There are more teams than ever competing for dance cards to the NCAA Tournament in 2020, and we’re here to help sort out who’s in and who’s out from the bubble. Here are some of they key matchups this weekend for who will hear their name called on Selection Sunday, and who will get that sad phone call from someone at the NIT asking to what address they can mail sponsorship decals for their home court.
VCU Rams at Richmond Spiders, Saturday 4 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network
This is as bubbly as February can get. Both these teams are Last Four Out via Jerry Palm at CBS Sports, and Last Eight Out via Joe Lunardi at ESPN. VCU is 17-7, 7-4 in the A-10, but has zero Q1 wins. They got a Q2 by beating Richmond at home, but doing it on the road counts for that massively-important extra quadrant.
As for Richmond (18-6, 8-3 A-10) they took out URI on the road and Wisconsin on a neutral floor for two Q1 wins, but otherwise have just played a much softer schedule than VCU overall. Two teams with resumes that are in the eye of the beholder, and both can pick up a nice win they’d like to point to on Selection Sunday.
LSU Tigers vs. Alabama Crimson Tide, Saturday 4 p.m. ET, ESPN2
Is LSU in? Most likely, as 18-6 and 9-2 in the SEC is enough to get in for now. They’re a No. 7 seed by both Palm and Lunardi. But they’ve lost two of their last three, the win being against an overmatched Mizzou. And the Tigers probably need 1-2 more quality wins before they can start booking non-refundable airfare.
Alabama might not be a quality win (13-11, 5-6 SEC), but it would be a bad loss. It’s about seeding for the up-and-down Tigers, but it becomes about more than that if they can’t get back on track to close the 2020 season.
Purdue Boilermakers vs. Ohio State Buckeyes, Saturday 12 p.m. ET, Fox
The Boilers are Last Four In via Palm, which means Dayton and the First Four, and on the 10-line with Lunardi. If they can find a way to get a top-tier Q1 win on Saturday against the Buckeyes, they’re probably safe barring a cataclysmic meltdown to end the year. And even that might not be enough as tough as the B1G has been this season.
On the other side, tOSU is somewhere in the unprotected 6-8 seed realm for now, and would like to get on the top four lines if possible. A loss here might keep them from it barring a B1G Tournament Championship.
Georgetown Hoyas vs. Butler Bulldogs, Saturday 2:30 p.m. ET, Fox
OK Hoyas: you in this or not? You don’t have a single quality win this year, but you’ve played a brutally-tough schedule to be fair. Lunardi and Palm have you both on the outside looking in, but that changes if you can get that oh-so-needed Q1 victory against the Bulldogs on Saturday. They beat you by five in DC, but that can’t happen again. This is a must-have for the Hoyas to even consider the tournament without a run at MSG.
And don’t blow this, Butler: if you want a protected Top 4 seed, you can’t lose here.
Arizona Wildcats at Stanford Cardinal, Saturday 10:30 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network
Arizona is likely fine despite that bad home loss to UCLA at home last week. But if they want a Top 4 seed and the geographic and matchup protection that goes with it, they can’t lose here.
As for Stanford, they are somewhere between a double-digit seed and Dayton as of now. The campus in Palo Alto is called “The Farm,” but their hopes are going out to pasture unless you find a couple more good wins between now and mid-March. They’ll either need to win this one or Colorado in two weeks if they want a second Q1 win besides Oregon at home.