Bubble Banter: Did Texas A&M just play themselves into the NCAA tournament?

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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 Wednesday 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.


TEXAS A&M (RPI: 30, KenPom: 25, NBC seed: 9): The Aggies landed one of the biggest wins of the season by anyone on Wednesday, going into Auburn and beating the Tigers. They are the only team in the country to win on Auburn’s home floor. The Aggies have now won three in a row and five of their last seven games. They are back, they look like the team we thought would win the SEC in the preseason and they are primed to be a nuisance for whatever No. 2 or 3 seed draws them in the second round. For the time being, they are now out of bubble consideration.

MARQUETTE (RPI: 55, KenPom: 48, NBC seed: Next four out): After losing four straight — including three home games that the Golden Eagles really, really needed — Marquette went out and landed their third Quadrant 1 win of the year, beating Seton Hall on the road. That’s huge. If they can stay hot and win at St. John’s on Saturday, that would be even bigger. With a 14-10 record and a 3-8 mark against Quadrant 1 teams (they’re 5-10 against the top two Quadrants), Marquette is still playing catchup. But this was a good way to get that chase started.

KANSAS STATE (RPI: 69, KenPom: 61, NBC seed: Play-in game): The Wildcats landed another impressive Quadrant 1 win, doing what Oklahoma could not and beating Texas in Austin. They are not 3-6 against Quadrant 1 teams and 7-6 in Quadrant 1 and 2 games. The two knocks on this team are a loss to Tulsa on a neutral floor and a non-conference SOS of 337. That last number means they are going to have to have a résumé that looks much better at the top than the other bubble teams. The committee puts a lot of emphasis on teams trying to schedule well. Kansas State did not.

ST. BONAVENTURE (RPI: 47, KenPom: 66, NBC seed: Out): The Bonnies are in the bubble picture right now, believe it or not. Their worst loss, against Niagara, came without the guy that has got for 40 points and six assists in back-to-back games. They have two Quadrant 1 and two Quadrant 2 wins, and their worst losses with Adams are league games away from home. Throw in wins at Syracuse (38) and Buffalo (27) and a home game against URI (6), and the Bonnies have a real chance to land an at-large bid.

VIRGINIA TECH (RPI: 72, KenPom: 41, NBC seed: Play-in game): The Hokies landed a nice Quadrant 2 win over N.C. State on Wednesday. Every little bit helps when you’re right on the cut-line, especially given the murderer’s row that remains on their schedule: at Virginia, at Duke, at Georgia Tech, Clemson, Louisville, Duke, at Miami. If they go 4-3 in that stretch, they’ll be in. Hell, 3-4 might get the job done.

TEMPLE (RPI: , KenPom: 88, NBC seed: Out): The Owls are hanging onto the edge of the bubble for dear life, and they’re still hanging after Wednesday, when they knocked off East Carolina. Their season ends like this: at South Florida, at Wichita State, Houston, UCF, at UConn, at Tulsa. They probably need to win at least four, more likely five of those to have a real chance.


MARYLAND (RPI: 60, KenPom: 39, NBC seed: Out): It’s getting close to the point in time when we have to stop considering Maryland as a bubble team. They’ve lost four of their last five and six of their last 18 after falling to Penn State on Wednesday, and they only have one Quadrant 1 or 2 win: Butler at home. With a schedule that only offers one more potential Quadrant 1 win, the Terps are in rough shape.

GEORGIA (RPI: 71, KenPom: 78, NBC seed: Out): The Bulldogs lost a game they absolutely could not afford to lose at Vanderbilt on Wednesday. That’s two losses in a row, five in their last six and seven in their last nine. If there is a silver-lining here, it’s that six of Georgia’s last seven games are against Quadrant 1 teams, including three games against Auburn and Tennessee. They’ll have chances to rally, but what makes you think they can do it? They will not be considered as a bubble until they do something to help themselves.

N.C. STATE (RPI: 59, KenPom: 60, NBC seed: 10): The Wolfpack lost at Virginia Tech on Wednesday night, which is hardly a bad loss. The Hokies have a good enough RPI that it slots in as a Quadrant 1 loss. Given that N.C. State has lost to Northern Iowa (153) on a neutral and UNC Greensboro at home (90) with a non-conference SOS of 282, they have less margin for error than you might think for a team with wins over Arizona on a neutral, Duke, Clemson and at North Carolina.