Fourth week of the Bubble Watch and already things are drastically different than when he began one month ago (*cough* Seton Hall *cough*). If you’d like further explanation on how this works, you can check out the first edition of the Bubble Watch here. If you’d like to see the previous installment of Bubble Watch, you can find it here. Finally, don’t forget to check out my bracketology to find out where all of these teams are seeded and who’s in and who’s out.
Includes all games through Thursday, Feb. 19:
Duke (ACC): 23-3 (10-3), RPI: 5, SOS: 6
Virginia (ACC): 24-1 (12-1), RPI: 3, SOS: 9
Louisville (ACC): 20-6 (8-5), RPI: 22, SOS: 29
North Carolina (ACC): 18-8 (8-5), RPI: 12, SOS: 3
Notre Dame (ACC): 23-4 (12-3), RPI: 25, SOS: 99
Kansas (Big 12): 21-5 (10-3), RPI: 1, SOS: 1
Oklahoma (Big 12): 18-8 (9-5), RPI: 15, SOS: 8
Iowa State (Big 12): 19-6 (9-4), RPI: 10, SOS: 13
Villanova (Big East): 24-2 (11-2), RPI: 4, SOS: 17
Wisconsin (Big Ten): 24-2 (12-1), RPI: 6, SOS: 23
Maryland (Big Ten): 22-5 (10-4), RPI: 11, SOS: 32
Wichita State (Missouri Valley): 24-3 (14-1), RPI: 17, SOS: 107
Northern Iowa (Missouri Valley): 25-2 (14-1), RPI: 16, SOS: 131
Arizona (Pac-12): 23-3 (11-2), RPI: 7, SOS: 37
Utah (Pac-12): 21-4 (11-2), RPI: 9, SOS: 40
Kentucky (SEC): 26-0 (13-0), RPI: 2, SOS: 16
Gonzaga (WCC): 27-1 (15-0), RPI: 8, SOS: 82
Should Be In
Southern Methodist (AAC): 22-5 (12-2), RPI: 19, SOS: 64
After the Mustang’s victory over Temple last night I was very tempted to lock SMU up. I decided to air on the side of precaution, though, and keep them in this category. Tragedy could strike and SMU could lose their last three games at Memphis, at Connecticut and against Tulsa. I don’t think it will happen but it could. The Mustangs probably won’t be left out like last year.
VCU (A-10): 20-6 (10-3), RPI: 13, SOS: 15
The Rams have bounced back their recent slump by first beating George Washington in Foggy Bottom 79-66 on Saturday and then defeating Saint Louis on Tuesday. VCU still has five games left, three of which are against A-10 bubble teams who will be hungry for another quality win as the season draws closer to the end and a trip across town to visit rival Richmond. It won’t be an easy ending to the season for VCU, but if they can manage a win on Saturday against Massachusetts that might be enough to lock them up.
Baylor (Big 12): 19-7 (7-6), RPI: 14, SOS: 7
Baylor played well at Kansas on Saturday but were unable to come away with the win. They followed up that performance with a close 54-49 win in Lubbock on Tuesday. All in all, neither of those games have too much of an effect on the Bears’ resume. They’re still sitting in a very good position to make the field of 68. They just need to keep chugging along and they’ll get locked up in no time.
Butler (Big East): 19-7 (9-4), RPI: 23, SOS: 19
Butler’s 58-56 win at Creighton on Monday doesn’t help them as much as it keeps them from the harm that would have been losing their first game of the season to a sub-100 opponent. The undefeated mark against RPI 100+ as well as the Bulldogs’ five wins over the top 50 are attention grabbing. Butler will have a chance to get their sixth top 50 win on Saturday when they travel to play at Xavier. Win that game and the Bulldogs will be awfully close to being 100 percent safe come Selection Sunday.
Providence (Big East): 19-8 (9-5), RPI: 21, SOS: 11
Those ugly losses on Providence’s resume are long in the past. The team that lost to Marquette, Boston College and Brown at home is gone. The Friars are 10-5 against the top 100 and their numbers back up their strength. If they can manage to win at Villanova on Tuesday, we could be seeing Providence in the lock category. If they lose it won’t hurt them much. They’re still in good position to get a tournament berth.
Georgetown (Big East): 17-8 (9-5), RPI: 20, SOS: 2
Despite being 6-8 against the top 100, the Hoyas are most likely going to hear their name called on Selection Sunday. Their dominant win over St. John’s on Tuesday gives Georgetown four top 50 wins on the year. Couple that with their lack any bad losses and excellent numbers and you’ve got yourself a tournament resume. To be absolutely certain of a tournament berth, the Hoyas need to win their next two games against DePaul and at St. John’s. Do that and they should be in regardless of what happens after.
Indiana (Big Ten): 18-9 (8-6), RPI: 35, SOS: 27
If teams aren’t sure how to beat Indiana, all they need to do is rewatch their games against Purdue. The Boilermakers exploited Indiana’s lack of size perfectly and have helped to expose the Hoosier’s weakness. However, even though Indiana is 3-5 since Jan. 25, the Hoosiers are in a good spot to make the tournament. Their 6-6 record against the top 50 is impressive and their RPI and SOS are definitely deserving of a berth. Their next two games are at Rutgers and at Northwestern, two teams toward the bottom of the Big Ten standings. If the Hoosiers can escape those games unscathed, they’ll likely be able to say they didn’t have a sub-100 loss this season: something not too many teams can say. At the moment, Indiana should be more worried about how they’ll do in the tournament than if they’ll make it.
Arkansas (SEC): 21-5 (10-3), RPI: 24, SOS: 78
The Razorbacks are winners of their last five and have worked their way closer and closer to being a lock during their win streak. This team is vastly improved from last year, which has been particularly evident in their ability to win away from home. Winning outside of Bud Walton Arena has been a thorn in Arkansas’s side for the last few years. This season, Arkansas is 5-4 in road games, including wins at Southern Methodist, at Mississippi and at Georgia. Razorback fans should be excited about their prospects for the postseason and into the future.
Over The Bubble
Dayton (A-10): 20-5 (10-3), RPI: 29, SOS: 108
The Flyers’ schedule to finish out the season isn’t particularly difficult. They’ve won their last three against Saint Louis, St. Bonaventure and St. Joe’s, and their next two are Duquesne and George Mason before going to Richmond to face VCU. Dayton has plenty of opportunities to trip up and add a questionable loss or two to their resume which would seriously damage their outlook for the tournament, but if they can go 2-0 before the matchup with VCU, Dayton will be in a pretty good position for an at-large. Lose, though, and they might find themselves falling onto the bubble.
West Virginia (Big 12): 20-6 (8-5), RPI: 26, SOS: 46
Beating Kansas sure does help but it doesn’t quite propel West Virginia up a category. Their non-conference SOS of 193 isn’t going to improve much and none of their four road wins have been against a team in the top 100. Still, they’re in relatively good shape for Selection Sunday. On Saturday, the Mountaineers will head to Stillwater. The winner of the game between the Mountaineers and Cowboys will be one step closer to locking up their tournament bid.
Oklahoma State (Big 12): 17-9 (7-7), RPI: 28, SOS: 12
Oklahoma State lost 70-55 at TCU last Saturday, a headscratcher for sure, especially since it ended their three-game win streak against Texas, Kansas and Baylor. They then lost to Iowa State a home, a game that doesn’t especially hurt the Cowboys’ tournament chances, but a piling up of losses never helps. Oklahoma State’s remaining schedule is relatively easy considering the strength of the Big 12 with their last four games being West Virginia, at Texas Tech, TCU and at West Virginia. This can be a double-edged sword: Oklahoma State has a chance to add some more bad losses to their resume but could also realistically finish off the season 4-0 and earn themselves a solid seed.
Ohio State (Big Ten): 19-7 (8-5), RPI: 37, SOS: 83
The Buckeyes’ only game this week was a loss at Michigan State on Saturday, but with so many other bubble teams weakening their resume, a lack of any questionable losses and a passable 3-4 record against the top 50, they have moved up a category. Ohio State is far from safe, though. A loss to at rival Michigan would likely send them right back down onto the bubble. However, if the Buckeyes can beat the Wolverines and then beat Nebraska in their next game, when Purdue arrives in Columbus it could be Ohio State’s chance of greatly increasing the probability of making the field.
San Diego State (Mountain West): 21-6 (11-3), RPI: 18, SOS: 55
After losing to Boise State on Feb. 8, the Aztecs have won three in a row, including a huge win over Colorado State on Saturday. San Diego State has cemented themselves as the top team in the Mountain West and have vastly improved their at-large chances, assuming it gets to that. Other than a game against Boise State on Feb. 28, the remaining schedule is pretty easy. The Aztecs could win the rest of their games and lock up a spot in the tournament before the Mountain West Tournament even starts.
On The Bubble
Temple (AAC): 19-8 (10-4), RPI: 30, SOS: 54
Oh, what could have been. Temple played well in Dallas on Thursday but eventually lost to SMU 67-58, snapping their seven-game win streak that got them to this point. Had they defeated the Mustangs, there is a decent chance I would have moved them up a category. But unfortunately for Temple, not only could they not get it done on Tuesday, but Cincinnati hasn’t played well lately either, dropping them out of the RPI top 50. The Owls are now back to their one lone top 50 win against Kansas on Dec. 22. Temple’s next game at Tulsa on Sunday will be a huge bubble showdown with both teams looking for another quality win to convince the committee of their worth.
Tulsa (AAC): 18-7 (11-2), RPI: 48, SOS: 110
Tulsa got blown out by Connecticut 70-45 on Feb. 12, but they bounced back well against East Carolina on Wednesday, winning 69-58. Unfortunately for the Golden Hurricane, East Carolina isn’t exactly a quality win. And Tulsa needs those, and quick. They’re just 1-4 against the top 50 and only have one win against the top 80. On Sunday all of that can change when they go for the season sweep against Temple. The committee would certainly take notice if Tulsa could beat Temple twice and games against Cincinnati and at SMU still remain. Tulsa will have their opportunities to make their case.
Cincinnati (AAC): 17-9 (8-5), RPI: 52, SOS: 44
Losing three in a row is never a good look, but when one of those losses is to RPI 179 Tulane at home and another is to your crosstown rival it’s especially bad. But the Bearcats still have their 5-4 record versus the top 50, with a season sweep of SMU, an away win at North Carolina State and a home win against San Diego State in the non-conference and home victory over Temple. But memories are short in college basketball. Right now Cincinnati is still in, but if they keep losing, that is what will be fresh in the committee members’ minds, not their impressive wins from weeks and months ago.
Massachusetts (A-10): 16-10 (9-4), RPI: 39, SOS: 36
Basically Massachusetts’ numbers are what are keeping them on the bubble at this point. The Minutemen missed a big opportunity on Wednesday to notch a win against a fellow bubble team but lost at Rhode Island 75-59 instead. That leaves UMass at 6-7 versus the top 100 and 2-2 against the top 50. They’ve lost to Florida Gulf Coast, St. Bonaventure and St. Joe’s: three bad losses that aren’t helping Massachusetts’ case much. Their numbers are very good for a bubble team, particularly their non-conference SOS of nine. It’s an uphill battle and the first step has to come on Saturday at VCU. It will be the Minutemen’s last chance to get a signature win before the conference tournament.
Davidson (A-10): 18-6 (9-4), RPI: 56, SOS: 124
With their two-point win over George Washington on Wednesday, Davidson has officially worked its way back onto the bubble. A non-conference SOS of 230 and otherwise lackluster numbers, losses to St. Bonaventure and St. Joe’s and just three top 80 wins means there is plenty of work to be done, but they’re on the right track. The Wildcats’ 7-4 road record is a big positive, particularly considering three of their five top 100 wins were away from home. Davidson needs to stay the course and avoid a bad loss on Saturday against Fordham and then gear up for a huge bubble game at Rhode Island on Wednesday.
Rhode Island (A-10): 18-6 (10-3), RPI: 64, SOS: 127
Rhode Island’s win against UMass on Wednesday gave the Rams their first top 50 win of the season, something they needed to have to get onto the bubble. Well, they have one now, but that won’t be enough yet, especially with their numbers and two bad losses. Rhode Island needs a signature win. Unfortunately for them, the closest they came come to that with their remaining schedule is at Dayton on Mar. 3. Otherwise, the showdown with Davidson on Wednesday will be big in giving the Rams more top 100 wins to add to the four they already hold. Avoiding any bad losses is a must at this point, too. Rhode Island is walking a fine line but there is still hope.
North Carolina State (ACC): 15-11 (6-7), RPI: 47, SOS: 4
The numbers were there, NC State just needs something more to put them over the edge. They did that and then some by winning at Louisville on Saturday. They now hold signature wins against the Cardinals and Duke, better wins than any bubble team can tout, as well as solid victories over Boise State and Pittsburgh. They need to remain calm, though. The Wolfpack are far from a lock. They need to stay focused and handle Virginia Tech on Saturday. Losing to Hokies would virtually undo all of the good they did in Louisville and put them right back where they were.
Miami (FL) (ACC): 17-9 (7-6), RPI: 66, SOS: 66
The Hurricanes have won their last two after losing three in a row. Neither of their wins will be particularly helpful come Selection Sunday, but getting back on the winning track is important. Their next game is Saturday at Louisville. The Hurricanes could elevate their resume like North Carolina State just did by defeating the Cardinals, and playing away from home hasn’t been much of a problem for Miami this season. They’re 5-3 on the road and have beat Duke, Syracuse and Florida all on the road. Winning against a reeling Louisville team is doable for the Canes right now and would do wonders for their struggling resume.
Pittsburgh (ACC): 17-10 (6-7), RPI: 49, SOS: 33
Losing at Virginia on Monday doesn’t affect Pittsburgh’s resume much either way, but beating North Carolina last Saturday certainly did. That win put them on the bubble, but unfortunately for the Panthers they won’t have any more chances in the regular season to pick up another signature win. Next up they travel to Syracuse in what could be a solid top 100 win to add to the measly three they currently have. A 3-8 record against the top 100 won’t make Pittsburgh feel comfortable. They must find a way to get top 100 wins in quantity before Selection Sunday. Winning on Saturday against the Orange would do just that.
Texas (Big 12): 17-9 (6-7), RPI: 34, SOS: 22
Texas just cannot beat top 50 teams. It looked like they had the game at Oklahoma wrapped up on Tuesday only to lose 71-69 in the end. The Longhorns are 1-8 versus the top 50. With how weak the bubble seems to be this year, their lack of bad losses and superior numbers are keeping them on the right side of the cut line for now, but if they continue to lose to every quality team they play, it might be difficult for them to continue to make a case. One slip up to an inferior team and their resume would likely go tumbling and with it all of the expectations that were placed on Texas in the preseason.
Xavier (Big East): 17-10 (7-7), RPI: 32, SOS: 30
The win against rival Cincinnati on Wednesday gives Xavier eight top 100 wins, a high amount for a bubble team. Their numbers are tournament-worthy as well. What’s holding the Musketeers back are their losses to four sub-100 teams. Otherwise, their resume looks like that of a tournament team. Xavier’s next three games against Butler, St. John’s and Villanova are chances to add even more quality wins to their resume. They’ll likely need to win at least one and avoid a bad loss to Creighton at the end of the year to remain on the bubble or even better than standing heading into the Big East Tournament.
St. John’s (Big East): 17-9 (6-7), RPI: 41, SOS: 25
Before the Johnnies lost to Georgetown on Tuesday, they had three in a row to improve their resume to where it is now. Their numbers are acceptable, as is their 4-6 record against the top 50. Road losses to Creighton and DePaul don’t look good, but the Red Storm can overcome them. Games against Xavier, Georgetown and Villanova remain, but first St. John’s needs to take care of business against struggling Seton Hall on Saturday.
Michigan State (Big Ten): 18-8 (9-4), RPI: 31, SOS: 38
Beating both of their rivals in the same week has to feel good for the Spartans. Michigan State knocked off Ohio State last Saturday and then took care of business in Ann Arbor, defeating Michigan 80-67. They’re just 2-6 against the top 50 and lost to Texas Southern at home, so there is still improvements that need to be made before Michigan State can feel safe. On Sunday the Spartans have a big game in Champaign against Illinois, another Big Ten bubble team. Both teams will be looking to add another solid win to their resume as their chances to do so decrease by the day.
Illinois (Big Ten): 17-9 (7-6), RPI: 44, SOS: 52
Illinois has two excellent chances to prove to the committee they belong in the tournament coming up: Michigan State at home on Sunday and Iowa in Iowa City on Wednesday. If the Fighting Illini can win both of those games, they’ll likely be sitting pretty. However, if they’re unable to win either, they’ll have to beat Purdue in their final game of the year and rely on the Big Ten Tournament as their last opportunity to impress the committee.
Iowa (Big Ten): 16-10 (7-6), RPI: 59, SOS: 21
One of the best things Iowa had going for them was that they had been able to avoid any bad losses. That changed Sunday when they lost at Northwestern in overtime 66-61. Their loss in the game before to Minnesota looks like it will be considered a bad loss, too, with the Gophers’ RPI falling to 100. On Thursday the Hawkeyes took out their frustration on Rutgers, demolishing the Scarlet Knights 81-47. But beating Rutgers, no matter how bad, won’t catch the committee’s eye. Illinois and Indiana remain on the schedule. Iowa must avoid any more bad losses and hopefully win one of those two games before heading into the conference tournament.
Purdue (Big Ten): 18-9 (10-4), RPI: 58, SOS: 79
What a roller coaster season for the Purdue Boilermakers. In November and December, Purdue lost to Kansas State, Vanderbilt, Gardner-Webb and North Florida, the latter two coming at home. But since defeating Iowa on Jan. 24, the Boilermakers have been able to revitalize their season and resurrect their bubble prospects by winning seven of their last eight, including completing a season sweep of their hated in-state rival Indiana. Purdue now finds themselves right in the trenches of the bubble battle, steadily improving their case through their hot streak. After a meeting with Rutgers on Thursday, Purdue will play at Ohio State, at Michigan State and Illinois at home to finish out the regular season. This final stretch will likely make or break the Boilermakers’ tournament hopes.
Colorado State (Mountain West): 22-5 (9-5), RPI: 27, SOS: 95
The Rams missed their last chance for a quality win in the regular season on Saturday when they lost at San Diego State 72-63. They defeated Fresno State on Wednesday like they needed to and now must navigate through their final four games without picking up a bad loss. Colorado State’s 2-2 record against the top 50 isn’t stellar and neither is their non-conference SOS of 111. They need to avoid adding any more negatives to their already fragile resume heading into the Mountain West Tournament.
Boise State (Mountain West): 19-7 (9-4), RPI: 38, SOS: 96
After losing at Fresno State on Saturday, Boise State rebounded against UNLV, beating the Rebels 53-48 on Wednesday. Fortunately for the Broncos, they do still have a game against San Diego State left, so their 3-3 record against the top 50 can be improved before the conference tournament rolls around. Still, it’s crucial they avoid any more bad losses to at the very least keep their resume as is. Their SOS numbers leave plenty to be desired and with the loss to Fresno State they now have three total losses to teams outside of the top 100. There is work to be done, but if other bubbles teams start losing and Boise State keeps winning, they could find there way into the field after all.
Stanford (Pac-12): 16-9 (7-6), RPI: 53, SOS: 62
Stanford, what are you doing? You can’t lose four of five, with two losses to sub-par teams. You just can’t. But Stanford did, and because of that they find themselves right in the thick of the bubble. The Cardinal are just 2-5 versus the top 50, with their two wins being again Texas, another bubble candidate, and Wofford. Stanford needs to get back on track and fast because a trip to the tournament is slipped through their fingers. They still have Oregon and Arizona left on the schedule, but the need to avoid more questionable losses to California and Oregon State this week first.
UCLA (Pac-12): 16-11 (8-6), RPI: 45, SOS: 18
With Stanford and Oregon both losing, UCLA is just 1-5 against the top 50. Granted, that one win was against Utah, which is close to as good as it can get. Still, 1-5 isn’t too convincing. Losing to Arizona State on Wednesday doesn’t help their case much either. Nevertheless, the win over Utah is impressive and the SOS of 18 catches the eye. Their 2-7 road record is abysmal, though, so they need to get road wins in any way they can. A perfect opportunity comes on Saturday when the Bruins travel to Tucson to take on the Pac-12 leaders. If UCLA can beat Arizona, they would have wins against the top two teams in the conference. That would certainly mean a lot to the committee come selection time.
Oregon (Pac-12): 19-8 (9-5), RPI: 60, SOS: 75
The loss to UCLA on Saturday hurts. It was a prime opportunity for the Ducks to pick up a solid win over another bubble team and prove their worth to the committee. They did well to win their next game on Wednesday against Colorado, but now comes a big one. On Sunday Oregon will host Utah in what could become the Ducks’ signature win they so desperately need. If Oregon can’t beat the Utes, they’ll have to win out, including at Stanford, and hope they can make up for it in the Pac-12 Tournament.
LSU (SEC): 18-8 (7-6), RPI: 54, SOS: 87
LSU’s 68-62 loss to Texas A&M on Tuesday was their second close loss in what would have been a quality win in three games. It’s a tough pill to swallow for the Tigers but they need to keep their head up and continue on because it doesn’t get much easier. Florida comes to town on Saturday followed by a trip to Auburn on Tuesday. Then the fun begins. LSU closes the season against Ole Miss, Tennessee and at Arkansas: three games that could have major implications for all teams involved. Currently, LSU’s 9-5 record against the top 100 is enough to keep them afloat, but for how long?
Georgia (SEC): 16-9 (7-6), RPI: 40, SOS: 35
If you were wondering how to drastically hurt your bubble chances, look now further than the Bulldogs. They’ve lost four of six and two straight, both to teams they should not be losing to at this point in the season. They’ve now been swept by South Carolina and have five losses to teams outside of the top 80. For those of you who don’t know, that’s bad. Their numbers, which were the strongest part of their resume, have taken a hit with their recent losing. Games against Ole Miss and Kentucky are the only quality chances the Bulldogs have left to impress the committee in the regular season.
Texas A&M (SEC): 18-7 (9-4), RPI: 36, SOS: 73
Beating LSU didn’t give Texas A&M their first top 50 win of the season since the Tigers have an RPI right outside of 50, but it was big nevertheless. A&M is 6-5 against the top 100 and their RPI is solid. But 0-5 against the top 50 and a non-conference SOS of 128 puts them teetering on the edge of the bubble. The Aggies play South Carolina on Saturday and then a big game at Arkansas on Tuesday. The matchup with the Razorbacks is their chance to finally get that marquee win. Can they do it?
Mississippi (SEC): 18-8 (9-4), RPI: 33, SOS: 42
Ole Miss has done a very good job of playing themselves into a pretty favorable bubble situation. They have a top 50 RPI and SOS as well as seven top 100 wins. They’ve also been able to win away from home. The Rebels are 7-3 on the road and their biggest win thus far against Arkansas happened in Fayetteville. Losses to Western Kentucky, TCU and Charleston Southern in the non-conference are a large part of why this team is still on the bubble, but their solid play in conference has helped erase the memory of those embarrassing losses.
George Washington (A-10): 17-9 (7-6), RPI: 87, SOS: 135
Seton Hall (Big East): 15-11 (5-9), RPI: 72, SOS: 48
Old Dominion (C-USA): 19-6 (8-5), RPI: 61, SOS: 142
UTEP (C-USA): 18-7 (10-3), RPI: 67, SOS: 118
Wyoming (Mountain West): 21-6 (10-4), RPI: 78, SOS: 208
Alabama (SEC): 16-10 (6-7), RPI: 68, SOS: 51
Tennessee (SEC): 14-11 (6-7), RPI: 81, SOS: 41
BYU (WCC): 21-8 (11-5), RPI: 57, SOS: 91
Biggest Upcoming Bubble Games
Massachusetts at VCU, 12:00 p.m., Sat., Feb. 21
Pittsburgh at Syracuse, 12:00 p.m., Sat., Feb. 21
Iowa State at Texas, 2:00 p.m., Sat., Feb. 21
Butler at Xavier, 2:00 p.m., Sat., Feb. 21
Miami (FL) at Louisville, 2:00 p.m., Sat., Feb. 21
UCLA at Arizona, 9:00 p.m., Sat., Feb. 21
Oregon at Utah, 3:00 p.m., Sun., Feb. 22
Temple at Tulsa, 6:00 p.m., Sun., Feb. 22
Michigan State at Illinois, 7:30 p.m., Sun., Feb. 22
Xavier at St. John’s, 8:00 p.m., Mon., Feb. 23
Texas at West Virginia, 7:00 p.m., Tues., Feb. 24
North Carolina State at North Carolina, 8:00 p.m., Tues., Feb. 24
Texas A&M at Arkansas, 9:00 p.m., Tues., Feb. 24