Bracket Brief: Patriot Day
Bubble teams are front and center today starting with a pair of games this afternoon. Tipping things off is Cincinnati-Providence in the second round of the Big East Tournament. The thinking is that a loss, especially for Providence, would be devastating. So we'll call it a must-win for both teams. A little later in the afternoon the Pac-12 Tournament gets going with a first round matchup between Arizona State and Stanford.
The Sun Devils are an interesting case. They have 20 Division I wins and they were .500 in conference play. If a power conference team hits those two milestones they're almost always get an at-large bid. However, ASU is 91st in the RPI with a strength of schedule of 124. They've lost four in a row and their best win was at home against UCLA. In other words, Arizona State has a pretty flimsy case.
We go back to the Big East in the early evening with Villanova-St. John's. There's a strong case for the Wildcats and a win here would move them off the bubble and into the field. If you're really adventurous, stay up past midnight for the Mountain West quarterfinal game between Boise State and San Diego State. Unlike ASU, Boise State has seized the moment, winning five of their last six. Still some work left to do though.
Finally, there's one automatic bid going out and it's a tournament final that I try to catch every year: the Patriot League Championship. I've long called the Patriot League the last bastion of purity in big time college sports. True student-athletes who can compete at a high level. Just ask Mike Krzyzewski how competitive the Patriot League is. The Bucknell-Lafayette winner will be the 14th automatic bid so far this week.