Poppin' Bubbles: Pitt, you're officially in trouble
Pitt and Xavier suffered surprising losses on Monday night.
We were going to take the night off from Poppin' Bubbles, but two of the three bubble teams in action went out and suffered losses they really needed to avoid, and another one likely punched its ticket to the NCAA tournament. So let's get to it.
Oklahoma State: Marcus Smart and the Cowboys are going to be dancing. They won their fourth game in a row since Smart's return from suspension, taking down Kansas State in Stillwater on Monday. That's now five top-40 wins, including Saturday night's marquee victory over Kansas. The RPI and SOS are fine, and the seven-game losing streak will be mitigated by the fact Smart was suspended for three of those games. Oklahoma State only has one game left in the regular season, at Iowa State. I think the Cowboys can afford a loss to the Cyclones and another loss in the Big 12 tournament, and still get in. One more win would mean Travis Ford's crew won't sweat at all on Selection Sunday, but I think they get in either way.
Pittsburgh: This is exactly what the Panthers couldn't afford. They did a good job last week of avoiding subpar losses, beating Boston College and Notre Dame on the road. Heading into the final week, Pittsburgh likely just needed to split its final two regular-season games: at home against NC State and at Clemson. Well, the Panthers now put a lot of pressure on their season finale game against Clemson -- after falling at home to NC State on Monday. Pittsburgh had sort of been one step ahead of the bubble for most of the last few weeks, but losses in the past nine days to Florida State and NC State have put that in peril. Nothing about their resume shows that they are clearly an at-large team. There was one top-70 win heading into the day, coming against Stanford in late November. The non-conference SOS is awful, too. If Pitt doesn't win at Clemson this week, the Panthers are in serious, serious trouble.
Xavier: The Musketeers were in a similar position to Oklahoma State after this past weekend. They too picked up a marquee win (over Creighton) and just needed to split their final week to feel comfortable about their at-large chances. The win was supposed to come on Monday night at Seton Hall, but they suffered a nine-point loss to the Pirates. Next up is a home game on Thursday against Villanova. Beating the Wildcats would get Xavier back in good shape, but would the Musketeers be able to survive a loss on Thursday and then another loss in their first Big East tournament game? The resume has a couple of good wins, over Creighton and Cincinnati, plus victories over a slew of bubble teams, but they now have three sub-100 losses (including a sweep at the hands of Seton Hall).
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