Last Team In: Stanford Cardinal (11-11, RPI: 73, KP: 111, SOS: 2)
There's a lot to hate about this resume. An RPI rank outside the Top 70 and a KenPom.com rank outside the Top 100 is usually indicative of a team that isn't good. So is a .500 winning percentage and a conference record tied for ninth in a 12-team league.
However, the Cardinal are one of just six teams in the country with at least three RPI Top 25 wins and zero losses to teams outside the RPI Top 100. The others on that list are Oklahoma, Iowa, Notre Dame, Michigan and Oregon State. And, sure they have 11 losses, but what do you expect from a team that has played 14 games against the RPI Top 35?
Between the conference affiliation and the sheer number of losses, I can't help but get a whiff of 2007-08 Arizona from this resume. Those Wildcats earned a No. 10 seed, despite a 19-14 record, because they played what KenPom.com evaluated to be by far the toughest schedule that season.
KenPom also has Stanford projected to lose each of its remaining six games, so maybe we won't need to worry about this resume for much longer. But if the Cardinal can put together a 4-2 record down the stretch, look for them to be that annual team that everyone is flabbergasted to see on Selection Sunday.
Second-to-Last: VCU Rams (19-7, RPI: 56, KP: 39, SOS: 101)
VCU was safely in the field a few weeks ago, but the Rams are 3-2 in February despite only facing one RPI Top 100 team.
Thursday's loss to Massachusetts was their worst of the season by a significant margin, and it gives them a lot less wiggle room down the stretch. The Rams close the season at George Washington, vs. Davidson and at Dayton. And after the loss to the Minutemen, VCU will likely need to win at least two of those games to remain in the hunt.
Third-to-Last: LSU Tigers (16-9, RPI: 70, KP: 56, SOS: 76)
Despite a loss to South Carolina, it was a pretty great week for Ben Simmons and Co.
The obvious positive impact was Saturday's home win over Texas A&M. It was the Tigers' second RPI Top 25 win of the season, and it pushed their SEC record to 9-3. Even if they drop upcoming games against Florida and Kentucky, a 13-5 conference record is still in play and would be tough to ignore.
The less obvious boost came from Alabama, as the Crimson Tide won games over Texas A&M and Florida, elevating LSU's prior road win over Alabama to a quality victory and also making Wednesday's home game against Alabama more of an opportunity and less of a potential liability.
The RPI and nonconference strength of schedule are still less than ideal, but LSU's chance of dancing is slowly but surely looking better.
Fourth-to-Last: Cincinnati Bearcats (19-7, RPI: 59, KP: 27, SOS: 111)
Not much change for the Bearcats, as all they've done in the past seven days is win a home game against East Carolina.
As is the case for VCU, Cincinnati's recent bad loss (at Memphis) means we need to see more out of this team in the difficult waning weeks of its season. The Bearcats are just 5-6 versus RPI Top 100 teams, but four of their remaining five games are against that group.
If they split with Tulsa and Connecticut in the next seven days, look for them to be right back in this spot next Tuesday.
Fifth-to-Last: Seton Hall Pirates (17-7, RPI: 49, KP: 35, SOS: 77)
Whereas LSU's resume got some external help from another team's wins, Seton Hall's resume got a good deal worse because of losses by other teams.
Seton Hall's four best wins of the season came against Providence, Wichita State, Georgia and Georgetown, and in addition to the Pirates losing their only game of the past week (vs. Butler), those four teams went a combined 3-4 over the last seven days.
Wichita State's home loss to Northern Iowa was the worst of the bunch, as it bumped the Shockers out of the RPI Top 50, leaving the Pirates with just one victory against that club.
Of their final six games, four will be played on the road and the other two (vs. Providence, vs. Xavier) are difficult home games. They probably need to win at least four of those games to make the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2006.