Friday, March 6, 2015

Grip's Bubble Watch - Friday, March 6

Locks - Virginia, Duke, Notre Dame, North Carolina, Louisville
Virginia had some serious problems with the Boeheim zone for the first half of the first half on Monday but got things corrected and held the Orange under 50 on Rakeem Christmas' senior night.  They've clinched the regular season title outright and might be locked up as a 1 seed at this point, even if they lose at Louisville (who has serious problems of its own) tomorrow AND in their ACC tournament quarterfinal.  Duke utterly destroyed Wake and UNC utterly destroyed GT in advance of their big rematch in Chapel Hill tomorrow night.  Notre Dame won at the Yum Center on Wednesday to lock itself in to the 3 seed in next week's ACC tournament and they could be on track for a 3 seed in the NCAA's as well.
In - NC State
Not just losing at Boston College but losing at Boston College by 16 and trailing by as many as 23 in the second half was just the most NC State thing.  That probably didn't knock the Wolfpack out of the field however and even if it did, they got themselves back in by taking care of business in the second half at Clemson on Tuesday.  9 top 100 wins, four top 50 wins with two of those being top 25 road wins and the # 5 strength of schedule are pretty much all the right boxes to tick for a bubble team so as long as they don't lose at home to Syracuse tomorrow AND in the first round of the ACC tournament they should be good to go.
Out - Miami (FL), Pittsburgh
The Canes missed a golden home opportunity for an elite win against UNC but rebounded to win the bubble battle at Pitt on Wednesday night.  That followed a typical Pitt loss at Wake Forest on Sunday night and now the Panthers are really up against it.  Both of these two need to avoid horrible, at large killing losses tomorrow at Virginia Tech and Florida State respectively and then get to the ACC semifinals at a minimum.

Locks - SMU
The Mustangs ate a loss at UConn on Sunday but got some help from Cincinnati on Wednesday as the Bearcats went in to Tulsa and dropped the Golden Hurricane back in to a first place tie making Sunday's showdown at Moody officially for the outright regular season title.  Had they not eaten that loss in Storrs, they might be on the 5 line this week.
In - Cincinnati, Temple
The Owls avoided the horrible loss that the Bearcats ate at East Carolina and now Temple hosts UConn tomorrow, which is a really important top 100 win chance seeing as how they only have two top 50 wins.  As repeatedly noted, one of those is a blowout over Kansas which is keeping them on the right side of the bubble.  As for Cincy, they got a huge win at Tulsa on Wednesday and host Memphis tomorrow.  A fifth straight win wouldn't quite lock them up considering the bad losses they've eaten but it would get them pretty close.  Incredibly impressive rebound after the Crosstown Showdown loss.
Out - Tulsa
UConn was here for a couple of days but then they went and lost at home to Memphis last night to all but confirm they'll need to win the autobid on their home floor next week.  As for the Golden Hurricane, they suffered the aforementioned damaging home loss to Cincinnati and have the aforementioned trip to Dallas tomorrow for the outright regular season title.  They might need it as their profile doesn't have a whole lot else to like on it.

Atlantic 10
Locks - VCU, Dayton
The Rams continued their depressing fade with a home loss to Dayton on Saturday and then a shocking surrender at Davidson last night.  Their computer numbers remain elite and thank goodness or else they'd be in real trouble with an early exit in Brooklyn next week.  As for the Flyers, they likely put the nail in Rhode Island's at large coffin on Tuesday night after the weekend win at VCU and are now tied with only Davidson for first place going in to the final weekend.
In - Davidson
Make it 8 in a row for arguably the hottest team on the East Coast and yet they still have to sleep with one eye open, especially if they somehow lost at Duquesne tomorrow night, because of the typical thin mid major profile (poor SOS, very few good wins.)  But they've done everything right since being Marcus Posley's first buzzer beating victim back on February 4 and it would be a real shame if they're left out of the field at this point.
Out - Richmond
The Spiders are suddenly a very interesting bubble case.  They swept VCU although the first was on the day Briante Weber tore his ACL and the second was in double overtime at home.  They have 12 losses with four of them being sub 100 (and one of those was at # 218 George Mason) but 7 of their 18 wins are top 100 and they challenged themselves in nonconference season with trips to NC State, Northern Iowa and Old Dominion.  Gotta beat Saint Louis tomorrow and win a couple in Brooklyn.

Big East
Locks - Villanova, Providence, Georgetown, Butler, St. John's
Nova finally controls its own destiny for a 1 seed, getting the Gonzaga loss it needed and now they can have dreams of being the 1 seed in the East if Duke loses to UNC and then again in the ACC tournament, pushing them down to the 2 line and Virginia in to the South.  On the other side of that coin, the Cats could easily be passed by Wisconsin and/or Arizona and fall back on to the 2 line if they're not champions in NYC next week.  As for the other four, they each literally have 9 losses so if anything things are tighter between them than they've already been, with red hot St. John's joining the lock party and while they're not in to 5/6 seed range like the other three are, a nice run on their home floor next week could conceivably get them there.  Winning in Philly in Saturday's regular season finale would help, too.
In - Xavier
The Musketeers face the potential of another bad loss Saturday at Creighton so we can't lock them up yet but luckily for them, they're locked in to the 6 seed in next week's Big East tournament so that means no potential 7/10 play in loss to Marquette, which would have surely cost them their at large like it did Georgetown when they lost to DePaul in the same spot last year.  As it stands, even if they lose in Omaha, they can probably survive a loss to whoever ends up getting the 3 seed but they'd be wise not to test the committee as they'd be losers of four straight to close the season in that scenario.
Out - None

Big 12
Locks - Kansas, Iowa State, Oklahoma, Baylor, West Virginia
Baylor is 9th in RPI and 4th in the pecking order here.  That's amazing.  The top two staged wild comebacks on their respective senior nights to knock off West Virginia and Oklahoma respectively.  The Sooners still have their home shot at the Jayhawks on Saturday afternoon and can stay in the 3 seed conversation with a win there to give them the marquee topper they need to their 10 top 50 wins.  KU is probably stuck on the 2 line no matter what happens for them between now and Selection Sunday whereas everyone else in this group will be moving up and down the seedlines depending on their respective performances in Kansas City.
In - Oklahoma State, Texas
Despite an awful loss at Texas Tech last Saturday, the Pokes can lock themselves up with a win at West Virginia tomorrow afternoon.  If they don't, they could end up with a first round Big 12 tournament tilt with TCU or those Red Raiders who just beat them that would very possibly knock them out of the field with a loss.  Texas is in a similar scenario, although they're hosting the team that's attempting to usurp them (or OSU) in the pecking order so victory for them tomorrow is even more important.
Out - Kansas State
"That team" just so happens to have more than double the top 50 wins that the Longhorns have so if KSU can win in Austin and officially finishes ahead of them in the Big 12 standings, they have a real case that they have a better at large profile than the Longhorns despite FIFTEEN losses.  A number of those came without Marcus Foster and a different number of those came in nonconference season when the Wildcats clearly weren't the team they have been in Big 12 play.  There could be a lot more to talk about here in the next week and change.  For now, let's just say "we'll see."

Big Ten
Locks - Wisconsin, Maryland, Iowa, Ohio State
Gonzaga's loss to BYU also reopens the 1 seed door for the Badgers, who will certainly need to win the Big Ten tournament (or at least get to the final and get the committee's benefit of the doubt) and probably get some help elsewhere to claim it.  Maryland might be able to land a 3 seed even with a loss at Nebraska AND a loss in the Big Ten quarterfinals to the 7/10 winner.  Ohio State and Iowa join the party here because they're winning while everyone else is waffling around the cutline.  The Buckeyes would be in bigger danger if they faced a more potentially damaging regular season finale loss than Wisconsin and if they didn't have D'Angelo Russell but they don't and they do.  The Hawkeyes have won 5 straight and now have the computer numbers of an NCAA tournament team to go along with the wins of one (especially on the road.)
In - Michigan State, Indiana
These two have a massive bubble tilt tomorrow afternoon in Bloomington.  The Spartans held serve in one of those against Purdue on Wednesday while the Hoosiers continued their much-ballyhooed freefall with a 15 point home loss to Iowa.  They've now dropped 7 of 11 since the 19 point domination of Maryland back on January 22 and they seem to be this year's version of last year's Iowa.  Hopefully they can hold on to their big lead in Dayton if that's the case.
Out - Illinois, Purdue
These two have a massive bubble tilt tomorrow afternoon in West Lafayette.  The Boilers dropped a pair of those in the past week thanks to disappointing second half performances at both Ohio State and Michigan State and they really could have used either (or both) due to most of their good work being done at home.  Even with a win tomorrow they probably need a Big Ten semifinal appearance.  The same might be true of the Illini, who held the line against Northwestern and Nebraska to stop a three game skid.

Conference USA
Locks - Louisiana Tech
The Bulldogs finished two clear of the field, a fact that would really help their at large candidacy if they had literally any other bullet point on their resume.  As it stands they better win next week's conference tournament at UAB, who might have blown the 2 seed with a shock loss at Florida Atlantic last night.
In - None
Out - Old Dominion
The Monarchs haven't had any margin for error for a few weeks now and luckily they haven't made any.  They've won five straight and fought their way back in to a tie for second place with Senior Day coming against one of the teams they're tied with, Western Kentucky.  That's must-win and nothing short of a conference tournament semifinal appearance will do.  It might take a run to the final, especially with each VCU loss devaluing their one marquee win.

Missouri Valley
Locks - Wichita State, Northern Iowa
I'm not sure if Wichita's ever played angrier than they did last Saturday.  UNI got back in to it at one point in the second half but they were raging against the machine on Senior Day at the Round House.  Round 3 should come on Sunday in the Arch Madness final and the Wheat Shockers may still need it more for seeding purposes now that Iowa's a clear NCAA tournament team (helping UNI, who blew them away at the Big 4 Classic in December) and Wichita's best noncon wins (Tulsa, Alabama, Seton Hall) and worst loss (GW in the Diamond Head final) have all faded.  They'll likely both end up with similar seeds, though those seeds could be anywhere in the 4 to 7 range because you just never know with the committee and mid majors.
In - None
Out - None

Mountain West
Locks - San Diego State
The Show is still a lock to make the field but they're no longer one to wear their white jerseys in round 1 after a dreadful offensive performance against Boise last Saturday.  Then they barely escaped Vegas by a basket on Wednesday and they might be staring down a rematch in a 2/7 road quarterfinal next week in the Mountain West tournament.  Suddenly they reek of 8/9 material, which wouldn't be a good thing for either them or the 1 seed who might have to deal with their defense on the opening weekend of the tournament.
In - Boise State, Colorado State
The Broncos are technically the autobid right now, just another of the good things they have going for them on this red hot streak they're on, and they'll be the 1 seed in Vegas next week with a home win over Fresno on Saturday.  Their sweep of San Diego State has probably put them in front of Colorado State in the pecking order and suddenly the Rams have to deal with a trip to the Spectrum on Saturday where a loss might mean they get stuck in a 4/5 quarterfinal with Wyoming (who swept them) or that same Utah State team who just beat them in this scenario.  Again, CSU didn't win at The Show or at Boise or even at Wyoming or New Mexico AND they played a dreadful nonconference schedule with the best wins coming over UTEP (home), Colorado (away) and The Alan Williams Project (neutral.)  Stay tuned.
Out - None

Locks - Arizona, Utah, Oregon
The Wildcats got the elite road win they needed at Utah and then fell a point short of triple digits against Cal to emphatically re-enter themselves in to the 1 seed discussion (Gonzaga losing obviously helped them as well.)  The Utes almost let that heartbreaking home loss to the Cats beat them twice as they sleepwalked at Washington State late last night before pulling away late.  Oregon took advantage of a calamitous final few possessions for Chasson Randle to win at Stanford and Wednesday night's Civil War victory at Oregon State locked them up.  Incredible job by Dana Altman after the rape controversy that got the team's star players booted in preseason.
The Bruins weren't wholly impressive against either Washington State or USC but they beat both to stay on track towards the NCAA's.  Their regular season is done and while they're not a lock, they might be able to survive a 4/5 quarterfinal loss to a team they've already swept in...
Out - Stanford
...Stanford, who certainly needs to win it to have any at large hopes after backing up Sunday night's home loss to Oregon with a listless loss at Arizona State late last night.  Even if they somehow win at Arizona tomorrow afternoon, their profile is still too thin to survive an early tournament exit as their only current top 50 wins are Texas and Wofford.  They have more sub 100 losses than that.

Locks - Kentucky, Arkansas
Kentucky was far from its best at Georgia on Tuesday but did what it's done all season when in trouble and rallied to stay perfect.  Arkansas blew another big first half lead at South Carolina last night but rallied to win at the end and remain in the hunt for a protected seed.  That will require a solid showing in Nashville next week.
In - Georgia, Ole Miss, Texas A&M
If the eye test matters at all, the Bulldogs may have locked themselves up on Tuesday with a valiant effort against Kentucky.  On the other hand, now they can't let the Wildcats beat them twice as they're staring down a sweep at the hands of Auburn if they can't win on the Plains on Saturday afternoon.  Ole Miss bounced back from a loss at LSU last Saturday to win at Alabama but their regular season finale is Saturday night at home (where they've had more troubles than on the road this season) against surging Vanderbilt.  And the Aggies continue to dare the committee to leave them out as they lost at Florida on Tuesday night and their closest shot at a top 50 win fell even further from that line as...
Out - LSU
....LSU inexplicably lost by 15 and gave up 78 points to Tennessee on its home floor on Wednesday night.  Now the Bayou Bengals close their regular season in the second worst possible place to close it - at Arkansas.  They might need to get to the SEC tournament semifinals to have a chance at this point.

Locks - Gonzaga
Well the 1 seed dream is likely dead as an incredibly barren profile has now been completely exposed now that there's a loss to a non top 10 team on the ledger.  Still, the Zags might be able to beat out Arizona for the 2 out West, which would basically be as important as landing the 1 out there but of course they need to win the WCC tournament for any hope of that.
In - BYU
Lost in all the hoopla of the win at Gonzaga was that it was the sixth straight for the streaking Cougars.  They haven't lost since Pepperdine completed the sweep of them back on February 5.  The problem is that the second best win is a two point home decision over Stanford and they may end up ruing missed chances against San Diego State and Purdue in Maui and in the Holy War against Utah if power conference bubble teams pass them over the course of next week.
Out - None

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