BUBBLE BANTER: Just how costly is South Carolina’s loss to Missouri?

(AP Photo/Sam Craft)
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This post will be updated as games come to a close.

It’s hard to fathom just how far South Carolina (KenPom: 53, RPI: 26, Bracket Matrix Seed: 7) has fallen in the last four days, both in the eyes of the general public and in bracket projections.

On Friday, the Gamecocks were sitting at 21-3, playing Kentucky with first place in the SEC and a top 25 ranking on the line. Fast forward four days and Frank Martin’s club was obliterated at home by the Wildcats — who played the last 37 minutes without head coach John Calipari — and dropped a road game to Mizzou just hours after the Tigers announced that starting point guard Wes Clark had been dismissed.

That’s bad.

Bad enough that it’s time for us to start talking about the Gamecocks as a bubble team once again.

Here’s the deal with South Carolina: Their record is still impressive (20-5) but a non-conference schedule strength that ranks in the low-300s puts that into perspective. They do have eight top 100 wins, but their best wins are at a reeling Texas A&M, against Alabama and Tulsa on a neutral court. That’s not exactly overpowering, especially when you factor in that they now have a pair of ugly league losses.

The good news for South Carolina is that the bubble is weak enough right now that it’s hard to imagine them falling beyond the 8-9 game in bracket projections. But with three games left against sub-100 competition, it would behoove the Gamecocks to snap out of this funk after two games.

WINNERS

  • Pitt (KP: 60, RPI: 41, BM: 9): Pitt didn’t lose at home against Wake Forest despite their best efforts to do so, going to double-overtime against a team that has just one win in ACC play this season. That’s relevant because Pitt really has two strengths on their profile: they won at Notre Dame and they only have one truly bad loss to their name, which came at home to N.C. State. I’m not sure the Panthers are quite as safe as their Bracket Matrix seeding would lead you to believe.
  • Butler (KP: 47, RPI: 64, BM: 12): The Bulldogs took care of business at home against Creighton, setting them up for the most important game of their season on Saturday: at trip to Philly to take on Villanova. The Bulldogs are firmly on the bubble and, with a loss on Saturday, will likely be headed straight for the cut-line. A win doesn’t lock them into an at-large by any means, but if they can avoid anything stupid the rest of the year, it would likely get them onto the right side of the bubble come Selection Sunday.
  • Florida (KP: 34, RPI: 32, BM: 8): The Gators added a nice, top 100 road win to their profile on Tuesday when they went into Athens and knocked off Georgia. Florida has just a pair of top 50 wins to date, but their sterling computer numbers have them comfortably in the NCAA tournament as of today.
  • VCU (KP: 39, RPI: 56, BM: 11): The Rams avoided a bad loss at home to Rhode Island on Tuesday, which would have been the kind of loss that would have put them on the wrong side of the bubble in bracket projections. VCU has a trio of tricky rivalry-ish games coming up, as they host Richmond, visit former CAA foe George Mason and then head to Foggy Bottom to take on George Washington in what could end up being a bubble elimination game. The Rams need to stockpile the wins.

LOSERS

  • Michigan (KP: 48, RPI: 51, BM: 9): The Wolverines lost at Ohio State on Tuesday night, a loss that is far from a killer for their résumé but one that certainly doesn’t help them lock up an at-large bid. The Buckeyes have an RPI in the mid-80s which, as things currently stand, makes them the worst loss that Michigan has taken this season. And while John Beilein’s club has landed some nice wins — Maryland, Purdue, Texas — that’s basically it for top 100 wins. (N.C. State is currently 98th.) They’re still in a good spot right now, but bolstering that profile would certainly be beneficial.
  • Georgia (KP: 82, RPI: 65, BM: N/A): Georgia still doesn’t have any bad losses and they still have one of the nation’s best non-conference scthedules, but with just three top 100 wins to their name, they’re currently headed for the NIT. I don’t think they can take another loss and still be tournament bound.
  • Vanderbilt (KP: 28, RPI: 54, BM: Next Four): The ‘Dores blew a 17 point lead in the final 14 minutes and lost to Mississippi State. This is just a brutal loss for a Vanderbilt team that was likely already on the wrong side of the bubble.
  • Creighton (KP: 42, RPI: 81, BM: N/A): The Bluejays lost at Butler, meaning that, if they have any real chance of getting an at-large bid, they probably need to win out and get at least one win in the Big East tournament.
  • Ole Miss (KP: 84, RPI: 85, BM: N/A): The Rebels lost at Texas A&M on Tuesday, which is the end of their at-large hopes. There just aren’t enough potential quality wins left on their schedule.