While the close of conference tournament sometimes pits predicable, "cream of the crop" match ups in the semifinals and championship games, there's a few games that will have win-or-bust implications today for a few teams on the tourney bubble.
Here are the games that bubble-enthusiasts should have their eye on today:
C-USA Championship Game: Southern Miss vs. Memphis at 11:30AM
Ranked no. 20 in the country, Memphis is a tourney-lock regardless of whether or not they win the conference tournament title. Just last week Southern Miss was likely to receive an at-large tourney bid as one of the "last four in" teams, but that was before the Golden Eagles fell to a subpar Marshall team to close out the C-USA regular season. Now, Southern Miss likely will nee to beat Memphis and receive the automatic conference tournament bid to get into the NCAA Tournament field.
Southern Miss record: (25-8, 12-4 C-USA), RPI: 33, SOS: 102
SEC Semifinals: Alabama vs. Florida at 1:00PM
Florida is securely in the NCAA Tournament, and winning the conference tournament is important to the Gators as they look to climb the 'seeding' ladder after ending their season with 3-3 record over their final six games. That said, Alabama finds itself in a "win or go home" situation in the SEC Tournament. It's very simple, even if Alabama beats Florida today the Crimson Tide still might need to take the SEC Tournament crown to get into the March Madness field on Selection Sunday. Either way today's conference semifinal is a must-watch.
Alabama record: (21-11, 12-6 SEC), RPI: 61, SOS: 93
SEC Semifinals: Vanderbilt vs. Ole Miss at 3:00PM
The only way Vanderbilt finds themselves in the NCAA Tournament is with the automatic bid. That said, Ole Miss might not need to win the SEC Tournament to get into the March Madness field, but a loss to a Vanderbilt team with an 8-10 SEC conference record would greatly hurt their chances. Right now, Ole Miss is sitting firmly on the bubble. A win against Vanderbilt and a trip to the SEC Tournament Championship game might put them securely in the "last four in" category on Selection Sunday.
Ole Miss record: (24-8, 12-6 SEC), RPI: 55, SOS: 149
ACC Semifinals: Maryland vs. North Carolina at 3:00PM
With Virginia falling to NC State
yesterday, and Maryland taking down the no. 2 ranked Duke Blue Devils, the "Virginia in-Maryland out" the table that seemed to be set after the Cavaliers beat the Terps in the ACC season finale might be in the process of being turned. Both teams are bubble teams, and as Virginia no longer has any games to build its resume on, a "last four in" spot is there for Maryland's taking. A win over North Carolina today would be Maryland's second win over a tourney-lock team in two days. It would also put the Terps in the ACC Final where anything could happen against the winner of the NC State
semifinal game. While an at-large bid wouldn't be guaranteed to Maryland with a win over North Carolina today, a loss today would likely seal their fate as a "first four out" team.
Maryland record: (22-11, 8-10 ACC), RPI: 77, SOS: 122
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A-10 Semifinals: UMass vs. VCU at 4:00PM
There's three locks coming out of the A-10 conference right now, and the VCU Rams are one of them. UMass still has some work to do, including winning the conference tournament. While the A-10 was stronger than many expected this season, if the conference were to put in four or fives teams UMass would still fall short. A win against VCU today could change that though perception though.
UMass record: (21-10, 9-7 A-10), RPI: 57, SOS: 91