Posted on: March 5, 2011 2:28 pm
Edited on: March 6, 2011 12:58 am

Bubbles boiling over on Saturday

Posted by Jeff Borzello


With so many teams still teetering on the edge of the bubble, this weekend is the last opportunity for dozens of teams to send a message to the committee before the conference tournaments. Fortunately, there are a ton of bubble battles and must-win situations throughout the day. The games might be overshadowed by conference tournaments and top-25 match-ups, but keep it locked here for all your bubble action.

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

USC 62, Washington 60: This game threw as much of a wrench into the bubble picture as any game all day. If Washington won, the Huskies would have likely locked up a bid and USC would have been out of the at-large discussion. Now, who knows? The Huskies lost three of their final five games to end the season, going 11-7 in the Pac-10. They have two wins over UCLA and a victory over Arizona, but the non-conference resume is porous. Three sub-100 losses also don't look good. They need to beat Washington State in the quarterfinals on Thursday. USC is squarely in the mix right now. The Trojans still have to make up ground on the teams in front of them, but at least they are in the picture. They won five of six to end the season, own wins over Washington, UCLA and Arizona and have a couple of nice non-conference victories over Texas and Tennessee. This could be an interesting case on Selection Sunday if USC wins two in the Pac-10 tourney.

Texas 60, Baylor 54: Baylor had a shot to play itself in the field at home against a team that seemingly every bubble team has beaten the past few weeks – and the Bears couldn’t get the job done. 7-9 in the Big 12, an RPI in the 70s, three sub-100 losses – should I keep going? A win Saturday night would have given Baylor a legitimate shot, adding to its two wins over Texas A&M. Without the victory, the Bears have an awfully barren profile. Depending on how things play out, Baylor might be auto-bid or bust.

Colorado 67, Nebraska 57: A head-to-head battle between two Big 12 bubble teams just clarified the at-large pecking order within the conference. The Buffaloes were my last team in the field heading into the weekend, and this win should keep them up there. They have five top-50 wins, including two over Kansas State and one over Texas. The three bad losses are an eyesore, but at least they’re .500 in the Big 12 after winning three of four. As for Nebraska, losses in three of its final four games and an awful non-conference profile will do them in.

Utah State 72, Louisiana Tech 30: Well, that wasn’t very nice. The Aggies absolutely destroyed Louisiana Tech, sending a message with the margin of victory. They finished the conference campaign with a 15-1 record, and the RPI has now moved into the top 20. Given the soft bubble, it is going to be very tough turning down a team with those numbers. On the flip side, though, Utah State has just two top-100 wins, with a borderline top-50 victory over Saint Mary’s. I think the Aggies are in good shape, although any loss in the WAC tourney is a bad loss.

San Diego State 66, Colorado State 48: About two weeks ago, Colorado State was 8-4 in the Mountain West and looking good for a bid heading into a difficult stretch. Well, the Rams went 1-4 down the stretch and are now going into the conference tournament needing to win it. They have two top-50 wins, although one is over Southern Miss. Colorado State has a very weak non-conference resume and three sub-100 losses. The Rams went only 1-5 against the top three of the MWC.

UAB 66, East Carolina 48: The Blazers won the outright Conference-USA title with the victory. While the Blazers are not really in great position for a bid (in my opinion), a regular-season title combined with their excellent computer numbers, and they are in the mix. UAB came into the day with an RPI of 28, and has now won seven of eight to the end the season. Now, for the negatives. The best non-conference wins are over Kent State and VCU, and the three top-50 wins – Southern Miss and a sweep of UCF – turn into zero top-50 wins by the morning. The Blazers should play it safe and win the auto bid. 

Butler 76, Cleveland State 68: The Bulldogs knocked off Cleveland State for the third time this season, earning a spot in the Horizon League title game on Monday. They have now won seven in a row, moving to 21-9 overall. Outside of those three wins over the Vikings, though, Butler has just one other top-50 win – on a neutral court against Florida State. When you throw in all the bad losses the Bulldogs have, it might be best for them to just win the automatic bid.

Seton Hall 85, Marquette 72: Big East getting 11 bids? Hold off on that for just a few minutes. The Golden Eagles seemed like a lock after winning at Connecticut last week, but back-to-back losses to Cincinnati and Seton Hall put them squarely on the bubble. Marquette drops to 9-9 in the Big East and 18-13 overall, meaning another loss would be the 14th of the season. The Golden Eagles don’t have any bad losses and own four top-25 wins. They need to win at least on in the Big East tourney.

Oklahoma 64, Oklahoma State 61: Oklahoma State had very slim at-large hopes heading into the weekend, but now the Cowboys are heading into the Big 12 tournament with only the automatic bid as an option. The Cowboys have some good wins, including over Kansas State and Missouri, but 6-10 in the Big 12 simply won’t get it done.

Memphis 66, Tulane 61: The Tigers are still hanging in there, despite a long list of bad losses and negatives on the resume. They technically have six top-50 wins, although that number can quickly drop to two if UCF and Southern Miss fall out of the top 50 at some point. A run to the Conference-USA final is necessary for Memphis to think about getting a bid.

UCLA 58, Washington State 54: Washington State had an outside shot at a bid if it could pull off the upset over UCLA and then make a run in the Pac-10 tourney. With Klay Thompson suspended and Reggie Moore injured, though, the Cougars couldn’t get it done, falling in overtime. They have wins over bubble teams Baylor and Gonzaga, as well as two over Washington, but 9-9 in the Pac-10 and three sub-100 losses don’t look good.

Indiana State 61, Wichita State 54: Without a single top-50 win on the resume, the Shockers had little-to-no shot at hearing their name called on Selection Sunday without the automatic bid. Getting to the title game and being competitive was a necessity; they did neither.

Michigan 70, Michigan State 63: The intrastate battle had big-time bubble implications. With the win, Michigan now owns a season sweep of Michigan State – a significant trump card if the two teams are on the fence come Selection Sunday. Unfortunately for the Wolverines, their only other top-50 win was over Harvard. They still have work to do in the conference tournament. Michigan State dropped to 9-9 in the Big Ten, joining a logjam of potentially four teams. The Spartans have better wins than Michigan, with victories over Wisconsin, Washington and Illinois. A loss in the league tournament would be their 14th of the season, tough.

Alabama 65, Georgia 57: Alabama kept its at-large hopes alive with an impressive home win, bringing its SEC record to 12-4. If Florida loses at Vanderbilt this weekend, the Crimson Tide will earn a split of the SEC title. The Tide already had solid wins over Kentucky and Tennessee, but their non-conference resume is horrendous and they have a slew of bad losses. They might need to win their first SEC tourney game. Georgia would have clinched a bid with the road win, but the Bulldogs are still in decent shape. They have a solid computer profile and zero bad losses. They need to avoid bad losses in the SEC Tournament.

Missouri State 60, Creighton 50: The Bears needed to come back again in the Missouri Valley tournament, overcoming a halftime deficit. It remains to be seen whether they even have an at-large shot, but the best way to end the questions would be to win the title game on Sunday.

VCU 62, Drexel 60: It might be time to dust off the VCU profile after Jamie Skeen’s buzzer shot sent the Rams to the semifinals. Quality wins over UCLA and Old Dominion are more than some bubble teams can claim. A litany of bad losses and a 12-6 CAA record brings the profile down.

Clemson 69, Virginia Tech 60: A huge bubble match-up in the ACC could result in neither team making the NCAA Tournament. Virginia Tech went down 24-9 in the first half and was never able to recover. With this and the blowout home loss to Boston College during the week, all the good will the Hokies picked up with their win over Duke has disappeared. As for Clemson, the Tigers join Tech at 9-7 in the ACC. However, Clemson’s two best wins are over Boston College and Florida State – not exactly marquee victories. Both teams might need two wins in the league tournament. 

Richmond 68, Duquesne 56: Richmond continues to do what it has to do in order to get a bid on Selection Sunday. The Spiders ended the first half on a run and then coasted for most of the second half. They finished 13-3 in the Atlantic-10, winning their last four games, and 11 of their last 13. Richmond doesn’t have many marquee wins, but it does own a neutral-court victory over Purdue. Avoiding a bad loss in the conference tournament is a necessity.

Illinois 72, Indiana 48: The Fighting Illini certainly took care of business on Saturday, jumping out to a big lead early to avenge an earlier loss to the Hoosiers. Of course, the victory doesn’t do much to enhance the profile, other than the fact it gets them to 9-9 in the Big Ten. With wins over North Carolina and Wisconsin, as well as victories over fellow bubble teams Gonzaga, Michigan State and Michigan, Illinois should be in good shape.

Others: Maryland ended its season on a sour note, losing at home to Virginia by 14; Dayton finished 7-9 in the Atlantic-10, completing a disappointing regular season. 

Photo: US Presswire

More College Basketball coverage
Posted on: February 28, 2011 3:37 pm

BracketBusters? How about Bubble Bursters?

Posted by Jeff Borzello

The last week of the regular season means bubble teams are running out of changes to impress the committee. Some teams took advantage of that desperation this past weekend, with Virginia Tech defeating Duke and Colorado beating Texas. Others, like Washington, Colorado State or Alabama, decided it would be the perfect time to add a bad loss to the resume. This season, there are still plenty of bids up for grabs – and no one seems to be dead in the at-large hunt. Coincidentally, several of the top bubble contenders play each other this week - it's like a bubble version of BracketBusters weekend. Which are the biggest bubble battles this week?

Boston College at Virginia Tech (Tuesday): After Virginia Tech’s win over Duke on Saturday, the Hokies took the lead in the race for a fourth bid from the ACC. Boston College overcame a first-half deficit to pick up a must-win game at Virginia. The Eagles have better computer numbers than the Hokies, as well as a head-to-head victory over Tech. But Tech has a two-game lead in the ACC standings, and is playing far better lately. A win here could lock things up for the Hokies.

Cincinnati at Marquette (Wednesday): Both of these teams are still in good shape heading into the week, after each picked up a monster road win last week. Cincinnati went on the road and defeated Georgetown, although it lost to Connecticut at home on Sunday. Marquette knocked off UConn, and then blew out Providence to keep the momentum rolling. Both teams have four top-50 wins, although the Golden Eagles have better computer numbers.

Michigan State at Michigan (Saturday): Back in November, would anyone have thought this intrastate battle could decide the Selection Sunday fates of both teams? After getting big wins over Illinois and at Minnesota, Michigan State lost by 20 at home to Purdue. The Spartans have a home contest with Iowa on Wednesday before heading to Ann Arbor. The Wolverines, on the other hand, have a week to prepare. They bounced back from a heart-breaking loss to Wisconsin by winning at Minnesota over the weekend. If Michigan wins, it would have a sweep of Michigan State.

Georgia at Alabama (Saturday): Alabama would have been in good shape had it defeated Ole Miss over the weekend – would the committee really turn down a 13-3 SEC co-champion? With the loss, though, the Crimson Tide are in trouble. They now have to head to Florida before hosting Georgia in a bubblicious match-up. The poor computer numbers and lack of good wins mean a split might not even be enough. Georgia, on the other hand, is buoyed by its solid computer profile. The Bulldogs need to beat LSU at home and then at least one in the SEC Tournament if they can’t beat Alabama.

USC at Washington (Saturday): Before last week, this game would not have been included. Since then, USC has entered the discussion with four straight wins. The Trojans have four top-40 wins and are 9-7 in the Pac-10. Washington dropped back into the pack with a blowout home loss to Washington State, killing any shot it had at a Pac-10 title. Moreover, with a fairly barren overall profile, the Huskies should start sweating.

Virginia Tech at Clemson (Saturday): This is only a must-see if Clemson wins at Duke during the week. If the Tigers fall short, they simply won’t have the profile to garner consideration for a bid. Wins over Florida State and Boston College merely balance out two sub-100 losses. They need a sweep of the Blue Devils and the Hokies.

Penn State at Minnesota (Sunday): Both teams are on the outside looking in at this point, with Penn State trending upwards and Minnesota going in the wrong direction. The Nittany Lions have won three of four, including one over Minnesota, to put themselves in the mix. They face Ohio State on Tuesday, which is likely a must-win if it wants serious consideration. Minnesota, losers of six of seven, need to beat Northwestern and Penn State and then do serious work in the conference tournament.  

Photo: US Presswire

Posted on: February 25, 2011 4:30 pm
Edited on: February 25, 2011 4:30 pm

Why not these bubble teams?

Posted by Jeff Borzello

With just over a week left in the regular-season, I’m feeling extra bubblicious (bubbly?) heading into the weekend. We have already gone ad nauseam over the profiles for most of the teams on the cut line, from Butler and Gonzaga to Alabama and Virginia Tech. With that said, there are still some bubble teams that could sneak in and get some consideration on Selection Sunday if they continue to pick up wins.

The first is Penn State. The Nittany Lions were essentially left for dead on Feb. 10, when they got blown out at Michigan State. At 12-11 and 5-7 in the Big Ten, there was little chance they were going to get back in the hunt. Well, after last night’s 14-point road win at Northwestern, Penn State is .500 in the Big Ten and squarely in the mix heading into the final couple of weeks. The victory gave the Nittany Lions an RPI in the 40s and improved their SOS to No. 5. They still have four top-50 wins, although all are at home and within the Big Ten. The best non-conference win on the docket is a toss-up between Fairfield and Duquesne. As of today, Penn State probably wouldn’t be in the field. It is only 2-8 on the road, and non-conference profile isn’t helping. The Lions lost to fellow bubblers Maryland and Virginia Tech, and also have a terrible defeat at home to Maine. Everything can change next week, though. Penn State does have the weekend off, but it hosts Ohio State and has a road game at Minnesota within a six-day span. Win both, and it will be nearly impossible to keep the Nittany Lions out of the Big Dance.

The Conference-USA tandem of UAB and Southern Miss also intrigues me to no end. I simply don’t see any possible way either of these teams gets an at-large bid. That considered, both teams have RPIs in the 30s and are therefore going to be on the board come Selection Sunday. On the negative side, UAB doesn’t have a single top-50 win and the best non-conference victories came against VCU and Kent State. If the Blazers can win their final three games and then make a run to the league title game, they will have a tremendously gaudy record to go with solid computer numbers. Southern Miss is in the same boat – the Golden Eagles need to run the table and make a deep run in the conference tournament to even have a shot. Their best non-conference wins are over California and East Tennessee State, but they did win at UAB earlier this month. It’s a long shot that either of these two teams makes it, but there’s certainly a chance they get in the mix.

Lastly, what about Clemson? If people are still considering Nebraska, Colorado and the like, the Tigers will be in the conversation. They are above-.500 in the ACC and own an impressive win over Florida State, as well as a victory over bubble dweller Boston College. The bad wins aren’t terrible – at South Carolina and at Virginia – and they have opportunities to improve their profile. Clearly, Clemson is badly in need of marquee wins and, lo and behold, it heads to Duke on March 2 and then plays Virginia Tech on March 5. Provided it gets past Wake Forest this weekend, Clemson will need to put forth a tremendous performance at Cameron Indoor and then beat Tech in the finale.

Considering all the talk these days is about bubble teams, RPIs, top-50 wins and bad losses, it’s interesting that the aforementioned four teams are still flying below the radar in the at-large conversation. While none of them would be in the Tournament as of today, they each have a chance to play themselves into the conversation.

For a complete line-by-line analysis of each bubble team’s profile, check out this handy chart I made: Bubble Breakdown.

Photo: US Presswire (Talor Battle)

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 21, 2011 2:42 pm
Edited on: March 7, 2011 9:04 am

ACC's fourth place is no consolation prize

Posted by Eric Angevine

We know who the top three teams in the ACC are – the layering is obvious to see.

Duke is not only the top ACC team, but has garnered 19 first place votes to move back atop the national polls this week. North Carolina is No. 19 and managed to just hold Boston College at bay this past weekend to stay in second place in the league standings. Florida State, even without Chris Singleton, has a firm grip on third, with a 9-3 record.

Clemson and BC are battling for a crucial fourth-place slot in the ACCSo why do we care who’s fourth? As Brett Friedlander of ACC Insider reminds us, the top four teams get first-round byes in the ACC tournament, and no team has ever won the ACC auto-bid after playing all four days.

Right now, there are four legit contenders for that fourth spot, which could conceivably lead to an at-large-worthy resume for the team that earns it:

Virginia Tech 7-5

Clemson 7-6

Boston College 6-6

Maryland 6-6

Each team below Maryland is well under the .500 mark in conference play.

The schedule is beautifully stacked in terms of working this logjam out. After a visit to woeful Wake Forest on Tuesday of this week, the Hokies play Duke, BC and Clemson to finish out the season. Clemson’s next game is a home game vs. Wake, then they get Duke and Virginia Tech to finish. Maryland has the best two potential statement games, hosting Florida State on Wednesday and heading to the Dean Dome on Sunday before their season tails off with Miami and Virginia.

Clearly, the Hokies have the most control over their own fate right now. They have the better league record and two chances to play spoiler with teams right below them. On paper, that makes sense, but on hardwood, the Hokies have been anything but consistent.

According to kenpom.com’s predictive formula, however, the first shot may be fired by the Terps. He gives them a 77 percent chance to upset FSU on Wednesday. The much-improved play of Maryland guard Terrell Stoglin is giving fans of the program a great deal of hope. If Gary Williams takes a page out of Boston College’s book and throws a zone at the Tar Heels, he may very well grab a crucial W in that one as well.

Clemson has also sneaked into the national top 20 in defensive efficiency, and Friedlander says it’s too soon to count the Tigers out for the bye and for at-large NCAA consideration. Obviously, this stretch is crucial.

Given that Tech has already swept Maryland on the season, they have the most to gain by playing out the string well, but the ever-dwindling roster in Blacksburg makes that look like a near impossibility. The March 5 Virginia Tech at Clemson game is setting up for loads of drama. It could mean the difference between a four letter bid to the NCAA or a depressing three-letter consolation prize (NIT, CBI, CIT).

In the Olympics, fourth place gets you nothing. In the ACC, it could mean a great deal.

Photo: US Presswire


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