Tuesday, March 7, 2017

2017 NCAA Basketball Bubble Watch

With only 3 days until Selection Sunday, most of the at-large bids seems accounted for. 10 at-large bids are still available. 17 teams are the top candidates for these bids. 2 of these could still receive an auto bid, which is preferred by all bubble teams. As conference tourney action picks up today with all of the major conferences being underway, 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?

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
Big 12: Baylor, Kansas, West Virginia, Iowa State, Oklahoma State
Big Ten: Purdue, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Maryland, Michigan
MVC: Wichita State
PAC-12: Oregon, Arizona, UCLA
SEC: Kentucky, Florida, South Carolina
WCC: Gonzaga, St. Mary's

Danger Zone- Current At-Large Contenders

Dayton, Northwestern, VCU, USC, Arkansas, Michigan State, Xavier, Middle Tennessee State, Wake Forest, Illinois State,  Vanderbilt, Rhode Island, Syracuse, Illinois, Kansas State, Iowa, California, Georgia, Nevada, UT-Arlington, Houston, Monmouth, Vermont, Boise State, TCU, New Mexico State, Ole Miss, Utah

- The Flyers are 4-2 vs Top 50 and have an 11-4 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.

- Northwestern's 1st ever NCAA Tournament bid is looking pretty good. Every time they take two steps forward, they take 2-3 steps back. A 4-7 record vs Top 50 is not too good, but no bad losses is a huge plus. As long as the Wildcats do not pick up a bad loss in the Big Ten conference tournament, the wait will finally be over.

- 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.

- 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 face UCLA in which a win would likely punch their ticket.

- Arkansas is a surprising 11-6 vs Top 100. None of these wins really stand out though and 2 bad losses including one to Missouri is not good. Overall, it is looking good for the Razorbacks. Avoiding another bad loss and winning one more game would be the icing on the cake.

Michigan State
- The Spartans have enough good wins (5-8 vs Top 50) to highlight their resume. Their main problem is an 18-13 record with one bad loss. 2 more wins would solidify things, but a loss in their Big 10 tourney game especially to an inferior opponent would keep their chances up in the air. Michigan State beat Penn State and now seem like a sure thing. One more would leave no doubt.

-Without Sumner, Xavier has really struggled, which is not good for them, since they will be evaluated on their play without him. Their current 19-12 record is already is already too great. 3 Top 50 wins with their best win @ Creighton and an 8-11 mark vs Top 100 does not help either. What's worse is that their next game is a potential bad loss against DePaul. Xavier survived and now face Butler where a win here would really help their chance.

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.

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.

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 2014, they will be in.

- Vandy has a great collection of wins but is only 17-14 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. A loss in their first game in the SEC tourney would put them at 17-15 overall.

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 4 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.

- 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.

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. A win here would crucial for their at-large hopes.

- 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. It is win or go home time now.

- 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 is currently taking on Utah in a game that they must win.

- 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 is start on their rally to get in.

- 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.

- 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.

- 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. A run to the AAC final is likely their lone shot at a possible at-large.

- 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 Candidates:
Boise State, TCU, New Mexico State, Ole Miss, Utah

Bubbles Burst: Georgia Tech, Clemson

No comments:

Post a Comment