ed. - bumped from fanposts, good stuff to keep in mind over the weekend.
Well, it’s that time. With only three weekends to go before the SEC Tournament, the Tide are poised to make a serious run at the NCAA Tournament. Unfortunately, our early-season performance has landed us squarely (and likely permanently) on the bubble. As such, it’s time to start scoreboard watching. Obviously Alabama needs to keep winning if they want to make the tourney, but it doesn’t hurt to have some other rooting interests along the way as well. So here I present the 21 teams with whom the Tide are competing for the 14 seeds in the 10-12 range. All current standings are determined by The Bracket Project which has collected data from 63 different bracket predictions to create one mass projection. The Tide are currently ranked as the fourth team out, averaging an 11th seed, but projected to be in on only 19 ballots.
10 seeds -
Old Dominion Monarchs (21-6, 12-4 CAA): vs. Cleveland State (Sun)
Old Dominion is in pretty good shape with an RPI of 31 and a recent win over precarious bubble team VCU. Barring losses by the Monarchs to James Madison and William & Mary in their last three games (unlikely is an understatement), the Tide will have a tough time passing ODU by season’s end.
Rooting Interest: It’s Bracket Busters time, so the Monarchs are hosting the Horizon League’s Cleveland State on Sunday afternoon (12:00 ESPN2). Cleveland State is currently projected to win the Horizon League, but if they don’t, they would be in the next four out, so our best bet here is for ODU to get a decent home win and, hopefully, knock the Vikings off of the bubble.
#24 Utah State Aggies (24-3, 12-1 WAC): @ #23 St. Mary’s (Sat)
The Aggies are a very interesting case and, apparently, the subject of much discussion at the faux-selection summit, according to ESPN’s Joe Lunardi. Utah State is currently ranked in the Top 25 and possesses an RPI of 29. But the 167th ranked schedule is troubling to the say the least. There will be little help coming from their conference either as no other team has more than 14 wins, so their only remaining chance for a good win will come this weekend at St. Mary’s.
Rooting Interest: The Aggies are the only WAC team with even the slightest chance of earning an at-large bid so, obviously, we want desperately for them to win their conference tournament. However, in terms of regular season action (and this is the case with all of these one- or two-bid conference leaders), we want them to lose now, so in the event that they don’t win their conference tournament, we may still have a chance to leapfrog them. That said, St. Mary’s is currently projected as an eight seed, so the Gaels are the team to root for Saturday night (8:00 ESPN2), even if it won’t damage the Aggies much.
Georgia Bulldogs (17-8 6-5 SEC): @ Tennessee (Sat)
The Bulldogs did not have a good week, missing their chance for a résumé-defining win against Vandy and needing to block a potential game-tying three against the Gamecocks after allowing USCe to score only 9 points in the first half. Still, like most bubble teams their RPI is higher than Bama’s (37) and they’ll need to fall a ways before we can pass them. That said, they still have road games left with Tennessee, Florida, and the Tide, so the opportunity is there.
Rooting Interest: As much as it pains me to say, the Vols are basically a tourney lock with a top-25 RPI and the toughest schedule in the country. Gotta root for Tennessee (12:00 CBS).
Marquette Golden Eagles (15-11, 6-7 Big East): vs. Seton Hall (Sat)
The Golden Eagles would be the eleventh Big East team in the tourney, which tells you more about the weakness of the other power conferences this year than the greatness of that particular one. Thankfully, Marquette still has three opportunities left to crap the bed with a home-and-home against Seton Hall and a visit from Providence. If UCONN and Cincinnati can avoid losing to the Eagles and they pick up one or two of those bad losses, we might have a chance.
Rooting Interest: Aaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr, Matey (8:00 ESPN3)!
11 Seeds –
Kansas State Wildcats (17-9, 5-6 Big XII): vs. Oklahoma (Sat)
The Wildcats got a huge win Monday night, toppling the top-ranked Kansas Jayhawks at home in impressive fashion (84-68). Despite this truly disappointing season from a team ranked in the Preseason Top 5, with that scalp under their belt, it will be tough to ignore K-State on Selection Sunday. Still, they have a few more chances to trip up (Oklahoma, @ Nebraska, Iowa State), so the opportunity is still there for the Tide to pass them up.
Rooting Interest: Boomer Sooner (3:00 ESPN3)
Virginia Tech Hokies (17-7, 7-4 ACC): @ Virginia (Sat)
The Hokies actually have a very similar résumé to the Tide but with the seasons reversed. Tech started out strong, running up a 10-3 non-conference record before falling back to earth and a 7-4 record in a (weaker than usual) ACC. Like the Tide, their RPI is low (65) and their SoS is weak (117). Our best wins are better (UK and UT compared to FSU and Oklahoma State), but our losses are worse. The only potential big win left for the Hokies is a home date with Duke next weekend. Otherwise the have a couple of can’t loses (Virginia and Wake Forest) and a couple of bubble teams (BC and Clemson).
Rooting Interest: Rivalry week sends the Hokies to Charlottesville, where a loss to the 12-13 Cavs would be very damaging to their resume (12:00 ESPN3).
Boston College Eagles (16-9, 6-5 ACC): @ #19 North Carolina (Sat)
The Eagles are in dire straits, having lost five of their last eight, including three games that could have moved them into lock territory. The last two weeks don’t look terribly frightening, but their last chance for a good win is this weekend on the road in Chapel Hill. If BC can pick up a win there, they’ll be in good shape, otherwise they’re going to have to beat up on the bottom half of the ACC and hope for some help from everyone else.
Rooting Interest: The Tar Heels are a lock, so I’ll be rooting for them, even though I still haven’t forgiven Roy Williams (3:00 ESPN).
Memphis Tigers (20-6, 8-3 C-USA): @ Rice (Sat)
Memphis could easily fall off the bubble and then make it back into the tournament with a win in a weak conference tournament. The Tigers beat up on a weak non-conference slate, losing each of their only three games of consequence by double-digits (Kansas, Georgetown, @ Tennessee). Their only three wins against top-50 RPI teams are against UAB and Southern Miss, twice. They still have fellow-bubbler UTEP on tap, but no other team on the remaining schedule is more than one game over .500.
Rooting Interest: Like with the Aggies, it would be good to have Memphis win the conference tournament, but until then, we’ll root for the Owls (7:00).
12 Seeds –
Richmond Spiders (20-7, 9-3 A-10): St. Bonaventure (Sun)
The Spiders missed their last good chance for a quality win, losing by 20 at #25 Temple last night (a game that has not yet been factored in to any of the bracket projections). A win over Duquesne is Richmond’s only remaining chance for an RPI boost as the rest of their schedule is filled with can’t lose games that won’t much help their already poor numbers (71 RPI, 190 SoS).
Rooting Interest: The Bonnies have no shot at the tourney, so they’re the pick (2:00).
Michigan State Spartans (14-11, 6-7 Big Ten): vs. Illinois (Sat)
Like Richmond, Sparty missed its chance for a big road win this week, losing by ten to Ohio State. They’ve still got three games left against potential tourney teams, so wins there would significantly boost their chances. But for a team that has lost six of their last eight and sits barely above .500, losing more than one of those games would likely knock them to back of the pack.
Rooting Interests: Illinois isn’t yet a lock, but they’re being projected as a 7 seed, so Chief Wahoo has my backing (8:00 ESPN).
Colorado State Rams (18-7, 8-3 MWC): vs. UNLV (Sat)
The Rams still need one more big win, but they certainly have the chance to get it, with upcoming games against UNLV, BYU, and SDSU. Unfortunately, the latter two are on the road against Top 10 teams. If CSU can pull an upset over either the Cougars or the Aztecs, they would be in pretty good shape. Losing all three of these games, though, would likely knock them off of the bubble.
Rooting Interest: The Rebels are bubble-ish, but they’re currently slotted in as an 8 seed, so we have to root for them to knock the Rams down a couple of spots (6:00).
Wichita State Shockers (22-5, 13-3 MVC): vs. VCU (Fri)
The Shockers don’t have a lot of quality wins and their numbers are unimpressive (54 RPI, 112 SoS). Fortunately for them, when you have 22 wins, people tend to focus less on the losses. Still, this is not your older brother’s Missouri Valley Conference and they will not be putting five teams in the NCAA tourney. In fact, they’ll be lucky to get two. WSU is at the top of that list, but they are just riding the edge of the bubble.
Rooting Interest: This is a tough call, as the Shockers are hosting CAG’s former team, Virginia Commonwealth, who are themselves still in the running (tenth team out). A win by WSU would effectively end VCU’s at-large chances, but given how slim those are to begin with, I think we have to root for the Rams (6:00 ESPN2).
Missouri State Bears (21-6, 13-3 MVC): @ Valparaiso (Sat)
The Bears are in rough shape. They have only one real win to hang their hats on (@ Wichita State) and some very weak overall numbers (51 RPI, 153 SoS). They probably have to beat the Shockers at home next weekend to even entertain a bid and, other than that game, they only have a pair of can’t loses left.
Rooting Interest: A loss to Valpo probably moves Bama ahead of MSU, so the Crusaders are the call here (4:00 ESPN2).
UTEP Miners (19-6, 7-3 C-USA): vs. Houston (Sat)
UTEP sits precariously as the 68th team right now. They have no good wins but no bad losses. Their season will likely be defined in the next week, as they play four games in eight days due to a postponement during Snowmageddon (pt. 1) two weeks ago. The Miners will probably need to win five of their last six if they want to earn an at-large bid.
Rooting Interest: The Cougars could knock UTEP out of the tourney this weekend (8:00).
First Four Out –
Baylor Bears (17-8, 6-5 Big XII): vs. Texas Tech (Sat)
The numbers are iffy for the Bears (59 RPI, 59 SoS) and their road ahead is tough. They have a pair of can’t lose games left with Texas Tech and Oklahoma State and a trio of Top 25 teams in Mizzou, Texas A&M, and Texas. Baylor will likely have to pick up two out of those three if they want to snag a 12 seed.
Rooting Interest: The Red Raiders are 11-15 and could end Baylor’s hopes this weekend. Guns up (7:00 ESPN3)!
UAB Blazers (18-7, 8-4 C-USA): vs. UCF (Sat)
The Blazers have yet to notch a win against the RPI Top 50, and will only have one more chance next weekend in Hattiesburg. There are only a couple of bad losses, but no real good wins, so it’s tough to make an argument for or against UAB.
Rooting Interest: Todd might ban me for saying you should root against UAB, but there you have it (5:00).
Butler Bulldogs (19-9, 11-5 Horizon): @ Illinois-Chicago (Sat)
Last year’s national runners-up have not had as good of a run this year, piling up middling to bad losses by the bucketful (Evansville, UW-Milwaukee twice, Wright State, Valpo, Youngstown State). They don’t have any more chances to prove themselves, with only games against 7-21 Illinois-Chicago and 15-12 Loyola (IL) left, so they will likely remain on the outside looking in barring a Horizon League championship.
Rooting Interest: A loss to the Flames tomorrow would put the Bulldogs away, so let’s hope for that (1:00 ESPN3).
Next Four Out –
Oklahoma State (16-9, 4-7 Big XII): vs. #17 Texas A&M (Sat)
With a 4-7 conference record and losses in seven of their last ten games, the Cowboys are going down in a hurry. Their only chances at an at-large bid will come in the next four days when they host the #17 Aggies and travel to Lawrence to face the (for now) top-ranked Jayhawks. If they don’t pick up a win in one of those two games, they’re done.
Rooting Interest: Aggies all the way (8:00 ESPNU).
Clemson Tigers (17-9, 6-6 ACC): @ Miami (FL) (Sun)
Clemson may actually have torpedoed their chances last night by losing to 14-11 NC State. Unless they run the table with wins over Duke and Virginia Tech and make a deep run in the ACC tourney, they’re done.
Rooting Interest: Or the Hurricanes could just put them out of their misery now (2:30 ESPNU).
Washington State Huskies (17-9, 7-7 PAC-10): @ Arizona State (Sat)
The Huskies missed their last chance for a big win last night losing at the 13th-ranked Arizona Wildcats. Like Clemson, they’ll need to win out with victories over tourney teams UCLA and Washington and make a deep tournament run to even sniff the bubble.
Rooting Interest: Or the Sun Devils could just put them out of their misery now (1:00).
Gonzaga Bulldogs (18-9, 8-3 WCC): vs. San Francisco (Sat)
It’s Gonzaga, so they’re going to be in the discussion. Realistically, their season will come down to next Wednesday’s game at St. Mary’s. If they win, they stay on the bubble. If they lose, it’s over.
Rooting Interest: See Clemson and Washington State (7:00).