It is the middle of February, the dog days of the college basketball season are here, and despite popular opinion, every game now matters. That goes double for teams in or around the infamous NCAA Tournament bubble.
I say that to say this: Bubble Wrap is back. This column will wrap up the previous day/night’s games and discuss the all-important bubble ramifications of them.
Tuesday brought a relatively light slate of consequential games, but some important results did take place.
VCU and Michigan State, a couple of teams in - for now - as 9 seeds, took care of business against lesser teams. VCU beat lowly St. Joe’s, which does nothing for their resume. The same is basically true for the Spartans, who handled Ohio State in Lansing. The Buckeyes are on Tourney life support and they missed an opportunity to dream.
In probably the most bubblicious game of the night, Clemson defeated Wake Forest in a battle to see who can get the ACC to double-digit tournament bids. Wake has a high R.P.I., but no impressive wins, while the Tigers have a couple good wins (at South Carolina and at Wake), but are 4-9 in league play. I have seen Clemson included in some bracketologists’ brackets, but if we are trying to tell you who would make the tournament if the season ended today, you’re not going to tell me that 4-9 in any league would make it happen.
Clemson would likely need to run the table in the regular season (not gonna happen), or get very close to .500 in ACC play, including games in the ACC Tournament in Brooklyn. So, for all intents and purposes, the Tigers played spoiler here by severely puncturing Wake’s chances. Wake, currently an 11 seed in my bracket, thanks to an R.P.I. in the low 30s, drops to 15-11 (6-8) and that R.P.I. drops a bit too. My prediction is that neither of these two teams will hear their name called on Selection Sunday, but as of right now, Wake is hanging by a thread.
In the SEC, Tennessee, currently a 10 seed, did itself no favors by being blown out by Kentucky in Lexington. Yes, a loss to big blue is not a bad loss, but a 25-point drubbing is never a good look.
Georgia and Ole Miss kept their very slim tournament hopes alive by taking care of lowly Mississippi State and LSU, respectively.
Virginia Tech, coming off maybe a berth clinching win versus Virginia on Sunday, pulled off a gritty, no-frills win at Pittsburgh to further solidify their spot, currently an 8 seed. I have seen Pittsburgh in some brackets, but the Panthers are 3-10 in the ACC (see Clemson).