Selection Sunday is now less than a month away, and while Wisconsin (KenPom: 36, RPI: 46, Bracket Matrix Seed: 9) has managed to play their way back onto the bubble — a place they weren’t anywhere near as recently as three weeks ago — I’m not sure that the Badgers are quite as safe as some bracket projections would make them out to be.
The issue isn’t the wins that Wisconsin has landed this season.
During their recent seven-game winning streak, Wisconsin knocked off Indiana and Michigan State at home, getting over the hump on Saturday with a 13-point win at Maryland. In total, that gives Wisconsin four top 50 wins — they also won at Syracuse in December — and an 8-6 record against the top 100 after they fell at Michigan State on Thursday.
The problem for Wisconsin is their losses.
As of today, they have three sub-100 losses, and those sub-100 losses are likely to stay sub-100 losses unless Northwestern and Marquette make a run late in the season. The Badgers also lost to Milwaukee, but the real stunner here is the season-opening loss to Western Illinois at the Kohl Center. WIU is … 252nd in the RPI. I know, that happened four months ago, and I know it came when Bo Ryan was still in charge, but we can’t just pretend it didn’t happen.
And that’s to say nothing of their remaining schedule: Wisconsin still has Michigan at home and Iowa and Purdue on the road. They also have to play at Minnesota, who just beat Maryland at home tonight.
The Badgers have a shot to get this thing done.
But it’s not going to be as easy as some may think.
- UConn (KP: 24, RPI: 45, BM: 8): The Huskies landed a critical win on Thursday, knocking off SMU at the XL Center and picking up one of their best wins of the season. With a win over SMU and a win at Texas to go along with a 7-7 record against the top 100, no losses outside the top 70 and solid schedule strength numbers, the Huskies are in pretty good shape right now.
- Tulsa (KP: 47, RPI: 51, BM: Next Four Out): The Golden Hurricane added a needed-top 100 win to their résumé on Thursday, knocking off Cincinnati in overtime. Tulsa still has some work to do, and with just one more top 100 opponent left on their schedule, they may need to win out and get a win or two in the league tournament.
- Wichita State (KP: 14, RPI: 50, BM: 10): The Shockers beat Missouri State at home, meaning their at-large hopes are still alive. But like I said last week, I’d strongly advise against another loss.
- Gonzaga (KP: 29, RPI: 59, BM: 12) and Saint Mary’s (KP: 42, RPI: 70, BM: First Four Out) both won, setting up a play-out game on Saturday between the two teams.
- Stanford (KP: 112, RPI: 74, BM: N/A): The Cardinal’s slim chances of getting into the NCAA tournament as an at-large team remain as they avoided the landmine loss of Washington State.
- Cincinnati (KP: 28, RPI: 60, BM: 11): The Bearcats whiffed on a chance to land a top 50 road win against Tulsa on Thursday night. It’s not a loss that’s going to drastically change their bubble standing. They still have a few chances to land quality wins, as they host both UConn and SMU. I’d recommend winning both.
- UCLA (KP: 53, RPI: 63, BM: N/A): The Bruins lost to Utah at home on Thursday, which would, in theory, end their at-large hopes. Except UCLA plays four of their last five games against teams in the top 35. They probably need to win all four — and then beat Stanford as well — but this thing isn’t quite over yet.
- Washington (KP: 70, RPI: 61, BM: First Four Out): The Huskies lost at home to Cal on Thursday, a loss that hurts quite a bit because it was their best remaining chance to land a quality win. Beating Stanford at home won’t do much for them and I’m not sure if the Huskies can go to Oregon or Oregon State and get a win. The good news for Washington is that they do have three excellent wins on their profile: Texas, Colorado and USC. That alone is not going to be enough to get them in.