Saturday, March 12, 2005

Bubble Watch II: Return of Bubble Watch | by Pat

Yesterday's ten games to watch yielded six games that fell in Notre Dame's favor and four that did not. What that means is that ND is still firmly on the bubble and Irish fans are going to have to sweat out the results of today's conference championship games. Some are more important than others, but the outcome of the first and last games of the day are the ones that might decide ND's fate. Here are today's 10 key games that will impact Notre Dame's bubble chances:

11:30 - Louisville v. Memphis - Louisville win

With a 28-4 record and #6 national ranking, Louisville is a lock for the tournament. A Memphis upset in the Conference USA Championship means both teams will get in and ND's chances will be close to zero.

11:30 - Northeastern v. Vermont - Vermont win

Despite an RPI of 22, Vermont isn't a lock if they lose today. Still, future NBA draft pick Taylor Coppenrath and retiring popular coach Tom Brennan might give the Selection Committee two reasons to squeeze them in. It's best just to hope that they take care of business against Northeastern and don't pollute the at-large pool.

4:00 - NC State v. Duke - NC State loss

NC State is a fellow bubble team but their chances are a little better than ours. The win over Wake Forest yesterday probably earned them a ticket to the Dance, even though Wake was playing without star guard Chris Paul. It's possible that their win yesterday could give them the 5th ACC slot that many wondered/hoped current ND bubble foe Maryland might get. The outcome of this game isn't a killer for the Irish, but let's hope the Blue Devils take this one.

4:05 - Iowa v. Wisconsin - Iowa loss

Like NC State, some media bracketologists have Iowa in, some have them out. Their 7-9 conference record should keep them out, but they do have a decent out of conference record. A loss here just makes it easier for the Selection Committee to leave them out.

6:00 GWU v. St. Joseph's - GWU win

The A-10 should only get one bid and GWU has a slightly better resume so Irish fans should pull for the Colonials to get the automatic bid.

7:00 Buffalo v. Ohio - Buffalo win

The Mid-American Conference is a mess with Buffalo, Ohio, and Miami(Oh) all possesing some claim to bubble status. It's doubtful that the MAC will get more than one team in, so it's best for ND's chances if the team with the strongest tourney resume, Buffalo, wins the automatic bid in the conference championship.

8:00 West Virginia v. Syracuse - West Virginia win

This one won't have much of an impact on ND's chances, but a WVU win will make ND's victory over them slightly more impressive and well, it's never a bad thing to see Syracuse lose a game. Besides, Gerry McNamara in a recent Sports Illustrated on Campus feature offered up Van Wilder as his generation's Animal House, a movie he claims he's never seen. That's reason enough to hope they lose.

9:00 Boise State v. UTEP - UTEP win

UTEP has a 26-7 record and a 44 RPI ranking. A win here in the WAC championship will give them the automatic NCAA bid and keep those at-large bids available for the Irish. They aren't a lock with a loss like Louisville and Pacific, but no sense in making things harder on the Selection Committee.

10:00 New Mexico v. Utah - New Mexico loss

New Mexico has a decent tournament resume except for an awful 312th strength of schedule ranking. As of right now they are probably along with us on the last four in/last four out bubble, so let's hope #15 ranked Utah gives them one extra loss and keeps that automatic bid for themselves.

12:00 Pacific v. Utah State - Pacific win

Along with the Louisville/Memphis game, this is probably the most important game of the day for Irish fans. Pacific is going to make the tournament win or lose. But if they lose and Utah State gets the Big West automatic bid, Notre Dame fans might have to settle for another NIT berth.