of what's coming up on their schedule. A loss would drop them to 6-6 in the Big 12 and 18-10 overall, with trips to Texas and Texas A&M sandwiched around a home game with Kansas. Considering only 33 teams have gotten into the NCAAs with losing conference records in the past 25 years, that could pose a real problem for the Cowboys. Baylor's a solid team that's won 5 of 6 and defeated Oklahoma State in Waco earlier this year. If the Bears complete the season sweep in Stillwater, it will put a lot of pressure on the Cowboys to pull off an upset before the regular season wraps up.

UCONN AT RUTGERS - 5

In addition to rooting for teams to falter, Florida fans can hope for progress from some of the teams the Gators beat earlier in the season. Rutgers has suddenly gotten on an unexpected roll, winning five of their past six games to improve to 14-12 overall on the season. Before this burst of success, they dropped nine in a row which had diminished the value of UF's neutral court victory considerably. Now, the Scarlet Knights have a reasonable chance to enter the RPI Top 100 should they defeat UConn. The Huskies were out of at-large tournament contention before a surprising road win over Villanova in their last game. A loss here would not only help Rutgers value on UF's schedule, but also finish UConn's chances off.

COLORADO STATE AT UNLV - 6

UNLV appeared to be cruising toward a tournament bid, but recently the Rebels have hit the skids. They've dropped three in a row, and this is their last chance for a regular season triumph over a team with a winning record. With Louisville their best out of conference win, this is a team that could easily find itself on the outside looking in when the NCAA field is announced. CSU's won three of their last four, and may have a chance at pulling the upset against a team that's not playing very well. That would put a UNLV team that would make the field when today began into the questionable category.


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