College Basketball Bubble Watch

Updated: February 22, 2010, 3:54 PM ET
By Mark Schlabach | ESPN.com


Five bubble teams to watch during BracketBuster weekend

Editor's note: This file has been updated to include all games through Wednesday, Feb. 18.

The NCAA tournament was a pretty exclusive party in 2009.

Only four at-large bids went to teams from outside the power conferences. That total might at least double this season, given the mediocrity of the Pac-10 for starters.

So there are probably more at-large spots up for grabs for teams from mid-major conferences and a few of them can begin to separate themselves from the pack with this weekend's BracketBuster games. Which teams need victories the most?

1. Siena
The Saints play at Butler on Saturday and probably need to upset the Bulldogs at Hinkle Fieldhouse to have any chance at earning an at-large bid if they don't win the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament. After losing at Niagara by 13 last week, there are certainly questions about Siena's at-large worthiness. Beating the Bulldogs on the road would start to address those concerns.

2. William & Mary
The Tribe upset Wake Forest and Maryland on the road and defeated red-hot Richmond at home. But William & Mary sits in third place in the Colonial Athletic Association, which might only be a one- or two-team league. The Tribe play at Iona on Friday night and can't afford a loss to the second-best team in the MAAC.

3. Northeastern
The Huskies sit in the same boat with fellow CAA bubble team William & Mary. At 13-3, Northeastern is tied with Old Dominion for first place in the CAA standings and has a couple of nice victories over ODU and Utah State. But it also lost to fellow bubble teams like Rhode Island, Siena, Saint Mary's and William & Mary. The Huskies host Louisiana Tech in Boston on Saturday. They can't afford to lose any of their remaining three regular-season games.

4. Northern Iowa
The Panthers are 23-3 after losing at Bradley 68-59 on Saturday. But Northern Iowa has only one victory over an RPI top-50 opponent (Siena), leaving at least a little doubt as to whether it would receive an NCAA at-large bid if it doesn't win the Missouri Valley Conference tournament. The Panthers can really help themselves by defeating Old Dominion at home on Friday night. With victories over Georgetown, Charlotte and a sweep of William & Mary, the Monarchs seem to be in much better shape in terms of the NCAA bubble.

5. Wichita State
The Shockers remain in the NCAA bubble discussion, but they certainly haven't passed the eye test during the past two weeks. Wichita State nearly lost to lowly Evansville for the second time in eight days, before beating the Purple Aces 76-70 in overtime at home on Wednesday night. The Shockers lost at Evansville 65-62 on Feb. 9; the Purple Aces are 0-14 against all other Missouri Valley opponents. Wichita State plays at Utah State on Saturday night and could really use a quality road victory to restore its confidence and reputation.