Weekend Bubble Watch Rooting Guide

ed. - bumped from the fanposts.  Big thanks to rugman11 for doing such a good job on these.

I apologize for the lateness of this weekend’s bubble watch, but I left my fully-written first draft on a flash drive at work, so this is being written over three hours at my fiancée’s place.  As usual, these are the 21 teams (plus a couple of interesting teams to watch) 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 69 different bracket predictions to create one mass projection.  The Tide are currently ranked as the 32nd team in (of 37 at-large bids), averaging an 11th seed, and projected to be in on 44 ballots.  The current threshold for an at-large bid is 40 ballots.

Movin’ On Up –



10 Seeds –

Kansas State Wildcats (19-9, 7-6 Big XII):  #21 Missouri (Sat 11:00, ESPN)

Last Week (10); This Week (10)

The Wildcats have hit their stride, winning five of their last six including a huge win over top-ranked Kansas.  I think they’re safe at this point, but they still have tough games coming up against Missouri and Texas.  Losses in those games could put Kansas State in jeopardy if they lose either their regular season finale against Iowa State, or their first round game in the Big 12 tournament.

Rooting Interest:  Missouri’s a lock for the tourney, so let’s hope the Wildcats fall.


Georgia Bulldogs (18-9, 7-6 SEC):  South Carolina (Sat 6:00, ESPN3)

Last Week (10); This Week (10)

The Bulldogs missed their chance to seal an at-large bid against Florida last night and with USCe, LSU, and Alabama left, I don’t know that they can.  They’re still probably safe, barring losses to both USCe and LSU, but they’re unlikely to move any higher at this point.

Rooting Interest:  I’m still not sure what to make of this, so pick whomever you want.


Marquette Golden Eagles (17-11, 8-7 Big East):  Providence (Sun 3:00, ESPN3)

Last Week (11); This Week (10)

Big win last night for the Eagles, as they toppled #15 UCONN on the road.  In fact, it was their first win against an RPI top-100 team away from Milwaukee.   I would say they’ve locked up an at-large bid, but with games still against Providence and Seton Hall, they have a long way they could fall.  I’m going to say they’re probably safe but, at the very least, Bama could pass them up for a higher seed, depending on how the wins and losses fall.

Rooting Interest:  If Providence beat us, I would hope they can beat Marquette.


Michigan State Spartans (16-11, 8-7 Big Ten):  #8 Purdue (Sun 12:00, ESPN)

Last Week (11); This Week (10)

Did you know only four Big Ten teams have winning conference records?  Neither did I.  The Spartans are the fourth team in a three-team conference which, at this point, puts them in a very precarious position.  Beating Illinois last weekend helped their case, but they probably need one more decent win to feel safe, either against Purdue this weekend or in the Big Ten tournament. 

Rooting Interest:  Purdue’s a lock for the Dance, so pull for the Boilermakers.

11 Seeds –

Minnesota Golden Gophers (17-10, 6-9 Big Ten):  Michigan (Sat 3:30)

Last Week (10); This Week (11)

Minnesota is in serious trouble right now.  With losses to Penn State and Michigan State this past week, they’ve now dropped six of their last seven games, with the only win coming at Iowa.  They’ll have to win out to even finish with a .500 conference record and I don’t know that closing wins over Michigan, Northwestern, and Iowa are going to impress anybody.  The Gophers aren’t necessarily going to drop out of the bracket without another loss, but that ugly conference mark and the double-digit losses will definitely keep them sweating come Selection Sunday.

Rooting Interest:  Michigan is currently on the far edges of the bubble, so I don’t think they’re any real threat to the Tide.  Hail to the Victors, indeed.


Saint Mary’s Gaels (22-7, 10-3 WCC):  Portland (Sat 10:00pm)

Last Week (10); This Week (11)

The Gaels missed a big opportunity last night.  They played an excellent overtime thriller against Gonzaga, but couldn’t quite pull it out.  This leaves Saint Mary’s with a rather weak RPI (55) and not much chance to improve it other than by beating Gonzaga in the WCC conference final, which would then render their RPI unnecessary.  With that loss last night, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the WCC is now a one-bid conference.  Good news for Bama fans.

Rooting Interest:  Of course, the Gaels could make that prediction official by losing to the Pilots tomorrow night. 


Memphis Tigers (21-7, 9-4 C-USA):  @ UTEP (Sat 2:00, ESPN2)

Last Week (11); This Week (11)

A crummy resume was set further back last weekend when Memphis lost to 12-15 Rice.  The weakness of this year’s bubble makes me think that the Tigers are still okay, especially since they’re predicted to win the conference tournament, but a win on the road at bubble UTEP would really help their case.

Rooting Interest:  This one’s another tough call since Memphis is currently in and UTEP is barely on the outside looking in.  Call it a toss-up.


Alabama Crimson Tide (19-8, 11-2 SEC):  @ Ole Miss (Sat 3:00, ESPN3)

Last Week (FFO); This Week (11)

I just like seeing us here.

Rooting Interest:  Figure it out.


12 Seeds –

Virginia Tech Hokies (18-8, 8-5 ACC):  #1 Duke (Sat 8:00, ESPN)

Last Week (11); This Week (12)

The Hokies are still trying to recover from last weekend’s loss at Virginia, which helped knock them down a seed in the projected bracket.  I don’t believe wins over BC and Clemson would be enough to lock down an at-large spot, but Tech could take a huge leap forward tomorrow by beating top-ranked Duke at home.  Without one more big win, the Hokies won’t be able to get off of the bubble.

Rooting Interest:  Duke sucks.  Go Duke.


Richmond Spiders (21-7, 10-3 A-10):  @ Charlotte (Sat 6:00)

Last Week (12); This Week (12)

Most of Richmond’s resume relies on their Thanksgiving victory over Purdue.  Other than that, the Spiders are just hoping their gaudy win total will distract people from their ugly computer numbers (RPI 67, SoS 170).  There aren’t any games left Richmond can use to raise its profile except, perhaps by beating Xavier or Temple in the Atlantic-10 tournament.  In fact, the next two weeks will find the Spiders playing two of the A-10’s three worst teams.  Any more losses in the regular season will likely send them packing.

Rooting Interest:  Charlotte is 10-17.  Root for the terrible team, not matter how unlikely the upset is.


Boston College Eagles (16-11, 6-7 ACC):  @ Virginia (Sat 11:00)

Last Week (12); This Week (12)

Define:  "Trouble" – losing six games out of eight and seven out of nine, including three losses to non-tournament teams.  That’s the situation BC finds itself in after losing to UNC and Miami (at home) this past week.  Virginia Tech is the only halfway-decent team left on the Eagles’ slate, so they’ll probably need a win there or in the ACC tournament to secure their NCAA bid.

Rooting Interest:  Virginia already knocked off one bubble team last weekend (Virginia Tech), so let’s hope they can do it again.


Butler Bulldogs (20-9, 12-5 Horizon):  Loyola – IL (Sat 1:00)

Last Week (12); This Week (12)

If the Bulldogs weren’t the reigning national runners-up, would we still be talking about them?  They have nine losses on an iffy schedule (SoS 81), six losses against sub-50 teams, and a loss to 285th-ranked Youngstown State.  If a loss to Auburn would have been enough to knock the Tide out, why hasn’t Butler’s loss to YSU done the same?  After all, their best win was over Florida State, and even Auburn beat them.  Either way, they’re still here and they’ve won seven games in a row, and the only thing we can hope is that they’ve been weakened enough that the Horizon League has become a one-bid conference.

Rooting Interest:  A loss to the Ramblers would pretty much guarantee only one team from the Horizon League.


Colorado State Rams (18-9, 8-5 MWC):  @ Air Force (Sat 5:30)

Last Week (12); This Week (12)

I’ve said all along that the Rams needed one more good win to make the Big Dance.  Unfortunately, they’ve spoiled their last two chances by losing to UNLV and BYU.  Their last chance outside of the Mountain West tournament will come at #4 San Diego State next weekend.

Rooting Interest:  Of course, a loss to the Falcons tomorrow could render that game moot.


Cleveland State Vikings (23-7, 12-5 Horizon):  Green Bay (Sat 1:00)

Last Week (12); This Week (12)

Cleveland State, Butler, and UW-Milwaukee are all currently tied for the Horizon lead, so the automatic bid has been alternating back and forth between them.  I’m still not sure how losing to Old Dominion and UW-Milwaukee the last two weeks was sufficient to move the Vikings up from a 13 seed to a 12 seed, but that’s what happened.  Given that their best win is against Milwaukee (RPI 94), it’s tough to see the Vikings getting in over Alabama, but it’s still possible.

Rooting Interest:  A home loss to the Phoenix would end CSU’s at-large hopes.


13 seeds –

Missouri State Bears (22-7, 14-3 Horizon):  Wichita State (Sat 12:00, ESPN2)

Last Week (13); This Week (13)

The Bears are still clinging to the bubble’s edge thanks to their current standing as the Missouri Valley conference leader.  I’m certain that theirs and Wichita’s recent struggles have relegated the MVC to being a one-bid conference, so the only chance for an at-large bid is for whomever loses this game to beat the other in the MVC tournament final.

Rooting Interest:  Whoever wins this game will have the top seed in the MVC tournament, so the only interest here is for whoever wins this game to win the conference tourney as well.


Harvard Crimson (20-4, 9-1 Ivy):  @ Brown (Fri 6:00), @ Yale (Sat 5:00)

Last Week (13); This Week (13)

I’m adding two Ivy League teams here because their crazy schedule and lack of a conference tournament has created a scenario in which we might see two Ivy League teams in the NCAA tournament for the first team since I can remember.  Harvard has the better case, with wins over Boston College and Colorado and all four of their losses coming to tournament or bubble teams.  Their RPI is decent (42), even if their strength of schedule is not (176).  They will likely need to win out (with a season-ending loss to Princeton) in order to get at-large consideration, since doing so would leave them with a record of 23-5, which is hard to ignore.

Rooting Interest:  By the time I had finished this, Harvard had already beaten Brown by six, so let’s hope they lose to Yale.


Princeton Tigers (21-5, 8-1 Ivy):  Cornell (Fri 6:00), Columbia (Sat 5:00)

Last Week (Out); This Week (Out)

The argument for Princeton is essentially the same as the argument for Harvard, just without the good wins and a higher RPI (55).  Still, should they win out except for a loss to Harvard, they would finish with a 24-6 mark, good enough for bubble consideration, regardless of what conference they’re in.

Rooting Interest: Princeton beat Cornell tonight, so hope for a loss to Columbia tomorrow.


First Four Out –

Gonzaga Bulldogs (20-9, 10-3 WCC):  @ San Diego (Sat 8:00)

Last Week (FFO); This Week (FFO)

You had to figure Gonzaga would get closer to the bracket after last night’s upset of Saint Mary’s.  Their computer numbers are still weak as hell (76 RPI, 122 SoS), and they haven’t exactly distinguished themselves in conference play, so it’s tough to make an argument for their inclusion.   As I said with Saint Mary’s, I think the WCC is now a one-bid conference, so the Bulldogs will likely need to win the conference tournament to make the Dance.

Rooting Interest:  A loss to San Diego or D-1 Cal State-Bakersfield would boot Gonzaga from the bubble.  Let’s hope for that.


UAB Blazers (19-7, 9-4 C-USA):  @Houston (Sat 5:00)

Last Week (FFO); This Week (FFO)

A win against Southern Miss isn’t going to be enough to move UAB into the tournament, so they’ll probably need a decent run in the C-USA tournament, even if they win out.  Losing at all in their final three games would be devastating.

Rooting Interest:  A Houston win would be good for the Tide, but I’m tired of rooting against UAB.


Wichita State Shockers (23-6, 14-3 MVC):  @ Missouri State (Sat 12:00, ESPN2)

Last Week (12); This Week (FFO)

Just take everything I said about Missouri State and copy and paste it here.

Rooting Interest:  Again, just hope that whoever wins this game wins the MVC tournament.


Southern Miss Golden Eagles (21-6, 9-4 C-USA):  @ UCF (Sat 6:00)

This is where the first big break comes.  Third-team-out Wichita State is closer to the bracket than they are to Southern Miss.  The Eagles have been coming on strong as of late, winning seven of their last eight, but iffy losses and no big wins mean that they’ll likely need to beat UAB this week to have a chance at the NCAA tournament.  In fact, whoever loses that game is likely off the bubble for good.

Rooting Interest:  UCF went 13-0 out of conference (including wins over Florida, Miami (FL), and Princeton), but has gone 4-9 in C-USA play.  I’m not sure how to explain that, but it certainly means to root for the Knights.


Next Four Out –

Nebraska Cornhuskers (18-9, 6-7 Big XII):  @ Iowa State (Sat 12:45, ESPN3)

Last Week (NFO); This Week (NFO)

Stupid Nebraska.  I hate the Cornhuskers.  But they had to beat Texas and get their names on the bubble.  I can pretty much tell you exactly what’s going to happen from here on out.  Nebraska will beat Iowa State and Colorado, lose to Missouri, then pull an upset in the Big XII tournament, possibly making a run to the semifinals.  This will make everybody give them way too much credit and tournament consideration even when they deserve to be on the outside looking in.  God, I hate the Cornhuskers.

Rooting Interest:  Hopefully the Cyclones can make my mini-rant irrelevant.


UTEP Miners (20-8, 8-5 C-USA):  Memphis (Sat 2:00, ESPN)

Last Week (FFO); This Week (NFO)

UTEP does not have a single win against a team currently projected in the bracket or on the bubble.  In fact, they’ve only played three games against such teams.  Think about how hard that is.  Think about how crappy of a schedule that is.  UTEP must beat Memphis this weekend if they have any prayer of dancing. 

Rooting Interest:  Both teams are on the bubble, so it’s a toss-up.


Clemson Tigers (18-9, 7-6 ACC):  Wake Forest (Sat 3:00)

Last Week (Out); This Week (NFO)

I’m not sure how a four-point win over Miami was enough to get Clemson back on the bubble, but here they are nonetheless.  A loss this week knocks the Tigers out for good, though a win over top-ranked Duke this week would help them greatly.

Rooting Interest:  I really hope Wake can put the Tigers out of their misery.


Virginia Commonwealth Rams (21-9, 12-5 CAA):  James Madison (Sat 11:00)

Last Week (NFO); This Week (NFO)

VCU is a ways out right now and needs to make a big run in the CAA tournament next weekend to even have a chance at an at-large bid.

Rooting Interest:  A home loss to James Madison would end that chance.


Movin' On Out -

Baylor Bears (17-10, 6-7 Big XII)

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