Friday, December 12, 2014

Bubble Watch Friday - December 12

There's not going to be very many games on Fridays from here on out (tonight there are only two lines and I'm taking Texas Southern +25 @ Florida and Iowa State +5.5 @ Iowa) so I'll be doing bubble watches from time to time and hopefully every week once we get in to conference season.  Locks are generally going to be teams in the top 5 seeds of my latest Bracketology and as we get closer to the tournament I'll take the term more literally and apply it to teams who would make the tournament even if they lost out.  Should Be In are generally going to be teams in the 6-9 seedlines; teams who are a fair distance away from the cut line and who can eat a few losses without falling out of the bracket.  Bubble In and Bubble Out should be fairly self explanatory but if they're not, I'll be providing some explanation on why teams made or missed the cut line.

Locks - Duke, Louisville, Virginia, North Carolina, Miami
The Blue Devils, Cardinals and Cavaliers should all be in the mix for 1 seeds and it would be shock if any nets lower than a 3.  We'll see if UNC can be a national player tomorrow afternoon when they go to Kentucky.  Miami's only loss is to RPI # 1 Green Bay.
Should Be In - Syracuse
The Orange's RPI is 87, which keeps them a rung beneath RPI's 30 and 31 Miami and UNC for now.  If they don't win at Villanova a week from Saturday though, the Iowa win in New York City is their only notable nonconference win and their league schedule is EXTREMELY backloaded so this may be worth watching.
Bubble In - NC State, Notre Dame
Bubble Out - Pitt, BC
NC State has a pretty empty resume but they're 7-1 with a solid RPI (37) which is enough to make the field for now.  ND's RPI is a putrid 164 because they've played SEVEN teams with 2 wins or fewer but they have the Michigan State win and the one loss was by a point to Providence on a neutral floor.  Pitt's best win is mediocre Kansas State and they have a sub 100 RPI and three losses, one of which was to Hawaii so they're out.  BC also has 3 losses and wins over Providence and New Mexico don't move the needle.

Locks - None
Should Be In - None
Bubble In - SMU
Bubble Out - Cincinnati, Connecticut
SMU's the autobid here but if they were in the at large pool, they'd probably get in thanks to no bad losses (@Indiana's the worst), a trio of good mid major wins (Eastern Washington, Wyoming, UC Santa Barbara) and a 33 SOS.  Cincinnati basically has NC State's resume with worse computer numbers and a worse loss (Ole Miss in Florida by 12.)  Connecticut's only here on name recognition and defending national champion status at this point.

Atlantic 10
Locks- None
Should Be In - VCU
Rams are 5-3 with a 24 RPI and 5 SOS so they're good to go.  They could be much higher than the 9 I gave them with those computer numbers but their wins are basically a collection of relatively decent teams and Maryland Eastern Shore.  Each of their next 3 are loseable though and if they drop more than 1 they might end up needing the autobid in a far shallower league than last year.
Bubble In - Dayton, Rhode Island
Bubble Out - None
Both the Flyers and Rams are RIGHT on the cutline.  Rhode Island's in a play in game and is actually probably out of the field today with an RPI that's slipped in large part thanks to a loss to Providence this week...but I kicked the Friars out of the field this week too for losing at home to Brown.  Dayton's got a 32 RPI and its Eastern Michigan win got stronger this week to go along with neutral floor wins over Texas A&M and BC.  If those wins were at home, they'd likely be out.

Big East
Locks - Villanova, Butler
The Cats looked quite impressive in a win over Illinois at MSG this week and are probably looking at a 2 or 3 seed as long as nothing goes horribly wrong.  Butler's resume is probably better than its team so it might fall out of here sooner or later but Atlantis wins over UNC and Georgetown with the only loss at the same event to Oklahoma are pretty good for now.
Should Be In - St. John's, Creighton, Seton Hall
The Bluejays almost lost at home to South Dakota this week - but didn't.  The Hall did lose at Wichita but a nice late charge to make the scoreline respectable (and cover!) could pay dividends when their resume is examined in March.  The Johnnies already had a solid resume before winning at the Carrier Dome.
Bubble In - Georgetown
Bubble Out - Providence
This was originally flipped....and then Provy went and lost by 10 to Brown at home.  Meanwhile Georgetown showed well in a loss to Kansas.  Going off the eye test, they may belong in the Should Be In category but the resume doesn't warrant it at this juncture.

Big Ten
Locks - Wisconsin, Ohio State
The Badgers have a shot at the last 1 seed if they win the B1G regular season and/or tournament crown but will likely end up with a 2.  The Buckeyes should be in the 4-6 range.
Should Be In - Iowa, Illinois, Michigan State, Maryland
The Hawkeyes won at UNC and the losses are to Texas and Syracuse in NYC.  The Illini beat Baylor in Vegas and the losses are @Miami and Villanova in NYC.  The Spartans' best win is Marquette but two of the losses are to Duke and Kansas at neutral sites.  Maryland won a semi road game against Iowa State in Kansas City and the only loss is to Virginia.
Bubble In - Minnesota, Michigan
Bubble Out - Nebraska
The Huskers were out even before they lost at home to Incarnate Word.  The Wolverines might be now that they lost to Eastern Michigan but at least they have the Syracuse win and a tight loss to Villanova in NYC just like Iowa.  The Gophers losses are to Louisville (N) and @St. John's in a game they led much of the way and the Georgia (N) win is over a fellow bubbler so they just sneak in.

Big 12
Locks - Kansas, Texas, Iowa State, Oklahoma, West Virginia
The Jayhawks and Longhorns should jockey for the Big 12 title and both should end up in the top 3 seedlines.  The Cyclones have a 25 RPI, a dominant blowout over Arkansas, a win over Alabama for good measure and only the Maryland loss.  The Sooners have the comfortable UCLA and Butler wins in Atlantis and the losses are to Wisconsin in the Atlantis title game and @Creighton in a game they led by 18 in the second half.  West Virginia has the Puerto Rico title with wins over UConn and BC and the only loss was by a point to LSU at home - though that may become an anchor if the Tigers tank in SEC play.
Should Be In - Baylor
The Texas A&M win this week further secures them here, as does their 23 RPI and only loss coming to a fellow tourney team at a neutral site (Illinois.)  If either South Carolina or Vandy does anything in SEC play, those road wins could gain value too.
Bubble In - TCU
Bubble Out - None
The Frogs are basically only in the play in game because they're unbeaten with a not atrocious RPI (57 - that won't be good enough in March though), beat both Mississippi SEC teams and I felt pity on them because the College Football Playoff snubbed them.  Their SOS is 257 and that's about to drop even further with games against UTSA, Grambling and Tennessee State coming up.  They need to kick some ass in conference play.

Missouri Valley
Locks - Wichita State
The Shockers won't get a 1 even if they win out but should be in play for a 2/3.
Should Be In - None
Bubble In - Northern Iowa
Bubble Out - None
The Panthers are 9-0 with an inflated 22 RPI but the best win is @Stephen F. Austin.  None of their other wins will help them much unless Richmond surprises in the Atlantic 10.  Their next two - @VCU and Iowa in the Big Four Classic in Des Moines - are HUGE.  If they don't get either, they're not gonna be able to eat very many non-Wichita losses in league play.  Even if they do, they probably still can't.

Mountain West
Locks - San Diego State
SDSU and its ugly brand of basketball are probably in for yet another 4 seed but the Utah win got even better this week and could become a legitimate elite win if the Utes can win in KC against Kansas tomorrow.
Should Be In - Colorado State
The Rams are unbeaten with the 10th best RPI and won at Colorado this week, a win that will probably look better in March than it does now.  They also have an SMU style collection of good mid/low major wins (Georgia State, UCSB in the Alaska final, UTEP.)
Bubble In - None
Bubble Out - Wyoming, Boise State
The Broncos are a lot closer to the cutline than I thought they were when I did the bracket over the weekend.  In fact, they're probably in for Rhode Island if I redid the bracket today.  They're another team with grossly inflated computer numbers (13 RPI, 17 SOS), the only two losses are away to Wisconsin and NC State and there's a win at Saint Mary's (who is notoriously difficult to beat at home & hasn't lost otherwise) as well as a San Diego win that got better last night when the Toreros won at UC Santa Barbara.  As for the Cowboys, they dominated Colorado but that was at home.  There's no other wins of note and the RPI's sub 100.  They may rue missing the chance at Cal this week.

Locks - Arizona, Utah
As long as they get one or both of the Pac-12 titles and lose 5 or less in Pac-12 play, the Wildcats will probably be the 1 seed in the West.  If Utah can beat Kansas in KC tomorrow, they'd arguably have the best top 2 wins of anyone in the country and they'd have a real shot at a top 3 seed.  Unbelievable for a program that won 6 games three years ago.
Should Be In - Washington, California
The Huskies are unbeaten and beat San Diego State.  The Golden Bears have come very close to have two anchor home losses to Wyoming and Montana but escaped both and have the Syracuse win in NYC.
Bubble In - UCLA
Bubble Out - Oregon, Colorado, Stanford
UCLA's pretty much only here because its two losses were in Atlantis to locks (Oklahoma & UNC.)  Their best wins are Long Beach State and San Diego although both got better this week.  They've got a massive home shot at Gonzaga tomorrow.  As for the other three, Stanford's the only one with a double digit RPI and they lost at DePaul by 15.  Oregon was possibly in before it lost at home to Mississippi last Sunday though since the other two losses were to Michigan and VCU in Brooklyn but its RPI is 165 so yeah.  Beating Illinois in Chicago tomorrow would really help.  Colorado may not even belong on the bubble right now after losing at home to Colorado State this week.

Locks - Kentucky
If the Cats don't get a 1 seed, their entire team should just quit and go pro.
Should Be In - Arkansas, LSU
The Tigers are considerably safer than the Hogs right now thanks to that win at West Virginia.  Both have top 30 RPI's though and only 2 losses though each lost to Clemson which will kill both of their profiles in March.
Bubble In - Texas A&M
Bubble Out - Florida, Georgia
The Aggies are another team who lost this week and thus is probably out if I redid the bracket today but we'll keep them in.  Not too much shame in losing at Baylor though and the only other loss was in a completely even game against Dayton in Puerto Rico.  The best wins are Arizona State and New Mexico though so they've got a lot of work to do.  Florida beat the crap out of Yale this week to possibly ignite its season and all of its losses are to tournament teams (3 are to locks) but they're still literally .500.  Georgia suffers from the three loss syndrome with one of them questionable (GT) that Pitt and BC did.

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