Yes, it’s early January and we are already talking of teams “on the bubble.”
Now is the time for teams to put that quality non-conference win on a résumé that makes the NCAA selection committee take note. For mid-majors and middle-of-the-road power conference teams, a quality win now pays dividends come March.
The past week provided several matchups that helped teams upgrade or solidify their position as at-large candidates while others left themselves on that precariously thin bubble. Let’s take a look at some of the winners and losers.
After Dayton’s collapse last year they have bounced back and put themselves in a position to be talked about as a serious at-large team. Beating George Mason this week was a bracket-buster type win that will go a long way with the committee in March. And looks good paired with a win at Marquette in early December.
Coming off a big win against Arizona, the Rebels continued to highlight their résumé by winning at Louisville. What’s more impressive is that they beat the Cardinals without Wink Adams, who was out with an abdominal strain.
It was hard to determine how good this Arkansas team was going into their game with Oklahoma. They hadn’t played anyone of any significance and with a loss against Missouri St. early in the season. It looked as though the Razorbacks were just more fodder for the Sooners. Alas, a stunning upset and a marquee win has put John Pelphrey’s squad on the radar.
The Blazers are sitting in exactly the same place they were last year: Going into C-USA play without more than one quality win on their résumé. Sure, they beat Arizona, but besides that, there's nothing else to look at.
With chances at Louisville and Butler squandered, UAB is going to have to do some damage in conference—and that means beating Memphis, something they haven’t done in three years.
When you're going into the meat grinder known as the Big East, it’s a good idea to have more than two wins over a couple of mid-major programs. The Bearcats let a big opportunity slip away losing to Memphis. A win would have given Cincinnati a little extra breathing room. Now they must stay afloat in conference play.
UTEP is expected to battle with UAB and Tulsa for the second spot in C-USA and a possible at-large spot. With wins over St. Mary’s and Texas Tech, the Miners were looking the part until a critical loss at Santa Clara put them in bubble trouble.