Bubble Banter: SMU falls at UConn, Colorado wastes a chance

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As we will do every day throughout the rest of the season, here is a look at how college basketball’s bubble teams fared on Thursday night.

It’s worth reminding you here that the way winning are labeled have changed this season. Instead of looking at all top 50 wins equally, the selection committee will be using criteria that breaks wins down into four quadrants, using the RPI:

  • Quadrant 1: Home vs. 1-30, Neutral vs. 1-50, Road vs. 1-75
  • Quadrant 2: Home vs. 31-75, Neutral vs. 51-100, Road vs. 76-135
  • Quadrant 3: Home vs. 76-160, Neutral vs. 101-200, Road vs. 136-240
  • Quadrant 4: Home vs. 161 plus, Neutral vs. 201 plus, Road vs. 240 plus

The latest NBC Sports Bracketology can be found here.

WINNERS

MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE (RPI: 25, KenPom: 51, NBC seed: 12): We know how good Middle Tennessee State is and we know how good Kermit Davis is. The problem? The Blue Raiders haven’t proven it on the floor this year. they lost on a neutral to Auburn, USC and Miami. One of those wins could have made a massive difference. As it stands, MTSU has one Quadrant 1 win — at Western Kentucky (47) — and one Quadrant 2 win — Ole Miss (77). That won’t be enough, not with a Quadrant 2 loss to Belmont (81) and at Marshall (96).

UCLA (RPI: 61, KenPom: 58, NBC seed: Out): The Bruins avoided what would have been a worst-case scenario by coming back to beat Cal after trailing by 17 points in the first half. The Bruins’ tournament hopes are going to come down to four games: USC home and away, plus their games at Arizona and Arizona State. They probably need to win at least two of those.

LOSERS

SMU (RPI: 55, KenPom: 40, NBC seed: 11): SMU, what are you doing? A week ago, the Mustangs went into Wichita and knocked off the Shockers, a win that put them on the right side of the bubble and had them looking like the American’s third NCAA tournament team. Then they turned around and lost at UConn? The saving grace here is that under the new rules, this is a Quadrant 2 loss that could easily turn into a Quadrant 1 loss is UConn gets hot. Still. When you’re on the bubble, losing to a team that has struggled the way UConn has struggled this season is not ideal.

COLORADO (RPI: 58, KenPom: 115, NBC seed: Out): The Buffaloes are in the mix of a make-or-break weekend for the NCAA tournament chances. On Thursday night, they lost at Arizona (19). If they don’t win at Arizona State on Saturday, they may be looking at needing to get an automatic bid. That’s what happens when you have losses to San Diego, Iowa on a neutral, at Oregon State and at Colorado State.

UCF (RPI: 65, KenPom: 95, NBC seed: Out): A nightmare season continued for UCF on Thursday as they lost by 19 points at Wichita State. At this point, given the injuries this team has, it is probably time to pull them out of consideration until they make some kind of run.