March Madness Bubble Report: March 4
With just about three weeks remaining until Selection Sunday, I thought I would throw out a bubble radar. This report will deal nothing with projections or seedings; strictly what teams are getting in, what teams are heading to the NIT.
It will be updated every one to two days and adjusted based on results.
Before proceeding to the bubble picture, we have to decipher what teams already have the body of work to be in the tournament now. Below are teams labeled as lock teams.
These teams could lose every game (with the exception of, say, a Butler, who most likely will not do that considering schedule) and still make the field of 65.
LOCKS: Pittsburgh, Oklahoma, North Carolina*, Duke, Michigan St., Connecticut*, Clemson, Memphis*, Villanova, Kansas*, Utah*, Louisville, Xavier*, Missouri, Illinois, Wake Forest, Washington*, Butler*, Marquette, Arizona St., Purdue, LSU*, UCLA, Florida St, Gonzaga*, Syracuse, Texas.
Now, the teams with asterisks are the conference leaders and assumed to be conference champions come tournament time. The 16 teams in bold are teams that will eat into the at-large pool of 34 bids.
So that leaves us with 18 bids to give to bubble teams, assuming no upsets in the conference tournaments.
The bubble teams will be broken down by division. All bubble teams are not created equal, some teams needing maybe one more victory, while others need to win out until the conference finals.
So for each team, I'll state what still needs to be done to grab that at large bid. The order the teams are listed is the pecking order, top teams in first, bottom teams out first.
All records are against strictly Division I teams. All RPI and SOS rankings are from realtimerpi.com. Without further ado, here is the bubble...
UPDATES: Notre Dame most likely played it self off the bubble with the loss at home to Villanova barring a deep Big East Tourney run.
Texas on the other hand played themselves into a lock position, after handling Baylor and improving to nine Big 12 wins.
Georgetown got bumped from the bubble picture losing at St. John’s on Tuesday night. There strength of schedule and RPI are still great, but NCAA tournament teams do not lose a game to St. John’s when they need a victory.
Maryland, Cincinnati, Kansas St. are on their last legs now with losses on Tuesday night. Those teams should look to win a few games before they lose again if they want to be NCAA bound. Updated March 4th.
20-9 (8-6); RPI 49; SOS 45
With marquee wins at UNC and at home to Duke, BC is safe. Also had nice wins over fellow bubblers Florida St., Providenceand UAB to overshadow bad loss at home to Harvard (RPI 277!). Winning one of the last two in conference would lock up a bid (at NC St., GT). IN
18-11 (7-8); RPI 57; SOS 20
Missed a big chance last night losing in a close one at home to Wake Forest. That is the type of game a bubble team has to win though. Maryland did beat UNC last week, but the Terrapins probably need one more quality win.
Non-conference victories over Michigan St. and Michigan can probably overshadow earlier blowouts and Morgan St. loss. Maryland will have to handle Virginiain their season finale and win two games in the ACC Tourney to have a chance. OUT
17-11 (7-7); RPI 59; SOS 37
Let a great chance for a profile enhancing win slip through their fingers against Duke Saturday. What a week that would have been after winning at Clemson Wednesday.
Now with remaining schedule (UNC, at FSU) the NIT is most likely on the way.
Only positive note is they have a chance to notch maybe one more RPI changing wins, which is necessary as VT had no non-conference victories of note to go with a bad loss to Georgia.
Needs two remaining games in regular season to be wins, or one and two ACC tourney wins. OUT
16-10 (6-8); RPI 44; SOS 12
Kept themselves in the picture with the victory over bubble team Boston College Saturday and win at Virginia. But 6-8 in conference play? Miamimost likely needs to win out in ACC play (at GT, NC St.) and at least one ACC tourney win. Had nice early season win at Kentucky to go along with blowout of Wake Forest. OUT
BIG 12 (2)
20-8 (7-7); RPI 34; SOS 39
The RPI is getting better and better, with wins over LSU and Arizona. A&M is now back to .500 winning four straight. They had a couple good conference wins against Texas and Oklahoma St., but they need to get to at worst 8-8.
This seems possible, since they go to Colorado and then host Missouri in a big finale. Winning the last two would be best, if not a few meaningful Big 12 Tourney games will be needed. IN.
20-9 (9-6); RPI 27; SOS 11
Oklahoma St. won a huge game against fellow bubble team Kansas St. to make it six in a row, including Saturday against Texas. Still, you can’t really trust the computer numbers that this team holds as there is really no substance behind the numbers. Their best two wins before Texas were Siena and Texas A&M, winning just 2-10 against the RPI top 50.
If they are able to win at Oklahoma later this week they’d most likely look very good for a bid. If not they would need a couple good victories in the Big 12 conference tourney. IN.
19-10 (8-7); RPI 74; SOS 84
Kansas St. really hurt their chances at Oklahoma St. last night by losing in what could be made out to have been an elimination game. Kansas St. has won nine of their last 12 games though, which doesn’t make up for doing nothing good in the non-conference.
In conference, they have a couple impressive wins, Missouri, at Texas, and at Texas A&M. The only way this team is making it in now is winning in the finale against Colorado and a deep run in the Big 12 Tournament. OUT.
BIG EAST (2)
20-9 (9-7); RPI 20; SOS 13
The record is starting to reflect the strong computer numbers. West Virginia played a strong non-conference game, routing Ohio St. on the road. They've done well in-conference as of late, blowing out Villanova before beating Notre Dame.
They're very close at this point but there chance to win at Cincinnati may hurt seeding in the long run. Win the game at home against DePaul and they are a lock. IN.
18-11 (10-7); RPI 69; SOS 48
Providence completed the week they needed winning at RutgersSunday, after the huge win over RPI No. 1 Pittsburgh at home. This gets them to ten Big East wins, but only two of those wins coming against the top six. Providence can’t really stop there.
They need to most likely win at Villanova, and at least one in the Big East Tournament. If they don’t win at Villanova they will need to go deep in the Big East Tournament. They also have the season sweep of Cincinnati to fall back on. IN.
17-11 (8-8); RPI 61; SOS 28
Cincinnati is pretty much dead in the water after back to back losses, the latest to South Florida. The last two games are games an NCAA tournament teams does not play. . Cincinnati which needed a good win as their earlier victory over UNLV found one Thursday night in beating West Virginia. But the last two losses probably sealed their fate.
Now they need their game against Seton Hall and then most likely the Big East Tournament final. OUT.
15-13 (7-10); RPI 73; SOS 31
After losing at home to Villanova Monday night Notre Dame is all but eliminated. A non-conference win against Texas and win against Louisville will not hold up against a losing conference record. Notre Dame’s only bubble chances lie on making the Big East finals. OUT.
BIG TEN (3)
17-10 (9-7); RPI 31; SOS 5
Wisconsin won the bubble battle it needed winning Sunday against Michigan. After missing a golden chance to win at Michigan St. last week, Wisconsin stayed hot, now winning six out of the last seven.
A tough SOS featured a win at Virginia Tech and a home win over Illinois. Winning one more would make them safe with a home game left against Indiana, and a road game at Minnesota. IN.
19-9 (9-8); RPI 37; SOS 27
Ohio St. sweated out a win at Iowa to help their case. That following up a very weak showing against Purdue where they got routed 75-50. They have now lost four of six so they are sliding backwards into the tournament.
Ohio St. played a very difficult non-conference schedule, which included wins at Miami, Notre Dame (neutral), and Butler. Could they not get in with 9-9?, probably not. To be safe they should win their home regular season final to Northwestern. IN.
20-8 (9-7); RPI 66; SOS 92
The game at home against Indiana was almost a Bubble killer for Penn St.who had to come from behind in the last two minutes. The RPI numbers will take a hit for this as well. With nothing in the non-conference at all, they best keep winning in conference. They have huge road wins in-conference against Michigan St. and Illinois.
The two remaining games are winnable at Iowa and Illinois and Penn St. would be best to win both of those games. IN.
17-12 (8-9); RPI 48; SOS 9
The up and down season for Michigan continues following up a big Purdue win with a tough loss Sunday at Wisconsin. Michigan may be an interesting case come selection time. Solid non-conference wins over Duke and UCLA (neutral), as well as a near miss at Connecticut.
They are in hot water now, needing a couple more victories. A win at Minnesota seems necessary giving them a season sweep of the Gophers and a .500 record. Lose that game and they will need a deep run in the Big Ten Tournament. OUT.
19-8 (8-8); RPI 39; SOS 46
A team that was close to a lock but has slipped as of late, Minnesota has lost eight out of 12 games, including a tough loss last night at Illinois. A huge win against Louisville (neutral) will help.
Now most likely needs two remaining games at home against bubble competitors Michigan and Wisconsin. OUT.
21-8 (10-6); RPI 40; SOS 52
The disaster scenario for Cal is still a possibility losing at home against UCLA Saturday. The only real reason Cal is not a lock just yet is the remaining schedule (at Arizona, at Arizona St).
Have they done enough already? Probably, but losing both and a first round Pac 10 tourney loss could be devastating. Based on non-conference at UNLV and at Utah this should not be a problem. Get one more win, or lose all three, but look OK doing so. IN.
18-11 (8-8); RPI 47; SOS 33
Now is not the time to give up the hot streak, losing three straight to Arizona St, Washington (OK), and Washington St. (not so good). Winners of seven in a row before might all be forgotten if they lose the next two games as well.
Their out-of-conference work, winning against San Diego St., Kansas, and Gonzaga, will help as well. Two more victories (Cal, Stanford),is necessary to secure a big at this point. IN.
16-12 (7-9); RPI 56; SOS 14
It looks as if USC has played themselves off the bubble, losing six of their last seven. The latest of those losses occurred at Stanford Saturday where they flat out didn’t show up in the second half.
Do they have time to right the ship? That is tough to say, but it is a must winning the last two regular season games against the two Oregonschools. Their non-conference schedule, which included a loss to Seton Hall has nothing in it, so they would probably have to win two meaningful games in the Pac-10 Tourney. OUT.
18-10 (9-5); RPI 21; SOS 3
Tennessee got a good conference road win they were lacking in beating Florida on Sunday. The wins puts them in a first place tie for the SEC east. Tennessee has played one of the nation’s toughest non-conference schedules, picking up good wins against Siena (neutral), Georgetown (neutral), and Marquette (neutral).
The only problem is there is no way a group this talented should lose five games in the down SEC. They most likely need only one more victory to secure a bid with a decent remaining schedule (at SC, Alabama). IN.
20-7 (9-5); RPI 42; SOS 86
South Carolina heads back to the field a bit losing at Vanderbilt. Still, winners of eight of their last 11, SC has really put themselves in a good position in conference play. Winning against Kentucky Wednesday gave them the season sweep and a heads up if they are compared for final bubble spots.
They have a favorable schedule, with a chance to knock off Tennessee at home. If they the easier of the games remaining (at Georgia), and possibly an SEC tourney win, they'll be a lock. IN.
21-8 (8-6); RPI 50; SOS 91
Are we watching a repeat of last year? With the weak non-conference schedule (although they have a nice win against Washington) and the tough remaining schedule, we just might be.
Losers of four of their last six now, with the loss at home to Tennessee, and the potential to lose the rest (at MSU, Kentucky), the Gators may be in trouble.
To secure a bid they would be best winning both of those games. Winning one and a meaningful SEC tourney victory would most likely do it as well. IN.
19-10 (8-6); RPI 67; SOS 64
Worst case scenario this week for Kentucky getting blown out by South Carolina and losing a close game at home to LSU. That was also a season sweep by South Carolina which now has Kentucky losing six of their last nine.
With non-conference wins over West Virginia(neutral) and fellow bubbler Kansas St. (neutral), they played a decent schedule. They also have a sweep of Tennessee. Kentucky now has a remaining schedule (Georgia, at Fla.), which they will most likely need to sweep. OUT.
ATLANTIC 10 (1)
24-5 (10-4); RPI 28; SOS 106
Dayton got the game it need at home against Temple Saturday holding on late. They are now much closer to securing a bid in compared to earlier in the week after it had lost three of five including games at Charlotte, Saint Louis, and Rhode Island.
With wins over George Mason, Xavier, and Marquette (neutral), they have a very solid profile.
Dayton now most likely needs to get the win against Duquesne and not lose a bad game in the A-10 tourney. They would lock up a big with a sweep of Xavier. IN.
22-8 (11-4); RPI 52; SOS 118
After a nice week with a win at Duquesne Sunday and Thursday’s surprising win in overtime over Dayton we should take a closer look at the Rams profile. Nothing screams NCAA team, but the team has a couple decent wins including Va. Commonwealth, Penn St., Temple and now Dayton.
But it will most likely come down to the season that could have been losing at Duke, at Providence, and at Xavier by a total of six points. Best they can hope for is a share of A-10 regular season crown and then make the A-10 finals. OUT.
MOUNTAIN WEST (2)
21-6 (10-4); RPI 22; SOS 50
BYU went a long way to grabbing at least a share of second place in the Mountain West with a home win against Utah, and now being winners of seven of their last eight. Also has really made their computer profile a lot stronger.
BYU doesn't have much in the non-conference with a win against Utah St. (neutral) and near misses against Arizona St. and Wake Forest. BYU has a sweep of San Diego St., but they've also been swept by UNLV.
BYU would be best winning their last two games in conference (at Wyoming, Air Force). IN.
20-8 (8-6); RPI 51; SOS 78
UNLV would most likely earn a bid with at worst a third-place tie in the MWC, with non-conference wins at Louisville and at home to Arizona. They've swept BYU, but they have lost some questionable games in-conference (at Colorado St., at TCU, at Wyoming).
They probably can’t stand anymore losses in-conference (Air Force, at San Diego St.) after Wednesday’s loss at Utah. Wouldn’t help making the Mountain West finals on their home court either. IN.
20-10 (11-4); RPI 63; SOS 81
New Mexico’s win last night was huge for two reasons: helps the RPI tremendously, and also gives them a share of first place in the highly competitive Mountain West Conference. Their only positive non-conference win was a blowout over Mississippi to go with questionable losses to UCF, Drake, and at Texas Tech.
The possibilities of an at-large for this team has increased winning seven of their last eight and with a game at Wyoming remaining. Win that and they will share the Mountain West lead, but will most likely have to make the tournament finals to overcome the lack of out of conference heft. IN.
San Diego St.
17-8 (9-5); RPI 46; SOS 67
Avoided disaster by winning in overtime at TCU. They have a non-conference schedule littered with good losses but no top 100 RPI wins. Now losers of three of their last five, including a blowout loss at New Mexico, SDSU is fading fast.
They are making the early season wins against Utahand at UNLV seem like a distant memory. Their only chance for an at-large means winning out in-conference, and most likely the MWC Tournament finals. OUT.
OTHER CONTENDERS (1)
Note: This assumes that Memphis(RPI 8), Butler(RPI 18), Siena(RPI 29), Utah St.(RPI 32), Gonzaga (RPI 36), Creighton (RPI 38), and Davidson (RPI 68) all win automatic bids.
22-5 (10-4); RPI 53; SOS 168
Won there last game of the regular season now there at-large chances really rest on whether or not Patrick Mills can come back, and if he is healthy. Without Mills they lost four of eight, after going 16-1 with him.
St. Mary's non-conference wins include San Diego St. and Providence They do have a huge win against Utah St., which shows they can win without Mills, but to be an at large team they need Mills back by WCC tourney time. IN.
LAST FOUR IN (in order): Providence., Florida, Penn St., New Mexico
FIRST FOUR OUT (in order): Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Rhode Island
NEXT FOUR OUT: Maryland, Virginia Tech, San Diego St., Miami
Thanks very much for reading. If you have any questions or concerns, I will be glad to chat back and forth. I will next update this article Wednesday, Mar. 6.
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