Around the Rim: NCAA Seeding and Bubble notes …
Time to get our Around the Rim column back in gear. It certainly has been an interesting and meaningful week so far. Below are some quick-hitting insights, notes, and thoughts as we prepare for our next bracket update …
Wake Forest has seen any hopes for a No. 1 seed evaporate during a stretch where the Deacons have lost three of four and four of six. Two of those are road losses at ACC bottom dwellers Georgia Tech and NC State. Wake is young and could be hitting a bit of a wall. Fortunately, the next two are at home. A solid finish should keep the Deacons in a 3-4 range come Selection Sunday.
Fans of Michigan State shouldn’t rule out a No. 1 seed. Given that injuries and illness have played roles in all four losses, if MSU wins both the Big 10 regular season and conference tournament titles, they’ll be in the mix. Let’s not forget that the Big 10 is the No. 2 RPI conference – and that matters.
Missouri took another major step toward solidifying an NCAA after rallying to beat Kansas at home on Monday. It will take a significant fall for the Tigers to miss the NCAAs. Now, it’s more about seeding. Mizzou has a return trip to KU and a home date with Oklahoma. Also in the Big 12, Kansas State throttled Texas Tech at home to push its winning streak to six. KSU is squarely on the bubble. The two biggest games ahead are Kansas (home) and at Missouri. The Wildcats probably have to win at least one of those.
Kentucky’s Jodie Meeks kept the Wildcats’ heartbeat alive with his last-second three-pointer to beat Florida Tuesday. But there’s still a lot of work ahead for UK. They’ve been very inconsistent and plagued by turnovers. Trips to Arkansas and Vanderbilt next could be critical. In other SEC notes, LSU all but wrapped up a West Division title by winning at Mississippi State Wednesday. The Tigers now have a virtual three-game lead with a sweep of MSU. LSU has won 8 of 9, but needs to avoid any type of losing streak.
Utah now leads the Mountain West after beating co-leader San Diego State at home. Overall, the remaining schedule is favorable outside a trip to BYU and surging New Mexico. The Mountain West regular season winner is almost assured an NCAA bid. Should be quite a finish with four teams separated by two games. As a footnote, UNLV hosts the league tournament, so that’s a big edge to the Rebels.
Boston College remains squarely on the bubble after losing to Clemson at home. The Eagles have lost two straight with Duke and a trip to desperate Miami up next. Also in the ACC, Virginia Tech got a needed win over Georgia Tech.
Losing at Dayton isn’t cause for concern for Xavier, but a small two-game skid could make it difficult for the Muskies to hold a top-three seed. Another winning streak and an A-10 title will mostly likely keep XU in a 4-5 game. We said Dayton needed to beat XU at least once. Mission accomplished.
Could Syracuse be in trouble? Most likely not given out of conference wins over Kansas, Florida, and at Memphis. But the Orange are sliding hard in terms of potential seeding. Of course, ‘Cuse fans would feel much better if the Orange take care of business at home in the next two (Georgetown, Villanova). Nothing like flirting with a sub-500 league record.
Overall, we knew the Big East would be a meat-grinder, but who could have guessed that Georgetown and Notre Dame could both miss the NCAAs? Notre Dame is most certainly NIT bound without a major rally – which won’t happen if the Irish refuse to guard anybody. Also in the Big East, Cincinnati took care of St. John’s at home to keep their bubble hopes alive, while West Virginia continues to flirt with the edge after a loss at Pittsburgh. The Mountaineer are just 2-7 vs. Top 50 RPI teams.
Marquette is hitting their first tough stretch in league play. Giving up 100 points at Villanova was startling. The Eagles aren’t going to miss the tournament, but its likely they won’t end up a Top 3 or 4 seed. After two winnable games at home, the Eagles finish with this … @Georgetown, Connecticut, @Louisville, @Pittsburgh, and Syracuse. Finding two wins won’t be easy.
Have thoughts? Send me a rebound – Dave the Bracketguy.