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Posted on Fri, Mar 11, 2011 : 11:14 a.m.

Michigan basketball life on the bubble: The Wolverines get to make a case today

By Michael Rothstein

The Michigan basketball team finally gets its shot to strengthen its bubble case today.

After waiting almost a week, the Wolverines play Illinois in the Big Ten quarterfinals at 2:30 p.m. (ESPN) with the winner likely feeling much safer about their NCAA tournament chances.

The loser will have a long wait until Sunday's selection show.

While Michigan can help itself with a win, it can also get help from others around college basketball. So off we go with today’s bubble watch:

Today’s Bubble Games Big Ten tournament: Besides Michigan-Illinois, the Penn State-Wisconsin and Michigan State-Purdue games both carry major bubble implications. If two bubble teams (Penn State and Michigan State being the others) win and one loses Friday, it could make a major difference on Sunday.

USC has a chance: The Trojans face top-seeded Arizona today. If they can win that game, they might sneak into the tournament — or play their way into a confirmed seed in Saturday’s Pac-10 final. (9 p.m.)

Kansas vs. Colorado: The Buffaloes are making a strong charge through the Big 12. Today is the biggie because if they can knock off No. 2 Kansas, they likely have a shot at securing an at-large no matter what. (ESPN3, 7 p.m.)

The SEC: A bunch of SEC games to pay attention to today, notably Georgia-Alabama, Vanderbilt-Mississippi State and Tennessee-Florida. All teams except for Florida and Vanderbilt are on the bubble.

Clemson vs. Boston College: This is a likely bubble elimination game. The winner will have a good shot at a tournament berth. The loser is likely headed to the NIT. (2 p.m., ESPN2)

Memphis vs. East Carolina: If ECU pulls off another upset, it’ll almost certainly secure Conference USA as a one-bid league. (5:30 p.m.)

Richmond vs. Rhode Island: The Spiders are an interesting bubble case because they simply win the games they are supposed to. This is another one of those. Lose to Rhode Island and it is a long wait until Sunday. (9 p.m.)

Yesterday’s bubble results: Big Ten holds form: Both Penn State and Michigan State won close games Thursday night, meaning Friday in the Big Ten becomes a potential bubble-making and bubble-bursting day in three of the four games.

Kansas beats Oklahoma State: The Cowboys almost made themselves a bubble team but couldn’t hold on against one of the likely No. 1 seeds in next week’s NCAA tournament.

Marquette finally loses: Louisville stopped the Golden Eagles’ run through the Big East tournament, but Marquette at this point will likely only be worried about seeding when it comes to Sunday. Its two wins in New York put Buzz Williams’ team in the tournament.

Colorado playing its way in: The Buffaloes were a team in a desperate need of a win over another good team. They got it, knocking off Kansas State, 87-75. While Colorado still could miss the tournament, it put itself in much better position Thursday.

UAB falls: The Blazers are in a precarious position. They lost to East Carolina in overtime, which likely ended at-large hopes and will send UAB to the NIT.

Georgia wins: The Bulldogs needed one win in the SEC tournament to feel comfortable about Sunday. They got it, beating Auburn 69-51.

USC charging: The Trojans easily handled Cal last night in the Pac-10 tournament. Still on the wrong side of the bubble, USC likely needs another win tonight.

ACC bubbles win: Had Boston College lost to Wake Forest, their at-large candidacy would have likely disappeared. No issues with that as the Eagles rolled. So, too, did Virginia Tech against woeful Georgia Tech. Both teams could use wins today, though, to feel slightly more comfortable.

Memphis hangs on: The Tigers are doing what they can to snag an at-large berth. They beat Southern Miss in the Conference USA quarterfinals last night and now might have a shot at making the NCAAs no matter what happens the rest of the way.

UTEP advances: The Miners, who beat Marshall, probably still need to win the C-USA tournament to be sure of a bid.

Bracketology: ESPN: Michigan dropped to a No. 12 seed against No. 5 Vanderbilt in Tampa. No. 4 Louisville could be the second-round opponent.

CBS: Michigan stays at a No. 11 seed, today playing UNLV in Tampa with No. 3 Florida waiting in the second round.

SI: Michigan keeps its form, staying as a No. 11 seed in Washington, D.C., facing Kansas State with Syracuse looming as a second-round game.

Washington Times: Michigan is a No. 11 seed, facing No. 6 St. John’s in Tampa with Florida looming.

Bracketology 101: Michigan is a No. 11 in Tulsa facing No. 6 Cincinnati. No. 3 Texas awaits in the second round.

Michael Rothstein covers Michigan basketball for He can be reached at 734-623-2558, by e-mail at or follow along on Twitter @mikerothstein.



Fri, Mar 11, 2011 : 4:43 p.m.

A win should get them in safely. They might even get in with a loss, as long as Sparty doesn't get a "courtesy bid" based on past performance and coaching politics.