Last week I examined the bubble situation of 12 bubble teams and this week I will be examining the situation of some of those teams that have had good weeks, I will add some that have inched their way towards a tournament berth, and I will take some of the teams I discussed last week off the board as some teams (I am looking at you LSU, have blown their chance at a tournament berth outside of winning the conference tournament).
St. Bonaventure Bonnies (18-7):
Finally, one team that looks like they actually want to play in the tournament. Sure the Bonnies lost to La Salle, who has an RPI of 230, but they followed that up with a huge win at Dayton, whose RPI is 17. That win cancels out the La Salle loss and really adds a little more. They are also 3-2 against the RPI top 50 and are 7-5 on the road. The one bad thing are their two bad losses to the aforementioned La Salle and Duquesne. Those two losses might hold them back, but if the Bonnies can avoid bad losses in their last four games and the Atlantic 10 tournament, they should be dancing and maybe even at a 10 seed.
Syracuse Orange (18-10):
The Orange lost their last two games, so why are they still in the field you ask? Because very few other teams have been improving their stock and almost no team can match the Orange’s collection of good wins. They have five wins against the RPI top 50 and if they handle Florida State and North Carolina State in, and play well against North Carolina this team should have plenty to get into the tournament. However if they were to lose one or gasp, both of those games and get trounced against North Carolina, they would need a run in the ACC tournament to get in.
Cincinnati Bearcats (20-8):
Cincinnati is also a team that has shown up recently. They suffered a tough loss against fellow bubble team Tulsa, but that isn’t a bad loss and shouldn’t be counted against them unless those are the last two teams competing for one spot. They also beat UConn however which is a solid win and a sweep of a likely tournament team for their resume, which also includes wins over VCU, Tulsa and George Washington. Sure none of those wins are great, and they did lose to Memphis, but avoiding bad losses should be enough to get them in. If they beat SMU in their finale and avoid bad losses they are a lock and should fit for a seed between 8-10.
Staying in the Mix:
Vanderbilt Commodores (16-11):
Vanderbilt was able to come up with an impressive RPI win against Florida on Saturday which gives them another quality win on their resume as well as the sweep of Florida on the season. There are a lot of problem with this resume though and all the Florida win did was keep them in the discussion. They have 11 losses already, as well as losses to Mississippi State and Arkansas which are dropping them heavily. The good news they have two more chances at quality wins against Kentucky and Texas A&M, and they really need one if not both to separate themselves from the field.
Butler Bulldogs (18-9):
Butler is in a tough position and to me is closer to being further out than they are to being in the field. They have just two quality wins to speak of and are 2-7 versus the RPI top 50. Simply put they have had myriad opportunities to get some resume-building wins, but they have struggled to achieve them. Sure they have played well in just about all of them, but there is a reason the final score matters. Throw in a low RPI of 61 and a non-conference strength of schedule of 257 and this team is in trouble and needs to win out, as well as have a good showing in their conference tournament.
George Washington Colonials (20-7):
The Colonials are an odd team to try and peg. On one hand they have perhaps the most impressive win of all the bubble teams beating Virgina earlier in the season, but other than that they have other wins of Seton Hall and VCU as their highlights. Not great. Throw in that they have three losses against teams with RPIs of 120 or below and this team has some work to do. Going 4-0 against teams that won’t definitively improve their case would go a long way to making their case as 24-7 and a 3-3 record against the RPI top 50 would probably be enough.
Alabama Crimson Tide (16-10):
What happened Alabama? The Crimson Tide were rolling along and had won five in a row including beating Florida, Texas A&M, and LSU only to see their hard work evaporate within a weeks time. They added a loss to lowly Mississippi State to their resume that already held a loss to Auburn on it and now have double digit losses and a 10-10 record against the RPI top 150. They also have wins against Notre Dame and Wichita State that should help, but this ship can’t take any more water on or bad losses for that matter. Winning out against Auburn, Arkansas, and Georgia is necessary.
Tulsa Golden Hurricanes (18-9):
The Golden Hurricanes are really playing like a team that wants in the tournament. They are now 5-1 over their past six games and have wins over Cincinnati and at SMU on their ledger. Those are big wins at this time of year and should help their cause going forward. They only have one bad loss to Oral Roberts on their resume which will help as will a 6-4 road record and an RPI of 37. The strength of schedule of 37 is also a helpful number that is better than most of their bubble counterparts. Winning out against Memphis and South Florida is necessary and would make them 20-9 and 13-5 in conference. At that point avoiding a bad loss in the AAC would get them in.
LSU Tigers (16-12):
Goodbye Ben Simmons, we hardly knew ya. The Tigers once again stumbled and have now lost three in a row to the likes of Alabama, Tennessee, and Arkansas. Those last two games are the types of losses will keep you out of the tournament and to lose them both in a row in crunch time, while simultaneously losing their 11th and 12th games. All bad things this time of the year. Throw in the fact they have just three wins against the RPI top 50 and a 9-12 record against the RPI top 150 and this team is not worthy on the NCAA tournament unless they win the SEC tournament. Tough luck to see one of the best players out of the tournament and not on the biggest stage.
Clemson Tigers (16-12):
Another team that sunk even lower as the Tigers lost to North Carolina State and although the RPI suggests Georgia Tech is not that bad of a loss, that will not help come March. The only thing keeping them in the hunt is that they have four very solid wins against the RPI top 50, including against Miami, Louisville, and Duke. However, their none-conference strength of schedule of 332, a strength of schedule of 103, and worst of all their RPI of 103 are too much to overcome. This team needs to, at least, make it to the ACC tournament final or they are out.
Monmouth Hawks (23-6):
It seems like not long ago Monmouth was the darling of the college basketball world. They had beaten Georgetown, UCLA, Notre Dame and were sitting pretty. However, things change and everything is very fluid in the bubble world. Their resume could have handled a couple of losses to conference foes, but with a third loss coming at home at the hands of Iona, along with the self-destruction of Georgetown and UCLA have made those wins moot. This team needs to win their conference tournament to get in and it is a shame. They are a solid team, but their good wins are not so good anymore.
Gonzaga Bulldogs (21-7):
For the first time in a while, Gonzaga has had struggles beating good teams and that has led the Bulldogs to the point of no return. They must win the WAC tournament to get into the tournament. They have just two wins against the RPI top 100 and wins against UConn and Washington will not inspire anyone. 5-7 against the RPI top 150 also will not help their cause and they also got swept by the only other team close to being worthy of a tournament berth in their conference in Saint Mary’s. Surprising to see coach Mark Few’s team with so few resume building wins and having to win the conference tournament to get in, but that is where the Bulldogs stand.