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.
For some help, we scoured the Internet’s bracketologists to help us predict who will be heading to a first-and-second round city, and who’s hosting an NIT game.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights vs. Michigan Wolverines
Rutgers: 20-11, 11-9 Big Ten, NET 30, Ken Pom 28
ESPN: 9 seed
CBS: 11 seed
ESPN shows Rutgers to be fairly safe regardless of what happens in this game, but it appears CBS thinks the Scarlet Knights are in need of a win. The bubble will get smaller and smaller with the more conference tournament bid-stealing champions we have. A win over Michigan should make the Scarlet Knights feel safely inside the field of 68. That won’t be easy, especially with how bad Rutgers is away from home. The Scarlet Knights are 18-1 at home but 2-10 on the road or at neutral sites this season.
Texas Tech Red Raiders vs. Texas Longhorns
Texas Tech: 18-13, 9-9 Big 12, 22 NET, Ken Pom 22
Texas: 19-12, 9-9 Big 12, 70 NET, Ken Pom 61
ESPN: Texas Tech: 10 seed. Texas: 11 seed
CBS: Texas Tech: OUT. Texas: OUT
Things do not look good if you’re a fan of either of these teams from the Longhorn State according to CBS, which doesn’t have either in the field. This could be seen as a play-in game, but even that might not be enough. If Texas or Texas Tech is just outside of the tournament according to some, would a win over a fellow bubble team push them into the field? Maybe, but you know what would probably guarantee an NCAA bid? A win over the Kansas Jayhawks on Friday. Texas is favored by 5.5 points heading into today’s matchup.
NC State Wolfpack vs. Duke Blue Devils
NC State: 20-12, 10-10 ACC, 53 NET, Ken Pom 50
ESPN: 11 seed
This one is pretty simple. If NC State loses on Thursday, the Wolfpack will be sweating it out all day long on Selection Sunday and probably will be on the outside looking in. A win over college basketball’s most prestigious team would be absolutely massive and likely bring NC State into the field of 68. The Wolfpack have done it before when they crushed Duke at home earlier in the season. NC State enters the game as eight-point favorites in a must-win game.
Indiana Hoosiers vs. Penn State Nittany Lions
Indiana: 20-12, 9-11 Big Ten, 56 NET, Ken Pom 34
ESPN: 11 seed
CBS: 10 seed
Both major bracketologists, or as Archie Miller calls them, Sesame Street characters have the Hoosiers in the field heading into their matchup with Penn State. Indiana took care of business against Nebraska, but a win against the last-place team in the Big Ten will not sway anybody. However, going out and beating Penn State on a neutral court would be impressive. With a win, Indiana should firmly be inside the NCAA Tournament picture.
California Bears vs. UCLA Bruins
UCLA: 19-12, 12-6 Pac-12, NET 76, Ken Pom 78
ESPN: 11 seed
CBS: 11 seed
UCLA is just barely hanging on according to the two bracketologists. California is a pretty bad basketball team, so today’s game can only hurt the Bruins as a loss would at least make for a sleepless eve of Selection Sunday. A win Thursday won’t guarantee anything, but if they can win the potential matchup between them and Arizona State on Friday, that will do wonders for UCLA’s tournament chances.
Marquette Golden Eagles vs. Seton Hall Pirates
Marquette: 18-12, 8-10 Big East, NET 26, Ken Pom 31
It’s strange to see Marquette as a bubble team after a good start to the season at 17-6, but that’s what the Golden Eagles are at this point. This is probably still an NCAA Tournament team, but they’re not making it easy on themselves. Marquette lost six of its last seven games including three in a row. The Golden Eagles should be safe on Selection Sunday, but they sure are making it hard on themselves.
Washington State Cougars vs. Arizona State Sun Devils
Arizona State: 11-7, 20-11 Pac-12, NET 54, Ken Pom 63
Arizona State is likely safe as an NCAA Tournament team, but it would not be wise to test things with a loss to Washington State, the last-place team in the Pac-12. A win will lock up a spot for the Sun Devils, and they’re probably still in even if they lose, but why tempt it?