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What March 3 college basketball schedule means for March Madness bubble watch

The NCAA tournament is fast approaching. We break down what the Wednesday, March 3 schedule means for teams on the bubble.

Head coach Jim Boeheim of the Syracuse Orange during a game against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at the Rutgers Athletic Center on December 8, 2020 in Piscataway, New Jersey. Photo by Benjamin Solomon/Getty Images

There aren’t a ton of big-time college programs set to play on Wednesday, but the result of the games could affect the NCAA tournament in a major way. Some teams have begun their conference tournament journey’s in hopes of securing automatic bids while others are still grinding out the rest of the regular season. We’ve identified a trio of games worth keeping an eye on ahead of the action.

Clemson vs. Syracuse, 5:00 p.m. ACC Network

Syracuse is a bubble team that gained some ground by knocking off UNC in a thriller on Monday. Duke’s Tuesday loss to Georgia Tech could help the Orange move up a notch, but the Yellow Jackets could have to blow their season finale for ‘Cuse to break into a First Four candidate. The Orange just have to focus on winning and will have to wait to see how Georgia Tech’s game pans out later in the day.

UConn vs. Seton Hall, 6:30 p.m. FS1

UConn and Seton Hall are both projected to make the tournament right now, but the Huskies have an edge and are expected to avoid the First Four. The Pirates could bypass a play-in game with a win, and would go 2-0 against UConn on the year ahead of the Big East Conference Tournament. Neither team has a great shot at securing an automatic bid by topping No. 14 Creighton or No. 10 Villanova in the tournament, so this game could be a must-win for both sides.

Southern Illinois vs. Belmont, 8:00 p.m. ESPN+

Belmont (24-3, 18-2 OVC) is pretty much penciled in as an automatic qualifier, but anything could happen. The Bruins unexpectedly lost in the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament in 2019, but ultimately got its first-ever at-large bid before going on to knock off Temple in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Belmont is 81st in the NET and could creep into the tournament again if it gets upset, but it’s unlikely that they’ll lose to a team they crushed by an average of 42 points this season.