What to root for: Quiet day on NCAA bubble
Much of this wild week on the NCAA bubble has been about scoreboard watching, about other things happening around USF to impact its position for a return to the NCAA Tournament. Today, for the most part, is all about Madison Square Garden and the Big East tournament.
If USF can win tonight against Villanova -- beating the Wildcats for the third time this season -- that is the single biggest swing to USF's bubble position this week. Win, and it's hard to imagine the Bulls getting overlooked; lose, and USF is back in the center of the bubble ups and downs.
Two games at MSG can certainly have an impact on USF -- the Bulls don't want to see Seton Hall knock off Louisville tonight, which would probably lock up a spot for the Pirates and lessen the value of USF's win against the Cardinals. The winner of the early game between UConn and West Virginia could arguably find itself on the bubble -- both won the head-to-head games with USF, so it's hard to argue that the loser would fall much below the Bulls.
As for the rest of college basketball, of the 12 teams ESPN is listing as being "last in" or "first out," Seton Hall is the only one playing today. Thursday will be a huge day for those bubble teams, with six of them playing, as well as three teams that CBS' Jerry Palm has on the bubble: Cal, Colorado State and Mississippi. Again, there's a huge value in USF still being alive in the Big East tournament, even if they're just playing later in the same day -- there's a perception that goes with outlasting a team, even when the conference schedules aren't lined up.