Monday, March 9, 2009

Schmolik Bubble Watch (3/9/09)

Schmolik Bubble Watch

Hello, college basketball fans!

Updated: March 9, 2009

It's time for Schmolik's Bubble Watch. For many teams, this is a make or break week. Bubble Watch analyzes who is on the bubble and their chances of making the NCAA's.

First, teams that I feel are locks for the tournament. As always, I reserve the right to change my mind during the week. Automatic Bids not included.

ACC: North Carolina, Wake Forest, Duke, Florida State, Clemson
A-10: Xavier, Dayton
Big East: Louisville, Pittsburgh, Connecticut, Villanova, Marquette, Syracuse, West Virginia
Big 10: Michigan State, Illinois, Purdue, Wisconsin, Ohio State
Big 12: Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, Texas
C-USA: Memphis
Horizon: Butler
MWC: Utah, Brigham Young
Pac 10: Washington, UCLA
SEC: LSU, Tennessee
WCC: Gonzaga

Total # Locks: 34
Minimum # Locks: 23

Stats courtesy of CBSSports.com and Joe Lunardi's InsideRPI (ESPN Insider Subscription required). Rankings are as of March 8, 2009.

RPI/ Conf or Non Conf RPI: Good RPI is 30's or higher, marginal is 40's, poor is 50's or below.
Last 12 games: 8-4 or better is a strength, 6-6 or lower a weakness.
SOS/Non Conf SOS: Good is top 20, bad is below 100.
Top 25 games: Strength: Two or more, Weakness: Zero
Top 50 games: Strength: Four or more, Weakness: One or fewer
Bad losses: Weakness: Home losses to teams below 100 in RPI, Loss to teams below 200 in RPI

Bubble Teams (In/Out as of Last Schmolik 64 Update)

ACC

Boston College (In)

Strengths: Conference RPI (37), 8-4 in last 12 games, Three Top 25 wins (at North Carolina, Duke, Florida State), Four Top 50 wins (also UAB), Bubble Wins (at Maryland, Virginia Tech, UAB, Providence)

Weaknesses: RPI (57), Non Conf RPI (69), Non Conf SOS (229), Bubble Losses: Miami (2), at Virginia Tech, Bad Loss: Harvard

Should Be In If: One ACC Win
Should Be On Bubble if: Loses first ACC game

Outlook: The safest of the ACC bubble teams, probably in for sure if it weren't for the Harvard loss.

Maryland (Out)

Strengths: Two Top 25 wins (vs Michigan State, North Carolina), Bubble wins (Michigan, Miami, Virginia Tech)

Weaknesses: RPI (67), Conf RPI (61), 5-7 in last 12 games, Non Conf SOS (133), Bubble Losses (vs Georgetown, at Miami, Boston College), Bad Loss (Morgan State)

Should Be In If: They make the ACC Final
Should Be On the Bubble If: They make the ACC SF, beating Wake Forest, They beat NC State but lose to Wake Forest
Should Be Out If: They lose to NC State

Outlook: A hard sell at this point, even if they win their first tourney game. A win over Wake would help a lot, but it may not even be enough.

Virginia Tech (Out)

StrengthsL Two Top 25 Wins (at Wake Forest, at Clemson), Bubble Wins (Boston College, at Miami)

Weaknesses: RPI (62), Non Conf RPI (67), Non Conf SOS (159), 4-8 in last 12 games, Bubble Losses (at Boston College, at Maryland)

Should Be In If: They make the ACC final
Should Be On the Bubble If: They make the ACC SF, beating North Carolina, They beat Miami but lose to North Carolina
Should Be Out If: They lose to Miami

Outlook: Just like Maryland, a win over North Carolina might not be enough and it would be very unlikely if they don't beat the Tar Heels. One thing for sure, the loser of the VaTech/Miami game definitely is out.

Miami Florida (Out)

Strengths: Two Top 25 wins (Florida State, Wake Forest), Bubble Wins: Boston College (2), Maryland

Weaknesses: RPI (53), Non Conf RPI (52), Non Conf SOS (223), 5-7 in last 12 games, Bubble Losses (at Maryland, Virginia Tech)

Should Be In If: They make the ACC final
Should Be On the Bubble If: They make the ACC SF, beating North Carolina, They beat Virginia Tech but lose to North Carolina
Should Be Out If: They lose to Virginia Tech

Outlook: See Virginia Tech

Atlantic 10

Temple (Out)

Strengths: Non Conf SOS (20), 8-4 in last 12 games, Bubble Wins (at Penn State)

Weaknesses: Non Conf RPI (57), Only one Top 50 win (Tennessee)

Should Be In If: They make the A-10 final, beating Xavier
Should Be On the Bubble If: They make the A-10 SF, losing to Xavier
Should Be Out If: They lose in their first A-10 tourney game or lose the SF to someone other than Xavier

Outlook: OK RPI numbers, the Penn State win will give the Owls some consideration (assuming they lose to Xavier).

Big East

Providence (Out)

Strengths: Two Top 25 wins (Syracuse, Pittsburgh), Bubble wins (Cincinnati - 2)

Weaknesses: RPI (70), Conf RPI (50), Non Conf RPI (81), Non Conf SOS (158), 6-6 in last 12 games, Bubble Losses (vs St. Mary's, at Boston College, at Georgetown)

Should Be In If: They make the Big East final
Should Be On the Bubble If: They make the Big East SF, They make the Big East QF, losing to Louisville
Should Be Out If: They lose their first Big East game to Cincinnati or DePaul.

Outlook: Not much positive to say, the two bubble wins are over teams with little or no chance of making the NCAA's anyway

Cincinnati (Out)

Strengths: Four Top 50 wins (UAB, Georgetown - 2, West Virginia), Bubble wins (at UNLV, Georgetown - 2)

Weaknesses: RPI (72), Conf RPI (84), 6-6 in last 12 games, No Top 25 Wins, Bubble Losses (Providence - 2)

Should Be In If: They make the Big East final
Should Be On the Bubble If: They make the Big East SF
Should Be Out If: They do not make the semifinals

Outlook: I don't think a win over Providence would be enough as Providence has already beaten Cincinnati twice and would stay ahead of them in the pecking order. The loss would probably do more to hurt Providence's chances than help Cincinnati's.

Georgetown (Out)

Strengths: SOS (4), Non Conf RPI (5), Non Conf SOS (11), Four Top 25 wins (Memphis, at Connecticut, Syracuse, at Villanova), Four Top 50 wins, Bubble Wins (vs Maryland, Providence)

Weaknesses: Conf RPI (74), 4-8 in last 12 games, Bubble Losses (Cincinnati - 2)

Should Be In If: They make the Big East final
Should Be On the Bubble If: They make the Big East SF, losing to Villanova, They make the Big East QF, losing to Marquette
Should Be Out If: They lose their first Big East game

Outlook: Don't laugh at the Hoyas. They clearly have played a tough schedule and a tough non conference schedule. Their RPI is in the middle and they have four top 25 wins. The tournament path works in their favor. If they win their first game, they have Marquette, which hasn't won a game since Dominic James went down. They are behind Cincinnati and Notre Dame in the Big East standings but the Selection Committee has been known to pass over teams with better conference records. Their top 25 wins might be enough and there's always a team that gets in with poor numbers but eye catching wins. If any team is that team this year, it's Georgetown.

Big 10

Penn State (In)

Strengths: Three Top 25 wins (at Michigan State, at Illinois, Illinois), Six Top 50 wins (also Purdue, Michigan, Minnesota), Bubble Wins (Michigan, Minnesota)

Weaknesses: RPI (63), Conf RPI (56), Non Conf RPI (90), Non Conf SOS (313!), Bubble Losses (at Temple, at Minnesota, at Michigan)

Should Be In If: Beats Indiana and Purdue, makes SF
Should Be On the Bubble If: Beats Indiana, loses to Purdue
Should Be Out If: Loses to Indiana!

Outlook: I realize no one wants to come to the middle of nowhere in Pennsylvania in the winter (trust me, I've been there), but their non conference SOS is dreadful and the committee can send a message and keep them out if they fail to beat Purdue. Of course, those top 25 and top 50 wins are impressive.

Michigan (In)

Strengths: Conf RPI (35), Non Conf RPI (34), SOS (10), Two Top 25 Wins (Illinois, Duke), Six Top 50 Wins (also vs UCLA, Minnesota, Purdue, at Minnesota), Bubble Wins (Penn State, Minnesota - 2)

Weaknesses: 6-6 in last 12 games, Bubble Losses (at Penn State)

Should Be In If: Beats Iowa and Illinois, makes SF
Should Be On the Bubble If: Beats Iowa, loses to Illinois
Should Be Out If: Loses to Iowa

Outlook: Penn State finished a game ahead of Michigan in the standings but Michigan has a significantly higher conference RPI as they played a tougher Big 10 schedule. They also played a much better non conference schedule which included wins over UCLA and Duke. Don't be surprised if Michigan gets taken over Penn State if it came down to one or the other.

Minnesota (In)

Strengths: Non Conf RPI (17), Two Top 25 Wins (vs Louisville, Illinois), Five Top 50 Wins (also Ohio State, at Wisconsin, Wisconsin), Bubble Wins (Penn State)

Weaknesses: Conf RPI (62), Non Conf SOS (186), 5-7 in last 12 games, Bubble Losses (at Penn State, at Michigan, Michigan)

Should Be In If: Beats Northwestern and Michigan State, makes SF
Should Be On the Bubble If: Beats Northwestern, loses to Michigan State
Should Be Out If: Loses to Northwestern

Outlook: They have the worst conf RPI of the three Big 10 bubble schools and were swept by Michigan which could hurt them if it comes down to them and the Wolverines (and Michigan just won at Minnesota in the last game). Probably would have a better chance if Penn State loses in their 1st game.

Big 12
No Bubble Teams

Conf USA
No Bubble Teams

MWC

New Mexico (In)

Strengths: Conf RPI (20), 10-2 in last 12 games, Two Top 25 wins (Utah, BYU), Bubble wins (San Diego State, UNLV)

Weaknesses: RPI (58), Non Conf RPI (110), Non Conf SOS (177), Bubble losses (at San Diego State, at UNLV)

Should Be In If: Makes the MWC final
Should Be On the Bubble If: Makes the MWC SF
Should Be Out If: Loses their first MWC game to Wyoming

Outlook: Tying for the MWC lead will give them consideration but their low RPI and weak non conference schedule will probably cost them if they lose to Wyoming.

San Diego State (In)

Strengths: Conf RPI (32), 8-4 in last 12 games, Bubble wins (UNLV - 2, New Mexico)

Weaknesses: Non Conf RPI (53), Only 1 Top 50 win (Utah), Bubble losses (at Arizona, at New Mexico)

Should Be In If: Makes the MWC final
Should Be On the Bubble If: Makes the MWC SF, Loses their first MWC game to UNLV

Outlook: A game behind New Mexico in conference. A loss to UNLV may not be fatal as they would still hold a 2-1 lead over the Rebels and the tournament is on UNLV's home court.

UNLV (Out)

Strengths: Four Top 25 Wins (at Louisville, BYU - 2, Utah), Four Top 50 Wins, Bubble wins - Arizona, New Mexico

Weaknesses: RPI (55), Conf RPI (82), Non Conf SOS (152), Bubble Losses - at New Mexico, San Diego State - 2, Cincinnati

Should Be In If: Makes the MWC final
Should Be On the Bubble If: Makes the MWC SF, losing to Utah
Should Be Out If: Loses their first MWC game to San Diego State or their second game to someone other than Utah

Outlook: Finished two games behind San Diego State (and were swept by them) and three behind New Mexico. Of course, the four top 25 wins will help them (see Georgetown). I would hate to see UNLV get in over San Diego State if they win the quarterfinal, but I can see it happening.

Pac 10

Arizona (In)

Strengths: Non Conf RPI (36), 8-4 in last 12 games, Two Top 25 wins (Kansas, Washington), Five Top 50 wins (also vs Gonzaga, UCLA, San Diego State), Bubble Wins - San Diego State

Weaknesses: RPI (52), Conf RPI (66), Bubble losses - at UNLV

Should Be In If: Beats Arizona State in Pac 10 QF
Should Be On the Bubble If: Loses to Arizona State in Pac 10 QF

Outlook: Came on strong and have great wins. They avoid the potential bad loss in the 1st round which helps them. I would be rooting for San Diego State to beat UNLV as that would clearly help their chances

SEC

South Carolina (Out)

Strengths: Conf RPI (38), 8-4 in last 12 games, Bubble Wins (Auburn)

Weaknesses: RPI (50), Non Conf RPI (74), Non Conf SOS (275), No Top 25 wins, Only one Top 50 win (Florida)

Should Be In If: Makes the SEC final
Should Be On the Bubble If: Makes the SEC SF
Should Be Out If: Loses their first SEC game to Mississippi State or Georgia

Outlook: Extremely weak in the quality win category and a pathetic non conference schedule, they have to show something in the SEC tournament.

Auburn (Out)

Strengths: Conf RPI (31), 9-3 in last 12 games

Weaknesses: RPI (64), Non Conf RPI (82), Non Conf SOS (198), Bad losses (Mercer), Bubble losses (at South Carolina)

Should Be In If: Makes the SEC final
Should Be On the Bubble If: Makes the SEC SF
Should Be Out If: Loses their first SEC game to Florida or Arkansas

Outlook: The reason I don't have Florida in the bubble watch is that Florida does not have Auburn's conference RPI or Auburn's 9-3 finish. Of course, Auburn will miss the NCAA's if they lose to Florida but would at least put themselves in the conversation with a win over the Gators.

Other

Siena (In)

Strengths: RPI (24), Conf RPI (23), Non Conf RPI (37), Non Conf SOS (2), 10-2 in last 12 games

Weaknesses: No Top 25 or Top 50 wins

Should Be In If: Wins the tournament (automatic bid)
Should Be On the Bubble If: Loses the final to Niagara

Outlook: Pretty much "no quality wins" is the only reason they would not make the tourmanent, but that could be enough for the Selection Committee. Considering they have the second best non conference schedule in the country (and that's saying something), I would be furious if they didn't make it in, especially considering they made the final and would lose to Niagara who would probably make the top 50 in RPI if they beat Siena. Of course, if they win it's a moot point.

Utah State (In)

Strengths: RPI (27), Conf RPI (28), 9-3 in last 12 games
Weaknesses: Non Conf RPI (51), Non Conf SOS (167), Only One Top 50 win (Utah), Bubble loss (St. Mary's)

Should Be In If: Wins the tournament (automatic bid)
Should Be On the Bubble If: Does not lose to Hawaii or Fresno State
Should Be Out If: Loses to Hawaii or Fresno State

Outlook: Similar to Siena but they don't have the non conference scedule of Siena. A loss to Hawaii or Fresno State will likely plummet their RPI and conference RPI as well as end their at large hopes.

Creighton (In)

Strengths: RPI (39), 11-1 in last 12 games
Weaknesses: SOS (105), Non Conf SOS (128), Bad losses (Drake)

Tournament Result: Lost to Illinois State in MVC SF

Outlook: I hesitate since they lost two of three to Illinois State which is right there in the RPI. The big differences are a three game difference in the MVC regular season standings and an 11-1 vs 7-5 for ISU. If it weren't for that, Creighton's chances would be better. Still, the committee has slighted the MVC in recent years and it wouldn't surprise me at all if they did again.

St. Mary's (In)

Strengths: Non Conf RPI (31), 8-4 in last 12 games

Weaknesses; Conf RPI (114), SOS (170), No Top 25 wins

Should Be In If: Wins the tournament (automatic bid)
Should Be On the Bubble If: Loses to Gonzaga in the WCC final

Outlook: They needed to get to the final. I'm not sure if that was impressive enough a victory. The win over Utah State will help their at large bid hopes.

Teams who I feel can play themselves into the tournament with a good week (list is not all inclusive).
Atlantic 10: Rhode Island
Big East: Notre Dame
Big 10: Northwestern
Big 12: Kansas State
C-USA: UAB, Tulsa
Pac 10: USC
SEC: Florida, Kentucky

Schmolik

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