It’s March next week, so let’s take a look at the 2 most popular topics in College Hoops this time of year: Number 1 seeds and bubble teams.
The #1 seeds are not as clear cut as they have been in the past. Kansas, with their #1 RPI should be a lock, even if they slip up at Mizzou and don’t win the Big 12 tournament. Ohio State finishes with 3 of their last 4 at home and could seal a #1 seed by avenging their loss to Wisconsin on March 6th.
If Duke doesn’t slip up again, or if their only loss is @ UNC should be in line for the 3rd #1 seed. After that, Pitt and Texas are in a battle to gain the final #1 seed. If Pitt wins their last 4 (vs WV/Nova and @ USF/L’Ville, they will have a pretty strong case. If they lose 1, but win the Big East tournament, they have just as strong a case. Texas has a good chance to finish strong as well, but Iowa St/Colorado/Baylor all having an RPI outside of the top 75 will damage their rating a bit. A Big 12 tournament win should give Texas a #1 seed.
As for bubble teams, it is a bit different this year with 68 bids. There are teams out there like Baylor (RPI of 79, UAB (19-7, but without a top 50 RPI win), Colorado State (17-8 with a 47 RPI), and Richmond (21-7 with their only top 50 win being against Purdue) that would not even be mentioned in previous years.
I think there are several teams that have come up with big wins lately and are breathing easier right now like Georgia, Kansas State, Utah State, and Cincinnati. But, several other teams need a big win the next 2 weeks to solidify their bid:
1) Michigan State (14-11) RPI 43: Must beat at home and either at Michigan or Minnesota to finish 17-12 (10-8) and feel comfortable
2) Gonzaga/Saint Mary’s – If the winner of their matchup Thursday then loses in the conference final in a 3rd meeting, both have a chance. But, the loser of the game this week will certainly have to win the conference tournament to get in.
3) : is in as of now, and in easily, but VCU and ODU have at-large aspirations as well. VCU has been struggling, but won at Wichita Friday and has wins over UCLA and ODU. ODU has an excellent shot at an at-large with wins over Xavier, Dayton, George Mason, and VCU.
4) Florida State – The ACC has to get more than 2 bids, right? At 9-3 in the ACC, but playing now without best player , the Seminoles really need to win 3 of their last 4, especially the home game vs UNC. Their top 50 wins are Duke (#6) and BC (#45) and they desperately need the quality win over UNC (#11) to impress the panel.
5) Minnesota – The Gophers look solid right now with wins over UNC, WVU, and Purdue, but after losing 4 of 5 they need to finish strong. Winning their last 3 home games vs MSU, Michigan, and Penn State will put them in easily.
6) Butler – Butler is very intriguing with an RPI of 49 and wins over Florida State and Cleveland State. Their case is hurt by recent losses to Youngstown St (RPI #273) and Wisconsin-Milwaukee (#107). The Horizon could have been a 2 bid league if Cleveland State had beaten ODU this past weekend, but now it looks like Butler/Cleveland State will need to win the conference tourney to feel comfortable at all.
7) – I think Boston College is in big trouble. They are only 6-10 versus the RPI top 100, and 2 of the wins are against #93 Maryland. Their #45 RPI is based a lot on their tough schedule, and the win is pretty solid. I think they need to win their last 2 home games (Miami/Wake) and win at least 1 of their 2 remaining road games (UVA/VT) plus win at least 1 ACC tourney game to have a shot.
8) Memphis/UTEP/Southern Miss/UAB – I think that C-USA can get 2 bids at most this year. There is no way all 4 of these teams get in, as all have bad losses and their only quality wins are against each other. Whoever finishes strong and plays well in the conference tourney will get the spots.
9) Marquette – Needs more quality wins (Cuse, WVU, ND) because they beat no one out of conference.
Projections as of 2/22
1) Ohio State, Pitt, Kansas, Duke
2) San Diego State, Texas, Georgetown, Purdue
3) BYU, Georgetown, Wisconsin, Florida
4) Notre Dame, Kentucky, UNC, Arizona
5) St. Johns, Vanderbilt, UConn, Xavier
6) Louisville, Villanova, Missouri, George Mason
7) Syracuse, Missouri , UCLA
8) Temple, Washington, Texas A&M, Illinois
9) Tennessee, UNLV, Kansas St, Cincinnati
10) Georgia, Utah St, , Alabama
11) Minnesota, Memphis, Butler, Gonzaga
12) Boston College/UAB, Florida State/Colorado St, Cleveland State, St Mary’s
13) Missouri State, Coastal Carolina, Charleston, Oakland
14) Harvard, Fairfield, Bucknell, Belmont
15) Long Beach State, Long Island, Miami (OH), Vermont
16) Montana, Morehead State, FAU/Bethune-Cookman, McNeese St/Texas Southern