Bubble Banter: Providence, Texas land massive wins

AP Photo/Stew Milne
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There is plenty of action happening on the bracketology bubble watch despite it being a relatively slow night for college hoops.

Dave Ommen’s latest bracketology can be found here. Rob Dauster’s Bubble Watch can be found here. The full NET rankings can be found here.

Here is everything you need to know to.

THE BUBBLE WATCH WINNERS

PROVIDENCE (NET: 50, NBC: Play-in game): The Friars landed their fifth win over a ranked team in the month of February on Saturday as they went into the Wells Fargo Center and knocked off Villanova (12). This comes on the heels of beating Marquette (24) at home, Georgetown (58) on the road, Seton Hall (13) at home, Creighton (8) at home and Butler (21) on the road. Those are six Quad 1 wins. The Friars have three Quad 3 losses and a Quad 4 loss, but they now have a total of eight Quad 1 wins and six wins over top 30 teams. A 17-12 record is not ideal, and they could very well end up with 13 or 14 losses on Selection Sunday, but I think that Providence has to be in the tournament at this point. What a month for Ed Cooley.

TEXAS (NET: 64, NBC: Next four out): The Longhorns may have just played their way into the NCAA tournament. On Saturday, Shaka Smart took down the man that everyone is trying to fire him for as he led the Longhorns into Lubbock to take down Texas Tech (20). Five days ago, Texas took down West Virginia (17) at home. Those are the two best wins that the Longhorns have landed this season. As it stands, the Longhorns are sitting at 18-11 overall and 8-8 in the Big 12. They have four Quad 1 wins and a 6-11 mark against the top two Quads without a bad loss to their name. If they can get two more wins this season — they have at Oklahoma (49), Oklahoma State (70) and the Big 12 tournament left — I think they will be dancing. What a turnaround.

UCLA (NET: 76, NBC: Play-in game): UCLA picked up another enormous win on Saturday, as they beat Arizona (12) at home to move them into — get this — sole possession of first place in the Pac-12. Yes, UCLA has lost 11 games and yes, the Bruins have lost to Hofstra (122) and Cal St. Fullerton (267) at home. But they have now won seven straight games. They’ve won 11 of their last 13 games. They have swept Arizona and Colorado (22). They have six Quad 1 wins and a 9-9 record against the top two Quads. With a trip to USC (45) to close out the regular season, I think all the Bruins need to do is win one more game before Selection Sunday and they will be dancing. Incredible turnaround.

OKLAHOMA (NET: 49, NBC: 10): The Sooners are a step closer to punching their ticket to the NCAA tournament after winning at West Virginia (17) on Saturday. They now have five Quad 1 wins and a 10-11 record against the top two Quads. They’ve swept the Mountaineers and beaten Texas Tech (20) at home, and they don’t have anything below a Quad 2 loss. More importantly, this is the third road win on the year for Oklahoma. With two very winnable games left — Texas (94) and at TCU (96) — Oklahoma is right where they need to be.

N.C. STATE (NET: 57, NBC: First four out): The Wolfpack avoided disaster on Saturday, as they overcame a slow start and took down Pitt (112) at home. That would have been a Quad 3 loss for a team that is already sitting with three Quad 3 losses as well as four more losses to sub-70 teams on the road. That’s not good. But they beat Duke (6) by 22 points in Raleigh, which is just one of their five Quad 1 wins. They are 8-8 against Quad 1 and 2 opponents on the season. It’s worth noting that Markell Johnson, N.C. State’s best player, did not play in one of the three Quad 3 losses — Georgia Tech (78) — so that will be something to monitor for the Selection Committee.

USC (NET: 44, NBC: 10): The Trojans bounced back from a bad weekend in the mountains to knock off both Arizona (11) and Arizona State (44) this weekend. USC is now 21-9 on the year with a visit from UCLA (76) coming up next Saturday to close out the regular season. With four Quad 1 wins and a 10-8 mark against the top two Quads, USC is in a really good spot right now. I do think that they still have some work to do, however. They already have a Quad 3 loss this season, and given where UCLA (76) is currently sitting in the NET, losing to the Bruins at home would go down as a bad loss. Combine that with something silly in the opening round of the Pac-12 tournament, and USC could find themselves on the wrong side of the bubble. That said, I think all it will take is one more win to get the job done.

MEMPHIS (NET: 62, NBC: Next four out): Memphis needed OT to get it done, but the Tigers knocked off Tulane (174) in New Orleans to get to 20 wins on the season. The Tigers still have just two Quad 1 wins compared to three Quad 3 losses, and they are still playing without D.J. Jeffries, but they have a chance because they end their season like this: Wichita State (48), at Houston (23). If they can win those two games and avoid taking a bad loss in the AAC tournament, then Memphis very well might hear their names called on Selection Sunday.

EAST TENNESSEE STATE (NET: 39, NBC: 11): The Buccaneers survived Western Carolina (143) on Saturday and will now head into the SoCon tournament as regular season champs with a 24-4 record. They have a win at UNCG (73) and a win at LSU (33), but they do have an ugly Quad 4 loss to Mercer (197) at home. That is the killer. The Buccaneers can only lose to UNCG or Furman (66) in the SoCon tournament to have a chance, and even that might be a bit of a longshot.

NORTHERN IOWA (NET: 43, NBC: 11): Northern Iowa took care of business at Drake (164), winning the Missouri Valley regular season title. UNI has a win at Colorado (22) and they beat South Carolina (64) on a neutral court, but they are 5-3 against the top two Quads with a pair of Quad 3 losses. I want to see them get an at-large — every one of their non-Quad 1 losses is a road game in league play — but I’m not sure they have done enough to beat out some of these power conference teams. My advice: win the auto-bid and make it easy on yourself.

RICHMOND (NET: 51, NBC: First four out): The Spiders avoided disaster by blowing out UMass (141) on Saturday. The Spiders only have one truly terrible loss to their name — Radford (162) got them on a neutral court — but with only three Quad 1 wins and a 4-6 record against the top two Quads, their margin for error is completely gone. I don’t think they can afford a loss to either Davidson (74) at home or at Duquesne (91).

MISSISSIPPI STATE (NET: 54, NBC: First four out): The Bulldogs picked up a win at Missouri (88) on Saturday, which is not inconsequential. That’s a Quad 2 win, the fifth that Mississippi State has earned this season. They have a pair of Quad 1 wins and a 7-8 mark against the top two Quads, but with a pair of Quad 3 losses and exactly zero wins against top 30 opponents, the Bulldogs still have some work to do. The biggest issue right now is that Mississippi State doesn’t have a top 60 opponent left on their schedule during the regular season. They’re likely going to have some work to do in the SEC tournament.

… AND LOSERS

ARKANSAS (NET: 41, NBC: Next four out): The Razorbacks’ NCAA tournament hopes took a significant blow on Saturday, as they fell at Georgia (90). Arkansas is now 18-11 on the season with just a 6-10 record in the SEC. They have a pair of Quad 1 wins and a 5-10 mark against the top two Quads, but the more important record is this: They are now 17-5 on the season with a healthy Isaiah Joe. It will be very interesting to see how the selection committee handles Arkansas.

SOUTH CAROLINA (NET: 64, NBC: Next four out): This might be the end for South Carolina. The Gamecocks lost at Alabama (39) on Saturday, and while that is hardly a bad loss, it is the last Quad 1 opportunity on the schedule. Beating Mississippi State (54) at home or Vanderbilt (156) on the road isn’t going to change much. The Gamecocks are in trouble.

UTAH STATE (NET: 38, NBC: 11): Utah State took a loss that they could not afford to close out the regular season on Saturday night. They lost at New Mexico (158), their second Quad 3 loss of the season. That, in and of itself, is not a killer, but the fact that the Aggies have not beaten a top 30 team this season and only have two top 85 wins — Florida (32) and LSU (33) on neutral courts — is a bigger issue. At this point, I think that Utah State probably wants to win the Mountain West tournament if they want to feel good about where they are sitting on Selection Sunday.