Breaking Down What the Bubble Teams Must Do To Go Dancing
Usually on Fridays I publish a new Bracketology, but with 78 different brackets, there's enough brackets out there that this week I'm going to focus on what each and every bubble team needs to do to ensure a berth into the big dance.
I'll be using the Bracket Matrix as a guide to explain how many wins or what wins each bubble team needs to make the tournament.
Bubble Teams Safely In
Tennessee: The Bracket Matrix currently has the Volunteers in as an eight seed. Tennessee is in a good position. The Volunteers only need wins at this point because Bruce Pearl's club picked up quality wins in the non-conference schedule.
At 19-10, UT likely just needs one win between either its regular season finale against Alabama or one SEC Tournament win to clinch a spot. Tennessee is very close to a lock, as it is with an RPI in the Top 20.
Wisconsin: The Bracket Matrix also has the Badgers in as an eight seed despite their mediocre resume. What sets Wisconsin apart in the matrix is the fact they are appear in all 62 brackets. Beating Indiana in the season finale is a must, in addition to one Big Ten Tourney win.
Boston College: The Eagles are a nine seed in the matrix, but have some glaring problems on their resume. An RPI of 54 is dragged down by losses to Saint Louis and Harvard. Boston College is close to locking up a bid and can do so by avoiding a disastrous loss to Georgia Tech If BC loses that game, two ACC Tournament wins are a must.
Minnesota: Several big name bracketologists have the Golden Gophers on the wrong side of the bubble, but 55 of the 62 brackets have Minnesota in. Tubby Smith's club is over .500 in a solid Big Ten and has the win over Louisville to hang its hat on. A win at home over Michigan should clinch a bid, but to be safe, Minnesota should win a game in the Big Ten Tournament.
Oklahoma State: The Cowboys are a nine seed into the tournament according to the Bracket Matrix. OSU has numbers that look nice to the eye, but when taking a deeper look at its profile, the Pokies don't have a marquee win. Their great strength of schedule resulted in a bunch of non-conference losses instead of one great win. Oklahoma State needs two wins in the Big XII Tournament OR a win AT Oklahoma.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes should be rooting hard for Miami and Notre Dame to keep winning in order to make OSU's wins against those two teams look better. Ohio State is close to making the tournament, but could use either a win against Northwestern, which is no easy task suddenly, or a win or two in the Big Ten Tournament.
Tournament Life Up in the Air
Penn State: The Nittany Lions are closing in on a bid after defeating Illinois for the second time this year, but PSU's best non-conference win is only Mount St. Marys' (the second best team in the Northeast Conference). Ed DeChellis' team has losses against Temple and Rhode Island. For Penn State to go dancing, a win in Iowa would go a long way, as the Lions would move to 11-7 in the Big Ten.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks are living precariously at this point after losing two consecutive games to Vanderbilt and Tennessee. USC is in the same position as Penn State, as both schools don't have a non-conference win of note. The Gamecocks did beat Baylor, but that win doesn't mean too much unless the Bears make a nice run in the Big XII Tournament. USC needs to beat Georgia and win one SEC Tournament game. At that point, Darrin Horn's club should be in.
Texas A&M: The Aggies are making a nice recovery after a 3-7 start to conference play. Being extremely hot heading into the tournament sits well with the selection committee. A win against Missouri would make six wins in a row. Even if TA&M loses to the Tigers, two Big XII Tournament wins would make seven wins in its last eight games.
UNLV: The Rebels escaped at home against Air Force to keep their at-large hopes alive. Another win against San Diego State would knock the Aztecs off the bubble and UNLV into the tournament. A few wins in Las Vegas in the Mountain West Tournament would solidify a bid and improve the Rebels' seed.
Time to Get Down to Business
Arizona: According to the Bracket Matrix, the Wildcats are actually in the Big Dance despite being 8-9 in the Pac-10. Four consecutive losses are really putting a dagger in the Wildcats' tournament hopes.
But a win against Stanford this weekend, and a win or two in the Pac-10, should put the 'Cats back over the top since 'Zona already has wins against Kansas, Gonzaga, Washington, and UCLA.
Florida: The Gators are playing an elimination game this weekend with Kentucky. The loser probably needs to reach the SEC Championship game, if not win it in order to make the tournament. A win over UK isn't enough to make the dance, Florida still needs one or two SEC Tournament wins to ensure a berth.
St. Mary's: It's pretty simple for the Gaels: reach the West Coast Conference Championship game. SMC has the luxury of scheduling another game after the WCC Tourney to show off how good the team can be with Patty Mills. The better the opponent, the better off the Gaels will be.
Maryland: The Terrapins are the last at-large team according to the Bracket Matrix. They appear in 35 of 62 brackets, more than any other remaining team. But with an RPI of 56 and an under .500 record in the ACC, Maryland has a lot of work to do. A win at Virginia is a must, as well as one, probably two, ACC Tournament wins depending on the teams Maryland draws.
Providence: The Friars' regular season is over, but the Big East Tournament will provide Keno Davis' club with a cornucopia of opportunities to pick up more marquee wins. Providence will likely face Georgetown or Notre Dame in its first tournament game. With a victory, the Friars will get a game against either Pittsburgh, Connecticut, or Louisville. Stay competitive or beat one of those three teams a bid could await the Friars.
Michigan: The Wolverines pretty much control their own destiny because of great wins against UCLA and Duke. Beat the Golden Gophers on their home court and win one Big Ten Tournament game and Michigan is a lock.
Kentucky: The Wildcats need three wins. One against Florida and two in the SEC Tournament. A third win in the conference playoffs move Kentucky into a lock category.
Rhode Island: The Rams have come completely out of nowhere to be on the verge of an at-large bid. Winning six in a row and likely earning a second place finish has the Rams fighting for a spot. A run to the Atlantic 10 semifinals is a definite to make the tournament, and reaching the title game should get the Rams in.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies blew chances against North Carolina and Duke to notch a marquee win, but the Hokies have one final chance at Florida State. A win against the Seminoles keeps VaTech alive at .500 in the conference. Seth Greenberg's team still needs two ACC Tournament wins to follow. A loss to FSU kills Virginia Tech's at-large chances.
New Mexico: A win against Wyoming this weekend clinches a share of the Mountain West Title for the Lobos. A run to the championship game in the tournament would be necessary in order to help boost an RPI of 65.
San Diego State: Take care of business at home against UNLV and reach the MWC Championship game are the must-dos for the Aztecs. SDSU will still be crossing their fingers even if they accomplish the aforementioned tasks.
All other bubble teams will likely need to win their conference tournaments since a run to their conference championship games would not be enough.
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