Blog Entry

Poppin' Bubbles: Statement time for bubblers

Posted on: March 3, 2012 3:04 pm
Edited on: March 3, 2012 11:02 pm
Iowa State answered all remaining questions about its at-large candidacy with a win over Baylor. (AP)

By Jeff Borzello

Saturday is not just for Duke vs. North Carolina and a trio of conference championship games. The final weekend of the regular season has bubble implications galore. There are intriguing bubble battles, chances for bubble teams to get big wins and other spots where bubble teams just simply can’t lose if they want an at-large bid. For some teams, losing might mean their hopes are dashed even before the conference tournament.

Note: This page will be updated throughout the day, with bubble discussion and analysis.

Locking things up

Memphis: The Tigers are all set after clinching the outright Conference-USA regular-season title with a win at Tulsa on Saturday. They finished the conference season with a 13-3 record, have a top-20 RPI and SOS, and own nine top-100 victories. They could wear home jerseys for the first round of the NCAA tournament at this point.

Saint Louis: The Billikens essentially clinched things with their win over Xavier earlier in the week, but avoiding a loss at Duquesne – without head coach Rick Majerus – on Saturday cements things even more. There aren’t any truly marquee wins, but an 8-4 record against the top 100 and a top-30 RPI will get the job done.

Iowa State: If there was any debate about whether the Cyclones would get an at-large bid, it ended on Saturday, when Iowa State knocked off Baylor to clinch the No. 3 seed in the Big 12 tournament. They now have four top-50 wins, including victories over Kansas and a sweep of Kansas State. The soft non-conference schedule was a question mark for a bit, but there's no keeping out Iowa State anymore.

Helped itself

West Virginia picked up a big bubble win by defeating South Florida. (AP)

West Virginia: The Mountaineers had the biggest bubble win in the first few hours of Saturday, going into South Florida and knocking off the Bulls in the final minutes. The win gets West Virginia to .500 in the Big East, and is their fourth top-50 win of the season. The bubble pecking order in the conference is completely up in the air, but two wins in the Big East tournament would likely get a bid for West Virginia.

Connecticut: The Huskies simply couldn’t lose to Pittsburgh on Saturday, unless they had plans to make a run to the Big East title game. It wasn’t pretty, but Connecticut pulled out a win in the final two minutes. 8-10 in the Big East doesn’t look great, but the Huskies have five top-50 wins, including victories over fellow bubblers South Florida, Seton Hall and West Virginia. The No. 2-ranked SOS is also a huge plus. They will need a couple of wins in the Big East tourney as well.

Dayton: Beating George Washington isn’t going to get the Flyers in the dance, but it keeps their hopes alive heading into the conference tournament. They have three top-30 RPI wins over Temple, Alabama and Saint Louis, as well as a win over bubbler Xavier. Nine top-100 wins are more than most bubble teams can say. On the negative side, the computer profile is mediocre and they have three sub-100 losses. They might need a marquee win in the A-10 tournament; could that mean a trip to the title game?

Cincinnati: For the first time in nearly a decade, the Bearcats went into Villanova and came out with a win. They improve to 12-6 in the Big East, including six top-50 wins. The Bearcats should feel pretty comfortable right now, but the three sub-100 losses and the horrendous non-conference SOS still make things shaky. The RPI is slowly getting better, and one win in the Big East tournament could be enough to get the job done for Mick Cronin's crew.

For a while on Saturday, it looked like the Musketeers were ready to see their bubble popped. They were down at home to Charlotte, before going on a huge run in the second half and pulling out the win. Xavier is currently third in the Atlantic-10 standings, which could be helpful for the profile. It looks like they will need a semifinal win to really improve the profile, though. There are good wins over Vanderbilt and Purdue, as well as victories against bubblers Cincinnati, Dayton and Saint Joseph's. They will be an interesting case.

The Wildcats escaped at Iowa, finishing at 8-10 in the Big Ten. A loss on Saturday would have ended their chances, but now they still have life heading into the Big Ten tournament. They are only 2-10 against the top 50, but suffered zero sub-100 losses and have a top-10 strength of schedule. The win over Michigan State back in January carries some weight, but there's not a ton of heft besides that victory. There is damage to be done in the tourney.

Miami (Fl.):
The Hurricanes were one of the last teams out of the field heading into the weekend, but they stayed alive with a dominant victory over Boston College. With Maryland sneaking into the top 100, Miami has four top-100 wins, including victories against Duke and Florida State. However, the 4-11 record against the top 100 is a huge eye sore and the computer profile isn't overly impressive. They need another big win for the ledger, meaning they have to win a couple games in the ACC tourney. 

Colorado State: The Rams took care of business at Air Force, avoiding a letdown after the huge win over UNLV earlier this week. Had Colorado State lost to the Falcons, most of the good vibes earned by the UNLV win would have been erased. That's irrelevant now, though. The Rams have a very solid resume, with wins over UNLV, New Mexico and San Diego State, as well as a great computer profile. Moreover, Saturday's win gives them another road victory (they only have three). One in the MWC tourney should get it done. 

Mississippi State: The Bulldogs did what they needed to do to finish the season, winning their final two regular-season games and getting back to .500 in the SEC. They still have to do work in the SEC tournament, as the computer profile is mediocre. However, they do have eight top-100 wins, including victories over Vanderbilt, Alabama and fellow bubbler West Virginia. Mississippi State will need to get at least one win in the SEC tournament, and two wins would be more comforting. 

The Ducks continue to make a run toward at-large consideration, hammering Utah to finish 13-5 in the Pac-12. However, they are only 3-7 against the top 100 and 19 of their 22 wins are against teams ranked below 100. They are playing well at the right time, and the availability of Devoe Joseph is certainly something the committee will consider. They need to make a deep run in the Pac-12 tournament, though, as the profile is rather barren at this point.

Drexel: As the outright CAA champion, Drexel has a nice chip compared to some of the other bubble teams, but the Dragons need to get to the tournament title game to have a legitimate chance. They took the first step there by handling UNC-Wilmington in the quarterfinals. We’ll look again if they win in the semifinals.

VCU: Like Drexel, VCU needs to get to the title game to have a legitimate shot at an at-large bid. The Rams handled Northeastern on Saturday, meaning one more win would get them there. The Rams have a terrible SOS and two sub-100 losses, but they are very good away from home and did beat South Florida. The lack of meat on the resume could be a problem.

Tennessee: It seems there is another movement afoot to get the Volunteers some at-large consideration. I would still hold off on that talk, though. The computer profile is poor and they have four sub-100 losses. Even factoring in the arrival of Jarnell Stokes, the overall resume is still mediocre. With all that said, if the Vols get the No. 2 seed in the SEC tourney and make a run to the title game, things could get interesting.

Oral Roberts: The Golden Eagles nearly lost to IPFW in their first game of the Summit tournament, but they pulled out a win late to keep things somewhat interesting. I still think they need to win the automatic bid to get to the NCAA tournament, but a close loss in the title game could raise some questions. Zero top-50 wins is a major problem. 

Could the Crimson have survived a loss to Cornell and a second-place finish in the Ivy? We came close to finding out on Saturday night, as Harvard barely pulled out a win in the season finale. Now, the Crimson will wait and see what Penn does at Princeton this week. If the Quakers win, Harvard has a one-game playoff with Penn for the automatic bid. As far as at-large consideration, the win over Florida State looks good, but the schedule is terrible. 

Hurt itself

Kevin Willard knows his Seton Hall Pirates are in trouble. (US Presswire)

Seton Hall: The biggest bubble loser of the day has to be the Pirates. Going into the week, Seton Hall was in good shape. It just had to beat Rutgers and DePaul and things would be pretty comfortable heading into the Big East tournament. Well, the Pirates lost both games, including an absolutely embarrassing performance on Saturday against the Blue Demons. Things are now very shaky for Seton Hall. The Pirates finished just 8-10 in the Big East and have three sub-100 losses. They now have to win at least two games in the conference tournament; falling short of the quarterfinals won't get it done. 

South Florida: The Bulls had a chance to get a double-bye in the Big East tournament with a home win over West Virginia, which would have looked fantastic on the resume. However, they couldn’t make plays late in the game and dropped an important one to the Mountaineers. South Florida is only 2-7 against teams ranked in the top 50, but they have a solid computer profile and 12-6 in the Big East is nothing to scoff at. They need at least one win in the conference tourney, and most likely two.

Washington: If the Huskies had won the outright Pac-12 title, it would be a heck of a chip heading into Selection Sunday. However, after their loss at UCLA on Saturday, it's likely they will need to share the championship with California. The resume on its own is far from impressive. The Huskies have yet to beat an NCAA tournament team and 18 of their 21 wins are from the sub-100 region. The computer profile isn't awful, but Saturday's loss gives them a sub-100 loss. They need to reach the title game, at the very least.

Southern Miss:
 The Golden Eagles continue to make things difficult for themselves, after losing at Marshall to drop to 11-5 in Conference-USA. The RPI is still in the top 20 and they have a 9-4 record against the top 100, but there are also three sub-100 losses. Moreover, by finishing at 11-5, there is little separation betwen Southern Miss and the rest of the league. They have work to do in the conference tournament if they want to feel comfortable come Selection Sunday.

Alabama: The Crimson Tide are still very likely to get a bid to the NCAA tournament, but they missed out on a chance to truly lock themselves in by losing at Ole Miss on Saturday. Alabama has a very solid computer profile and a 9-7 SEC record, with 10 wins against the top 100. The lack of truly good wins against the top 50 is something of a wart on the resume, but it would be tough to leave Alabama out at this point. Winning one game in the SEC tournament would solidify things, though.  

Texas: I'm not sure anyone actually thought the Longhorns were going to go into Lawrence on Senior Night and knock off Kansas, but the loss hurts nonetheless. Texas drops to 3-9 against the top 50 and 4-10 against the top 100, which doesn't compare favorably with most other bubblers. They also have two sub-100 losses. Getting the No. 6 seed in the conference tournament, Texas will have a quarterfinal matchup with Iowa State. The Longhorns need to win that one to have an at-large chance. Two wins would seal the deal. 

Long Beach State: A loss in the Big West championship game is one thing, but a loss in the season finale is quite another. The 49ers dropped Saturday night's game late to Cal State Fullerton, and now enter the conference tournament in some trouble. If they lose in the championship game, I'm not sure they can survive as an at-large team. They did beat Xavier and Pittsburgh in the non-conference, but neither win is all that impressive right now. They are 0-6 vs. the top 50 and now have a bad loss on the resume.

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Since: Jan 3, 2009
Posted on: March 4, 2012 11:26 am

Poppin' Bubbles: Statement time for bubblers

Seems odd to be talking about what a team has done against Top 100 teams, since as a Bubble team you will be playing one of the Top 32 seeds, at best (probably a Top 16 team).  So a more reasonable question when evaluating these teams is:  What is your record against Top 32 teams?
If  you have not played any, we don't know (but if you have won over 20 games and 10 or more on the road, I like your chances).  If you are 1-6 or worse, we have a pretty good idea that you cannot compete.  If you are 2-4, you probably belong and have a chance at an upset. 

Since: Jan 3, 2009
Posted on: March 4, 2012 11:26 am

Poppin' Bubbles: Statement time for bubblers

Seems odd to be talking about what a team has done against Top 100 teams, since as a Bubble team you will be playing one of the Top 32 seeds, at best (probably a Top 16 team).  So a more reasonable question when evaluating these teams is:  What is your record against Top 32 teams?
If  you have not played any, we don't know (but if you have won over 20 games and 10 or more on the road, I like your chances).  If you are 1-6 or worse, we have a pretty good idea that you cannot compete.  If you are 2-4, you probably belong and have a chance at an upset. 

Since: Mar 3, 2012
Posted on: March 4, 2012 10:35 am

Poppin' Bubbles: Statement time for bubblers

I forget that one game defines a season.

Great analogy, you're almost as dumb as Jerry Palm.

Since: Mar 3, 2012
Posted on: March 4, 2012 10:30 am

Poppin' Bubbles: Statement time for bubblers

Clearly CBS and Jerry Palm hate Cincinnati for some unknown reason....not sure, I have some suspicions why, but WON'T mention them because it would bring an entire other topic into might be able to guess though...

Anyone who has Cincinnati as a bubble team is a stupid human being.

I think that describes it simply enough.

Since: Dec 11, 2011
Posted on: March 4, 2012 9:40 am

Poppin' Bubbles: Statement time for bubblers

Bud, it's about who you played and who you beat. Cincinnati beat more good teams than just about any team not being considered for a 1 or 2 seed. That's all there is to it. A loss in November playing without one of its most important players doesn't negate road victories at Georgetown and UConn, demolishing Notre Dame, beating Louisville and Seton Hall, and finishing 4th with a double bye in the toughest conference in the country. At some point we have to let go of the bias and face reality, something that it is very difficult for Jerry "The incompetent one" Palm and CBS Sports to do.

Since: Mar 4, 2012
Posted on: March 4, 2012 9:29 am

Poppin' Bubbles: Statement time for bubblers

ISU Poppin' Bubble and Locking Things Up with win over Baylor ????  Are you kidding me ????

Note to bubble watchers at CBS Sports - you have grossly misrepresented the Cyclones NCAA resume.  The Cyclones "locked things up" ten days ago with a win over Texas Tech.  Yesterday, with the win over Baylor, there are on the sixth tier (#6 seed) ! 

Since: Mar 12, 2007
Posted on: March 4, 2012 8:40 am

Poppin' Bubbles: Statement time for bubblers

You are smoking dope if you think Cincinnati is anywhere near the bubble Cincny is about a 7 seed right now and if they get to semis in NY they will be 5 or 6 seed.
Their non-conferense SoS is hovering around 330. That's a great way to get the Committee to leave you out.

You also forgot to mention they lost at home to RPI 300-something Presbyterian.

At home.

To Presbyterian.

Since: Sep 25, 2006
Posted on: March 4, 2012 12:46 am

Poppin' Bubbles: Statement time for bubblers

The whole thing CBS is also forgetting in regards to Cincinnati.... 2 of those 3 non-conference losses (the one exception being the rivalry game vs. Xavier), the Bearcats played without a starter...the starter that just dropped 28 points on Marquette.  With Jaquon Parker available, the Cats don't lose those two games (by Presbyterian by 2 and to Marshall in overtime).  The NCAA does look at these factors.  The reason the RPI sucks is directly related to those two losses. 

Cincy also lost at Rutgers...but how many good teams have done that this year?  Florida, UConn, and Notre Dame also did.  UConn is a bubble team but Florida and Notre Dame are locks.  

Since: Nov 29, 2007
Posted on: March 3, 2012 11:41 pm

Poppin' Bubbles: Statement time for bubblers

This coming from a guy that has idiot in his name. O.o

Since: Mar 3, 2012
Posted on: March 3, 2012 11:08 pm

Poppin' Bubbles: Statement time for bubblers

Just another befuddled reader of this article or analaysis of bubble teams you have going on here.
The loss Cincinnati had to Presbertayrian was bad BUT. don't you kind of think were to the point where we can lay that to rest. I think the unbelviable list of slaughters to rank teams and the away victories is enough to dead this conversation. Maybe I could see this 3 weeks ago, but if you've been under a rock over there at CBS I'm pretty sure Cincinnati closed the season beating Seton Hall, Marquette, and Louisville. I'll go ahead and throw Villanova in there since they are now playing with a full roster while playing with a depleted roster they took Marquette and Notre Dame to Overtime.
Let me get this straight.
So while CBS leaves Cincinnati on their bubble talk non-sense, the Bearcats are sitting pretty with a 4 seed meaning they earned the double bye in the hardest conference top to bottom in the country. 

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or