Friday, February 22, 2008

Bubble Analysis: 2/22/08

Sorry I haven't posted in awhile, but between school and work I have been swamped lately. Here's a recap of the major games that occurred this week.

If it wasn't bad enough before, the A-10 just became an even bigger mess this week. La Salle pulled off consecutive victories over St. Joseph's and Dayton, while UMass won at Rhode Island. Once thought to be a sure thing for the tournament, the Rams have now lost 3 in a row to fall to 6-6 in conference play. This league is too good to just get one bid, but Xavier is the only team asserting themselves as an NCAA quality team.

Miami got a huge win against Duke last night. After stumbling to 2-6 in ACC play, they have now won 3 in a row and are now in good shape to grab a tournament bid. Maryland still appears to be on the right side of the bubble, but losing at home to Virginia Tech has made this conference much more muddled.

After losing 5 in a row, Villanova has rebounded nicely. They have won 3 of their last 4 and dismantled West Virginia yesterday. Syracuse let a golden opportunity get away against Louisville, and has an incredibly difficult last 4 games (@Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, @Seton Hall, Marquette). If they do any worse than 2-2 they will have to win 3 games in the Big East tournament to have a chance.

After racing out to a 4-0 record in Big 12 play, Baylor has now lost 5 of their last 6. The OT loss against Oklahoma Tuesday night may come back to haunt them. Their last 5 games are winnable, but anything less than 4-1 will leave the Bears sweating on Selection Sunday. The Sooners, meanwhile, appear to be getting close to locking up an NCAA bid. They just need to beat the teams they should beat in order to feel good about their tournament chances.

Ohio State could be in big trouble after losing at Michigan. The 8-5 Big 10 record and #45 RPI put them squarely on the bubble, but their remaining schedule is absolutely brutal (Wisconsin, @Indiana, @Minnesota, Purdue, Michigan State). They have to win at least 2 or else they will probably be left out come Selection Sunday.

Oregon lost at USC tonight to fall to 6-8 in Pac 10 play. Next up for the Ducks: a trip to Pauley Pavilion to play the Bruins. Since they didn't do much in non-conference play, it's hard to imagine anything less than 9-9 getting Oregon into the tournament, which pretty much makes that game a must-win. California is sitting at 6-7 and has a chance to play their way in, but their remaining games (@Stanford, Washington State, Washington, @USC, @UCLA) make their odds of getting in very slim. Arizona State appears to be in the best position of the three. They are definitely not lacking in the big wins department (beat Xavier, swept Arizona, beat Stanford), but will that be enough to overcome their terrible computer numbers (RPI 75, Non-conf SOS 309)?

In the SEC, Arkansas crushed LSU to get to 7-4 in conference play. Their remaining schedule is very manageable, so they look to be in good shape to make the Big Dance. Ole Miss beat Mississippi State to end a 4-game conference losing streak. While their 4-7 SEC record is enough to place them outside the bubble for now, they are definitely capable of getting back to 8-8, which would put them in a position to make a run in the SEC tournament and grab a bid. Kentucky is now 8-3 in conference play, but they are just entering the roughest part of the schedule (Arkansas, Ole Miss, @Tennessee, @South Carolina, Florida). The way things are setting up, the Florida-Kentucky game at the end of the season could be an NCAA play-in game.

South Alabama picked up a huge win tonight @Western Kentucky. As long as the Jaguars take care of business and win their last 3 games, they should be in great shape to get an at-large bid if they fall in the Sun Belt Tournament. After letting another chance at a quality win slip away, Western Kentucky more than likely needs the automatic bid to get into the tournament.

Houston's at-large hopes took a huge blow when they lost at UAB this week. Houston has a talented team and no bad losses, but a lousy 2-6 record against the RPI top 100 may be too much to overcome.

While they are in no danger of missing the tournament, Drake's seeding is taking a big hit with recent losses to Southern Illinois and Bradley. Unless someone beats Drake in the conference tournament, the MVC appears to be a one-bid league. In spite of Wright State's current 10-game winning streak, the same goes for Butler and the Horizon League.

Brigham Young won their ninth game in a row this week to move into lock status for the NCAA tournament. UNLV still appears to be on the inside of the bubble, but does not have much room for error. New Mexico has quietly surged to a 21-6 record and a top 50 RPI, but an at-large bid seems unlikely at this point because they lack a marquee win.

Kent State keeps on rolling, now at 22-5 overall and 11-2 in the MAC. They have an enormous opportunity this weekend at St. Mary's. If they pull off the upset it's hard to see the Golden Flashes being left out of the tournament.

And finally, while they remain a long shot for an at-large, Stephen F. Austin manhandled Sam Houston St. Thursday to improve to 22-3. The RPI is a respectable 48 and they own a road win over Oklahoma, but would the committee be willing to let a 2nd Southland team in if they won out to the conference finals and then lost a nail biter to Sam Houston?

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