CBSSports.com bracketologist Jerry Palm assesses the résumés of teams that may be sweating it out until Selection Sunday. For more from Jerry Palm, check him out on Twitter: @jppalmCBS | Palm's Bracketology updates
The Rams have been pretty good at home, but the Rams have a couple of bad losses away from home, including a loss at Fordham and a blowout to Illinois. There are no chances for higher quality wins in the A-10 this year, so they need to avoid picking up any more bad losses.
We welcome Xavier to the bubble, although now that I say that, nobody that once appeared to be comfortably in wants to be welcomed here. The Musketeers are tanking. They have lost five in a row to fall to 18-11. They have played a good schedule, so they just might be able to survive losing out, but I would not count on it. Especially since that means a loss at DePaul. This may just be a brief stop on the bubble for Xavier.
The Spartans picked up a big win over Wisconsin and have now won four out of fie. However, all four wins came at home. Their last two road games -- at Purdue and Michigan -- they lost by a combined 47 points. MSU still has road games left at Illinois and Maryland. The Spartans may not survive a three-game losing streak at the end of the season.
The Hall got through a tough part of their schedule pretty well, winning two of three against the league's top teams. Now, it is about beating some of the lesser lights in the conference. The Pirates took care of business at DePaul. They need to do the same with Georgetown.
Cal had a good chance to get off of this list, but blew a 16-point second half lead at home to Oregon. The Bears have just four top 100 wins overall, including one at USC, and a questionable loss to San Diego State. They need to add to the quality win count, but that will not be possible until the conference tournament. For now, it's about avoiding bad losses, which they will have to do on the road.
The Friars have won three big games in a row, beating Butler, Creighton and Xavier, to move into the bracket for the moment. They followed that up with a comeback win over Marquette. Now, they have to avoid bad losses to DePaul and St. John's. They already have three bad losses. They may not be able to take another one.
Arkansas was in serious trouble following a loss at Missouri followed by a big home loss to Vandy. The Hogs have come back to life though with a win at South Carolina, their first over a likely tournament team, as part of a stretch of five straight wins. The Hogs can really make an impression if they can win at Florida.
URI has now has four top 100 wins after a much needed win over VCU at home. Now, the Rams need to avoid giving that away. URI already has two bad losses at home and nothing but potential bad losses left on its schedule.
Wake is just four games above .500 and has an awful record against top competition. The Demon Deacons are 1-9 against the RPI top 50 with two more top 50 games to play in the regular season -- at home vs Louisville and at Virginia Tech. At 16-12, they have to win those games not because they need quality wins, but because they just need wins.
Marquette has some good wins, but a lot of losses. The Golden Eagles didn't play a very good non-conference schedule and is paying for that a little bit now as well. Marquette lost a tough one at Providence that it looked like it had control of. They don't really need quality wins, but have nothing but quality opponents left.
The Orange are back, but not the lock that the TV announcers declared after the big win over Duke. They are able to beat anyone at home, but the tournament is not played on home courts and Syracuse is just 2-10 away from the Carrier Dome after getting blown out at Louisville. Even with wins over Duke, Florida State and Virginia, they have an RPI in the high 70s. That is not a good sign. Syracuse has hope again, but is far from a lock, even if they end the season with a win over Georgia Tech.
In 2013, the Raiders became one of the least deserving teams to ever receive an at-large bid when they got one with just one RPI top 100 win. They are already in better shape now, with four to their name. Two of them are over other non-major conference leaders, but none over likely at-large teams. They also have a home loss to Tennessee State and at real clunker at UTEP. There is little margin for error playing a C-USA schedule.
The Redbirds won a share of the Missouri Valley title, which in most years would mean they did enough to earn an at-large bid if they needed one. That is not the case this year, with the league at its lowest point in over a decade. ISU has only two top 100 wins, which usually is not enough. They also have a couple bad losses, including a real clunker at Murray State. They are the top seed in the MVC tournament because of an RPI tiebreaker with Wichita State.
Of the potential at-large teams from non-major conferences, the Mavericks have the best win, which came at St. Mary's. Unfortunately, they have just one other top 100 win and three bad losses. Unlike Boise State, UT Arlington's league will not provide them chances for any more wins against better teams, so they need to win out the regular season and see where things stand.
Wichita State doesn't have any bad losses. That's the best thing you can about the Shockers profile. They have only two top 100 wins, a 41-point pounding of Illinois State and at Colorado State, which flutters above and below that line. That is not usually enough. The MVC is down this year, so there is nothing left but chances for bad losses, and WSU cannot afford any of those. The Shockers' overall SOS is relatively poor also. It would have to be a really weak field for Wichita to get in with this profile, but that worked for them last year.
Nevada is one of the co-leaders of the Mountain West and has five top 100 wins, but has not beaten a sure tournament team. In fact, they have played only one and got blown out at St. Mary's. The Wolf Pack already has a handful of bad losses, and that may be too many, so obviously, they cannot take another one. They swept Boise State, which could be helpful if they are competing for one at-large bid.
The Bulldogs do not have much of a margin for error with a record of 16-12. They have done well against the NIT-quality teams in the SEC, of which there are many. Georgia has not been able to get it done against the better teams though, and they may eventually have to do that to get a spot in the bracket.
The Illini have some nice, if not great wins, but a mediocre record against better competition. Their best wins are a sweep of Northwestern and they pounded VCU. They are just 16-12 overall, which is also not so hot. They do have a manageable schedule, with Michigan State coming to visit and a trip to Rutgers before Big Ten tournament play starts. Most likely, they will need to win both.
Boise State has one of the best wins of any non-major on this list. The Broncos beat SMU at home in non-conference play. The loss to Nevada on Wednesday dropped the Broncos to third in the Mountain West behind the Wolf Pack and Colorado State. I do not think that Boise State can afford to lose again except to Nevada.
TCU just cannot get over the hump against the better teams in the Big 12. The Horned Frogs have now lost five straight to fall to 16-12 overall. They are also just 2-9 vs the top 50 and 5-11 vs the top 100. They face what may end up being an elimination game with Kansas State at home next.
Ugh. Losing is one thing. Losing by 30 to the last place team is another. KSU is in deep trouble now after stinking one up at Oklahoma. The Wildcats have lost eight of their last ten and the fact that one of the wins came at Baylor is no longer good enough. K-State needs to start stringing wins together. Now.
Ole Miss is 1-8 against the top 50, and the team they beat is not going to the tournament. They are also 4-11 against the top 100 after losing to Arkansas. Mississippi doesn't have any bad losses, but hasn't really done anything to get the selection committee's attention either. Unfortunately, the SEC will not give them many chances to do that, but they will have at least one chance to pick up a top 50 win.