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 Monday, March 9.

UPDATED: March 11, 2015  |  6:45 AM (ET)

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

Automatic Bids (11): Northern Iowa (MVC), Wofford (Southern), Northeastern (CAA), Belmont (OVC), Coastal Carolina (Big South), North Florida (ASUN), Manhattan (MAAC), Valparaiso (Horizon), North Dakota State (Summit), Robert Morris (NEC), Gonzaga (WCC)

  • Projected Locks (27): Teams projected to earn an at-large bid, if necessary.
  • Should Be In (5): Teams that should be in based on current at-large resume landscape.
  • Bubble: (25): Teams remaining who are projected to be under consideration for at-large selection.
  • Spots Available (11): 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 March 9, 2015.
Atlantic 10
Locks: VCU | Should Be In: None | Bubble: Davidson, Dayton, Rhode Island, Richmond
  • Davidson (22-6 | 14-4) | RPI: 29 | SOS: 134 | – Davidson earned the league’s regular-season title – a nice scalp on its at-large resume. But there’s still just enough doubt that we can’t “lock” up a spot quite yet. Five or six teams could potentially win the league’s automatic bid. The Wildcats are perched in a nice position provided they don’t lose their opening round game. If they do, they’ll have to watch and hope the landscape around them doesn’t change.
  • Dayton (23-7 | 13-5) | RPI: 33 | SOS: 138 | – Even with the Flyers loss at La Salle this weekend, things look favorable for a team that’s been very consistent all season; nothing flashy, but solid, save the loss at Duquesne. The only real danger would be an early A10 tourney exit and some potential trouble elsewhere on the bubble. Until we know that neither of things will happen, we can’t move the Flyers “IN.”
  • Rhode Island (20-8 | 13-5) | RPI: 69 | SOS: 172 | – The Rams are close enough to the cutline to leave them here, but they better plan on a long stay at the A10 tourney. At minimum, a trip to the final game is needed.
  • Richmond (19-12 | 12-6) | RPI: 53 | SOS: 36 | – The Spiders have won five straight, but much like Rhode Island, they need a deep tournament run. The good news, that path includes VCU and Davidson. Win both of those? The cutline could be within reach, depending upon what else happens.
Locks: Virginia, Duke, Notre Dame, Louisville, North Carolina | Should Be In: NC State | Bubble: Miami-FL
  • Miami-FL (20-11 | 10-8) | RPI: 60 | SOS: 80 | – Miami won its necessary games at Pittsburgh and Virginia Tech heading into the ACC tourney. By most accounts, the Canes are hovering around the cutline; thus, the opener against either Wake Forest over Virginia Tech is critical. After that? A matchup with Notre Dame. Could the Canes sneak in with a close loss to the Irish? Maybe, if things break right; but it’ll be a coin flip. Beating ND would certainly give them an added push in the right direction.
Locks: SMU | Should Be In: Cincinnati | Bubble: Temple, Tulsa
  • Temple (22-9 | 13-5) | RPI: 34 | SOS: 69 | – A victory over Kansas remains the Owls’ best asset; that, a win over Cincinnati, and a 13-5 mark in a rather uninspiring league overall. Other than the slip at St. Joseph’s, at least they’ve avoided ugly losses, something some other bubble teams can’t say. Temple has 7 Top 100 wins and is 8-8 against the Top 150. In all, 14 of the Owls’ wins are against the lower half of the RPI. It would be helpful for the Owls to get another shot at beating SMU, but they have to get past Memphis first. That’s priority No. 1.
  • Tulsa (21-8 | 14-4) | RPI: 47 | SOS: 103 | – Tulsa has beaten Temple and Memphis twice. Those victories (two teams) account for four of the Golden Hurricanes’ five Top 100 wins. Which means, basically, they are relying on a pair of wins over a bubble team as their primary reason for at-large selection; along with a tidy 14-4 league record bolstered by beating the lower half of the league. The good news is that Tulsa hasn’t had a “bad” loss since November (Oral Roberts). But given better quality wins by teams around them on the bubble, they can’t feel safe. Tulsa would meet Cincinnati (potentially) in the semifinals. All things considered, that’s a win they probably need.
Locks: Villanova, Butler, Georgetown, Providence, St. John’s | Should Be In: None | Bubble: Xavier
  • Xavier (19-12 | 9-9 | RPI: 36 | SOS: 22 | – The Musketeers are the sole remaining bubble team from the Big East, and despite 12 losses, should be okay provided they don’t exit the BE tourney in unceremonious fashion. That’s what 13 wins against the RPI Top 150 will get you, along with nine Top 100 wins and a solid NC SOS (46) number. That noted … four sub-100 losses (2 sub-150 losses) remain in play, so adding a fifth “bad” loss could create a little more anxiety on Sunday. Avoiding such a scenario is a better option.
BIG 10
Locks: Wisconsin, Maryland, Michigan State | Should Be In: Ohio State | Bubble: Illinois, Indiana, Purdue
  • Illinois (19-12 | 9-9) | RPI: 59 | SOS: 66 | – Down the stretch, the Illini dropped a home game to Michigan State and failed to capture opportunities at either Iowa or Purdue. The good wins are really good: Baylor and Maryland, along with a roadie at MSU. But the overall quality win total is light (5-11 vs. Top 100 teams). Up first is a must-win game against Michigan at the B10 tourney in Chicago. Then, it’s a monumental matchup with Wisconsin. We’ll see if the home crowd can help the Illini make a run.
  • Indiana (19-12 | 9-9) | RPI: 57 | SOS: 25 | – Once a fixture in the Field, Indiana has dropped three straight and 8 of 12 games down the stretch. Although not an “official” stat anymore (for selection purposes), it still doesn’t look good. And the Hoosiers’ profile has felt the weight; dropping into questionable RPI territory. Early wins over SMU and Butler are the difference (and a win head-to-head) over a team like Illinois (at the moment). But that margin is deteriorating and IU is now 11-12 vs. Top 150 teams. First up at the B10 tourney is Northwestern. If not a must-win, it’s pretty close.
  • Purdue (20-11 | 12-6) | RPI: 56 | SOS: 72 | – By now, Purdue’s story is well documented; solid Big Ten campaign, less-than-stellar non-conference season. But when taken in total, the Boilermakers appear to have done enough unless things break the wrong way; which could happen with a potential loss to Iowa in the B10 quarterfinals. Until we know more, Purdue is on alert. Want to feel safe on Sunday? Beat the Hawkeyes. Otherwise, it could be a wait-and-see scenario.
BIG 12
Locks: Kansas, Iowa State, Oklahoma, Baylor, West Virginia | Should Be In: None | Bubble: Oklahoma State, Texas
  • Oklahoma State (17-12 | 8-10) | RPI: 45 | SOS: 19 | – For a team with six Top 50 wins, there’s a bit more wiggle room; which helps given the Cowboys’ losses to TCU and Texas Tech and a spell of five losses in six games. But it also doesn’t mean we can lock up a spot. For starters, OSU is 10-11 vs. Top 150 teams and could finish at 10-12 with an opening loss to Oklahoma in the B12 tourney. And if we’re going to talk about Purdue’s non-conference season, we have to do the same here, and OSU’s best wins are Tulsa and Memphis. They’re also 3-8 in road games. Given a sweep of Baylor and Texas, and a home win over Kansas, it’ll probably end okay, but a one-and-done in Kansas City opens the door for some late turmoil.
  • Texas (19-12 |8-10) | RPI: 42 | SOS: 11 | – The Longhorns got their mandatory work done, beating Baylor and Kansas State at home. Next up is a must-win against Texas Tech at the B12 tourney. After that, it’s a game with Iowa State. Beating the Cyclones would give the Horns another Top 50 win against a Top 15 schedule. Considering their worst loss (RPI-wise) is Stanford, there’s nothing to anchor down a bubbly profile. Two wins and Texas is in much better shape. Anything less? It’ll be 50-50.
Locks: None | Should Be In: None | Bubble: Old Dominion
  • Old Dominion (24-6 | 13-5) | RPI: 37 | SOS: 143 | – Make it six straight for a team trying to rebound from an ugly stretch in mid-January and February. That’s when damage was done to an otherwise excellent profile that includes a Top 50 non-conference schedule and NC wins over LSU and full-strength VCU. Those wins won’t be forgotten on Sunday. But the losses also can’t be ignored, and ODU managed to lose to three sub-150 teams during its rough stretch. Conference USA doesn’t offer many quality win opportunities, so it’s important to avoid any further kinks – which means a trip to the conference championship game.
Locks: Wichita State, Northern Iowa | Should Be In: None | Bubble: None
With Illinois State losing in the MVC tourney title game to Northern Iowa, WSU and UNI will be the only two teams representing the Missouri Valley.
Locks: None | Should Be In: San Diego State | Bubble: Boise State, Colorado State
  • Boise State (22-7 | 14-4) | RPI: 41 | SOS: 130 | – If you’re the type that believes good wins and bad losses balance each other out than Boise is squarely on the bubble – they have three of each. Two of those three “good” wins are against San Diego State. The best NC win? Saint Mary’s. Boise is 11-1 in its last 12 games and appears to be peaking at the right time. We’ll see how the MWC tourney shakes out. With Colorado State and SDSU on the other half of the bracket, it might be a good idea to reach the title game.
  • Colorado State (25-5 | 13-5) | RPI: 26 | SOS: 122 | – If you took a quick glance at the accumulated RPI there wouldn’t seem to be much question about CSU’s fate on Selection Sunday. But it’s not always that simple. Yes, the Rams scheduled well and avoided all but one pothole (New Mexico). But if you’re looking for beef, it’s a bit sparse. Of the Rams six Top 100 wins, only two, Boise and SDSU are against Top 50 teams and both came at home. Outside the league, their best win is Georgia State (at least via the RPI). So are two home wins against league contenders enough? Given the team’s overall win total, perhaps. It could depend on how the Committee views the Mountain West. One thing’s for sure … beating San Diego State on a neutral floor in the semifinals wouldn’t hurt.
PAC 12
Locks: Arizona, Utah | Should Be In: Oregon | Bubble: Stanford, UCLA
  • Stanford (18-12 | 9-9) | RPI: 58 | SOS: 53 | – It looks like a long, uphill road for the Cardinal who are now 1-8 vs. Top 10 teams and 5-9 vs. the Top 100. If it weren’t for a win at Texas, Stanford wouldn’t even be on the list. Better plan on a lengthy stay at the P12 tournament. It begins against Washington, and then Utah.
  • UCLA (19-12 | 11-7) | RPI: 50 | SOS: 32 | – The Bruins’ resume isn’t all that different than Stanford’s except for its home win over Utah. Which means, yes, the group from Westwood has work to do at the P12 tourney. They are 4-9 vs. the Top 100, with two of those wins against Stanford. Somehow, UCLA managed the four-seed, which probably shows the lack of depth in the league. Regardless, they have to beat the winner of ASU/USC in the opener and Arizona in the semifinals to have much of a chance.
Locks: Kentucky, Arkansas | Should Be In: None | Bubble: Georgia, LSU, Mississippi, Texas AM
  • Georgia (20-10 | 11-7) | RPI: 38 | SOS: 41 | – The Bulldogs’ profile just isn’t clear cut. On the one hand, they have nine Top 100 wins and a Top 40 RPI; all of which is good. They’re also just 2-5 vs. Top 50 teams (both being Ole Miss, with an RPI that hovers right along that 50-ish cutline), and have losses to Georgia Tech, Auburn, and South Carolina (twice). That certainly doesn’t sound quite like “lock” material – although its close. UGA has 13 Top 150 wins, but if they were to absorb an early loss in Nashville, it’ll be an interesting wait. It’s likely to turn out okay, but let’s make sure we don’t see any goofiness before moving Georgia off the bubble.
  • LSU (22-9 | 11-7) | RPI: 48 | SOS: 86 | – If the Tigers end up missing the NCAA tournament they’ll look back at losses to Missouri, Mississippi State, and Auburn and shake their head. Winning at Arkansas to close the regular season (after losing at home to Tennessee) is why this team is such an enigma. It’s also why they’ll probably be okay. But let’s at least get through the SEC tourney opener with Texas AM before sealing anything up.
  • Mississippi (20-11 | 11-7) | RPI: 49 | SOS: 39 | – Other than Texas AM (below), Ole Miss is probably the SEC team most at risk of a late slide – and a 3-7 mark against the Top 50 is a reason why, along with losses to Charleston Southern, TCU, and Western Kentucky. As it turns out, an early win at Oregon is really helping, as is a neutral court victory over Cincinnati. But the Rebels have lost three of four games and a loss to either South Carolina or Missouri wouldn’t exactly make a strong, late-season statement.
  • Texas AM (20-10 | 11-7) | RPI: 55 | SOS: 85 | – The Aggies’ season is largely riding on two wins over LSU and no bad losses. Does that sound like a bubble profile? Pretty much. Textbook definition. Losing three of four games down the stretch, the Aggies need to beat Mississippi State or Auburn in their SEC opener. After that, it’s LSU. Ironically, it could take a third victory over the Tigers to maintain the status quo. It might take three wins in Nashville overall to feel fairly safe on Sunday.
Locks: Gonzaga | Should Be In: None | Bubble: BYU
  • BYU (23-8 | 13-5) | RPI: 43 | SOS: 93 | – BYU made its case by winning at Gonzaga. There’s a great NC SOS number (15) to like and an 8-3 mark in true road games. At the same time, the Cougars missed a variety of non-conference chances and lost to Pepperdine twice. The solo win over Gonzaga 1-3 vs. Top 50) may or may not be enough – as impressive as it was. Should the lose to the Zags again in the WCC final it’ll be an anxious wait until the Selection Show on Sunday evening.
Locks: None | Should Be In: None | Bubble: Murray State, Iona
  • Murray State (25-5 | 16-0) | RPI: 70 | SOS: 257 | – The Racers are two teams, potentially – one that completed a perfect conference season and won 25 Division I games. They are also a team with computer numbers that suggest an at-large bid would be well beyond Committee traditions. A non-conference SOS number around 230 doesn’t embrace the “challenged yourself outside the league” motto. If a bid arrives, it’ll be related to an “eye” test or some other criteria. The paper numbers simply aren’t there.
  • Iona (26-8 | 17-3) | RPI: 54 | SOS: 217 | – It’s hard to see a Gaels team without a Top 100 win and five sub-150 losses gathering much momentum on the at-large board this week (if they’re nominated). Despite another solid season, Iona lost to Arkansas and Wofford by double-digits, the highest rated opponents on its schedule. The surprise Iona team from 2012 had a better RPI, better SOS and three Top 100 wins. It’s a long shot at best.
  1. J. Sublett
    February 1, 2016 at 12:22 pm

    Any shot for William & Mary? They are currently #36 in the RPI. The CAA is the ninth best conference and had multiple wins against the ACC this year.

    • Dave Ommen
      February 9, 2016 at 6:46 am

      Jay, sorry for the delayed response. I highly doubt that William & Mary has legitimate at-large case, even with its solid RPI number. For the record, conference rankings (in terms if RPI/Other) are not an official consideration by the Selection Committee. If you look a little closer at W&M’s best RPI wins (4 top 100), they are all against teams currently ranked between 90-100 (at the time of this response). And none of those teams will make the NCAA tournament without earning the automatic bid. What that means is that William and Mary would be hoping to earn an at-large without beating an NCAA-level team; that’s a tough ask. Also, I think W&M would need to win an outright CAA title to be in the discussion, as well. Unfortunately, the NC State win isn’t looking as good now as it did at the time.

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