Bubble Banter: Big night for Providence, Syracuse, Texas A&M

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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.

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

TEXAS A&M (RPI; 24, KenPom: 29, NBC seed: 9): I’m still not quite sure how they pulled it out, but they did: Texas A&M won at Georgia on Wednesday night. Now if they can get past Alabama on Saturday, the Aggies should just about have a bid locked up. Even if they don’t, it’s hard to see how they end up falling out of the NCAA tournament field. Not only do they have five Quadrant 1 wins and seven more Quadrant 2 wins, but they have just one bad loss and they’ve beaten USC and Auburn on the road, Kentucky at home and West Virginia by 23 on a neutral floor.

NOTRE DAME (RPI: 69, KenPom: 30, NBC seed: Out): In theory, Notre Dame has no shot at the NCAA tournament this year. They’re 17-12 overall and 8-9 in the ACC with just two Quadrant 1 wins and three Quadrant 3 losses. But … they’ve played the last 15 games without Bonzie Colson and gone 6-9 in that stretch. It’s not exactly breaking news that having an all-american makes you a better team than not having an all-american. Here’s the problem: Notre Dame’s two worst losses of the season — Ball State at home, Indiana on a neutral — came with Colson healthy. I’m not going to count them out, not when they play at Virginia on Saturday and not when the ACC tournament is right around the corner, but the case for the Irish with Bonzie is not as strong as you might think.

LOSERS

PROVIDENCE (RPI: 42, KenPom: 73, NBC seed: 10): The Friars missed a chance to lock up a bid to the NCAA tournament by winning at Xavier, but that doesn’t really matter all that much. What was a killer tonight was that Minnesota, who was a top 15 team when they played Providence early in the season, got smoked by Rutgers in their Big Ten tournament opener. That means that the Golden Gophers are now a Quadrant 4 loss for the Friars, the third Quadrant 4 loss to their name. The saving grace for the Friars here is that they have beaten both Villanova and Xavier this season, but I would strong recommend beating St. John’s this weekend.

LSU (RPI; 89, KenPom: 67, NBC seed: Next four out): LSU lost at South Carolina. Any chance of an at-large is probably gone.

TEMPLE (RPI; 46, KenPom: 83, NBC seed: Out): Temple lost at UConn. Any chance of an at-large is gone.

SYRACUSE (RPI; 43, KenPom: 49, NBC seed: Play-in game): The one thing that Syracuse could not afford to do in the final three weeks of the season was to lost at Boston College, but that is precisely what they did on Wednesday night. They have just a 2-7 record against Quadrant 1 — although their two wins are at Miami and at Louisville — and a pair of Quadrant 3 losses. I think they’re on the wrong side of the bubble as of today, but it’s close. Beating Clemson in the Carrier Dome this weekend would be massive.