As Selection Sunday nears, many mid-major programs have a slim margin for error in terms of at-large candidacy. This past week saw many of these teams tumble and put themselves into an even more precarious situation
St. Mary’s (Gonzaga, Portland), Northern Iowa (Bradley), Siena (Niagara), and Cornell (Penn) have each put themselves in a situation where they may need to win their conference or conference tournament to get into the NCAA tournament.
For example, St. Mary’s was considered a bubble team going into the week and now are probably on the outside.
Northern Iowa sports an impressive record (22-3) but only one of those wins is over an rpi top-50 team (Siena). Additionally, starting center Jordan Eglseder has been suspended three games for a DWI charge.
Siena and Cornell are in a similar situation after losing conference games to teams with less than impressive records.
Luckily for teams like Northern Iowa and Siena, Bracket buster match-ups give them an opportunity to recoup the loss with a quality win-something they would be unable to do in conference play.
Let’s take a look at the teams that have put themselves in position for at-large consideration during the past week and some that didn’t.
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The Hokies' two wins over N.C. St. and Virginia this past week probably didn’t raise any eyebrows, but the fact that they are only a game and a half out of first place in the ACC should. The upcoming week will be huge for Va. Tech as they host Wake Forest and then go on the road to Duke. With only one rpi top-50 win, the Hokies are lacking at-large credentials. If they want to be taken seriously, they need at least a split this week.
Marquette picked up its fifth straight win on Saturday when they knocked off South Florida. The win did two things for Marquette: It gave them a quality win while also knocking off a fellow bubble team. The Golden Eagles will have a great opportunity to solidify its resume when they host Pitt on Thursday.
San Diego St.
The Aztecs are in an eerily similar situation as they were last year at this time. Beating UNLV on Saturday gives them the big win that eluded them last weekend in New Mexico. Still, with only two top-50 wins, San Diego St. may want to finish out the season on a roll. That includes beating BYU on Feb. 24 in Provo.
Other Winners: Richmond, California, Mississippi St., Arizona St., Cornell, Tulsa
The Gaels maybe could’ve gotten bye with a loss to Gonzaga on Thursday. But losing to Portland over the weekend really put them in a tough situation. Anything less than getting to the championship game of the WCC tourney will probably cost them a bid to the NCAA tournament. Their profile looks too much like so many other bubble teams: decent rpi, but not many quality wins.
In last week’s edition , the Gators were selected as a bubble winner with wins over Alabama and Mississippi St. This week they take two steps backward with loses to South Carolina and Xavier. Florida still has some chances to gather quality wins (Tennessee, Vanderbilt, and Kentucky), but can’t afford many more losses.
With loses to Seton Hall and St. John’s this week, Notre Dame most likely ended any hope of being an at-large NCAA team. The Irish have now lost six of nine and would probably need to win four of its last five to have any shot.
Other Losers: Minnesota, S. Florida, Virginia, Charlotte, Rhode Island