Bubble Banter: Can Louisville get a much-needed win over Virginia?

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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

MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE (RPI: 21, KenPom: 38, NBC seed: 11): The Blue Raiders added another Quadrant 2 win on Thursday night, beating Western Kentucky at home by 18 points. MTSU is putting together a pretty impressive profile. They have three Quadrant 1 wins and are 5-4 against the top two Quadrants. Their Quadrant 3 loss is to, quite literally, the best team in the country that can be a Quadrant 3 opponent: Belmont, who is 76th in the RPI, just above the cut-off. If they beat Marshall on Saturday and lose to either Old Dominion or Western Kentucky in the Conference USA tournament, they’ll have a chance.

ARIZONA STATE (RPI: 41, KenPom: 39, NBC seed: 9): It’s hard to believe that Arizona State, who was a team that many had slotted as the No. 1 team in the country a few months ago, snapped a three-game losing streak to salvage a chance at finishing the Pac-12 season above .500. Beating Cal on Thursday night should probably be enough to get them a bid.

WASHINGTON (RPI: 47, KenPom: 94, NBC seed: Play-in game): It was more difficult that it should have been, but the Huskies found a way to avoid losing to Oregon State at home. I’m still in the camp that says they need to win at least two more games — Oregon over the weekend and their first round game in the Pac-12 tournament — to get into the dance.

LOSERS

LOUISVILLE (RPI: 41, KenPom: 32, NBC seed: Play-in game): If Louisville ends up on the wrong side of the bubble on Selection Sunday, at least we’ll know the exact reason why. On Thursday night, the Cardinals suffered one of the most inexplicable losses that I have ever seen in a college basketball game, managing to lose a game they led by four points with 0.9 seconds left. The good news is that they still have three Quadrant 1 wins (at Florida State, at Notre Dame, at Virginia Tech). The bad news is they haven’t beaten a single top 30 KenPom team this season and are 4-11 against the top two Quadrants. This was the difference-maker. Now they have to win at N.C. State on Saturday.

WESTERN KENTUCKY (RPI: 51, KenPom: 58, NBC seed: Out): With a win over Purdue on a neutral floor back in November, Western Kentucky had to at least be in the conversation if they had found a way to win at Middle Tennessee State on Thursday. They did not win at Middle Tennessee State on Thursday.