College Basketball Bubble Watch

Updated: March 1, 2010, 5:56 PM ET
By Mark Schlabach | ESPN.com


As the calendar turns to March, let the madness begin

Editor's note: This file has been updated to include all games through Sunday, Feb. 28.

The calendar turns to March 1 today, which means March Madness is officially under way.

With only one week left in college basketball's regular season, there is still plenty at stake for more than two dozen teams on the NCAA tournament bubble.

Bubble Insider

Big East bubble hopefuls will be stepping on each other's toes during the regular season's stretch run. Bubble Insider Insider
Tourney odds: Bubble battle Insider

For the sake of argument -- though we can reasonably assume this logic won't hold up come Champ Week -- let's assume that a team with a "lock" or "should be in" designation wins the automatic bid for each of the Big 6 conferences, as well as those for the Atlantic 10, Mountain West, Horizon (Butler), West Coast (Gonzaga), Missouri Valley (Northern Iowa) and Conference USA (UTEP). If we add those 12 bids to the 19 automatic bids that will be awarded to conferences not represented in Bubble Watch, we've got our 31 automatic bids. Once we include the remaining teams with a "lock" or "should be in" designation, we're at 55 bids.

That only leaves 10 remaining bids for the 25 teams that are currently designated as having "work to do," which is why teams across the country will be rooting for teams like Butler, Gonzaga, Northern Iowa and UTEP to win their respective conference tournaments.

Here's a look at some games that will affect the bubble watch this week:

Monday:

Fresno State at Utah State (ESPN360, 9:05 p.m. ET)
The Aggies have won 13 games in a row, but can't afford any losses because of their mediocre computer profile.

Tuesday:

Villanova at Cincinnati (ESPN2, 7 p.m. ET)
The Bearcats squandered a great opportunity to pick up a signature victory at West Virginia and could really use a home win over the Wildcats.

Vanderbilt at Florida (ESPN, 7 p.m. ET)
The Gators put themselves right back on the bubble by losing at Georgia on Saturday. An upset of the Commodores would go a long way in erasing that loss.

Minnesota at Michigan (7 p.m. ET)
The Gophers really helped themselves by winning at Illinois on Saturday, but they can't afford a loss to Michigan or Iowa this week.

Georgia Tech at Clemson (ESPN360, 8 p.m. ET)
Both ACC teams seem to be in pretty good shape for an at-large bid. The winner of this game probably moves to "lock" status.

Illinois at Ohio State (ESPN, 9 p.m. ET)
The Illini are running out of chances to enhance their profile. They might need to beat the Buckeyes or Wisconsin on Saturday to have a real chance for an at-large bid.

Louisville at Marquette (ESPNU, 9:30 p.m. ET)
Both teams have probably climbed on the right side of the bubble during the past two weeks. The winner probably punches its NCAA ticket.

Wednesday:

Memphis at UAB (9 p.m. ET)
The Blazers are probably in better shape than the Tigers, but UAB can't afford a second loss to Memphis this season.

Wake Forest at Florida State (ESPN2, 7 p.m. ET) The Seminoles could really use a victory over an ACC team like Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons could really use a win to end a three-game slide.

Connecticut at Notre Dame (ESPN, 7 p.m. ET)
The Fighting Irish knocked off Pittsburgh and Georgetown without Luke Harangody. The Huskies are trying to make up for lost time while coach Jim Calhoun was gone.

Charlotte at Rhode Island (7 p.m. ET)
It's probably an elimination game between two A-10 bubble hopefuls. Both teams have hit the skids after promising starts.

NC State at Virginia Tech (7 p.m. ET)
The Hokies have lost three games in a row to put themselves in a precarious spot. Beating the Wolfpack is a necessity at this point.

Temple at Saint Louis (8 p.m. ET)
The Billikens have a long way to go to earn an NCAA at-large bid, but an upset of the Owls would make up a lot of ground in a hurry.

Here's Monday's Bubble Watch: