Bracketology 2014: Real-Time Bubble Watch Updates on Who's in and Who's out

Kerry Miller@@kerrancejamesCollege Basketball National AnalystMarch 11, 2014

Bracketology 2014: Real-Time Bubble Watch Updates on Who's in and Who's out

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    Joe Murphy/Getty Images

    After months of anticipation, Selection Sunday is finally here!

    It seems like just yesterday we were wondering if Andrew Wiggins could live up to the hype and whether or not Kentucky could go 40-0.

    So many memories. But I digress, because we're here for one final look at the Bubble Watch.

    Though this bubble watch once had as many of 30 teams on it, we're now down to the last four in and the first four out.

    The following slides begin with the teams whose hopes are hanging by a thread...and end with those teams oh so close to punching their tickets to March Madness.

    To see how the full field shakes out, check out our real-time projected bracket.

    Here's how we project the bubble as of Sunday 4 p.m. ET.

    Win-loss records on the following slides exclude games played against opponents not in D-I and are updated at the conclusion of each game involving a bubble team. All Rating Percentage Index (RPI) rankings are via ESPN, and KenPom (KP) rankings are via Both are current through the start of play on Sunday, March 16.

Florida State: Leaning out

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    Phil Sears/Associated Press

    Record: 19-13 overall, 9-9 in ACC regular season (ninth place)

    Record in Last 12 Games: 6-6

    Last Game / Next Game: Virginia (L 64-51) / None

    RPI / KP: 52 / 41

    Best Wins: Massachusetts (N) 60-55, VCU (N) 85-67, at Pittsburgh 71-66

    Worst Losses: Miami (Fla.) 77-73, at Maryland 83-71, Clemson 53-49

    The Good News: The Seminoles have five wins away from home vs. RPI top-100 teams, including a pair of huge nonconference wins against Massachusetts and VCU.

    The Bad News: They have 13 losses, including nine in the ACC despite playing just one game each against Duke, North Carolina, Pittsburgh and Syracuse.

    Blueprint for an NCAA Bid: 

    A close loss to Virginia might have been enough to keep the Seminoles under serious consideration, but the Cavaliers ran away from them in the second half, beating the Seminoles by at least 12 points for the third time this season.

    Though they did have some impressive nonconference wins, I'm having a hard time seeing how the Seminoles' entire body of work is any better than that of California or Green Bay.

    Prediction: Florida State was the first team out of the field before losing to Virginia. Now, the Seminoles are just barely among the first four out. Best of luck to them in the NIT.

California: On the Ropes

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    Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

    Record: 19-13 overall, 10-8 in Pac-12 regular season (fourth place)

    Record in Last 12 Games: 5-7

    Last Game / Next Game: Colorado (L 59-56) / None

    RPI / KP: 61 / 73

    Best Wins: Arizona 60-58, at Oregon 96-83, Colorado 66-65

    Worst Losses: at USC 77-69, at UC Santa Barbara 72-65, Utah 63-59

    The Good News: The Golden Bears have four wins away from home against the RPI top 100 and have one of the biggest resume boosters a team could possibly ask for in the form of a win over Arizona.

    The Bad News: They have 13 losses and only one nonconference win against the RPI top 100. California is also one of the three RPI top-150 teams in the nation that has lost a game to USC. Since beating Arizona on Feb. 1, California is 1-6 vs. RPI top 85, needing overtime to beat Colorado for that one win.

    Blueprint for an NCAA Bid: 

    The Pac-12 will likely send six teams to the NCAA tournament, but the No. 4 seed in its conference tournament is on the wrong side of the looking glass.

    The Golden Bears simply have too many losses and not nearly enough quality wins. They're 5-11 vs. RPI top-100 teams, which is about as impressive as it sounds. Only one of the wins came against a team in the RPI top 25, and it was at home against Arizona in the game where Brandon Ashley suffered a season-ending injury.

    No matter how you slice it, it doesn't seem to be in the cards for California.

    Prediction: Out and needing some serious help.

Southern Miss: Close but No Cigar

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    Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

    Record: 27-6 overall, 13-3 in C-USA regular season (fourth place)

    Record in Last 12 Games: 9-3

    Last Game / Next Game: Louisiana Tech (L 88-70) / None

    RPI / KP: 31 / 63

    Best Wins: at North Dakota State 70-69, Louisiana Tech 80-71, Georgia State 75-65

    Worst Losses: at UAB 84-60, at Western Kentucky 68-65, at Tulsa 75-71

    The Good News: The Golden Eagles don’t have any incredible wins, but they do have a great RPI and very few (bad) losses.

    The Bad News: Though they only have six losses, four of those were blowouts. Their second-best win of the season occurred when Louisiana Tech was playing without its leading scorer.

    Blueprint for an NCAA Bid: 

    Welcome to the bubble, Southern Miss! We had you projected for the C-USA automatic bid, but so much for that.

    If it comes down to either Southern Miss or Green Bay for the last spot, what is the committee going to do?

    Both have six losses. Southern Miss has a better RPI, but it was slaughtered by Louisville in its one game against a great team. The Golden Eagles were also blown out by both Middle Tennessee and UAB in mid-February. Green Bay, on the other hand, has a huge win over Virginia and a near-win over Wisconsin.

    If I had a vote, mine would be for Green Bay, but I can see the merit in preferring Southern Miss.

    Prediction: Southern Miss is probably finished, but it might come right down to the wire. In my estimation, the Golden Eagles are out for now.

Southern Methodist: The More We Look, the Less We Like

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    Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

    Record: 23-9 overall, 12-6 in AAC regular season (third place)

    Record in Last 12 Games: 7-5

    Last Game / Next Game: Houston (L 68-64) / None

    RPI / KP: 55 / 32

    Best Wins: Cincinnati 76-55, at Connecticut 64-55, Connecticut 74-65

    Worst Losses: at South Florida 78-71, at Temple 71-64, at Arkansas 89-78

    The Good News: The Mustangs have four RPI top-50 wins, including a season sweep of Connecticut. Of their nine losses, six have come against the RPI top 75.

    The Bad News: They have three dreadful losses, and their best nonconference win came against Wyoming. Of their 23 wins, 19 have come against teams outside the RPI top 125.

    Blueprint for an NCAA Bid: 

    A few weeks ago, the Mustangs were considered a stone-cold lock for the tournament.

    I'm not so sure most people have truly inspected their resume since.

    After losing to Houston in the AAC quarterfinals, the Mustangs are now 4-6 vs. RPI top-100 teams with three other losses to considerably less talented teams.

    Ending the regular season with losses to Louisville and Memphis didn't hurt SMU's case, but it did keep the Mustangs in position to be in danger if they lost to a team in the bottom half of the conference standings in the AAC tournament. Which they did.

    Their RPI (55) and SOS (137) numbers are almost identical to those of Green Bay. Both the Phoenix and Mustangs had three losses to teams outside the RPI top 100—though SMU's losses are decidedly worse, and Green Bay's worst loss of the season came when one of their most important players (Alec Brown) was out with a shoulder injury.

    SMU was 1-5 in road/neutral games against the RPI top 100, while Green Bay was 2-2. Green Bay played just four nonconference games against teams outside the RPI top 150; SMU played eight such games.

    Last, but not least, SMU's top five nonconference games were against teams with the following RPI: 10, 68, 113, 135 and 145. Green Bay's list goes: 7, 10, 47, 72 and 86.

    You might notice that both played team No. 10. Green Bay beat Virginia by three points, and SMU lost to Virginia by three points.

    Prediction: It's going to be a photo finish, but we're projecting SMU as the first team on the outside of the field.

Green Bay: In by a Whisker

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    Matthew Ludtke/Associated Press

    Record: 24-6 overall, 14-2 in Horizon regular season (first place)

    Record in Last 12 Games: 9-3

    Last Game / Next Game: Milwaukee (N) (L 73-66 OT) / None

    RPI / KP: 56 / 61

    Best Wins: Virginia 75-72, Tulsa (N) 67-59, at Cleveland State 68-54

    Worst Losses: at Valparaiso 75-60, Milwaukee 73-63, Milwaukee (N) 73-66

    The Good News: The Phoenix have a huge win over Virginia and came within three points of another big win against Wisconsin. It's one thing to schedule quality opponents to boost your RPI, but it's impressive when you play as well or better than them.

    The Bad News: A pair of regular-season losses and a tournament defeat in the Horizon League is pretty hard to recover from. 

    Blueprint for an NCAA Bid: 

    Each conference possesses the right to award its automatic bid to the regular-season champion, but the vast majority of conferences refuse to do so. People (myself included) will complain that Green Bay is a good enough team to belong in the tournament, but it's the Horizon League's fault for putting the Phoenix in this situation.

    Prediction: Things have gotten very interesting for Green Bay. Aside from Providence, virtually every wrong-side-of-the-bubble team hurt its chance this week. And with Virginia winning the ACC championship, the Phoenix's early win over the Cavaliers has been looking better and better throughout the week.

    There certainly weren't a lot of quality resumes from non-major conferences this season, but the selection committee always seems to shock us with one of the mid-majors that it includes in the field of 68. Green Bay is going to be that team this year.

BYU: Adding Injury to Insult

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    Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    Record: 23-11 overall, 13-5 in WCC regular season (second place)

    Record in Last 12 Games: 10-2

    Last Game / Next Game: Gonzaga (L 75-64) / None

    RPI / KP: 33 / 49

    Best Wins: Texas (N) 86-82, Gonzaga 73-65, at Stanford 112-103

    Worst Losses: at Portland 114-110, at Loyola Marymount 87-76, at Pepperdine 80-74

    The Good News: The Cougars have a strong RPI thanks to an aggressive nonconference schedule. They have an 8-7 record versus RPI top-100 teams.

    The Bad News: They have 11 total losses and four defeats to teams well outside of the RPI top 100. The RPI is great because of early losses to Iowa State, Wichita State and Massachusetts, but without a single RPI top-20 win, what really makes BYU more deserving of a bid than a team like Utah?

    Blueprint for an NCAA Bid: 

    Compared to most mid-major schools, BYU's profile is glimmering.

    But how will that profile hold up against a California or a Florida State now that the Cougars failed to win the WCC championship?

    Prediction: We were already starting to worry about BYU's stock after the loss to Gonzaga, but it turns out the Cougars lost more than just the game. Kyle Collinsworth, who is second on the team in scoring and leads the team in rebounds and assists, suffered a torn ACL in the WCC championship.

    His season is finished, and BYU's might be as well. Even before that news broke, BYU was widely regarded as one of the last few teams in the field. I still have the Cougars in for now, but I'd guess we'll eventually see BYU's name in the NIT bracket.

    For the moment, BYU is the second-to-last team in the field.

Xavier: Sleeping with One Eye Open

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    Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

    Record: 21-12 overall, 10-8 in Big East regular season (third place)

    Record in Last 12 Games: 6-6

    Last Game / Next Game: Creighton (L 86-78) / None

    RPI / KP: 49 / 42

    Best Wins: Cincinnati (N) 64-47, Creighton 75-69, Tennessee 67-63

    Worst Losses: USC (N) 84-78, Seton Hall 68-60, at Seton Hall 71-62

    The Good News: The Musketeers are 9-9 vs. the RPI top 100 with a pair huge wins over Cincinnati and Creighton.

    The Bad News: They have 12 total losses and are the third-best team in a conference that might only send two teams to the NCAA tournament. Though they have one win each against middling teams Georgetown, Marquette, Providence and Tennessee, they also have one loss against each of those teams.

    Blueprint for an NCAA Bid: 

    Though they lost to Creighton on Friday night, the Musketeers looked pretty good. Semaj Christon wasn't hitting his shots; Matt Stainbrook is still playing injured. But they came within eight points of beating one of the 10-12 best teams in the country for a second time.

    Prediction: The Musketeers are probably headed to Dayton to compete in the First Four, but I promise they'll take that over a high seed in the NIT.

Nebraska: Minimal Room to Relax

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    Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

    Record: 19-12 overall, 11-7 in B1G regular season (fourth place)

    Record in Last 12 Games: 9-3

    Last Game / Next Game: Ohio State (L 71-67) / None

    RPI / KP: 46 / 48

    Best Wins: Wisconsin 77-68, at Michigan State 60-51, Ohio State 68-62

    Worst Losses: UAB (N) 87-74, at Purdue 70-64, at Penn State 58-54

    The Good News: There might not be a hotter team in the country than the Cornhuskers. They have won 10 out of their last 13 while playing in perhaps the best conference in the country. They finished the season with their best win of the year and have a 7-3 record vs. RPI top-100 teams over the past seven weeks.

    The Bad News: Hot as they have been, the Cornhuskers still have 12 total losses, three losses to teams outside the RPI top 100 and nary a nonconference win against a tournament team.

    Blueprint for an NCAA Bid: 

    How in the world did Nebraska lose that game?

    The Cornhuskers had an 18-point lead in the second half before somehow letting Ohio State and its subpar offense make an incredible comeback.

    Prediction: They're somewhat safely in the field, but Nebraska is likely heading to Dayton for a game on Tuesday or Wednesday.

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