Bubble Banter: Tennessee’s big chance, bubble battle in Clemson

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WINNERS

VCU (RPI: 27, KenPom: 43, No. 8 seed): The Rams are getting closer and closer to locking themselves into a bid after they knocked off an injury-riddled St. Joseph’s team on Tuesday. All this group needs to do to go dancing is avoid losing a game to one of the A-10’s bottom-feeders the rest of the season and they’ll be fine.

Virginia Tech (RPI: 37, KenPom: 51, No. 9 seed): Virginia Tech managed to avoid a loss at Pitt on Tuesday, coming back from an 11-point second half deficit to beat the Panthers and build on the momentum that came with knocking off Virginia on Sunday night. The Hokies are in a good spot right now, and should feel pretty comfortable about getting a bid.

Clemson (RPI: 56, KenPom: 39, first four out): Clemson tells you all you need to know about the bubble this season. Heading into Tuesday night, they had lost nine of their last 11 games and, somehow, they are still in the thick of the race for a spot in the NCAA tournament. Winning at home against Wake Forest on Tuesday night certainly helps their cause, not only because it adds a top 50 win to their profile but because Wake Forest is right there next to them on the bubble.

Dayton (RPI: 29, KenPom: 33, No. 7 seed): The Flyers beat Saint Louis which means they didn’t lose to Saint Louis, who ranks 245th in the RPI. With four games left against sub-100 opponents, Dayton isn’t quite a lock yet, but they shouldn’t have an issue doing what they need to do to dance.

Michigan State (RPI: 41, KenPom: 54, No. 10 seed): Sparty is still on the right side of the bubble after knocking off Ohio State at home on Tuesday. The Spartans have a tough schedule down the stretch of the season, as they play at Purdue, Wisconsin and at Maryland. I think they need, at least, a 3-2 finish to the regular season.

LOSERS

Tennessee (RPI: 44, KenPom: 41, next four in): The Vols whiffed on a major chance to a win a game that would vault themselves past the teams sitting between them and the NCAA tournament on Tuesday, losing in pretty dominating fashion to a Kentucky team that had a statement to make after three weeks of poor performances. At this point, I’m not even sure that the Vols would get a bid if they were to win out in the regular season.

Wake Forest (RPI: 31, KenPom: 32, first four out): There’s not really anything wrong with Wake Forest losing at Clemson on Tuesday night beyond the fact that the Demon Deacons are now 15-11 on the season with just one top 50 win to their name – No. 49 Miami – and games left at Duke and against Louisville. It’s not over yet, but it’s not going to be easy.