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NCAA Tournament Bubble Watch: Games on March 4 that will determine who’s in and out

We take a look at Saturday’s games that could determine who makes the tournament and who gets left behind.

NCAA Basketball: North Carolina at Florida State Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday brings plenty of excitement as several of the major conferences wrap up their regular season play. There are plenty of teams on the bubble that will play today hoping they can put together a performance that will deem them worthy of the NCAA Tournament. We see two bubble teams face off against each other in Boise State vs. Utah State and in USC vs. Arizona State, while UNC will go for a bang as they face rival Duke and Oklahoma State battles it out for Big 12 seeding against Texas Tech. Let’s take a look at the teams whose fates could be determined by Saturday’s end.

Bubble Games to watch on March 4

Duke vs. North Carolina

Time: 6:30 p.m. ET

A win here could mean everything for North Carolina (19-11, 11-8 ACC, 44 NET), who are currently listed in ESPN’s First Four Out. The Tar Heels had a very late positive turnaround to their season, but due a bad stretch of losses earlier throughout January and February, the 2022 Final Four team remains on the bubble. They’ll host Duke (22-8, 13-6 ACC, 23 NET) on Saturday and look to avenge a 63-57 loss against the Blue Devils from earlier this season. UNC will also have a chance to go deep into the ACC Tournament to qualify for the Big Dance, but a victory here would be a huge boost for the Heels.

Notre Dame vs. Clemson

Time: 8:00 p.m. ET

Clemson (21-9, 13-6 ACC, 64 NET) sits right on the bubble in the Next Four Out, and while beating this Notre Dame (11-19, 3-16 ACC, 179 NET) team isn’t exactly going to be a statement win for the Tigers, it would be another tick in the win column. They have an uphill battle to fight as they head into the ACC Tournament, but a loss here could spell disaster for the Tigers. They face the Fighting Irish in Clemson for the first time this season. If the Tigers win and Duke loses on Saturday, Clemson could get a bye all the way through to the ACC Tournament quarterfinals, which would be a major boost in their chances of winning it all.

USC vs. Arizona State

Time: 11:00 p.m. ET

Both USC (21-9, 13-6 Pac-12, 48 NET) and Arizona State (20-10, 11-8 Pac-12, 63 NET) sit on the bubble, with the Trojans in ESPN’s Last Four Byes and the Sun Devils in the First Four Out. This should be a dogfight for bracket position. USC beat Arizona State 77-69 on the road earlier this season, and the Trojans enter as 5-point favorites. USC sits at third in Pac-12 standings with ASU at fourth right behind them, and as they fight for a chance at making the bracket, USC will look to solidify their position while ASU hopes to claw their way into consideration ahead of conference tournament time.

Boise State vs. Utah State

Time: 9:00 p.m. ET

Both Boise State (23-7, 13-4 MWC, 27 NET) and Utah State (23-7, 12-5 MWC, 21 NET) sit on the bubble, with the Broncos making ESPN’s Last Four Byes and the Aggies falling in the First Four Out. Boise State crushed Utah State 82-59 earlier this season, so the Aggies will have to fight for this one to have a shot at making it inside the bubble in pre-conference tournament projections. The two teams sit at second and third in Mountain West standings, and will each have a good chance at making a deep run into the conference tournament for consideration.

Oklahoma State vs. Texas Tech

Time: 6:00 p.m. ET

This Big 12 matchup has serious bracketology implications. The Oklahoma State Cowboys (16-14, 7-10 Big 12, 46 NET) find themselves in ESPN’s Next Four Out after a loss to Baylor, and the Red Raiders (16-14, 5-12, 52 NET) are out of the bubble entirely at the moment after falling to Kansas. But don’t count either team out just yet — the Red Raiders could make their way back into the picture with a win here and a solid performance in the Big 12 tournament, and the Cowboys have a chance to sneak in with a few losses ahead of them.