Friday, February 6, 2015

Grip's Bubble Watch - Friday, February 6

Lock - Virginia, Duke, Louisville, North Carolina, Notre Dame
Neither Saturday showdown disappointed as Duke went in to Charlottesville and scored the final 11 points to end UVA's 21 game home winning streak and Louisville flipped the script on UNC, coming back from down 18 to win in overtime.  The Heels then got shut down at home on Monday against the Hoos but they're still a 3 seed because everyone else around them lost to teams worse than Louisville and Virginia.  Speaking of Louisville and Virginia, they hook up in Charlottesville tomorrow night.  ND lost at Pitt over the weekend but rebounded to hold off Boston College Wednesday night.  They go to Cameron tomorrow afternoon - the first time EVER that the ACC has had two top 10 matchups on the same day.  That's unbelievable to me.
In - None
Out - Miami (FL), NC State, Pittsburgh, Clemson
Well haven't things been eventful here?  No more Syracuse for one thing, as they smartly self-banned themselves from the postseason in what very well could have been the first NIT year in forever.  Besides that, both the Canes and Wolfpack drop out of the field as Miami collapsed at Florida State on Super Bowl Sunday and NC State got 50 burgered in the first half at Wake on Tuesday before almost coming all the way back.  
Pitt's win over the Irish has vaulted them back on to the bubble but they're gonna need a lot more than that.  They now have exactly three top 100 RPI wins and two of them (# 95 K-State, # 98 GT) will likely land outside the top 100.  Good thing their next 5 are all against top 100 foes - two games with Syracuse wrapped around @Louisville, UNC and @Virginia - so the chances are there.  
And shockingly, Clemson has won 6 of 8 to get itself in range and the Tigers have a Paradise Jam win over LSU and a home win over Arkansas which are good nonconference wins.  Unfortunately Gardner-Webb in that same Paradise Jam and Winthrop/Rutgers at home are bad nonconference losses.  Sunday's game at Miami is huge for both teams.

Lock - Tulsa
It was a struggle for a while at bottom feeding Houston but the Golden Hurricane D locked down and kept the Cougars under 50, winning by 13 and staying unbeaten in the league.  Tulsa hasn't lost since a December 13 pasting from Oklahoma that came three days after a loss to Oklahoma State.  Southeast Oklahoma State, that is.  But all of that was long ago and tomorrow they welcome in 2nd placed SMU, who no longer can catch them atop the standings thanks to last night's loss to....
In - Cincinnati, SMU
...Cincinnati, who completed the sweep of the Mustangs.  How do you lose at East Carolina and then win at Moody?  Whatever the case, that's a monster win for the Bearcats who are now 4-2 vs the RPI top 50 and 6-3 vs the top 100.  The Nebraska loss is still barely sub 100 as is the loss at UConn but the ECU loss is currently sub 250 so that will remain dreadful.  
As for the Ponies, they were surprisingly snubbed last Selection Sunday and they've left themselves open to the same possibility this time around.  They're just 1-5 against the top 50 but have no losses outside of there and they still haven't lost to a team not named Cincinnati since the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.  Still, they could really, REALLY use a win in Oklahoma tomorrow.
Out - Temple
Hey, look who's finally up to First 4 Out!  Their problem continues to remain that their profile is the Kansas win - which they really SHOULD get style points for because they absolutely dismantled the Jayhawks that night - and absolutely nothing else.  Their second best win is La Salle at the Palestra or Louisiana Tech.  Their best conference win is at UConn which isn't even a top 100 win right now.  Winning at Memphis tomorrow and/or beating Cincinnati on Tuesday would top that.

Atlantic 10
Lock - VCU
Briante Weber tearing his ACL, MCL and meniscus is one of the most depressing college basketball injuries for me in recent memory.  Reminds me of when CJ McCollum got hurt the year after he led Lehigh over Duke in the NCAA tournament.  Unfortunately, the Rams will be evaluated on how they perform from here on out and the home loss to Richmond is enough to knock them down to the 4 line for now.
In - Dayton
The Flyers rebounded from the two point loss at UMass last week to hang a hundred on league minnows Fordham.  If they can win at GW tonight, it might be time to start thinking regular season title with the injury to Weber.  Rhode Island is tied with the Flyers a game back of VCU but URI has to come to Dayton on Senior Night. Out - George Washington, Rhode Island, Massachusetts
GW lost by 4 at Rhode Island on Saturday to fall out of the field but the Colonials remain closer to it than the Rams, thanks to Wichita State in the Diamond Head final (and Colorado in the semis) being a better marquee win than Nebraska at home.  As mentioned, GW hosts Dayton tonight and a win would get them back in to the conference crown conversation.  URI has to go to Richmond on Sunday and then a tricky trip to Hawk Hill to face RPI 179 Saint Joseph's on Wednesday where a loss might put an end to their at large hopes.
Then there's UMass.  The Minutemen actually have the best RPI of the group (50 compared to GW's 54 and URI's 63) and are 7-3 in their last 10 to surge on to the bubble.  That Iona win to start the streak might actually turn in to a top 50 win (the Gaels are 53) but a resume with home wins over Dayton, Iona and Rhode Island isn't an NCAA tournament resume.  The next three are manageable before the rematch with URI in Kingston, which they probably need to win to keep hope alive.

Big East
Lock - Villanova, Butler, Providence
Again nothing changes for the Wildcats, as they handled their third straight against the conference's bottom feeders.  Butler also completed a sweep of St. John's with a dominating 85-62 victory and they're back up to a protected seed (4.)  And how about Ed Cooley's kids?  They won in D.C. last night to complete a sweep of Georgetown.  How did this team lose to 7-12, 0-4 in the Ivy League Brown by 10 points at home?!?
In - Georgetown, Xavier, Seton Hall, St. John's
The Hoyas are now 3-7 against the RPI top 50 after getting swept by Providence and Georgetown could be staring down 3-9 in the next week with the revenge trip to Villanova tomorrow afternoon before going to Seton Hall on Tuesday.  The Florida win in Atlantis simply hasn't improved as expected though Indiana at MSG is staying strong.  At this point, the main thing keeping them ahead of the other three is the fact that they haven't eaten bad losses.
Xavier has three of those with the latest being their first home loss of the season in OT to basement dwelling Creighton.  UTEP continues to hover in the 90's and if Auburn can pull out a few more wins like last night they could stay inside the top 150.  Obviously if they close the gap on Georgetown, the season sweep should help them pass the Hoyas.  For now, they need to worry about beating Providence tomorrow.
Seton Hall has Isaiah Whitehead back, which is good because four of their losses came without him but so did their signature victory over Villanova.  They had him when they lost by 13 at DePaul on Tuesday to keep themselves in the play in game.  They need to avoid a home loss to Marquette - who has played just about everyone close - tomorrow before Georgetown comes in Tuesday.
St. John's swept Providence with a 9 point win last Saturday and although the 23 point loss at Butler on Tuesday was ugly, it wasn't nearly as bad as the losses of other teams right on the cutline so the Johnnies get the last spot in the field.  They absolutely cannot screw up home games with Creighton tomorrow and DePaul on Wednesday.
Out - None

Big Ten
Lock - Wisconsin, Maryland
Wisky continues to roll along as no one can even come close to them at the Kohl Center at the moment.  They fall out of the last one seed but not by any of their doing and they'll be right in the mix for a 1 come Selection Sunday.  Things have been much less smooth in College Park but the Terps keep on finding ways to win and find themselves with the final 4 seed, a beneficiary of VCU's fall.
In - Indiana, Ohio State, Iowa, Michigan State
Indiana was the last team to get blitzed by the Badger attack at Kohl and the Hoosiers have lost 3 of 4 but their seed hasn't really suffered.  That's the perks of being a dominant home team with wins over Maryland, Ohio State and SMU and now the Pittsburgh win is starting to look valuable as well.  Oh yeah and there's the Butler win in the Crossroads Classic that's probably the most impressive of all.
Ohio State lost by a bucket at surging Purdue on Wednesday and suspended second leading scorer Marc Loving, which casts even more doubt on to the Buckeyes resume.  They CAN'T stub their toe at Rutgers on Sunday or against Penn State on Wednesday.  Their pathetic nonconference schedule means every loss they eat is more and more damaging.
Iowa has swept the Buckeyes so like Xavier with Georgetown, the Hawkeyes just need to close that gap just a little bit more to leapfrog them in the pecking order.  They also won at UNC while OSU lost to the Heels in Chicago.  More importantly, Fran McCaffery's kids stopped a three game skid with a dominant win at Michigan last night and now welcome in Maryland on Sunday afternoon.
Michigan State didn't play this week after shutting out their in state rivals in overtime on Super Bowl Sunday.  They won at Iowa by 13 but that Texas Southern loss is going to continue to be an anchor that may keep them beneath everyone else here unless they make a late surge - always possible with Tom Izzo.
Out - Illinois, Purdue
Illinois goes to Breslin tomorrow afternoon and could really use a win.  Everything about the Illini profile screams average and yet they're in the last 4 out which is a product of the bubble being annually terrible.  They have both games with the Spartans in the next three weeks so they'll have their opportunity to move up the pecking order.  As for Purdue, they're the surprise package of this Big Ten season.  The Boilers are now 7-3 and tied with Maryland for second in the conference, adding Ohio State to their home scalps of Iowa and Indiana in the past few weeks.  Unfortunately they have similar computer numbers to Illinois except instead of a marquee neutral site win over Baylor in nonconference play, they have home losses to Gardner-Webb and North Florida.  The loss at Vanderbilt is also a sub 100 loss and the Kansas State loss in Maui could become one too.  In short, they need to keep winning to have any hope.

Big 12
Lock - Kansas, Iowa State, Oklahoma, Baylor, West Virginia
Kansas is now two games clear of the field after getting sweet revenge on Iowa State on Big Monday and that's enough to justify them passing Wisconsin for the last 1 seed.  The Cyclones actually move up to a 3 seed as a direct result of the carnage around them and the strength of their profile (15 RPI, 9-4 vs top 100 RPI teams.)  The Sooners and Bears move in to the lock category thanks to beatdowns of West Virginia and Texas respectively and OU also completed a season sweep of Bedlam by winning in Stillwater.  The Mountaineers drop a couple of seed lines but are still tied for second in the conference with ISU and host Baylor tomorrow afternoon.
In - Oklahoma State, Texas
The Pokes had a big lead at Texas on Wednesday but needed OT to hold off the Horns.  That completes a season sweep and was a needed bounceback after dropping Bedlam at home and allowing Oklahoma to sweep them.  The 26 point loss at South Carolina has predictably turned bad but the Tulsa win has unpredictably turned quite valuable.  As for Texas, they're arguably the most disappointing team in the country as they are now two games back of everyone else in the conference except for TCU and Texas Tech.  They're a shocking 2-8 vs the RPI top 50 but have no other losses outside of it, keeping them a fair distance from the cutline....for now.
Out - None

Lock - Western Kentucky
Louisiana Tech's 10 point loss at UAB last night ceds the autobid back to the Hilltoppers, who struggled to put away North Texas.  It's not inconceivable that WKU could enter the at large conversation but they would have to just about win out and would definitely have to sweep....
In - Old Dominion
...ODU, who stabilized this week against F_U to get the RPI back inside the top 40.  It helps that UAB is inside the RPI top 150 and Middle Tennessee is # 150.  It also helps that LSU has backslid on to the bubble as the Monarchs head to head victory in the Virgin Islands could prove critical.  They also have both their home shots against Western Kentucky and Louisiana Tech left, though the former isn't until Senior Day.
Out - None

Missouri Valley
Lock - Wichita State, Northern Iowa
The Panthers fed off the energy of a raucous McLeod Center and controlled the game the whole way, taking care of the Shockers 70-54, moving them in to lockdom.  The Shockers then barely survived Bradley on Wednesday night, failing to make a field goal in the final 12 and a half minutes.  UNI had no such problems the night before, winning by 10 at Indiana State.  Barring any unexpected stumbles, both could very well end up with top 6 seeds, which would be an amazing coup for the conference.
In - None
Out - None

Mountain West
Lock - San Diego State
The Streak almost ended Wednesday night.  But the Aztecs held on at Nevada and now have won 137 straight games in which they've led with 5 minutes to go, which is truly amazing.  They're still in a first place tie with Wyoming, who completed a season sweep of....
In - Colorado State
...CSU, as the Rams were truly abject offensively in failing to get to 50 in Laramie on Wednesday.  They only have 5 top 100 wins and can maybe get a 6th against RPI 101 UNLV tomorrow before their trip to The Show a week from tomorrow but they could very well be left in the cold if other bubble teams cash in their chances for big wins down the stretch.
Out - Wyoming, Boise State
The Pokes have seen their RPI jump from the 90's up to 64, thanks in large part to sweeping the Border War with Colorado State.  They need to make sure they're not looking ahead to their trip to The Show on Wednesday or else they could suffer a crippling loss at Air Force tomorrow.  They also beat Boise and don't have to go to Boise, which is great for them and not so much for the Broncos, who have a top 50 RPI (48) but just two top 100 wins all season.  That's the same number of sub 100 losses they have which is really not good.  They host San Diego State on Sunday.  Win that or forget about it.

Lock - Arizona, Utah
The Cats got suffocating revenge on Oregon State, holding the Beavers to 34 points in a 23 point win last Friday.  They were off this week because the rivalry date at Arizona State is tomorrow before they go to reeling Washington a week from tonight.  The Utes had a fine defensive performance of their own, holding USC to 14 points in the first 25 minutes on Super Bowl Sunday and rolling to a 67-39 win.  They too were idle this week with their rivalry date at Colorado tomorrow night.
In - Stanford, UCLA, Oregon
Oh Stanford.  You just don't want to make the tournament comfortably now do you?  The Cardinal were awful for 30 minutes on their home floor against UCLA last night before furiously charging in the final 10 to almost complete the comeback.  They should be able to rebound with the home layup with USC on Sunday night, though.  The Bruins vault in to the field with that win, their third in a row.  The really strong nonconference schedule is now set up to help them, even if they didn't cash in any of their chances.  Also newcomers to the field are the Ducks, who held off Washington on Wednesday night and their head to head victory over Illinois in Chicago is a virtual tiebreaker putting them in the play in and the Illini in the NIT.  Now they need to get revenge on Washington State Sunday night for getting a hundred hung on them in Pullman
Out - Oregon State
The Beavers are only here because of the Arizona win and because Washington is free falling.  The two play in Corvallis on Sunday afternoon and OSU needs to win that to stay here.  Then they go to UCLA on Wednesday and they need to win that to take the next step towards the bubble.

Lock - Kentucky, Arkansas
Here comes the toughest road swing of the season.  The Cats go to Florida tomorrow night with College GameDay in town and then they have a Tuesday night date in Baton Rouge.  If they play as poorly as they did against Georgia this week, they'll lose one of them.  The Hogs lost by a point at the O'Dome on Saturday but came back home to pound South Carolina in to submission on Tuesday night.
In - Georgia, Ole Miss, Texas A&M, LSU
Georgia got punked at South Carolina and then fell short in a valiant effort at Kentucky but they stay at the front of the line here thanks to strong computer numbers.  Ole Miss continues to trend in the right direction, winning last Wednesday's bubble battle with Texas A&M which was their fourth straight and 5th of 6.  The Aggies had a 6 game winning streak of their own halted with that loss but they're still without a top 50 RPI victory, though they also don't have the bad losses the Rebels have.  LSU continues to be vexing as they inexplicably lost at home to Auburn last night to fall to the back of the line here.  They're still 4-2 against the RPI top 50 and the win at West Virginia might end up being a life preserver when it's all said and done.
Out - Alabama, Florida, Tennessee
Bama had the best week of the three by actually being competitive with Kentucky this time and handling Missouri on Wednesday but at 4-5 in the league, they need to make moves up the conference standings before they can get back in the field.  Florida took a big step forward with a home win over Arkansas by a point and then proceeded to not score for the first 7 and a half minutes at Vanderbilt to take an equally big step back.  And Tennessee survived a fight in the Bruce Pearl Bowl before losing at home to Mississippi State on Tuesday, which is literally the worst thing you can do in this conference.

Lock - Gonzaga
The Zags trailed at the half and were in a battle for about 30 minutes at Santa Clara last night but pulled away late to stay perfect in the league.  The only loss remains in OT at Arizona in a game in which they outplayed the Wildcats.  They could get a 1 seed by winning out but they might not control their own destiny in that regard.
In - None
Out - None
Both Saint Mary's and BYU lost to Pepperdine this past week so this will most definitely be a one bid league unless someone shocks Gonzaga in the conference tournament in Las Vegas.

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