NCAA Tournament Bubble Breakdown: Seton Hall vs. Colorado State
Outside of Kansas State’s extremely impressive win at No. 3 Missouri Tuesday night, Seton Hall and Colorado State came up with the next two biggest “W”s of the night.
Seton Hall came out and shot the lights out in a 73-55 win at home over No. 9 (AP) Georgetown. It was definitely the biggest win thus far this season for the Pirates, whose win over then-No. 8 Connecticut was probably their biggest win prior to this one.
A few hours later, Colorado State came up with a huge effort in knocking off No. 18 (AP) New Mexico, 71-63, in Fort Collins. The Rams slowed down a Lobo team who had been a serious tear over the past four weeks, capped off by double-digit wins at San Diego State and at home against UNLV last week.
Both Seton Hall and Colorado State moved closer to a spot in the NCAA Tournament after picking up an extremely significant win.
Which team is in better shape after Tuesday’s action? Here’s a look, including the summary numbers on each team below.
Seton Hall: 19-10, 8-9 Big East; RPI 44, SOS 35
Colorado State: 16-10, 6-6 MWC; RPI 26, SOS 5
RPI information from realtimerpi.com, updated Feb. 28. Records are vs. D-I opponents only.
Seton Hall: Why the Pirates Get in
Quality Big East Wins
In Big East play, Seton Hall has used its home court to earn some quality wins. In addition to beating Georgetown, the Pirates also beat UConn and West Virginia in early January. Another win that should not go unnoticed is the Pirates’ win at Rutgers, which has defeated the likes of Florida, Notre Dame and Cincinnati in its building.
One Loss Outside the Big East
Seton Hall sports a respectable non-conference profile, thanks in particular to its run in the Charleston Classic in November. The Pirates beat VCU and Saint Joseph’s—two teams still in the hunt for an NCAA bid—and then lost a close game to Northwestern in the tournament final.
That loss shouldn’t hurt too much considering the Wildcats may also be a tourney team themselves, and the fact that it is the Pirates’ only loss outside the Big East. In addition, a win at Dayton—another bubble team—gives Seton Hall a quality road win to enhance their case.
Four Top-50 Wins
Seton Hall currently holds four wins over RPI top-50 teams three within the Big East (WVU, UConn, G’Town) and one outside the conference (St. Joseph’s). Conversely, six of its nine losses are to Top-50 teams, so Seton Hall has avoided too many questionable losses.
With a decent record of 4-6 against the Top 50, Seton Hall has enough upside to be considered worthy of an NCAA at-large bid.
Seton Hall: Why the Pirates Get Left out
Two Road Wins
That’s all Seton Hall has in the way of conference road wins. It is just 2-6 in league play away from the friendly confines of the Prudential Center, with only a game at DePaul remaining on the road slate.
With one of their two road wins coming at last-place Providence, the Pirates haven’t shown enough away from home to feel secure about an NCAA Tournament bid.
Six Straight Losses
In between Seton Hall’s win over Georgetown and their wins over WVU and UConn in January was a six-game losing slide that raises some skepticism about its consistency. While none of the losses were particularly “bad” losses at South Florida, Villanova—a major disappointment—and an ugly 23-point loss at UConn in their rematch don’t exactly make you think of the Pirates as a tournament-worthy team.
Nothing Big Outside the Big East
While Seton Hall has no bad losses in non-conference play, there are also no true notable wins either. The Pirates’ schedule consisted of primarily bubble-and-worse teams, which has limited their overall profile and created a bit more pressure on them to do well in the Big East.
Colorado State: Why the Rams Get in
New Mexico and San Diego State
These are two potential-signature wins on Colorado State’s profile. Each was ranked in the Top 20 at the time they faced CSU. For the Rams, beating two of the three top teams in a conference like the Mountain West should hold some serious weight.
Colorado State has played plenty of quality competition both within and outside of the MWC, helping to give a major boost to its RPI. Non-conference games against Southern Miss, Stanford, Colorado and Duke helped test the Rams prior to the challenges they’ve faced against New Mexico, SDSU and UNLV in the MWC.
Hanging with SDSU and UNLV
After beating New Mexico, CSU is now 6-5 in league play. It stands just half a game behind San Diego State and UNLV for second place. Both of those teams are considered virtual locks to reach the Big Dance at this point.
If the Rams can hang with each of them in the standings, finishing either tied or a game back of both, it will make them very tough to ignore. A close fourth-place finish in the nation’s fifth-best conference could put Colorado State over the hump and into the NCAAs.
Colorado State: Why the Rams Get Left out
Two Top-50 Wins
The often-mentioned wins over New Mexico and San Diego State are currently the only two CSU has over RPI Top-50 teams. While the Rams’ record in such games is not too bad at 2-3, the lack of another Top-50 win—especially outside the MWC—may keep them from having just enough overall strength to earn a bid.
This is the best win for Colorado State on their non-conference schedule. Additionally, that win came at home. With an RPI of 74, Colorado is on the outside of the tournament bubble at this point. That win by itself can’t carry the Rams particularly far in their pursuit of an at-large bid.
Colorado State has yet to win a single road game in conference play, currently at 0-5 in road games. The Rams’ road struggles are highlighted by a recent loss at last-place Boise State. They’ve also lost games at Wyoming and TCU that would have helped push them higher in the standings.
While the MWC doesn’t have any really bad teams, the Rams can’t expect to sneak in to the tourney with their current lack of conference road wins. The NCAA Tournament will not be played in Fort Collins.
Who Gets In?
Both teams took a huge step toward inclusion in this year’s Field of 68. While Seton Hall had the slightly “better” win in terms of power-rating of opponent, Colorado State probably made the bigger leap within the bubble given their profile before its win over New Mexico.
However, Seton Hall was definitely in better shape to begin with, and beating Georgetown gave it the signature win it had been lacking to this point. That’s not to say the Pirates are a lock at this point, but if they can take care of business and finish out the regular season with a win at DePaul, then they should be OK.
Colorado State, meanwhile, has one more good opportunity to enhance its at-large chances, with a game against UNLV at home.
If it loses that game, CSU may need to win two games in the MWC Tournament in Las Vegas to feel really good about its chances.
Seton Hall - IN
This slide edited Feb. 29
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