NCAA Tournament Watch: March 9, 2012 Bubble Watch

by Maize_in_Spartyland

 

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 games through March 8th.

UPDATED 3/9/2012

Auto: 15

Locks: 29

Probably in: 7

Work to do: 16

Total: 51

Major Conferences

ACC

North Carolina’s thrashing of Duke at Cameron Indoor gives the Tar Heels the ACC Regular Season Title. North Carolina and Florida State will be the two and three seeds, respectively. The middle of the ACC will have some work to do in the upcoming conference tournament.

 

Locks: North Carolina (27-4) (14-2); Duke (26-5) (13-3); Florida State (21-9) (12-4).

North Carolina

RPI: 3

SOS: 5

Top 50 RPI: 8-4

North Carolina closed out the season with wins over Maryland and at Duke during this past week. The Tar Heels wrapped up the regular season title with an 18-point thrashing of rival Duke, in Durham. North Carolina has won seven straight and 12 of their last 13, dating back to a 90-57 beat down at the hands of Florida State. North Carolina will play on Friday against Maryland.

Duke

RPI: 4

SOS: 2

Top 50 RPI: 7-5

Duke scraped by Wake Forest during the week but got drilled at home, on Senior Day, against North Carolina. Duke closed the season winning seven of their last eight, but only two of those wins came by double digits. Duke will draws Virginia Tech on Friday in Atlanta.

Florida State

RPI: 21

SOS: 11

Top 50 RPI: 5-6

After losing both of their games a week ago, Florida State beat Virginia and Clemson this past week, solidifying their spot as the third place team in the ACC. The Seminoles have beaten North Carolina and Duke, but have questionable losses to Clemson and Boston College. Florida State will draw Miami (FL) on Friday.

Probably in: Virginia (22-8) (9-7).

Virginia

RPI: 40

SOS: 86

Top 50 RPI: 2-5

Virginia didn’t do anything to move up a line, rather, bubble teams lost. Virginia’s last four games have been decided by a combined 11 points (2-2). The Cavaliers lost at home to Florida State during the week, but beat Maryland in overtime on Sunday. Virginia has lost four of their last seven and really hasn’t looked like the team that started the season 14-1. Further, outside of the win against Michigan, the Cavs best win is against Miami (FL), and that was on January 7th. Virginia would benefit from winning at least one game in the ACC Tournament, if not two. Virginia draws the four seed and will face North Carolina State.

Work to do: North Carolina State (21-11) (9-7); Miami (FL) (19-11) (9-7).

North Carolina State

RPI: 58

SOS: 38

Top 50 RPI: 2-8

North Carolina State remains here based on a pair of wins during the week, beating Miami (FL) and Virginia Tech. The Wolfpack didn’t look great in either game, but at this time of the year they just need wins. North Carolina State beat Boston College on Thursday, by 21. NC State does have wins over NC Asheville (Big South Conference Tournament Champion), Texas, and Miami (FL) (twice). NC State plays Virginia on Friday; a win puts the Wolfpack in, a loss keeps them on the bubble.

Miami (FL)

RPI: 50

SOS: 48

Top 50 RPI: 2-8

Miami (FL) split their games this week, losing at North Carolina State by four, but winning at home on Senior Day against Boston College on Saturday. The Hurricanes have won four of their last six and seven of their last eleven. They do have wins over Duke and Florida State, but losses to Mississippi, North Carolina State (twice), and Maryland. Miami (FL) has no quality wins in non-conference, either. The Hurricanes drew the number six spot in the ACC Tournament, beating Georgia Tech on Thursday. Miami (FL) would solidify their spot in the Big Dance with a win over Florida State.

Big XII

The Big XII wrapped up their regular season on Saturday, with Kansas earning the top spot. The Jayhawks are in excellent shape to be a number one seed in the NCAA Tournament. Baylor’s win over Kansas State on Thursday sets up a semifinal match with Kansas. A win for the Bears likely guarantees them no worse than a three see in the NCAA Tournament.

Locks: Kansas (27-5) (16-2); Missouri (28-4) (14-4); Iowa State (22-10) (12-6); Baylor (26-6) (12-6).

Kansas

RPI: 6

SOS: 16

Top 50 RPI: 10-4

Kansas beat Oklahoma State and Texas during the week, clinching the top spot in the conference tournament, and winning the league by two games over Missouri. Kansas has won nine straight. Kansas will draw Baylor on Friday after disposing of Texas A&M on Thursday.

Missouri

RPI: 17

SOS: 109

Top 50 RPI: 7-3

After a controversial loss to Kansas in Lawrence, Missouri rebounded and defeated Iowa State and Texas Tech during the week. The Tigers have looked good all year long, despite back-to-back losses to the Kansas schools. Missouri beat Oklahoma State on Thursday and will face Iowa State on Friday.

Iowa State

RPI: 32

SOS: 36

Top 50 RPI: 4-5

Iowa State has been somewhat of a surprise this season, thriving off of transfers, especially Royce White (Minnesota) and Chris Allen (Michigan State). The Cyclones lost at Missouri during the week, but beat Baylor. Iowa State’s win over Baylor earned them the three seed in the Big XII Tournament. Iowa State has won four of their last six games. They suffered a first round upset to Texas, but are still in great shape to make the NCAA Tournament. The Cyclones will likely be between the 7 and 10 lines, though.

Baylor

RPI: 9

SOS: 20

Top 50 RPI: 7-6

After starting the season 17-0, the Bears went 8-6 down the stretch, including being swept by Kansas and Missouri. Baylor beat Texas Tech during the week, but lost at Iowa State. Baylor has won four of their last five, but lost three of four prior to that. So far Baylor has been good in the Big XII Tournament, beating five-seeded Kansas State on Thursday. They play Kansas on Friday, who they were swept by in the regular season.

Probably in: Kansas State (21-10) (10-8); Texas (20-12) (9-9).

Kansas State

RPI: 42

SOS: 54

Top 50 RPI: 5-7

Kansas State closed the season winning four of their last five games, including wins over Baylor and Missouri. Kansas State beat Texas A&M and Oklahoma State last week. Kansas State lost to Baylor by eight on Thursday in the Big XII Tournament. It’s a tough loss for Kansas State, but they will still be in the field of 68. Don’t be surprised if the Wildcats are below the eight line though.

Texas

RPI: 44

SOS: 23

Top 50 RPI: 4-9

Texas has probably done enough to warrant a NCAA Tournament bid, getting their 20th win by beating Iowa State in the Big 12 Conference Tournament. The ‘Horns have two bad losses – to Oregon State and Oklahoma State – and have decent wins over UCLA, Temple, Iowa State (twice), and Kansas State. But Texas has no marquee wins and are 5-9 on games played at road and neutral courts. Texas plays Missouri on Friday.

Work to do: None.

Big East

Syracuse wrapped up the regular season title and along with it, the most wins ever in the Big East Conference. We’re pretty confident in saying Seton Hall won’t be in the NCAA Tournament when the bracket is unveiled on Sunday – they needed to beat Louisville and didn’t get the job done. Only South Florida and West Virginia have some work to do at this point – the rest of the Big East teams are likely in.

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Locks: Syracuse (31-1) (17-1); Marquette (25-7) (14-4); Notre Dame (22-10) (13-5); Cincinnati (23-9) (12-6); Georgetown (23-8) (12-6); Louisville (24-9) (10-6).

Syracuse

RPI: 1

SOS: 31

Top 50 RPI: 11-1

Syracuse beat Connecticut and Louisville last week to win the Big East by three games. 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. The Orange have won 11 straight games. Syracuse faces Cincinnati in the semifinals on Friday, after beating Connecticut on Thursday.

Marquette

RPI: 8

SOS: 17

Top 50 RPI: 7-5

Marquette lost at Cincinnati during the week, but took care of business against Georgetown on Saturday, avenging an early season loss, and beating the Hoyas by 14. Marquette enters the Big East Tournament winning six of their last seven games. Marquette lost to Louisville on Thursday. The game was never really close, as the Cards took charge early. Still, Marquette will be a protected seed, they just may be placed out of their area for the opening rounds.

Notre Dame

RPI: 36

SOS: 50

Top 50 RPI: 8-5

Notre Dame started the season 3-3 before reeling off nine straight Big East wins. The Irish close the season losers of two of their last three. After being curb-stomped at Georgetown during the week, Notre Dame rebounded to beat Providence at home on Friday. The Irish entered the post-season as the three seed in the Big East Tournament; Notre Dame beat USF in overtime and will face Louisville on Friday evening.

Cincinnati

RPI: 59

SOS: 98

Top 50 RPI: 6-5

Cincinnati’s non-conference slate leaves a lot to be desired – a loss to Presbyterian, seriously? But the Bearcats have wins over Notre Dame, Georgetown, Connecticut, Seton Hall, Louisville, and Marquette. With wins over Marquette and Villanova last week, the Bearcats are moved to a lock. Cincinnati draws the four spot in the Big East Tournament, finishing ahead of Georgetown and South Florida, whom the Bearcats tied. Cincinnati beat Georgetown on Thursday in a close one. The Bearcats will face Syracuse on Friday, having an excellent shot to pad their tournament profile and improve their seed.

Georgetown

RPI: 14

SOS: 9

Top 50 RPI: 8-4

Georgetown finishes the season winning four of their last six. A crucial loss to Marquette on Saturday dropped Georgetown into a three-way tie with Cincinnati and South Florida for fourth. The Hoyas finish behind Cincinnati, due to tiebreakers, but in front of South Florida. Georgetown beat Notre Dame during the week. Georgetown beat Pittsburgh on Wednesday, but lost to Cincinnati on Thursday. Georgetown is at risk of falling below the protected seed line.

Louisville

RPI: 18

SOS: 8

Top 50 RPI: 6-7

A pair of losses for Louisville drops the Cards to sole possession of seventh place, losing to South Florida and at Syracuse last week. Louisville has lost four of their last six, with their only wins over DePaul in overtime and by three against Pittsburgh. Louisville is solidly in the NCAA Tournament, but their seeding is getting worse. Louisville is making a case to improve their seed, with wins of Seton Hall and Marquette so far in the Big East Tournament. The Cards will draw Notre Dame on Friday.

Probably in: Connecticut (20-13) (8-10).

Connecticut

RPI: 31

SOS: 3

Top 50 RPI: 6-7

Connecticut has gone 5-6 without Coach Jim Calhoun this season. With Coach Calhoun, the Huskies are 15-7 and 3-4 in the Big East. Connecticut lost at lowly Providence during the week, but beat Pittsburgh to end the regular season. After starting the season 12-1, the Huskies have gone 6-11 down the stretch. The Huskies beat DePaul and West Virginia before falling to Syracuse on Thursday. Connecticut’s win over West Virginia moves them to “probably in”, but the Huskies could still draw a double-digit seed.

Work to do: South Florida (20-13) (12-6); West Virginia (19-13) (9-9); Seton Hall (20-12) (8-10).

South Florida

RPI: 43

SOS: 22

Top 50 RPI: 1-10

South Florida picked up a huge road win against Louisville during the week, but lost at home to West Virginia on Saturday. A win against the Mountaineers would likely have put the Bulls in the NCAA Tournament, but they will still have work to do. The Bulls finished the regular season winning six of their last eight. USF has wins against Seton Hall, Pittsburgh (twice), Cincinnati, and Louisville, but they do have losses to Old Dominion, Penn State, and Auburn. South Florida beat Villanova on Wednesday, but fell to Notre Dame in overtime on Thursday. USF finished fourth, but 7 of their 12 wins came against the bottom four teams in the Big East. The Bulls were 1-3 against the top four in the Big East, during the regular season, with an average margin of defeat by 9.5 points. A lot of experts think USF is in – the loss to Notre Dame was likely the final straw.

West Virginia

RPI: 49

SOS: 13

Top 50 RPI: 4-8

West Virginia picked up a pair of wins last week, beating DePaul and fellow bubble team South Florida. The Mountaineers aren’t out of trouble yet, but look to have stabilized things, after losing seven of nine. West Virginia’s loss to Connecticut leaves them in trouble. The Mountaineers are probably in the NCAA Tournament, based on the strong showing by the Big East, but they could be in Dayton on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Seton Hall

RPI: 60

SOS: 47

Top 50 RPI: 4-8

Seton Hall is in serious trouble. The Pirates lost to Rutgers and at DePaul last week, damaging their NCAA Tournament profile. They rebounded by beating Providence in the first round of the Big East Tournament on Tuesday, but lost to Louisville on Wednesday. Seton Hall has lost four of their last six games. Since January 13th, Seton Hall is 5-10. Seton Hall is behind West Virginia and Connecticut in terms of pecking order for the NCAA Tournament. The Pirates needed to beat Louisville and now they are likely headed to the NIT.

Big Ten

Michigan State’s home loss to Ohio State and Michigan’s victory over Penn State means that Michigan State, Michigan, and Ohio State will share the Big Ten title, being seeded in that exact order. Northwestern is likely out of the NCAA Tournament – their profile simply cannot sustain a loss to Minnesota, especially when they were 1-10 against the RPI 1-50.

Locks: Michigan State (24-7) (13-5); Michigan (23-8) (13-5); Ohio State (25-6) (13-5); Wisconsin (23-8) (12-6); Indiana (25-7) (11-7); Purdue (21-11) (10-8).

Michigan State

RPI: 5

SOS: 1

Top 50 RPI: 9-6

Michigan State wrapped up the top seed in the Big Ten Tournament last weekend, but dropped a pair of decisions to Indiana and Ohio State during the week, the latter of which ended the Spartans’ home winning streak. Still, Michigan State is in great shape for a protected seed, but may have lost the chance to score a number one seed in the NCAA Tournament. Michigan State will play Iowa on Friday.

Michigan

RPI: 12

SOS: 14

Top 50 RPI: 9-6

The Wolverines won roadies against Illinois and Penn State this past week. Michigan has won six of their last seven games, putting them in excellent position for a protected seed in the NCAA Tournament. Michigan’s win on Sunday in Happy Valley assured them of a two seed in the Big Ten Tournament. Michigan earned a share of the Big Ten title with Ohio State’s win at Michigan State on Sunday. The Wolverines will play on Friday, drawing Minnesota.

Ohio State

RPI: 7

SOS: 12

Top 50 RPI: 9-5

Ohio State closed the Big Ten slate strong, with a pair of road wins against Northwestern and Michigan State during the week, earning a share of the Big Ten title and the third seed in the Big Ten Tournament, to be played in Indianapolis, starting on Thursday. The Buckeyes will draw Purdue.

Wisconsin

RPI: 22

SOS: 25

Top 50 RPI: 6-6

After losing three straight games in early in the Big Ten schedule, Wisconsin has won 11 of their last 14 games. Only one of those three losses down the stretch was by double digits – at Michigan State. Wisconsin beat Minnesota and Illinois this past week to lock up a first round bye. Wisconsin plays on Friday, drawing Indiana.

Indiana

RPI: 10

SOS: 32

Top 50 RPI: 7-4

Like Wisconsin, Indiana struggled beginning conference play, starting 3-4. Indiana went 9-3 down the stretch, including a season sweep of in-state rival Purdue. Indiana also beat Michigan State during the week. Despite the Hoosiers’ strong finish, Indiana had to play on day one of the Big Ten Tournament. Indiana beat last place Penn State, but lost Verdell Jones III in the process, to a knee injury. The Hoosiers play Wisconsin on Friday.

Purdue

RPI: 39

SOS: 33

Top 50 RPI: 4-8

Purdue split their games this week, beating Penn State, but falling to Indiana. Indiana swept Purdue this season. Purdue beat Nebraska handily, 79-61 on Thursday. The win for Purdue keeps them as a lock and gives them a date with Ohio State, on Friday.

Probably in: None.

Work to do: Northwestern (18-13) (8-10).

Northwestern

RPI: 53

SOS: 10

Top 50 RPI: 1-10

Northwestern lost a heartbreaker at home to Ohio State during the week, but won at Iowa over the weekend. The split keeps Northwestern on the “work to do” line, for now, but they are clearly going to need to win a few in the Big Ten Tournament. The Wildcats have lost four of their last seven and are 2-10 against potential NCAA Tournament teams. Northwestern lost in overtime to Minnesota on Thursday. Northwestern played in three overtime games this season, going 0-3 in them; in games that were completed in regulation, the Wildcats were 10-5 in those single digit teams (4-4 in conference). Northwestern is likely headed to the NIT, barring a meltdown by other bubble teams.

PAC-12

California continues to be the class of the PAC-12, while Washington’s case to be included in the NCAA Tournament continues to become weaker and weaker. The PAC-12 may not even get three bids with Washington being bounced in the quarterfinals. Its virtually unprecedented for a major six regular season conference champion, then again, major six conferences haven’t been this weak. Arizona scored a win over UCLA and a date with Oregon State. The Wildcats need the auto bid to get in, though. Oregon bit the dust with a loss to Colorado in the quarterfinals.

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Locks: None.

Probably in: None.

Work to do: Washington (21-10) (14-4); California (24-8) (13-5).

Washington

RPI: 67

SOS: 89

Top 50 RPI: 0-5

Based on their play down the stretch, you would think the Huskies were a lock to be in the NCAA Tournament – Washington is 12-4 in their last 16 games. Washington has a triot of bad losses – to South Dakota State, UCLA, and Oregon State. Problem is Washington hasn’t beaten anyone. Their best win is against Oregon. Washington’s lack of good wins mean they need to win at least two in the PAC-12. Washington fell to Oregon State in the quarterfinals of the PAC-12 Conference Tournament. The loss to the Beavers puts the Huskies in horrible shape, likely leaving them NIT-bound.

California

RPI: 34

SOS: 88

Top 50 RPI: 0-3

California played one game this past week. The task was simple – win and the Golden Bears win the regular season. Cal lost to their rivals, falling to Stanford by five in the Bay. Now California will be the number two seed in the PAC-12 Tournament and lost any standing they previously had. California is probably in the best shape of all PAC-12 teams for an at-large bid, but can’t afford anymore slip ups. California avenged a loss in the Bay last week, by narrowly beating rival Stanford by single digits in Los Angeles. California will play Colorado on Friday. A win on Friday will move the Golden Bears to “probably in”.

 

SEC

Kentucky completes a perfect record in SEC play, finishing six games ahead of Tennessee, Vanderbilt, and Florida. The trio finished 10-6 in the SEC after Tennessee’s win over Vanderbilt and Florida’s loss to Kentucky. Because Tennessee was 3-1 against Vanderbilt and Florida, they will be the two seed. Vanderbilt was 2-2 against the others, taking the three seed and Florida will be the four seed based on a 1-3 mark against the others. Mississippi State’s opening round loss to Georgia eliminates them.

Locks: Kentucky (30-1) (16-0); Vanderbilt (21-10) (10-6).

Kentucky

RPI: 2

SOS: 40

Top 50 RPI: 8-1

Kentucky has won 22 straight games since a one-point loss at Indiana. Kentucky picked up a pair of wins over Georgia and Florida last week, completing a perfect mark in the SEC. Kentucky will be the top seed in the SEC Tournament. They will play on Friday against LSU.

Vanderbilt

RPI: 26

SOS: 6

Top 50 RPI: 4-4

Vanderbilt beat Florida during the week, but fell at rival Tennessee on Saturday. Vanderbilt ends up in a three-way tie for second place. Vanderbilt will be the third seed in the SEC Conference Tournament, behind Kentucky and Tennessee. The Commodores have won four of their last six, but losses to Kentucky and Tennessee allowed the Vols to move ahead of their in-state rival. Vanderbilt will play on Friday against Georgia.

Probably in: Florida (22-9) (10-6).

Florida

RPI: 27

SOS: 37

Top 50 RPI: 3-5

Florida lost to Vanderbilt and Kentucky this past week, falling into a tie with Vanderbilt and Tennessee. Florida has now lost three straight and five of their last eight. They will be the four seed in the SEC Tournament and will play Alabama. If Florida wants to have any shot at a protected seed, they need to win on Friday and play close, if not win, on Saturday (likely against Kentucky).

Work to do: Tennessee (18-13) (10-6); Alabama (20-10) (9-7); Ole Miss (18-12) (8-8).

Tennessee

RPI: 74

SOS: 30

Top 50 RPI: 4-7

Tennessee will be an interesting case come Selection Sunday. The Vols have freshman Jarnell Stokes to thank if they hear their named called next Sunday. Tennessee is 9-5 with Stokes, compared with 9-8 without him. Make no mistake, Tennessee has some bad losses – Oakland, Austin Peay, Charleston, and Georgia – but the Vols have beaten NC Asheville (Big South Regular Season and Tournament Champions), Florida (twice), Connecticut, and Vanderbilt. With wins over LSU and Vanderbilt this past week, Tennessee has won eight of their last nine and four straight.  The Vols are 4-10 in road and neutral site games; they need to improve that. Tennessee will be the two seed in the SEC Conference Tournament and will draw Ole Miss. The Vols will need to win two to be comfortably in the NCAA Tournament.

Alabama

RPI: 33

SOS: 28

Top 50 RPI: 4-6

Alabama’s four game winning streak ended on Sunday, falling to Ole Miss by nine in Oxford. Alabama beat Auburn during the week. The Tide have won seven of their last ten games and are in the best shape for an at large bid of teams in this grouping. Alabama has wins over Wichita State, Purdue, Virginia Commonwealth, and Detroit. Problem is, Alabama lost to Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Florida – all of the top SEC teams. Alabama is 7-7 on road and neutral floors. Alabama beat South Carolina on Thursday – a loss they needed to avoid. The Crimson Tide play Florida on Friday in the quarterfinals.

Ole Miss

RPI: 51

SOS: 40

Top 50 RPI: 2-6

Frankly, the Rebels are going to need to make the SEC Conference Championship in order to have a legitimate argument for an at-large bid. But based on the way the SEC Tournament sets up, the task is do-able. The Rebels beat Arkansas and Alabama during the past week to continue their winning streak. Ole Miss has won three straight after losing five of their previous six. The Rebels have wins over Miami (FL), Mississippi State, and Alabama, but losses to Middle Tennessee, LSU, and Auburn. The Rebels face Tennessee in the second round, after beating Auburn on Thursday. Ole Miss will need to win Friday and their semifinal game to maintain a spot on the Watch.

Mid-Major Conferences

Atlantic 10

Temple is the top seed in the Atlantic 10 Tournament and won’t play until Friday. Saint Louis, Xavier, and St. Bonaventure enjoy the same rest, while Tournament contenders Dayton and Saint Joseph’s play on Tuesday. Saint Louis moved to a lock with wins over Xavier and Duquesne during the week.

Locks: Temple (24-6) (13-3); Saint Louis (24-6) (12-4).

Temple

RPI: 11

SOS: 56

Top 50 RPI: 3-1

Temple beat Massachusetts and Fordham this past week to wrap up the Atlantic 10 regular season crown by one game over Saint Louis. The Owls have won 13 of their last 14 games, with the lone loss to bubble team Saint Joseph’s. Temple will play on Friday against Massachusetts.

Saint Louis

RPI: 29

SOS: 101

Top 50 RPI: 0-2

Coach Rick Majerus’s health is a concern, as he was hospitalized over the weekend, but the Billikens are in solid shape for the NCAA Tournament. Saint Louis picked up wins over Xavier and Duquesne during the week and have now won eight of their last nine. They now have wins over Washington, Xavier (twice), Dayton, and Saint Joseph’s. As the two seed, the Billikens will play on Friday against La Salle.

Probably in: None.

Work to do: Xavier (19-11) (10-6); Saint Joseph’s (20-12) (10-6).

Xavier

RPI: 57

SOS: 42

Top 50 RPI: 2-7

Ever since the Eruption in the Emerald City, Xavier is 11-11. X lost at Saint Louis during the week, but won at home against Charlotte. Xavier has some bad losses – Hawaii, La Salle, and Massachusetts – but does have some good wins – Vanderbilt, Purdue, Cincinnati, Saint Joseph’s, and Dayton. Still Xavier is going to need to shake off their recent play, 6-6 in their last 12. Xavier plays Dayton on Friday. Xavier needs to win their Friday game and probably needs to win their semifinal game, likely against Saint Louis, if they want to be NCAA Tournament-bound.

Saint Joseph’s

RPI: 55

SOS: 49

Top 50 RPI: 2-4

Saint Joseph’s suffered a setback during the week, as they lost at St. Bonaventure in two overtimes. The Hawks beat Charlotte on Tuesday night. St. Joe’s is 7-4 in their last eleven. They do have quality wins over Drexel, Creighton (Missouri Valley Conference Tournament Champions), Dayton, and Temple, but losses to American, Charlotte, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Richmond. The Hawks will need to beat St. Bonaventure to have a legitimate shot at a NCAA Tournament shot. Playing close against Temple, or beating the Owls, wouldn’t hurt, either.

Colonial

Old Dominion and George Mason were eliminated in the CAA semifinals. This seems like a good time to eliminate the Patriots (the Monarchs were eliminated with their regular season loss to Drexel). VCU’s win on Monday earns them the automatic bid, while Drexel will have to wait until Sunday to determine their fate. Our feeling? Drexel is in, but its’ going to be close.

Auto: Virginia Commonwealth (28-6) (15-3).

Virginia Commonwealth

RPI: 41

SOS: 175

Top 50 RPI: 1-1

VCU beat Northeastern, George Mason, and Drexel to win the CAA. The Rams are one of the hottest teams in the nation, boasting wins over South Florida, Akron, and George Mason (twice). VCU has won 16 of their last 17 games. The Rams are in great position to be a better seed than last season.

Locks: None.

Probably in: None.

Work to do: Drexel (27-6) (16-2).

Drexel

RPI: 65

SOS: 229

Top 50 RPI: 1-3

Drexel’s profile has been steadily improving and its almost impossible to imagine a scenario where the Dragons wouldn’t make the NCAA Tournament. That said, VCU is in better shape than the Dragons, and they beat Drexel on Monday to win the CAA auto bid. Drexel had beaten NC Wilmington and Old Dominion to make the CAA Championship. They have wins over Virginia Commonwealth, George Mason, Old Dominion (twice), and Cleveland State, but they have bad losses to Norfolk State, Delaware, and Georgia State. Drexel had won 19 straight games, the second longest winning streak in the nation, behind Kentucky, prior to Monday. They will clearly be on the bubble due to a subpar strength of schedule.

Conference USA

Conference USA is probably a two-bid league with a pair of losses by Tulsa during the week. Marshall has also been eliminated with a loss. UCF is looming, but will need to win on Wednesday, first.

Locks: Memphis (24-8) (13-3).

Memphis

RPI: 19

SOS: 24

Top 50 RPI: 4-6

Memphis picked up wins over UCF and Tulsa to win the outright Conference USA regular season title. Memphis hosts the Conference USA Tournament this week and will be the tournament’s top seed. Memphis beat UTEP on Thursday, drawing UCF/UAB on Friday. If Memphis wins the CUSA Tournament, they likely will avoid a possible matchup with a one seed next weekend.

Probably in: Southern Miss (25-7) (11-5).

Southern Miss

RPI: 15

SOS: 58

Top 50 RPI: 5-3

Southern Miss is likely a NCAA Tournament, but failed to lock up a bid with a loss to Marshall on Saturday; Southern Miss beat SMU during the week. The Golden Eagles have wins over Colorado State, New Mexico State, Ole Miss, South Florida, and Memphis, but have losses to Denver, UAB, Houston, and UTEP. Southern Miss nearly lost to East Carolina on Thursday, but gutted out the win. They play a beleaguered Marshall team, on Friday, who had to get to three overtimes to beat Tulsa. A win over Marshall on Friday moves the Golden Eagles to a lock.

Work to do: None.

Missouri Valley

There was a collective sigh of relief from Bubble Nation on Sunday, as Creighton took down Illinois State on Sunday in Arch Madness. Missouri Valley will be a two-bid league.

 

Auto: Creighton (28-5) (14-4).

Creighton

RPI: 24

SOS: 113

Top 50 RPI: 4-2

Creighton won three games in three days to win the Missouri Valley’s automatic bid. The Jays knocked off Drake, Evansville, and Illinois State during the Missouri Valley Tournament, and have now won seven straight. Creighton owns wins over San Diego State, Northwestern, Wichita State, Illinois State (three times!), and Long Beach State.

 

Locks: Wichita State (26-4) (16-2).

Wichita State

RPI: 16

SOS: 66

Top 50 RPI: 2-3

Wichita State’s early exit from the Missouri Valley Tournament will hurt their seeding in the NCAA Tournament, no doubt, but they are still a lock for the NCAA Tournament. The Shockers beat Indiana State in the quarterfinals, but fell to Illinois State in the semifinals. The Shockers have wins over UNLV and Creighton.

Probably in: None.

Work to do: None.

Mountain West

San Diego State won a shared regular season title in the Mountain West Conference, beating out New Mexico for the top spot based on their record against TCU. Colorado State’s demolition of TCU earns the Rams a spot on the lock line. The Mountain West will have four bids come Selection Sunday.

 

Locks: San Diego State (25-6) (10-4); New Mexico (25-6) (10-4); UNLV (26-7) (9-5).

San Diego State

RPI: 28

SOS: 81

Top 50 RPI: 5-5

San Diego State closed the regular season on a four game win streak, beating Boise State and TCU this past week. The Aztecs are the top seed in the Mountain West Conference, which will be held in Las Vegas this week. Fortunately for the Aztecs, they wouldn’t have to play the host school until the finals, if at all. San Diego State got by scrappy Boise State on Thursday by 3; they play Colorado State on Friday.

New Mexico

RPI: 35

SOS: 116

Top 50 RPI: 4-3

New Mexico ends the regular season with wins over seventh and eighth place Air Force and Boise State. The Lobos have won 10 of their last 12 games. New Mexico drilled Air Force in Las Vegas on Thursday night. They will face UNLV on Friday evening at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.

UNLV

RPI: 13

SOS: 53

Top 50 RPI: 5-5

UNLV takes sole possession of third place after splitting their games this last week. The Rebels continued their road woes, losing at Colorado State, but beating Wyoming in Las Vegas. The Rebels have wins over Nevada, North Carolina, California, New Mexico, Colorado State, and San Diego State. UNLV beat Wyoming by eight late on Thursday. The Rebels play New Mexico on Friday evening.

Probably in: Colorado State (20-10) (8-6).

Colorado State

RPI: 20

SOS: 7

Top 50 RPI: 3-5

We said last week that a 500 record in the Mountain West wouldn’t be good enough for an at-large bid. The Rams heard our warning and promptly beat UNLV and Air Force during the week. Colorado State has won four of their last five, including games against New Mexico and UNLV. Colorado State has wins over Montana, Colorado, San Diego State, New Mexico, UNLV, but they do have losses to Stanford, Wyoming, TCU, and Boise State. The Rams are 4-9 on road and neutral courts. Colorado State took care of TCU in dominating fashion on Thursday, earning them a spot on the “lock” line. A strong showing against San Diego State on Friday would maintain their position here.

Work to do: None.

West Coast

And then there were two. Saint Mary’s and Gonzaga squared off on Monday night at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas to decide the West Coast Conference’s automatic bid, with the Gaels emerging victorious. Both teams are likely to be in the field of 68, but will BYU join them?

Auto: Saint Mary’s (27-5) (14-2).

Saint Mary’s

RPI: 30

SOS: 123

Top 50 RPI: 4-3

Saint Mary’s beat San Francisco and Gonzaga to win the West Coast Conference. The Gaels have now won four straight games and 17 of their last 20 games. The Gaels needed the automatic bid to avoid putting their fate in the Committee’s hands, but were probably still in regardless.

Locks: Gonzaga (25-6) (13-3).

Gonzaga

RPI: 23

SOS: 85

Top 50 RPI: 4-4

Gonzaga beat Brigham Young by 19 in the conference semifinals – probably their best performance on the season; the Bulldogs fell to Saint Mary’s twice this season. Despite the loss, Gonzaga will be in the field of 68. They have wins over Notre Dame, Xavier, Saint Mary’s, Brigham Young (twice).

Probably in: None.

Work to do: Brigham Young (24-8) (12-4).

Brigham Young

RPI: 45

SOS: 107

Top 50 RPI: 2-6

BYU is in a bit of trouble. The Cougars have lost twice to Gonzaga in the past two weeks. The Cougars beat San Diego before falling to Gonzaga in the conference semifinals. The Cougars have wins over Nevada, Oregon, and Gonzaga, but have losses to Utah State and Loyola Marymount. The Cougars are going to have to wait until Selection Sunday until their fate is determined, and will need teams like Temple and Memphis to win their conference tournaments.

Other Conferences

Besides Creighton, three automatic bids went out this past weekend. A few more went out on Monday and Tuesday. Will there be any bid stealers in the coming days? Its’ looking unlikely, at least for mid-majors as things have held true to form.

Auto: Belmont (27-7) (16-2 Atlantic Sun); Davidson (25-7) (16-2 Southern); Detroit (22-13) (11-7 Horizon); Harvard (26-4) (12-2 Ivy); Lehigh (26-7) (11-3 Patriot); LIU Brooklyn (25-8) (16-2 Northeast); Loyola (MD) (24-8) (13-5 MAAC); Montana (25-6) (15-1 Big Sky); Murray State (28-1) (15-1 Ohio Valley); NC Asheville (24-9) (16-2 Big South); South Dakota State (27-7) (15-3 Summit); Western Kentucky (15-18) (7-9 Sun Belt).

Belmont

RPI: 62

SOS: 208

Top 50 RPI: 1-3

After being neck and neck most season with Mercer, Belmont avoided the Bears, who lost Friday to Florida Gulf Coast, on Mercer’s home floor. Belmont beat Jacksonville, East Tennessee State, and Florida Gulf Coast to win the Atlantic Sun’s automatic bid. Belmont has won 14 straight games. Belmont played a tough non-conference schedule, facing Duke (lost by 1), Memphis (lost by 16), and Middle Tennessee (won by 3 and lost by 3). Belmont will be a tough out in the NCAA Tournament.

Davidson

RPI: 64

SOS: 179

Top 50 RPI: 1-3

Davidson clinched their league leading 11th bid to the NCAA Tournament with a victory over upstart Western Carolina in double overtime on Monday night. The Wildcats also had to get past Furman and Elon en route to their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 2009, with Stephen Curry. Davidson has beaten Kansas and played Duke (lost by 13) and Vanderbilt (lost by 4) in the regular season.

Detroit

RPI: 128

SOS: 166

Top 50 RPI: 0-2

The Titans are back in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1999, beating host, and top seeded Valparaiso on Tuesday night. Detroit had to beat Loyola (IL), Youngstown State, and Cleveland State to reach the finals. The top two seeds, Valparaiso and Cleveland State, only had to win two games to win the Horizon League automatic bid, while the remaining teams had to win four games. Detroit beat St. John’s earlier in the season, Butler (twice), and Cleveland State. UD also played Notre Dame (lost by 6), Akron (lost by 18), Alabama (lost by 8), and Mississippi State (lost by 5). Dick Vitale’s former team will be a tough out in the NCAA Tournament.

Harvard

RPI: 37

SOS: 195

Top 50 RPI: 1-1

Harvard finished the season with a 12-2 record in the Ivy League. They clinched the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament with Pennsylvania’s loss to Princeton, at L. Stockwell Jadwin Gymnasium. Because Harvard and Pennsylvania had split the regular season, Harvard and Penn would have had to play a 15th game on a neutral court. Harvard beat Florida State and Central Florida during the non-conference schedule.

Lehigh

RPI: 101

SOS: 309

Top 50 RPI: 0-2

Lehigh has won eight games straight and 12 of their last 13. The Mountain Hawks beat Colgate, American, and Bucknell to win the Patriot League’s automatic bid. This is Lehigh’s second appearance in the last three seasons; Lehigh has never won a NCAA Tournament game. Lehigh played Iowa state (lost by 9) and Michigan State (lost by 9) during the regular season.

LIU Brooklyn

RPI: 88

SOS: 273

Top 50 RPI: 0-1

The Blackbirds have won three straight and 11 of their last 12. LIU beat Sacred Heart, Quinnipiac, and Robert Morris, all at Long Island, to win the NEC title. The Blackbird return to the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year – they lost a close one to North Carolina last year, as a 15 seed. Beware of the Blackbirds, though, as Long Island is third in the nation in points per game, with 81.9. Long Island is likely going to be seeded between the 14 and 16 lines, but shouldn’t be a play in team.

Loyola (MD)

RPI: 79

SOS: 219

Top 50 RPI: 1-2

Only three teams from the MAAC have not made the NCAA Tournament since 1994. Marist made the tournament last in 1987, Rider in 1994 (as part of the Northeast Conference), and Loyola (MD). The Greyhounds, led by Coach Jim Patsos, won the MAAC bid, defeating Niagara and Siena, before knocking off Fairfield on Monday night. The Greyhounds enter the NCAA Tournament having won 12 of their last 15 games. Loyola beat Iona and has losses to Wake Forest (by 12) and Kentucky (by 24).

Montana

RPI: 75

SOS: 213

Top 50 RPI: 1-2

The Grizzlies have won 14 straight, including two wins over Weber State in the last three games. Because they were one of the top two seeds in the Big Sky, Montana only had to win two games to win the Big Sky Conference Championship. The Grizzlies beat Eastern Washington and Weber State, in Missoula, to win the automatic bid. Montana is back in the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three seasons, and is seeking a win in the NCAA Tournament – the last time they won a game was in 2006 when they beat Nevada. Montana will likely be seeded between the 13 and 15 lines.

Murray State

RPI: 25

SOS: 184

Top 50 RPI: 3-0

Murray State saved a number of teams on the bubble from panicking. The Racers took care of business in the OVC Tournament, beating Tennessee Tech and Tennessee State. Murray State’s lone loss on the season was to Tennessee State, at home. The Racers beat San Francisco, Southern Miss, Dayton, Memphis, and Saint Mary’s in non-conference play. Murray State has the potential to be a protected seed, depending on how things shake out over the coming week.

NC Asheville

RPI: 110

SOS: 228

Top 50 RPI: 0-2

The Bulldogs will return to the NCAA Tournament for the second straight season and third time in five years. Coach Eddie Biedenbach has his Bulldogs playing well – NC Asheville has won 18 of their last 21 games. NC Asheville beat High Point, Charleston Southern, and VMI en route to the Big South Tournament Title. The Bulldogs have had their share of tough games, playing North Carolina State (lost by 9), North Carolina (lost by 24), Connecticut (lost by 10), and Tennessee (lost by 4) in non-conference.

South Dakota State

RPI: 48

SOS: 192

Top 50 RPI: 0-0

South Dakota State was roughly 50 miles away from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, the site of the Summit League Conference Tournament. The Jackrabbits used a virtual home court to their advantage, defeating IUPUI, Southern Utah, and Western Illinois, winning their first ever bid to the NCAA Tournament. They entered Division I basketball in 2007 and have been a member of the Summit League ever since then. The Jackrabbits have wins over Washington and Oral Roberts.

Western Kentucky

RPI: 192

SOS: 143

Top 50 RPI: 0-5

Western Kentucky had an interesting season, to say the least. The Hilltoppers are the first team this season to make the NCAA Tournament with a losing record, by use of an automatic bid. The ‘Toppers started the season 5-11 and fired then-head coach Ken McDonald, after a controversial ending to the Louisiana-Lafayette game, a game where the Cajuns had six players on the floor during the game winning shot in overtime. Assistant Ray Harper took over Western Kentucky and went 6-7 before the Sun Belt Conference Tournament. The Hilltoppers won four games in four games to seal up the automatic bid, WKU’s first auto bid since 2009. WKU has won seven of their last eight games. The Hilltoppers played LSU (lost by 19), VCU (lost by 5 and 23), Murray State (lost by 11), Louisville (lost by 10), and Middle Tennessee (lost by 8, but won by 6). WKU is likely headed for a play-in game, based on their record, but there is a potential argument that the ‘Toppers should be a better seed.

Locks: None.

Probably in: None.

Work to do: Nevada (26-5) (13-1 WAC).

Nevada – Nevada is the WAC regular season champ. Should the Wolfpack make the conference finals and fall to New Mexico State, they have at least an argument for an at-large bid. Nevada beat New Mexico State and Louisiana Tech last week – they have now won six of their last seven games. The Wolfpack beat San Jose State on Thursday and will face Louisiana Tech on Friday.

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  1. Pingback: New Content Added: Week of March 4th | beforevisitingthesportsbook

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