Now that things are heating up in college basketball, we will be updating our Bubble Watch a few times each week.
Each of the major conferences will be covered, as well as mid-major conferences that are projected to have multiple bids. Other conferences that have teams who are “locks”, “probably in”, or have “work to do” will be noted in one group.
RPI, SOS, and record against top 50 RPI are accurate as of February 29th.
Probably in: 12
Work to do: 28
It looks like the ACC regular season title will come down to the Duke-North Carolina matchup next weekend. The winner has a legitimate argument at being a number one seed in the NCAA Tournament; the loser will likely still play in Greensboro on the opening weekend of the Big Dance.
Locks: Duke (26-4) (13-2); North Carolina (25-4) (12-2); Florida State (19-9) (10-4).
Top 50 RPI: 7-4
Duke beat Wake Forest in Winston Salem on Tuesday night to set up a game for the ACC regular season title over the weekend. Duke has won seven straight after an overtime home loss to Miami (FL). Five of those seven wins have been by single digits. Duke currently holds the tiebreaker over North Carolina based on their February 8th meeting in Chapel Hill. Duke has the ACC Championship on the line, on Saturday, when they host North Carolina at Cameron Indoor.
Top 50 RPI: 7-4
The Tar Heels won a pair of road games against North Carolina State and Virginia during the week. Both wins are solid road wins that the NCAA Selection Committee likes to see. Right now, the Tar Heels are in great shape to be Greensboro for the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament. The Tar Heels have games remaining against Maryland and at Duke.
Top 50 RPI: 4-6
Hear that sound? That’s Florida State deflating. The Seminoles lost at home to Duke during the week – they split the season series – and lost at Miami (FL) on Sunday night. Barring the unforeseen, Florida State will likely draw the three seed in the ACC Conference Tournament. Florida State has games remaining against at Virginia and Clemson.
Probably in: None.
Work to do: Virginia (21-7) (8-6); Miami (FL) (17-10) (8-6); North Carolina State (18-11) (7-7).
Top 50 RPI: 2-4
Virginia won in Blacksburg against Virginia Tech during the week, but missed a great chance to make a statement against North Carolina; the Cavaliers lost to the Tar Heels by three. Virginia is in good shape for the NCAA Tournament, but has a trio of bad losses to TCU, Virginia Tech, and Clemson. Wins over Michigan, Miami (FL), and North Carolina State do look good, though. Virginia has games remaining against Florida State and at Maryland. If Virginia beats Florida State, they will move up to “probably in”.
Top 50 RPI: 2-7
Miami (FL) started the week in awful shape, losing at Maryland on Tuesday night. The Hurricanes made up for that loss in a huge way, beating Florida State by 16 points on Sunday night. The Hurricanes are 2-8 against potential tournament teams. Miami (FL) is also 4-7 on the road. The Hurricanes probably need to win their remaining two games to feel good about their NCAA Tournament chances. Miami (FL)’s remaining schedule is at North Carolina State and Boston College.
North Carolina State
Top 50 RPI: 1-8
The Wolfpack are in serious trouble now, losers of four straight games. They dropped a 12-point decision to North Carolina during the week and lost at Clemson in overtime on Saturday. North Carolina State is likely headed to the NIT at this point. With their best wins over Miami (FL) and Texas, North Carolina State is lacking a statement win. If the Wolfpack lose either of their remaining two games, they will be eliminated from the Watch. North Carolina State has games remaining against Miami (FL) and at Virginia Tech.
Kansas, Baylor, and Kansas State all picked up wins earlier this week. Missouri, Iowa State, and Texas are all in action on Wednesday night, each having something to play for. The Tigers have a race for second place, while Iowa State is looking to stay even with Baylor. Texas is looking to make their case for a NCAA Tournament bid.
Locks: Kansas (25-5) (15-2); Missouri (25-4) (12-4); Baylor (25-5) (12-5); Iowa State (21-8) (11-5).
Top 50 RPI: 10-4
Kansas beat Oklahoma State in Stillwater on Monday, clinching the top seed in the upcoming Big XII Conference Tournament. With Michigan State’s loss to Indiana on Tuesday night, the door has opened for the Jayhawks to be a number one seed, solidly. Kansas probably needs to make the semifinals in order to be assured of a one seed. Kansas has one game remaining against Texas on Saturday.
Top 50 RPI: 6-3
Missouri had a great chance to pick up a season sweep of the Jayhawks, but failed to get the job done. Still, the Tigers are in great shape and can pick up a number one seed in the NCAA Tournament with a strong showing in the conference tournament. Back-to-back losses to the Kansas schools during the week hurts the Tigers number one seed chances, including a season sweep by Kansas State. The Tigers have games remaining against Iowa State and at Texas Tech.
Top 50 RPI: 6-5
Baylor pounded Texas Tech Monday night, winning by 29 points in the Bears’ home finale. The Bears are in good shape, with wins over Brigham Young, Saint Mary’s, West Virginia, Mississippi State, Kansas State, and Iowa State. The Bears are likely a protected seed in the NCAA Tournament at this point, but could fall below that line with a poor showing in the conference tournament. Baylor’s last game is against Iowa State, at Hilton Coliseum, on Saturday.
Top 50 RPI: 3-4
This may be slightly premature, but Iowa State’s season sweep of Kansas State moves them to a “lock”. The Cyclones also beat Texas Tech during the week. Iowa State will be no worse than a four seed in the Big XII Tournament. The Cyclones can improve their NCAA Tournament profile by winning one of their last two games. Iowa State plays at Missouri and Baylor in their final two regular season games.
Probably in: Kansas State (20-9) (9-8).
Top 50 RPI: 5-6
Kansas State pulled off a crucial road win on Tuesday night, beating Texas A&M in College Station. The Aggies haven’t lived up to their early season hype, but a road win in any major conference is important. The Wildcats swept Missouri, but were swept by the Cyclones. Kansas State does have a few decent non-conference wins, having beaten Alabama and Long Beach State. They also have wins over Missouri (twice), Texas, and Baylor. Assuming Kansas State wins their final regular season game or a game in the Big XII Tournament, they will be in the NCAA Tournament. Kansas State finishes on Saturday at Bramlage Coliseum against Oklahoma State.
Work to do: Texas (18-11) (8-8).
Top 50 RPI: 3-8
After winning four straight games, Texas has lost two of their last three, losing at home to Baylor during the week, but got by Texas Tech on the road, on Saturday. Texas cannot afford to lose to Oklahoma; winning their final two games would certainly help the ‘Horns tournament chances. Texas has games remaining against Oklahoma and at Kansas.
Georgetown temporarily moves ahead of Notre Dame, but they may be behind the Irish after Saturday – Georgetown travels to Marquette. West Virginia keeps their hopes alive with a win over last place DePaul, while Connecticut stumbled at Providence. Connecticut’s chances at a NCAA Tournament bid, outside of an automatic bid, are almost gone.
Locks: Syracuse (29-1) (16-1); Marquette (24-5) (13-3); Georgetown (22-6) (12-5); Notre Dame (20-10) (12-5); Louisville (22-7) (10-6).
Top 50 RPI: 9-1
Syracuse locked up the top spot in the Big East Conference Tournament with wins over South Florida and Connecticut this past week. The Orange continue to win close games; they are 12-1 in games decided by ten points or less. Syracuse is virtually assured of a number one seed in the NCAA Tournament, barring the unforeseen. Syracuse has one game remaining, against Louisville on Saturday.
Top 50 RPI: 6-4
Dance on Coach Williams, dance on. Marquette picked up two wins in three days, beating Rutgers at home and West Virginia on the road during the week. The Golden Eagles remain in sole possession of second place, thanks to a Notre Dame loss. Things won’t be easy for Marquette, who might need to win both of their remaining games in order to be the two seed in the Big East Tournament. Marquette needs to win at least one of their two remaining games to be assured a double bye. The Golden Eagles have games remaining at Cincinnati and Georgetown.
Top 50 RPI: 8-4
Georgetown picked up another quality win beating the Irish, Monday night, at the MCI Center in Washington D.C. Georgetown now holds a tiebreaker over Notre Dame as well as South Florida, the fifth place team, based on their February 4th meeting. The Hoyas have won four of their last five games. Georgetown plays at the Bradley Center on Saturday, against Marquette, to close out their season.
Top 50 RPI: 8-5
After nine straight wins in the Big East, the Irish have lost two straight games, both on the road. Notre Dame lost at Georgetown on Monday by 18. Notre Dame now need to win their remaining game and have Marquette lose twice in order to finish second. The Irish may have lost their chance at a double bye, but they do hold the tiebreaker over South Florida. Notre Dame hosts Providence on Friday evening at the Joyce Center.
Top 50 RPI: 6-5
To be honest, Louisville has not played well as of late. Coach Pitino’s teams have generally been known to close strong, but Louisville has split their last four games; their last five games have been decided by single digits. Louisville lost at bubble team Cincinnati during the week, but beat Pittsburgh on Sunday. Louisville’s game on Wednesday night becomes very important – a win keeps them in the discussion for a double bye, while a loss likely relegates them to a single bye. Louisville has games remaining against South Florida and at Syracuse.
Probably in: Cincinnati (20-9) (10-6).
Top 50 RPI: 5-4
Cincinnati did as was asked, and beat Louisville during the week, pushing them to “probably in”. The Bearcats did lose to bubble team South Florida on Sunday, putting Cincinnati in bad shape for a double bye in the Big East Tournament. The Bearcats have an RPI over 70, but are 5-4 against the RPI top 50. Cincinnati’s best non-conference win is against Oklahoma, and they do have a loss to Presbyterian. The Bearcats have games remaining against Marquette and at Villanova. Cincinnati probably needs to beat Villanova to feel comfortable about their chances. 11-7 should be enough, anything short of that will require some work in the Big East Tournament.
Work to do: South Florida (18-11) (11-5); Seton Hall (19-10) (8-9); West Virginia (18-12) (8-9); Connecticut (17-12) (7-10).
Top 50 RPI: 1-7
To be honest, its getting tough to explain why the Bulls are not on the “probably in” line. USF’s RPI has gotten better since the last Watch, but still isn’t great, going from 56 to 42, and is 1-7 against the RPI top 50 (lone win against Seton Hall), but the Bulls do have eleven conference wins now; they have earned at least a first round bye. USF is up four and a half games on Connecticut, who is currently in ninth place. With that said, USF’s best win in non-conference play is against Cleveland State, and the Bulls do have losses to Old Dominion, Penn State, and Auburn. The Bulls have wins over Cincinnati, Seton Hall, Pittsburgh (twice), and Villanova (twice). Its hard to imagine the Bulls getting turned away from the NCAA Tournament if they get to 12 conference wins, but its certainly possible. South Florida has contests remaining at Louisville and home to West Virginia. A road win against Louisville would likely seal up a bid for the Bulls, but a home win over West Virginia might do the trick, as well.
Top 50 RPI: 4-7
Seton Hall was in great shape with an 18-point win over Georgetown during the week, but inexplicably lost at home to Rutgers over the weekend. The Pirates are squarely back on the bubble. Seton Hall did have a glaring six game losing streak, which the NCAA Selection Committee doesn’t like to see, even if five of the six losses were to potential tournament teams. The Pirates only remaining game is at DePaul. The DePaul game becomes a must win game for Seton Hall. A win against Rutgers would have moved Seton Hall up a line. Seton Hall is 8-8 against the RPI top 100.
Top 50 RPI: 4-8
West Virginia blew out DePaul on Tuesday night to patch the leaking ship. The Mountaineers lost to Seton Hall earlier in the season, so the Pirates hold the tiebreaker. That may not be a bad thing as West Virginia may need an opening round game in the Big East to add to their win total. West Virginia has two bad losses: to Kent State and Pittsburgh, but have beaten Kansas State, Miami (FL), Georgetown, and Cincinnati, but those wins feel like ages ago. Further, the Mountaineers are 1-4 against the top four in the Big East. They needs to win their remaining game and at least one in the Big East Tournament. West Virginia finishes on the road against South Florida, at Tampa Bay Times Forum, on Saturday afternoon.
Top 50 RPI: 6-7
Connecticut has won three of their last twelve. Connecticut continued their slide on Tuesday night, losing at lowly Providence. With an RPI around 30, the Huskies look like an NCAA Tournament team, but the losing streak and away record suggest otherwise. Then again, Connecticut was in a similar situation last season, before rattling of 11 straight wins, winning the Big East Conference Tournament, and winning the 2011 NCAA Basketball National Championship. Connecticut needs to win two to three games in the Big East Conference Tournament; they also need to be Pittsburgh. Connecticut hosts Pittsburgh on Saturday, in a game that will likely seal the Huskies fate, if they lose. The other day we said West Virginia was in worse shape than Connecticut. We stand corrected.
Indiana has beaten Michigan, Michigan State, and Ohio State at home. They also won at Purdue this season – and that’s just the conference wins. This Hoosiers team hardly resembles last season’s team. And Indiana will have to play in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament. If not for a stretch between January 12th and February 1st, when the Hoosiers were 2-5 in those games, they would have a first round bye.
Locks: Michigan State (24-6) (13-4); Michigan (21-8) (11-5); Ohio State (23-6) (11-5); Wisconsin (22-8) (11-6); Indiana (23-7) (10-7).
Top 50 RPI: 9-5
Michigan State wrapped up the top seed for the Big Ten Tournament over the weekend, but looked nothing like the best team in the Big Ten, getting beat down by 15 in Bloomington. The lost at Indiana, in the way they lost, might have cost the Spartans a number one seed. Still, it may be a blessing in disguise, as they likely won’t be shipped out west, now. Michigan State hosts Ohio State on Sunday, at the Breslin Center, in their home finale.
Top 50 RPI: 9-6
After winning against Northwestern during the week, Michigan got drilled at home by Purdue, suffering their first, and only, home loss of the season. Still, Michigan has won four of their last five. Michigan likely won’t win the regular season title, but has a good chance at a first round bye in the Big Ten Tournament. The Wolverines have games left at Illinois and at Penn State.
Top 50 RPI: 7-5
Ohio State is limping their way into the post-season. The Buckeyes were once considered contenders for a number one seed in the NCAA Tournament, now they have lost three of their last five, including two of their last three at home. Ohio State beat Illinois at home during the week, but lost at home to Wisconsin on Sunday. Ohio State’s depth is becoming a major issue. The Buckeyes are probably out of the Big Ten title race, and are hoping to hang on for a first round bye in the Big Ten Tournament. Ohio State has games remaining at Northwestern and at Michigan State.
Top 50 RPI: 5-6
Wisconsin beat Minnesota at the Kohl Center on Tuesday night. The Badgers haven’t been their usual selves at home this season, but have been adequate on the road. Wisconsin has won three of their last four, after splitting their previous four games. Wisconsin finishes the season at home on Sunday against Illinois.
Top 50 RPI: 7-4
Indiana drilled Big Ten Champion Michigan State in Bloomington on Tuesday night, dominating them from start to finish. Indiana is 6-1 in their last seven games, winning by an average of 14.7 points per game. The Hoosiers are 4-6 in road and neutral court games. The Hoosiers finish the season with Purdue at Assembly Hall on Sunday.
Probably in: Purdue (19-10) (9-7).
Top 50 RPI: 6-7
Purdue has gotten hot lately, winning four of their last five games. Purdue beat Nebraska in West Lafayette and picked up a crucial road win against Michigan on Saturday. Purdue is in great shape for the NCAA Tournament and has a decent chance at a first round bye in the Big Ten Tournament. Purdue will move to a “lock” with a win over Penn State. The Boilers play Penn State and at Indiana this week.
Work to do: Northwestern (17-11) (7-9).
Top 50 RPI: 2-9
Northwestern split during the week, losing to Michigan at home, but winning at Penn State by one, thus avoiding disaster. The Wildcats are treading water right now, but have decent wins over LSU, Seton Hall, and Michigan State. The Wildcats will move to “probably in” with victories in their last two games. Northwestern concludes the season with games against Ohio State and at Iowa.
Things become a bit more precarious in the PAC-12 as California loses over the weekend. Washington and Arizona continue to make their case, but aren’t at the “lock” line yet. The PAC-12 could have as many as four teams or as few as one, come Selection Sunday.
Locks: California (23-7) (13-4).
Top 50 RPI: 0-3
California split their games this week, winning at Utah, but losing in Boulder to Colorado. The Golden Bears are now a half game behind Washington for the PAC-12 lead. California has won six of their last seven games. They have some decent wins, but no real marquee wins, as they have wins over Weber State, Oregon, Colorado, and Washington. California finishes with Stanford on the road.
Probably in: Washington (20-8) (13-3).
Top 50 RPI: 0-4
Washington continues to win, as they beat rival Washington State over the weekend in Pullman. The Huskies have won four straight and nine of their last ten. There is little they can do to earn themselves a NCAA Tournament spot, outside of winning their remaining games and a game or two in the PAC-12 Conference Tournament. Washington finishes with games at USC and at UCLA.
Work to do: Arizona (21-9) (12-5); Colorado (19-9) (11-5); Oregon (20-8) (11-5).
Top 50 RPI: 1-3
Arizona did what was necessary and swept the Los Angeles schools in Tucson over the weekend. The Wildcats are now one game behind California, and can overtake the Golden Bears for second place with a win, and a California and Oregon loss. Arizona still has a weak non-conference schedule to contend with, but they do have wins over New Mexico State and California. The Wildcats need to win their remaining regular season game and win at least one game in the PAC-12 Conference Tournament to feel comfortable. Arizona completes their regular season at Arizona State.
Top 50 RPI: 1-3
Colorado has a number of problems: 5-7 on road and neutral courts, 1-3 against the RPI top 50, and an RPI over 70. The Buffs are 3-2 against RPIs 51-100, though, and they are 14-2 at home. Colorado lost at home to Stanford but picked up a huge win over California. The Buffaloes are in okay shape, and that win over California was crucial. Still, the RPI and SOS are awful. Colorado needs to win their remaining games and win at least two in the PAC-12 Conference Tournament. Colorado finishes with games at Oregon and at Oregon State.
Top 50 RPI: 0-4
Oregon played once this week, but made the most of it, edging Oregon State in Corvallis to split the season series. A loss to the Beavers would likely have knocked the Ducks out of the NCAA Tournament conversation. Oregon has won four of their last five games, and is in better shape than Arizona and Colorado regarding their RPI. Oregon has no great wins though, as they were swept by California; they have wins over Arizona and Washington. Oregon concludes with the PAC-12 newcomers, Colorado and Utah, coming to Eugene.
We’re a bit concerned about the Gators, as they have lost four of their last seven, including losses to Georgia and Tennessee. If Florida wants to be the number two seed in the conference tournament, they need to beat Kentucky – at least its away from Rupp Arena. By contrast, Vanderbilt gets Tennessee. The Vols have played well, but would you rather play Tennessee or Kentucky? Exactly.
Locks: Kentucky (28-1) (14-0); Vanderbilt (21-9) (10-5).
Top 50 RPI: 7-1
Kentucky has wrapped up the SEC regular season title with their play this week; they will be the top seed in the SEC Conference Tournament and, likely, the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats won tough games at Mississippi State and home to Vanderbilt during the week. Kentucky has won 20 straight and hasn’t lost at home under Coach John Calipari, ever. Kentucky closes with games against Georgia and at Florida.
Top 50 RPI: 4-4
Vanderbilt pulled even with the Gators after beating Florida on Tuesday night. The Commodores have won four of their last five, by an average of 14 points per game. Vanderbilt closes out the regular season at Thompson-Boling Arena, against Tennessee. The Commodores are 11-8 against the RPI top 100.
Probably in: Florida (22-8) (10-5).
Top 50 RPI: 3-4
Florida has a chance to nail down the number two seed, but lost at Memorial Gym on Tuesday night to Vanderbilt. Instead, the Gators will drop down to “probably in”, based on their recent play, not their entire profile. Now the Gators will need to beat Kentucky in order to have a shot at a two seed in the SEC Conference Tournament. Florida closes with a home game against Kentucky, at the Stephen O’Connell Center on Sunday.
Work to do: Alabama (19-9) (8-6); Tennessee (16-13) (8-6); Ole Miss (17-12) (7-8); Mississippi State (19-10) (6-8).
Top 50 RPI: 2-5
Alabama is in much better shape than they were a week ago. With wins over Auburn and Mississippi State, the Tide are poised to move to the “probably in” line. Still, we aren’t ready to make the move, as trouble is waiting. Alabama is 4-5 on the road and is 2-5 against the RPI top 50. If Alabama beats Auburn, we will move the Tide up. They will need at least one win in the SEC Conference Tournament to officially seal things up. The Tide have games remaining against Auburn and at Ole Miss.
Top 50 RPI: 3-7
Tennessee is here primarily on their conference schedule. If you ignore their non-conference games, the Vols would probably be in the NCAA Tournament, but they have losses to Oakland, Austin Peay, and Charleston. The Volunteers only bad loss in conference play is to Georgia, and they do have wins over Connecticut and Florida (twice). Tennessee is 5-9 against the RPI top 100 and is 3-8 on the road. The Vols beat Ole Miss and South Carolina during the week. Tennessee has quite a bit of work to do, considering their 13 losses – they need to win their remaining regular season games and need to win at least two games in the SEC Conference Tournament. Tennessee has games remaining at LSU and home to Vanderbilt. A loss in either one will eliminate the Vols.
Top 50 RPI: 1-7
We are temporarily putting the Rebels back on the Watch, simply because they have an outside chance at a first round bye in the SEC Tournament. If you ask us, we would think playing in the first round would help a bubble team, giving them an extra win. Ole Miss has won back-to-back games over SEC West opponents, including a win on Tuesday night at Arkansas, sweeping the Razorbacks. We would be remiss if we didn’t note that Ole Miss has some awful losses – LSU and Auburn – but they do have a few decent wins – Miami (FL) and Mississippi State. The Rebels did challenge themselves in non-conference by also scheduling Marquette, Southern Miss, Middle Tennessee, and Dayton. We still can’t get over the Rebels’ record against the top 50 RPI. Ole Miss needs to win their remaining regular season game and at least need to make it to the SEC Conference Tournament semifinals, if not the finals. Ole Miss closes the regular season on Saturday afternoon, hosting Alabama at Tad Smith Coliseum.
Top 50 RPI: 3-4
Mississippi State’s NCAA Tournament chances are on life support at the moment. The Bulldogs have lost five straight, losing to Kentucky and at Alabama during the week. Their schedule gets easier, but it doesn’t mask the fact they have only won two of their last eight. Mississippi State needs to win their remaining games and at least two SEC Conference Tournament games. A loss in either of their final two regular season games will eliminate the Bulldogs. Mississippi State finishes with games at South Carolina and home to Arkansas.
Locks: Temple (22-6) (11-3).
Top 50 RPI: 4-2
If the Atlantic 10 gets three bids, they can thank Temple. The Owls won at La Salle, but lost at St. Joe’s over the weekend. Temple still maintains a one game lead over Saint Louis and holds the tiebreaker. A win in one of their two remaining regular season games will give them the A-10 title. Temple’s remaining schedule is against Massachusetts and at Fordham.
Probably in: Saint Louis (23-6) (11-4).
Top 50 RPI: 1-2
The Billikens took care of business on Tuesday night at Chaifetz Area, beating Xavier by 11. Saint Louis has won seven of their last eight, but the lone loss was a bad one – to Rhode Island. If Saint Louis wins this weekend, they will move to a “lock”. Otherwise, they will need to win a game or two in the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament. Saint Louis is 7-4 against the RPI top 100. Saint Louis finishes the season on Saturday at Duquesne, visiting the A.J. Palumbo Center.
Work to do: Xavier (18-11) (9-6); Saint Joseph’s (19-11) (9-6); Dayton (18-10) (8-6).
Top 50 RPI: 3-7
Ever since the Eruption in the Emerald City, Xavier is 10-11. X continued to be inconsistent on Tuesday night, losing by 11 at Saint Louis. Xavier finishes the season against Charlotte at the Cintas Center, on Saturday. Xavier must beat Charlotte in the finale and likely needs a run at least to the Atlantic 10 semifinals to have any shot at a NCAA Tournament bid.
Top 50 RPI: 2-5
St. Joe’s should have been eliminated with a loss to Richmond. Instead, the Hawks knock off conference leader Temple to remain in the discussion. Saint Joseph’s does have an RPI below 50 and is 7-8 on road and neutral courts, but is 2-5 against the RPI top 50. The Hawks are 7-8 against the RPI top 100. St. Joe’s has some work to do, and there isn’t much time left. They need to win their regular season game and two games in the A-10 Conference Tournament. Saint Joseph’s finishes with St. Bonaventure on the road.
Top 50 RPI: 3-4
Winners of four of their last five, the Flyers make their appearance on the Watch. Dayton won at Duquesne and home to Massachusetts during the week to put themselves in the discussion for a NCAA Tournament bid. Dayton now has wins over Alabama, Saint Louis, Temple, and Xavier. But they do have losses to Miami (OH), Buffalo (by 29), St. Bonvenature, Rhode Island, and Duquesne. Dayton needs to win their remaining two games and win at least two in the A-10 Conference tournament to have a legitimate shot. The Flyers finish with games at Richmond and home to George Washington.
Old Dominion’s loss to Drexel eliminates them from the Watch. If they make the CAA Conference Championship, we will re-add them. Right now, Drexel and VCU are in decent shape but need to avoid an early exit in the conference tournament. They would be wise to make the CAA Conference Championship. This is beginning to look like a two bid league.
Probably in: Drexel (25-5) (16-2); Virginia Commonwealth (25-6) (15-3).
Top 50 RPI: 0-2
Drexel is here based on winning the CAA regular season title. The Dragons in decent shape, if not for their awful RPI. The Dragons have beaten both Virginia Commonwealth and George Mason, holding the tiebreaker over those teams. Drexel has some flat out bad losses though, losing to Norfolk State, Delaware, and Georgia State. Drexel has won 17 straight, defeating James Madison and Old Dominion during the week. Drexel is 4-2 against the RPI top 100. Drexel needs to avoid an early loss in the CAA Conference Tournament – they need to win at least one, and probably two games. Drexel draws the winner of James Madison and NC Wilmington in the quarterfinals on Saturday.
Top 50 RPI: 1-2
VCU beat NC Wilmington and George Mason to take second place in the CAA. The Rams have won 14 of their last 15, but are going to need to pick up some wins between now and Selection Sunday because of their bad RPI. VCU is 10-3 on the road and 4-4 against teams in the RPI top 100. VCU will play the winner of Northeastern and William & Mary on Saturday. The Rams need to win at least one game, and probably need to beat George Mason again in order to lock up a spot. They do have decent wins over South Florida, Akron, Old Dominion (twice), and George Mason, but they do have a pair of bad losses to the Atlanta schools – Georgia Tech and Georgia State.
Work to do: George Mason (23-8) (14-4).
Top 50 RPI: 0-1
After winning 11 of their last 12, with an average margin of victory of 7.8 points per game, George Mason has lost two straight to Northeastern and VCU on the road this past week. The Patriots need a run to the CAA Conference Championship in order to have any shot now. George Mason is 2-4 against the RPI top 100. George Mason finished in third place and will draw the winner of Georgia State and Hofstra. Assuming they win that one on Saturday, they will likely face VCU on Sunday. Good luck.
Locks: Memphis (22-8) (12-3).
Top 50 RPI: 2-6
Memphis drilled UCF by 29 on Tuesday night at FedEx Forum. A loss for Southern Miss will assure the Tigers at least a share of the C-USA crown. Memphis has an RPI below 30, is 7-6 in road and neutral site games, but is 2-6 against the top 50 RPI. Not much can help to improve Memphis’s record against the top 50 RPI, other than Xavier, Marshall, and UCF winning some games. Memphis is 9-7 against the RPI top 100. Memphis finishes at Tulsa on Saturday, in the Donald Reynolds Center.
Probably in: Southern Miss (23-6) (10-4).
Top 50 RPI: 3-2
Southern Miss had a chance to lock up a NCAA Tournament bid, but lost to UTEP during the week. They rebounded by beating Rice over the weekend. The Golden Eagles are in great shape, looking at their RPI and record against the top 50 RPI. USM is 9-6 in road and neutral site games. USM has games remaining against SMU and at Marshall. Southern Miss is 9-3 against the RPI top 100. A win against both SMU and Marshall will lock up a bid for the Golden Eagles.
Work to do: Tulsa (17-11) (10-4); Marshall (17-11) (8-6).
Top 50 RPI: 0-5
Tulsa picked up a pair of wins against Rice and at Tulane to remain in the discussion for the top spot in the C-USA Conference Tournament. Still, the Golden Hurricane have been living a charmed life, as they only play Memphis, USM, and UCF once each. Tulsa has awful losses to Oklahoma State, Arizona State, Houston, and SMU. They do have some decent wins against Texas-Arlington, TCU, UCF, and Marshall, though. Tulsa plays at UAB and Memphis during the week. The Golden Hurricane need to win both and win at least two games in the conference tournament.
Top 50 RPI: 1-5
Marshall has won three of their last four. Marshall beat Houston during the week, but lost to Memphis. They are 1-5 against the top four in Conference USA (7-1 against the rest). Marshall’s remaining schedule is at East Carolina and Southern Miss. If Marshall wins out and wins at least two games in the CUSA Conference Tournament, they have a legitimate shot to make the NCAA Tournament. Marshall is 4-9 against the RPI top 100.
Locks: Wichita State (26-4) (16-2); Creighton (25-5) (14-4).
Top 50 RPI: 2-3
Wichita State scored a pair of wins against Illinois State and Drake this past week. Wichita State is 2-3 against the top 50 RPI, has won eight straight, and 16 of their last 17. The Shockers are also a gaudy 10-1 on the road. The Shockers are 6-3 against the RPI top 100. Wichita State plays the winner of Indiana State and Southern Illinois on Friday.
Top 50 RPI: 4-2
Creighton is on a five game winning streak, having beaten Evansville and Indiana State to extend that streak. The Jays won each game by one point – Creighton is 11-3 in games decided by single digits. Their SOS, which is above 100, doesn’t help, but otherwise they are in good shape. Creighton is 10-3 on the road and is 4-2 against top 50 RPI teams. Creighton is 6-3 against the RPI top 100. The Jays are the two seed in the MVC Conference Tournament and will draw the winner of Drake and Bradley on Friday.
Probably in: None.
Work to do: None.
The phrase “the wacky WAC” used to refer to the high scoring and unpredictable results in WAC football games. That phrase could be used in the Mountain West, considering most of the teams used to be WAC conference members and considering any team can lose on any given day. We’re comfortable saying the Mountain West will get at least three bids, maybe as many as four?
Locks: San Diego State (22-6) (8-4); UNLV (24-6) (8-4); New Mexico (22-6) (8-4).
San Diego State
Top 50 RPI: 5-5
The Aztecs ended their three game slide with wins over Wyoming and Colorado State during the week. In the midst of a three-way tie for first, SDSU holds the tiebreaker based on their mark against TCU (1-0) – both UNLV and New Mexico have losses to the Horned Frogs. San Diego State closes with games at Boise State and at TCU this week. San Diego State is 5-4 on road and neutral courts.
Top 50 RPI: 5-4
UNLV avoided being dropped down, by beating Boise State and Air Force during the week. The Rebels are in a three-way tie for first, holding the second place spot based on their record against Colorado State (1-1, New Mexico is 0-1 against the Rams). The Rebels are still in good shape for the NCAA Tournament, especially with their RPI and wins against the top 50 RPI. UNLV closes with games at Colorado State and home to Wyoming.
Top 50 RPI: 4-3
As hot as the Lobos were coming into the week, they came back to earth a bit with losses to Colorado State and TCU, both on the road. The Lobos find themselves in the three position based on losing tiebreakers to San Diego State and UNLV. New Mexico finishes with games against Air Force and Boise State at home. The Lobos need to win both of those to avoid being dropped down.
Probably in: None.
Work to do: Colorado State (17-10) (6-6).
Top 50 RPI: 2-5
Colorado State made a splash in the “probably in” category last week, but falls back to the “work to do” category this week. The Rams beat New Mexico during the week, but lost at San Diego State over the weekend. Colorado State is 6-9 against the RPI top 100. The Rams are in a dangerous area, as they need to win both of their remaining games and at least one in the Mountain West Conference Tournament. Colorado State has games remaining against UNLV and at Air Force. Anything less will require the automatic bid, on UNLV’s home floor.
Saint Mary’s won the regular season crown, snapping Gonzaga’s streak. Still, both teams should make the NCAA Tournament. BYU is in decent shape as well, while Loyola Marymount falls off the Watch with a loss to San Diego. If the conference will get four bids, its going to have to come from the top half of the bracket – from San Francisco or Loyola Marymount.
Locks: Saint Mary’s (25-5) (14-2); Gonzaga (24-5) (13-3).
Top 50 RPI: 3-3
Saint Mary’s locked up the WCC regular season crown with wins over Portland and San Francisco, both on the road, this past week. The Gaels are 5-4 against the RPI top 100. The Gaels won’t play again until Saturday when they will face the winner of Portland/Santa Clara/San Francisco/Loyola Marymount. Saint Mary’s needs to win two games to win the WCC’s automatic bid.
Top 50 RPI: 3-2
Gonzaga beat Longwood at The Kennel on Monday night in a game that was never in doubt. Gonzaga will play the winner of San Diego/Pepperdine/Brigham Young on Saturday at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. They will need to win Saturday and next Monday in order to earn the WCC’s automatic bid.
Probably in: Brigham Young (24-7) (12-4).
Top 50 RPI: 1-5
Brigham Young lost at Gonzaga during the week, but won against Portland to earn a bye in the WCC Conference Tournament. The Cougars have won six of their last seven. They have wins over Nevada, Oregon, Weber State, and Gonzaga to date. BYU is 5-5 against the RPI top 100. Brigham Young plays the winner of San Diego and Pepperdine. They clearly need to win that one. A win against Gonzaga would lock up a bid, but probably isn’t necessary.
Work to do: None.
Murray State is the top seed in the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament, while Harvard is a precarious position. Assuming Harvard and Pennsylvania win out, the Crimson will be in the same position as last year, needing an extra game to earn the Ivy League automatic bid. Will Harvard end up in the same fate as last year or will they breakthrough to the NCAA Tournament this season?
Locks: Murray State (28-1) (15-1 Ohio Valley).
Top 50 RPI: 3-0
Murray State got revenge against Tennessee State last week, winning on the road by 18. The Racers also beat Tennessee Tech. Murray State needs two wins to lock up the automatic bid. They are probably win, but its best to not leave that up to the Selection Committee. Murray State will play the winner of SE Missouri State/Eastern Kentucky/Tennessee Tech.
Probably in: Nevada (23-5) (11-1 WAC).
Nevada picked up a win at Fresno State during the week. The Wolfpack are in decent shape for the NCAA Tournament. Nevada should win their remaining two games and make the WAC Conference Finals, if they want to lock up their bid. Nevada finishes with New Mexico State and Louisiana Tech at home. The Wolfpack have at least a share of the WAC regular season title.
Work to do: Belmont (24-7) (16-2 Atlantic Sun); Harvard (24-4) (10-2 Ivy); Long Beach State (21-7) (14-0 Big West); Oral Roberts (26-5) (17-1 Summit).
With wins against Kennesaw State and Mercer on the road, Belmont is the Atlantic Sun’s top seed. Harvard let Penn back into the mix with their loss to the Quakers over the weekend. A win would have all but locked up a NCAA Tournament bid. Now, Harvard needs to win out and needs a Penn loss to avoid a 15th game against an Ivy League opponent. Long Beach State has an RPI of 39, but is 0-6 against the RPI top 50. Wins against UC Santa Barbara and UC Riverside locked up the regular season title for the 49ers. The committee will be mindful that Long Beach State played a competitive schedule, including games against Pittsburgh, San Diego State, Montana, Louisville, Kansas, North Carolina, Xavier, and Kansas State. Long Beach State probably needs to win out until the conference finals in order to make the NCAA Tournament. What if Oral Roberts had beaten West Virginia? The Golden Eagles lost by seven at West Virginia to begin the year. Oral Roberts is 4-3 against the RPI top 100, and has an RPI of 46. If Oral Roberts makes the Summit League Conference Championship, they will have a strong argument for an at-large bid. The Golden Eagles have won 19 of their last 20, beating Southern Utah during the week. Weber State beat Northern Colorado during the past week.