It’s crunch time for several men’s college basketball programs across the country as the final weekend of the regular season unfurls. While many teams who are safely in the field of 68 are just fighting for seeding, a handful are fighting just to simply make it to Indianapolis later this month.
Each day we’ll take a look at who’s in with a win, who’s out with a loss, and all the in-between machinations of the 2021 NCAA Tournament bubble. We’ve added spreads and some bracket analysis for the biggest games of the day.
Duke (+3) vs. North Carolina, 6 p.m. ESPN
It’s bizarre to see the premier rivalry in college basketball have bubble instead of No. 1 seed implications, but here we are.
Duke (11-10, 9-8 ACC, KenPom 38, NET 58) is attempting to scratch and claw their way back into the dance but barring a run all the way to the ACC Tournament Championship, it may be too little too late. Coach K’s crew did not help their case with an overtime loss at Georgia Tech on Tuesday, and their only shot at padding their resume before the conference tourney is a potential Quad 1 victory over UNC.
In turn, the Tar Heels (15-9, 9-6 ACC, KenPom 33, NET 44) have seemingly pulled themselves off the bubble in recent weeks and last week’s 78-70 victory over Florida State helped them tremendously. However, the double whammy of a Monday’s loss to Syracuse and a potential Quad 2 loss to Duke could tilt them back into bubble territory.
Vanderbilt vs. Ole Miss (-8) 7 p.m. ET SEC Network
The Rebels (14-10, 9-8 SEC, KenPom 52, NET 56) have some work to do entering Saturday’s home matchup with Vanderbilt (8-14, 3-13 SEC, KenPom 91, NET 106) as both ESPN’s Joe Lunardi and CBS’ Jerry Palm have them out of the NCAA Tournament field.
A Quadrant 3 win over the Commodores won’t do much to boost their resume but it’s an added plus heading into next week’s SEC Tournament in Nashville. Winning a tight 75-70 game in their previous outing with Vandy, it’s imperative that Ole Miss doesn’t slip up here.
Seton Hall (-1) vs. St. John’s, 7 p.m. ET FS1
Seton Hall (13-11, 10-8 Big East, KenPom 50, NET 57) is in desperation mode at this point as an untimely three-game losing streak has placed them on the outside looking in. The Pirates have been streaky throughout their conference slate this season, going on a pair of three and four-game winning streaks, respectively, but also suffering through another three-game skid in the slate.
The Pirates defeated St. John’s (15-10, 9-9 Big East, KenPom 70, NET 69) by nine in their conference opener on Dec. 11 and a victory here would give them their fourth Quadrant 1 victory of the season.
Xavier vs. Marquette (-2), 9 p.m. ET FS1
The experts have Xavier (13-6, 6-6 Big East, KenPom 56, NET 53) sneaking into the field of 68 for now but they have some work to do in order to solidify their standing. The Musketeers haven’t done themselves any favors with recent losses to Providence and Georgetown and find themselves in a position where they have no choice but to finish strong and have a solid showing in the Big East tournament next week.
Before they head off to Madison Square Garden, they’ll have a chance to pad their resume with a potential road win over Marquette (12-13, 7-11 Big East, KenPom 76, NET 90). A victory in Milwaukee here would put the Musketeers over .500 in Quadrant 2 matchups this season at 5-4.