RTC Bubble Watch: February 10 Edition

Posted by Daniel Evans on February 10th, 2013


Daniel Evans (@bracketexpert) is RTC’s new resident bracketologist. According to Bracket Matrix, he ranks as one of the top several bracketologists among those who have produced brackets for more than three years, including two seasons with perfect bracket projections. He updates the field daily on his site, Bracketology Expert, and will be producing a weekly bracket update here at RTC on Fridays. RTC Bubble Watch will publish on Sunday nights and Thursday afternoons for the rest of the season. 

Bracket Math: Below there are 27 locks along the right column. Basically, that number means that if none of my “locks” clinch an automatic bid for the NCAA Tournament, there are only 10 at-large spots available. In most years, an average of around six “locks” win automatic bids, meaning there are 16 un-clinched spots for the NCAA Tournament.  I also have three teams in the “should be in” category, meaning I projected their odds of getting an at-large bid at 70% of higher. If those three teams do get in, there are 13 total spots available for the teams you see below in my bubble watch.

TOTAL: 30 (minus six for projected auto bid winners = 24)

  • Odds Improving: Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Wisconsin, UNLV, Pittsburgh
  • Odds Decreasing: Mississippi, Wyoming, BYU
  • Locks That Are Trying My Patience: N. C. State, Cincinnati


ACC: Three Locks, Four Bubble Teams LOCKS:duke50x50ncstate50x50miami50x50
North Carolina (16-7, 6-5; RPI: 41): North Carolina has one great win (over UNLV) and two mediocre ones (Florida State, Maryland), but bad losses against Texas and Virginia are not helping the Tar Heels’ resume. On Saturday. Miami blew the Tar Heels out. If North Carolina loses both of its games against Duke, Roy Williams team may be sweating on Selection Sunday.  AT-LARGE ODDS: 60%

Maryland (17-6, 5-6; RPI: 65): Maryland has been awful against good teams. The only good win for the Terps is over N. C. State, one of the worst road teams in the country. A loss Sunday to Virginia hurt their cause even more. AT-LARGE ODDS: 35%

Virginia (16-6, 7-3; RPI: 95): A week after losing to Georgia Tech, the Cavaliers have righted the ship. A win against Maryland on Sunday added a sixth win against the RPI top 100 to this resume. Here’s the problem: Virginia is not getting into the field with a RPI near 100. Plus, Virginia has six inexcusable losses to teams ranked lower than 100 in the RPI.  AT-LARGE ODDS: 30%

Florida State (13-9, 5-4; RPI: 58): Florida State’s at-large hopes are nearly over after a loss at Wake Forest on Saturday. This team has zero wins against the RPI top 50. A win over Miami on Wednesday would at least make things interesting, while a loss puts the ‘Noles out of their misery. AT-LARGE HOPES: 15%

Other ACC teams with an at-large chance: None currently

Atlantic 10: One Lock, Seven Bubble Teams LOCKS:butler50x50
Virginia Commonwealth (19-5, 7-2; RPI: 39): I don’t have anything against VCU, but I am convinced more and more every day that 80% of the nation’s bracketologists are overrating the Rams’ resume. This team’s best victory is against Belmont and the second best win is over Memphis. Both of those teams are fringe at-large teams and both had better win their conference tournaments if they want to snag an a NCAA Tournament bid. A win over Charlotte on Saturday gave VCU a seventh win over the RPI top 100. AT-LARGE ODDS: 65%

Saint Louis (18-5, 7-2; RPI: 56): Saint Louis is getting hot at the right time. The Billikens are 10-2 in their last twelve games and have victories over Butler and New Mexico on their resume. Plus, there is only one bad loss here (Rhode Island). This is looking more and more like a NCAA Tournament team.  AT-LARGE ODDS: 60%

Temple (16-7, 5-4; RPI: 53): The Owls are the kind of team that makes a bracketologists’ job very difficult. A win over Syracuse looks fantastic, but losses to Canisius, St. Bonaventure, Saint Joseph’s, and Xavier cannot be ignored. A big comeback at Dayton on Saturday was gigantic in the large scheme of things. The Owls’ remaining Atlantic Ten schedule is pretty weak.  AT-LARGE ODDS: 50%

La Salle (16-6, 6-3; RPI: 35): La Salle has five wins over the RPI top 100 including victories against Butler and VCU, the Atlantic Ten’s best teams. The Explorers only have one bad loss, which came in mid-November against Central Connecticut State. The next two games on the schedule are very winnable– at St. Bonaventure, Saint Joseph’s–before a huge bubble game at Temple on February 21. AT-LARGE ODDS: 50%

Charlotte (17-6, 5-4; RPI: 51): The 49ers have been in the at-large conversation all along because of a great record and a mediocre RPI, but Charlotte only has two top 50 wins. Wins against La Salle and Massachusetts are average but games against Temple, Butler, VCU, and Saint Louis still remain on the schedule. Charlotte has the kind of record you look for in an at-large candidate, but the 49ers need big wins. The upcoming schedule provides plenty of chances for those.  AT-LARGE ODDS: 35%

Massachusetts (16-6, 6-3; RPI: 52): It was an up and down week for the Minutemen, who followed a one point win against La Salle with a one point loss to Charlotte. Massachusetts has done its part by winning of four of five games to set up a monster game with VCU on Thursday night. AT-LARGE HOPES: 30%

Other Atlantic Ten teams with an at-large chance: Richmond (10%), Xavier (10%), Saint Joseph’s (5%)

Big 12: Two Locks, Four Bubble Teams LOCKS:kansas50x50
Oklahoma State (17-5, 7-3; RPI: 27): Oklahoma State now owns the Big 12’s best win thanks to a victory at Kansas that ended the Jayhawks 33 game home winning streak. The Cowboys also have a win against Iowa State and an overtime win against Baylor. AT-LARGE ODDS: 70%

Oklahoma (15-7, 6-4; RPI: 17): Oklahoma caught Kansas at the right time, becoming the third straight Big 12 team to knock off the Jayhawks. That victory, coupled with wins over Oklahoma State and Baylor leave the Sooners in good shape for an at-large bid.  AT-LARGE ODDS: 65%

Iowa State (16-7, 6-4; RPI: 37): A loss on Saturday against Kansas State slowed the Cyclones’ momentum, but wins against Kansas State, Baylor, and Oklahoma are still nice victories over other Big 12 bubble contenders. The next two games are against Texas and TCU. AT-LARGE ODDS: 60%

Baylor (15-8, 6-3; RPI: 53): Two weeks ago Baylor was right in the middle of the Big 12 bubble pack. Now, the Bears are clearly at the bottom. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State have beaten Kansas and Iowa State has won against the Wildcats, Bears, and Sooners. Baylor better get going. A loss Wednesday against West Virginia would be a killer loss to the Bears’ at-large hopes. AT-LARGE ODDS: 50%

Other Big 12 teams with an at-large chance: None currently

Big East: Five Locks, Four Bubble Teams LOCKS:louisville50x50syracuse100x100marquette50x50cincy50x50georgetown50x50PITT50x50
Notre Dame (19-5, 7-4; RPI: 43): I’m still being cautious with the Irish. Notre Dame’s 5OT win against Louisville leaves this team in fantastic shape. Notre Dame now has eight wins against the RPI top 100, including top 50 wins over the Cardinals and Cincinnati. Barring a collapse, this team is in. AT-LARGE ODDS: 70%

Villanova (15-9, 6-5; RPI: 64) The Wildcats moved into the at-large consideration with wins against Louisville and Syracuse. This team is too inconsistent though.  Losses against Notre Dame and Providence following those two big wins have likely moved the Wildcats onto the bad side of the bubble. The Wildcats get Cincinnati on Tuesday.  AT-LARGE ODDS: 50%

St. John’s (15-9, 7-5; RPI: 55): After a win over Connecticut on Wednesday night, the Red Storm have pulled to 7-4 in the Big East. St. John’s has three wins over the RPI top 50 but lost to UNC-Asheville, San Francisco, and Murray State in non-conference play. On Sunday, Syracuse blew St. John’s out. This team does not look like a NCAA Tournament team. AT-LARGE ODDS: 25%

Other Big East teams with an at-large chance: Rutgers (5%)

Big Ten: Five Locks, Two Bubble Teams LOCKS:michigan50x50indiana50x50ohiostate100x100michiganstate50x50minnesota100x100wisconsinbadgers50x50
Illinois (17-8, 4-7; RPI: 34): Illinois has gone from a top 15 team that had wins over Butler, Gonzaga, and Ohio State to the toughest bubble team in the country to figure out. The Illini were 2-7 in conference and looked finished on Thursday night before a huge comeback victory over No. 1 Indiana. Add in a win over Minnesota on Sunday and you’ve got renewed life for the Illini. Only a few teams in the history of the NCAA Tournament have gotten into the Big Dance at four games under .500 in conference play.  AT-LARGE ODDS: 50%

Other Big Ten teams with an at-large chance: Iowa (5%)

Conference USA: Zero Locks, Two Bubble Teams LOCKS: NONE
Memphis (20-3, 9-0; RPI: 30): Thanks to a win on Saturday over Southern Miss, the Tigers now own a top 50 win. Still, this resume looks pretty bad. If the team name was “Stephen F. Austin”, I’m not sure we’d have the Tigers as high as we do, but the RPI may save the Tigers. Memphis has a top 30 RPI ranking. AT-LARGE ODDS: 55%

Southern Miss (18-6, 7-2; RPI: 47): Southern Miss mainly makes this list due to the Eagles high RPI. Back to back losses to the second and third best teams in Conference USA have really changed the Eagles at-large odds. Southern Miss has to beat Memphis in their other meeting with the Tigers. AT-LARGE ODDS: 15%

Other Conference USA Teams with an at-large chance: UCF (5%)

Missouri Valley: Two Locks, One Bubble Team LOCKS:wichitastate50x50creighton50x50
Indiana State (16-8, 9-4; RPI: 46): It has been a whirlwind stretch for the Sycamores. Indiana State upset Wichita State but followed that win up by losing at Drake. On Wednesday night, Indiana State upset Creighton. It appears this team plays up and down to its competition. How else can you explain wins over Mississippi and Miami (Fla.) and losses to Morehead State and Southern Illinois? AT-LARGE ODDS: 55%

Other Missouri Valley teams with an at-large chance: None

Mountain West: One Lock, Six Bubble Teams LOCKS:newmexico50x50
Colorado State (19-4, 6-2; RPI: 15): Colorado State has a strong RPI (#21 is the lowest RPI to ever miss the Big Dance) and a great win against UNLV to highlight its profile. The Rams also own victories at Washington and against Mountain West bubble teams Air Force, Boise State, and Wyoming. The Rams are in great shape right now. AT-LARGE ODDS: 70%

UNLV (18-6, 5-4; RPI: 22): Before Saturday’s win against New Mexico, UNLV was starting to slip a bit. The Rebels had lost back to back games against Boise State and Fresno State, but now the Rebels have three wins against the RPI top 50. Next up is a road game at Air Force. The Rebels are 4-5 on the road this year. AT-LARGE ODDS: 65%

San Diego State (18-5, 6-3; RPI: 25): San Diego State has some fantastic wins: UCLA, Colorado State, New Mexico, and Indiana State. Before Wednesday night’s one point win against Boise State, the Aztecs were starting to free fall a little bit. Inconsistency seems to rule the Mountain West. San Diego State has three RPI top 100 wins and not a single loss outside the RPI top 100. AT-LARGE ODDS: 65%

Boise State (16-7, 4-5; RPI: 45): Boise State’s one point loss to San Diego State on Wednesday night was a big blow to the Broncos at-large hopes, but at least the Aztecs bounced back with a win over Wyoming. There are only so many bids to go around in the Mountain West and right now the Broncos appear to be in the second tier of teams. Still, a win at Creighton is impressive and a victory over UNLV at home shows that this team is worthy of at-large bid consideration.  AT-LARGE ODDS: 50%

Wyoming (16-7, 2-7; RPI: 61): A 13-0 start now seems like years ago for Wyoming. The Cowboys have lost seven of nine in conference and appear done. Wins against Nevada and Fresno State could revive the Cowboys at large hopes in their next two games. If they win both of those, we will look ahead of scenarios that could get Wyoming at an-large bid. AT-LARGE ODDS: 15%

Other Mountain West teams with an at-large chance: Air Force (10%)

Pac-12: Three Locks, Three Bubble Teams LOCKS:oregonducks50x50ucla50x50
Colorado (16-7, 6-5; RPI: 21): Colorado is really depending on a great RPI. Remember, the best RPI ever to miss the NCAA Tournament is 21. A victory over Oregon on Thursday night doesn’t look as good as it would have two weeks ago, but it still counts as a second win over the RPI top 50 for the Buffaloes.  AT-LARGE ODDS: 55%

Arizona State (18-6, 7-4; RPI: 65): Saturday’s loss to Stanford was a big blow for the Sun Devils. As great as Arizona State’s record is, there is only one win against a sure NCAA Tournament team on this resume (UCLA). Games at Utah and at Colorado loom large this week.  AT-LARGE ODDS: 50%

Stanford (15-9, 6-5; RPI: 57): The Cardinal move onto the bubble watch after a win against Arizona State on Saturday. Stanford only has one top 50 win (Oregon), but still gets UCLA at home and also has a trip to Eugene left on its schedule. AT-LARGE ODDS: 25%

Washington (13-10, 5-5; RPI: 68): A buzzer beating loss to UCLA on Thursday night gave Washington its 10th loss and moved the Huskies back to .500 in conference play. There is only one RPI top 50 win on this resume (Colorado). If the Huskies can avoid a loss at USC and beat Oregon on Saturday, this team is worth another look.  AT-LARGE ODDS: 25%

Other Pac 12 teams with an at-large chance: California (15%)

SEC: Two Locks, Three Bubble Teams LOCKS:missouri100x100
Kentucky (17-6, 8-2; RPI: 47):  Kentucky has been waiting for Tuesday’s battle with Florida. The Wildcats’ are probably drooling at the mouth for their chance to welcome the top 5 ranked Gators into Rupp Arena. A win would put the ‘Cats on top of the SEC and prove that this team is legit. Remember, the only top 50 win on this resume against Mississippi. AT-LARGE ODDS: 60%

Ole Miss (18-5, 7-3; RPI: 48): Over the last two weeks we have watched the Rebels play the three best teams from the SEC. Kentucky dominated them aside from a late run. Florida blew them off the Floor. Missouri humiliated them with Laurence Bowers finally back in the lineup. The Rebels best win is against the Tigers, but it was without Bowers in the lineup. Considering Missouri nearly scored 100 points with him against the Rebels on Saturday, it is easy to see why Mississippi is fourth in the SEC pecking order. AT-LARGE ODDS: 60%

Alabama (15-8, 7-3; RPI: 61): Wednesday night’s loss to Auburn was a huge blow to the Crimson Tide’s at large hopes. Alabama only scored 37 points the entire game, including 14 in the second half. Alabama’s win over Kentucky is the Crimson Tide’s lone win against the RPI top 50. Losses to Dayton, Tulane, and Mercer in Tuscaloosa have made this profile scream NIT. The Crimson Tide get their shot at the SEC’s big boys in March. They play at Florida March 2 and at Mississippi March 5. AT-LARGE ODDS: 35%

Other SEC teams with an at-large chance: Arkansas (5%)

Others: One Lock, Seven Bubble Teams LOCKS:
Saint Mary’s (21-4, 10-1; RPI: 50): Saint Mary’s has one top 50 victory, thanks to a buzzer-beating three by Matthew Dellavedova. Outside of that, the Gaels’ at-large resume needs work. Saint Mary’s has three losses against teams lower than #36 in the RPI: Northern Iowa, Pacific, and Georgia Tech. This team lost at Gonzaga by five, but gets a shot at the Zags at home on February 14. A victory there would change this profile immensely. Road games at Santa Clara and at San Diego loom large this week. AT-LARGE ODDS: 50%

Belmont (20-5, 11-1; RPI: 20): Right now the only RPI top 50 win for Belmont is against Middle Tennessee, another team hoping to get an at-large bid from a mid-major conference. It is really too bad that Murray State has not been the team we expected, because that would give Belmont (a very underrated team) a better shot at an at-large bid. The Ohio Valley won’t give them any chances, but an undefeated finish might be enough if their RPI stays so strong. Remember, no team with a RPI of 20 of better has ever missed the NCAA Tournament. AT-LARGE ODDS: 45%

BYU (18-8, 8-4; RPI: 59): A loss Saturday against San Francisco might have doomed BYU in the long run. The Cougars have only one RPI top 100 win and that victory is against Santa Clara, who barely makes the top 100 cut. The Cougars can change that stat when they play Saint Mary’s February 21 and Gonzaga on February 28. AT-LARGE ODDS: 25%

Louisiana Tech (21-3, 12-0; RPI: 51): A victory over Southern Miss is the only top 50 win on the Bulldogs resume.  Teams that lose to Northwestern State and McNeese State usually do not get at-large bids, but you never know. Would 9 more wins down the stretch (to get to 28) and a trip to the WAC Tournament finals be enough for an at-large bid? I’d suggest the Bulldogs make it easy by earning the auto bid. AT-LARGE ODDS: 25%

Middle Tennessee (22-4, 14-1; RPI: 29): Give Middle Tennessee credit for going out and playing teams from power conferences. The Blue Raiders are reaping the benefits of their early season schedule with wins over UAB, Mississippi, UCF, and Vanderbilt. They were blown out by Florida in their only chance for a top 10 win, but the victory over the Rebels continues to look better and better. Would 27-5 be enough? AT-LARGE ODDS: 25%

Bucknell (20-4, 7-1; RPI: 58): As expected, Bucknell’s RPI continues to free fall. The Bison have a win over La Salle that looks great after the Explorers dropped Butler and VCU.  Winning out is practically a must until the conference tournament final for Bucknell to even be in the conversation for an at-large bid on Selection Sunday. This team is 17-2 against teams below 100 in the RPI, which shows it has feasted on bad teams. AT-LARGE ODDS: 10%

Stephen F. Austin (20-2, 11-1; RPI: 71): Before falling to Northwestern State, the Lumberjacks’ only defeat was against Texas A&M. That one is relatively excusable. A victory over Oklahoma has them in the at-large conversation but they will likely need to almost win out to get a serious look from the committee. Would a 26-2 regular season plus a trip to the Southland final be enough? Probably not, but it is worth keeping an eye on. AT-LARGE ODDS: 10%


Daniel Evans (60 Posts)

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One response to “RTC Bubble Watch: February 10 Edition”

  1. Andy says:

    How do you have Minnesota as a lock and Illinois as a only having a 50% chance of getting in. Minnesota is only 1 game better in overall and conference record. Not to mention the Illini have 5 top 25 rpi wins to Minnesota’s 1.

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