Dec 29, 2012; Sunrise, FL, USA; Tulsa Golden Hurricane guard Rashad Ray (3) and Florida State Seminoles forward Robert Gilchrist (14) react during the second half at the Orange Bowl Classic Basketball game at the BB&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Other Bubble Teams' Match-Ups Bode Well For FSU

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

In a quest to ascertain just what chance Florida State’s basketball team has of making the NCAA Tournament, earlier today I published a piece detailing the optimal results for the ‘Noles in each and every ACC Tourney game. But that, of course, is just one conference, and there are bubble teams hoping to secure their tourney births across the college basketball landscape. So what of the other hopefuls? Pleasantly enough, their own conference tournament paths shape up nicely for the Seminoles.

Using ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi’s most recent tourney projections released earlier today, I’ll examine the challenges before FSU’s competitors for tourney bids. Let’s begin by examining what remains for his “Last Four In”: Tennessee, St. Joseph’s, Dayton, and Arkansas.

Coincidentally, these two pairs are each on a collision course. Tomorrow, 5-seed Arkansas will play 13-seed South Carolina. Winning this game will not help the Razorbacks– but losing it could decimate their chances. If they win tomorrow, however, then on Friday they play 5-seed Tennessee. So, one of these teams must be eliminated rather early in the SEC Tournament. The same applies to the other two teams, in the Atlantic Ten Tournament. 5-seed Dayton will play 13-seed Fordham tomorrow, in a game that, again, has next-to-no reward but high risk. After all, this tourney is in Brooklyn, and Fordham is based in the nearby Bronx. If Dayton survives, they meet — that’s right — 4-seed St. Joe’s on Friday. Again, only one can advance.

This bring us to Lunardi’s “First Four Out,” comprised of Providence, St. John’s, Cal, and Minnesota. 5-seed Providence plays 4-seed St. John’s tomorrow in the Big East Tourney, so someone’s going home. Cal, the 4-seed in the Pac 12 Tourney, faces stout 5-seed Colorado tomorrow, when all ‘Noles fans will become de facto Buffaloes supporters. 7-seed Minnesota must defeat 10-seed Penn State in the Big Ten Tourney tomorrow, but even that victory would run them right into 2-seed Wisconsin.

On to Lunardi’s “Next Four Out”: Southern Miss, FSU, Mizzou, and Georgetown. In the Conference USA Tournament, 4-seed USM awaits the winner of tonight’s match-up of 5-seed UTEP and 12-seed East Carolina. A 4 vs. 5 is always a tough match-up, but even more so when you take into account that the Tourney is in El Paso– and that 5-seed is UTEP (and at the moment of publication, the Miners held a substantial second-half lead over the Pirates). Then we have FSU, which obviously has its own row to hoe. Behind them is Mizzou, which, with a win vs. Texas A&M tomorrow, would draw AP #1 Florida. Georgetown faces lower-seeded DePaul tonight, and if they escape they’ll have to shut down rested Creighton and Wooden Award favorite Doug McDermott tomorrow.

I know: it’s a lot. But the brackets dictate that some of these teams must lose rather early. If FSU can take care of business against Maryland tomorrow, they may already be closer to a tournament birth.

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