NCAA Tourney: Who’s in or out?

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By: Ian Cruiess

The bubble is a place where no team wants to find themselves, but each and every year teams sit afloat waiting for their names to be called on selection Sunday. The major issue with the bubble is that every season it pops. There is always the fear that a sub-500 team will come around and steal a spot by winning their conference tournament, but there are also teams like SMU, whom were arguably robbed of a bid last season. This season, there are 20-odd teams with reasonable hopes of finding themselves on the right side of the bubble. How will the bubble develop over the next few weeks? Let’s take a look at the chances of the tourney-hopefuls:

Temple (22-9):

With an RPI of 33, the Owls have high hopes. They have a top-10 adjusted-efficiency-level defense and while the Owls were far from special at the beginning of the season, they have turned on the heat. After finding themselves at 6-4, they finally had their two major transfers, Jesse Morgan (11.6 ppg) and Jaylen Bond (8.4 Reb) become eligible. With their win over the defending national champions, the Owls should have secured a bid.

Currently: IN

 

Cincinnati (22-9):

The Bearcats are 6-4 against RPI top 50 opponents and only have 2 really bad losses on the season. They boast an RPI of 40 and a sweep of Tourney lock SMU in the regular season. Their win against Memphis should move them from a bubble team to a near-lock.

Currently: IN

 

Tulsa (21-89):

With an unspectacular resume and a strength of schedule outside of the top 100, Tulsa is an interesting case. They are hot, 16-4 in their last 20 games, something the committee loves, and they have an RPI of 47. If the committee were to see their resume without knowing of their streak, they’d probably pass, but luckily for Tulsa all is taken into account. Their loss to SMU shouldn’t sink them, but they need to garner some wins in the American tournament if they want to make it in.

Currently: OUT

 

Davidson (23-6):

Davidson is on the right side of the bubble in my opinion. They have a lot going for them: Their 30 RPI is impressive, their 8 game win streak is helpful, and their wins against Dayton and VCU are important. With only two bad losses, Davidson’s main issue is non-conference schedule strength. If they do some damage in the A-10 Tournament they should be golden.

Currently: IN

 

NC State (19-12):

NC State is the poster child for the rare case of a team that forgets how to play when they should win, and plays up to their competition. With wins over UNC, Louisville, Duke, and Boise State, Mark Gottfried’s team stands near a lock. On the other hand they are riddled with pros and cons: They had a brutal schedule (6th SOS), but they took twelve losses.

Currently: IN

 

Miami (20-11):

Miami is on the wrong side of the bubble. I am writing about them as a formality, because technically they have a chance, but it is small. The Hurricanes need to keep doing something that they have been 64th at in the Country (RPI) at, winning. With their win at Virginia Tech, they kept themselves alive.

Currently: OUT

 

Oklahoma State (18-12):

They haven’t been too hot as of late, 1-4 in their last five games, but they bring some big wins to the table. With an RPI of 43 and a top 25 strength of schedule, OK State should make it past Selection Sunday. Their loss to West Virginia is perfectly understandable, no one expected a win in Morgantown, but they stand on the right side of the bubble.

Currently: IN

 

Texas (19-12):

It is a shame that they are on the bubble. They were supposed to be a top-4 seed, now they’re hoping to hear their names called. Their problem has been, they’re not that great. They are going to be under .500 in their conference but they handled Kansas State the way they were supposed to. Now they head to the Big 12 tournament with a lot to prove. They have an RPI of 42 and a Top ten strength of schedule. They’re in as of right now, but not by much.

Currently: IN

 

Xavier (19-12):

The Musketeers have a good strength of schedule (14th), a decent RPI (41), and a sub-.500 Big East Record. What does that mean? It means they might need another win or two to secure their ride to the Promised Land. They’re very close to a lock at this point, thanks to their win at Creighton.

Currently: IN

 

Indiana (19-12):

Not long ago, they were considered near a lock, but things fall apart. They fell apart. Their RPI is now 50 and their strength of schedule is good, but not great. They currently stand as one of the most perplexing teams on the bubble. They need to do something big in the tournament if they want to be on the inside looking out.

Currently: IN

 

Illinois (19-12):

There is nothing too impressive about Illinois, but also nothing too glaring. With Rayvonte Rice coming back, they have a chance to do something impressive in the Big 10 tournament. Currently they are on the wrong side of the bubble, and moving further away from March Madness. They aren’t just on the outside; there are a good five or six teams between them and a spot in the tourney.

Currently: OUT

 

Purdue (20-11):

They are 9-3 in their last 12 games and seem like they should be in. Their RPI struggles can be blamed on their struggles earlier in the season. They have turned things around and the Boilermakers should make the Tournament, especially as their wins gain value.

Currently: IN

 

Colorado State (26-5):

The Rams beat whom they should beat and lose to whom they should lose to. They have 25 wins and an RPI inside of the top 30, yet they sit squarely on the bubble thanks to a poor strength of schedule. Currently they should be in, unless the committee goes rogue or they decide to lose a winnable game (not their forte).

Currently: IN

 

Boise State (23-7):

They are hot, having won 13 of their last 14. They have an above .500 record against Top-100 RPI teams and a big win at San Diego State. Their record, combined with their RPI (40th), should be enough to get them in.

Currently: IN

 

Oregon (23-8):

The Ducks have won 9 out of their last 10. The committee loves hot teams. They have 23 wins in an above average conference. With a couple of bad losses, and only one great win (Utah), they are on the bubble. Overall things are looking good for the ducks.

Currently: IN

 

UCLA (19-12):

The Bruins are right on the bubble, not too high or too low. It is tough to make a judgment as they sit amongst uncertainty. They need to continue their three game win streak into the Pac-12 Tournament if they want to get a bid. If the bracket was announced right now, they would not hear their name called.

Currently: Out

 

Ole Miss (20-11):

They were golden. They were in. Then they lost 4 out of 7 and suddenly we aren’t so sure. What they had going for them not long ago, is lost. 17-7 looked a lot better than 20-11. Right now, they should be in, but an early exit in the SEC tournament won’t help.

Currently: IN

 

LSU(22-9):

March 7th in Arkansas, The Tigers won. Arkansas is a top-15 RPI team. That win helped LSU move towards the right side of the bubble. Their RPI isn’t great, their strength of schedule isn’t even good, but they took care of business when they needed to. They should make it in.

Currently: IN

 

Texas A&M (20-10):

The bizarre case of a team that isn’t too great at anything has a mediocre RPI (55), and ten wins, but still manages to be relevant. They’ve lost three of their last four moving them from currently in, to currently out. If they can notch a win or two in SEC Tournament play, they may move back in, but for now they’re headed to the NIT.

Currently: OUT

 

BYU (24-8):

Remember Jimmer? Me too. This team is very different, but just as fun to watch. Their analytical statistics are fantastic, their losses are all within single digits, and they can make a strong argument based their lack of bad losses. They can’t afford to lose to Portland, but as of right now, they’re good.

Currently: IN

 

Old Dominion (24-6):

They’ve won six straight and have an RPI of 36. They have some quality wins and also some bad losses. If the season were to end without a conference tournament, they probably wouldn’t make it in, but they’re not far off.

Currently: OUT

 

The Rest:

-Murray State will get robbed and will most likely not make the tournament despite winning 25 out of their last 26. They have a subpar RPI and no major wins. I hope the committee gives them a chance, but SMU got robbed last year. This year they most likely will.

-Buffalo has an RPI of 35. They’ve won six straight, but they will need to win the MAC tournament if they want in.

-Stephen F. Austin is wild fun to watch play and are 27-4. Their RPI is 46 and they should win their tournament. If they don’t they most likely won’t make it, but it would be a shame.

-Louisiana Tech is 24-7, but they shouldn’t make the tournament unless they win their conference. Their RPI is only 53rd, which unfortunately isn’t enough for the committee.

-Harvard has an RPI of 64. There is nothing to write about, as they will not make it to the NCAA Tournament unless they win their conference.

-Green Bay and Valparaiso will not make tourney unless they win the conference. This is a shame, but Valparaiso could end up with 28 wins. If they lose to Green Bay in the Horizon League Championship, they will still have 27 and deserve a look. Unfortunately it seems like the Horizon League will only have one team.

-Richmond is the last bubble team. They have a decent RPI (36) and have ended on a 6 game winning streak. Unfortunately I do not think they have enough to make it past selection Sunday.

 

image credit: mikesavicki.com

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