As the regular season wraps up in the coming week, several teams on the bubble have make-or-break games on their schedules as they take one last shot at securing an at-large bid for the NCAA Tournament. Each conference championship winner gets an automatic bid, but for the rest, they can only hope that their strength of schedule and record are enough to qualify them.
Several teams who are floating right on the edge play on Monday, February 27. A win could help cement a spot, while a loss could take them out completely at such a precarious point in the season. Let’s take a look at who to watch on Monday:
Bubble Games to watch on February 27
West Virginia vs. No. 23 Iowa State
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
West Virginia is currently projected to make the tournament as things stand — CBS’s Jerry Palm has the Mountaineers in his Last Four In, while they make ESPN’s Joe Lunardi’s Last Four Byes list. But this is a tough position to be in — with so many other teams itching to jump that hurdle and make the tournament, the Mountaineers have plenty of competition for one of those coveted final spots.
A win over No. 23 Iowa State, who West Virginia already beat earlier this season, would likely push them over the edge into a solidified spot. A loss, especially a close one, may not exclude them completely, but it would feel like much more of a toss-up. WVU is 16-13 overall and 5-1 in conference play — a number that is better than it looks in an impressive Big 12.
They’ll finish out their season with a game against Kansas State. The Mountaineers are an impressive 27th in the NCAA NET rankings, just a few spots behind the Cyclones at No. 22.
No. 9 Baylor vs. Oklahoma State
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
The tournament is just barely in the fingertips of Oklahoma State right now. Both CBS and ESPN have the Cowboys listed in the “Last Four In” section. They face No. 9 Baylor on Monday for the second time this season. In the first matchup, the Bears won 74-58 at home, so the Cowboys have their work cut out for them.
Oklahoma State will close out their season against Texas Tech after they face Baylor, another team who has had a big push this month. The Cowboys are 16-13 overall and 7-9 thus far in conference play. They sit at 46th in the NCAA NET rankings, with Baylor coming at 12th.
North Carolina vs. Florida State
Time: 6:00 p.m. ET
North Carolina finally has its first Quad 1 win after beating Virginia at home. Their March wasn’t looking promising for much of February, but after that big victory, UNC sits in the “First Four Out” category at both CBS and ESPN. After facing FSU, they will close out their season against rival Duke. They may need to beat both of these ACC opponents to have a shot at the tourney after going 18-11 overall and 10-8 in conference play, or have a deep run in their conference tournament.
The Tar Heels sit at 47th in the NCAA NET rankings ahead of the matchup. They are 7.5-point favorites against FSU, who rank 219th.