Here We Go: Watching the Bubble as Maryland Makes an NCAA Run

Of course they had to make a run. Maryland teams under Gary Williams always make a run. Last year's team didn't need to, but before that, Maryland had been bubble fodder for a solid five years or so, usually making a late-season run to keep their hopes alive.

So why would this year be any different? Maryland won their last two, both in convincing fashion, and now they find themselves right back on the bubble. If they can pull off an upset of UNC in Chapel Hill this Sunday - a game in which I'd never write Maryland off - they'll find themselves ready to sneak into the NCAAT. They'd still need to win out and probably grab two or three wins in the ACC tournament, but hey, would you be surprised if that happened?

While that's all well and good, they'll need some help from a few others. Let's look at what other bubble teams are playing this weekend and who you should be rooting for in all of them:

(An * means I'll be watching the game - ie, the game is worth tuning in to see. Also, yes, this is a sponsored post promoting the King of Beers. We're going corporate at an alarming rate, I know.) 

Saturday

#1 Duke @ VT (9:00, ESPN): Root for Duke.* Yeah, it hurts it say, but a win over the #1 team in the country would punch the Hokies' ticket into the dance. A loss means they probably need to win their final two (vs. BC, @ Clemson).

#5 Texas @ Colorado (4:00, ESPN3): Root for Texas. Colorado is fading fast, exiting out of some bracketologies completely. Much like VT, a win here on their home floor over a top 5 team would all but clinch a berth. A loss leaves them pretty much where they are now: probably not in the tournament.

#17 Texas A&M @ Baylor (9:00, ESPNU): Root for Texas A&M. The Bears are in the First Four Out/Next Four Out area right now, so a good RPI win over a team like TAMU might get them back over the hump. A loss won't hurt too much, but it can't be good.

#21 Missouri @ Kansas St. (12:00, ESPN): Root for Missouri. Might not matter, as K-State is looking pretty solid, but they're a bubble team nonetheless right now. That means loss = good.

Boston College @ Virginia (12:00, Raycom): Root for Virginia.* The Hoos already helped us out by beating VT twice. A win over BC would mean the Eagles top out at 8-8 in conference and would probably end their tournament hopes. Unlikely, but it'd be nice.

Nebraska @ Iowa State (1:45, ESPN3): Root for Iowa State. Nebraska is a late bubble arrival, with that win over Texas propelling them into consideration. A loss at Iowa State - a game they should win, in all honesty - would probably undo that earlier win.

Miami @ Florida State (2:00, ESPN3/Raycom): Root for Florida State.* This really depends on your point of view. Or if not, I'm not smart enough to figure out which Maryland should root for. A win for Miami weakens FSU to the point where they're serious bubble material. But it also means the Hurricanes are, too. My gut tells me that it's more likely Miami sneaks in than FSU drops out, so pull for the Seminoles and hope Maryland's win looks a little better.

Memphis @ UTEP (3:00, ESPN2): Root for UTEP. Memphis will more than likely win the league's auto bid, and that's not a bad thing if they can prevent teams like UAB and Southern Miss from sneaking in. But just in case, I wouldn't mind as weak a résumé as possible. UTEP, who's 8-5 in the conference, can pull off the upset.

Alabama @ Ole Miss (4:00, ESPN3): Root for Ole Miss. The Crimson Tide have stormed through the SEC, which gives them a chance despite a downright terrible OOC slate. Ole Miss isn't a contender, so a loss here would be pretty damaging.

Michigan @ Minnesota (4:30, Big Ten Network): Root for Michigan. This would revive the Wolverines' hopes, yes, but it would also probably wreck Minnesota's, which is reeling right now. If Michigan beat Michigan State later, then maybe this would come back to hurt Maryland, but I'll take my bets for now.

Colorado State @ Air Force (6:30): Root for Air Force. This has little chance of happening, but if the Rams lost this one, they could probably kiss their tournament hopes goodbye. They're probably one of the eight or so bubbliest teams in the country, and this is the type of loss they can't afford.

South Carolina @ Georgia (7:00, ESPN3): Root for South Carolina.* You know how much I love Darrin Horn. Maybe he could help the Terrapins out here if his Gamecocks beat Georgia in Athens. While that's kind of unlikely, an upset there would push Georgia onto the wrong side of the bubble.

Southern Miss @ UCF (7:00): Root for UCF. If the Knights have one more upset in them, it'd be nice if it was this one. The Golden Eagles don't have that strong of a case, but a loss here would obliterate it and have the nice combo of making one of Colorado State's best wins look a lot worse.

Sunday

UConn @ Cincinnati (12:00, ESPNU): Root for UConn.* Cincy has three very difficult games left, with UConn and Georgetown still remaining at home plus a road trip to Marquette. Win one, and they can probably punch their ticket. Lose all three - which could definitely happen - and their hopes will rest in the notoriously volatile Big East Tournament.

Providence @ Marquette (4:00, ESPN3): Root for Providence. With Marshon Brooks, anything is possible. That's what we're hoping, at least, because a home loss to Providence would push Marquette back to the bad side of the bubble.

Washington St. @ Washington (10:00, FSN): Root for Washington. The Apple Cup is a great rivalry by itself, but the ante is upped in this one: if Wazzu wins, they're back in the thick of things. A loss probably ends their chances.

I'm actually of the belief that Maryland controls a lot of its own destiny. There's little in-between: they probably need to run the table. If they do, it'll be tough to keep them out. Don't, and they don't have the strength get in, regardless of the bubble. Still, if Maryland only wins one in the ACC tournament (or two instead of three, depending on the bubble strength) a few timely losses from Minnesota and Marquette might help.

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