Friday, January 30, 2015

Grip's Bubble Watch - Friday, January 30

Lock - Virginia, Duke, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Louisville
These five are about to start playing each other a bunch, starting with the Irish coming back to beat Duke on Wednesday night.  The Blue Devils begin life without Rasheed Sulaimon tomorrow night at Virginia and the undercard bout is the Heels and Cards hooking up in Louisville.  This is probably the strongest, most secure group of locks out of any conference.
In - Miami (FL), NC State
Who wins by 16 at Cameron and loses by 20 at home to previously winless in the ACC Georgia Tech?  Somehow that's not a sub 100 RPI loss for the Canes but it's certainly a head scratcher.  At the same time, the Wolfpack - who are the last team in the field and blew an 18 point home lead to Notre Dame last Sunday - suffered a head-scratching home loss of their own to Clemson, which also is somehow not a sub 100 loss.  In fact, the Tigers are closer to the field than you might think and would be on the bubble right now if not for those four sub 100 RPI losses; still, they're just 9 RPI spots behind...
Out - Syracuse
...the Orange, who have fallen out of the field thanks to losing 3 of their last 4, including at Clemson and at home to Miami.  Their Cal loss in NYC continues to worsen and should be a sub 150 RPI loss sooner rather than later.  Worse yet, the 12 point home loss to St. John's looks like it could be a dagger for bubble comparison purposes now that the Johnnies are no longer comfortably in the field.  Jim Boeheim's guys need to regroup in their next three because after that, the stretch run of death begins.

Lock - Tulsa, SMU
The Golden Hurricane - who are only a "lock" because they're still the autobid - scraped by East Carolina and Tulane on the road this past week while the Mustangs got a bit of a fight at South Florida on Wednesday.  These two are on a collison course a week from Saturday but before that SMU welcomes in...
In - Cincinnati
...the Bearcats, who beat Larry Brown's boys back on January 3.  Cincinnati's won four straight since the last bracket, including a 31 point win over Temple and a 12 point victory over UConn last night to slide comfortably in to the field.
Out - Temple
The Owls were Next 4 Out when we did this two weeks ago and they're Next 4 Out today.  They continue to have the Kansas win, some decent computer numbers and not a whole lot else.  They've got five top 100 RPI games left and need to win a few of them to build some support around their centerpiece victory.

Atlantic 10
Lock - VCU
The Rams survived by a bucket last Friday at Saint Louis thanks to more Treveon Graham heroics and then came back home and reaffirmed that it's them and everyone else in this league by blasting GW by 24.  The rematch in D.C. on Valentine's Day should be closer.
In - Dayton, George Washington
The Flyers have been exposed a bit in the past week and a half, getting ripped from bell to bell at Davidson before losing at UMass last night.  Their RPI has fallen from the 20's to the 30's (35) and with only two top 50 games left - both on the road - they could continue to slide closer to the cutline.  One of those two games is a week from tonight at play-in participant GW, who also goes to RPI 65 Rhode Island tomorrow so a big week for the Colonials coming up.
Out - Davidson
If only the Wildcats hadn't been pulverized at Richmond three days before the Dayton win.  They're still in the top 40 of RPI (38) and still have two with GW and a massive home shot with VCU on March 5.  The next five are all against sub 100 RPI teams so Bob McKillop's kids need to avoid stepping on any landmines in the interim.

Big East
Lock - Villanova, Georgetown, Butler, Providence
All four are inside the top 20 of RPI, which is especially impressive for league leading Providence, who has the sub 100 loss at Boston College and the sub 200 loss to Brown on the ledger.  That's enough to keep them a seed line beneath the Hoyas and Bulldogs, who are literally right next to each other on the S-Curve.  The Wildcats lost by 20 in D.C. on January 19 but it basically didn't affect them; they remain on track for a 2 seed with an outside shot at a 1.
In - Xavier, Seton Hall
The Musketeers completed a sweep of Georgetown on Tuesday with a suffocating win in D.C.  That's enough to get them in the field and they even pass the Pirates, who ate a home loss to DePaul and then lost by 20 at Butler before stopping the skid at Marquette on Wednesday.  These two play tomorrow afternoon and if the Pirates lose, they'll have dropped 5 of 7, having been swept by X with the risk of also being swept by the Blue Demons if they don't win on Tuesday in Rosemount.  They need a win more.
Out - St. John's
The Johnnies proceeded to follow their second half collapse to give Coach K win # 1000 by giving Creighton its first Big East win on Wednesday and have now dropped 6 of their last 8 to fall out of the field.  They host Providence tomorrow afternoon and a win would give them a sweep of the Friars, which would help take some of the attention away from their putrid performance in 2015 thus far.

Big Ten
Lock - Wisconsin, Maryland, Ohio State
The Badgers beat the daylights out of Iowa and survived in OT at Michigan in front of College GameDay last Saturday.  They move in to the final 1 seed that Kansas vacated after its loss at Iowa State.  The Buckeyes destroyed the Terps last night and both are now 5 seeds but Maryland remains ahead on the S-Curve thanks to its far superior nonconference work.
In - Indiana, Iowa, Michigan State
The Hoosiers beat Maryland by 19 then go on the road to lose at Ohio State by 12 (acceptable) and Purdue by 16 (not so much.)  Maybe they turn in to a pumpkin when they leave the state?  They stay ahead of the Hawkeyes though, who also lost at Purdue last Saturday after their aforementioned pasting at Wisconsin.  The rematch with the Badgers is tomorrow afternoon, however.  MSU is the last at large outside of the play ins after losing at Nebraska and looking awful until a furious comeback in the final few minutes.
Out - Illinois, Michigan
Despite being 5 places ahead in the league and 6 spots ahead in RPI, the Illini remain closer to the field than the Wolverines.  That's what losing at home to NJIT and Eastern Michigan will do to you.  Illinois has two of the easier league home games with Penn State and Rutgers this week while Michigan's schedule turns brutal starting with the Sunday rivalry date at MSU.  They don't play another sub 100 RPI game until March so it's time to see what they're really made of.

Big 12
Lock - Kansas, Iowa State, West Virginia
The Jayhawks rebounded from losing the war in Ames by winning in Austin and barely surviving in Fort Worth.  They're still # 1 in RPI and thus still firmly in the discussion for a 1 seed.  The Cyclones gave back their gains from that win with an abominable performance at Texas Tech last Saturday and are now neck and neck with the Mountaineers.  The two are literally one spot apart in both RPI and on the S-Curve.
In - Baylor, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas
And these four are separated by literally 5 spots on the S-Curve.  Baylor's ahead of Oklahoma because it just beat the Sooners to earn a season split last Saturday and it doesn't have a sub 100 nonconference loss.  Oklahoma's ahead of its in-state rival thanks to the 17 point beating in Norman a couple weeks ago but the rematch is tomorrow in Stillwater.  The Pokes are ahead of Texas because the Horns have lost their last two and have generally been awful since conference play began.
Out - Kansas State
They're still 90th in RPI.  That's not even close to an NCAA tournament RPI.  But they continue to beat teams ahead of them in the pecking order and they'll continue to have chances to improve that RPI, such as tomorrow afternoon when they go to the Phog for round 1 of the Sunflower Showdown.

Lock - Louisiana Tech
The Bulldogs copped the auto bid by handing Western Kentucky its first league loss last night.  That got their RPI inside the top 100 but that doesn't change the fact that they'll need to win the conference tournament to make the NCAA tournament.
In - Old Dominion
The Monarchs dropped back to back games at Middle Tennessee and UAB and have backslid dangerously close to the cutline.  Their RPI, once top 15, is now 43 and they can't afford too many more losses if they want to keep their at large hopes alive.
Out - Western Kentucky
The win at Ole Miss has matured nicely as the Rebels look to be firmly in the bubble mix in the SEC and the Hilltoppers also beat ODU.  There's not much else of value on the resume however and they'll likely end up with multiple sub 100 RPI losses.  Only Belmont is one now but Stony Brook, Minnesota and Louisiana Tech all have RPI's in the 90's.  They almost assuredly will need the autobid.

Missouri Valley
Lock - Wichita State
It's finally here.  The first of two meetings between the Shockers and the Panthers is tomorrow in Cedar Falls.  Wichita needs it to stay on the 3 line, which is where they now find themselves after Utah's loss at UCLA late last night.
In - Northern Iowa
Meanwhile UNI needs it to avoid bringing their resume in to questionability.  They own just one RPI top 50 win - over # 49 Iowa - and four top 100 wins (the best of which is # 83 Richmond.)  Their ceiling is likely the 8/9 game they're currently in without at least a split against the Shockers.
Out - None

Mountain West
Lock - San Diego State
The Show lost at Colorado State on Saturday night but remains in a tie for first with off-the-bubble Wyoming and keeps the autobid thanks to their head to head victory in Laramie.  I don't expect much fluctuation with them the rest of the way; they'll likely end up with a 4-6 seed and hope to land in Seattle or Portland the first weekend and then Los Angeles the second.
In - Colorado State
The Rams gave themselves some at large breathing space with the SDSU win on Saturday night and then promptly gave it back on Tuesday night with a loss at...
Out - Boise State
...Boise State, who has now won 5 straight after dropping four in a row to surge on to the bubble.  Their home shot with SDSU is a week from Sunday but before that, they need to avoid falling in to the Utah State trap that Wyoming did on Tuesday to knock the Cowboys off the bubble.

Lock - Arizona, Utah
Boy, have the Wildcats rebounded from that loss at Oregon State.  They've ripped off 5 straight since to firmly re-establish themselves as the 1 seed out West.  Four of those wins were by double digits, including a comprehensive victory over the Utes, who also lost last night at UCLA to knock them down to the 4 line.
In - Stanford
DePaul's not a sub 150 RPI loss anymore!  The other good news is that the Cardinal completed a sweep of now Robert Upshaw-less Washington on Wednesday to lock themselves in as the league's # 3.  Winners of 5 of 6 since the heartbreaker at UCLA, they've seen their seed continuously rise and are all the way up to the 7 line after being in and around the play ins in earlier editions of the bracket.
Out - Washington, UCLA
If Wednesday night was any indication, the Huskies are completely screwed without Robert Upshaw.  There might not be a way back in to the tournament now with all of their good work with the 7 footer diminished, although they've got home shots with both Arizona and Utah left.  The Bruins get back on to the bubble with the Utah win but they're still just 12-9 overall and with an RPI of 66 there's plenty of work still left to do.

Lock - Kentucky, Arkansas
Four of their last five wins are by double digits after the back to back OT games to start SEC play.  Alabama visits Rupp tomorrow, hoping to come within 22 this time before Georgia comes in on Tuesday.  The Hogs have been failing the eye test the past few weeks, losing at Tennessee, getting bombed on at home by Ole Miss and then winning three straight by a combined 8 points but actually see their seed improve by a couple of lines because computers don't have eyes.
In - Georgia, Texas A&M, LSU, Ole Miss
Georgia has now won 5 straight to get out of the 8/9 game.  Also winners of 5 straight are the Aggies and one of those was a win at LSU to pass the Tigers in the league pecking order.  Ole Miss remains just outside the top 50 in RPI (52) but winners of 3 of 4 with the really impressive 14 point win at Arkansas is enough to get them in to a play-in.  If Western Kentucky can stay inside the top 100 of RPI, all the better.  That Charleston Southern loss from opening night won't get any prettier, though.
Out - Tennessee, Alabama, Florida
Tennessee has lost its last two to keep themselves on the outside looking in.  Meanwhile Alabama has dropped four of five to emphatically remove themselves from the field.  The latest of those losses was at home by a deuce to the Gators, who stopped a three game skid of their own with that win.  They remain 9 spots behind the Tide and 19 back of the Vols in RPI but those gaps will be made up if they keep winning.

Lock - Gonzaga
The Zags slogged through the first half at Portland last night before blowing the Pilots away in the second.  Unfortunately, it's difficult to see them passing Arizona, Wisconsin or Kansas for a 1 seed at this point with only two top 50 RPI wins and just 6 inside the top 100 so they'll have to hope they land as the 2 out West.
In - None
Out - Saint Mary's, BYU
The Gaels were competitive for a while at the Kennel before fading in the second half but got the crucial win over BYU before that to remain the league # 2.  The Cougars added a loss at the Slim Gym after the SMC defeat to fall even further behind the Gaels and then barely survived San Francisco last night.  They haven't looked good in weeks.

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