RTC Daily Bracketbusters: Saturday & SundayPosted by nvr1983 on February 27th, 2010
Even though ESPN likes to hype up its Bracketbuster day the fact is that the last few weeks of the season act like an elimination tournament with teams moving in and out of the NCAA Tournament while other teams move up and down on a daily basis. While each and every game could theoretically have an impact on the Bubble and NCAA seeding there are a few games that matter more than the others which we will feature over the next two weeks leading up to the conference tournaments. We will feature these in two posts per week. The first will be a post released on Sunday night for games from Monday through Thursday and the second will be a post released on Thursday/Friday night for games from Friday through Sunday.
#21 Texas at #23 Texas A&M at 2 PM on ESPN on Saturday – These two teams are on edge of being anywhere from a #4 to a #8 seed so this is obviously a big game for both teams because when the Selection Committee is placing teams in the bracket they will look at how they did head-to-head. Texas has been disappointing this year, but they have a chance to salvage their season with a late rally. The big question is how they respond to the loss of Dogus Balbay. Texas A&M is in essentially the same situation that the Longhorns are just with much less fanfare and volatility. The winner here has a shot at a 4 seed while the loser is going to be looking at a #7 seed at best barring a run in the Big 12 Conference Tournament, but perhaps the biggest prize for the winner will be moving up to try and avoid Kansas in the Conference Tournament for as long as possible.
Illinois State at #22 Northern Iowa at 8:05 PM on ESPN2 on Saturday – I know after the media’s lovefest for the Panthers this year it might be shocking to hear that they might need to win this game to guarantee a spot in the NCAA Tournament, but after their shocking loss at Evansville they might need this one for an at-large bid if they slip up in Arch Madness. Jordan Eglseder is scheduled to return from his suspension today and the Panthers will need him against Illinois State. The Redbirds have no illusions of an at-large bid, but this game is significant for their automatic bid chances as it would give them a shot at the #2 seed in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament and help them avoid the Panthers until the finals, which is particularly important since there are only 3 solid teams in the MVC.
#8 Villanova at #4 Syracuse at 9 PM on ESPN on Saturday - Yes. The biggest game ever (!) slides in as the #3 game of the weekend in our rankings. Obviously this is the marquee game of the weekend in terms of big names, but it holds a little less significance for the NCAA Tournament then some would think. A win here for Syracuse would give them clinch the Big East regular season title for the Orange, but they already have the coveted double-bye (an absolute joke) in the Big East Tournament. The bigger issue for Jim Boeheim‘s squad is their quest for a #1 seed. With Purdue basically being eliminated in the talk about the final two #1 seeds (see below), a Syracuse win would give them the inside track for one of those seeds. As for Villanova, they have an outside shot at a #1 seed, but they will need a lot of help thanks to their #50 SOS (yes, I double checked and yes I was shocked too). Their main concern should be trying to avoid slipping for a #3 or possibly even #4 seed with a difficult three-game stretch to end the season (at Syracuse, at Cincinnati, and home versus West Virginia).
#12 New Mexico at #11 BYU at 4 PM on Versus on Saturday – It’s amazing that a game on Versus was almost our #1 game of the weekend on a fairly loaded weekend of college basketball so you should probably spend the early commercial breaks today trying to find it on your cable package. So the question is what is at stake here? Outside of the Mountain West Conference regular season title there is also the big impact this will have on NCAA seeding. Right now both of these teams are in as #3 or #4 seeds in the NCAA Tournament, but they both could move a lot in the next 2 weeks. Although there is a chance that either could move up to a #2 seed by winning out and getting a little help (doubtful given their pitiful SOS–BYU is #139 and New Mexico is #77 although both will go up after today) both teams could move down to as low as a #6 seed if they lose here and against in the MWC Conference Tournament particularly if it is before they meet each other in the projected Conference Tournament final game.
#14 Michigan State at #3 Purdue at 4 PM on CBS on Sunday – Before Robbie Hummel‘s ACL injury this was merely an interesting game, but after the injury it has huge implications on NCAA seeding. Right now Purdue is in a NCAA seeding limbo essentially a much less severe version of what Cincinnati was about 10 years ago following Kenyon Martin‘s season-ending injury. Matt Painter‘s squad needs a win today to show the Committee that they can win without Hummel. They certainly have the talent, but a win here would do wonders for proving that to the people who decide where they will be seeded. As for the Spartans, they really need a quality win. Hummel’s injury and Evan Turner‘s consistent brilliancy has obscured the fact that Michigan State hasn’t beaten a good team since January 16th when they beat Illinois at home. Beating Purdue on the road (yes, even a Hummel-less Purdue) would do wonders for moving their NCAA Tournament seed up.
Missouri at #6 Kansas State at 8 PM on ESPNU on Saturday – Kansas State already has a #2 seed in the Big 12 locked up, but they could be looking at a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament if they manage to avenge their loss earlier in the season at Missouri and manage to win the Big 12 Tournament especially if they knock off Kansas in doing so. Missouri needs this win because they are in the #8 or #9 seed range so they could move 2 spots up or down with a strong or weak last two weeks.
Maryland at Virginia Tech at 4 PM on ESPNU on Saturday – For Maryland this game is really just about seeding, but for the Hokies a win here would ensure that they have a spot in the Big Dance. A loss here and they will need to prove themselves in the ACC Tournament, which is always a dangerous situation.
#24 Richmond at Xavier at 1 PM on ESPN2 on Sunday – A big game for seeding out of the Atlantic 10. This game is the curious situation where the Spiders are the higher ranked team, but the lower seeded team in most bracket projections. Obviously a win at Xavier by the Spiders could do a lot to change that.