Like Sunday, there's only one bubble game that really matters today: Florida State. But getting into the dance isn't as simple as winning 20 games, or beating Syracuse. Unless FSU wins out the regular season and wins at least two tournament games, then their spot in the dance will largely be predicated on what other bubble teams do. I would certainly like FSU's odds in that scenario, though the other bubble teams would have to have finishes which weren't quite as spectacular. So, in the end, we have to keep paying attention to other teams. Here are tonight's games of interest:
Creighton at Georgetown: No way Georgetown would make the dance if the season ended today, but they get Creighton and Villanova in back-to-back games vs top 10 RPI teams.
Iowa State at Baylor: The Bears likely just need a good win to lock up their spot in the tourney. They finish with two opportunities vs Iowa State and K-State.
Marquette at Providence: Marquette did FSU a solid by knocking off Georgetown last week. Now we need them to do the same vs Providence.
Arizona State at Oregon: Oregon got a great free win at UCLA last week when the Bruins suspended their top two players. But will the committee consider that when weighing bubble teams? It's possible, though if they beat Arizona State it is probably a moot point. The Ducks finish with Arizona State and Arizona, both at home, and they need to lose both.
Florida State at Boston College
FSU is in a precarious position on a bubble that keeps getting stronger. The Noles took care of business vs Georgia Tech, but still dropped three positions in Joe Lunardi's bracketology. Since other teams aren't finishing with a crash, it means that tonight's game at BC is in must-win territory. With a loss, the Noles might be able to play their way back with a win over Syracuse and a trip to the ACCT finals, but that's not exactly a promising road to be forced to take.
The narrative of late has been how up-and-down FSU has played this season. But using Pomeroy as a gauge, the weakest team to beat FSU was No. 79 NC State. The only other ACC teams that have failed to lose vs anything worse than an 80+ team this year (actually, anything worse than No. 93) are Virginia and Pitt. The Noles are 11-0 vs teams ranked worse than NC State. This seems pretty consistent to me, but that could all change tonight vs No. 139 and at the worst possible time.
Boston College is pretty much the opposite of Florida State. They've combined some head scratching losses (at home vs Toledo and Georgia Tech, on the road vs USC) with their win on the road at previously undefeated Syracuse. All told they're 4-12 in the ACC, and two of those wins came against last place Virginia Tech.
The danger in Boston College is their high variance. In ACC play 45% of their shots have been from the arc, and they have good shooters. 6-4 junior Lonnie Jackson has made 49 3s and shoots them at a 41% clip, and 6-2 sophomore Joe Rahon has made 42 3s and shoots 37%. Sophomore Olivier Hanlan has attempted the most 3s of any BC player, but only makes 34%. But he made 4-9 in their win over Syracuse, 4-7 vs Clemson, 3-5 vs Notre Dame, and 3-6 vs Providence.
The 6-4 Hanlan also excels in the other area where BC is strong: getting to the line. They've attempted the 3rd most FTs in conference play, and between him and 6-9 junior Ryan Anderson they've attempted double digit FTs 17 times. If BC is knocking down 3s this could be a long and tense game. If they're knocking down 3s and the game is being called tightly, then the tourney train will be coming off the rails.
But the story of BC's season hasn't been their offense. This is Steve Donahue's fourth season at the helm and he's had three top 50 offenses. The reason they're struggling is that their defense has been awful. They are 275th in eFG% allowed, 341st at forcing turnovers, and 313th in defensive rebounding. FSU's strength is shooting and offensive boards, and those are two areas where the Noles need to dominate tonight. For three straight games FSU's offense has been humming - they scored the 4th most points per possession vs UNC all year, the 4th most against Pitt, and the 3rd most vs Georgia Tech. To keep that going FSU would need to score something like 80 points in a 63 possession game.
However it shakes out, FSU has to find a way to win. This is almost like a tournament atmosphere for Florida State - survive and advance. A consistent effort for 40 minutes is all we can ask.
The game tips from the Conte Forum at 9pm and will be broadcast on ESPNU. Florida State is favored by 2 points.