March Madness: 19 Saturday games that could potentially impact the NCAA tournament picture
Duke-North Carolina is the marquee game Saturday. We get that. The rivalry never disappoints. So check that out for sure at 8:15 p.m. (ESPN). But let’s dive into what will really matter Saturday: the bubble.
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Here are the most significant bubble-related games on tap:
West Virginia at Texas, Noon, ESPN: The Longhorns need to create separation within a muddled Big 12. Texas also needs to get some momentum heading into the Big 12 tournament. Texas needs this more than West Virginia.
Kentucky at Florida, Noon, CBS: If you’re in the camp that Florida still needs another quality win then sure, the Gators need to beat Kentucky. I don’t see it. The Gators are in the field as far as I’m concerned.
Virginia Tech at Miami, Noon, ESPN2: The Hokies have done enough to warrant a bid, especially with the road win at Virginia. But a road win at Miami would erase all doubts.
Mississippi State at LSU, 1 p.m., SEC Network: The Bulldogs didn’t make my cut. The home loss to Tennessee eliminated them for now. Beat LSU on the road, though, and there is a chance to at least climb back near the bubble.
Clemson at Syracuse, 2 p.m., ACC Network: Syracuse has to win this game after losing at Boston College. The Orange aren’t out with a home loss to Clemson but that would mean a lengthy stay in Brooklyn next week is a must.
Boston College at Florida State, 2 p.m., ACC Network: The Seminoles should be fine, but losing to BC at home would give fodder to pause.
Alabama at Texas A&M, 2 p.m., ESPN2: This is a tough one. The Aggies won on the road to quiet their questions while Alabama has slid lately. The loser will be in a tenuous situation. The winner isn’t a lock, but can at least breathe.
Baylor at Kansas State, 2 p.m., ESPN: This is the ultimate bubble game. Winner has more than a pulse. Loser will need a deep run in Kansas City next week.
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Notre Dame at Virginia, 4 p.m., ACC Network: If the Irish win this game I could see them being in since Bonzie Colson would be a difference maker in the decision process. Lose, and Notre Dame will need to get to work in Brooklyn and probably win at least two games (one against a team heading to the NCAA tournament).
Kansas at Oklahoma State, 4 p.m., ESPN: I like the Cowboys’ resume. Sweep Kansas and it could be a moot point. Mike Boynton’s crew would be hard to keep out of the field.
TCU at Texas Tech, 4 p.m., ESPN2: TCU should be fine. The resume shows the Horned Frogs deserve a bid. Win at Texas Tech and there would be no question at all
Oregon at Washington, 4:30 p.m.: The Huskies need to sweep the Oregon schools for a chance to get a bid. And even then work must be done in Las Vegas. This would be a disastrous home loss for a team that needs to make more of an impression.
Louisville at NC State, 6 p.m., ESPN: The Wolfpack's resume is still too strong to dismiss. They’re in. Louisville has to come back from a crushing home loss to Virginia. Winning at NC State could/should change the narrative.
Arkansas at Missouri, 6 p.m., ESPN2: The Hogs are good to go. I think Mizzou is as well. But if some want another win from Missouri, beat Arkansas to silence them.
Marshall at Middle Tennessee, 7 p.m.: The Blue Raiders may not need to win Conference USA’s tournament to get in, but they would make their case less compelling by dropping a home game to the Herd.
Colorado at Utah, 7 p.m.: Utah blew a chance to sweep its final three home games by losing to USC last week. They cannot fall to Colorado or the Utes are toast.
Wyoming at Boise State, 7 p.m.: Boise State’s at-large chances may have disappeared lately. Lose to Wyoming and they are definitely gone.
Nevada at San Diego State, 10 p.m., CBS Sports Network: The Wolf Pack are safe — at least for me. Losing at SDSU shouldn’t crush their at-large potential. But it could put a dent in the case.