NCAA Basketball 2019: Stock Watch for Bubble Teams at Start of Championship Week

Michelle Bruton@@michelle_nflFeatured ColumnistMarch 11, 2019

NCAA Basketball 2019: Stock Watch for Bubble Teams at Start of Championship Week

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    Quinn Harris/Getty Images

    With the NCAA men's basketball regular season wrapped up, teams are on to conference tournaments.

    Those that find themselves on the NCAA tournament bubble will have one last chance to prove their worth to the selection committee, which will decide their fates on Selection Sunday, March 17.

    As always, there remain plenty of teams that seem deserving of a bid, but of course not everyone can make it in.

    One caveat to consider while analyzing this year's field is that we haven't seen how the new NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET) will play out. Some teams on the bubble have a less-than-impressive NET rating but look great when using the old metric, RPI.

    We'll assume the committee is indeed weighing NET heavily until it shows otherwise.

             

    All NET rating figures are via NCAA.com and current as of March 9. All strength-of-schedule rankings are via CBSSports.com.

Stock Down: Alabama Crimson Tide

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    Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

    Computer Resume: Record: 17-14; NET: 58; KenPom.com: 60; Strength of Schedule: 28

    Recent Games: Lost 66-60 vs. Auburn; lost 82-70 at Arkansas

    The Crimson Tide may not be able to walk back the damage they inflicted on their tournament hopes Saturday when they dropped their regular-season finale to SEC rival Arkansas.

    The loss means Alabama will finish ninth in the SEC, having gone 8-10 in conference play. It was also a third straight loss to finish the season.

    The selection committee is also likely to be concerned by Alabama's three Quadrant 3 losses this season.

    Now, the Tide must head into the contentious SEC tournament as a No. 10 seed, set to meet No. 7 Ole Miss in the second round Thursday. One win may not be enough, and facing No. 2 Kentucky in the quarterfinals will be a tall task for Avery Johnson's squad.

    But if the Crimson Tide can pull that off, it may bump them from first four out to last four in status.

Stock Up: Arizona State Sun Devils

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    Computer Resume: Record: 21-9; NET: 67; KenPom.com: 62; Strength of Schedule: 62

    Recent Games: Won 74-71 at Oregon State; won 72-64 at Arizona

    There was a lot riding on Arizona State's regular-season capper at Arizona on Saturday, and the hungry Sun Devils proved they wanted a bid in the NCAA tournament with a decisive win. This season, Arizona State swept the regular-season series with Arizona for the first time since 2008-09.

    Sophomore guard Remy Martin kept his team's NCAA tournament hopes alive with an inspired performance against the Wildcats, posting 27 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.

    Arizona State's case was already looking solid, but it's even stronger now, with a respectable 67 NET rating and this new Quadrant 2 victory under its belt.

    The No. 2 Sun Devils will have a first-round bye in the Pac-12 tournament before taking on the winner of No. 10 Stanford vs. No. 7 UCLA in the quarterfinals Thursday. A win there will surely push the Sun Devils off the bubble and into March Madness.

Stock Down: Belmont Bruins

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    Daniel R. Patmore/Associated Press

    Computer Resume: Record: 26-5; NET: 45; KenPom.com: 53; Strength of Schedule: 213

    Recent Games: Won 83-67 vs. Austin Peay; lost 77-65 vs. Murray State

    Unlike the other squads on this list, the Belmont Bruins don't have an upcoming conference tournament to use as an opportunity to make one final appeal to the selection committee.

    That's because the Ohio Valley tournament wrapped up Saturday with the championship between No. 1 Belmont and No. 2 Murray State. In winning, Murray State earned the Ohio Valley Conference auto-bid and left Belmont sweating it out for a possible at-large bid.

    Of course, not all hope is lost. Despite an easy road through the regular season, Belmont did manage to collect two Quadrant 1 wins.

    Now, the Bruins can't do anything but hope bubble power conference teams perform poorly in their respective tournaments and keep an at-large spot open for a second OVC team.

Stock Up: Clemson Tigers

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    Rich Barnes/Getty Images

    Computer Resume: Record: 19-12; NET: 35; KenPom.com: 28; Strength of Schedule: 33

    Recent Games: Won 64-62 at Notre Dame; won 67-55 vs. Syracuse 

    Looking at Clemson's resume, it's hard to imagine how the Tigers found themselves on the bubble. After all, with a NET rating of 35 and a top-30 KenPom ranking, how could they not make it in?

    Well, the recent winning was more than necessary for Clemson to erase the memory of its two significant skids this season. The Tigers dropped three consecutive games in January, two to ranked opponents, and then lost three more in a row in February, once again falling to two ranked teams.

    Then there's the issue of the highly competitive ACC, in which the Tigers went 9-9. They earned the No. 9 seed in the conference tourney and will face No. 8 NC State on Wednesday. A win there will help Clemson go from "first four out" territory to "last four in."

Stock Up: Creighton Bluejays

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    Justin Casterline/Getty Images

    Computer Resume: Record: 18-13; NET: 54; KenPom.com: 50; Strength of Schedule: 14

    Recent Games: Won 76-70 OT vs. Providence; won 91-78 vs. DePaul

    With an impressively difficult schedule this year, the Creighton Bluejays went 18-13 overall and 9-9 in the Big East. They helped their chances dramatically with a strong close to the regular season, winning five in a row, including a 66-60 victory over then-No. 10 Marquette on the road.

    Before the regular-season finale against DePaul, Creighton was looking like a potential last four in team, even after dropping four in a row at one point in February.

    With the win and an opportunity to pad their resume even more in the conference tourney with a quarterfinals meeting against No. 4 Xavier, the Bluejays are back to having control over their destiny.

Stock Down: Florida Gators

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    Dylan Buell/Getty Images

    Computer Resume: Record: 17-14; NET: 33; KenPom.com: 30; Strength of Schedule: 26

    Recent Games: Lost 79-78 OT vs. LSU; lost 66-57 at Kentucky

    Despite a high NET ranking, Florida sullied its resume to close out the season with three consecutive losses, including to ranked opponents No. 10 LSU and No. 6 Kentucky.

    But the committee could perhaps forgive those last two losses, both to teams with top-15 NET ratings. It was the March 2 loss to Georgia (11-20 overall, 2-16 SEC) that raises the question of just what kind of team this Gators squad is.

    On the season, they squandered many meaningful opportunities to impress. They faced nine ranked opponents and defeated only one of them, an 82-77 overtime victory over then-No. 13 LSU on Feb. 20.

    Drawing the eight seed in the SEC tournament, Florida will have to get by No. 9 Arkansas in the second round and then probably defeat No. 1 LSU in the quarterfinals to lock in an NCAA tourney bid.

Stock Up: Georgetown Hoyas

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    Quinn Harris/Getty Images

    Computer Resume: Record: 19-12; NET: 76; KenPom.com: 86; Strength of Schedule: 75

    Recent Games: Lost 101-69 at DePaul; won 86-84 at Marquette

    As recently as March 6, all looked lost for Georgetown. The Hoyas had just lost a stunner to lowly DePaul by 32 points, putting their NCAA tournament hopes on life support. DePaul is bringing up the rear of the Big East conference, having gone 7-11 in conference play and 15-14 overall.

    But Saturday in their regular-season finale, the Hoyas showed they have some fight in them, defeating conference heavyweight Marquette, with freshman guards Mac McClung and James Akinjo combining for 48 points.

    The Hoyas also previously defeated then-No. 17 Villanova 85-73 on Feb. 20. Now the No. 6 seed in the Big East tournament, they draw No. 3 Seton Hall in Thursday's quarterfinals.

    A win there could propel Georgetown to its first NCAA tournament since 2015.

Stock Down: St. John's Red Storm

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    Michael Hickey/Getty Images

    Computer Resume: Record: 20-11; NET: 66; KenPom.com: 74 Strength of Schedule: 53

    Recent Games: Lost 92-83 at DePaul; lost 81-68 at Xavier

    This may be where the road ends for the Red Storm. St. John's still has the upcoming Big East tournament, but it will have to make a big statement.

    It especially hurt the Red Storm that they ended their regular season by falling to Xavier again, a fellow bubble team in the Big East. That was the third game in a row St. John's has dropped, and there are so many other bubble teams in its own conference (Georgetown, Creighton, Xavier, Seton Hall).

    Chris Mullins' squad will open Big East tournament play in the first round as the No. 7 seed, facing No. 10 DePaul. A win there, followed by a statement win over No. 2 Marquette in the quarterfinals, would be needed to get St. John's back in the discussion.

Stock Up: Temple Owls

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    Chris Szagola/Associated Press

    Computer Resume: Record: 23-8; NET: 49; KenPom.com: 69; Strength of Schedule: 57

    Recent Games: Won 78-71 at UConn; won 67-62 vs. UCF

    In the eyes of the selection committee, the Temple Owls had one task: defeat No. 25 Central Florida.

    That's what they did Saturday, padding their resume with one more Quadrant 1 victory before opening conference tournament play Friday in the quarterfinals against either No. 6 Wichita State or No. 11 ECU.

    The Owls went 13-5 in conference play to finish fourth in the AAC, just behind UCF. As long as they avoid any major stumbles in the conference tourney, Fran Dunphy's squad will earn its first NCAA tournament bid since 2016.

Stock Down: Texas Longhorns

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    Chris Covatta/Getty Images

    Computer Resume: Record: 16-15; NET: 39; KenPom.com: 27; Strength of Schedule: 4

    Recent Games: Lost 70-51 at Texas Tech; lost 69-56 vs. TCU

    Texas' standing was already tenuous, and the Longhorns did themselves no favors by dropping two ugly games to close their regular season. Now, Texas may not even be able to save its March Madness chances in the conference tourney.

    The Longhorns had the most difficult strength of schedule of any of the teams mentioned here. However, they lost by 13 to fellow bubble team and Big 12 rival TCU, and that marked their fourth loss in five games.

    They do have five Quadrant 1 wins and a high NET rating, but they'll likely need to at least win their first conference tourney matchup against No. 3 Kansas in the quarterfinals Thursday to have a chance.

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