Dancing on the Bubble: Feb. 13
Here’s the first group of locks this season. All of these teams can afford to lose every single game until Selection Sunday and still get a bid.
Only three conferences are represented in the group above. With seven teams total, that means four at-larges will be eaten up. That brings the number of spots available from 34 to 30, but there will be two more automatics from the BCS schools, and we’ll assume a near-lock team takes that. So drop that number to 28. Below are the 49 schools in the discussion right now for at-larges. That means 17 looking outside. And this does not account for a team off the bubble stealing a bid by winning a conference tournament.
Note: ALL RECORDS AND RANKINGS ARE AS OF FRIDAY AFTERNOON.
(Record vs. D-I, RPI, Pomeroy ranking)
RPI Top 25: While the RPI is not a perfect system, I do always have one rule: If you’re in the top 25 teams in the RPI, you deserve to get into The Tournament. The system is built too well to deny anyone that can crack this group.
(20-4, 23, 23) The Golden Eagles would be a lock if not for their loss to South Florida last Friday.
(20-4, 6, 10) Only some bad losses in the Big Ten, and losing every game, would keep MSU from being in. Expect it to be a lock next Friday.
(18-4, 18, 20) It’s lost four of six. Right the ship, beat Florida State and Georgia Tech up next and you’re a lock.
(18-5, 12, 16) If it loses even by 20 to Notre Dame it’s a lock. This is a discipline action.
(20-4, 7, 25) I set the bar at a 22-4 record before getting a lock.
(21-2, 13, 30) If it wins three games in the next five days against bad teams, Butler will be a lock.
(21-3, 9, 3) Will not collapse in C-USA, but I’m strict with my lock rule. Two W’s away.
(17-7, 11, 26) Wins over Ole Miss, BYU and Gonzaga help the cause, and the New Mexico W was also significant. Already has two losses in conference and probably cannot afford to reach as many as five. Utah is the best team in the MWC.
(20-5, 14, 22) Getting closer. Good, good wins over Missouri, Purdue (twice), Michigan, Ohio State AND Wisconsin. Would be catastrophic if it fell short of The Tournament at this point.
(16-8, 15, 7) Huge game tonight against Villanova. I can see a win happening. Bob Huggins won’t let this team get run at home.
(21-4, 16, 8 ) I don’t have Nebraska on the bubble, but if Missouri can’t dispatch them tomorrow, they will be on it next week. Few things will give me as much satisfaciton this season as my prediction back in November that Missouri would play meaningful ball in March.
(19-5, 17, 14). A show of hands: Who had Missouri with a better record than Kansas this season?
(18-6, 19, 17). A show of hands: Who had Washington winning 10 games in the Pac-10 this season?
(19-5, 20, 50) The Seminoles looked pretty bad in its two games against top-five teams: Duke and Pitt. Now comes Wake tomorrow, and that would all but make FSU a lock.
(17-5, 21, 41) The Ohio State Buckeyes. You know, there is some crazy talk that the Big Ten can send seven teams dancing this year. The Buckeyes are still pointing at giving Butler its only loss, and now has a sweep of Michigan to its name, which might be a trump card later on. But the Purdue win at home is what gets them really involved in this conversation.
(18-7, 22, 34) It’s gotten serious. The Orange have lost six of their last eight. SU fans are starting to feel a little woozy, I think.
(15-8, 24, 36) Could wind up with anRPI in the top 25 and be a double-digit seed.
(22-3, 25, 75) Xavier win will be the game that gets the Flyers to The Tournament. Best win outside that: only silly little Marquette.
A LEVEL BELOW:
(19-5, 40, 11) A terrific home win against UCLA puts Arizona State one week away from being a lock.
(16-7, 38, 24) Will end up cruising to The Tournament, but any hopes of getting a four-seed or better have probably vanished.
(18-5, 34, 9) Wins against Okie State, Maryland, Tennessee (twice!). Losses to UConn, Arizona, Portland State and Utah. The Saint Mary’s sweep is fairly signficant. We’ll be seeing the Zags on CBS again in March.
(19-5, 26, 6) Nothing much to worry about. But the Arizona State loss prevented a West Coast team from getting a one-seed this season.
(20-4, 46, 40) Start believing seven-seed or better.
(18-6, 31, 18) The Boilers haven’t had a nice win since Jan. 22 at Minnesota. Probably won’t blow this, but the Big Ten is rather ambiguous in my eyes. Assume 22 wins is enough.
(19-5, 53, 28) Will eliminate Penn State from the conversation with a win tomorrow.
(19-5, 36, 38) The SOS is at 96. Only good out of conference win is over Washington. A nine-loss-or-better Florida team will make it.
(18-6, 27, 29) You know nothing about them. It’s OK: here’s the skinny. Nice wins over UNLV and Utah out of conference. Currently 7-4 in the Pac-10. Expect Cal in an 8/9 game.
(24-1, 32, 47) Utah State absolutely must be on the better side of the bubble right now. It’s only loss is to BYU; has a win over Utah. The SOS has improved to 182 overall. It will go up again for BracketBusters. I will fully support a three-loss-or-better Utah State team making The Tournament.
(18-5, 39, 19) Two cupcake wins, but the field is getting weaker. And they’re good enough to win a first-round game.
(15-8, 42, 27) A one-point loss to Duke and a throttling of Wake since we last talked. In fine shape.
(17-6, 47, 28) The Utah loss does not push SDSU over the line in my eyes. Has three big games — New Mexico, BYU, Vegas — and three bubble busters remaining. Needs to finish 5-1 and at least make the MWC semis.
(17-7, 63, 33) If it had lost to Florida I’d put UK below the Seed 66 line. UK has four wins against the Top 50, but a projected 21-10 would put them squarely on the bubble.
(18-6, 52 , 49). Needs to make sure it maintains its balance; lost to San Diego State and New Mexico. Will remain dancing until the results of the Feb. 21 game against BYU.
———–SEED 66 LINE————–
NOTE: Consider the fact that there will be more one-bid leagues that come into play in the upcoming weeks, so at least four or five of these at-large candidates could spring above the 66 line very soon.
(21-4, 50, 43) I just can’t do it. College of Charleston is 168 in the Ken Pom rankings, and Davidson lost that game at home last Saturday. It’s a damaging loss, one the team needs to negate by beating Butler next week.
(17-5, 44, 54) It’s Valentine’s Day and South Carolina only has five losses. Baylor, Kentucky and Florida are the three good wins.
(18-8, 51, 67) It was a four-game losing streak, then a five-game winning streak, now it’s dropped two straight with Duke, Miami and Florida State up next. If it lost those three, beat N.C. State and Georgia Tech to get to 20-11, perhaps B.C. would be the ultimate bubble team going into the conference tournaments this season.
(16-7, 43, 65) This team will have a bad loss before the regular season ends.
(15-8, 41, 32) A very diverse schedule, but this team has no good win outside of the Pac-10. Will take 10 wins to make it, and it’s at six right now.
(14-7, 80, 35) Tomorrow is the barometer, the game against Kansas.
(17-7, 48, 73) If it can’t win on the road in the next two months, we could be looking at an NIT situation. Has back-to-back losses against Oklahoma and Kansas State. Best win is LSU.
(17-8, 81, 79) Three straight losses with a do-or-die tip against Minnesota Saturday. Stay tuned.
(17-8, 53, 43) If this team somehow manages to finish top four in the Pac-10 (it’s 7-5 and fifth right now), this team will be dancing.
(17-8, 49, 62) Welcome the Bearcats to the bubble. Has good wins over Vegas, UAB. The sweep of Georgetown puts it head of the Hoyas.
(13-9, 35, 21) Toughest SOS in the country, but the Hoyas; only win in the past month is at home against Rutgers. Will put Syracuse in an interesting spot if it can beat the Orange tomorrow.
(15-7, 86, 52) Must beat Cal Wednesday or the season is over. That RPI is brutal.
(13-10, 78, 39) Cannot afford to lose prior to the Big East tournament semis.
(20-6, 30, 68) Eh, somebody’s gotta stand up for the little guy. RPI will continue to sink.
(19-5, 59, 57) Really needed that game last night against Gonzaga at home.
(15-9, 58, 55) Needs to be a superior opponent by 33.
(14-9, 37, 56) One foot off the cliff.