Bubble Banter: Is Sunday a make-or-break game for SMU against Cincinnati?

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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 Sunday.

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

SYRACUSE (RPI: 38, KenPom: 46, NBC seed: Last four in): For the life of me, I do not understand why Syracuse is seeded lower than Louisville in brackets, but they are. The Orange had just one Quadrant 1 win and a Quadrant 3 loss, but they also have a better RPI than Louisville, five Quadrant 2 wins as opposed to just one for the Cardinals and a stronger non-conference SOS. That said, beating Wake Forest doesn’t really help that. So they are what they are for now, I guess. Syracuse’s bid will be earned in the final three weeks. Four of their final six games are against Q1 opponents: N.C. State, at Miami, UNC, at Duke, at BC, Clemson.

LOUISVILLE (RPI: 42, KenPom: 36, NBC seed: 10): The Cardinals the best brakes off of Pitt in Pittsburgh, which doesn’t help anything and may actually hurt their RPI. Louisville has two Quadrant 1 wins and just one Quadrant 2 win, but they have no bad losses and five more chances to improve their profile: UNC, at Duke, at Virginia Tech, Virginia, at N.C. State. All five of those games would be Quadrant 1 wins.

HOUSTON (RPI: 30, KenPom: 29, NBC seed: Play-in game): The Cougars pounded Tulane on Sunday night, which doesn’t mean all that much because Tulane is not very good and the only way this could actually affect them would be a loss. Houston’s at-large bid will be earned or lost this week. They play Cincinnati at home on Thursday night before making the trip up to North Philly to face-off with Temple. Those are their last two Quadrant 1 games, and with just two Quadrant 1 wins to their name, they need the help.

LOSERS

SMU (RPI: 78, KenPom: 60, NBC seed: Out): The Mustangs are in a lot of trouble. They’ve now lost three in a row, four of their last five and seven of their last ten games. They are just 2-5 against Quadrant 1 and 5-9 against Quadrant 1 with a Quadrant 3 loss throw in the mix. The good news is that they have two Quadrant 1 games left, and Wichita State at home will be a third if the Shockers (32) crack the top 30. But none of those wins would be great wins, and I’m not sure they would be enough to jump the ten or so teams between them and the cut line.