RTC Bubble Watch: February 10 Edition

Posted by Daniel Evans on February 10th, 2013

bubble

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.

LOCKS: 27
“SHOULD BE INS”: 3
TOTAL: 30 (minus six for projected auto bid winners = 24)
PROJECTED AT-LARGE SPOTS AVAILABLE: 13

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

UPDATED THROUGH ALL GAMES OF FEBRUARY 10, 2013

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%)

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RTC Bubble Watch: February 7 Edition

Posted by Daniel Evans on February 7th, 2013

bubble

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 25 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 12 at-large spots available. In most years, an average of around six “locks” win automatic bids, meaning there are 18 un-clinched spots for the NCAA Tournament.  I also have five teams in the “should be in” category, meaning I projected their odds of getting an at-large bid at 70% of higher. If those five teams do get in, there are 13 total spots available for the teams you see below in my bubble watch.

LOCKS: 25
“SHOULD BE INS”5
TOTAL: 30 (minus 6 for projected auto bid winners=24)
PROJECTED AT-LARGE SPOTS AVAILABLE: 13

  • Odds Improving: Iowa State, Indiana State, Oklahoma State, Arkansas (but still not on the “Watch”)
  • Odds Decreasing: UNLV, Boise State, Air Force, Alabama, Iowa (not on the “Watch”)
  • Locks That Are Trying My Patience: Missouri, Cincinnati, UCLA

atlargebidprojection2

UPDATED THROUGH ALL GAMES OF FEBRUARY 6, 2013

ACC: Three Locks, Four Bubble Teams LOCKS:duke50x50ncstate50x50miami50x50
North Carolina (16-6, 6-3; RPI: 31): 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. Losing to the under .500 Longhorns by 18 points is inexplicable. The next four games are going to decide the Tar Heels’ fate. First, a game against Wake Forest that would be a big blow to North Carolina’s at-large hopes. Then, back to back trips to Miami on February 9 and Duke on February 13.  AT-LARGE ODDS: 75%Maryland (16-6, 4-5; RPI: 60): Maryland has not played well in ACC play and it might end up costing the Terps an at-large bid. Maryland was swept by Florida State, another ACC bubble team. The Terps have also lost at Miami, at North Carolina, at Duke, and at Florida State. Maryland can’t win on the road and it cannot beat good teams, which typically means NIT. AT-LARGE ODDS: 40%

Virginia (15-6, 5-3; RPI: 100): After wins against Florida State and N. C. State moved the Cavaliers into at-large consideration, Virginia fell to Georgia Tech on Sunday. Virginia needs its RPI to rise quickly (by at least 40 spots) and losses like the one to the Yellow Jackets are not helping. Up next are winnable games against Clemson, at Maryland, and Virginia Tech. They better win all three. AT-LARGE ODDS: 30%

Florida State (13-9, 5-4; RPI: 58): Florida State knocked off Maryland on Wednesday to pick up  a fifth win against the RPI top 50 and its second win over the Terrapins. Florida State’s resume makes it look more like a mid major than a major though. The five wins over the RPI top 100 are: BYU, Charlotte, Saint Joseph’s, Maryland (twice). Michael Snaer saved the ‘Noles again on Tuesday night with another buzzer beater against Georgia Tech. Florida State needs to make sure they defeat Wake Forest Saturday because a loss would be a severe blow to their at large hopes. AT-LARGE HOPES: 25%

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

Atlantic 10: One Lock, Seven Bubble Teams LOCKS:butler50x50
Virginia Commonwealth (18-5, 6-2; RPI: 49): 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. This week the Rams stopped the bleeding a little bit with wins at Rhode Island and over Fordham. On Saturday, a trip to Charlotte looms large. AT-LARGE ODDS: 65%Temple (15-7, 4-4; 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. Overall, the Owls are 4-4 on the road. A win over Charlotte on Wednesday night gives the Owls another top 100 victory.  AT-LARGE ODDS: 50%

La Salle (15-6, 5-3; RPI: 27): 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 three games on the schedule are all very winnable–Fordham, at St. Bonaventure, Saint Joseph’s–before a huge bubble game at Temple on February 21. AT-LARGE ODDS: 50%

Saint Louis (17-5, 6-2; RPI: 57): The Billikens have made a strong push for an at-large bid over the last week. An upset victory over Butler and a win against Dayton give Saint Louis five straight wins, but now we get to find out how good this team is. Saint Louis will be expected to win at Richmond this weekend games before three straight tough games against Charlotte, VCU, and Butler.  AT-LARGE ODDS: 50%

Charlotte (17-5, 5-3; 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 keep looking better and better and 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 (15-6, 5-3; RPI: 46): 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. Games against Rhode Island and Saint Joseph’s are up next. If Massachusetts wins both, a game at VCU on February 14 could be huge for both team’s at-large hopes. AT-LARGE HOPES: 30%

Richmond (14-9, 4-4, RPI: 74): The Spiders entered the conversation after a victory over VCU, but a loss at Temple on Wednesday night was a big shot to the Spiders at-large hopes. A win against Air Force continues to look better and a win against Charlotte might end up being important, depending on how the 17-4 49ers finish the season. On Saturday, a game against Saint Louis could be the season for Richmond. All of the Atlantic Ten at-large teams have to begin separating themselves. AT-LARGE ODDS: 15%

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

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RTC Bubble Watch: February 4 Edition

Posted by Daniel Evans on February 4th, 2013

bubble

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 Wednesday afternoons for the rest of the season. 

What is a “Bubble Watch?” Below is my bubble watch. If you are not familiar with my work, this is basically a current look at how things are shaping up for the NCAA Tournament. Each conference is broken down and the teams I am currently considering on the bubble are listed. This makes it easy to figure out how many at-large berths are left for the NCAA Tournament. Remember, 31 automatic NCAA Tournament bids go to the conference tournament winners (and the Ivy champion). The other 37 bids are at-large bids, or bids that the selection committee gives to the best remaining teams that fail to win an automatic bid.

Bracket Math: Below there are 25 locks along the right column. That means if none of my “locks” wins an auto-bid, there are 12 at-large spots available for the NCAA Tournament. It is usually safe to say that an average of six of my locks will win automatic bids, so that means 19 at-large bids will be taken and I project that 18 at-large bids  remain available to the NCAA Tournament. For those wondering, if you take all the teams I have at 70% or higher (six) and include them in my projection there are 31 “locks” and “should be ins”.  At the very least, that leaves six at-large spots available for the NCAA Tournament. If you figure that at least six of my locks/should be ins win automatic bids, there are 12 spots available.

What Does Being a “Lock” Mean? It means that at this point, I see no way that team could miss the NCAA Tournament. Every year I end up having to move at least one team I have locked in back into the at-large pool.

Understanding “At-Large Odds” Percentages: In an attempt to help clarify the bubble picture even more, I have added “at-large odds” to each team below. All of the teams I have “locked” in have a 90% chance of playing in the NCAA Tournament or higher. Basically, teams with a percentage higher than 50% are probably on the good side of the bubble picture right now. Teams below 50% are probably on the wrong side of the bubble picture right now. Teams with a 50% chance of being in the Tournament basically have a coin-flip chance of getting in.  You might see me refer to teams with a percentage of 70% or higher as “should be ins,” referring to teams that should make the field.

  • Odds Improving This Week: Georgetown (now a lock), North Carolina, Kansas State (now a lock), Minnesota (now a lock), Colorado State, Kentucky, Oklahoma State, Air Force
  • Odds Decreasing This Week: Florida State, Villanova, Temple, Arizona State, Colorado, Illinois

UPDATED THROUGH ALL GAMES OF FEBRUARY 3, 2013

ACC: Three Locks, Four Bubble Teams LOCKS:duke50x50ncstate50x50miami50x50
ACC Overview: Miami continues to lead the ACC after a late basket pushed the Hurricanes over N. C. State on Saturday. Duke played its best game without Ryan Kelly in its blowout victory against Florida State. Both of those teams are clear locks for the NCAA Tournament. N. C. State remains in the lock column despite the loss.  This may end up being a four bid conference.

North Carolina (15-6, 5-3; RPI: 31): 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. Losing to the under .500 Longhorns by 18 points is inexplicable. The next four games are going to decide the Tar Heels’ fate. First, a game against Wake Forest that would be a big blow to North Carolina’s at-large hopes. Then, back to back trips to Miami on February 9 and Duke on February 13.  AT-LARGE ODDS: 75%

Maryland (16-6, 4-5; RPI: 60): Maryland has not played well in ACC play and it might end up costing the Terps an at-large bid. Maryland was swept by Florida State, another ACC bubble team. The Terps have also lost at Miami, at North Carolina, at Duke, and at Florida State. Maryland can’t win on the road and it cannot beat good teams, which typically means NIT. AT-LARGE ODDS: 40%

Virginia (15-5, 5-2; RPI: 95): After wins against Florida State and N. C. State moved the Cavaliers into at-large consideration, Virginia fell to Georgia Tech on Sunday. Virginia needs its RPI to rise quickly and losses like the one to the Yellow Jackets are not helping. Up next are winnable games against Clemson, at Maryland, and Virginia Tech. AT-LARGE ODDS: 35%

Florida State (12-9, 4-4; RPI: 66): Florida State knocked off Maryland on Wednesday to pick up  a fifth win against the RPI top 50 and its second win over the Terrapins. Florida State’s resume makes it look more like a mid major than a major though. The five wins over the RPI top 100 are: BYU, Charlotte, Saint Joseph’s, Maryland (twice). Duke demolished the ‘Noles on Saturday. Chances for big wins come down to hosting Miami on Feb. 13 and Florida State still has home and away contests left with North Carolina State. AT-LARGE ODDS: 30%

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RTC Bubble Watch: January 30 Edition

Posted by Daniel Evans on January 30th, 2013

bubble

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 Wednesday afternoons for the rest of the season. 

What is a “Bubble Watch?” Below is my bubble watch. If you are not familiar with my work, this is basically a current look at how things are shaping up for the NCAA Tournament. Each conference is broken down and the teams I am currently considering on the bubble are listed. This makes it easy to figure out how many at-large berths are left for the NCAA Tournament. Remember, 31 automatic NCAA Tournament bids go to the conference tournament winners (and the Ivy champion). The other 37 bids are at-large bids, or bids that the selection committee gives to the best remaining teams that fail to win an automatic bid.

Bracket Math: Below there are 22 locks along the right column. That means if none of my “locks” wins an auto-bid, there are 15 at-large spots available for the NCAA Tournament. It is usually safe to say that an average of six of my locks will win automatic bids, so that means nine at-large bids will be taken and I project that 28 at-large bids  remain available to the NCAA Tournament. For those wondering, if you take all the teams I have at 70% or higher (six) and include them in my projection there are 28 “locks” and “should be ins”.  At the very least, that leaves nine at-large spots available for the NCAA Tournament. If you figure that at least six of my locks/should be ins win automatic bids, there are 15 spots available.

What Does Being a “Lock” Mean? It means that at this point, I see no way that team could miss the NCAA Tournament. Every year I end up having to move at least one team I have locked in back into the at-large pool. For example, I’ve already done it this season with Minnesota and Illinois.

Understanding “At-Large Odds” Percentages: In an attempt to help clarify the bubble picture even more, I have added “at-large odds” to each team below. All of the teams I have “locked” in have a 90% chance of playing in the NCAA Tournament or higher. Basically, teams with a percentage higher than 50% are probably on the good side of the bubble picture right now. Teams below 50% are probably on the wrong side of the bubble picture right now. Teams with a 50% chance of being in the Tournament basically have a coin-flip chance of getting in.  You might see me refer to teams with a percentage of 70% or higher as “should be ins,” referring to teams that should make the field.

UPDATED THROUGH ALL GAMES OF JANUARY 29, 2013

ACC: Three Locks, Four Bubble Teams LOCKS:duke50x50ncstate50x50miami50x50
ACC Overview: On November 13, if anyone had told me that Miami would be 6-0 and leading the ACC in late January I probably would have laughed hysterically. November 13 is the day the ‘Canes lost by 12 to Florida Gulf Coast. Miami now has wins over Duke, North Carolina, Michigan State, La Salle, Maryland, and Charlotte. They are not only fighting for a top seed in the ACC Tournament, but a very high seed in the NCAA Tournament, It is safe to lock Miami into the field. Duke has the nation’s best wins, but the Blue Devils clearly are not the same team without Ryan Kelly. Coach K’s team is sliding down the seed line some, but it is still very much a lock for the field. N. C. State can also celebrate lock status. The Wolfpack’s victories do not scream “lock” but wins over shorthanded Duke, Connecticut, and North Carolina should be enough in a year where the bubble is looking weak. Virginia is the newest addition, moving onto the bubble after a big win against N. C. State on Tuesday.

North Carolina (14-6, 5-3; RPI: 35): 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. Losing to the 9-10 Longhorns by 18 points is inexplicable. The Heels still have not played Duke and a win over the Blue Devils might do it based off North Carolina’s history in the sport and what that rivalry usually does for NCAA Tournament chances. Of course, Roy Williams also takes his team to Miami on February 9, a scary proposition after what the Hurricanes did at home to a much more talented Duke squad. Before getting a chance to help its resume, North Carolina better make it through the next two without another blemish (VT, Wake). AT-LARGE ODDS: 65%

Maryland (15-5, 3-4; RPI: 60): Since my first Bubble Watch, Maryland has lost four of six games. The Terrapins’ best victory came over North Carolina State by one on January 16, but they followed that up by losing at fellow bubbler North Carolina by 10 on the road. Maryland also let a big opportunity go by the wayside when they let Duke romp on Saturday. Other than the victory over the Wolfpack, there is not a NCAA Tournament win on Maryland’s resume. The only upside here is that they still get Duke and North Carolina at home. Plus, unlike many other bubble teams, Maryland’s losses are not bad ones (Miami, North Carolina, Duke, Kentucky, Florida State). AT-LARGE ODDS: 50%

Virginia (15-5, 5-2; RPI: 91): After back to back losses to Clemson and Wake Forest in early January, I thought the Cavaliers were done. Fast-forward 18 days and this profile looks entirely different. Since those losses, Virginia has held Florida State to 36 points, knocked off a N. C. State team coming off a win against North Carolina, and won four straight games. This team is worthy of at large consideration. The Cavaliers have wins over Wisconsin, North Carolina, and North Carolina State to offset bad losses against Delaware, Old Dominion, and George Mason. The RPI still has to improve for this team to be taken seriously as an at large candidate, but Virginia is at least in the conversation. AT-LARGE ODDS: 35%

Florida State (11-8, 3-3; RPI: 67): The Seminoles “Snaered” a win over Clemson last week on a last second three by Michael Snaer and basically kept their at-large hopes alive in the process. Florida State’s best two wins are against Charlotte and BYU, teams that are in the exact same spot as the ‘Noles. Beating them may help them move up the at-large consideration board on Selection Sunday, but it won’t get them into the top 37. This team also lost to South Alabama, Mercer, and at Auburn — teams that are all below 150 in the RPI. Losing to Miami on Sunday was a big blow because it was yet another chance for a big win blown. The good news is that Florida State still plays Duke, Miami, at N. C. State, North Carolina, and N. C. State (home) before the ACC Tournament. In other words: This is a high reward, low risk schedule. Winning a few of those games might put Florida State on the good side of the at-large bubble. AT-LARGE ODDS: 35%

Atlantic 10: One Lock, Eight Bubble Teams LOCKS:butler50x50
Atlantic 10 Overview: Right now the Atlantic 10 is Butler and then everyone else. VCU had a two-loss week to fall further towards the bubble cut line, while La Salle has jumped into the at-large conversation with wins against the Bulldogs and Rams this week. In the A-10, we need to some separation from the pack by the bubble teams. This is a good conference that will likely end up with three or four bids, although right now it is not easy to see who the bids will go to outside of Butler.

Virginia Commonwealth (16-5, 4-2; RPI: 40): 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. Plus, losing to Richmond and La Salle is inexcusable. Coming into the week most bracket makers had this team at about a six seed. How? There isn’t a great win here. VCU is not as far into the Tournament as you’d think. The chance for a resume-defining win really comes down to a home game with Butler on March 2. Before then, Charlotte, Saint Louis, and Xavier all get the Rams at home. VCU better turn into a great road team to avoid losing to other Atlantic 10 bubble teams, beat Butler, or advance far into the A-10 tournament to get an NCAA Tournament bid. AT-LARGE ODDS: 65%

Temple (13-6, 2-3; RPI: 57): Victories over Syracuse and Villanova look great for the Owls, but Temple is really only living off those wins at this point. Losses to Canisius and St. Bonaventure are bad and they are really bringing down Temple’s resume. If the Owls had been able to knock off Butler on the road Saturday, this resume would have a completely different feel to it. Instead it feels like Temple better be careful. On Wednesday night, a game against Richmond is a must win for both teams. AT-LARGE ODDS: 60%

La Salle (14-5, 4-2; RPI: 25): The last time I did a bubble watch, I only included the Explorers because of a strong RPI. Boy, have things changed since then. La Salle knocked off Butler and VCU in the same week and also owns a victory over a Villanova team that just knocked off top five teams in Syracuse and Louisville. There is one gigantic blemish on the resume — a loss to #211 RPI school, Central Connecticut State — but that might be forgiven based off the good wins here. The only bad news is that La Salle does not get another shot at Butler or VCU and instead has to keep its head above water against other Atlantic 10 bubble teams. Wednesday night the Explorers host Massachusetts. AT-LARGE ODDS: 50%

Saint Louis (14-5, 3-2; RPI: 66): Other than a victory over New Mexico, the Billikens have little in the cupboard in the way of impressive victories. There are no other good wins on this resume. Saint Louis also lost to Rhode Island and Santa Clara, two teams that won’t be dancing without an automatic bid. Here’s the good news: They get Butler in their next game (January 31) at home. They also get the Bulldogs in late February. Right now Brad Stevens’ team has a huge bulls-eye on it, because the rest of the league knows a victory over Butler will be a season-defining win that will separate a team from the pack in the very competitive Atlantic 10. AT-LARGE ODDS: 45%

Charlotte (16-4, 4-2; RPI: 51): The 49ers have been in the at-large conversation all along because of a great record and a mediocre RPI, but a 20-point loss to Richmond and a 28-point loss to George Washington in the last two weeks have really changed the complexion of this resume. The good news is that a win against La Salle is now looking better and better, but that win is Charlotte’s only win against the top 75 of the RPI. The 49ers play Massachusetts, at Temple, VCU, at Butler, at Saint Louis, and Temple in their next six games. AT-LARGE ODDS: 35%

Xavier (11-8, 4-2; RPI: 77): The Musketeers have been sneaking back into the conversation but a weak RPI is hindering their chances. Wins against Butler, La Salle, and Temple give Xavier some of the best wins among contenders in the A-10, but losses to Pacific, Wake Forest, Vanderbilt, and Wofford are killing this resume. On March 9, Xavier gets a game against Butler that actually counts in conference play. They also still get VCU and Memphis down the stretch, so there is hope left for an at-large berth. AT-LARGE ODDS: 15%

Massachusetts (13-5, 3-2; RPI: 57): A win against Richmond on Sunday night really helps the Minutemen’s case for an-large bid. Now, a win over the Spiders is the best win on the resume, but Massachusetts still lacks a victory against the RPI top 50. In the Atlantic Ten (seemingly one gigantic bubble), things can change quickly. Trips to La Salle and Charlotte this week will tell us a lot about this resume. If Massachusetts loses both, look for the Minutemen to be off the next update. AT-LARGE ODDS: 15%

Richmond (13-8, 3-3, RPI: 72): The Spiders enter the conversation after a victory over VCU, but other than a win over Charlotte there is not much else here. Richmond is 2-6 in road/neutral games and has to play at VCU and at Temple down the stretch. Losing Sunday to Massachusetts really did not help Richmond’s chances. The Spiders have to find a way to win at Temple on Wednesday night or they’ll be off this list on my Sunday update. AT LARGE ODDS: 10%

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RTC Bubble Watch: January 27 Edition

Posted by Daniel Evans on January 27th, 2013

RTC Bubble Watch will publish on Sunday nights and Wednesday afternoons for the rest of the season.

My name is Daniel Evans and I have been doing bracketology for the last seven years. I’m new to RTC but very excited about the chance to write for one of the nation’s top college basketball websites. I have a journalism degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The Bracket Matrix ranks me as one of the nation’s top bracketologists. I’ve had two perfect years of bracketology — meaning I nailed every team in the field. On a daily basis, I update brackets on my website BracketologyExpert.com and I’m going to be doing a weekly bracket update on Fridays here along with a Bubble Watch column on Sundays and Wednesdays. I always enjoy answering any questions about my field of 68 or my bubble watch, so hit me up on my Twitter name (@bracketexpert) with any comments you may have.

What is a “Bubble Watch?” Below is my bubble watch. If you are not familiar with my work, this is basically a current look at how things are shaping up for the NCAA Tournament. Each conference is broken down and the teams I am currently considering on the bubble are listed. This makes it easy to figure out how many at-large berths are left for the NCAA Tournament. Remember, 31 automatic NCAA Tournament bids go to the conference tournament winners (and the Ivy champion). The other 37 bids are at-large bids, or bids that the selection committee gives to the best remaining teams that fail to win an automatic bid.

Bracket Math: Below there are 22 locks along the right column. That means if none of my “locks” wins an auto-bid, there are 15 at-large spots available for the NCAA Tournament. It is usually safe to say that an average of six of my locks will win automatic bids, so that means nine at-large bids will be taken and I project that 28 at-large bids will remain available to the NCAA Tournament.

What Does Being a “Lock” Mean? It means that at this point, I see no way that team could miss the NCAA Tournament. Every year I end up having to move at least one team I have locked in back into the at-large pool. For example, I’ve already done it this season with Minnesota and Illinois.

UPDATED THROUGH ALL GAMES OF JANUARY 27, 2013

ACC LOCKS:duke50x50ncstate50x50miami50x50
ACC Overview: On November 13, if anyone had told me that Miami would be 6-0 and leading the ACC in late January I probably would have laughed hysterically. November 13 is the day the ‘Canes lost by 12 to Florida Gulf Coast. Miami now has wins over Duke, North Carolina, Michigan State, La Salle, Maryland, and Charlotte. They are not only fighting for a top seed in the ACC Tournament, but a very high seed in the NCAA Tournament, It is safe to lock Miami into the field. Duke has the nation’s best wins, but the Blue Devils clearly are not the same team without Ryan Kelly. Coach K’s team is sliding down the seed line some, but it is still very much a lock for the field. N. C. State can also celebrate lock status. The Wolfpack’s victories do not scream “lock” but wins over shorthanded Duke, Connecticut, and North Carolina should be enough in a year where the bubble is looking weak. Virginia is on my watch list, but I can’t include a team with a RPI of 101.

Maryland (15-5, 3-4; RPI: 60): Since my last Bubble Watch, Maryland has lost four of six games. The Terrapins’ best victory came over North Carolina State by one on January 16, but they followed that up by losing at fellow bubbler North Carolina by 10 on the road. Maryland also let a big opportunity go by the wayside when they let Duke romp on Saturday. Other than the victory over the Wolfpack, there is not a NCAA Tournament win on Maryland’s resume. The only upside here is that they still get Duke and North Carolina at home. Plus, unlike many other bubble teams, Maryland’s losses are not bad ones (Miami, North Carolina, Duke, Kentucky, Florida State).

North Carolina (12-6, 3-3; RPI: 35): 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. Losing to the 9-10 Longhorns by 18 points is inexplicable. The Heels still have not played Duke and a win over the Blue Devils might do it based off North Carolina’s history in the sport and what that rivalry usually does for NCAA Tournament chances. Of course, Roy Williams also takes his team to Miami, a scary proposition after what the Hurricanes did at home to a much more talented Duke squad. Before getting a chance to help its resume, North Carolina better make it through the next three without another blemish (@BC, VT, Wake).

Florida State (11-8, 3-3; RPI: 75): The Seminoles “Snaered” a win over Clemson on a last second three by Michael Snaer and basically kept their at-large hopes alive in the process. Florida State’s best two wins are against Charlotte and BYU, teams that are in the exact same spot as the ‘Noles. Beating them may help them move up the at-large consideration board on Selection Sunday, but it won’t get them into the top 37. This team also lost to South Alabama, Mercer, and at Auburn — teams that are all below 150 in the RPI. Losing to Miami on Sunday was a big blow because it was yet another chance for a big win blown. The good news is that Florida State still plays Duke, Miami, at N. C. State, North Carolina, and N. C. State (home) before the ACC Tournament. In other words: This is a high reward, low risk schedule. Winning a few of those games might put Florida State on the good side of the at-large bubble.

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Bubble Watch: 02.27.12

Posted by zhayes9 on February 27th, 2012

Zach Hayes is an editor, contributor and bracketologist for Rush the Court.

Locks: Temple, Duke, North Carolina, Florida State, Kansas, Missouri, Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas State, Syracuse, Marquette, Notre Dame, Georgetown, Louisville, Michigan State, Ohio State, Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, Wichita State, Creighton, UNLV, New Mexico, San Diego State, Murray State, Kentucky, Florida, Vanderbilt, Saint Mary’s, Gonzaga.

Note: all RPI/SOS numbers compiled Sunday.

Dee Bost and Mississippi State is falling perilously close to the bubble

Atlantic 10

Saint Louis (22-6, 10-4)- The worst thing a bubble team can do this time of year is sustain a “bad” loss. Bad doesn’t even begin to describe Saturday’s setback at sub-#250 RPI Rhode Island. The overall record, #36 RPI, high KenPom/Sagarin rating and wins over fellow bubble teams Xavier, St. Joe’s and Dayton are positives, but the URI loss is undoubtedly a black mark on the resume. The winner of their rematch with Xavier on Tuesday will feel much more secure about their chances.

Xavier (18-10, 9-5)- The Musketeers haven’t exactly impressed lately, barely dodging Dayton and Richmond at home in between a seven-point defeat at UMass. Their resume is boosted by a difficult non-conference schedule which includes wins at Vanderbilt and home vs. Purdue. Xavier sits firmly on the cut line with an RPI of 53, SOS of 50 and a 5-6 road record. If they fall short at SLU, they’ll need to beat Charlotte at home and at least one game in the A-10 Tournament.

Saint Joseph’s (19-11, 9-6)- The Hawks jumped back into the bubble hunt with their win over ranked and red-hot Temple on Saturday and their computer numbers (51 RPI, 44 SOS, 41 non-conference SOS) suggests they could be around awhile. The win over Creighton is also helpful, but St. Joe’s lost five times to sub-#80 RPI teams, including Richmond, Charlotte and American. They’ll need to avoid a potential pitfall at St. Bonaventure on Wednesday and forge deep into the A-10 Tournament. St. Joe’s beat Dayton and lost to Xavier.

Dayton (18-10, 8-6)- Dayton’s mid-season four game losing skid keeps them on the outside looking in for now and the Flyers also have the worst RPI (61) of the A-10 bubble teams. Dayton’s lost four games to sub-100 RPI competition including #232 Miami (OH) and #251 Rhode Island. The 3-6 road record also stings. Keeping them afloat are wins at Temple and at home against Alabama, Saint Louis and Xavier. Winning their final two at Richmond and vs. George Washington are musts.

ACC

Virginia (21-7, 8-6)- The Cavs have three chances to lock up a bid to end the season: North Carolina, Florida State and at Maryland. They fell painfully short in the first opportunity, losing to the Heels by three in Charlottesville. Only one RPI top-50 win over Michigan from back in November and a #223 non-conference SOS will hurt their seed, Virginia should get in at 9-7 in the ACC in this bubble climate. Virginia also won at Oregon and beat Miami at home. A win over FSU locks up a bid.

Miami (16-10, 7-6)- Despite Reggie Johnson’s suspension, the Canes soundly handled Florida State, a win tremendously important to their at-large chances. Prior to Sunday, their second-best win after Duke was #81 RPI Massachusetts. Miami has a stellar #48 RPI and #32 SOS, but they’re far from comfortably in with a 4-7 road record and a 4-10 record vs. the RPI top-100. Their Wednesday trip to Raleigh is huge. They can’t afford another road setback after losing at Maryland last week.

NC State (18-11, 7-7)- Mark Gottfried’s bunch had three chances for resume-building wins at Duke and home vs. UNC and Florida State. They lost all three and compounded the problem by falling at #144 RPI Clemson this past Saturday. NC State is 0-8 vs. the RPI top-50 and now stands at 7-7 in the ACC with a #67 RPI. A loss in either of their final two games vs. Miami and at Virginia Tech would all but eliminate them from bubble contention. They’ll need to claw their way to 9-7 and defeat one of the ACC’s big three in the conference tournament to have a chance.

Big 12

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Bubble Watch: 02.20.12

Posted by zhayes9 on February 20th, 2012

Zach Hayes is an editor, contributor and bracketologist for Rush the Court.

Locks: Temple, North Carolina, Florida State, Duke, Missouri, Kansas, Baylor, Syracuse, Marquette, Notre Dame, Georgetown, Louisville, Michigan State, Ohio State, Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, Wichita State, Creighton, New Mexico, UNLV, San Diego State, Murray State, Kentucky, Florida, Vanderbilt, Saint Mary’s, Gonzaga.

Tu Holloway stepped up Saturday against Dayton to keep Xavier in the field

Atlantic 10

Saint Louis (22-5, 10-3)- The Billikens tournament hopes could ride on how much the committee factors in their attractive computer numbers (21 RPI, 11 KenPom, 17 Sagarin) and discards a void in the quality win department. Their only decent wins came over bubble teams Xavier (road) and Washington (home) while missed opportunities at New Mexico and home vs. Temple loom large. A 10-3 conference record, stellar RPI and another win over Xavier when the Musketeers return to SLU on February 28 should be sufficient for a bid.

Xavier (17-9, 8-4)- The unpredictable Musketeers stayed on the right side of the bubble by dispatching Dayton in overtime on Saturday and their only opportunity for a resume-building win is the aforementioned meeting with Saint Louis. Avoiding a defeat at Massachusetts on Tuesday is paramount given Xavier’s already questionable losses against Hawaii, La Salle and Oral Roberts when their team was depleted by suspensions. Xavier does have impressive wins at Vanderbilt and home vs. Purdue, but both of those came before December 3. Their #54 RPI and #54 SOS screams bubble team.

ACC

Virginia (20-6, 7-5)- The Cavaliers have long been considered NCAA worthy but their overall portfolio is actually quite lacking. Their only two RPI top-50 wins came over Michigan back in November and a one-point home win over Miami, while regrettable losses to TCU, Clemson and home vs. Virginia Tech loom. The #231 non-conference strength of schedule is another anchor. The remaining schedule isn’t forgiving – revenge game at Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Florida State, at Maryland– but on the flip side there are two RPI top-20 scalps coming to Charlottesville. Win just one and Tony Bennett can breathe easier.

NC State (18-9, 7-5)- The Wolfpack just concluded a devastating week, blowing a huge second half lead at Duke and 48 hours later getting blown out of the water at home against Florida State. With only one RPI top-50 win after Texas fell out following their own crushing loss, State is barely our last team in. The only chance for resuscitation is by beating North Carolina at home on Tuesday and finishing off a sweep of Miami on February 29. They also face a tricky road game at Clemson sandwiched in between. The computer numbers (57 RPI, 38 SOS, 29 non-conference SOS) are respectable.

Miami (16-9, 7-5)- At the moment, the Canes are pinning their tournament hopes on that crucial road win against Duke on Super Bowl Sunday because they have absolutely nothing else. Their next best wins by RPI is UMass at home, largely because all their important non-conference games – at West Virginia, at Purdue, Memphis– were played without star center Reggie Johnson. The Canes were also swept by North Carolina, lost at Virginia and Florida State and fell to NC State at home. The Seminoles return date on February 26 is a must win or the resume will be too empty to deserve serious consideration.

Big 12

Iowa State (19-8, 7-5)- The most difficult portion of the Cyclones schedule is yet to come with games at Kansas State, at Missouri and home vs. Baylor to wrap up the regular season. Winning either road game would solidify their bid, but even downing Baylor in Ames would give them home wins over Kansas, Baylor and Kansas State, likely enough to punch a ticket in this bubble climate. Iowa State has average numbers (42 RPI, 35 KenPom, 36 Sagarin) and bad losses at Drake, home vs. Northern Iowa and at Oklahoma State. They beat fellow bubble team Texas 77-71 at home in their only meeting.

Kansas State (18-8, 7-7)- The #59 RPI, #250 non-conference SOS and sweep at the hands of Oklahoma are setbacks, but their overall profile appears solid after Saturday’s enormous win at Baylor coupled with wins vs. Missouri, Texas and in the  non-conference vs. Long Beach State and Alabama. Both KenPom and Sagarin like the Wildcats more than the flawed RPI, ranking Kansas Stateat #25 in the country. Tuesday’s trip to Missouri is basically house money with three winnable games vs. Iowa State, at Texas A&M and vs.Oklahoma State remaining on the Big 12 slate. Take care of business in those three and Frank Martin’s squad is in the field.

Texas (17-10, 7-7)- Tonight’s clash with Baylor in Austin is just as enormous to their tournament chances as Saturday’s bad loss at Oklahoma State. The young Horns don’t stand a chance at Kansas; with Texas Tech and Oklahoma their only other remaining games before the Big 12 Tournament, this is their golden opportunity to stay viable for the selection committee. The losses to Kansas and Missouri by a combined five points loom large. Their best wins to date are all at home vs.Temple, Iowa State and Kansas State. Texas has yet to beat a team in the RPI top 100 on the road.

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RTC Official Bubble Watch: 03.03.11

Posted by zhayes9 on March 3rd, 2011

Zach Hayes is an editor, contributor and bracketologist at Rush the Court.

The number of available bubble spots is closing by the day as more teams win bid-clinching games and move into lock status. Here’s the current situation following Wednesday night’s action (* = own league’s automatic bid)

Current Bubble Picture

Locks- 32

Non-At Large Automatic Bids- 22

Spots Remaining- 14

Currently In The Field (in order from safest to Last Four In): Florida State, Tennessee, Washington, Marquette, Illinois, Georgia, Michigan State, Gonzaga, Virginia Tech, Boston College, Butler, Michigan, Richmond, Clemson.

First Four Out: Alabama, Baylor, Colorado, Colorado State.

Also Considered: Nebraska, Oklahoma State, UAB*, Memphis.

Kim English, Ricardo Ratliffe and Missouri will be dancing

New Locks

Kansas State 21-9 (9-6), 21 RPI, 5 SOS- Left for dead one month ago, Kansas State has gone from NIT-bound to in the field on the first week of March. Their gutsy win in Austin over Texas paired with their Valentine’s Day blowout of Kansas clinched a bid for Jacob Pullen and Co. The Wildcats also have wins over Missouri, Gonzaga and Virginia Tech on the season, haven’t suffered a loss to a sub-100 RPI team and their power ratings keep skyrocketing by the day. With only Iowa State at home left on the slate, Kansas State is shaping up to be a single-digit seed come tournament time.

Old Dominion 24-6 (14-4), 27 RPI, 80 SOS- Everyone talks about smoking hot George Mason, but reigning CAA champion Old Dominion has quietly won 10 of 11 contests to sew up their spot in the bracket. The Monarchs played the 15th-hardest non-conference schedule, defeated that George Mason team back on January 8 and also downed Xavier, Clemson and Richmond. ODU only has one bad loss on their schedule in the CAA opener at Delaware. That conference has a chance to push three teams into the NCAA Tournament if Hofstra, Drexel, VCU or James Madison embarks on a deep run in Richmond.

Missouri 22-8 (8-7), 31 RPI, 73 SOS- The definition of a lock is that even if said team loses all of their games left, they’d still be included in the NCAA Tournament. A beneficiary of both lack of days remaining in the schedule and the weakest bubble in memory, there’s just no chance the Tigers slip behind all of those bubble teams to the NIT even if they lose their final two contests against Kansas at home and in their first Big 12 Tournament game. Despite the possibility of finishing 22-10 (8-9), Missouri did beat Vanderbilt, Illinois and Old Dominion out-of-conference along with Kansas State and Baylor in league play. The Tigers have overcome their 1-7 mark in league games to warrant lock status.

UCLA 21-8 (12-4), 35 RPI, 50 SOS- After a one year absence, the Bruins can put on their dancing shoes once again. UCLA needed to beat Pac-10 leader Arizona in their home finale to clinch a bid and completed the task with gusto, winning by 22 points. Couple that win with crucial non-conference victories over #3 RPI BYU and #14 RPI St. John’s and the Bruins can feel safe about their tournament odds. Ben Howland’s team can really improve their seed and make their conference rivals increasingly nervous with a road win tonight at Washington.

Cincinnati 23-7 (10-7), 34 RPI, 97 SOS- If there was any lingering doubt remaining regarding Cincinnati’s tournament hopes, last night’s win at Marquette eliminated those concerns. The Bearcats rode another strong defensive effort to lock up their tenth Big East victory with Georgetown at home to close out the campaign, a game they’ll be playing for seeding purposes only. The Bearcats now have Big East road wins at Georgetown, St. John’s and Marquette to go along with home victories over Louisville and Xavier. Cincinnati is 4-7 vs. the RPI top-50 and will have opportunities in the Big East Tournament to earn a single digit seed.

Currently Automatic Bids

Utah State* 26-3 (14-1), 22 RPI, 114 SOS- Utah State’s bulk number of wins has boosted their RPI, but the resume remains mostly empty due to the weak WAC. Their lone RPI top-100 wins are at St. Mary’s and Long Beach State at home with losses to BYU and Georgetown in the non-conference. The Aggies are probably in the field if they just reach the WAC Tournament finals, but leaving it up to chance is risky. They’re the heavy favorites to win that conference tournament and I’d be stunned if they repeated last year’s result and fell again. Their #111 non-conference SOS is actually an improvement from past campaigns.

Saint Mary’s* 21-7 (11-3), 49 RPI, 124 SOS- The Gaels just needed to split two crucial home dates with Utah State and Gonzaga. Instead, they blew both games and the prospect of being left out of the field of 68 just became a lot more real if another loss is ahead in the WCC Tournament. Reach the conference tournament final and the Gaels are likely in good shape, but the resume is barren. Their marquee win over St. John’s came way back in the season’s first two weeks and they lost key non-conference games to San Diego State, BYU and Vanderbilt. Will two wins over Gonzaga and that November win over the Johnnies be enough to overcome a lackluster RPI and overall resume? Randy Bennett should just play it safe and secure that auto bid.

Currently In The Field

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Official RTC Bubble Watch: 02.25.11

Posted by zhayes9 on February 25th, 2011

Zach Hayes is an editor, contributor and bracketologist for Rush the Court.

16 days till Selection Sunday as more bubble teams hurt than helped their cause over the last week. Here’s the latest Bubble Watch update on where those teams stand heading into the stretch run:

New Locks

Xavier 21-6, (12-1) 27 RPI, 69 SOS- The Musketeers have now won 11 of 12 to establish themselves in a familiar spot atop the Atlantic 10 standings. Xavier holds a one game lead over Temple and won their only head-to-head matchup back on January 22. With a home game against bottom feeder Charlotte still remaining and an RPI/SOS to back up their record, Chris Mack’s team is safely in the Dance. Xavier also has non-conference wins at Georgia and vs. Butler to go along with Temple and at Richmond in A-10 play.

Temple 21-6 (11-2), 33 RPI, 108 SOS- Despite a plethora of injuries throughout the campaign, Temple has compiled a resume worthy of inclusion into the field of 68. The Owls stand at 11-2 in the Atlantic 10 and it’s highly unlikely they lose any of their final three games at George Washington, at Massachusetts and home vs. La Salle. Temple also beat Georgetown at home and Georgia on a neutral floor and beat Richmond at home. With a decent RPI also boosting their chances, the Owls are a safe bet for a bid.

Texas A&M 22-5 (9-4), 25 RPI, 47 SOS- It hasn’t been the smoothest of waters, but the Aggies have accumulated enough wins to be considered a lock for the NCAA Tournament. Prior to a 14-point win over Oklahoma in which A&M trailed at halftime, the Aggies won their previous four games by a combined 12 points. With a 9-4 Big 12 mark and a home date with Texas Tech still on the slate, they appear safe. A&M also downed Temple and Washington out of conference and have wins over Missouri and Kansas State during Big 12 play.

George Mason 24-5 (15-2), 28 RPI, 102 SOS- The Patriots certified their NCAA bid with a two-game road sweep at VCU and Northern Iowa. They boast the longest winning streak in the nation and finish with two very winnable games in CAA competition, rendering a 25-5 (16-2) overall mark and top 25 RPI all but a certainty. That should be more than enough in the committee’s eyes for an at-large berth.

UNLV 21-7 (9-5), 30 RPI, 42 SOS- This was a closer call than the previous three, but in today’s bubble climate the Rebels likely clinched a bid with their OT win at New Mexico on Wednesday night. Their RPI/SOS are stellar, they beat both Wisconsin (home) and Kansas State (semi-neutral in KC) away from MWC play and also won at bubble team Colorado State. Even if they should split very winnable games remaining vs. Wyoming and at Utah, 10-6 in the MWC with that Wisconsin win warrants inclusion.

Lavoy Allen, Ramone Moore and Temple are now a lock for the field of 68

Atlantic 10

Locks: Xavier, Temple.

Richmond 21-7 (10-3), 67 RPI, 170 SOS- The Spiders have faced Xavier and Temple in the last month and lost both games by a combined 43 points, a fact that surely will stand out to the committee when they convene in 16 days. Without much depth in the Atlantic 10, Richmond must first win out their remaining three games against sub RPI top-200 teams Charlotte and St. Joe’s then beat Duquesne at home to have any chance. They probably then have to beat either Xavier or Temple in the A-10 Tournament to earn a bid. Their lone win over an NCAA Tournament team was against Purdue on a neutral floor back in November.

ACC

Locks: Duke, North Carolina.

Florida State 19-8 (9-4), 45 RPI, 94 SOS- The Seminoles played their first legitimate game without Chris Singleton Wednesday at Maryland and the results weren’t promising. At 9-4 in the ACC, though, Florida State can lock up a bid by winning either vs. North Carolina or at NC State in the last week of the campaign. Luckily their one quality win was potential #1 seed Duke because FSU’s resume is bogged down by a #116 SOS, a horrendous loss at Auburn and only one other win against a possible NCAA Tournament team – Boston College at home.

Virginia Tech 18-8 (8-5), 51 RPI, 97 SOS- The RPI/SOS are poor, but hopefully the committee digs deeper and gives Seth Greenberg a bit of a pass for trying to schedule difficult non-conference games after last season’s debacle. Unfortunately for Virginia Tech, Kansas State, Mississippi State and UNLV all underachieved relative to expectations and a rash of injuries derailed hopes of a top-two ACC finish. Still, the Hokies have a remarkable opportunity staring them right in the face with Duke at home tomorrow. Win and they can clinch a bid by just splitting their final two games vs. Boston College and at Clemson.

Boston College 16-11 (6-7), 58 RPI, 17 SOS- The Eagles sustained their most devastating loss of the season at the worst possible time falling to Miami (FL) at home on Wednesday. BC badly needed to take care of business against the Hurricanes before heading out to Virginia and Virginia Tech in the next week. Steve Donahue’s team has now lost five games to teams with an RPI or 65 or less and their two wins over NCAA teams are Texas A&M on a neutral floor in November and home vs. Virginia Tech. Assuming a loss in Blacksburg, the Eagles at 8-8 in the ACC will need at least one conference tournament win to have a legitimate chance.

Big 12

Locks: Kansas, Texas, Texas A&M.

Missouri 22-6 (8-5), 22 RPI, 55 SOS- The only reason Missouri isn’t a lock yet is because of their challenging slate still remaining – at Kansas State, at Nebraska and Kansas. It’s possible the Tigers could fall in all three games and drop to 21-9 (8-8) with only one road win in Big 12 play. Even then, Missouri would only need one or two wins in the Big 12 Tournament to solidify a bid, showing how close Mizzou is to locking up a spot in the field. Mike Anderson’s squad have three RPI top-50 wins out of conference over Vanderbilt (home), Illinois (neutral) and Old Dominion (home) and beat Kansas State (home).

Kansas State 19-9 (7-6), 28 RPI, 6 SOS- Frank Martin’s team took a major step towards an NCAA bid by downing fellow bubble team Nebraska on the road on Wednesday. The Wildcats’ RPI/SOS keeps climbing and that win over Kansas does stand out, plus it appears wins over Virginia Tech and Gonzaga could be worth something. Kansas State needs to reach 9-7 in the Big 12 to clinch a bid and they have home dates with Missouri and Iowa State to accomplish that feat. The sandwich game is at Texas, so it’s imperative the Wildcats protect their floor or they’ll have to win one game in the Big 12 Tournament.

Baylor 17-10 (6-7), 68 RPI, 39 SOS- Any team sitting bubble-out in late February needs RPI top-25 win opportunities. Luckily for Baylor, there are two golden opportunities still on the schedule with Texas A&M and Texas coming to Waco in the season’s final two weeks. The brutal RPI and losses to Iowa State, Texas Tech and Oklahoma are devastating, and the only factor keeping the Bears alive is their remaining schedule and that road victory at Texas A&M. Baylor probably needs to go 2-1 (at Oklahoma State is the third game left, not exactly an easy win) and make a deep Big 12 Tournament run. For a team with preseason top 15 expectations, 2010-11 has been a bitter pill to swallow for Scott Drew.

Nebraska 18-9 (6-7), 75 RPI, 75 SOS- The Cornhuskers desperately needed to follow up their monumental win over Texas with a victory over Kansas State to continue their uphill climb. The close loss dropped Nebraska to 6-7 in the Big 12 and, with zero quality wins out of conference, they need to win their final three games at Iowa State, home vs. Missouri and at Colorado to have a fighter’s chance. Nebraska is 2-6 vs. the RPI top-25 with a win over Texas A&M to go along with Texas. The lackluster RPI/SOS obviously doesn’t help.

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Official RTC Bubble Watch: 02.18.11

Posted by zhayes9 on February 18th, 2011

Zach Hayes is an editor, contributor and bracketologist for Rush the Court.

Another Friday, another edition of the official RTC bubble watch:

New Locks

St. John’s 16-9 (8-5), 16 RPI, 3 SOS- The Johnnies move into lock status following a two-game road winning streak at Big East bubble teams Cincinnati and Marquette. Steve Lavin’s team has collected four wins against the RPI top-11 and welcome Pittsburgh to the Garden on Saturday for another major scalp opportunity. St. John’s seniors will be dancing for the first time in their careers.

Louisville 19-7 (8-5), 25 RPI, 28 SOS- Despite a setback at Cincinnati, the Cardinals effectively clinched a bid with their home win over Syracuse last Saturday to go along with RPI top-25 victories at Connecticut and at home against St. John’s and West Virginia. Any team that notches ten wins in the Big East is safely in the field and Louisville has games against Rutgers and Providence still remaining.

Arizona 22-4 (11-2), 17 RPI, 74 SOS- The Wildcats have only beaten one NCAA Tournament team this season, a home victory over UCLA, but a #17 RPI, 22 overall victories and a likely Pac-10 regular season championship is enough of a pedigree to easily garner a bid. Two of Arizona’s four losses came against the top two teams in the RPI, Kansas and BYU.

Vanderbilt 19-6 (7-4), 14 RPI, 9 SOS- The Commodores solidified a bid last Saturday behind John Jenkins’ heroics in a win over Kentucky and only cemented their NCAA status by coming from behind to win at Georgia on Wednesday. The RPI/SOS is fantastic and Vanderbilt has a clear path to second place in the SEC East. Wins over North Carolina and Saint Mary’s also aid the cause.

Kevin Stallings and Vandy are now NCAA Tournament locks

Atlantic 10

Xavier 19-6 (10-1), 19 RPI, 30 SOS- The Musketeers passed their toughest remaining test at Duquesne last Sunday and now face an easy schedule the rest of the way in the Atlantic 10, so it’s only a matter of time before they move into lock status. Xavier will be  favored in their last five contests before the A-10 Tournament where they’ll enter as the top seed. Xavier boast a stellar RPI/SOS, beat Temple and won at Georgia.

Temple 20-5 (10-2), 32 RPI, 113 SOS- Fran Dunphy’s team is currently playing their best basketball of the season and showed it last night by dismantling a Richmond team that badly needed a marquee win. The Owls toppled #5 RPI Georgetown back in December and haven’t suffered a loss against a sub-100 RPI squad. Temple is also inching closer to lock status.

Richmond 20-7 (9-3), 69 RPI, 170 SOS- The Spiders may need to make the NCAA Tournament on the back of a deep Atlantic 10 conference tournament run. Oh, and they should also root for Purdue in the process, as their upset win over the Boilermakers is the main bragging point of a lackluster resume. The RPI is being anchored by a #226 non-conference SOS. Richmond is probably out as of today.

Duquesne 16-7 (9-2), 73 RPI, 133 SOS- The upstart Dukes fell to West Virginia, George Mason and Xavier by single digits and could badly use one of those over in the win column right now. Their only bragging point is a home win over Temple and the RPI/SOS screams NIT. The Dukes have two games remaining they badly need to win — at Dayton and at Richmond – to even garner consideration.

ACC

Locks: Duke, North Carolina.

Boston College 16-9 (6-5), 45 RPI, 18 SOS- The Eagles boast a superior RPI to their ACC bubble counterparts, but have all the makings of a team that’ll be debated vigorously in the selection room on March 13. They’re 1-5 vs. the RPI top-50 with a November win over Texas A&M and three road games at North Carolina, Virginia Tech and Virginia remaining. If the Eagles win in Charlottesville and beat Miami and Wake at home to get to 9-7 in the ACC, it may be hard to keep them out during a soft bubble season.

Florida State 18-7 (8-3), 48 RPI, 88 SOS- Leonard Hamilton needs to make sure his team doesn’t completely go in the tank without Chris Singleton. They appear safely in the field now boosted by that win over Duke, but a complete collapse without their star player would give the committee signals that Florida State should be re-evaluated, especially if it’s uncertain Singleton returns. With Maryland off the radar, FSU only faces one NCAA team, North Carolina at home, the rest of the way.

Virginia Tech 17-7 (7-4), 57 RPI, 111 SOS- Seth Greenberg ran into some bad luck with his scheduling as Kansas State, UNLV, Mississippi State and the ACC as a whole all underachieved this season and his SOS catapulted as a result. Tech’s best wins are home against Florida State and neutral over Oklahoma State, and with a bubblicious RPI, obviously the Hokies have work to do. They’re in as of this moment, but it may come down to the two-game homestand in late February with Duke and BC coming to Blacksburg.

Clemson 17-9 (6-6), 76 RPI, 104 SOS- Clemson has blown two golden opportunities to stay in the bubble fight, losing by two at home to ascending North Carolina then falling to NC State on the road in a game they had to win. Lose at Miami on Sunday and Brad Brownell’s hopes for a surprise bid are officially over with a trip to Duke still on the slate. Clemson’s best win is a blowout of Florida State at home.

Big 12

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Official RTC Bubble Watch: 02.11.11

Posted by zhayes9 on February 11th, 2011

Zach Hayes is an editor, contributor and bracketologist for Rush the Court.

Mid-February means only one thing: the unveiling of Bubble Watch 2011! Here’s a snapshot of which teams have work to do to punch their NCAA Tournament ticket as we approach one month till Selection Sunday:

Atlantic 10

Xavier (17-6 (8-1), 22 RPI, 27 SOS)- The Musketeers picked up a vital non-conference win over fellow bubble team Georgia in Athens and remain atop the Atlantic 10 with an 8-1 mark. The regular season winner of the conference is a lock to make the tournament. Xavier already has key wins in A-10 play over Temple and at Richmond and this weekend’s meeting at Duquesne is truly the only challenging date remaining on the slate unless you count a February 27 trip to Dayton.

Temple (18-5 (8-2), 37 RPI, 131 SOS)- The Owls have two vital A-10 games in the next week with a visit to Dayton and a home date with Richmond ahead. A mid-February road game at Duke should boost the RPI/SOS and the Owls have an increasingly important home win over Georgetown (#4 RPI) from back in December. Temple has won five in a row and, coupled with their recent A-10 tournament success, it’s difficult to envision the Owls disappointed on Selection Sunday.

Richmond (19-6 (8-2), 70 RPI, 168 SOS)- With Kevin Anderson, Justin Harper and Dan Geriot, the Spiders smell like an NCAA team, but lackluster computer numbers and four sub-70 RPI losses to Bucknell, Rhode Island, Iona and Georgia Tech give us pause. Like Temple’s win over Georgetown, Richmond holds a key victory over Purdue (#12 RPI) and also beat fellow bubble team VCU. An all-important trip to Philly to face the Owls looms on February 17.

Duquesne (16-6 (8-1), RPI 76, 154 SOS)- At 8-1 in the Atlantic 10, the Dukes may seem like a team worthy of tournament inclusion, but their best non-conference win is IUPUI. A win over Temple certainly helped, but Duquesne must go 3-1 in their tough games remaining – Xavier, at Dayton, Rhode Island, at Richmond — to warrant serious consideration.

Malcolm Delaney's Hokies sit right on the bubble again

ACC

Locks: Duke, North Carolina.

Boston College (15-9 (5-5), 44 RPI, 17 SOS)- The Eagles have dropped five of seven during their most challenging stretch of ACC play, but did manage to pick up a key bubble win over Virginia Tech in the process. BC could still go either way with tough games at North Carolina and Virginia Tech remaining, but also a handful against the dregs of the ACC. Along with the VT win and a December triumph at Maryland, BC boasts a win over Texas A&M from the Old Spice Classic.

Florida State (17-7 (7-3), 48 RPI, 87 SOS)- There would have been some nervous ‘Noles fans out there had there been a  letdown at Georgia Tech last night, but Chris Singleton and Co. avoided a loss after two road thrashings from Clemson and North Carolina. Wins over Virginia, Miami and at Wake Forest coming up gives Leonard Hamilton’s team 10 ACC wins and basically locks up a bid. The schedule is favorable and that win over Duke (#8 RPI) stands out.

Clemson (17-7 (6-4), 63 RPI, 116 SOS)- Clemson faced a must-win situation against BC at home and downed the Eagles on Tuesday. The Tigers also destroyed Florida State, but their lack of quality non-conference wins (at Charleston the best) means there’s still work to be done. A golden opportunity presents itself tomorrow with North Carolina coming to town followed by two tricky road games at NC State and Miami that can hurt a lot more than help.

Virginia Tech (15-7 (5-4), 65 RPI, 102 SOS)- Bubble watch just wouldn’t be the same without Virginia Tech. The Hokies face a potential 4-0 stretch upcoming with visits from Georgia Tech and Maryland followed by a Virginia-Wake road swing, but the real key to their NCAA hopes will be a February 26 home date with Duke. Seth Greenberg’s team has wins over Florida State and at Maryland, but their best out-of-conference victory was over Oklahoma State in Anaheim.

Maryland (16-8 (5-4), 80 RPI, 81 SOS)- The Terps have gone a remarkable 0-7 against the RPI top-50 and their best win remains an ACC-Big Ten Challenge triumph at Penn State. Not exactly the resume of an NCAA Tournament team. Maryland has plenty of work to do with a crucial two game swing at BC and Virginia Tech starting Saturday. Lose both and it’s going to be very hard to avoid NIT relegation.

Big 12

Locks: Kansas, Texas.

Texas A&M (18-5 (5-4), 27 RPI, 44 SOS)- The Aggies dodged a huge bullet when B.J. Holmes’ three found the bottom of the net and A&M eventually beat Colorado in overtime to avoid a four-game slide. A&M picked up two solid non-conference wins over Washington and Temple and were a missed layup away from also beating Boston College. The Aggies also boast a Big 12 win over Missouri and have three chances to add a quality road win to the portfolio with trips to Oklahoma State, Baylor and Kansas ahead.

Missouri (18-6 (4-5), 28 RPI, 68 SOS)- Like A&M, Missouri has done close to nothing away from home – their best win away from Columbia was a December downing of Oregon. Missouri should be able to make the Dance behind non-conference wins over Vanderbilt, Illinois and Old Dominion and a respectable RPI, but it’d certainly help if they win either at home vs. Baylor or at Kansas State to make absolutely positive.

Kansas State (16-8 (4-5), 33 RPI, 12 SOS)- Amazingly, Kansas State still has a chance to Dance despite an 0-7 mark vs. the RPI top-50 and top wins over Virginia Tech and at Washington State. The RPI/SOS is boosted by a challenging non-conference slate (Duke, UNLV, Florida) and Big 12 road games (Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, Kansas, Missouri = all losses) with a visit to Austin still remaining. A Valentine’s Day visit from Kansas is approaching. Win that and we can consider the Wildcats a legitimate bid threat again.

Oklahoma State (16-7 (4-5), 43 RPI, 63 SOS)- The next four games for the Cowboys could knock them clear out of the bubble picture, especially at 4-5 in the Big 12: at Nebraska, at Texas, Texas A&M, at Kansas. A 2-2 record out of that stretch would be welcomed. A non-conference win over Missouri State is decent, as are home victories over Missouri and Kansas State. This team is currently right on the bubble.

Baylor (16-7 (6-4), 62 RPI, 76 SOS)- Baylor saved their season with a win at Texas A&M on Saturday, but their earlier losses to Iowa State and Oklahoma stand out as black marks. Not to mention Baylor’s best win out of conference is, gulp, Lipscomb and their non-conference SOS is #235. Baylor will either sprint into the tournament or completely flame out during their last four games- home vs. Texas A&M and Texas and visits to Missouri and Oklahoma State. Opportunity knocks for Scott Drew’s team.

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RTC Official Bubble Watch: 03.03.10

Posted by zhayes9 on March 3rd, 2010

RTC contributor and official bracketologist Zach Hayes will update the bubble scene every week until Madness ensues.

Only 11 days until the brackets are revealed. This calls for another bubble update. Here are the teams joining the esteemed lock category this week:

Clemson- The Tigers avoided a late-season collapse and secured a bid last night with their win over Georgia Tech. The Sunday night road win at Florida State was also of great importance. Clemson now has five wins vs. the RPI top-50 and guaranteed themselves an above .500 record in the ACC.

Marquette- The Golden Eagles finally didn’t play a nail-biter last night, instead blowing out Louisville in exclamatory fashion. Marquette is now 11-6 in the Big East with a home game vs. Notre Dame remaining. The committee won’t deny an 11-win Big East team.

California- I have a hard time seeing the committee leaving a regular season champion of a Power 6 conference out of the NCAA Tournament. The Pac-10 will be a two-bid league if anyone else wins the conference tournament next week.

Northern Iowa- The RPI remains very high (20) and the Panthers dominated the Missouri Valley from start to finish. Even with an early loss in St. Louis, they won’t fall enough to lose out on a bid.

Atlantic 10

Locks: Xavier, Temple, Richmond

Rhode Island (35 RPI, 67 SOS)- The Rams have lost four of five at the least opportune time and now face the realistic possibility of another February collapse to the NIT. The loss on Saturday at St. Bonaventure was an absolute killer. Rhode Island features just two wins vs. the RPI top-50 and their best non-conference win came in a virtual home game with Oklahoma State. They face a must-win scenario tonight at home against Charlotte in a virtual elimination game. With the bubble only shrinking in the coming days, this is a make-or-break game for the Rams unless they win the A-10 Tournament.

Dayton (41 RPI, 37 SOS)- The Flyers did defeat Georgia Tech, Old Dominion and Xavier this season, but close losses at the hands of New Mexico, Duquesne, Rhode Island and St. Louis are really hurting their chances. Dayton has now dropped out of a large majority of projected brackets and faces a daunting task tonight at Richmond. If they’re able to overcome their road woes and take down the Spiders, Dayton would be a candidate to re-claim a bid. If not, they’ll need to win a handful of games in Atlantic City next week. The Flyers are just 5-8 vs. the RPI top-100.

Charlotte (62 RPI, 111 SOS)- Despite the 9-5 conference mark, the 49ers resume is looking weaker and weaker by the day. They were blown out by Duke, Old Dominion and Tennessee in non-conference play and have recently lost four of five, including Duquesne at home and at George Washington. The computer numbers are also tanking. The opportunity is present, though, to creep back. Charlotte’s final two games are at Rhode Island and home vs. Richmond. At the very worst, they need to split those two games and make the A-10 Tournament finals with just four wins vs. the RPI top-100.

ACC

Locks: Duke, Maryland, Clemson

Wake Forest (29 RPI, 34 SOS)- The Deacons looked to be safe just a mere ten days ago, but two stunning defeats at the hands of ACC bottom-feeders NC State and North Carolina are reminding Wake fans of their teams’ stunning collapse last season. Don’t fret too much: Wake has a handful of quality wins- at Gonzaga, Richmond, Xavier, Maryland, Georgia Tech- and a respectable RPI/SOS. All the Deacons have to do is win more game and they’re in, whether it comes at Florida State tonight, home vs. Clemson on Sunday night or in the first round of the ACC Tournament.

Georgia Tech (33 RPI, 22 SOS)- The RPI/SOS and four wins vs. the RPI top-50 are nice, but there’s certainly holes in the Jackets portfolio. Their best non-conference wins came over USC and Charlotte and the yo-yo ACC season continued last night with a blowout loss at Clemson, dropping Georgia Tech back under .500 in the ACC. Paul Hewitt won’t have to sweat out Selection Sunday if they just take care of business Saturday at home against fellow bubble squad Virginia Tech. 8-8 in the ACC with wins over Duke, Clemson and Wake Forest should be enough for a bid, even if a double-digit seed is likely.

Florida State (42 RPI, 49 SOS)- If one looks closer at the Seminoles overall portfolio, it’s glaringly unimpressive. They have two wins vs. the RPI top-50- a sweep of Georgia Tech. They have one quality non-conference win on a neutral floor against Marquette. Luckily for Leonard Hamilton, Florida State did win the majority of games they were supposed to and also knocked off fellow ACC bubble team Virginia Tech in Tallahassee. The last two games- Wake Forest and at Miami- also lean towards the favorable side. The ‘Noles should probably win both to feel safe, but even am 9-7 ACC mark might be enough as long as they are not upset in the opening round of the ACC Tournament.

FSU faces Wake tonight in one of many big games

Virginia Tech (52 RPI, 157 SOS)- The Hokies have lost three in a row in late February to put themselves in a precarious position. The defeats at Duke and in double-OT to Maryland are excusable, but the 20-point blowout at Boston College is one the committee won’t overlook. We’ve beaten the horrid non-conference schedule to death, a factor that will prove as an anchor to their resume on Selection Sunday. Virginia Tech needs to win twice to make absolutely sure of a spot in the field. It starts tonight with NC State in Blacksburg. Win that and split their final two games- at Georgia Tech and ACC Tournament first round- and Seth Greenberg can breathe a sigh of relief.

Big 12

Locks: Kansas, Kansas State, Baylor, Missouri, Texas A&M, Texas, Oklahoma State

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