Bubble Banter: St. John’s lands critical win at No. 10 Marquette

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February is here!

And now that we are nearly halfway through conference play, it is time for us to get fully invested in the “who’s-in-who’s-out” discussion. Bubble Banter has never been more important!

Some quick housekeeping before we dive into it:

  • This page will be updated throughout the night. 
  • We’ll update them best that we can, but the NET rankings will be accurate through Tuesday morning. 
  • If you see something we missed, if you have an issue with a team we left out or if you want to congratulate us on a job well done, drop a comment below or hit us up here: @RobDauster.
  • On Monday, our Dave Ommen released an updated bracket. It is the only bracket you need to be up to date on. 

Onto Tuesday’s action.

WINNERS

ST. JOHN’S (NET: 45, SOS: 65): The Johnnies won at No. 10 Marquette on Tuesday night in an absolute thriller as Shamorie Ponds outdueled Markus Howard (again) in what was the best possible win St. John’s could land the rest of the season.

Marquette is a top 20 team in NET. St. John’s entered the week as one of the teams that right on the cutline. Our Dave Ommen had St. John’s as the last team in the field to avoid a play-in game. That’s not a comfortable place to be, not when your non-conference SOS is 193 and when you have a pair of Q3 home losses on your resume. This win, however, is massive. The Johnnies are now 4-4 in Q1 games with a sweep of Marquette. They have now won four true road games against Q1 and Q2 competition, and their neutral court win over fellow bubble-dweller VCU looks good right now.

But the most important part of this win is that the Big East is not the Big 12, or the ACC, or the SEC. The Johnnies have just one more shot at another Q1 win during the regular season, and that comes against Villanova in Madison Square Garden. Lose that, and they are likely heading into the Big East tournament with those four wins — and that’s assuming that VCU stays in the top 50 of NET.

This gives them some breathing room, and that’s something they desperately needed.

AUBURN (NET: 21, SOS: 34): The Tigers are in pretty good position right now despite the fact that they don’t have a ton of great wins. They are just 1-5 against Q1 opponents but their worst loss is a Q2 road loss against South Carolina and they do have six Q2 wins. The best news is probably that they have five more chances to land Q1 wins.

ARKANSAS (NET: 57, SOS: 36): The Razorbacks have won three in a row and, after their win at LSU on Saturday, they have put themselves in a position to have a shot at the tournament. The win at LSU is their only Q1 win in six tries and they only have a pair of Q2 wins to go along with two Q3 losses, but with the way the bubble is shaping up, the Razorbacks are in first eight out territory.

LOSERS

N.C. STATE (NET: 34, SOS: 261): The good news for N.C. State is that they cracked 25 points on Tuesday night. The bad news is that they gave up 113 to North Carolina. The Wolfpack are in a bad spot right now. They have now lost three straight games and four of their last five. The only win during that stretch came in a game where Clemson gave the game away in the final 20 seconds by missing four straight free throws. Their four ACC wins came against Miami, Pitt, Notre Dame and Clemson. They are 16-7 on the season, but they are just 1-6 against Q1 opponents, and the one win came against an Auburn team that only has a single Q1 win.

The Wolfpack are still in a pretty good spot, but with a non-conference SOS that is currently sitting at 352nd out of 353 teams and a Q3 loss at Wake Forest, I would not feel comfortable if I was Kevin Keatts. They need to snap out of this funk, and fast.

SYRACUSE (NET: 42, SOS: 33): The Orange are such a weird team. They get whipped up a lot more than good basketball teams should. Tuesday, it was an 18 point beatdown at home against Florida State. There was the 22 point loss to Virginia Tech. Oregon and UConn worked them over. Old Dominion and Georgia Tech did the same. They’ve played just two Q1 league games and have just a 2-2 record in Q1 games overall and a 5-5 mark against Q1 and Q2.

Yet, they also have what might end up being the single best win in college basketball this season, when they went into Cameron Indoor Stadium and beat Duke. That will cover up a lot of warts.

FLORIDA (NET: 40, SOS: 57): Entering the week, Florida was our first team out, and losing at Auburn certainly isn’t going to help them out. The Gators are now sitting at 12-10 on the season, and while they look pretty good in the metrics, there isn’t a lot here. They have just one Q1 win (at Arkansas) and they have a Q3 home loss to South Carolina. If there is a saving grace, eight of their ten losses are Q1 losses, but they have to find a way to start winning some games.

It doesn’t get any easier, either. Florida playing at Tennessee on Saturday and still has to play at Alabama, LSU twice and at Kentucky.