The biggest question for Purdue is … now what? An unfortunate knee injury to star Robbie Hummel means the Boilermakers must be re-evaluated over the course of three regular-season games and the Big 10 tournament. Purdue could still be a No. 1 seed, but the Boilers will have to demonstrate they can play – and win – big games without Hummel in the lineup. Just how Purdue will be viewed remains to be seen. Thanks to a solid team effort, the Boilers outlasted Minnesota and earned a better-than-you-think road win against the Gophers. For now, Purdue retains its No. 1 seed projection in our latest bracket update.
Hard to believe, but our next update will be in March (Monday, March 1). The official countdown has begun. Our only new addition is really a swap. Following a loss at Temple, Dayton falls to our first team out, replaced by Rhode Island as our last team in. The A-10 bubble is pretty flexible (with Charlotte), but the picture should clear over the next two weeks and at the A-10 tournament.
As for the No. 1 seeds … Kansas, Syracuse and Kentucky join Purdue on the top line. Our No. 2 seeds also remain the same from Monday. Georgetown vaults over Pitt to the No. 3 line as the Hoyas win at Louisville and the Panthers fall flat at Notre Dame. With so many Big East teams near the top, someone will be the odd team out – and have to be no better than a No. 4. Again, that should be more evident soon.
As several bubble teams continue to lose, teams like Florida, Illinois, Marquette, and Oklahoma State are looking more Dance-worthy. Nothing happens in a vacuum and teams can improve their position simply because contenders fall away. At the same time, I look for several upsets in conference tournaments that could throw current automatic bid teams into the at-large pool or onto the bubble. More on that as we prepare for conference tournaments next week. Rebounds are always welcome. Enjoy the hoops!
The one problem with updating Bubble Banter is that it’s always a few hours away from being outdated. That said, the latest edition is now available for review – for games played through Tuesday, February 23.
Both the Big East and Atlantic 10 continue to offer the most questions. We clearly have two well defined groups in each league. You have the Big East heavyweights and then a large group (7) of teams whose future remains uncertain. Certainly, Connecticut helped itself the most with recent wins over Villanova and West Virginia, but the Huskies can’t let up. In the A-10, Temple, Xavier and Richmond are in great shape. Then you have an interesting group comprised of Charlotte, Dayton, Rhode Island and St. Louis. Should be an interesting A-10 tournament. The ACC has five (5) teams on the bubble, but at this point there isn’t the quite the same sence of urgency.
Overall, we are projecting 20 locks and another 8 teams that should be in. There are 36 teams currently on the bubble. Depending on this week’s results, we could see some drastic changes in how those numbers look by next Wednesday. Several teams are close to moving up (and off) the bubble, while others are close to falling off. Take a look. Rebounds are always welcome.
That’s the question for Connecticut this week as they host West Virginia and Louisville. One could make an argument for any number of bubble teams; the actual selection process in Indianapolis is completed by a series of votes and can be very subjective. Why did UConn make it in? There’s a number that jumps out: 8 wins vs. Top 100 RPI teams. That’s two more than any of the 11 other bubble finalists for today. Still, at 6-8 in the Big East, work remains for the Huskies. Call this our leap of faith for the week.
Our next update will be Thursday, February 25 (evening). Bubble Banter will be updated for release Wednesday – for games played through Tuesday. Those dates work best for our partnership with NBC Sports. We’ll continue two-a-week updates through early March and then go more often just before and during Championship Week.
No change in No. 1 seeds from Friday. If anything, the Top 4 are establishing more control: Kansas, Syracuse, Kentucky, and Purdue stay on the Top Line. Syracuse and Purdue will face the biggest challenges to winning outright league titles. Duke is still in the No. 1 seed discussion, but the Blue Devils haven’t been that good in true road games and it would probably take both the regular season and ACC Tournament titles to move up.
Last 5 IN: Dayton, Charlotte, Connecticut, St. Mary’s, UAB. First 5 OUT: Rhode Island, San Diego State, Seton Hall, Mississippi State, St. Louis.
Looking ahead … the bubble is likely to slide around quite a bit over the next two weeks. I would also anticipate some wild outcomes in conference tournaments. How will the bubble look if teams like Utah State, Siena or UTEP lose? What if a team like Ole Miss rallies and wins the SEC Tournament? Who knows what to expect in the Missouri Valley (Northern Iowa) – the favorite rarely wins. Should be a wild – and fun – ride until Selection Sunday. Rebounds are always welcome. Thanks for following along.
Our latest Power 24 update has a surprise. Gonzaga just misses, coming in at No. 25. How is that, with a 21-5 record and No.23 non-conference strength of schedule? In synopsis, two of the ‘Zags best wins are against league foe St. Mary’s. Their other quality wins – Wisconsin and Cincinnati (Maui) and Illinois (Jan. 2) all came a while ago. The Bulldogs were crushed by Duke and lost at home to Wake Forest. Then there are the two hiccups to San Francisco and Loyola-Marymount in the past three weeks. Gonzaga is a solid team, but now lands as the highest No. 7 seed on our S-curve.
No big changes at the top … Kansas remains No. 1 – followed by Syracuse, Kentucky and Purdue. Welcome to the Richmond Spiders, who come it at No. 24 – one spot ahead of Gonzaga. Rebounds are always welcome. New bracket projection out later today.
Our first Friday bracket, or two-a-weeks, finds Purdue as the newest projected No. 1 seed. Couple of reasons for that. First, Villanova lost to Connecticut at home; second, the Boilermakers won a significant road game at Ohio State. Not only that, but Purdue’s route to a Big 10 title is now in their own hands. By winning at Michigan State, the Boilers can sweep the Spartans when the two play in West Lafayette on February 27. Hard to imagine Purdue losing that game at home. The remaining schedule should also be manageable.
In other news, St. Mary’s re-enters that bracket as the final at-large team (No. 13 seed) thanks mostly to several other bubble teams losing – and the Gaels’ profile now just a tad bit stronger. Although we still project forward to complete the bracket, many of the ho-hum Big East teams have yet to distinguish themselves. That could change – particularly if Connecticut or Seton Hall makes a push. As for losing, Rhode Island has dropped three straight and Charlotte fell at home to Duquesne this week. Both still project “in” at this point, but their margin for error is getting rather thin. Charlotte’s overall profile is slighlty better.
Last Five In: Charlotte, UAB, Rhode Island, Florida, St. Mary’s. Last Five Out: San Diego State, William & Mary, South Florida, Seton Hall, Cincinnati.
Next Bracket Update will be Monday, February 22 (evening). Next week, the full Bubble Banter update will be Wednesday evening with a bracket update on Thursday night. This works better for our partnership with NBC Sports, and also gives us a weekend preview. Thanks for your interest. Enjoy the hoops – and the BracketBuster games this weekend. Follow me on Twitter if you like at BracketguyDave.