It’s fair to say that neither Syracuse nor Pittsburgh is safely in the Field of 68, which makes Wednesday’s early tip at the ACC tournament worth following. Although the Panthers won both regular season meetings against the Orange, the loser will be nervously awaiting their fate on Selection Sunday.
It’s especially timely given what we’ve seen thus far in Championship Week. As potential bubble slots disappear, the value of every win increases.
Additional bubble action on Wednesday (March 9) ..
- Washington (vs. Stanford) – The Huskies need a lengthy stay to get back in the conversation; they may need to win the Pac-12 tourney.
- Georgia Tech (vs. Clemson) – First game of the ACC tourney for the Yellow Jackets who are back in the mix after winning 5 of 6 down the stretch.
- USC (vs. UCLA) – Beating their rival may not be required, but it would certainly help ease the Trojans’ nerves. USC has lost 6 of 8 games, and a poor record away from home could become an issue.
- Oregon State (vs. Arizona State) – While overall power numbers help the Beavers, they have not beaten a tournament team away from home. Losing to ASU a second time might not be the best message to leave the Committee.
Although likely above the bubble, it would still be nice to see Texas Tech beat TCU (Big 12) and Colorado beat Washington State (Pac 12). A lot could still change between now and Saturday night.
Of all the bubble results on Saturday, Florida’s loss at LSU is one of the most notable. And it’s not because losing to a wildly inconsistent group from Baton Rouge is particularly bad. In between their pile of head-wrangling losses to middling teams, this is a Tigers’ team that has won at Vanderbilt and beaten Kentucky and Texas AM. LSU can be pretty good – we just don’t see that team enough. The Gators problem is a serious lack of quality wins, as a 2-9 record against Top 50 RPI teams indicates. And one of those wins is against Saint Joseph’s in November. Since then, Florida has beaten exactly one (1) team – West Virginia at home – that would be an at-large team in the Field today. Their remaining Top 100 wins are Georgia and Ole Miss twice and the aforementioned LSU outfit at home. If there’s a remedy, it’s a visit from Kentucky this coming week before a trip to Missouri. The Gators really need to win both of those ahead of the SEC tournament.
Elsewhere, it was a pretty good day for bubble teams along the cutline. Vanderbilt helped itself the most by beating Kentucky in Nashville. We’ll see if they can keep building on a three-game winning streak. Alabama and Cincinnati won the games they had to (Auburn, East Carolina) …. On the outside looking in … VCU, St. Bonaventure, and Butler all put victories on the slate, with VCU taking down fellow-bubbler George Washington. And Gonzaga won at BYU – keeping their at-large hopes in tact.
Sunday’s Bubble Action
By now you know that the lower half of the bracket is wide open. The bubble? Well, it’s wide open, too. There are some highly questionable profiles near the cutline, and that may not change. Written off for the NIT at the end of its non-conference season, UCLA is among the teams back in the at-large picture. Same for Boise State, riding an eight-game winning streak in Mountain West play. And what about the ACC … no league is stronger at the top, but there’s a steep decline once you exit the upper tier.
There are some big-time programs currently on the outside looking in – including aforementioned UCLA, Connecticut, Florida, Michigan, and Pittsburgh. There are also traditionally strong leagues – such as the Atlantic 10 – that could put just two teams into the field. Read more…
It’s been a rough couple of weeks for Pac-12 teams in the Bay Area. California has lost three straight and four of five. Stanford has also dropped three straight. Both schools are coming off home losses (Utah and Colorado), and both need a course correction to avoid problems on Selection Sunday.
Stanford’s win at Connecticut is worth mentioning first, and perhaps puts the Cardinal a tiny bit ahead of Cal at this juncture. As for the rest of its resume? Stanford is 6-10 vs. Top 100 RPI teams and has a losing record (9-11) against the Top 150. When you factor in the three-game skid – which included missed opportunities against Arizona and Arizona State – there’s reason for concern. Other than the win at UConn, Stanford’s best non-conference victory is either Northwestern or Denver.
California has its home win over Arizona. Impressive as that is, the Bears are 6-11 vs. the RPI Top 100 and two of those wins are against Washington (No. 95 as of this morning – March 8). Outside the league, they beat Arkansas in Maui and also beat Denver. Having played a couple more Top 150 games, Cal is 11-11 by comparison. During its three-game slide, Cal also missed opportunities against Arizona and Arizona State.
Safe to say, both the Bears and Cardinal have work to do at the Pac-12 tournament. Read more…
A month ago, Pittsburgh was a no-doubt NCAA Tournament team. The Panthers had battled Cincinnati, Syracuse, and Virginia to the final seconds in close losses. Their efficiency numbers suggested a team that could win in March. All they needed was a couple of notable victories to validate their position. The problem: those victories have yet to materialize.
Bubble Banter – Update
Instead, less than two weeks before Selection Sunday, we find a Pittsburgh resume with only one victory against a projected NCAA team: Stanford (in November). Since then, the Panthers have managed four Top 100 RPI wins: Maryland (twice), Clemson, and NC State. And Monday night, the Wolfpack returned the favor by beating Pitt on its home floor. So where does this leave the Panthers? As a team with some work to do between now and March 16. The one thing helping Pitt beyond those close losses is the absence of any bad losses (to sub-100 RPI teams). Will that hold up if the Panthers take an early exit from the ACC Tournament? Read more…
Update: Bubble Banter has been updated through Thursday, March 3. It’s somewhat hard to believe, but there about 11 spots still open in the bracket as we move into Championship Week. Fortunately, we have pared down the bubble some. We now have 11 spots open with 28 teams in contention.
March 4 Bubble Banter – New Update | 6:15 a.m. March 4
Will we add a few teams before or during Championship Week? I would expect it – especially given the nature of college hoops this season. As weak as the bubble is, it’s not a great challenge to work your way into consideration.
Outside Ohio State, Purdue and Wisconsin, the Big Ten remains highly unsettled. Illinois, Michigan State, Michigan, and Penn State are trying to hold on or play their way in. In the Big 12, Baylor and Colorado could go either way. And in the Pac-10, Washington and Washington State remain question marks. The ACC is equally uncertain with Boston College and Clemson right on the cutline. Florida State and Virginia Tech are in front of them, but need to avoid a letdown this next week. In the SEC, the bubble teams are Georgia and Alabama.
Have an opinion? Send a rebound. Bring some data. Enjoy the hoops and the conversation. March Madness is almost here.
It’s finally here. Selection Sunday. One wild ride ends and another is about to begin. Here are some quick takes as we enter the day, and some thoughts on the tight bubble picture …
- Mississippi State is the only wildcard left. They have to win to get in. The final bubble team – whomever that is – will be rooting hard for Rocky Top Tennessee today.
- Akron (MAC), Morgan State (MEAC), Alabama State (SWAC), Cal-Northridge (Big West), Temple (Atlantic 10), and Utah State (WAC) all locked up automatic bids. Utah State’s victory relieves some real pressure on the Committee to make a tough decision with the Aggies.
- Louisville locked up a No. 1 seed by winning the Big East tourney and Big East regular season titles. Indianapolis or Memphis? That’ll be a subjective call for the Committee.
- Southern Cal took an at-large spot after a stirring rally to beat Arizona State. That spot may very well have belonged to Arizona.
- I won’t be shocked if Memphis is a No. 1 seed in the West, but clearly the body of work favors Connecticut. The only real argument is whether you believe the loss of Jerome Dyson has hindered the Huskies to a point they are no longer the same team.
What about the Bubble? How do you decide among Creighton, St. Mary’s, San Diego State, Penn State, Maryland, Wisconsin, Dayton, Arizona, and Auburn? It comes down to what each individual person values most. What’s most important?
- Road wins? Eliminate Arizona, Maryland, and perhaps Wisconsin
- Quality wins? Favors Penn State, Arizona, Maryland (Top 50)
- Schedule strength? Favors Wisconsin and Arizona
- Last 12 games? Favors Creighton (11-1), San Diego State (8-4), Auburn (9-3)
- In-conference SOS? Favors Maryland (9), Auburn (33), Wisconsin (47)
- Adjusted Scoring Margin? Favors San Diego State (9.5), Auburn (8.8). Creighton (8.5)
- Number of sub-100 wins? Hurts Dayton (18), Penn State (15), St. Mary’s (21), Creighton (17), Auburn (15)
- Consistency? Favors Creighton, St.Mary’s, Dayton
That’s how cloudy it is. And it might simply come down to an “eye test.” Who do you think is better? Nothing is more subjective than that. Our final bracket will reflect how we view it, not necessarily what we think the Committee will do. – Dave the Bracketguy.