Tuesday, March 6, 2018

NCAA Basketball Bubble Watch- 3/6/18

With only 5 days until Selection Sunday, Championship Week is really beginning to get going. Currently, there are  several bubble teams with some that could play their way out and some hoping to play their way in. Either way, March Madness is here, and it should be a very dramatic week. Beware of bid stealers!

Here is the current breakdown:

Safety Zone
AAC: Cincinnati, Wichita State, Houston
ACC: Virginia, Clemson, Duke, North Carolina, Miami (FL)
Big East: Xavier, Villanova, Seton Hall, Creighton
Big 12: Texas Tech, Kansas, West Virginia, TCU
Big Ten: Purdue, Michigan State, Ohio State, Michigan
MVC: Loyola-Chicago
PAC-12: Arizona
SEC: Auburn, Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas, Texas A&M, Florida
WCC: Gonzaga

Neutral Zone- Almost Locks
Oklahoma, Missouri, Rhode Island, Florida State, NC State,Virginia Tech, Nevada

Danger Zone- Current At-Large Contenders
St. Bonaventure, Butler, UCLA, Texas, Arizona State, USC, Providence, Middle Tennessee, St. Mary's, Syracuse, Alabama, Marquette, Washington, Kansas State, Baylor, Utah, Louisville, Boise State, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Notre Dame, Mississippi State, New Mexico State, LSU, Nebraska, Penn State, 

St. Bonaventure (24-6)- RPI: 21 vs Tier 1 3-2, vs Tier 2 4-2
- The Bonnies beat URI and currently have a great overall profile with the exception of their 2 Tier 3/4 losses. It is important that they avoid losses to anyone besides URI, which means winning out until the A-10 championship.

Butler (19-12 RPI: 45 vs Tier 1 3-10, vs Tier 2 4-1)
- The Bulldogs only have three Tier 1 wins and haven't played well on the road this season. They get a third chance at Seton Hall. A win would probably solidify their chances. A loss would raise some question marks as the Bulldogs would have to wait to find out Sunday.

UCLA (20-10- RPI: 36 vs Tier 1 3-7, vs Tier 2 5-1)
- The Bruins now have 3 signature victories away from home after sweeping USC. With three strong Tier 1 wins and a good RPI, UCLA is in good position and probably just needs to beat Stanford in the quarterfinals.

Texas (18-13)- RPI: 48 vs Tier 1 5-10, vs Tier 2 3-3)
- The Longhorns have plenty of good wins and no bad losses. Good win over West Virginia on Saturday. The Longhorns need to avoid a bad loss to Iowa State. A loss would send them back the other way and could end their at-large hopes.

Arizona State (20-10  RPI: 59 vs Tier 1 3-5, vs Tier 4-4)
- Arizona State's wins at Kansas and over Xavier (N) have carried them to the finish line so far. At 8-10 in the Pac-12, the Sun Devils probably need to at least beat Colorado to feel safe. A loss would have them sweating it out Sunday.

USC (21-10) RPI: 34 Tier 1 4-6, Tier 2 5-3
- The Trojans picked up a huge win at Utah to go with their wins over Middle Tennessee and New Mexico State in Hawaii. Their resume looks great, but the lack of signature win is what stands out. The Trojans will play either Washington or Oregon State in the quarterfinals. A win the quarterfinals in recommended to feel better about their chances.

Providence (19-12 RPI: 42 vs Tier 1 3-8, vs Tier 2 5-1)
- The Friars play Creighton this week. With only three Tier 1 wins, Providence can feel better about their chances with a win. With three bad losses, a loss to Creighton and the Friars will have to sweat it out until Sunday.

Middle Tennessee State (23-6)- RPI: 28 vs Tier 1 2-3, vs Tier 2 3-1
- The Blue Raiders are the favorite in the C-USA tourney. Winning the auto bid is recommended. Their at-large profile took a hit by losing to Marshall at home Saturday. Anything short of making it to the C-USA Championship could be fatal to their at-large hopes.

Syracuse (19-12) RPI: 39 Tier 1 3-7, Tier 2 3-3
- The Orange picked up a big win against Clemson and now play Wake Forest in the ACC Tournament. Need to avoid a damaging loss here and beat North Carolina to feel good about their chances.

Alabama (17-14 RPI: 58 vs Tier 1 5-6, vs Tier 2 4-6)
- The Crimson Tide have plenty of quality wins for an at-large bid. Their high number of losses is what is holding them back. Alabama can't afford to lose to Texas A&M in the SEC Tournament. A loss will send them to the NIT.

St. Mary's (28-5)- RPI: 43 vs Tier 1 2-1, vs Tier 2 2-2 
- Their overall record and win at Gonzaga carried them for a while. With 2 recent defeats especially the one at San Francisco, the margin for error is small.

Marquette (18-12) RPI: 57 Tier 1 4-7, Tier 2 4-3
- The Golden Eagles scored a strong Tier 2 win over Creighton on Saturday to completed the season sweep. They get DePaul in the first round. A win here and over Villanova would likely get them in. A loss to the Blue Demons would pack their bags to the NIT.

Washington (20-11)- RPI: 63 vs Tier 1 3-6, vs Tier 2 2-4
- The Huskies have 2 great wins with the wins at Kansas and over Arizona. A home loss to Oregon was damaging as their RPI dropped almost 20 spots. The Huskies need to beat Oregon State and USC if they want to feel better about their chances. A loss to the Beavers would send them to the NIT.

Kansas State  (21-10)- RPI: 62 vs Tier 1 3-7 vs Tier 2 6-3
- Kansas State plays TCU in the quarterfinals after a 4th place finish. 10-8 in the Big 12 sounds good enough but a bad N-SOS and lack of good wins stands out. With only three Tier 1 wins(TCU, at Texas, & at Baylor), the Wildcats need to beat TCU to enhance their chances. A loss here would send their RPI down around 70.

Baylor (18-13) RPI: 61 Tier 1 4-10, Tier 2 3-3
- Baylor has played well lately to move into the bubble picture. They are still 10-13 against Tier 1, 2, and 3 combined. This usually keeps you out of the tournament. Work in needed in the Big 12 tournament. A great opportunity against West Virginia awaits. Win this game and their odds get better.

Utah (19-10) RPI: 47 Tier 1 3-6, Tier 2 4-3
- The Utes have three Tier 1 wins(at Arizona State, at Washington, at Oregon) and two strong Tier 2 wins over Missouri and UCLA at home. The Utes will play Oregon or Washington State in the quarterfinals. A run to the Pac-12 championship game is recommended.

Louisville (19-12) RPI: 46 Tier 1 3-10, Tier 2 1-2
- Louisville has struggled against good competition all season as shown with their 3-10 Tier 1 record with their best win coming at Florida State.  The Cardinals need to beat Florida State to stay in the at-large conversation. A win over FSU and Virginia would be enough to get them in. A loss to the Seminoles would likely them to the NIT.

Boise State (22-7)- RPI: 41 vs Tier 1 2-2, vs Tier 2 4-3)
- The Broncos saw their resume get better with Loyola-Chicago and Oregon's RPI's soaring up. It is hard to see this team getting an at-large, but if enough teams ahead of them damage their profile, you never know. Winning the MWC tournament is recommended.

Oklahoma State (18-13)- RPI: 88 vs Tier 1 5-10, vs Tier 2 4-3)
- The Cowboys became the first team to sweep Kansas in the Bill Self era. They have great wins but have a bad RPI and N-SOS. No team has ever received an at large with an RPI worse than 75. Ok State must advance to Big 12 semis to feel decent about their chances.

Oregon (20-11)- RPI: 70 vs Tier 1 3-5, vs Tier 2 4-3)
- The Ducks picked up another Tier 1 win at Washington but suffered a Tier 3 loss at Washington State. The results offset as their position remains the same. The Ducks need to beat Washington State, Utah, and USC to have any chance at an at-large bid.

Mississippi State (20-10)- RPI: 72 vs Tier 1 2-7, vs Tier 2 3-3)
- The Bulldogs played a very bad N-SOS, which really shows now as their RPI is still in the late 60s. There are some good wins, but nothing on this resume is screaming pick me. A loss to LSU was damaging as they need to do work in the SEC Tourney.                                                                                    
Notre Dame (18-13)- RPI: 69 vs Tier 1 2-8, vs Tier 2 4-2)
- Bonzie Colson has returned to the Irish making them an interesting discussion for the selection committee. However, even though they did beat a shorthanded Wichita State with home, they also lost at home to Ball State and at a neutral site to Indiana, which are bad losses. The Irish need to beat Pitt, Va Tech, and Duke. Form them we will see where they stand.

Fringe Candidates:
New Mexico State, LSU, Nebraska, Penn State, Buffalo

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