Published March 08, 2010
I'm not sure you'll hear a word more often than "bubble" for the next six or so days.
This year, one in which the proverbial bubble is as weak as it's been in recent memory, conference tournaments will have more meaning than they have had in the past.
We give you 10 teams whose NCAA Tournament future will likely hang in the balance this week with their performance in the conference tourneys:
Florida -- The Gators likely need a win in their first SEC tournament game against Auburn.
Memphis -- Josh Pastner's team can't bow out early in the C-USA or it'll be NIT-bound.
San Diego State -- Could the Aztecs be the fourth Mountain West team in the field?
Illinois -- The Illini struggled down the stretch and may need a win against Wisconsin to get into the NCAA tourney.
Washington -- The Huskies have crept back in the conversation.
Rhode Island -- The Rams have gone from a lock to a team that needs to get work done in A-10 tourney.
Dayton -- Another A-10 team that has work to do to get into the Big Dance.
Georgia Tech -- Paul Hewitt's team can't afford to lose to North Carolina in the first round of the ACC tourney.
Mississippi -- The Rebels need a strong showing in the SEC tourney.
Arizona State -- Herb Sendek's club has some work to do in the Pac-10 tourney.
Here is a look back at this past week:
TEAM OF THE WEEK: West Virginia -- Bob Huggins and the Mountaineers began the week with a victory in Morgantown against Georgetown and then battled back from a large deficit to knock off Villanova in Philadelphia. West Virginia, with a strong showing in the Big East tournament, still has a legitimate shot at a No. 1 seed.
STUD (PLAYER OF WEEK): Virginia Tech's Malcolm Delaney had 21 points in a win against N.C. State to keep the Hokies' tournament hopes alive and then finished with 32 points and nine assists in a huge road victory against Georgia Tech over the weekend.
DUD: Kansas State, with a No. 1 seed still in view, lost at home to Iowa State. The Wildcats were rolling before dropping one early in the week at Kansas and then getting upset against Craig Brackins and the Cyclones. It's difficult to imagine a scenario now that has K-State as a No. 1 seed.
MOST IMPRESSIVE WIN: Louisville's win to close down Freedom Hall against No. 1 Syracuse. The Cardinals were in decent shape prior to the victory, but Kyle Kuric's hot shooting helped Rick Pitino and his teammates breathe easy going into the Big East tournament.
WEEK TO FORGET: Mississippi State came into the week on the right side of the bubble and left it on the wrong side. First came a bad loss on the road against Auburn and then there was a home setback against Tennessee over the weekend.
NON-BCS TEAM OF THE WEEK: Winthrop -- The Eagles had a tough road that included having to beat No. 2 Radford and No. 1 Coastal Carolina in the title game on Coastal's home court. Still, Randy Peele led Winthrop to its ninth title in the last 12 years. The Eagles began the season 4-9, but finished by winning 15 of their last 19 games.
WORST LOSS: Georgia Tech losing at home to Virginia Tech -- The Yellow Jackets would have been a lock if they could have held serve on their home court against Virginia Tech, but now Paul Hewitt's team will likely need to beat North Carolina in the opener of the ACC Tournament to punch its ticket.
BAD LOSS: Rhode Island at UMass -- The Rams have stumbled down the stretch, but this one may cost Jim Baron's club an at-large berth. The Minutemen are a bottom-tier team in the A-10 this season and now URI will have some pressure to deal with in the A-10 tourney.
WEEK'S TOP POTENTIAL MATCHUPS
1. No. 3 Washington vs. No. 2 Arizona State -- This could be for a spot in the NCAA tournament if these two teams meet Friday in the Pac-10 semifinals.
2. No. 12 UConn vs. No. 5 Marquette -- If the Huskies get past St. John's on Tuesday, Jim Calhoun's team will face Marquette in the second round. If they win both, they will get No. 4 Villanova with a chance to get back in the mix.
3. No. 10 Seton Hall vs. No. 7 Notre Dame -- Here's another interesting Big East battle. As long as Bobby Gonzalez gets past No. 15 Providence on Tuesday, Seton Hall will meet Notre Dame on Wednesday in the second round with a potential bid on the line.
4. No. 4 Virginia Tech vs. No. 5 Wake Forest -- The Hokies and Demon Deacons are both in decent shape, but the loser of this game -- if Wake gets past Miami on Thursday -- will be sweating it out on Selection Sunday.
5. No. 4 Wisconsin vs. No. 5 Illinois -- The Badgers are battling for a seed, but the Illini are fighting for a bid on Friday in the Big Ten quarterfinals.
6. Florida vs. Auburn -- The Gators likely need to beat Auburn on Thursday afternoon.
7. Mississippi vs. Tennessee -- Andy Kennedy's team will likely face Tennessee in the SEC quarterfinals on Friday.
8. Mississippi State vs. Florida -- If the Gators get past Auburn, they will face Rick Stansbury's team -- which is also on the bubble