Thursday, March 9, 2017

Bubble Watch-Updated 3/11

Updated: 3/11/17- Early Morning

With only 1 day until Selection Sunday, most of the at-large bids seems accounted for. 7 at-large bids are still available. 16 teams are the top candidates for these bids. 3 of these could still receive an auto bid, which is preferred by all bubble teams. As conference tourney action continues today with more games with bubble implications, we will finally be able to start making sense of many of our bubble questions including:

Can a team receive an at-large bid with 15 losses? An RPI over 75? Less than 4 Top 100 wins?

Saturday's Bubble Games
Vermont vs Albany
UT-Arlington vs Texas State
Rhode Island vs Davidson
Princeton vs Penn
Arkansas vs Vanderbilt
VCU vs Richmond
Cincinnati vs UConn
Nevada vs Colorado State
Middle Tennessee vs Marshall
CSU-Bakersfield vs New Mexico State

Friday's Bubble Results(Winners are in Bold)
Dayton vs Davidson
UT-Arlington vs Coastal Carolina
Middle Tennessee vs UTEP
Kentucky vs Georgia
Minnesota vs Michigan State
Rhode Island vs St. Bonaventure
VCU vs George Mason
Florida vs Vanderbilt
Iowa State vs TCU
Houston vs UConn
Arkansas vs Ole Miss
Oregon vs California
West Virginia vs Kansas State
Nevada vs Fresno State
New Mexico State vs UMKC

Northwestern has moved to the safe zone after avoiding the bad loss to Rutgers.
Xavier upset Butler which soars them to safety.
Arkansas beat Ole Miss, which is enough.

Safety Zone
AAC: Cincinnati, SMU
ACC: Florida State, Louisville, North Carolina, Virginia, Duke, Notre Dame, Miami (FL), Virginia Tech
Big East: Villanova, Butler, Creighton, Providence, Seton Hall, Marquette, Xavier
Big 12: Baylor, Kansas, West Virginia, Iowa State, Oklahoma State
Big Ten: Purdue, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Maryland, Michigan, Northwestern
MVC: Wichita State
PAC-12: Oregon, Arizona, UCLA
SEC: Kentucky, Florida, South Carolina, Arkansas
WCC: Gonzaga, St. Mary's

Danger Zone- Current At-Large Contenders

Dayton, VCU, Michigan State, USC, Middle Tennessee State, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest,  Kansas State ,Illinois State, Rhode Island, Syracuse, California, Iowa, Nevada, Illinois, Georgia,, UT-Arlington,  TCU, Houston, Monmouth, Vermont, Princeton, New Mexico State

- The Flyers are 4-2 vs Top 50 and have an 11-5 record vs Top 100, which is great, but there is not much quality here, 2 bad losses are not good. However, the outlook is good. As long as the Flyers avoid another bad loss, their ticket will be punched.Dayton then lost to Davidson, which does not help. The outlook is still good, but they might not be seeded to well.

- The Rams 2-3 vs Top 50 and 7-5 vs Top 100 teams. Wins over Dayton and Middle Tennessee State are great. Losses to Davidson and Fordham aren't though. The Rams might not reach the safe zone before Selection Sunday without the auto bid but should like their chances as long as they do not lose to anyone else besides Dayton and URI. However, VCU could become safe if others do not impress.

Michigan State
- The Spartans have enough good wins (5-9 vs Top 50) to highlight their resume. Their main problem is an 19-14 record with one bad loss. 2 more wins would have solidified things, but a loss in their Big 10 tourney game especially to an inferior opponent would have kept their chances up in the air. Michigan State beat Penn State and now seem like a sure thing but lost to Minnesota. One more win would have been nice, but now it is time to wait. The Spartan fans should be able to sleep pretty well, but it is not guaranteed.

- The Trojans are 5-7 vs Top 100, which is not too good. However, their lone Top 50 wins are against UCLA and SMU, which is solid. Another marquee win would be huge for USC to feel safe about their chances. USC got by Washington and fell just short of UCLA. The Trojans will now have to wait it out. It will be close.

Middle Tennessee State
- The Blue Raiders are the favorite in the C-USA tourney. Winning the auto bid is recommended. However, a loss in the championship to LA Tech might be enough to earn an at-large bud. MTSU is 2-1 vs Top 50 and 4-1 vs Top 100, which might be enough as long as they do not add a 4th bad loss. The C-USA auto bid is definitely the safe option.

- Vandy has a great collection of wins but is only 19-14 overall. No team has ever received an at-large bid with 15 losses. If the Commodores fail to the SEC tourney, they will 15 losses and will test these odds to see if there is a precedent for maximum number of losses. If Vandy wants to feel good without the Auto Bid, advancing to the SEC finals is a must and now only need to beat Arkansas to get there.

Wake Forest 
- The strength of the Demon Deacons' resume is their RPI and SOS. Last week's wins over Louisville and @ VA Tech could be enough to put them in. Though, Wake is only 3-8 against the Top 50 with their best win over Louisville. Their worst loss is to Syracuse, which means no bad losses. Quality wins are needed desperately. Avoiding a bad loss against BC helps. Wake lost to VA Tech, so they must sit and wait now. It will likely be close, but it seems they might slide in.

Kansas State 
- K-State has a great win @Baylor, but are only 5-10 vs Top 100 teams with 2 bad losses. Baylor is up first in the Big 12 tourney. K-State capitalized and upset Baylor. They now sit right on the cut line where they could fall either way. A win over West Virginia would have helped sway the committee but they fell by 1 point. K-State must sweat it out now as they are on cut line and seem destined to Dayton or the NIT.

Illinois State 
- The Redbirds ran through the MVC with a 17-1 record and then fell to Wichita State in the MVC Final. The MVC is traditionally a 2 bid league, which definitely helps since Illinois State was just as dominant as the Shockers. The negatives are only 2 Top 100 wins and 2 bad losses. If teams are evaluated similar to last season, then Illinois State might be headed to the NIT. If it is like 2013, they will be in.

Rhode Island 
- URI lost at home to Fordham recently and made it up with a win over VCU after missing two chances against Dayton. The lack of competing teams on the bubble helps. URI needs more Top 100 wins. Wins over Cincinnati and VCU help, but only 7 Top 100 wins is not so good. A run to the A-10 finals is likely a must to have a legitimate shot.

- The Orange have been trying to make up for a dismal start with 3 putrid losses. A 6-8 record vs Top 50 is great. However, none of those wins are away from home. 2-10 road/neutral record is bad as well as their RPI. Syracuse needs quantity wins now especially ones away from the Carrier Dome. Work was needed in the ACC Tourney, but they lost to Miami. The Orange must wait to see if they can overcome an RPI in the mid 80s, 5 bad losses, and an 18-14 record.

- Cal has been relying on their win @USC to carry them into the field. After losing 3 in a row, Cal is just 4-9 vs Top 100 and has 2 bad losses. Work is needed in the Pac-12 tourney. Cal defeated Utah to stay in the hunt but lost to Oregon. Cal has one bad loss to Stanford (101) which helps but only 1 top 50 win and 5 top 100 wins isn't great.

- The Hawkeyes have not been thought of as a tourney hopeful until the last week after a late surge. Iowa clearly has work to do in the Big Ten tourney if they want to dance. Indiana is up first, and Iowa showed that they prefer the NIT with that performance against Indiana.

- With 0-1 record vs Top 50, Nevada does not any signature wins. A 7-4 record vs Top 100 is very good though. The MWC tourney is here and the auto bid is the ideal path for Nevada fans. Their at-large chance is somewhat cloudy and depends on how others perform. Making the MWC final is a minimum requirement at this point.

- Illinois was right there and then they lost to Rutgers. The Illini opened the Big Ten with a must win game against Michigan. Purdue would have been next. A trip to the semifinals almost seemed like it was needed to feel anywhere near good about their chances. Illinois must sweat it out now, but it seems they are doomed to the NIT.

- The Bulldogs do not have bad computer numbers but have nothing that stands out in the win column. A deep run is needed in the SEC tourney. Of course, the Mark Fox rumors cannot be helping their focus this week. Of course, they opened with a win over Tennessee, which was a start on their rally to get in.They then fell to Kentucky and are likely NIT bound.

- The Mavericks have a win at St. Mary's, which is their only Top 100 win. 4 bad losses make their at-large chances very slim. Winning the Sun Belt is likely their only option.

- TCU was down for the count until they upset Kansas and now have a chance to possibly play their way in. Iowa State is next, where it's win or go to the NIT time.

- The Cougars have to be the winners of the process of elimination of bubble teams that have lost too many games. Houston currently sits in striking distance. 2-5 vs Top 50 and 3-5 vs Top 100 are not great and the three bad losses do not help either. The Cougars then picked up another bad loss by losing to UConn in the AAC tourney and now have a slim chance to get in. NIT seems to be next.

- The Hawks are likely returning to the NIT after losing to Siena in the semifinals. Their profile does not have the wins it had last year. The only hope is that many bubble teams hurt themselves this week and if the selection committee has a strong emphasis on road record and total wins

- The Catamounts own the longest winning streak with 20 games in a row and are a win away from the America East auto bid. Vermont does not have much of an at-large profile, so a win here is pretty much a must to dance.

Fringe Candidate:
Princeton, New Mexico State

Bubbles Burst: Georgia Tech, Clemson, Utah, Boise State, Ole Miss

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