It’s an especially big day for Bubble teams: Syracuse, Wake Forest, and Clemson take the floor at the ACC tourney in Brooklyn. It’s also the day when California and USC open Pac-12 tournament play, and Xavier gets a renewed matchup with DePaul in the opening round of the Big East.
Then there’s Illinois State. The Redbirds must sit and watch as action around them continues. Tomorrow, Illinois and Iowa try to make a final push at the Big Ten tourney. Friday, Rhode Island opens A-10 play. It’s a worthy reminder than none of these games occur in a vacuum. Each result has to be measured in context. Read more…
March is here. Madness awaits. The next ten days will be filled with hope, excitement, and anxiety as teams and fans await their 2017 NCAA Tournament bracket on Selection Sunday. Between now and then, we still have several things to sort out. Here’s what we know: Kansas, fresh off yet another Big 12 title, sits atop the bracket, followed closely by Villanova. Both the Jayhawks and Wildcats look fairly entrenched on the top line. The other two spots remain in play. Will Gonzaga hold on? Will a Pac-12 team make a jump to the one line? Can North Carolina survive the ACC tournament and keep its perch in the South?
Each of those story lines should be fun to watch. And we haven’t even talked about the bubble. Illinois, Wake Forest, and Kansas State all helped themselves Wednesday. USC and California are trying to hold on and state their case. Xavier continues to struggle, its NCAA outlook now unclear. Next week’s conference tournaments loom large for final seeding and selection. If a few bid stealers emerge, hold on.
Even with a weak bubble that features a host of double-digit loss resumes, a couple of surprising bubble teams have re-emerged: Illinois and Vanderbilt. With improved play and strong SOS numbers, neither should be discounted if they keep up momentum. This morning, both have nine (9) Top 100 wins and Top 20 schedules. In fact, Vandy owns the nation’s No. 5 overall schedule and No. 1 non-conference SOS. Historically, such numbers have given teams a little more leeway when it comes to losses. The question is exactly how much? A team with 15 losses has never received an invitation (unless winning their conference tourney).
Editor’s note: A reader noted my original statistic was derived pre-2011 data, which is correct. It used to be rare for 14-loss teams to receive at-large bids (prior to 2011, it only happened six times). More recently, in 2011, as an example, five teams received at-large bids with 14 losses. Sorry for the confusion. Read more…
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.