Northwestern NCAA Tournament Bubble Rooting Interests: 2/26/2011

With Northwestern sitting squarely on the NCAA tournament bubble, it's time for a new daily feature, in which I take a look at every game relevant to Northwestern's NCAA chances and tell you whom you should be rooting for.

This is a lot more fun to compile after Northwestern wins. As a bonus, I've added the betting line to give you an idea of how the two teams involved match up.

Cincinnati Bearcats at South Florida Bulls (-2), 11 AM central, ESPN3

Team to root for: Cincinnati

We were rooting against Cincinnati earlier this week, but after they beat Louisville they should be safely in. South Florida, on the other hand, desperately needs a win to give themselves a chance to make the tournament, as they're currently just outside the cut line.

Indiana Hoosiers at Minnesota Golden Gophers (-1.5), Noon central, ESPN

Team to root for: Indiana

Minnesota probably needs to win their last three regular season games and at least one in the Big Ten tournament to have a chance at an at-large bid. And if Tubby Smith continues to instruct his team to run the shot clock under 10 seconds before shooting when they have a lead, they'll be lucky to win any of those games. I still can't believe that really happened.

St. Peter's Peacocks at Iona Gaels (-20.5), 4 central, no TV

Team to root for: St. Peter's

Iona passes the eyeball test with flying colors: their trio of point guard Scott Machado (the nation's assist leader), guard Lamont "Momo" Jones (started for Arizona's Elite 8 team last year), and forward Mike Glover (shoots 64% on high usage) would all start for the vast majority of bubble teams. However, in order to get an at-large bid, you need wins over NCAA caliber teams, and Iona's only decent win was at home against bubbling St. Joseph's, and they have several bad losses. Even with a strong RPI of 37, I don't see how Iona gets an at-large bid, but just in case, root for them to lose to a terrible team like St. Peter's.

California Golden Bears at Colorado Buffaloes (+2.5), 4:30 central, regional FSN

Team to root for: Colorado

Colorado saw their bubble popped on Thursday night after they got a #BEATEMDOWN at home against Stanford (the same Stanford who turned around and lost to KenPom #301 Utah last night, the Pac-12 is bizarre), so now we root for them to play spoiler against Pac-12 leader Cal. Cal can likely afford a loss here, but who knows, they could fall apart down the stretch and come up short.

Florida St. Seminoles at Miami Hurricanes (-1.5), 5 central, ESPNU

Team to root for: Florida State

Miami is in rough shape after a bad loss to Maryland earlier this week and badly needs a quality win over a ranked team like Florida State.

Iowa Hawkeyes at Illinois Fighting Illini (-5.5), 5 central, BTN

This isn't a bubble game but I feel like talking about it anyway.

It's amazing how much recent history affects the perception of a team. A week ago, Iowa's previous two games were a blowout loss at Northwestern and a loss at Penn State, and the NIT seemed like a pipe dream. Now, after Matt Gatens randomly morphed into Stephen Curry during two straight home wins over Indiana and Wisconsin, suddenly people are talking about Iowa as a potential sleeper in the Big Ten tournament or even as a possible at-large candidate.

As you can tell by the line, Vegas isn't impressed by the last week, setting the reeling Illini as a sizable favorite. Who knows, maybe Iowa will continue to defy the odds and keep pulling upsets, but their luck is due to run out soon. I don't blame Iowa basketball fans for getting fired up about this mini-run; they haven't had much to cheer about the past few years. But the national media types calling Iowa a potential at-large team (coughDougGottliebcough) should really know better. One week does not a team make.

All that said, I am terrified of Northwestern 's trip to Iowa City in a week.

Oregon Ducks at Oregon St. Beavers (-3.5), 6:30 central, regional FSN

Team to root for: Oregon State

It's been a very disappointing season for Craig Robinson and Oregon State, who find themselves in 9th place in the terrible Pac-12. The former Northwestern assistant can do his old school a solid with a win here, however, as Oregon is just outside the cut line right now and can ill afford a loss. Oregon State already won at Oregon earlier this year, so there's hope.

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