As we reach the end of January, the number of teams fighting for those last few coveted spots in the NCAA tournament are starting to come into view. Several games this past weekend may have a significant impact for those teams “on the bubble.”
Teams like Wisconsin and Notre Dame, safe a week ago, have played themselves into a bubble situation. Conversely, Penn St., and Virginia Tech have played themselves into bubble discussions by putting together a couple of signature wins.
At the conclusion of each week and weekend, we’ll take a look at the respective “bubble” winners and losers. Who is ascending and who is descending.
Make sure to send a comment, opinion, or gripe. It makes for a fun and entertaining discussion.
The Cowboys have the classic bubble team resume. Not many quality wins and several losses to good teams. With the OT win over Nebraska on Saturday, Oklahoma St. has put a decent win on their resume and avoided starting 1—3 in the Big 12. A loss would have been devastating with Oklahoma next up on the schedule.
With quality wins over Arizona and Louisville, UNLV has positioned themselves nicely in case the conference tourney doesn’t work out for them. The Mountain West Conference is a four team dogfight. Getting four teams into the tournament would be a reach, but three is not out of the question. The Rebels picked up a huge win against Utah this weekend, backing up the win at BYU earlier in the week.
Penn St. has put themselves in a position to be talked about as an at-large team. Beating Iowa doesn’t sound like much but it was a game the Nittany Lions had to have. Now they have their work cut out for them. The next month features seven straight games against the Big Ten’s best teams. Penn St. probably needs to go 5-5 the rest of the way to have a shot.
Playing in the East Division of the SEC, the Gamecocks couldn’t afford to drop their game this weekend to Mississippi. They’re going to have to mine a couple of more wins in the SEC to stay in the at-large discussion, but they deserve to be there now.
The Hokies could have lost to Miami (Fl) on Sunday and nobody would have been surprised after they beat top-ranked Wake Forest on Wednesday. That’s what makes the win over the Hurricanes so impressive. It would be hard to leave them out after the week they have put together.
Other winners: BYU, Virginia Commonwealth, UAB, Arizona, Boston College, Kansas, Michigan.
Losing at home to Mississippi St. and then on the road at Mississippi and Florida wasn’t a complete surprise for John Pelfrey’s youngsters. However, losing to Auburn at home and starting 0-4 in the SEC is not what you want to do if you’re a bubble team.
After starting out 3-1 in the SEC, the Tigers missed a golden opportunity to put a high profile non-conference win on their resume against Xavier. With no top 50 wins, it looks like LSU is in deep trouble. A win at Tennessee is a must.
San Diego St.
The Aztecs are the forgotten team in the MWC. With Utah, BYU, and UNLV getting most of the headlines, San Diego St. has quietly put together a nice season. They could have put themselves in the drivers seat with a win at BYU this weekend.
Nobody would argue about how tough the Aggies schedule has been to open the Big 12. However, that also means they have had opportunities for a signature win. The latest being this weekend at Texas.
Sure Stanford played a weak non-conference schedule. They did quiet the skeptics by opening Pac-10 play at 3-3 with wins over Arizona and Cal. After losing to Oregon St. over the weekend they can throw that away.
Other Losers: Wisconsin, Nebraska, Creighton, Utah, Miami (OH), George Mason, Boise St., Houston, W. Kentucky.