We can identify teams like SMU, South Carolina, and Virginia Tech as recent casualties of weak non-conference strength of schedule (NC SOS) numbers on Selection Sunday. The Selection Committee has repeatedly sent messages to teams who schedule heavy doses of non-conference games against the bottom third of the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI): stay clear of the bubble or risk being left out.
With that as a backdrop, here are six teams currently on the Bubble with either potential NC SOS trouble and/or a large number of non-conference games against the bottom end of Division 1. As part of the exercise, each of these team’s record minus those 200-plus NC RPI wins is noted in parenthesis … Read more…
That said, there are some current bubble teams who may face a greater at-large hurdle than others. The reason: a non-conference strength of schedule (SOS) the sticks out like red flag. While there is never an absolute, recent trends indicate that members of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Selection Committee value a team’s non-conference schedule (and performance) – for two primary reasons. First, it indicates a team’s willingness to challenge itself in the non-conference season. Second, it provides a greater range of opportunities to compare teams with similar resumes.
We’ve seen teams with adequate conference records – or even stellar conference records in some mid-major leagues – be left out on Selection Sunday because of an unimpressive (or ugly) non-conference SOS. Which current bubble teams might be facing similar SOS trouble in March? Here’s 10 potential candidates – with their NC SOS numbers through games played on Thursday, January 23 (data from ESPN’s Insider RPI). Read more…
Several bubble teams ended their seasons – and likely their NCAA tournament aspirations – on Thursday. That’s good news for those bubble teams who either didn’t play, or those like Iowa State, that posted important victories. Today might be even an more important day. The SEC quarterfinals are full of bubble action: Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, and Ole Miss take to the court. Two of those probably survive. At least that’s the way it looks right now.
March 15 Bracket Projection | 11:30 a.m. ET
March 15 s-curve update | 7:20 a.m. ET
As of this morning, this is where I believe we stand: Last 5 IN … Oklahoma, Boise State, La Salle, Saint Mary’s, Kentucky | First 5 OUT … Virginia, Middle Tennesse State, Ole Miss, Alabama, Iowa.
Beyond the bubble, several important seeding games are on tap today. Louisville (vs. Notre Dame) and Georgetown (vs. Syracuse) are still battling for a potential No. 1 seed. Kansas, New Mexico, Miami-FL, and the Big Ten heavyweights also take the floor. Here’s to another great day of college hoops.
In November, the Louisville Cardinals were projected to be a No. 1 seed when the NCAA tournament began. Now, less than a week until Selection Sunday, the Cardinals have reclaimed their spot on the top line. Louisville sits as the fourth No. 1 seed, heading to the South Region. Duke (East), Indiana (Midwest), and Gonzaga (West) are in front of the Cards. The race isn’t over, though. Kansas, Georgetown, New Mexico, and a second Big Ten team could still claim a spot on the top line. It’s going to be an important week for both the top and bottom of the bracket.
Speaking of the bubble, Kentucky is the final at-large team on the board today. They are joined in the First Four by Saint Mary’s, La Salle, and Iowa State. The margin between these teams, and those around them, is minimal. If we see an upset or two this week, the last few spots could change several times between now and Sunday. Which conference tournaments are most likely to produce a surprise winner? On the surface, it looks like the Atlantic 10, SEC, or the Pac-12. While Memphis has dominated Conference USA, the Tigers haven’t wrapped up the automatic berth. Any stumble would likely claim an at-large spot.
As for seeding, the middle of the bracket is an interesting adventure. One could almost throw names in a hat (for say, seeds 7-10) and line them up that way. Again, we could see some shifting on those lines, both due to resume adjustments and for geography. For all practical purposes, teams in the 8/9 games are essentially the same. More updates this week. Enjoy the final ride to March Madness.
We should be in for an exciting week. It’s not often that so many potential at-large spots and seeding questions remain this close to Selection Sunday. Which means several teams – many from the Southeastern Conference (SEC) in particular – will be paying close attention to conference tournament results. A surprise winner or two could put a jolt into the at-large pool.
March 8 Bracket Projection | 12:15 p.m.
For now, Duke reclaims the overall top seed. Ryan Kelly has returned and is playing at a high level. That brings the Blue Devils’ full resume back into play, and it’s pretty good. But the race isn’t over. Gonzaga, Kansas, Indiana, Louisville, Georgetown, New Mexico, and a second Big Ten team are all contenders for a No. 1 seed. Conference tournaments could play a decisive role.
The bubble remains what it is. So despite some losses this week, not a lot has changed. Thankfully, a week remains to help sort things out. Given the turmoil, several teams could still make a late push. We have a long way to go and a short time to get there. Buckle up.
Quick note: As we’ve entered conference tournament play, teams in ALL-CAPS no longer appear in the bracket. We’ll begin using the CAPS as a indication of a team’s automatic bid. The first of which will be handed out on Saturday.
Riding a six-game conference winning streak, the Tennessee Volunteers find themselves in the thick of the at-large conversation. Since losing at home to Georgia in early February, the Vols have won three league road games and beaten Kentucky and Florida in Knoxville. And while one could argue (correctly) that the SEC isn’t particularly strong or deep, Tennessee has given itself a chance to participate in March Madness. Such a scenario would have been considered a stretch a month ago.
A similar streak helped Illinois overcome a 2-7 mark in the Big Ten. Without a major slip, the Illini are now a likely NCAA participant. A lot can change in two weeks.
Which brings us to Selection Sunday – now just over two weeks away.
Our latest bubble update finds teams moving both toward and away from the cutline. Besides the aforementioned Volunteers, here are some teams climbing the at-large ladder: Temple, Saint Mary’s, and California. Akron should be included too. The Zips beat Ohio for a second time Wednesday and have a clear path toward an outright Mid-American Conference title. That will add credibility to the Zips’ profile if they were to fall short in the MAC tournament.
Teams moving in the opposite direction include Arkansas, Charlotte, and Indiana State. The Sycamores have lost any momentum they once had and probably need to win the MVC tournament in St. Louis to reach the NCAA tournament. For now, they’ve been removed from the bubble.
One other Missouri Valley note: Both Creighton and Wichita State remain as “Should Be In” teams at the time of this update. However, both have slipped a bit of late and certainly aren’t locks. Saturday, they battle for the MVC title. The winner takes a significant step toward an NCAA bid as it’s hard to imagine the outright MVC champion being left out of the Field.
With just over a month until Selection Sunday, it’s time to take a look at the current NCAA bubble. It’s a bit crazy – especially with teams like Kentucky and North Carolina missing from “lock” status. We also have teams like Virginia – whose resume features quality wins, head-scratching losses, and a weak strength of schedule. How will the Selection Committee view the Cavaliers? Those are just three of many challenges within the current landscape of college hoops.
For what it’s worth, the Atlantic 10, Pac-12, SEC, and Mountain West have a variety of bubble teams. It’ll be interesting to see how things play out.
Bubble Banter will ebb and flow over the next month. Teams will be added and teams will fall away. Others will move off the bubble and confirm their place in the 2013 NCAA Tournament. While we could stretch the bubble even further, we’ve limited teams to those with realistic at-large hopes at this point in time. Ask Villanova how quickly things can change, however. Beating Louisville and Syracuse in back-to-back games can do that.
It’s going to be a fun ride. Here’s to some great hoops and a stronger-than-usual bubble down the stretch.