NCAA Tournament bubble watch

By Oliver Mauntel

As conference play nears the halfway point, the cream of the college basketball crop have begun to separate themselves from the pack. Villanova, Virginia, and Purdue are leading the way in their respective conferences, and are clustered at the top of the AP poll as well. Traditional blue bloods in Duke and Kansas have looked the part thus far, whereas youthful Kentucky and Arizona squads have struggled with consistency. Ohio State, Texas Tech, TCU, and Arizona State -each in the conference title hunt- have experienced surprisingly quick turnarounds under relatively new regimes. On the other hand, Texas A&M and USC have failed to meet the preseason hype, but still have time to salvage their seasons.

As we near March, it’s time for title contenders to solidify their position and for struggling ball-clubs to turn their seasons around. I have evaluated each tournament-hopeful team’s current status, which includes both marquee wins and bad losses.


KEY
RPI Rankings: A ratings system used by the selection committee to evaluate teams, updated daily
Quality win: Win over an RPI Top 50 opponent
Bad loss: Loss to opponent outside RPI Top 75
Lock: Essentially guaranteed a bid in the tournament
Should be in: Will most likely be in the tournament, just needs to avoid bad losses
Work to do: Must accumulate more quality wins and avoid any more bad losses

AMERICAN

 

Locks

Cincinnati (23-4)

Quality wins: Buffalo, Temple (twice), Houston, UCLA

Bad losses: none

Wichita State (22-5)

Quality wins: Houston, Temple, Cincinnati

Bad losses: SMU

Should be in

Houston (21-5)

Quality wins: Arkansas, Providence, Temple (twice), Wichita St, Cincinnati

Bad losses: Drexel, Tulane

Work to do

SMU (16-12)

Quality wins: Arizona, USC,  Wichita St

Bad losses: Northern Iowa, Tulane, Tulsa, UConn, Memphis

Temple (15-12)

Quality wins: Auburn, Clemson, Wichita St

Bad losses: Memphis, La Salle, George Washington, Tulane


ACC

Locks

Virginia (25-2)

Quality wins: Rhode Island, North Carolina, Syracuse (twice), Clemson, Duke, Florida St, Miami

Bad losses: none

Duke (23-5)

Quality wins: Michigan State, Florida State, Miami, Clemson

Bad losses: Boston College

North Carolina (22-7)

Quality wins: Arkansas, Michigan, Tennessee, Ohio State, Clemson, Duke, Syracuse

Bad losses: Wofford

Clemson (20-7)

Quality wins: Ohio State, Louisiana, Miami, North Carolina

Bad losses: none

Should be in

Miami (19-8)

Quality wins: Middle Tennessee, Florida State, Virginia Tech

Bad losses: Georgia Tech, Boston college

Florida State (19-8)

Quality wins: North Carolina, Syracuse, Virginia Tech, Miami, Clemson

Bad losses: Oklahoma St, Boston College, Wake Forest

North Carolina State (19-9)

Quality wins: Arizona, Duke, Clemson, North Carolina, Syracuse

Bad losses: Northern Iowa, UNC Greensboro

Virginia Tech (20-8)

Quality wins: Washington, North Carolina, Virginia, Clemson

Bad losses: Saint Louis

Work to do

Louisville (18-10)

Quality wins: Florida State, Virginia Tech

Bad losses: none

Notre Dame (16-12)

Quality wins: Wichita St, Syracuse, Florida St

Bad losses: Ball St, Indiana, Georgia Tech

Boston College (16-12)

Quality wins: Duke, Florida St, Miami

Bad losses: none

Syracuse (18-10)

Quality wins: Buffalo, Virginia Tech, Miami

Bad losses: Wake Forest, Georgia Tech


BIG 12

Locks

Kansas (22-6)

Quality wins: Kentucky, Syracuse, TCU (twice), West Virginia (twice), Texas A&M, Oklahoma

Bad losses: Oklahoma St

Texas Tech (22-6)

Quality wins: Nevada, Kansas, West Virginia, TCU, Oklahoma

Bad losses: Iowa St, Oklahoma St

West Virginia (20-8)

Quality wins: Missouri, Virginia, Oklahoma (twice), TCU

Bad losses: Iowa St, Oklahoma St

Should be in

Oklahoma (16-11)

Quality wins: USC, Wichita St, TCU (twice), Texas Tech, Kansas

Bad losses: Oklahoma St, Iowa St

TCU (19-9)

Quality wins: Saint Bonaventure, Nevada, West Virginia

Bad losses: Vanderbilt

Kansas State (20-8)

Quality wins: Oklahoma, TCU

Bad losses: Tulsa

Work to do

Texas (16-12)

Quality wins: Butler, Alabama, TCU, Texas Tech, Oklahoma (twice)

Bad losses: Oklahoma St

Oklahoma State (16-12)

Quality wins: Florida St, Oklahoma, Kansas, West Virginia, Texas Tech

Bad losses: none

Baylor (17-11)

Quality wins: Creighton, Texas, Kansas

Bad losses: Iowa St


BIG EAST

Locks

Villanova (25-3)

Quality wins: Tennessee, Gonzaga, Temple, Xavier (twice), Providence, Creighton, Seton Hall, Butler

Bad losses: none

Xavier (25-4)

Quality wins: Cincinnati, Butler (twice), Creighton (twice), Seton Hall (twice)

Bad losses: none

Should be in

Seton Hall (19-9)

Quality wins: Texas Tech, Creighton, Butler, Providence (twice)

Bad losses: Rutgers, Georgetown

Creighton (19-9)

Quality wins: UCLA, Providence, Butler, Seton Hall

Bad losses: none

Providence (17-11)

Quality wins: Washington, Xavier, Butler, Creighton, Villanova

Bad losses: Minnesota, UMass, DePaul

Butler (19-10)

Quality wins: Ohio St, Utah, Villanova, Providence, Creighton

Bad losses: Georgetown

Work to do

Marquette (16-11)

Quality wins:  Providence, Seton Hall (twice), Creighton

Bad losses: none


BIG 10

Locks

Purdue (24-5)

Quality wins: Arizona, Butler, Michigan (twice)

Bad losses: Wisconsin

Ohio State (23-7)

Quality wins: Michigan, Michigan St, Purdue

Bad losses: Penn St (twice)

Michigan State (27-3)

Quality wins: North Carolina, Purdue

Bad losses: none

Michigan (23-7)

Quality wins: UCLA, Michigan St, Ohio St

Bad losses: Northwestern

Should be in

None

Work to do

Nebraska (21-9)

Quality wins: Michigan

Bad losses: Illinois, Penn St

Penn State (19-11)

Quality wins: Ohio St (twice)

Bad losses: Northwestern, Wisconsin, Indiana, Minnesota


PAC 12

Locks

Arizona (21-6)

Quality wins: Texas A&M, Alabama, Arizona St (twice), Utah (twice) USC

Bad losses: SMU, Colorado

Should be in

Arizona State (19-7)

Quality wins: Xavier, Kansas, Utah, USC, UCLA

Bad losses: Oregon, Stanford, Colorado

UCLA (19-8)

Quality wins: Kentucky, Washington, Utah, USC, Arizona

Bad losses: Stanford, Oregon, Oregon St, Colorado

Work to do

USC (20-9)

Quality wins: Middle Tennessee, New Mexico St, Utah

Bad losses: SMU, Stanford, Princeton

Washington (18-9)

Quality wins: Kansas, USC, Arizona St, Arizona

Bad losses: Stanford, Oregon St

Utah (17-9)

Quality wins: Missouri, Washington, Arizona St

Bad losses: BYU, Colorado, UNLV

Oregon (17-10)

Quality wins: Arizona St, UCLA, Washington

Bad losses: UConn, Stanford, Oregon St


SEC

Locks

Auburn (24-4)

Quality wins: Middle Tennessee, Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky, Alabama

Bad losses: none

Tennessee (20-7)

Quality wins: Purdue, Kentucky (twice), Texas A&M

Bad losses: none

Should be in

Florida (17-11)

Quality wins: Gonzaga, Cincinnati, Texas A&M, Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky

Bad losses: Ole Miss, Vanderbilt

Kentucky (19-9)

Quality wins: Virginia Tech, Texas A&M, West Virginia, Alabama, Arkansas

Bad losses: none

Arkansas (19-9)

Quality wins: Oklahoma, Tennessee, Missouri, Texas A&M

Bad losses: none

Alabama (17-11)

Quality wins: Rhode Island, Texas A&M, Auburn, Oklahoma, Tennessee

Bad losses: Minnesota, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt

Texas A&M (17-11)

Quality wins: West Virginia, USC, Buffalo, Missouri, Arkansas, Auburn, Kentucky

Bad losses: none

Missouri (18-10)

Quality wins: Tennessee, Alabama, Kentucky, Texas A&M

Bad losses: Ole Miss, Illinois

Mississippi State (20-8)

Quality wins: Arkansas, Missouri, Alabama, Texas A&M

Bad losses: Ole Miss, Vanderbilt

Work to do

Georgia (15-12)

Quality wins: Saint Mary’s, Temple, Alabama, Tennessee

Bad losses: San Diego St, UMass, Vanderbilt

LSU (16-11)

Quality wins: Michigan, Houston, Texas A&M (twice), Arkansas (twice), Missouri

Bad losses: Stephen F. Austin, Vanderbilt


 

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