Bubble finale: Three games to watch for USF
The NCAA Tournament's 64-team field won't be unveiled until Monday night, but Sunday is the last day of games to decide the fate of bubble teams such as USF's women's basketball team. We've chronicled the ups and downs of the past week -- mostly ups, so far -- and there are three games today that could have an impact the Bulls. There are very few bubble teams in action today, so the last few bids hinge on whether the top teams in three leagues can secure automatic bids, or if they lose, if they steal an at-large.
Mid-American final, 1 p.m.: With 28 wins, top seed Bowling Green would be hard to leave out of the NCAAs as an at-large, though their RPI (currently 42 at CollegeRPI.com) would be very close to USF (46) after a loss. They have a tough opponent in Ball State (24-8, RPI 57), so this is the loss most likely to happen of today's three games to watch.
Horizon final, 1 p.m.: Same deal, as top-seeded Wisconsin-Green Bay has the same 28-3 record as Bowling Green and a similar RPI at 43. They really should win, facing a 15-17 Wisconsin-Milwaukee team with an RPI of 227 -- a bad loss like that the day before the committee picks its field could be damaging, but it's best for USF if they're in with an automatic berth and not another at-large team to consider.
Pac-10 final, 9 p.m.: Top-seeded Stanford is a potential No. 1 seed if the Cardinal can win, but if they were to lose, it would put Southern Cal (17-14, RPI 60) into the field -- there's no ifs about the damage a loss would do, inarguably taking one team off the NCAA bubble. Stanford swept the regular-season meetings by 11 and 28 points, so the upset is rather unlikely, but possible.
I think USF was comfortably in the field until Saturday's upsets, which put San Diego State and VCU into the at-large debate with the Bulls. ESPN.com has projected them as one of the last teams in the field, while CollegeRPI.com has them a No. 10 seed, not even on the bubble. The truth is probably somewhere in between, so unless you see two or more of these three games today go the wrong way, the Bulls are in position to get good news on Monday night. Stay tuned ...