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 22nd.
Probably in: 12
Work to do: 34
The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. The top three teams in the ACC, arguably, can compete with the best in the country. The bubble teams, however, continue to get worse, making things tougher for the Selection Committee to give the ACC more than four teams.
Locks: North Carolina (24-4) (11-2); Florida State (19-7) (10-2); Duke (23-4) (10-2).
Top 50 RPI: 6-4
After beating Miami (FL) and Clemson last week, the Tar Heels temporarily took over first place in the ACC with a win over North Carolina State on Monday. The Tar Heels have clinched a first round bye in the ACC Tournament. The Tar Heels have games remaining at Virginia, Maryland, and at Duke.
Top 50 RPI: 4-4
Florida State picked up a pair of victories over Virginia Tech and at North Carolina State this past week. The Seminoles are on a three game winning streak and have won 10 of their last 11. Florida State has games remaining against Duke, at Miami (FL), at Virginia, and Clemson.
Top 50 RPI: 6-4
Duke picked up wins over North Carolina State and Boston College this past week. The Blue Devils were down by as many as 20 points to the Wolfpack, erasing the deficit in the second half and crushing North Carolina State’s hopes of an at-large bid. Duke has games remaining at Florida State, Virginia Tech, at Wake Forest, and North Carolina.
Probably in: None.
Work to do: Virginia (21-6) (8-5); North Carolina State (18-10) (7-6); Miami (FL) (16-10) (7-6).
Top 50 RPI: 2-3
After splitting games last week, falling at Clemson, but rebounding to beat Maryland over the weekend, Virginia salvaged a season split against Virginia Tech, winning in Blacksburg on Tuesday. Virginia is in good shape for the NCAA Tournament, but has a trio or 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 North Carolina, Florida State, and at Maryland. If Virginia wins one of their next two, they will move up to “probably in”.
North Carolina State
Top 50 RPI: 1-8
Losses at Duke and home to Florida State were pretty damaging to N.C. State’s post-season chances last week. The Wolfpack led Duke at Cameron Indoor by 19 with 11 minutes left, only to be outscored 36-12, and falling to the Blue Devils. North Carolina State dropped another one on Tuesday night, at home, to North Carolina. With their best wins over Miami (FL) and Texas, North Carolina State is lacking a statement win. North Carolina State has games remaining at Clemson, Miami (FL), and at Virginia Tech. If the Wolfpack win the remaining three games, will 21-10 and 10-6 be enough?
Top 50 RPI: 1-6
Miami (FL) is in a bit of a problem, other than the win over Duke, as Miami (FL) really doesn’t have any other good wins; their best non-conference win was over Massachusetts. The Hurricanes split last week, but lost to Maryland Tuesday night, earning them their first bad loss. Miami (FL) needs to beat Florida State. As for their other opponents, only N.C. State doesn’t have an RPI hovering around 100; a loss to any of those teams, other than N.C. State, takes the Hurricanes out of the NCAA Tournament picture. Miami (FL)’s remaining schedule is against Florida State, at North Carolina State, and Boston College. The Hurricanes are 1-8 against potential tournament teams.
With Missouri’s loss to Kansas State, Kansas takes a half game lead in the Big XII race. More importantly, Kansas State is very close to sewing up a NCAA Tournament bid. Texas is in a world of trouble now, after dropping a golden opportunity to Baylor. Texas probably needs a win at Phog Allen Fieldhouse, or a deep run in the Big XII Tournament. Baylor’s win over Texas moves them to a lock.
Locks: Kansas (22-5) (12-2); Missouri (25-3) (12-3); Baylor (23-5) (10-5).
Top 50 RPI: 9-4
Kansas defeated Kansas State and Texas Tech during the week, keeping pace with Missouri. For now, Missouri has the tiebreaking advantage, based on the February 4th meeting in Columbia. Kansas will meet Missouri on February 25 at Phog Allen Fieldhouse, in a game which could decide the Big XII regular season title. Kansas has games remaining at Texas A&M, Missouri, at Oklahoma State, and Texas. The Jayhawks are giving up an average of 60.4 points per game, second in the Big XII behind Texas A&M.
Top 50 RPI: 6-2
Missouri picked up a pair of wins during last week, beating Oklahoma State in Columbia and Texas A&M at College Station. They followed that up with losing at home Tuesday night, with Kansas State completing the season sweep of the Tigers. The Tigers are 10-2 on road and neutral courts. The Tigers had won seven straight. Missouri will meet Kansas on February 25 at Phog Allen Fieldhouse, in a game which could decide the Big XII regular season title. The Tigers have games remaining at Kansas, Iowa State, and at Texas Tech.
Top 50 RPI: 7-5
After splitting games last week, Baylor picked up a crucial win at Texas on Monday night, all but ending the Longhorns’ at-large chances. The win, simultaneously, moves Baylor to a lock. Baylor has lost three of their five games at home. Regardless, the Bears are in good shape, with wins over Brigham Young, Saint Mary’s, West Virginia, Mississippi State, Kansas State, and Iowa State. Baylor’s remaining schedule is against Oklahoma, Texas Tech, and at Iowa State. Baylor’s Perry Jones III is averaging 13.3 points per game in the Big XII; the Bears are 2-4 when Jones III scores below his average (8-1 when he scores 14 or more per game).
Probably in: Iowa State (19-8) (9-5); Kansas State (19-8) (8-7).
Top 50 RPI: 3-5
Iowa State lost at Baylor but beat Oklahoma in Ames. Iowa State is probably in the NCAA Tournament, if the season ended today, but could improve their profile, and make up for their lack of quality non-conference wins by doing some damage down the stretch. If Iowa State wins their home games –Texas Tech and Baylor – they will be NCAA Tournament bound. Anything less will require some road wins or Big XII Tournament wins – Kansas State, and Missouri.
Top 50 RPI: 5-5
On the last edition of the Watch, we indicated that a win over Missouri or Iowa State would move Kansas State up to “probably in”. On Tuesday night, the Wildcats beat Missouri in Columbia, earning a season sweep. Kansas State now has back to back wins over two of the top three teams in the Big XII. The Wildcats now have two statement wins – Kansas State is 9-5 on road and neutral courts. 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 one of their last three (Iowa State, at Texas A&M, and Oklahoma State), they are probably in the NCAA Tournament; winning a game or two in the Big XII Tournament would help, though. Anyone buying Frank Martin as the Big XII Coach of the Year?
Work to do: Texas (17-11) (7-8).
Top 50 RPI: 3-8
Texas now has back-to-back losses, with their loss on Monday night to Baylor. Texas is 3-8 on road and neutral courts. Monday’s game was Texas’s last realistic chance at a statement win, outside of the Big XII Conference Tournament. Now they will likely need to at least make the semifinals in order to have a good shot at the NCAA Tournament. Texas has games remaining at Texas Tech, Oklahoma, and at Kansas. A loss to Texas Tech or Oklahoma will eliminate Texas from the picture; they simply cannot afford bad losses.
Seton Hall must have heard our concerns on the last Watch – they went ahead and knocked off Georgetown on Tuesday night, putting them in much better position than they were just a few days ago. They still have some work to do, but as of right now, they would be in the field of 68.
Locks: Syracuse (27-1) (14-1); Notre Dame (19-8) (11-3); Marquette (22-5) (11-3); Georgetown (20-6) (10-5); Louisville (21-6) (9-5).
Top 50 RPI: 7-1
Syracuse won two road games this week, against Louisville and Rutgers. The magic number for the Orange is two – two wins, or a win and a loss by Notre Dame. Syracuse has three remaining games (Connecticut on the road; South Florida and Louisville at home). Syracuse has already clinched a double bye in the Big East Tournament.
Top 50 RPI: 6-4
Notre Dame has now won eight straight, five of which over potential NCAA Tournament teams. Its really hard to fathom how far Notre Dame has come – just a month and a half ago the Irish were not even in the NCAA Tournament discussion. Notre Dame faces West Virginia and Providence at home; St. John’s and Georgetown on the road. Barring the unforeseen, Notre Dame will earn a double-bye in the Big East Tournament. The Irish at least have a one round bye; they also hold the tiebreaker over Marquette, having beaten the Golden Eagles in South Bend on February 4th.
Top 50 RPI: 4-4
Marquette may have ended Connecticut’s NCAA Tournament chances with a 15-point win at the XL Center on Saturday. Marquette has a one game lead over fourth place Georgetown and South Florida. Marquette has games remaining against Rutgers, at West Virginia, at Cincinnati, and Georgetown. Marquette has, at the worst-case scenario, a first round bye in the Big East Tournament. The Golden Eagles have won 10 of their last 11 games.
Top 50 RPI: 7-4
After Georgetown sweeping St. John’s and Providence last week, they lost at Seton Hall on Tuesday. To many, this was an upset. To those of us who followed Georgetown this year, we knew it was a long time coming. Things continue to get tougher for Georgetown, as the Hoyas’ remaining schedule is against Villanova, Notre Dame, and at Marquette. Georgetown is 6-4 on the road this season and is 13-1 at the MCI Center.
Top 50 RPI: 6-5
Louisville played a pair of close games during the week, losing at home to Syracuse by one, and winning at Allstate Arena (or Rosemont Horizon for those of you who are old school) in overtime, against lowly DePaul. Louisville is one game behind fourth place, which would give the Cardinals a double-bye in the upcoming tournament at Madison Square Garden. The Cardinals remaining schedule is certainly not easy, with games at Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, South Florida, and at Syracuse.
Probably in: None.
Work to do: South Florida (17-10) (10-4); Cincinnati (19-8) (9-5); West Virginia (17-10) (7-7); Seton Hall (19-9) (8-8); Connecticut (16-10) (6-8).
Top 50 RPI: 1-6
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 73 to 56, and is 1-6 against the RPI top 50 (lone win against Seton Hall), but the Bulls do have ten conference wins now, and are at least in the discussion for a first round bye in the Big East Tournament, if not a double-bye. USF is up three and a half games on Seton Hall, 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 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 Syracuse, Cincinnati, at Louisville, and West Virginia. A road win against Syracuse or Louisville would likely seal up a bid for the Bulls.
Top 50 RPI: 4-3
Cincinnati defeated Providence and Seton Hall at Fifth Third Arena during the week. The win against Seton Hall can’t be underestimated, as the Bearcats not only hold a tiebreaker on the Pirates, but likely are ahead of them in the NCAA Tournament pecking order. The Bearcats have an RPI over 70, but are 4-3 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 Louisville, at South Florida, Marquette, and at Villanova. Cincinnati likely need to at least split in the remaining two sets of games: Louisville/Marquette and South Florida/Villanova. 11-6 should be enough, anything short of that will require some work in the Big East Tournament. A win over Louisville will move Cincinnati to “probably in”.
Top 50 RPI: 3-7
West Virginia’s road win against Pittsburgh keeps them on the Watch. Pittsburgh is having a down year, but a road win in the Big East helps the Mountaineers NCAA Tournament chances. They haven’t been great at home this season and have looked awful on the road. West Virginia has lost five of their last seven, with the two wins being on the road against Pittsburgh and in overtime against Providence. The Mountaineers have games remaining at Notre Dame, Marquette, DePaul, and at South Florida. West Virginia does have wins over Kansas State, Miami (FL), and Georgetown, but that seems like an eternity. To feel comfortable about their NCAA Tournament chances, West Virginia probably needs to win three of their remaining four.
Top 50 RPI: 4-7
Seton Hall fell to fellow bubble team Cincinnati on the road last week, but more than made up for it with a win over Georgetown on Tuesday night. The Pirates are in much better shape now, but still have a bit of work to do. 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 have games remaining against Rutgers, and at DePaul. A win against Rutgers will move Seton Hall up a line. Seton Hall is 7-8 against the RPI top 100.
Top 50 RPI: 6-6
Connecticut has won two of their last nine. They beat DePaul during the week, but lost at the XL Center on Saturday to Marquette. With an RPI under 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. The Huskies have games remaining at Villanova, Syracuse, at Providence, and Pittsburgh. Connecticut needs to pick up road wins against Villanova and Providence; additionally, a win against Syracuse would set up the Huskies for an NCAA Tournament bid. Anything less will require some wins in the Big East Tournament. But hey, the Huskies are more than capable of doing that. If Connecticut loses to Villanova and Syracuse this week, they will be gone from the Watch.
Northwestern and Illinois continue to lose games, making it tough to include them in the field of 68 as of this point. Both are going to need deep runs in the Big Ten Tournament if they want to hear their names called on Selection Sunday. Illinois’s loss in Columbus on Tuesday night eliminates them from the Watch.
Locks: Michigan State (22-5) (11-3); Michigan (21-7) (11-4); Ohio State (23-5) (11-4).
Top 50 RPI: 7-4
Michigan State remains in sole possession of first place with wins against Wisconsin and at Purdue. Michigan State has won seven of their last eight, with the lone defeat by one in Champaign to Illinois. During that streak they have an average margin of victory of 15.5 points per game. Michigan State controls their destiny. They have games remaining at Minnesota, Nebraska, at Indiana, and Ohio State.
Top 50 RPI: 8-5
Michigan had beaten Illinois and Ohio State last week. They won in Evanston Tuesday night, beating Northwestern in overtime. Michigan has won four in a row and five of their last six. Out of the contenders for the Big Ten regular season title, Michigan has the easiest remaining schedule, with Purdue at home, Illinois and Penn State on the road.
Top 50 RPI: 6-4
If you listened at all to ESPN, you know that the basketball analysts drooled over Ohio State and how they were the best team in the Big Ten. Now, the Buckeyes risk being the third team in the conference, with losses to Michigan and Michigan State in the past week. They righted the ship on Tuesday night, beating a slumping Illinois team, in Columbus, getting the season split. Things only get tougher for the Buckeyes, as they play three more potential NCAA Tournament teams before the regular season ends –Wisconsin, at Northwestern and at Michigan State. Ohio State is 8-5 against potential NCAA Tournament teams.
Probably in: Wisconsin (20-7) (9-5); Indiana (20-7) (8-7).
Top 50 RPI: 4-6
Wisconsin dropped a road decision against Michigan State, resulting in a season sweep for the Spartans; the Badgers did beat Penn State at home, but it was closer than expected. Wisconsin has won eight of their last ten games, by an average of 8 points per game. The Badgers have an RPI under 30 and are 4-6 against the RPI top 50. Wisconsin has games remaining at Iowa, at Ohio State, Minnesota, and Illinois. If Wisconsin gets revenge from their December 31st home loss to Iowa, in Iowa City, Wisconsin will move to a lock.
Top 50 RPI: 5-4
After losing four of five, the Hoosiers have won four of their last six, including wins against Purdue on the road and Illinois and Northwestern at home. Indiana beat Northwestern during the week, but lost at Iowa on Sunday. The Hoosiers finish the season with North Carolina Central, Michigan State, and Purdue at home. The Hoosiers are 4-6 in road and neutral court games. A win at Minnesota on Sunday would move Indiana to a “lock”.
Work to do: Purdue (17-10) (7-7); Iowa (14-13) (6-8); Northwestern (16-11) (6-9); Minnesota (17-10) (5-9).
Top 50 RPI: 5-7
Three of Purdue’s seven conference losses have come against the Michigan schools. The Boilermakers picked up a crucial road win against Illinois during the week, but lost at home to Michigan State by 14 on Sunday. Despite a number of wins against the RPI top 50, Purdue lacks a marquee win. Purdue has games left against Nebraska, at Michigan, Penn State, and at Indiana. A win over Michigan, or Indiana would be helpful. Purdue is still in decent shape, and has a decent shot at finishing above 500 in conference play.
Top 50 RPI: 3-6
Why is Iowa here? It is based solely on their performance at home in the Big Ten. The Hawkeyes are 4-3 at home in the Big Ten, but 2-5 on the road in the conference. Iowa has some bad losses: Campbell, Clemson, Nebraska, and at Penn State. But Iowa also has wins over Wisconsin, Minnesota (twice), Michigan, and Indiana. Iowa will need to beat Wisconsin this week to stay on the Watch, which would add to their already impressive win total. Iowa’s RPI is bad, and they are 2-8 in road and neutral games. The Hawkeyes probably need to win at least three of their four remaining games, and likely needs to make a run to the Big Ten Tournament finals. Penn State did it last year, can Iowa do it this year? Penn State was 19-15 last year, including 9-9 in Big Ten play. If Iowa wins three of their last four, they would be 17-14, 9-9. Iowa has games remaining against Wisconsin, at Illinois, at Nebraska, and Northwestern.
Top 50 RPI: 2-7
Northwestern dropped a great chance to pick up another quality win, which likely would have pushed them into the field of 68. Instead, they lost at home to Michigan, getting swept in the season series. They have a crucial road game against Penn State. Northwestern is 2-7 on the road, with their lone road wins against Illinois and Georgia Tech. The window is closing on Northwestern’s opportunity to earn their first NCAA Tournament bid. Northwestern has games remaining at Penn State, Ohio State, and at Iowa. Fortunately for the Wildcats, their easier games are on the road, giving them a chance to pick up a few more road wins. Unfortunately for the Wildcats, they still play Ohio State at home. The Wildcats have beaten Michigan State, but will need more than just that. If Northwestern defeats Penn State, and Iowa, and wins at least two Big Ten Tournament games, the Wildcats should make their first ever NCAA Tournament appearance. Because of the loss to Michigan, the ‘Cats may need more than just two Big Ten Tournament wins.
Top 50 RPI: 2-6
Minnesota is going to have to win their four remaining games in order to finish 500 in conference. Minnesota lost to Ohio State and Northwestern this past week; Minnesota is 1-4 in their last five. Minnesota’s remaining schedule is one of the toughest: Michigan State, Indiana, at Wisconsin, and Nebraska. The Gophers will have plenty of chances to build their tournament resume, unfortunately they play two of the top four teams in the Big Ten. Assuming Minnesota gets to 9-9 in the Big Ten, they will need one, if not two Big Ten Tournament wins to feel comfortable. Anything less than two wins against Michigan State and Indiana will eliminate Minnesota from the Watch.
Locks: California (22-6) (12-3).
Top 50 RPI: 0-3
The Golden Bears are 0-3 against the RPI top 50 and have a SOS above 80, so why are they a “lock”? Simply put, they have been the most consistent PAC-12 team to date. California has won ten of their last twelve, with their lone losses coming by a combined six points. California earned a season sweep of Oregon on Thursday night, and avenged a January 5th loss to Oregon State, beating the Beavers on Saturday. California has games remaining at Utah, at Colorado, and at Stanford.
Probably in: Washington (19-8) (12-3).
Top 50 RPI: 0-4
Washington has won ten of their last twelve, including three of their last four on the road. Washington’s concerns are their high SOS, lack of wins against the RPI top 50 and bad road record. The first two cannot be addressed, but the bad road record can, especially in the last three games. The Huskies are 4-6 on road and neutral courts. The Huskies have good wins against Oregon, Stanford, at Arizona, and UCLA, but lack a signature win. Washington defeated Arizona State and Arizona over the weekend; they now have a season sweep of the Wildcats. Washington has games remaining at Washington State, at USC, and at UCLA.
Work to do: Colorado (18-8) (10-4); Oregon (19-8) (10-5); Arizona (19-9) (10-5).
Top 50 RPI: 0-3
Colorado has a number of problems: 5-7 on road and neutral courts, 0-3 against the RPI top 50, and an RPI over 70. Colorado did beat Utah in Salt Lake City over the weekend. The Buffs are 4-4 against RPIs 51-100, though, and they are 13-1 at home. Colorado has games left against Stanford, California, at Oregon, and at Oregon State. Colorado probably needs wins in three of their four remaining games; they virtually have to beat California in Boulder. They probably need to win a game or two in the PAC-12 Conference Tournament, as well.
Top 50 RPI: 0-5
Oregon had the chance to pick up a win at California Thursday night, but lost by three. They stay on the Watch this week because of a road win at Stanford on Sunday. With the exception of Colorado, the remaining three opponents will not make the NCAA Tournament, short of a PAC-12 Tournament Championship, and would constitute a bad loss. Ducks now have wins over Arizona and Washington in conference play. Oregon has games left at Oregon State, Colorado, and Utah. Oregon needs to win their remaining games to make the NCAA Tournament. Anything less will require a win or two in the PAC-12 Conference Tournament.
Top 50 RPI: 1-3
Arizona won at Washington State, but lost at Washington over the weekend. The Wildcats are 1-3 against the top 50 RPI, but they are 7-6 on road and neutral courts. Arizona has games remaining against USC, UCLA, and at Arizona State. The Wildcats virtually have to close the season with three wins, and win one or two games in the PAC-12 Tournament.
The last chance at beating Kentucky in the SEC has come to pass, with the Wildcats winning at Humphrey Coliseum on Tuesday night. Florida and Vanderbilt remain in good shape to be high seeds in the NCAA Tournament, but will the SEC get more than three bids? Its tough to see more than three, right now.
Locks: Kentucky (27-1) (13-0); Florida (22-6) (10-3); Vanderbilt (19-8) (8-4).
Top 50 RPI: 6-1
Kentucky’s lone loss to date was on a buzzer beater at Indiana. Kentucky avoided their first loss in SEC play, beating Mississippi State at The Hump. The Bulldogs were in control most of the game, but lost their lead three quarters of the way through the second half. Kentucky has three games remaining: Vanderbilt, Georgia, and at Florida. The Wildcats are up three games on Florida; the magic number for Kentucky is one. Kentucky has clinched at least a share of the SEC regular season title.
Top 50 RPI: 3-3
Florida has now beat three straight SEC West opponents, beating Auburn on Tuesday night. The Gators are poised to be the number two seed in the SEC Conference Tournament, assuming they beat Vanderbilt and win at least one more game. Florida has been swept by Tennessee and runs the risk of losing any chance to win the SEC regular season crown. Florida has games remaining at Georgia, at Vanderbilt, and Kentucky.
Top 50 RPI: 3-3
Vanderbilt’s pair of wins at Ole Miss and at Georgia move them back to a “lock”. The Commodores have won three of their last four. Vanderbilt has games remaining against South Carolina, at Kentucky, Florida, and at Tennessee. Vanderbilt has a two game lead over Mississippi State, but lost at home to the Bulldogs on January 21st.
Probably in: None.
Work to do: Alabama (17-9) (6-6); Mississippi State (19-9) (6-7).
Top 50 RPI: 2-5
Alabama lost to Florida at home, but beat Tennessee. Alabama is 3-5 on the road and is 2-5 against the RPI top 50. Alabama will have very few opportunities to pick up wins against the RPI top 50 in their remaining games. The Crimson Tide has games remaining at Arkansas, Mississippi State, Auburn, and at Ole Miss. Alabama needs to win their home games and likely two games in the SEC Conference Tournament, unless Alabama wins some road games. The Mississippi State game on Saturday looms large, as its Alabama’s last chance for a decent win.
Top 50 RPI: 3-3
The Bulldogs have lost five of their last seven, including embarrassing losses at LSU and Auburn during last week, and a loss against Kentucky on Tuesday. While Mississippi State beat both Texas A&M and Arizona, when those teams were ranked back in November, but neither teams is ranked and are in danger of missing the NCAA Tournament. The Bulldogs have games remaining at Alabama, at South Carolina, and Arkansas. The Bulldogs probably need to win out in the regular season and need to do some damage in the SEC Conference Tournament.
Locks: Temple (21-5) (10-2).
Top 50 RPI: 4-2
Temple has now won ten straight, by an average of 13.9 points per game. A sweep of St. Bonaventure and Duquesne puts the owls in great position to win the Atlantic 10 regular season title. Temple has wins over Wichita State, Villanova, Duke, Maryland, Saint Joseph’s, and Xavier. Assuming the Owls win at least one of their four remaining games, they will be in the NCAA Tournament. Temple’s remaining schedule is at La Salle, at Saint Joseph’s, Massachusetts, and at Fordham.
Probably in: Saint Louis (22-5) (10-3).
Top 50 RPI: 1-2
The Billikens have won nine of their last ten games. Saint Louis is in great shape to make their first NCAA Tournament since 2000. Saint Louis has games remaining at Rhode Island, Xavier, and at Duquesne. The Billikens probably need one more solid win to guarantee a spot in the NCAA Tournament – a win over Xavier at home or Duquesne on the road should do the trick. Saint Louis beat Richmond and Fordham during the week.
Work to do: Massachusetts (19-8) (8-5); Xavier (17-10) (8-5); Saint Joseph’s (18-10) (8-5); La Salle (18-9) (7-5).
Top 50 RPI: 2-3
Massachusetts’s loss to La Salle last week, resulting in a season sweep, really hurt the Minutemen’s NCAA Tournament chances. Massachusetts remaining schedule is brutal – at Dayton, at Temple, and Rhode Island. Massachusetts did beat Xavier on Tuesday night, keeping their chances alive. They at least need to beat Temple and Rhode Island to have a legitimate shot, not including a win or two in the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament.
Top 50 RPI: 2-6
Ever since the Eruption in the Emerald City, Xavier is 9-10. X lost at Massachusetts on Tuesday, putting them in serious trouble for their postseason chances. Xavier has games remaining against Richmond, Saint Louis, and at Charlotte. The Musketeers need to win their home games for sure. Winning at Massachusetts would certainly have helped; then again, avoiding a bad road loss to Charlotte is important as well. Regardless, Xavier is going to need to make a run in the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament – their profile simply isn’t strong enough.
Top 50 RPI: 1-5
The Hawks picked up wins at Rhode Island and George Washington during the week. The Hawks have games remaining against Richmond, Temple, and at St. Bonaventure. Saint Joseph’s does have an RPI below 50 and is 6-7 on road and neutral courts, but is 1-5 against the RPI top 50. Saint Joseph’s will need to beat Temple and either Richmond or St. Bonaventure as well as winning at least one Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament game in order to make the NCAA Tournament. The Hawks are 7-7 against the RPI top 100.
Top 50 RPI: 0-3
La Salle is probably the fourth team in the pecking order for the Atlantic 10 under “work to do”. But the Explorers are at least worth a mention. La Salle lost a tough one at home to Saint Louis during the week, but won at Massachusetts over the weekend. La Salle does have bad losses to Robert Morris, Delaware, and Richmond, but has wins over Xavier and Massachusetts, twice. La Salle has their work cut out for them, they have games remaining against Temple, at Fordham, at George Washington, and St. Bonaventure. La Salle needs to win their four remaining games and will need to win a few in the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament. A loss to Temple will probably end any chance for an at large bid.
The Colonial had a largely successful weekend in BracketBusters, posting a 7-5 mark. Drexel, Virginia Commonwealth, and George Mason all posted wins, with George Mason and VCU’s wins coming at home. Old Dominion’s road win against Missouri State is nice, and warrants their mention for an at large bid, but like the rest of the CAA teams, they have work to do.
Probably in: None.
Work to do: Drexel (23-5) (14-2); George Mason (23-6) (14-2); Virginia Commonwealth (23-6) (13-3); Old Dominion (18-11) (12-4).
Top 50 RPI: 0-2
Drexel is 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 15 straight, defeating William & Mary and Cleveland State earlier this week. Drexel has games left against James Madison and at Old Dominion in conference play. Wins against James Madison and at Old Dominion would put Drexel in the “probably in” category. Drexel is 4-2 against the RPI top 100.
Top 50 RPI: 0-1
The Patriots have won 11 of their last 12, with an average margin of victory of 7.8 points per game. GMU picked up wins against Virginia Commonwealth and Lamar this past week. George Mason needs to do some damage in the CAA Conference Tournament order to have a legitimate shot at an at-large bid; a win at VCU would certainly help, as well. The Patriots have remaining games at Northeastern, and at Virginia Commonwealth. George Mason is 2-3 against the RPI top 100.
Top 50 RPI: 0-2
The Rams dropped a heart breaker at George Mason earlier this week, on a last second shot; the Rams made up for it with a huge win over Northern Iowa in BracketBusters. The Rams have won 12 of their last 13, but are going to need to pick up some wins between now and the CAA Conference Tournament because of their bad RPI. VCU has games remaining at NC Wilmington and George Mason. VCU is 9-3 on the road and 3-4 against teams in the RPI top 100.
Top 50 RPI: 0-2
Old Dominion is here based on their win at Missouri State over the weekend. The Monarchs also beat NC Wilmington during the week. The Monarchs do have some bad losses, though, to Vermont, Fairfield, and Richmond. They have also been swept by George Mason and Virginia Commonwealth. With that said, they played Kentucky and Missouri close, losing by ten and seven, respectively. A loss for ODU in either of their final games will eliminate them at large consideration. Old Dominion has games remaining at Georgia State and Drexel. ODU is 3-8 against the RPI top 100.
Probably in: Southern Miss (22-5) (9-3); Memphis (19-8) (9-3).
Top 50 RPI: 2-2
Southern Miss defeated Tulsa in overtime during the week, but lost at Houston over the weekend. Regardless, USM stays at the top of CUSA with Memphis’s loss. The Golden Eagles are in great shape, looking at their RPI and record against the top 50 RPI. USM is 9-5 in road and neutral site games. USM has games remaining at UTEP, Rice, SMU, and at Marshall. A pair of wins against UTEP and Rice this week will put Southern Miss in the “lock” category. Southern Miss is 9-2 against the RPI top 100.
Top 50 RPI: 2-6
Memphis beat Tulane in New Orleans during the week, but lost to UTEP at home on Saturday. Very little is keeping Memphis from being a lock, they have an RPI below 30, are 6-6 in road and neutral site games, but are 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 has games against East Carolina, at Marshall, UCF, and at Tulsa down the stretch. Wins against East Carolina and at Marshall this week will seal up a big for Memphis. Memphis is 5-7 against the RPI top 100.
Work to do: UCF (19-7) (8-4); Marshall (16-10) (7-5).
Top 50 RPI: 2-4
The Knights have won four of their last five, winning against East Carolina this past week. UCF has games remaining at Rice, UTEP, at Memphis, and UAB. With an RPI around 50 and a 3-5 mark on the road, the Knights have some work to do. If UCF wins three of their four remaining games, including a win at Memphis, they will be NCAA Tournament bound. If the Golden Knights lose two more games in the regular season, they will be eliminated from the Watch.
Top 50 RPI: 1-4
Marshall has won three of their last five after losing four straight. Marshall won at SMU over the weekend. They are 1-4 against the top four in Conference USA (6-1 against the rest). Marshall is 1-4 against the top 50 RPI, has an RPI north of 50, has lost six of their last eight, but are 5-6 on the road. So why is Marshall still on here? Simply put, their last three games can get them from being under “work to do” to “probably in”. Marshall’s remaining schedule is against Houston, Memphis, at East Carolina, and Southern Miss. If Marshall wins out and wins a game or two in the CUSA Conference Tournament, they will make the NCAA Tournament. If Marshall loses to Houston this week, they will fall off of the Watch. Marshall is 4-8 against the RPI top 100.
Locks: Wichita State (24-4) (14-2); Creighton (24-5) (13-4).
Top 50 RPI: 2-3
Wichita State scored a pair of wins against Missouri State and at Davidson this past week. Wichita State is 2-3 against the top 50 RPI, has won six straight, and 14 of their last 15. The Shockers are also a gaudy 9-1 on the road. Wichita State, at worst, will share the Missouri Valley regular season crown. One additional win or a Creighton loss will ensure the top seed in Arch Madness. The Shockers remaining games are at Illinois State and Drake. The Shockers are 8-3 against the RPI top 100.
Top 50 RPI: 4-2
Creighton is on a three game winning streak with wins over Southern Illinois, Long Beach State, and Evansville. Creighton struggled with the Aces, winning in overtime, and preserving their chance to share a Missouri Valley regular season title. Their SOS, which is above 100, doesn’t help, but otherwise they are in good shape. Creighton is 9-3 on the road and is 4-2 against top 50 RPI teams. The Jays remaining game is at Indiana State. Creighton is 7-4 against the RPI top 100.
Probably in: None.
Work to do: None.
Things get more interesting in the Mountain West. The first and last place teams are separated by five games. With Colorado State’s win over New Mexico on Tuesday night, the Rams are looking better and better for an at-large bid, bringing the conference total to four. Just imagine if BYU was still in the conference – potentially five bids.
Locks: New Mexico (22-5) (8-3); San Diego State (20-6) (6-4); UNLV (22-6) (6-4).
Top 50 RPI: 4-3
What a week for the Lobos. New Mexico started conference play at 1-2 and had won seven straight games. Not surprisingly, they became a victim of their own success, falling in Fort Collins on Tuesday night to upstart Colorado State. With wins over Wyoming, San Diego State, and UNLV, the Lobos belong on the “lock” line. With a two game lead on UNLV and San Diego State, New Mexico will need at least two more wins to secure the Mountain West regular season conference title. UNM has games remaining at TCU, Air Force, and Boise State. The Lobos are 9-4 against the RPI top 100.
San Diego State
Top 50 RPI: 4-5
San Diego State is reeling with three straight losses, including a pair of losses to New Mexico and Air Force this past week. With that said, SDSU is still in decent shape, especially with wins over California and UNLV. SDSU has games remaining against Wyoming, Colorado State, at Boise State, and at TCU. A loss to Wyoming or Colorado this week may drop the Aztecs down.
Top 50 RPI: 5-4
UNLV has lost three of their last four, with the lone win by two over San Diego State. UNLV’s performance away from the Thomas & Mack Center has to improve, as the Rebels are 9-6 in road and neutral site games, with three of the wins coming in overtime. UNLV finishes with games against Boise State, Air Force, at Colorado State, and Wyoming. A loss to either Boise State or Air Force will drop UNLV down.
Probably in: Colorado State (17-9) (6-5).
Top 50 RPI: 2-4
The Rams were here largely based on their RPI. The Rams beat New Mexico on Tuesday night, earning a jump in rank. Colorado State has decent wins against Montana, Manhattan, Colorado, Denver, San Diego State, Wyoming, and, now, New Mexico. With that said, Colorado State has a brutal stretch, with games at San Diego State, UNLV, and at Air Force. 500 won’t cut it for an at-large bid from the Mountain West, even with the strength of the conference this year. They need to win two of their last three games and win at least one in the Mountain West Conference Tournament to be assured of a bid. Losses to San Diego State and UNLV will put the Rams right back in the “work to do” category. Colorado State is 6-6 against the RPI top 100.
Work to do: None.
Gonzaga is catching up to Saint Mary’s, hoping to extend their West Coast Conference regular season title streak. BYU continues to make a case for their inclusion in the NCAA Tournament while newcomer Loyola Marymount scored a huge win at Saint Mary’s during the week. LMU still has work to do, but with three wins against top 50 RPI teams, they are at least deserving of a mention.
Locks: Saint Mary’s (23-5) (12-2); Gonzaga (21-5) (11-3).
Top 50 RPI: 1-3
Thanks to Gonzaga’s loss in San Francisco, the Gaels have a one game lead in the WCC. SMC has been sliding as of late, losing three of their last four, including two this past week to Loyola Marymount and at Murray State. Saint Mary’s has games remaining at Portland and at San Francisco. They would be wise to win the last two. The Gaels are 7-4 against the RPI top 100.
Top 50 RPI: 3-2
Gonzaga’s usual slip up on the WCC occurred over the weekend, with a loss at San Francisco. The Bulldogs did beat Santa Clara on the road during the week, though. They have games remaining against Brigham Young, at San Diego, and Longwood. Wins against Notre Dame, Oral Roberts, and Saint Mary’s have helped; playing Illinois, Michigan State, Arizona, and Xavier has helped to strengthen the Bulldogs’ tournament profile. With Gonzaga’s loss to the Dons, they are in a tie with BYU, technically behind them due to the tiebreaker.
Probably in: Brigham Young (23-6) (11-3).
Top 50 RPI: 1-4
BYU won at San Francisco and Santa Clara during the week. BYU actually has no bad losses, and has beaten Nevada, Oregon, Weber State, and Gonzaga. BYU has games remaining at Gonzaga and Portland. If the Cougars win one of two, they will likely make the NCAA Tournament. A win at Gonzaga would help an otherwise non-impressive record against the top 50 RPI; a few wins in the WCC Tournament would have the same effect. BYU is 6-5 against the RPI top 100.
Work to do: Loyola Marymount (18-10) (10-4).
Top 50 RPI: 3-7
LMU won in Moraga against Saint Mary’s during the week and beat Valparaiso in BracketBusters over the weekend. The Lions had some early season injuries (Drew Viney – 15.9 points per game; Ashley Hamilton – 10.5 points per game), but now are healthy. LMU has won six of their last seven. The Lions have games left against San Diego and Santa Clara. They already have a split against BYU and Saint Mary’s, as well as wins against UCLA, Saint Louis, and Valparaiso. The RPI is a bit high, but winning out and a doing some damage in the WCC Tournament would change that.
Locks: Murray State (26-1) (13-1 Ohio Valley).
Top 50 RPI: 3-0
After Murray State’s loss to Tennessee State, many were wondering whether the Racers would still make the NCAA Tournament. Murray beat SE Missouri State on the road and beat Saint Mary’s by 14 points at home, earning the Racers a “lock” for the tournament. Murray State has wins over Memphis, Southern Miss, Dayton, and Saint Mary’s. They have games remaining at Tennessee State and at Tennessee Tech. Murray State will be the top seed in the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament.
Probably in: Harvard (23-3) (9-1 Ivy); Nevada (22-5) (10-1 WAC).
Harvard beat Brown and Yale over the weekend, making the magic number at two; they have four games remaining. The Crimson have a huge weekend with Princeton and Pennsylvania and can clinch a NCAA Tournament bid this weekend with a sweep; if Harvard beats Princeton, they will move to a lock. Nevada picked up a win against Cal State Bakersfield during the week, but lost by six at Iona over the weekend. The Wolfpack are in still in good shape, but will probably need to win out in the regular season to make the NCAA Tournament.
Work to do: Belmont (21-7) (13-2 Atlantic Sun); Long Beach State (19-7) (12-0 Big West); Middle Tennessee (24-4) (12-1 Sun Belt); Oral Roberts (25-5) (16-1 Summit); Weber State (22-4) (13-1 Big Sky).
Belmont kept pace with Mercer on top of the Atlantic Sun, with wins over Stetson and East Tennessee State. Long Beach State has an RPI of 39, but is 0-6 against the RPI top 50. The 49ers lost a close one at Creighton over the weekend, falling by two in Omaha. 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. The Blue Raiders are in decent shape, but cannot afford another conference loss if they want to stay in the discussion for a NCAA Tournament at-large bid. If Middle Tennessee wins their three remaining regular season games and makes the Sun Belt Conference Championship, they will be in strong consideration for an NCAA Tournament bid; MTSU is 4-2 against the RPI top 100 and has an RPI of 43. 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 wins their final regular season game and makes the Summit League Conference Championship, they will have a strong argument for an at-large bid. The Golden Eagles have won 18 of their last 19. Weber State won at Montana State and against Texas-Arlington. If Weber State wins their remaining regular season games, they will move to the “probably in” line.