Skip to content

Missouri Valley showdown headlines biggest bubble games of weekend

Mar 1, 2013, 11:15 AM EDT

Detroit Wichita St Basketball AP

With the calendar flipping to March it’s crunch time for teams whose NCAA tournament prospects aren’t locked in stone. Here are the five games that fans of teams on the bubble need to keep track of this weekend.

1) Wichita State at Creighton (Saturday, 2:00 p.m. on ESPN2) 

There will be a lot on the line when the Bluejays host the Shockers in Omaha. The winner grabs the Missouri Valley regular season title and the top seed in next weekend’s conference tournament, and there’s also the matter of neither team in position to feel completely satisfied with their respective NCAA tournament resumes. The two teams are separated by six spots in the RPI (Wichita State ranked 47th and Creighton 41st according to warrennolan.com) with each team having three Top 50 wins this season.

Wichita State won the first meeting by three despite having twice as many turnovers (14) as Creighton, due in large part to Bluejays other than Doug McDermott and Grant Gibbs shooting a combined 8-of-27 from the field. Carl Hall scored 17 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to lead four Shockers in double figures, and they’ll need that kind of balance on Saturday if they’re to complete the sweep of the season series.

2) Iowa State at Oklahoma (Saturday, 1:30 p.m.)

Iowa State had a major resume-building victory in their grasp on Monday night, only to see Kansas leave Ames with a 108-96 overtime win. That makes their trip to Norman all the more important, and the Sooners did their part with a stunning collapse at Texas on Wednesday night. Oklahoma has the better RPI (25) and one more Top 100 victory (seven) than the Cyclones, and their computer numbers are due in part to smart scheduling (they’ve played just five games against teams ranked 201 or worse; Iowa State’s played ten such games).

Iowa State rolled in the first meeting (83-64), shooting 51% from the field and knocking down 11 three-pointers at Hilton Coliseum. Will Clyburn scored 19 points and in total ten Cyclones managed to score. Oklahoma has to keep ISU from running their sets if they’re to return the favor in Norman.

3) No. 22 Butler at VCU (Saturday, 12:00 p.m. on ESPN2)

Brad Stevens’ Bulldogs have done enough in both the non-conference and Atlantic 10 to feel good about their NCAA tournament prospects. This one’s all about the Rams, whose overall resume doesn’t exactly match their standing within the A-10. The Rams have wins over Memphis, Belmont and Alabama to their credit, but the resume lacks wins over teams considered to be “locks” to reach the Big Dance.

This is the only regular season meeting between the two A-10 newcomers, and the key for both teams will be turnovers. If VCU can harass Butler and force them to cough up the basketball the Rams will be in good shape. But if Butler can take care of the basketball and control tempo as Saint Louis did (the Billikens are a bad matchup for both teams), Rotnei Clarke and company may leave Richmond with a valuable result.

4) Alabama at No. 8 Florida (Saturday, 12:00 p.m. on CBS)

Speaking of teams lacking wins over NCAA tournament locks, Alabama visits Gainesville with hopes of picking up a much-needed victory. Anthony Grant’s team has won 11 SEC games, but a closer look at their schedule reveals the fact that they have just one Top 50 victory (Kentucky) and they also have losses to Dayton, Mercer, Tulane and Auburn on the resume.

Is Florida in the conversation for a one-seed? At this rate who really knows, but at the very least they’ll have Will Yeguete back in the rotation. The Gators will be fine regardless of the outcome, but Alabama has a lot of work to do (and that likely includes a run in the SEC tournament) if they’re to return to the NCAA tournament.

5) Villanova at No. 23 Pittsburgh (Sunday, 12:00 p.m.)

The Wildcats suffered a damaging road loss to Seton Hall on Monday night, dropping a game they led by four with 27 seconds remaining. But this week gives Jay Wright’s team a shot at two quality wins before the Big East Championship, beginning with a trip to Pittsburgh to take on the Panthers. Villanova gets No. 7 Georgetown at home on Wednesday night but a win of this caliber would look very good on a resume that currently has just one quality road victory (at Connecticut).

Pittsburgh limited Villanova to just 43 points in the first meeting (neither team shot well; Villanova simply shot worse), and the Panthers also attempted 12 more free throws. Ryan Arcidiacono will need to exercise smart shot selection while also slowing down Pitt senior guard Tray Woodall, who scored 25 points in a win at St. John’s on Sunday.

Other Games of Note

- Colorado State at Boise State (Saturday, 8:00 p.m.)

Boise State’s profile is better than many think, and with their schedule to end the season the Broncos will have opportunities to make their case for inclusion in the NCAA tournament.

- No. 19 Memphis at UCF (Saturday, 1:00 p.m. on FSN) 

The Tigers have an impressive record but their loss at Xavier may have put them in position to need an undefeated run through Conference USA to feel comfortable in regards to an at-large bid.

- Connecticut at Cincinnati (Saturday, 2:00 p.m.) 

The Bearcats are reeling and need to turn things around before they end up on the wrong side of the bubble.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Latest Posts
  1. Five-star Californian to visit six schools before making a decision

    Aug 28, 2014, 10:25 PM EDT

    Kelly Kline/Under Armour Kelly Kline/Under Armour

    Four Pac-12 schools remain in the running for the services of the former Arizona commit.

  2. Combo guard becomes Providence’s third 2015 commitment

    Aug 28, 2014, 9:03 PM EDT

    Ed Cooley AP

    Drew Edwards’ relationship with Providence head coach Ed Cooley was one reason why he chose PC.

  3. Top 100 Ohio native focused on five schools

    Aug 28, 2014, 8:13 PM EDT

    Kelly Kline/Under Armour Kelly Kline/Under Armour

    Esa Ahmad’s list includes Ohio State and two other Big Ten programs.

  4. Five-star 2015 center trims list to five

    Aug 28, 2014, 6:55 PM EDT

    Kelly Kline/Under Armour Kelly Kline/Under Armour

    Diamond Stone has cut his list to five schools, but just one has also offered friend Malik Newman.

  5. Montana State freshman won’t enroll this semester

    Aug 28, 2014, 6:10 PM EDT

    Eric Evans/Oregon Athletics Eric Evans/Oregon Athletics

    6-foot-10 forward/center Kavell Bigby-Williams would have given the Bobcats some additional size in the paint.

  6. Dismissed Maryland center finds a new school

    Aug 28, 2014, 4:49 PM EDT

    Bruce Pearl AP

    Trayvon Reed, who was dismissed from the Maryland program following his arrest on multiple charges earlier this summer, will enroll at Auburn in December.

  7. Former coach in King James AAU program sentenced to 15 years for Ponzi scheme

    Aug 28, 2014, 3:43 PM EDT

    Glen Galemmo coached a talented group, including Duke-bound Luke Kennard (AP) Glen Galemmo coached a talented group, including Duke-bound Luke Kennard (AP)

    There are already five players on the team Galemmo coached that have committed to high major programs.

  8. American extends head coach Mike Brennan’s contract

    Aug 28, 2014, 2:30 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    He deserved it after the season his Eagle team had.

  9. Domestic dispute led Anthony Johnson to withdraw from Charleston search

    Aug 28, 2014, 1:01 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    There’s now a reason why Charleston couldn’t hire their most famous alum.

  10. DePaul’s Purnell loses fifth recruit that signed letter of intent

    Aug 28, 2014, 12:02 PM EDT

    Oliver Purnell AP

    He’s only been at DePaul for four years.

  11. Kansas State lands sleeper, their second commitment in 2015 class

    Aug 28, 2014, 10:35 AM EDT

    Bruce Weber AP

    The Wildcats pulled a player off of a loaded AAU team’s bench.

  12. Five-star 2015 power forward trims list to three

    Aug 27, 2014, 11:04 PM EDT

    (Nike) (Nike)

    One of the three remaining schools for Henry Ellenson added his older brother to the program in the spring.

  13. 2017 point guard verbally commits to Arizona State

    Aug 27, 2014, 10:36 PM EDT

    sendek AP

    Markus Howard decides to remain in the “Valley of the Sun” for college.

  14. Atlantic 10 releases schedule, Dayton to visit VCU on February 28

    Aug 27, 2014, 9:15 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    NBC Sports Network will broadcast 33 Atlantic 10 games.

  15. ACC unveils schedule, defending champion Virginia gets Duke, UNC once apiece

    Aug 27, 2014, 7:40 PM EDT

    Tony Bennett AP

    While there are still some non-conference schedules to complete, the ACC conference schedule is loaded with quality matchups.

  16. Foot injury to sideline San Diego State freshman 3-4 months

    Aug 27, 2014, 6:11 PM EDT

    Steve Fisher AP

    Zylan Cheatham joins fellow freshman Malik Pope on the sidelines, with the latter still working to rehab a leg he broke twice while in high school.

  17. College of Charleston coaching search takes another turn

    Aug 27, 2014, 5:15 PM EDT

    Mike Young AP

    With their two finalists having removed their names from consideration, the College of Charleston is back to square one in its search for a new head coach.