Living in the March Madness bubble is a challenge for a college basketball fan. Every game your team wins is more of a relief than an achievement. Every defeat seems catastrophic.
While this college basketball season is different in many ways, that experience didn’t change much for the teams involved in March.
And that includes moments like Tuesday in Idaho when the Boise State Broncos lost a home game to Fresno State that was below the 500 mark and ranked 186th on the NET.
MORE: NCAA bracket predictions: SN’s youngest field of 68
We saw something similar last year, even though we didn’t end up having an NCAA tournament when Xavier was stuck in the bubble and his hopes collapsed with a Big East first-round loss to DePaul in last place.
The Fresno defeat earned Boise State the distinction of being the only team in the NET Top 60 to lose a Quad 4. Richmond lost to Saint Joseph’s earlier this week, giving the Spiders a second such loss and reassuring them that not only are they outside the top 60, but they’re also quite a long way from the bubble discussion.
However, the loss of Boise was good news for the teams involved in this fight. Some of them are playing tonight:
NCAA bubble games on Wednesday
Stanford in Southern California, 10:30 p.m. ET, FS1. There has not been a team that valued the Boise result more than the Cardinal (14-11, # 61 NET), who as a result will get into some dummy brackets. But can they stay there? A road win at USC would be Stanford’s fifth Quad-1 win, but a loss would put them in the same bleak category as Xavier (who lost in Georgetown Tuesday), Duke (who fell in overtime at Georgia Tech), and Utah State (who has done this) two remaining regular season games).
Clemson at Syracuse, 5 p.m., ACC Network. The Oranges (14-8, # 55) are the leanest bubble teams with a 0-6 record against Quad-1 opponents, but their win over North Carolina at least kept them alive. Though that wouldn’t count as Quad 1 for SU either, Clemson is firmly established as the NCAA tournament team and this would give the Orange a third win over the likely field.
Wichita State in Tulane, 6 p.m., ESPN +. The Shockers have only played 15 games, which makes their rating a challenge. They have two wins each against Quad 1 and Quad 2, with the prize being a surprise to the American Athletic Conference titan, Houston. This game is going to do little for the Shockers (11-4, # 66), but it’s good for them to get more action as they prepare for the AAC tournament.
UConn at the Seton Hall, 6:30, FS1. Given the way the bubble is going and so many teams are suffering harmful or even brutal losses, it might be difficult to say that UConn (12-6, # 34) fits the description. But in Ryan Fagan’s Sporting News bracket they’re number 10, which means they’re close enough that beating another Bubble team would be a smart idea. Seton Hall (13-10, No. 52) is almost desperate for a quality win. The pirates are 3-6 against Quad 1.
Minnesota in Penn State, 7 p.m., BTN. After their most recent loss in Nebraska, the Gophers (13-12, # 69) are a must-see. Injuries and street fights have damaged what was once considered a solid case. If the Gophers lose this, they would likely have to take the Big Ten title game to stand a chance.
New Mexico at Colorado State, 8 p.m., Mountain West Network. The Rams (15-4, # 39) have won just enough times against just the right opponents to have an 11-seed in the Sporting News bracket. Perhaps more importantly, they avoided damaging losses. They are 9-0 against Quad 4. The Lobos would be a 10th Quad 4 win and only Drake among the SN players has that many. That’s not a good thing, but it’s better than a fourth quarter loss.