College Basketball Bubble Watch

Updated: February 28, 2012, 12:52 PM ET
By Eamonn Brennan | ESPN.com


What do we mean when we say 'every game counts'?

Editor's note: This file has been updated to include all games through Monday, Feb. 27.

On Monday, Texas coach Rick Barnes checked in with ESPN Radio's Scott Van Pelt and Ryen Russillo. Van Pelt asked Barnes, as a coach whose teams don't often find themselves on the bubble, how it felt to be going through such a tenuous late-season situation. Barnes responded as you'd expect -- we focus on one game at a time, etc. -- but he did hit on something that felt especially insightful:

"I've told our guys from the very first game that we played: 'If you don't think this game is important, wait until March and you'll find out.'"

Truer bubble words were never spoken. The Watch spends a lot of time discussing what teams do late in the season, and for good reason: With each new game, a signature win or disastrous loss can have a huge effect on a team's chances of making the NCAA tournament. (And also, that's when we start writing Bubble Watch. There is that.)

But two years ago, an NCAA eager to maximize the full length of the college hoops season did away with the criterion that weighted a team's final 12 games more heavily than the 20 or so contests that preceded them. Sure, many committee members no doubt still like to see teams trending upward at this point in the season, and "last 12 games" is almost certainly still a discussion point from time to time. But any line-by-line reading of the committee's principles is clear: Whether it's mid-November or mid-February, every game counts.

In other words, while it's tempting to overreact to one win or loss, it's important to maintain some perspective. These last, final weeks of the season are crucial to any bubble team's chances of making the tournament. But for each win that would seemingly transform a profile -- and the deluge of eager fans proclaiming on Twitter that Team X "has to be in!" -- there are just as many that move the needle far less than you'd immediately assume.

And that's your random bubble thought of the day. One to file away, at least.

OK, enough musing. Let's get to the good stuff. Without further ado, here's the latest edition of the Watch: