Welcome to my second installment of the Bubble Watch, where I give a more in-depth look at where teams stand in relation to the bubble. For further explanation of how this work, check out my first edition here. To see which of teams are in and where they would be seeded in the bracket came out today, look at my most recent bracketology entry here.
Here is this week’s bubble watch (includes all games through Friday, February 6):
Duke: 19-3 (6-3), RPI: 6, SOS: 9
The Blue Devils are a lock for the tournament. With their stellar computer numbers and 8-1 record against the RPI top 50, they’ll be dancing. Not to mention that win at previously undefeated Virginia is pretty sweet.
Virginia: 20-1 (8-1), RPI: 3, SOS: 7
Virginia lost for the first time this season at home to Duke last week. Losing to an RPI top 10 team usually doesn’t damage a resume much, and when it’s your only loss out of 21 games, it almost definitely won’t. The Cavaliers will have no problem making the tournament.
Kansas: 19-3 (8-1), RPI: 1, SOS: 1
Bill Self has cracked the RPI and SOS code. It feels like every year the Jayhawks are ranked at the very top in both metrics, which is huge help for March. Kansas got revenge for its only conference loss earlier in the year against Iowa State last week as they handled the Cyclones with ease. This team will be in the tournament.
Villanova: 20-2 (7-2), RPI: 7, SOS: 36
Villanova has racked up a 9-2 record against the RPI top 100 and have placed themselves atop the Big East standings through nine conference games. The Wildcats’ remaining schedule doesn’t allow for many opportunities for bad losses and plenty more for quality wins. At this point, Villanova is playing for seeding.
Wisconsin: 20-2 (8-1), RPI: 5, SOS: 17
Despite an intriguing loss to RPI 122 Rutgers on Jan. 11, the Badgers have the resume to make it into the tournament. They hold wins over Georgetown, Oklahoma and Boise State from the non-conference and already have beaten Indiana, Iowa twice and Purdue in Big Ten play. The Badgers are likely going to be one of several teams vying for a one seed at the end of the year.
Arizona: 20-2 (8-1), RPI: 4, SOS: 19
Since losing to UNLV on Dec. 23 and Oregon State on Jan. 11, Arizona has won six in a row, including a 69-51 beating of Utah on Jan. 17. Arizona is 11-1 against the RPI top 100 and can tout wins over Gonzaga, San Diego State, Utah, Kansas State and Stanford. There are chances for Arizona to add some bad losses to their resume between now and March, but there is no indication it will matter. The Wildcats are a shoe-in for the tournament at this point.
Kentucky: 22-0 (9-0), RPI: 2, SOS: 8
Kentucky hasn’t lost yet. Through 22 games they’re still undefeated. How could they possibility be denied a spot in the tournament? They’re taken care of many of the games people circled in the preseason that could be possible trip ups, including their game at archrival Louisville, North Carolina, Kansas and more. They have some tricky games still to come, such as their next game this Saturday at rival Florida. Kentucky-Florida games are big games regardless of records and with College GameDay going to Gainesville for the game, the atmosphere should be electric. But even if Kentucky loses, it won’t affect their standing for the tournament. They’re in.
Gonzaga: 23-1 (11-0), RPI: 8, SOS: 63
Gonzaga’s one loss this season was on Dec. 6 at Arizona in overtime 66-63. They have won 16 in a row since. The WCC isn’t the strongest this season and many of those wins have been against poor competition, but winning 16 in a row against anyone is impressive. The Bulldogs scheduled well in the non-conference, with games against Southern Methodist, UCLA, Georgia, St. John’s, Memphis and the aforementioned Arizona game. Gonzaga will be fine come Selection Sunday regardless of whether or not they win the WCC Tournament and I guarantee you bubble teams across the country will become huge Gonzaga fans when their conference tournament rolls around.
Should Be In
VCU: 18-4 (8-1), RPI: 9, SOS: 6
VCU just suffered their first conference loss against crosstown rival Richmond on Jan. 31, but the biggest loss from that game was Briante Weber’s injury. The Rams’ star will miss the rest of his senior season just 12 steals away from the all-time record. It’s a huge loss for VCU but they aren’t short of talent. In their first game without Weber went smoothly as they Rams cruised to a 72-60 victory at George Mason on Wednesday, but we will have to see how they do against better competition. Their chances of making the tournament are still very good, but without Weber they aren’t good enough to be a lock just yet.
Louisville: 19-3 (7-2), RPI: 12, SOS: 39
Louisville’s resume has started to look a lot better lately with back-to-back wins against North Carolina and Miami. The Cardinals now have three wins over the RPI top 50 and are 9-3 against the RPI top 100. Their 5-1 away record and RPI numbers are very good and help to round out a resume that wasn’t super strong not long ago. Louisville isn’t a lock but they’re looking strong for the tournament right now.
North Carolina: 17-6 (7-3), RPI: 10, SOS: 2
The Tar Heels have some very impressive numbers. They have the second-strongest schedule in the country, as well as the number 12 non-conference SOS. In addition, their top-ten RPI makes their numbers difficult to overlook. They’re just 3-6 against the RPI top 50, but in a top-heavy ACC it makes sense. They’ve got wins against Louisville, Ohio State, UCLA, Davidson, Florida, Clemson, Syracuse and North Carolina State, which will be very helpful come Selection Sunday. There are some big games left on their schedule, with none bigger than their two remaining meetings with Duke.
Notre Dame: 21-3 (9-2), RPI: 28, SOS: 111
If not for those pesky numbers, the Irish might already be a lock for the tournament. However, those numbers do play a large role in the committee’s decisions. Notre Dame’s 111 ranked SOS and 317 ranked non-conference SOS are really bad, but where they lack in numbers they make up for in quality wins. They’ve already won at North Carolina and beat Duke, Michigan State, Miami, North Carolina State and Purdue. One of their biggest games is coming up next when Notre Dame travels to Tobacco Road to take on the Blue Devils. We will again get a great chance to see what this team can do.
Iowa State: 16-5 (6-3), RPI: 15, SOS: 16
The Cyclones’ recent loss to Kansas diminished their hopes of winning the Big 12 but not their hopes of dancing in March. Iowa State is 6-3 against the RPI top 50 and has looked like a team that can grab a high seed for most of the year. But there are some holes in the resume, namely two: losses to South Carolina and Texas Tech. These shouldn’t keep them out of the tournament, but they would be wise to avoid adding any more bad losses to that list just to be safe.
Oklahoma: 15-7 (6-4), RPI: 17, SOS: 4
The Sooners are an impressive 8-4 against the RPI top 50, including wins over UCLA, Butler and Tulsa in the non-conference and Baylor, Texas, Oklahoma State twice and West Virginia in conference. After losing four of five in mid-January, Oklahoma has bounced back to win three in a row to sure back up their resume. With stellar numbers and those wins, they should be able to maintain a spot in the tournament.
Baylor: 17-5 (6-4), RPI: 14, SOS: 11
Baylor boasts a top 20 RPI and SOS, no bad losses and wins over Iowa State, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Texas. There isn’t really anything to point to in the Bears’ resume to complain about but it isn’t good enough just yet to lock them up. It is very possible, especially for Baylor given their previous history, for them to play their way onto the bubble in the last half of the season. This Baylor team seems different but I don’t want to speak too soon on the Bears.
Butler: 17-6 (6-4), RPI: 18, SOS: 13
Butler holds very good numbers as well as a 7-5 record against the RPI top 50, which include wins against North Carolina, Georgetown, St. John’s twice, Seton Hall twice and Xavier. There isn’t much of a weak spot on their resume but similar to Baylor it’s not quite good enough to consider them a lock. Butler has a few more opportunities to add even more quality wins to their resume with games versus Villanova, at Xavier, Georgetown and at Providence remaining to move themselves up into the lock category.
Maryland: 19-4 (7-3), RPI: 16, SOS: 47
Maryland has struggled a little bit as of late, going 2-2 in their last four games: two blowout losses to Indiana and Ohio State and tight wins against Northwestern and Penn State. But the Terps are still in good position to return back to the tournament. They’re 4-3 against the RPI top 50, haven’t suffered any bad losses and have decent numbers. Maryland still has plenty of difficult games to go, such as their next two at Iowa and against Indiana. Currently, though, Maryland looks solid.
Utah: 17-4 (7-2), RPI: 11, SOS: 35
The Utes’ resume looks less impressive now than it did a few weeks ago due to teams on their schedule playing worse as the season goes on. Their numbers are pretty good and they don’t have any losses to teams outside of the RPI top 50, but they’re just 2-4 against the RPI top 50, which is far from good enough to be a lock at this junction. Utah doesn’t have tons of chances left to make statements with a Pac-12 being down this year. After they travel to Boulder to take on Colorado, the Utes will welcome Stanford to Salt Lake City on Feb. 12. This will be an important game for Utah to add another quality win to their resume to sure it up further.
Wichita State: 20-3 (10-1), RPI: 13, SOS: 78
Wichita State is in an interesting spot in their season now. After losing to Northern Iowa on Jan. 31, the Shockers don’t have any other chances to add another quality win to their resume until the Panthers come to Wichita in their last game of the season. It’s looking positive for Wichita State as far as making the tournament is concerned, but with so many chances to add bad losses to their resume, they’ll need to be careful to remain relatively unscathed until they meet Northern Iowa again.
Northern Iowa: 21-2 (10-1), RPI: 19, SOS: 118
What a win the Panthers had last week. Their victory over Wichita State gives them the tiebreaker over the Shockers for first place in the Missouri Valley standings and gives them a second marquee win to couple with their defeat of in-state foe Iowa in December. The SOS numbers are still poor, but that’s not going to change much at this point. Their RPI numbers are very good and they have proven themselves to be a very deep basketball team. Similarly to the position Wichita State is in, the Panthers will have plenty of chances to rack up bad losses left. They’ll should avoid losing to teams they shouldn’t before facing Wichita State again.
Over The Bubble
Southern Methodist: 18-5 (9-2), RPI: 27, SOS: 67
After losing to Cincinnati 62-54 on Thursday, the Mustangs blew another opportunity to get that vaunted second RPI top 50 win. As of right now, SMU is 1-5 against the RPI 50, with that one win coming at RPI 42 Temple on Jan. 14. But those five losses are their only five losses. They’ve essentially beaten who they should and lost to everyone else. At this point it would be good enough to get them into the tournament, but who knows if that will remain. Overall their resume right now looks to be good enough but if they added a few bad losses it might not be.
Cincinnati: 16-6 (7-3), RPI: 24, SOS: 33
Cincinnati beat SMU on Thursday to complete the sweep over the Mustangs. After that win I’ve decided to elevate them off of the bubble to this category. They’re now 4-2 against the RPI top 50, have a top 25 RPI and non-conference SOS of 15. Their biggest issue, though, is their inability to stay away from bad losses. In fact, the SMU win canceled out a horrific loss at RPI 251 East Carolina on Feb. 1. Which was their third loss to a team outside of the RPI top 100. Those losses are a big problem, but at this point the rest of their resume is good enough to hold them slightly off the bubble.
West Virginia: 18-4 (6-3), RPI: 21, SOS: 70
Let me be clear: the Mountaineers are pretty far off from the bubble. My placement of them in this category doesn’t mean West Virginia should be super worried about their standing right now. However, they don’t have enough wins for me to put them in the “Should Be In’ category. West Virginia is 2-3 against the RPI top 50 (Oklahoma and Wofford) and played an awfully ranked 193 non-conference SOS. Their worst loss is to RPI 51 LSU in December so they don’t have much to worry about as far as bad losses are concerned. But in a stacked Big 12, losses can pile up quickly, but that also means chances for quality wins are abundant. All of West Virginia’s remaining games are against team that are featured in this edition of Bubble Watch. Things could either go incredible for the Mountaineers and they could climb the seed lines or horribly bad and turn them into a potential bubble team.
Oklahoma State: 15-7 (5-5), RPI: 30, SOS: 28
The Cowboys have an excellent opportunity to boost their resume on Saturday when the Big 12-leading Kansas Jayhawks come to Stillwater. Oklahoma State lost to Kansas in their first matchup by 10 but hung in for much of the game. A win against Kansas would go a long way for the Cowboys, who already have four wins over the RPI top 50. Their non-conference SOS is a terrible 134, but otherwise their numbers are solid. They’ve played themselves off the bubble in conference play, but a losing streak in the deep Big 12 is more than plausible.
Providence: 17-6 (7-3), RPI: 20, SOS: 21
The issue for the Friars isn’t the strength of their wins. They’re 6-3 against the RPI top 50 and 10-3 against the RPI top 100, which includes wins at Butler, Georgetown twice, Notre Dame, Xavier and Miami. Focusing on that are their numbers, you would think Providence is surely looking better for the tournament than simply being over the bubble. But then you look at some of their losses and you see why. Providence has lost to Boston College, Marquette and RPI 248 Brown, and at home no less. Currently, they’ve done enough to overcome those bad losses, but should they add too many more to their resume they might find themselves on the bubble.
Georgetown: 15-7 (7-4), RPI: 22, SOS: 5
Georgetown’s resume is basically the opposite of Providence’s. They don’t have any bad losses and their numbers are great. Looking at that you would think they’ll hear their name called on Selection Sunday for sure. But then you see they’re just 3-7 against the RPI top 50 and you realize why they’re just over the bubble. Granted, those three wins are against Villanova, Butler and Indiana, so they’re pretty good wins, but they have failed to capitalize on a lot of chances to add more wins to that list.
Indiana: 16-7 (6-4), RPI: 31, SOS: 32
Despite losing three of their last four, Indiana is still in decent shape for the tournament at this point. They’re 4-5 against the RPI top 50 but have avoided any bad losses (Eastern Washington’s RPI is 57). Their non-conference numbers are weak but their overall RPI and SOS are accepted. The Hoosiers could certainly blow it and miss the tournament, but at this point they’re looking alright. But they’ll need to get back to playing as well as they were earlier in the season and soon, too, with a trip to College Park coming up Feb. 11.
Arkansas: 17-5 (6-3), RPI: 23, SOS: 54
As of right now, Arkansas has done what they needed to do to finally get back into the tournament. Their computer numbers are passable, they have three wins against the RPI top 50 (Georgia, SMU and Dayton) and have no bad losses. The Razorbacks Achilles heel the last few years has been winning on the road. So far they’re 3-4 on the road and two of their three top 50 wins have been away from Fayetteville. That’s already a solid improvement from in the past and is an indicator that Arkansas may have actually turned the corner this time in their attempted return to prominence.
On The Bubble
Temple: 16-7 (7-3), RPI: 42, SOS: 59
The Owls are teetering on the edge with middle of the road numbers and just one quality win, albeit being the best one possible against RPI 1 Kansas. But that was all the way back in December. Temple can only ride that one win for so long. They still have Cincinnati, SMU and Tulsa on the schedule; three quality opportunities to compliment the Kansas win. Their two bad losses to UNLV and St. Joe’s occurred months ago and therefore can be forgiven, but as the memory of those losses fade, so too does the memory of the Kansas win. Temple needs to do something soon to prove they deserve a tournament bid.
Tulsa: 17-5 (10-0), RPI: 36, SOS: 119
Tulsa has been able to navigate through AAC play undefeated so far but they are yet to play the best the conference has to offer. The Golden Hurricane will face their first major test in their next game on Saturday when SMU comes to town. How Tulsa fares in that game should help give some better perspective as to where this team is. At the moment, they’re a team with ugly numbers (non-conference RPI of 97, non-conference SOS of 98 and SOS of 119), a loss to Oral Roberts and a 1-3 record against the RPI top 50. They need more to get an at-large bid to the tournament, but they’ve set themselves up as well as they could in AAC play to do it.
Dayton: 17-5 (7-3), RPI: 33, SOS: 122
The Flyers have dropped three of five after winning eight in a row and have found themselves back on the bubble as a result. Their schedule strength is terrible and with Connecticut’s season continuing to implode, Dayton now has a bad loss to RPI 108. They have two top 50 wins to their name, but both were in the non-conference. Their only two top 100 wins in A-10 play have been RPI 72 Richmond and RPI 85 LaSalle. After losing to the Colonials yesterday, Dayton will just have a trip to VCU left on Feb. 28 for a chance to add to their resume. Otherwise they’ll have to rely on the A-10 tournament and hoping that what they have is good enough for the committee.
North Carolina State: 14-10 (5-6), RPI: 60, SOS: 10
North Carolina State’s biggest problem is their lack of big wins. They’re 7-9 against the RPI top 100, so they have wins against the top 100, but they’re just 2-6 versus the top 50. The best of their wins, Duke on Jan. 11, is about as good as it gets. But the other is RPI 48 Boise State; a fringe bubble team. What also doesn’t help is a bad loss to Wake Forest earlier this week. The slowly decreasing RPI is a problem as well. Their SOS and Duke win are really all NC State has going to them at this point. They need to do more to beef up their resume to ensure their tournament chances.
Miami (FL): 14-8 (4-5), RPI: 58, SOS: 42
Miami was looking good. It looked like they were on the right track and would play themselves into the tournament. And then it all came crashing down. The Hurricanes have lost three straight, including bad losses to Georgia Teach at home and Florida State on the road. Now Miami finds themselves in a tricky situation. Their numbers aren’t something to positively point at and their 1-4 record against the RPI top 50 isn’t impressive either. Granted, that one win was a blowout 90-74 victory at Cameroon Indoor over Duke, but their bad losses do a decent job of canceling that win out. Miami has some work to do to get back to where they were just a few weeks ago.
Kansas State: 12-11 (5-5), RPI: 95, SOS: 31
Kansas State’s resume is a bit of an intriguing one. Their RPI is way too high for them to get serious consideration, except they do get serious consideration because they have four wins over teams with RPIs 32 and higher (Baylor, at Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M). Their non-conference SOS and RPI are both terrible, 155 and 189 respectively, which makes it even more questionable as to why they were so bad before conference play. They have plenty of opportunities left on the schedule to get more quality wins and make the committee forget all about everything that happened before January, but they’re going to need to get a few more big wins to make up for their past grievances.
Texas: 14-8 (3-6), RPI: 34, SOS: 12
What a disappointment Texas has been this season. They were a preseason favorite to unseat Kansas for the Big 12 throne and now in early February they find themselves on the bubble. At the moment, they’re still in. Their numbers are pretty good, but their 2-8 record against the RPI top 50 isn’t. They beat West Virginia and Iowa and haven’t lost to anyone outside of the RPI top 50, but they’ve had so many chances to win big games and they have failed almost every time. It’s getting to the point that they may play themselves outside of the tournament field by losing to quality teams over and over again.
Xavier: 14-9 (5-6), RPI: 35, SOS: 14
The numbers are there and there are some wins for the Musketeers to point to. However, there are three bad losses against DePaul, Auburn and Creighton at home to point to also. Xavier is 3-4 against the RPI top 50 with a series sweep of Georgetown and a victory over fellow bubble team Seton Hall. Xavier’s game against Providence on Saturday will be big for them, but it isn’t their last chance to pick up a big win. They have St. John’s twice, Butler, Villanova and a trip across town at Cincinnati left on the schedule after Providence. They need some of those to become wins to turn this resume into one truly worthy of a tournament bid.
St. John’s: 14-8 (3-6), RPI: 49, SOS: 15
2-6 against the RPI top 50 isn’t going to get you much farther than the bubble. The Red Storm have a season sweep of Providence but that’s about it. Their SOS is strong, but when you don’t win any of those games the tough schedule only helps so much, especially when you’ve already lost to Creighton and DePaul. Hardly a perfect resume but salvageable with the Big East being as tough as it is. St. John’s isn’t out of it yet and far from it. They could play themselves into solid positioning for the tournament but right now they’re not certain yet.
Seton Hall: 15-7 (5-5), RPI: 44, SOS: 65
Seton Hall started off conference play well and looked to be in great position for a high seed with good numbers and wins over Villanova and then highly-ranked St. John’s. Since they’ve gone 3-5, including their most recent loss at DePaul 75-62 on Feb. 3 which gave DePaul a season sweep over Seton Hall. After their game against Marquette on Saturday, the Pirates have games against Georgetown, at Providence, at Villanova and at St. John’s all in a row. That’s plenty of chances to get their resume squared away. It’s also a great chance for them to throw the season away. Should be fun.
Ohio State: 17-6 (6-4), RPI: 40, SOS: 71
The Buckeyes have played a lot better lately, with blowout wins over Indiana and Maryland. But in their last game they lost at Purdue and ended their winning ways that brought them their first marquee wins of the season. Ohio State hasn’t lost to anyone they shouldn’t have, which is something. Their non-conference SOS of 207 is also something. Ohio State has done enough to feel comfortable about being in the field of 68 as of right now, but they’re one or two bad losses away from being is serious jeopardy of making the tournament.
Michigan State: 15-7 (6-3), RPI: 37, SOS: 38
Michigan State’s numbers aren’t fine and their 4-5 mark over the RPI top 100 is fine, too. Their losses to Nebraska and Texas Southern at home are not fine. This is a Michigan State team many expected to be highly seeded going into March Madness but they have vastly failed what was expected of them. They play Illinois on Saturday, Ohio State on Feb. 14 and then at Illinois Feb. 22. These are prime chances for them to get a few decent wins under their belt to head into their big matchup at Wisconsin on Mar. 1.
Illinois: 15-8 (5-5), RPI: 59, SOS: 69
The Fighting Illini have been playing without their star Rayvonte Rice since early January and are still on the bubble surprisingly. They’ve beaten Maryland and Purdue in his absence, which the committee will take into account. They’ll also take into account what they did with him less since he won’t be playing in the tournament if they make it. They have an uphill battle to overcome the loss of Rice, but it can be done. They have Michigan State twice, Wisconsin, Iowa and Purdue remaining. Winning some of those games will be huge if Illinois is to get an at-large bid.
Iowa: 14-8 (5-4), RPI: 47, SOS: 24
Iowa has at times looked like a tournament team and at times looked like they belong in the NIT. When getting absolutely destroyed by Wisconsin 82-50: NIT. When completing the season sweep over Ohio State: tournament. They’re a solid 4-2 on the road, which include two of their best wins of the season at North Carolina and at Ohio State, but their non-conference SOS and RPI are both in the hundreds. They don’t have any particularly bad losses at the moment (assuming Syracuse doesn’t continue to lose), but have shown some inconsistent play. On Sunday when Maryland comes to Carver-Hawkeye, Iowa will have an excellent chance to improve their resume.
Purdue: 15-8 (7-3), RPI: 73, SOS: 62
The Boilermakers have played themselves onto the bubble after being on nobody’s radar for the majority of the season. They’ve won four in a row against Iowa, Indiana, Northwestern and Ohio State to make their resume one worth mentioning. Their non-conference SOS is 212 and their other numbers aren’t particularly enticing. Their losses to Vanderbilt, Gardner-Webb and North Florida don’t make you love this resume either. But they’ve earned a 3-3 mark against the RPI top 50 and their current hot streak has gained them some attention, but they still have plenty of work left to do.
San Diego State: 18-5 (8-2), RPI: 26, SOS: 82
The Mountain West is weaker than it has been the last few years, which means teams like San Diego State aren’t getting the chances in conference play to pick up quality wins like in the past. That’s why San Diego State’s win against Utah in the non-conference is so important. But their loss to RPI 222 Fresno State on Jan. 3 is pretty bad, too. Their chances to pick up losses like that are increased due to a weak Mountain West, so the Aztecs need to continue to win the game they’re supposed to and try to ride out their win against Utah, as well as hopefully at least one more win to compliment the one over the Utes in November.
Colorado State: 19-4 (6-4), RPI: 29, SOS: 106
After starting the season 14-0, the Rams are 5-4 in their last nine and their only wins of consequence are San Diego State on Jan. 24 and Boise State on Dec. 31. Their SOS is pretty poor and they do have a bad loss to New Mexico, but their 5-3 away record and high RPI are positives. Colorado State still has a game at San Diego State left on the schedule, a big game for both teams trying to add another quality win to their resume, but other than that it’s all chances to slip up and hurt themselves. If they don’t beat the Aztecs, the Rams might be in some serious trouble.
Boise State: 16-6 (6-3), RPI: 48, SOS: 96
The Broncos still have plenty of work to do to get into the field of 68. They only have one top 50 win (Colorado State) and without a few more, they’re going to be playing in the NIT. On Sunday the welcome San Diego State to town and will travel to San Diego to take on the Aztecs at the end of the February for the rematch. Those are two prime opportunities for Boise State to make themselves known and improve their resume.
Wyoming: 19-4 (8-2), RPI: 64, SOS: 185
This resume is steadily improving but still isn’t good enough. The Mountain West leaders apparently decided to not play anybody in the non-conference since their non-conference SOS is ranked 329, and the Mountain West schedule isn’t helping enough since their overall SOS is still poor. The RPI is improving but still isn’t good enough. Their win over Colorado State on Wednesday which secured the season sweep over the Rams was huge for the Cowboys. They still have plenty of work to do but they’ve been an exciting team and a surprise to much of the country so far.
Stanford: 15-7 (6-4), RPI: 46, SOS: 58
The Cardinal’s numbers are nothing special but okay, their wins against Texas and Wofford are nothing special but okay and their 4-4 road record is nothing special but okay. This resume screams, “Meh.” It’s nothing special but okay. They still have games against Utah and Arizona to turn this nothing-special resume into something better, but otherwise they need to avoid bad losses as to not turn their nothing-special resume into something worse.
UCLA: 14-9 (6-4), RPI: 45, SOS: 23
The Bruins have played themselves onto the bubble after starting out the season very poor. After winning at Stanford on Thursday they took the series against the Cardinal and can add those wins to their win against Utah on Jan. 29 to make them a decent 3-5 against the RPI top 50. They currently have no losses to teams outside of the top 100 and their numbers are decent, too. Compared to where they were a few weeks ago, UCLA’s postseason outlook has vastly improved.
LSU: 16-6 (5-4), RPI: 51, SOS: 94
LSU is 3-2 against the top 50 but unfortunately for the Tigers they have just as many losses to teams outside of the top 100. Their numbers aren’t spectacular, either. The 5-2 road record is a positive, especially since three of those away wins have been against West Virginia, Mississippi and Florida. Their resume is far from perfect but it has some positives to point to. LSU has lost two in a row to Mississippi State and Auburn, which is pretty bad. They need to get back to winning when the play Alabama on Saturday and then to gear up for their big game against Kentucky on Tuesday.
Tennessee: 13-8 (5-4), RPI: 79, SOS: 52
Tennessee’s resume has gotten worse since my last entry. Losing four of five will do that to you. Their numbers have gotten worse, they now have two bad losses on their resume and are just 3-6 against the top 100. LSU, Kentucky and Mississippi are coming up on the schedule soon, which would all be big wins for the Vols. They’re in danger of falling off the bubble if they don’t do something otherwise, and soon, too.
Georgia: 14-7 (5-4), RPI: 25, SOS: 18
The numbers are definitely there for the Bulldogs. The 2-3 record against the top 50 isn’t amazing but wins against Mississippi and Seton Hall are something. They have losses to three teams right inside the top 100, but their numbers and five top 100 wins help to soften that blow. Their next game is against Texas A&M on Wednesday, which will provide them with a good chance to add another win to their resume to make them more comfortable heading into March.
Texas A&M: 15-6 (6-3), RPI: 32, SOS: 60
First let’s cover the bad: A&M is 0-4 against the top 50 and just 2-6 against the top 100. Their non-conference SOS is 118 and their overall SOS isn’t amazing. Now the good: The Aggies have zero bad losses, their two best wins against LSU and Tennessee have been on the road and their RPI numbers aren’t so bad. Texas A&M wasn’t getting much bubble attention until a few weeks ago and they’ve slowly played themselves into decent position for a tournament berth. They need more quality wins to feel safe, though, so remaining games against Georgia, LSU and at Arkansas are huge.
Mississippi: 15-7 (6-3), RPI: 41, SOS: 41
The Rebels’ resume has quickly gone from one to dismiss to one you can’t miss. Their numbers are solid, they’re 3-3 against the top 50 with wins over Cincinnati, Texas A&M and at Arkansas. They do have some questionable losses to TCU and Charleston Southern in the non-conference, but what happened in November and early-December can fade away in the memory of the committee with some solid SEC play. Coming up Ole Miss has road games against Auburn and Florida; two games they need to win to avoid any more questionable losses. Then the Razorbacks come to town and the Rebels will try to give themselves another notable win.
Old Dominion: 17-4 (6-3), RPI: 39, SOS: 126
Old Dominion has a great win against VCU and a win over LSU, both from November, but their conference isn’t strong enough to provide them with many prime chances for quality wins. It’s good that they took advantage of their opportunities when they had them, and their attempt to schedule quality opponents is made evident by their non-conference SOS ranking of 44. But unfortunately for the Monarchs, they’ve lost to RPI 141 UAB and RPI 152 Middle Tennessee and their overall SOS is outside of the top 100. Old Dominion doesn’t really have any chances for a really quality win remaining, so they’re going to need to simply keep winning and avoid any bad loses. Eventually, with other bubble teams losing, they’ll move up by default and hopefully feel comfortable about having an at-large bid heading into the C-USA Tournament.
Memphis: 14-8 (6-3), RPI: 80, SOS: 57
Richmond: 12-10 (5-4), RPI: 72, SOS: 30
Davidson: 14-6 (5-4), RPI: 67, SOS: 104
George Washington: 17-6 (7-3), RPI: 54, SOS: 151
Clemson: 14-8 (6-4), RPI: 74, SOS: 53
Washington: 14-8 (3-7), RPI: 81, SOS: 80
Oregon: 16-7 (6-4), RPI: 56, SOS: 50
Alabama: 14-8 (4-5), RPI: 68, SOS: 43
Florida: 12-10 (5-4), RPI: 69, SOS: 25
Western Kentucky: 16-6 (9-1), RPI: 70, SOS: 108
Wofford: 19-5 (10-1), RPI: 43, SOS: 150
Stephen F. Austin: 18-3 (8-0), RPI: 84, SOS: 269