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Bubble Rooting Interests, Friday Edition

Yesterday's bubble action:

The Good:

  • We won. It wasn't pretty, but dodging a bad loss may well be all we needed.
  • Northwestern's not going to fall out of the RPI top 100 after beating Minnesota.
  • UConn and Syracuse both won, boosting our strength of schedule ever so slightly.
  • New Mexico took out Colorado State; even another win over BYU may not be enough for them without the final (while a win over BYU might have been enough for Colorado State).
  • San Jose State upset Idaho in the WAC second round; that means an easier path for Utah State (or a much, much worse loss if it happens in the semis).
  • Washington escaped against WSU, increasing the value of that win and popping WSU's bubble.

The Bad:

  • Colorado upset Kansas State for the third time this year. That still might not be enough for the committee to overlook their abomination of a non-conference schedule, but a win over Kansas certainly would be (and failing to beat K-State would clearly fall short).
  • USC whomped Cal, leaving them still in the hunt. Probably need to beat Arizona.
  • Oregon blew out UCLA, leaving open a greater possibility of a bid-thief in the Pac-10.
  • Auburn, Georgia Tech, and Wake Forest were little more than speed bumps for their bubble opponents.
  • Memphis and UTEP stayed alive with moderately respectable wins (according to the RPI).
  • Penn State stayed alive for another day as well.

The Ambiguous:

  • UAB got upset by East Carolina. I initially thought that would be very bad news, but ECU is bad enough that that could be a profile-sinking loss. Additionally, Memphis no longer has an opportunity to add a quality win without getting the auto-bid (UTEP never did anyway). This isn't how I had envisioned making sure CUSA was a one-bid conference, but it may have the same effect.

Today's games after the jump (all times Eastern).

Big Ten

Both bubble teams in action yesterday helped themselves - or at least didn't hurt themselves. We'll have an opportunity to lock ourselves in along with the Michigan-Illinois winner (a game Michigan needs more than Illinois does, IMO), and Penn State can throw themselves more strongly into the discussion (I'm not certain a win would lock up a spot for them but they won't get in without a win).

Today's games:

  • (1) Ohio State vs. (8) Northwestern (12:00, ESPN): No bid-thieves.
    Importance: minor
  • (4) Michigan vs. (5) Illinois (2:30, ESPN): Winner is in for sure, but Illinois is more likely to be able to survive a loss. A loss here means that Michigan is likely behind us (though there's a strong possibility they're still in).
    Importance: moderate
  • (2) Purdue vs. (7) Michigan State (6:30, BTN): Obviously. A win may not be strictly necessary, but it would make everything else on this page moot.
    Importance: critical
  • (3) Wisconsin vs. (6) Penn State (9:00, BTN): Assuming the worst about our game (because if we win, nothing else matters), Penn State could potentially leap us with a win here.
    Importance: major


Boston College and Virginia Tech took care of business against the dregs of the league; now they face fellow bubble foes (Clemson) or bottom-end locks (Florida State). Clemson is in the best position, with a win making them a near certainty thanks to sweeping the bubble in their league, but their chances with a loss are not good. Boston College and Virginia Tech have reasonable chances with quarterfinal wins but aren't absolute guarantees.

Today's games:

  • (1) North Carolina vs. (9) Miami (12:00, ESPN2): No bid-thieves. This provides an opportunity for a great win for the BC-Clemson winner, but that winner is likely in anyway.
    Importance: minor
  • (4) Clemson vs. (5) Boston College (2:30, ESPN2): This is the low-variance option; it eliminates BC but pretty much locks Clemson in. There are outside chances that both make it or both miss if BC wins; I don't think either is likely, but the risk of both making it is far more damaging than the possibility of both going to the NIT would help. (That said, the Bracket Matrix has BC ahead of Clemson. I don't agree, but if that's the case you probably want to flip this around.)
    Importance: moderate
  • (2) Duke vs. (7) Maryland (7:00, ESPN2): No bid-thieves.
    Importance: minor
  • (3) Florida State vs. (6) Virginia Tech (9:30, ESPN2): A win over FSU might put VT in the field (and it would likely give them a crack at Duke, which would definitely put them in). FSU is already in.
    Importance: major

Big East

Marquette got annihilated by Louisville, but they're probably in anyway. All remaining teams are locks, and our two previous opponents among them (UConn and Syracuse) play each other. It's all moot for us.


Colorado is making strides toward the bracket thanks to a third win over Kansas State. Because of their comically bad non-conference schedule, they might need another win, but beating Kansas would surely be enough for the committee to overlook a non-conference schedule including seven teams ranked #295 or worse by the RPI.

Missouri got blown out by Texas A&M, but their non-conference work ought to hold up enough that they shouldn't be too worried, despite the 8-8 conference record.

Today's games:

  • (1) Kansas vs. (5) Colorado (7:00): Colorado might be in anyway, but there won't be any "might" about it if they beat Kansas.
    Importance: major
  • (2) Texas vs. (3) Texas A&M (9:30): Both locks, so go for the previous opponent.
    Importance: minor


USC stayed alive and inched closer to the bracket with a decent win over Cal (eliminating Cal); a win over Arizona would certainly do it.

Oregon pulled a major upset in the 2-7 game with a barrage of 3s.

Washington escaped against Washington State, eliminating WSU from contention and making that win a little stronger for us.

Today's games:

  • (1) Arizona vs. (4) USC (9:00, FSN): As with Colorado, there's a chance USC makes it even without this win, but it becomes much more likely if they get it.
    Importance: major
  • (3) Washington vs. (7) Oregon (11:30, FSN): Get rid of the bid-thief and improve the value of our win in Maui.
    Importance: major


Tennessee survived a late charge by Arkansas, guaranteeing their bid (though they were almost certainly safe anyway). Auburn was unable to knock Georgia off the bubble for us, and South Carolina was equally unable to help our strength of schedule.

Today's games:

  • (W1) Alabama vs. (E4) Georgia (1:00): I don't have a good read for who's in better position right now. Going by the Bracket Matrix, Georgia is the safer team; Bama's gaudy conference record isn't earning much respect due to playing in the weak division and having an apocalyptic start to the season. Better to put Georgia solidly in and Alabama solidly out than to have them both around the cut line.
    Importance: major
  • (E2) Kentucky vs. (W3) Ole Miss (3:30): No bid-thieves.
    Importance: minor
  • (E1) Florida vs. (E5) Tennessee (7:30): Both are locks, it doesn't matter.
    Importance: none
  • (W2) Mississippi State vs. (E3) Vanderbilt (10:00): No bid-thieves.
    Importance: minor

Mountain West

So far, so good. Everything yesterday went according to plan. Now if BYU can eliminate New Mexico, this will be settled.

Today's games:

  • (1) BYU vs. (5) New Mexico (9:00, CBS College Sports): Get this one and the Mountain West is definitely a three-bid league. Fail and New Mexico creeps into the discussion (or could win the auto-bid directly).
    Importance: major
  • (2) San Diego State vs. (3) UNLV (11:30, CBS College Sports): Moot, they're both in.
    Importance: none

Atlantic 10

Now resuming play after Tuesday's first round; much like the Mountain West, three teams look all but certain to make the dance and everybody else is auto-bid or bust.

  • (1) Xavier vs. (9) Dayton (12:00): No bid-thieves.
    Importance: minor
  • (4) Duquesne vs. (12) Saint Joseph's (2:30): Neither has an at-large prayer.
    Importance: none
  • (2) Temple vs. (10) La Salle (6:30): No bid-thieves.
    Importance: minor
  • (3) Richmond vs. (6) Rhode Island (9:00): I don't think a loss would be damaging enough to Richmond to knock them out; therefore, revert to the "no bid-thieves" rule.
    Importance: minor


San Jose State upset Idaho; this has the advantage of eliminating the only team to have beaten Utah State in conference, making an easier path for Utah State, and providing a far more damaging opponent should they lose (reducing the likelihood that they would get an at-large, though not eliminating them).

Today's games:

  • (1) Utah State vs. (8) San Jose State (9:00): Utah State's the only one who could get an at-large, so let's make sure they don't need it.
    Importance: major
  • (2) Boise State vs. (3) New Mexico State (midnight): Doesn't matter as long as Utah State beats them in the final.
    Importance: none

Conference USA

UAB takes a terrible loss to East Carolina; that could well knock UAB off the bubble entirely (with Marshall dipping down to #52 in the RPI, UAB has just one top 50 win - VCU sitting at #50). In addition, the surviving bubble teams both need a good win to really get into consideration for an at-large - and they won't have an opportunity until the final. It's not completely impossible that CUSA gets an at-large bid, but right now I think all of the candidates sit just out of the bracket, and the only way any of them can get a win good enough to move the needle is to win the whole tournament.

Today's games:

  • (4) Memphis vs. (9) East Carolina: The only plausible path I see to an at-large for the conference includes a closely contested Memphis-UTEP final. While I don't think an at-large is likely even then, there's no harm in making sure it can't happen.
    Importance: moderate
  • (2) Tulsa vs. (3) UTEP: Same rationale as above. While Tulsa is the higher seed, their abominable non-conference results rule out an at-large.
    Importance: moderate

West Coast

The conference tournament may be over, but St. Mary's has a game against Weber State. Why, I can't begin to guess, but a win won't do much good and a loss would likely push them out of the tournament.
Importance: moderate


Counting Marquette, Richmond, and Washington as in, there are 9 bids up for grabs. The contenders:

  • St. Mary's will probably get one unless they lose to Weber State.
  • Utah State is moderately likely to get one if they fall in the WAC tourney.
  • If Georgia beats Alabama, Georgia will almost certainly get in and Alabama will not.
    If Alabama beats Georgia, both teams will be near the cut line. Alabama's overall RPI might force them to get another win against Kentucky to feel safe, and Georgia's lack of bad losses may save them (although they have few good wins).
  • Clemson-Boston College winner is very probably in, loser is out.
  • Virginia Tech is probably in with a win and probably out with a loss.
  • Colorado will probably be right around the cut line if they do not beat Kansas. If they do, they're in.
  • USC is probably near the cut line without a win over Arizona. Win and they're probably in. (Their profile is bizarre enough that I don't have much confidence in my read on their position; how many teams have ever had five top 50 wins and six sub-100 losses?)
  • Illinois-Michigan winner is absolutely in. If Illinois loses, they're probably still safe. If Michigan loses, they'll be near the cut line.
  • Penn State is out with a loss but near the cut line with a win.
  • We're in with a win. Lose, and we're probably okay unless a lot of these teams pull surprises, but it will be uncomfortably close.