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
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.
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.
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