In my opinion there are three candidates for the most exciting time in college basketball.
Option 1: The first weekend of the Tournament. This one is the one cited as the winner by far. It's when people are sitting on the edge of their couch hoping their brackets don't get ruined or lose half their savings and hoping they won't have to leverage the money with their legs. I can gladly agree to this but doesn't it seem like a cop out to go this route?
Option 2: Conference tournament week. This one has its drama as well. Teams get off the bubble or solidify their cases. Some random SWAC team wins their conference tourney with a losing record and costs a BCS-conference team a spot in the final 65. Loud, egregious yelling ensues. Also, too easy to choose.
Option 3: This weekend. The last regular season weekend has its own excitement. Teams like Georgetown have no shot of even thinking mid-March without a win this weekend. It's also the last time to position yourself for the conference tournament where bubbles are burst and bids are won. As you can tell, the drama is deep beneath the surface but it's there. So with that in mind, here is a look at the teams who won't be sleeping easy tonight and tomorrow night.
Georgetown: They need a win Saturday just to become a bubble team. The win over Villanova seemed to assure them a spot contingent on defeating St. John's, DePaul and a first round game in the Big East Tournament probably against Rutgers. That gets them 8 regular season conference wins and 18 total, along with wins over Memphis, Maryland and at Connecticut. Easy right? Oops. Now they'll need to crush the Blue Demons Saturday and then win a second round game as well - which looks like it's going to be Syracuse.
Cincinnati: Their position is just about the same as the Hoyas'. They have 8 BE wins and finish out with a winnable game against Seton Hall. But their best out-of-conference victory is at UNLV. They'll probably get to 20 wins with a tourney win against DePaul but it may not be enough because of the poor OOC and the 61 RPI.
Providence: This is probably the team that is going to keep Cincinnati out of the NCAA Tournament. It looks like only 8 Big East teams will get in and Providence has the better resume. Their best OOC win is Rhode Island. Not too impressive. But wins over Pittsburgh (No. 1 RPI) and Syracuse (26) help a lot, while Cinci's best are West Virginia (22) and Georgetown (44) twice. They are at Villanova this weekend, and if they win that then they lock up the tourney spot. If they lose then a date with the Bearcats will be the determining factor.
Outlook: Sunny with chances of thunderstorms
Seton Hall: They don't have NCAA Tournament hopes but Bobby Gonzalez needs to get the Pirates to the NIT. Bad. He missed last year. This year SHU is 15-14 and is going to need to win at Cinci Saturday and win the first round game against St. John's. That could be tricky because both are good home teams. Still it will be an uphill climb. Wins against USC, Virginia Tech and Georgetown help. A 105 RPI doesn't.
Rutgers: They don't even have NIT hopes. No the Knights need a win against South Florida Saturday to help secure coach Fred Hill's job security. Going 1-17 in the Big East would be brutal. And the seeming transfer of Corey Chandler doesn't help. Add in a new AD and that looks like a recipe for disaster.
Outlook: Flood warning
(All RPI taken from realtimerpi.com)