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What the March 5 college basketball schedule means for March Madness bubble watch

The NCAA tournament is fast approaching. We break down what the Friday, March 5 schedule means for teams on the bubble.

Saint Louis Billikens guard Jordan Goodwin drives to the basket during the second half against the Minnesota Gophers at Williams Arena. Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports

The Bubble shifts to win-or-go-home games now, as the conference tournaments are in full-swing for many mid-major leagues. These games of course count even more, because each one you play is an added data point for the NCAA Selection Committee you earned by winning the previous one.

Let’s take a look at games today and who might give the committee more of a reason to include them in the field of 68.

UMass vs. Saint Louis (-7.5), 1:00 p.m. NBCSN

The Billikens just need to handle business today and get to the next round, because a loss to a bad UMass team might be a death knell for their bubble chances. SLU beat the Minutemen 78-57 at Chaifetz Arena on Monday to close the regular season, and will be looking for a similar outcome today. UMass did hang triple digits yesterday to get here in a 100-66 win over St. Joe’s.

Dayton vs. VCU (-4.5), 3:30 p.m. NBCSN

See above, because it’s about the same situation. The Rams just need to hang on and get through, because no one knows how this jumbled Atlantic 10 will be graded by the NCAA Committee. VCU is 17-6, 10-4 in the A-10, and 50 in KenPom but 35 in the NET. The difference here is because of their No. 3 seed in this tournament (despite being the favorite according to the betting odds), they’ll get a team that didn’t have to play a game yesterday in the Dayton Flyers.

Northern Iowa vs. Drake (-7.5), 6:00 p.m. ESPN+

Whole squad on that real bubble for Drake, who is somewhere between the First Four and an NIT No. 1 seed depending on which bracketologist you ask. The Bulldogs are 53 in KenPom, but 41 in NET with a gaudy 24-3 record, 15-3 in the Missouri Valley. They’ll need to live for today if they want to plan for tomorrow.

Colorado State (-1) vs. Nevada, 9:00 p.m. CBS Sports Network

Lotta carbonation for the Rams, who have won five in a row against no one sentient since splitting a back-to-back with Boise State at the end of January. But this might be a Quad 2 win on the road, and CSU needs to hold serve until late in the MWC Tournament to see any consideration. They’re 40th in the NET with a 17-4, 14-3 mark that includes Q1’s over San Diego State and Boise.