Bubble Banter

Welcome to Bubble Banter.

Bubble Banter highlights the teams we believe are on the NCAA Bubble, teams that have locked up spot in the Field of 68, and teams that Should Be In but are not “locks” at the time of the update. RPI and SOS data is credited to InsideRPI at ESPN.

RPI data is for games played through Tuesday, March 11.

UPDATED: Wednesday, March 12 | 8:15 a.m. ET

Total Spots (68): Number of teams in the Field.

Automatic Bids (32): Harvard (Ivy); Eastern Kentucky (OVC); Coastal Carolina (Big South); Mercer (Atlantic Sun); Wichita State (MVC); Gonzaga (WCC); North Dakota State (Summit); Wofford (Southern); Mount St. Mary’s (NEC); Milwaukee (Horizon League)

  • Projected Locks (28): Teams who project to have secured a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
  • Should Be In (7): These teams are in solid position to receive an at-large bid.
  • Bubble: (27): Teams remaining who are projected to be under consideration for at-large selection.
  • Spots Available (13): Estimated number of openings after Automatic Bids, Locks, and Should Be Ins are considered.
  • RPI and SOS: RPI and SOS data are updated through games completed on Tuesday, March 11.
Atlantic 10
Locks: St. Louis, Massachusetts, VCU | Should Be In: George Washington | Bubble: Dayton, St. Joseph’s
  • Dayton (22-9 | 10-6) | RPI: 39 | SOS: 49 | – The Flyers closed out the regular season with victories over UMass, St. Louis, and Richmond.  That gives them nine Top 100 wins heading into the Atlantic 10 tournament. The biggest downside on their resume: losses to Rhode Island and USC.  Assuming the Flyers can avoid an ugly loss early in the Atlantic 10 tourney, they appear to be in decent shape to hold onto a spot.
  • Saint Joseph’s (21-9 | 11-5) | RPI: 42 | SOS: 71 | – Well, Sunday’s loss at home to La Salle wasn’t exactly what the Hawks were looking for.  It puts them on a two-game losing streak heading into the A10 tourney.  Overall, St. Joe’s is still ahead of some other bubble contenders, but the gap has certainly lessened.  Which means it might be a good idea to avoid a quick exit this week. There’s not much outside the conference helping their profile.
ACC
Locks: Syracuse, Duke, Virginia, North Carolina | Should Be In: None | Bubble: Florida State, Pittsburgh
  • Florida State (18-12 | 9-9) | RPI: 56 | SOS: 48 | – Much like Clemson, Florida State missed an opportunity on Sunday – an even bigger one – by getting run over in the second half at home by Syracuse.  Since December, the Seminoles have one victory (at Pittsburgh) over a potential NCAA at-large team.  That could be a hard sell unless they make a run this week.
  • Pittsburgh (23-8 | 11-7) | RPI: 44 | SOS: 82 | – The Panthers got a road win at Clemson on Saturday at a most opportune time.  For starters, it avoided another so-so loss.  Second, it gave Pitt another Top 100 win (they now have six).  It also takes some of the focus off of a lackluster non-conference SOS number (No. 252).  Maybe a few close games will go the Panthers way in the ACC tournament.  It may take at least one big win to ease their conscious a little bit.
AMERICAN
Locks: Cincinnati, Louisville, Connecticut | Should Be In: Memphis | Bubble: SMU
  • SMU (23-8 | 12-6) | RPI: 47 | SOS: 129 | – So here’s the thing with SMU.  The Mustangs finished with a group of good teams at the top of the American conference.  That typically works in a team’s favor.  But when your non-conference schedule ranks No. 301 and your best non-league victory was at Wyoming, it’s hard to feel comfortable with just four Top 100 RPI wins – even if those wins are against Connecticut, Cincinnati, and Memphis.  Especially when you factor in bad losses to Temple and South Florida.  A swift exit from the AAC tourney might really bring SMU’s non-conference performance to the forefront.  Time to beat Houston out of the gate.
BIG EAST
Locks: Creighton, Villanova | Should Be In: None | Bubble: Xavier, Georgetown, Providence, St. John’s
  • Xavier (19-11 | 10-8) | RPI: 49 | SOS: 40 | – Well … the Musketeers followed up big wins over St. John’s and Creighton with a dud against Seton Hall and a close loss to Villanova at home. For now, the Muskies are maybe, perhaps okay, but that’s looking less comfortable than it did on Saturday.  It would really help XU to win a couple of games in the Big Apple. And the first one against Marquette won’t be easy.
  • Georgetown (17-13 | 8-10) | RPI: 54 | SOS: 9 | - Their slate of quality wins includes Kansas State, Michigan State, VCU, Creighton, and Xavier.  The low points (including a sweep at the hands of Seton Hall) are what’s holding back the Hoyas – as is their mounting pile of losses.  Heading into the BE tournament, Georgetown is squarely on the cutline. It could go either way.  A couple of victories sure would be nice.  And a win over DePaul in the opener is a must.
  • Providence (20-11 | 10-8) | RPI: 55 | SOS: 77 | – Creighton dominated the Friars on senior day for Doug McDermott in Omaha.  All isn’t lost but their opening matchup with St. John’s at the BE tourney is probably a survive and advance type of setup.  Winner stays alive for an at-large bid, loser will have a long wait until Sunday.
  • St. John’s (20-11 | 10-8) | RPI: 59 | SOS: 55 | -After winning six straight, the Red Storm dropped back-to-back games against Villanova and Xavier before beating DePaul.  Even with their late-season run, St. John’s remains a problematic 1-7 vs. Top 50 teams.  They open BE tournament play against Providence in what could very well be an elimination game at the Garden.
BIG 10
Locks: Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Ohio State | Should Be In: Iowa | Bubble: Minnesota, Nebraska
  • Minnesota (18-12 | 8-10) | RPI: 50 | SOS: 5 | – The Gophers avoided further issues by beating Penn State on Sunday.  It leaves them at 8-10 in the Big 10 entering the Big Ten tourney in Indianapolis. Resume holes include a 6-10 mark against the Top 100 and a 3-7 road record. Given that its best work has been at home, the Gophers may need at least three more wins to feel somewhat comfortable. A strong schedule helps, but only so much.
  • Nebraska (19-11 | 11-7) | RPI: 41 | SOS: 26 | - It’s time for the Huskers to seriously consider an at-large bid after beating Wisconsin at home on Sunday.  But … it’s also too early to feel a spot is clinched. For starters, a 3-8 overall road record remains a concern even with their huge win at Michigan State (a feat also accomplished by Illinois) . They also have three suspect losses, most notably, UAB.  One more victory would make the wait until Selection Sunday a bit easier.
BIG 12
Locks: Kansas, Texas, Iowa State, Oklahoma | Should Be In: Kansas State, Baylor, Oklahoma State | Bubble: None
  • Given the return of Marcus Smart and the play of Oklahoma State down the stretch, it’s hard to imagine them not receiving an at-large bid.  Same for Baylor at this point.
CONFERENCE USA
Locks: None | Should Be In: None | Bubble: Louisiana Tech, Southern Miss
  • Louisiana Tech (24-6 | 13-3) | RPI: 68 | SOS: 248 | – An at-large bid is somewhat hindered by a four-way tie atop the C-USA standings. While the Bulldogs earned the No. 1 seed based on tie-breakers, their RPI is lagging and they have a non-conference SOS ranked No. 288.  Will one strong win (at Oklahoma) erase the Bulldogs’ other numbers.  That’s a tough call.
  • Southern Miss (24-5 | 13-3) | RPI: 33 | SOS: 153 | – Southern Miss has better power numbers than Louisiana Tech, but like the Bulldogs, the Golden Eagles ended in a four-way tie at the top of the standings.  That doesn’t help any of the teams involved.  The Golden Eagles best wins are North Dakota State and La Tech and they were blown out at Louisville. There’s also a trio of questionable losses.
MISSOURI VALLEY
Locks: Wichita State | Should Be In: None | Bubble: None
  • We anticipate no at-large bid(s) other than Wichita State.
MOUNTAIN WEST
Locks: San Diego State, New Mexico | Should Be In: None | Bubble: None
  • There are no teams close enough to the cutline to be considered on the bubble at this time.
PAC 12
Locks: Arizona, UCLA | Should Be In: Oregon | Bubble: California, Stanford, Colorado, Arizona State, Utah
  • Arizona State (21-10 |10-8) | RPI: 38 | SOS: 53 | - The Sun Devils were swept by Oregon and Oregon State, which means they’ll enter the Pac-12 tourney on a two-game slide and losers of 4 out of 6 games.  Nothing like making life a bit more difficult.  The high points include nine Top 100 victories, which means ASU is still probably okay.  But outside the league their best win was probably Marquette at home.  It might be a good idea to win at least one more between now and Sunday.
  • California (19-12 | 10-8) | RPI: 53 | SOS: 31 | – Talk about survival.  The Bears managed to beat Colorado in overtime and avoid further bubble trouble.  While they own eight Top 100 wins, two are against Washington (No. 92). Outside the league, their best wins are against Arkansas (in Maui) and Denver.  It appears the Bears are one of those teams squarely on the cutline heading into the Pac-12 tourney.
  • Colorado (21-10 | 10-8) | RPI: 31 | SOS: 12 | - Colorado presents an interesting profile – one with Spencer Dinwiddie and one without.  While the latter does not include the Buffs best two RPI victories (Kansas, Oregon), it does include a solid road win at Stanford and a home win over Arizona State.  Given their overall power numbers, you have to like the Buffaloes chances to earn a bid. But we can’t quite move them off the bubble yet.  It would be a good idea to beat USC to open the conference tourney.
  • Stanford (19-11 | 10-8) | RPI: 45 | SOS: 17 | – Beating Utah at home Saturday helps the Cardinal tread water and stay above the cutline.  The questionable numbers are a 7-11 mark against the top 100 and a sub-.500 record (10-11) against the RPI Top 150.  Road wins at Oregon and Connecticut certainly help. That said, losing to Washington State in its Pac-12 tourney opener wouldn’t be advised.
  • Utah (18-10 | 9-9) | RPI: 80 | SOS: 119 | – Unfortunately for the Utes, their at-large case might begin and end with a discussion about their non-conference SOS (ranked at No. 347) – which is just about as bad as you can have.  There’s also a 2-7 road record that was bolstered by their win at California this week.  They have some serious work to do at the Pac-12 tourney.  It begins with a matchup against Washington.
SEC
Locks: Florida, Kentucky | Should Be In: None | Bubble: Arkansas, LSU, Missouri, Tennessee
  • Arkansas (21-10 | 10-8) | RPI: 57 | SOS: 86 | - The Razorbacks had to go and lose at Alabama. Why make it easy, right?  The loss doesn’t undo the Hogs six previous wins – including a victory at Rupp Arena – but it certainly adds a little more pressure to their opening SEC game in Atlanta. Outside the SEC, Arkansas owns victories over SMU and Minnesota.
  • LSU (18-12 | 9-9) | RPI: 71 | SOS: 75 | – Losing to Georgia at home was no way to build momentum heading into the SEC tournament.  It leaves the Tigers with even more work to do in Atlanta. They are just 4-9 vs. Top 100 teams.  It all begins against Alabama. Have to win that one and at least two more.
  • Missouri (21-10 | 9-9) | RPI: 52 | SOS: 84 | – The Tigers got rolled at Tennessee, not an ideal way to make a bubble impression.  But there’s no time to sulk.  Mizzou opens SEC tournament play against Texas AM.  It’s probably a must win.  Overall, the Tigers are 7-8 vs. the Top 100 and have a non-conference victory over UCLA.  They also swept Arkansas in the SEC.  If the talented Tigers pull it together they can be make the NCAAs.  If not, a trip to the NIT likely awaits.
  • Tennessee (19-11 | 11-7) | RPI: 43 | SOS: 15 | – Strong SOS numbers are helping the Volunteers, as is a non-conference win over Virginia. It also helps that they manhandled Missouri in Knoxville over the weekend as part of a four-game winning streak.  Concerns include just two Top 50 wins and two losses to Texas AM.  Might want to win a game or two in Atlanta.
WEST COAST
Locks: GONZAGA | Should Be In: None | Bubble: BYU
  • BYU (22-11 | 13-5) | RPI: 35 | SOS: 20 | - A Top 10 non-conference schedule helps the Cougars, but will that be enough after losing to Gonzaga in the WCC title game. The issues are four sub-100 RPI losses and just one NCAA-level victory (Gonzaga at home) since November – they beat Stanford (road) and Texas (neutral court) prior to conference play.  It’s going to be a long wait until Sunday, hoping they aren’t passed by another bubble team.
BEST OF THE REST
Locks: None | Should Be In: None | Bubble: Green Bay, Toledo, Stephen F. Austin
  • Green Bay (21-6 | 14-2) | RPI: 60 | SOS: 163 | – The Phoenix dropped a semifinal decision to Milwaukee in the Horizon League tournament that ended their season. If there’s a Middle Tennessee of 2014, it could be the Phoenix.  But that’s largely dependent on Green Bay’s early win over Virginia when the Cavaliers were not the same team.  They’ll likely need some help to make it in. It’ll be a long wait.
  • Toledo (25-5 | 14-4) | RPI: 37 | SOS: 176 | – A loss at Northern Illinois hurt the Rockets at-large chances, but after further review, we’ll see what happens. It will likely take a run to the MAC title game to stay in the conversation.  They are without a Top 50 win and will not have a chance to earn one.  But there is a close loss at Kansas on their resume.  If the bubble falls apart, the Rockets are a team that could possibly slip into the bracket.
  • Stephen F. Austin (25-2 | 18-0) | RPI: 69 | SOS: 332 | – While the win total is notable, the Lumberjacks have played one of the worst schedules in the country.  They are without a Top 100 victory.  It’s hard to imagine a profile like that holding up if SFA were to lose in its league tournament final.  You would have to think the other teams listed here would be ahead of them based on overall body of work.
  1. Nick Tursi
    February 19, 2014 at 1:57 pm | #1

    No St. John’s or Nebraska on the banter means not credible

    • Dave Ommen
      February 19, 2014 at 2:17 pm | #2

      Nick,
      Thanks for the e-mail. As St. John’s was in Monday’s bracket, obviously they are on the list. It was merely an accidental oversight and is being corrected. That’s why I hadn’t posted a main link yet. I generally go back to check for things like that; but I appreciate your interest and notification. As for Nebraska, not sure the Huskers are quite there yet.

    • Dave Ommen
      February 19, 2014 at 2:37 pm | #3

      Nick, so you know … I went ahead and added Nebraska, too. Not sure about a 2-7 road record that includes 10 losses, but we’ll see. Again, appreciate your interest and thanks for reading. Comments, questions, and criticism always welcome here!

  2. Henry Muto
    February 19, 2014 at 5:53 pm | #4

    I would take it easy on Dave he puts a lot of hard work into doing this and I for one appreciate it very much. This is the first place I look every single day when I get home from work to see what updates have taken place. I for one enjoy the S-Curve the most and print it out every time it is updated then I write the RPI next to each team at the time of the update and track each teams wins and losses until the next update.

    • Nick Tursi
      February 20, 2014 at 1:02 am | #5

      I agree this site is definitely where I look when trying to predict my brackets that is why I wanted to point out the over sights

  3. Henry Muto
    February 19, 2014 at 6:10 pm | #6

    The only thing I would say is the ESPN RPI numbers are not as accurate as the NCAA numbers. I use this site http://warrennolan.com/basketball/2014/nitty-clear as these numbers are always spot on. I can’t tell you why the ESPN numbers are not correct I just know they never are from experience of comparing the true NCAA RPI on Monday’s while this other one I use is always exactly the same.

  4. Josh
    March 3, 2014 at 7:20 pm | #7

    BYU beat Stanford in a true road game

  5. Henry Muto
    March 12, 2014 at 11:50 am | #8

    I think you mean to say Minnesota is 6-10 vs top 100 (you said top 50)

    • Dave Ommen
      March 12, 2014 at 12:40 pm | #9

      Correct. Fixed.

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