Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Bubble Watch: March Madness Has Begun

11 Days Until Selection Sunday

Bubble Teams

Colorado and Purdue entered the safe zone after strong performances last week.

Texas Tech
- Current Projection: #7 Seed
The Red Raiders played Kansas tough but fell short. With 2 games remaining, Texas Tech is probably two wins away from being safe. A road trip to Morgantown is up first with an opportunity to seal up their tourney bid. Then Kansas State comes to Lubbock for a must win for the Red Raiders. 

Seton Hall 
- Current Projection: #7 Seed
The Pirates had their best week of the season as they finished their season sweep of Providence and then upset Xavier. The Hall is clearly the third best team in the Big East  and are very close to safety. Hpwever, trips to a hungry Butler team and sometimes dangerous DePaul loom this week. Winning against DePaul would likely be enough to get in, but 2 more wins in general would silence any suspicion. 

St. Joseph's
- Current Projection: #8 Seed
The Hawks are close to the safe zone simply because they have been successful on the road and have no bad losses. A trip to St. Bonaventure is next before Duquesne comes to town to close the regular season. Winning both would be enough assuming St. Joe's doesn't pick up a bad loss in the A-10 tourney. Winning at least against Duquesne and then reaching the A-10 Semis would be enough.

- Current Projection: #8 Seed
Another big week for the Badgers, who won defeated Iowa and Michigan. Badgers need to keep winning and avoid bad losses. A road trip to Minnesota is up next followed by a road trip to Purdue. Beating Minnesota is a must as the Badgers already have a lot of bad losses. Win both games and the Badgers will likely be in the tourney.

- Current Projection: #8 Seed 
The Trojans have now lost 5 of 6 and now their at-large hopes are starting to feel a little shaky. They are still in good shape now. But if they lose their next three games, would they be selected? Probably is not something worth chancing. The Oregons come to down this week. 2 wins will erase all doubts, and even 1 win could do the trick. Losing both would really begin to make fans sweat about their chances.

South Carolina
- Current Projection: #9 Seed
The Gamecocks picked up their third bad loss by losing at a surging Mississippi State team. Georgia comes to town and then a trip to the always tough Bud Walton Arena to take on the Razorbacks. A loss to Arkansas would be their 4th bad loss. A resume with a bad non-conference SOS, lack of good wins, and bad losses is starting to possibly offset their low amount of losses. Winning both games this week would seal the deal. Anything short of this and SC begins to be an interesting case. 

Oregon State
- Current Projection: #8 Seed
The Beavers took care of Washington State. They finish up in Southern California. If the Beavers can win both games, they will lock up a bid. A road split is recommended at least. Overall, two more wins will punch their ticket.

- Current Projection: #9 Seed
The Orange followed their win over the Wolfpack with a close loss at UNC. Syracuse still is in good shape due to their solid number of good wins. Up next is their regular season finale at Florida State. A win there and a win in the ACC tourney would punch their ticket. Anything less than that means Selection Sunday could be nerve wracking. 

- Current Projection: #10 Seed
The Friars have been limping to the finish line and are being carried by their win at Villanova and neutral court victory over Arizona. The bad thing is that more is needed to feel secure. With Creighton coming to town and a trip to St. John's this week, they will have to look to get more in the Big East Tourney. First, both games this week are must wins to stay in decent standing.

- Current Projection: #10 Seed
The Huskies lost at home to Houston and have suddenly found themselves in the heart of the bubble.  A trip to SMU is next and then they finish their regular season at home against UCF. Winning both and their first game in the AAC tourney would do the trick. Winning one of out two would likely put them in the 4 vs 5 quarterfinal game that could be an elimination game.

- Current Projection: #9 Seed
The Wolverines lost at Wisconsin and barely clinging onto a spot in the dance. 3 Top 50 wins and only 5 Top 100 wins (2 vs. Penn St.) is low and will really sting if Penn State falls out of the Top 100. Good thing a slumping Iowa team is coming to town. Bad thing is that they could be due for a win. Michigan needs this one and some work in the Big Ten tourney to feel great about their chances.

- Current Projection: #9 Seed
The Panthers had begun to drift towards the cut line as they have really struggled lately. That was until Duke came to town Sunday in a game that the Pitt dominated. Good thing too as road trips to Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech are next. Winning both of these games might be enough for Pitt, but another Top 50 win in the ACC tourney is recommended.

- Current Projection: #10 Seed (Last 4 In)
 The Commodores were a big winner last week after following up the win in at Florida with a home win over Kentucky. They continues their hot streak and defeated Tennessee as expected. The finale on the road in College Station where an opportunity for a marquee road win looms. A win would be huge.

- Current Projection: # 11 Seed (Last 4 In)
 The Crimson Tide beat Auburn and now finish with Arkansas and at Georgia. Arkansas is a must win and a win in Athens would be nice as well. Overall, it's probably best to win both games this week to continue their pursuit for an NCAA tournament bid in Avery Johnson's first season.

- Current Projection: #10 Seed
 The Bulldogs have been barely hanging on for weeks now. Their win over Purdue and at Seton Hall teamed up wins against  a few bubble teams have put them in strong consideration. This week Seton Hall and Creighton come to town. Both games are very important for the Bulldogs. Win both and possibly a huge game with Providence may loom in the Big East quarters.3 more wins would almost definitely do the trick.

St. Bonaventure
- Current Projection: #10 Seed (Last 4 In)
 The Bonnies survived against UMass. A win is a win especially when a loss would have been devastating. St. Joe's comes to town before finishing regular season play at Saint Louis. Winning both and a trip to the A-10 Semis could be enough. Worst case scenario for this week is to avoid the bad loss at Saint Louis.

- Current Projection: #11 Seed (Last 4 In)
The Bearcats won at East Carolina and are currently in a position where they could could go either way. A huge week is here as they begin with a trip to Houston before coming home for a date with SMU. Winning both may surprisingly be enough. However, losing both would sting Mick's crew making a strong performance in the American tourney a must.

- Current Projection: 1st 4 Out
 The Golden Hurricane picked up a bad loss to Memphis and now probably have to do some work in the AAC Conference Tournament to get in. One game remaining: home against USF- a loss would really damage their at large hopes.

- Current Projection: 1st 4 Out
 The Rams avenged their bad loss at UMass by winning at George Washington, which was a must to stay on track for a potential bid. VCU does not have too many good wins with only 2 Top 50 wins. A big week is up with Davidson coming to town and a trip to Dayton. Winning both would be huge for their at-large hopes, but winning one is required to stay in the hunt. Regardless, there will be work to do in the A-10 tourney.  

George Washington
- Current Projection: 1st 4 Out
 The Colonials followed up their costly home loss to VCU by defeating George Mason. A huge road trip to Davidson remains before A-10 tourney begins. Lots of work is needed. Another bad loss would do GW in.

- Current Projection: #11 Seed- MAAC Auto Bid
The Hawks finished 1st in the MAAC and the MAAC tourney is next. Winning it would obviously punch a ticket. Monmouth needs to make the finals to have strong consideration for an at-large if needed. 

Wichita State
- Current Projection: #11 Seed- MVC Auto Bid
 The Shockers do not have a great at-large profile. Some think they are a lock, but once you dissect their resume that features their 2 worst losses when they had their entire team, it is probably important that the Shockers win the MVC tourney. We will know Sunday if they have punched a ticket. 

Little Rock
- Current Projection: #11 Seed- Sun Belt Auto Bid 
The Trojans need to win their regular season finale and then make the Sun Belt Finals to be in a position for an at-large in case they need it. Facing UT-Arlington for the championship would be ideal if they happened to lose. Winning the Sun Belt auto bid is definitely recommended.

- Current Projection: Next 4 Out
 The Gators lost at home to fellow bubble dweller Vanderbilt and on the road to Ben Simmons and company. Florida has now drifted off into the sea after a home loss to Kentucky. A 17-13 record with a lack of good wins has them drifting off the map. Up next is a potential bad loss at Missouri is next. Assuming they win, work needs to be done in the SEC tourney to dance.

- Current Projection: #12 Seed- American Auto Bid
 The Owls hung on against UCF and now still has chance for AAC regular season title. The only problem is that will not mean much to their resume. This team needs more good wins and this weeks games vs Memphis and at Tulane will not help them. A trip to the American finals is a must to have a great chance to dance this March.

- Current Projection: Next 4 Out
The Tigers could be the Ivy auto bid, but right now are tied with Yale. Princeton's only losses outside the Top 50 are Yale and Stony Brook which are in the 50's. However, they hold only 1 Top 100 win. If they win out and lose in the potential Ivy league playoff against Yale, the Tigers will be an interesting case.

St. Mary's
- Current Projection: #12 Seed- WCC Auto Bid
The Gaels do not have a great at-large profile either with their best wins being a sweep of Gonzaga. The WCC title game is a must for the Gaels to have a legitimate shot at an at-large. However, capturing the auto bid is always recommended in this situation. 

- Current Projection: Next 4 Out
The Bulldogs' streak is in jeopardy. Their at-large profile is very weak with their best win coming against UConn. Their only plus is no bad losses. However, a weak RPI and lack of good wins hurts. Winning the WCC tourney should be their goal. 

- Current Projection: Under Consideration
 The Huskies played both Oregon teams tough on the road before falling to the buzzer to OSU and in a close one against Oregon. Their arch rival Wazzu is up this week with the PAC-12 tourney following. A win against the Cougs is required. From there, a trip to semi-finals is a must to be in serious at-large contention.

Florida State
- Current Projection: Under Consideration
 The Seminoles temporarily ended their burning dumpster fire by shredding Notre Dame. Their bubble almost popped, but they hung on with this win. Syracuse comes to town. A loss here means that a trip to the ACC finals might be their only chance at an at-large. 

San Diego State

- Current Projection: #12 Seed- MWC Auto Bid
 The Aztecs have a very low chance of receiving an at-large in this down year for the Mountain West. A trip to the MWC finals is required to even have a shot.

- Current Projection: #12 Seed- Horizon Auto Bid
 The Crusaders are more of a fringe bubble candidate as they could not beat Wright State or Ball State this season. A win at Oregon State is nice, but winning the Horizon auto bid is likely their only shot. Anything short of making the finals will not be enough.

- Current Projection: Under Consideration
 The Cardinal are a fringe candidate now, but they have some good wins and no bad losses. They do need more wins and have maxed out in the loss department. Road trips to the Arizonas are this week. Winning at least one has to happen and then a trip the PAC-12 finals too. Not likely, but it's possible.

Ohio State
- Current Projection: Under Consideration
 The Buckeyes picked up a big win over Iowa but still lack a good amount of quality wins and their RPI isn't very good. A road trip to Michigan State before the Big Ten Tourney. A win would be nice, but the Buckeyes are going to need to make a run in the Big Ten Tourney to have a chance at an at large bid.

Safety Zone
ACC: Virginia, UNC, Miami (FL), Notre Dame, Duke
A-10: Dayton
Big East: Villanova, Xavier
Big 12: Kansas, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Texas, Iowa State, Baylor
Big Ten: Iowa, Michigan State, Maryland, Indiana, Purdue
PAC-12: Oregon, Utah, Arizona, California, Colorado
SEC: Kentucky, Texas A&M

Danger Zone(Safest Teams are listed 1st)- Current At-Large Contenders
 Texas Tech, Seton Hall, St. Joseph's, Wisconsin, USC, South Carolina, Oregon State, Syracuse, Providence, Connecticut,  Michigan, Pittsburgh, Vanderbilt, Alabama, Butler, St. Bonaventure, Cincinnati, Tulsa, VCU, George Washington, Monmouth, Wichita State, Ark-Little Rock, Florida, Temple, Princeton, St. Mary's, Gonzaga,Washington, Florida State, San Diego State, Valparaiso, Stanford, Ohio State

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