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The Life of a Bubble Team: GW’s Fragile NCAA Chances

The line a team walks while on the bubble is not always a clear one. True, getting a big win on the road or a bad loss at home can make a large impact, but where a team stands in regard with the Selection Committee is often a bit hazy. Let’s take a look at George Washington’s past week, and how the Colonials’ went from the wrong side of the bubble to an NCAA lock and back again.

February 3rd: GW vs Davidson

Following a double-overtime loss to Richmond, and a slim victory at George Mason, the season seemed to hang in the balance for GW as Davidson came to town. With the pressure on, GW muscled its way to a 79-69 win over the Wildcats, led by 17 points from Patricio Garino and 16 from Tyler Cavanaugh. The Colonials seemed to be inching back toward the right side of the bubble, but there was still time for the seesaw to tilt either way.

February 6th: GW at VCU

Prior to the start of the game, the mood among the GW fan community was nervous, and frankly doubtful. GW had never beaten the Rams on the road in Richmond, and had only won one game in the entire series, two years ago. But somehow, GW scraped a 72-69 win away from VCU, led by 27 points from Garino. Every expert was saying that GW was back to being a near-NCAA Tournament lock. Joe Lunardi projected the Colonials as a 9-seed two days later in his latest bracketology. It seemed as though nothing could go wrong…

February 10th: GW vs Saint Joseph’s

…Until the following Wednesday went Saint Joe’s came to town. The Hawks entered the game the only team in the NCAA to still be undefeated on the road. They  left that way too, as the Hawks soared for a 84-66 victory over the Colonials. The game left the GW faithful stunned, and defeated. It is mind boggling how this team could show the grit they showed at VCU and then display such a lack of fight four days later. GW went from a lock to a team right back on the wrong side of the bubble. Again.

February 12: Media’s Mock Selection

Once again, GW fans were infused with hope! The media collectively did a mock selection, predicting GW as a 10-seed, despite the loss to Saint Joseph’s. Now, the Colonials just needed to win their next games, starting with Saint Bonaventure the next day…

February 13th: GW at Saint Bonaventure

Or not. The Colonials put forth a valiant effort, rallying from 13 down late, to cut the deficit to four with under a minute left, before falling by seven. Yuta Watanabe missed the front end of a one-and-one that could have cut the deficit to two, and Garino, Mitola and Cavanaugh all missed shots that could have given GW a better chance down the stretch, but it was not to be.

So here we are, Monday February 15th. GW has six games remaining in the regular season, before heading to Brooklyn for the A10 Tournament. A tournament which is looking more and more likely that the Colonials must win to make the NCAA Tournament. GW does get a chance to sweep VCU, when they meet on February 27th, but beyond that, there aren’t any games left on the schedule left that GW could use to impress the Selection Committee. There is still time to try to make a case for an at large bid, but the Colonials are running out of time.