Tulsa: Tulsa is in trouble. They have an RPI of 45. They have just two top 50 wins — both against Temple — and an ugly loss against Oral Roberts, to say nothing of the loss they suffered to a Division II team that doesn’t get factored into the RPI. They have just five top 100 wins, and all of them came in conference play. The Golden Hurricane probably needed to win the automatic bid to feel comfortable. They certainly needed to beat UConn and get a shot at SMU. Now? I think they’re out.
Georgia: Someone is going to have to explain to me why Georgia is comfortably in the tournament in most bracket projections, because I just don’t see it. As of today, the Bulldogs have zero top 50 wins. ZERO. They’re 11-9 against the top 100, but their best win is over an Ole Miss team that might not end up going to the NCAA tournament. They also have two sub-100 losses. So, again, why is this team considered comfortably in?
Purdue: The Boilermakers had a lead at the half against Wisconsin before watching the Badgers blitz them with a 41-16 run in the second half. At this point, Purdue is probably safe, considering that teams like BYU, Ole Miss, Temple and LSU are projected to be in the tournament right now. That said, there are some red flags on their resume. They have a weak non-conference strength of schedule, and those home losses to North Florida and Gardner-Webb are never going to look good. That RPI of 54 isn’t going to help, either. That said, I think they’re in.
Davidson: Like Purdue, the Wildcats are going to be in for a stressful couple of days as they wait to hear their NCAA tournament fate. And like Purdue, the biggest red flag on Davidson’s resume is their non-conference schedule. It ranks 242nd nationally. The good news? The Wildcats won the Atlantic 10 regular season title, they’re 9-5 against the top 100, they have wins over VCU and Dayton, and their two sub-100 losses came without Jack Gibbs on the floor. I think they’re in.
Temple: This is getting repetitive: the Owls lost to SMU, a loss that isn’t going to hurt their resume but will leave them without the kind of profile that will make Selection Sunday relaxing. The Owls played a strong schedule — and a good non-conference schedule — but they are just 2-8 against the top 50. They have eight top 100 wins, but just two of them are against tournament teams, the same number of sub-100 losses they have on their resume. That’s not all that impressive, but you know what is? Their 25-point win over Kansas. Temple has also been much better when they have everyone healthy, which is going to get factored into the discussion as well. Temple is going to be right there on the cut-line on Selection Sunday, but Wyoming’s win might end up being their death knell.
Wyoming: The Pokes are dancing! Wyoming won the Mountain West’s automatic bid, beating San Diego State in the title game. They are the first bid thief in 2015, meaning that all the teams on the bubble are not going to be happy about this result.
UConn: The Huskies won a thriller over Tulsa, meaning that they will play No. 20 SMU in the XL Center in Hartford for the right to go to the NCAA tournament. SMU is getting in regardless of what happens. UConn? They’re not. Bid thief alert!
Auburn: The best big man for the Tigers was suspended before the game even started — no one ever said Cinmeon Bowers was smart — and, as you can imagine, Auburn got obliterated by Kentucky.
Rhode Island: The Rams put up a fight, but they ended up losing to Dayton by four, which relegates URI to the NIT and potentially saves an at-large bid. Dayton is going dancing regardless.
Bubble Banter: So what do we make of LSU, Indiana and Boise State?
Davidson: I still think that the Wildcats are closer to the bubble’s cut-line than a lot of folks are implying at this point, but that doesn’t change the fact that today’s buzzer-beating win over La Salle should just about lock up their bid. Here’s why: Davidson would have a ways to go to drop to the wrong side of the bubble, but thanks to the bloodbath that was Thursday’s action for bubble teams, there aren’t enough teams close enough to actually threaten the Wildcats with an NIT trip. Think about it like this: Using our latest bracket, we can assume that the Wildcats are, at worst, the sixth-to-last team in the bracket. That means they’d need at least six teams to jump them in order to lose their bid. A loss to either Richmond or VCU won’t hurt all that much, and of the teams behind them, only Indiana, Tulsa, UCLA, Richmond and Rhode Island have yet to get knocked out of their league tournaments. They’re safe.
Temple: The Owls did what they needed to do against Memphis, getting a win and advancing to face SMU in the American semifinals. Temple is probably on the right side of the bubble as of today, and while today’s win does help, it certainly doesn’t lock them into a bid. Beating SMU would. A loss on Saturday wouldn’t be a killer, but it would make Selection Sunday quite stressful.
Tulsa: The Golden Hurricane got past Houston, which would have been the loss that kept them out of the NCAA tournament. As it stands, Frank Haith is probably on the wrong side of the bubble. I’m not convinced that Tulsa can get in without winning the automatic bid given the way the American bracket shook out; beating Cincinnati or UConn in the semifinals is not the kind of win that drastically changes a profile.
Purdue: The Boilermakers likely locked up their bid on Friday by beating Penn State. With two horrid non-conference home losses on their resume and an ugly non-conference strength of schedule, Purdue could not afford another “bad” loss. They were on the right side of the bubble entering the day, and losing to Wisconsin in the semifinals tomorrow won’t change that.
LSU: LSU just couldn’t make it easy, could they? The Tigers lost (choked?) to Auburn in a thriller in the SEC tournament quarterfinals, and it’s a loss that I’m not sure the Tigers can afford. At the very least, they are going to be one of the most intriguing bubble discussions on Sunday. Let’s lay it out for you: LSU has 13 top 100 wins, but only three of those wins are against the top 50. They won at Arkansas and at West Virginia, which are two very impressive road victories, but they also lost to five (!!!) teams ranked outside the top 100 of the RPI, two of whom are ranked outside the top 200. The only reason they don’t have six sub-100 losses is that Tennessee is still, as of today, ranked in the top 100. Their non-conference schedule strength is 186th, and as we saw with SMU last season, that’s a major factor for the committee. It’s going to be a long, long 48 hours for Johnny Jones and company. They’re going to be rooting very strongly against everyone else on the bubble for the rest of the weekend.
Indiana: The Hoosiers lost to Maryland on Friday night in the Big Ten quarterfinals, meaning that they are going to end up being one of the most discussed bubble teams out there. Personally, I think they’re in, and I think that most bracket projections will say as much. They were in entering the day, and they lost to a top ten team where they had a shot to take the lead in the final two minutes. The issue would be whether or not the bubble teams behind them win the games they need to move past them in the pecking order, and for the most part, bubble teams have not had a good week (ahem, looking at you, LSU). They need teams like Tulsa, UConn and UCLA to lose. My guess: they’re in on Selection Sunday, but it’s going to be a long couple of days.
UCLA: The Bruins badly needed to land a win over No. 5 Arizona in the semifinals of the Pac-12 tournament on Friday night, and they came up short. That means that UCLA will have to wait it out until Selection Sunday, and for my money, they’re going to end up being on the wrong side of the bubble. They have wins over Oregon and Utah, which are nice, but they have three sub-100 losses, they’re just 5-10 against the top 100 and their only two road wins are at Stanford and at Arizona State. Compare that to LSU, who has 13 top 100 wins and three top 50 wins.
Boise State: The Broncos lost to Wyoming on Friday, which is far from a crushing loss. The Pokes are ranked 90th in the RPI, but their numbers are skewed by a couple of losses that they took while their star, Larry Nance Jr., was battling mono. The problem is that Boise State has just three top 50 wins — all top 30, including a win at San Diego State — and three sub-100 losses. They did win the Mountain West regular season title, but their non-conference schedule strength is 176th and they have just one other top 100 win. The complicating factor? This team actually got markedly better when Anthony Drmic made the decision to sit out the season in mid-December. Boise State is in a tough spot, and while they got helped out by the fact that seemingly every team behind them in the bubble pecking order lost, there’s still a good chance that they don’t end up hearing their name called. At this point, I think they’re out.
Colorado State: The Rams might be in some trouble after losing to San Diego State in the MWC semifinals. They have just two top 50 wins (Boise State and San Diego State) and they are just 5-5 against the top 100 with an ugly loss at New Mexico. That said, Larry Eustachy is a master of working the RPI, which is why the Rams currently are No. 25 in that ranking. If I had to guess, they’re probably looking at a play-in game.
Richmond: The Spiders wouldn’t have been a lock even if they had beaten the Rams on Friday, but they ended losing a thriller in the A-10 quarterfinals, which likely relegates them to the NIT.
STILL TO PLAY
Colorado State vs. San Diego State, 11:30 p.m.
Bubble Banter: Have three teams seen their bubbles popped today?
Indiana: The Hoosiers may have picked up the biggest win of the day. They knocked off Northwestern on Thursday, and while beating the Wildcats isn’t exactly a statement win, it was one of the best performances that Indiana has had in a month. For a team that has been sputtering, that’s the kind of win that can instill some confidence heading into a matchup with Maryland. It also may have locked Indiana into an at-large bid. Most projections had the Hoosiers on the right side of the bubble entering the day, and that won’t change with this win. Losing to Maryland won’t hurt them enough to cost a bid. I’d still recommend beating the Terps and removing any doubt, but the Hoosiers should be able to survive. The big question now: Hanner Mosquera-Perea’s knee.
Boise State: The Broncos are in a pretty good spot in terms of the bubble these days, but what they cannot afford in the early rounds of the Mountain West tournament is a bad loss. They took care of business in their first game in the event with a big win over Air Force. They play Wyoming on Friday, and even with a loss they should probably be OK.
Colorado State: The Rams got passed Fresno State in the MWC quarterfinals, setting them up for a date with San Diego State in the semis. Colorado State is right there on the cut line, and while most projections have them in the tournament, there are quite a few that place the Rams in the play-in game. Beating SDSU tomorrow will likely lock the Rams into a bid, but they can probably still get in with a loss. The best news of the day was the struggles of the other teams on the bubble.
UCLA: The Bruins blew out crosstown rivals USC in the Pac-12 tournament quarterfinals, setting up the game that they absolutely have to win if they want an at-large bid: a date with No. 5 Arizona. Get by the Wildcats and into the Pac-12 finals, and Steve Alford’s crew will have a real shot at hearing Greg Gumbel call their name on Sunday.
Xavier: If the Musketeers were on the bubble, they aren’t anymore after beating No. 22 Butler in overtime in the Big East tournament.
Miami: The Hurricanes missed out on a terrific opportunity to capitalize on losses from a number of teams currently on the bubble when they lost to No. 11 Notre Dame on Thursday night. The Hurricanes erased a 20-point lead and eventually tied the Irish late in the second half, but they were never able to break through, suffering a loss that will ultimately be quite costly. Will this keep them out of the tournament? That’s hard to say, but they certainly didn’t do themselves any favors. That win at Duke looks really, really good, but the Hurricanes have enough ugly on their resume to cover it up.
Ole Miss: The Rebels may have finally played their way out of the NCAA tournament. Ole Miss has lost four of their last five games, including this heartbreaker against South Carolina in the opening round of the SEC tournament. Andy Kennedy’s club does have three top 50 all — at Arkansas, at Oregon and against Cincinnati on a neutral court — but they also have three ugly non-conference losses. Losing to Vanderbilt and the Gamecocks in their last two games adds two extra sub-75 losses to their resume. The good news? Just about everyone behind Ole Miss in the bubble pecking order lost today as well. The loss certainly isn’t a good thing, but in a weird way, the Rebels may actually come out as a winner when the day is all said and done. Backing your way into the tournament means you got a bid.
Texas A&M: The Aggies are in big trouble. Big, big trouble. The best thing that Texas A&M had going for them was that they didn’t have any bad losses. Then, to close out the regular season, they lost to Alabama at home. They followed that up with Thursday’s loss to Auburn in the SEC tournament, and suddenly, their profile — which includes a sweep of LSU and … not much else — doesn’t look good at all. The Aggies were in a bad spot entering the weekend, and this seemingly ensures that they will be NIT bound.
Old Dominion: The Monarchs lost to Middle Tennessee on Thursday in the Conference USA tournament. They were showing up on some First Five Out lists, which seemed quite generous to me. Now? They can probably kiss those pipe dreams goodbye.
Stanford: The Cardinal needed to beat Utah to have any shot of earning an at-large bid. They were blown out. Enjoy the NIT, guys.
Illinois: The Illini were on the wrong side of the bubble in just about every bracket projection entering the day, meaning that in order to play their way into the NCAA tournament, they likely needed to beat not only Michigan today but No. 1 seed Wisconsin tomorrow. The Illini were blown out by the Wolverines. Welcome to the NIT!