Weekend Preview: 2/27-2/28

Just got done dealing with a little internet problem here at the household, so I’m a little strapped for time, but we’ll bust this out quick. It’s the second-to-last weekend of the 2016 college basketball regular season, and there are lots of games with postseason implications, highlighted by a Top-10 battle in Charlottesville between Virginia and North Carolina, a game that will have a huge impact on the top of the ACC standings. The following is a little preview of what’s to come this Saturday and Sunday!

Texas Tech @ #2 Kansas
Sat 2/27, 12:00 noon ESPN
The Red Raiders have worked their way back onto the Bubble as the result of a current five-game winning streak which includes wins over Iowa State, Baylor and Oklahoma. This will be a difficult one, as Kansas just simply doesn’t lose at home. This would be a monumental win for Texas Tech, one that could solidify their spot in the Field of 68.

Butler @ Georgetown
Sat 2/27, 12:00 noon CBS
Another team on the Bubble is Butler, but unlike Texas Tech, Butler looked safely in the Tournament a couple months ago, and have fallen down onto the Bubble. This is the type of game that you can’t lose as a Bubble team as we near the postseason. Georgetown has really struggled this year, but they’re definitely good enough to knock off the Bulldogs in D.C.

VCU @ George Washington
Sat 2/27, 12:30 pm NBC Sports Network
The Atlantic 10 could see as many as five teams make the Tournament this year, and these are two of those teams. They are both considered to be on the Bubble, but they are also both capable of winning the A-10 Title. VCU has been on top of the conference for much of the season, but they are coming off of a rough loss to George Mason. They’ll try to bounce back, but the Colonials won’t make it easy, as they look to improve their tourney resume.

#3 Oklahoma @ #25 Texas
Sat 2/27, 2:00 pm CBS
With so many good teams in the Big 12, it seems like there’s at least one huge match-up every weekend. Tomorrow we’ll see a Texas team that has played one of the toughest schedules in the nation take on an Oklahoma team that is primed for a run at the Big 12 Title and a 1-seed in the Tournament. Texas had a chance for a big home win last weekend against Baylor, but they came up short. This is another opportunity to knock off a top-ranked team in Austin.

#11 Louisville @ #12 Miami FL
Sat 2/27, 2:00 pm ESPN3
Louisville may not be eligible for the 2016 postseason, but they are still an extremely good team, and a win over them would definitely help Miami in their quest for a 1-seed in the Big Dance. The Hurricanes just got a huge home win on Monday over Virginia, and the Selection Committee would be very impressed if they can back that up with a victory over Louisville.

#9 Arizona @ #22 Utah
Sat 2/27, 2:00 pm ESPN
Utah is a team that has flown a little under the radar this year, but they have wins over Texas Tech, BYU, Duke, USC and California this season, enhancing a very good resume. As they quickly rise up the ranks, a win over a Top-10 Arizona team could propel them to heights nobody could have expected. The Wildcats are coming off of a loss to Colorado, so they will look to come out guns blazing and get a big time road win for their own tourney resume.

#16 Kentucky @ Vanderbilt
Sat 2/27, 4:00 pm CBS
Vanderbilt has a top NBA prospect in G Wade Baldwin IV, but they have struggled at points this season. They are heating up here down the stretch though, and that will definitely help their tourney hopes. Another thing that would help their chances would be to get a huge win tomorrow over the SEC-leading Wildcats. Kentucky is now the complete team that they weren’t at the beginning of the season, and they will make the Commodores earn a victory in this one.

#23 Notre Dame @ Florida State
Sat 2/27, 4:00 pm ESPN2
Florida State is hanging onto the Bubble by one finger, and luckily for them, they get a chance this weekend to knock off a ranked team in Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish are pretty safe at this point, but a road win over Florida State would definitely make them feel a little better about where they stand. This will be a desperate Seminole team, so an ND win will be impressive.

#10 Maryland @ #20 Purdue
Sat 2/27, 4:00 pm ESPN
These two Big Ten teams are going to be highly ranked in the Tournament, but they have both struggled a little as of late. Maryland lost to Minnesota and then barely beat Michigan at home, while Purdue is coming off of a tough, close loss on the road against Indiana. Purdue needs this win more, but don’t think for one second that Maryland is going to just give it to them.

#7 North Carolina @ #3 Virginia
Sat 2/27, 6:30 pm ESPN
It’s a tight race at the top of the ACC, and the Tar Heels currently find themselves in 1st place by a game over Miami and Louisville. Virginia is just two games back, and a win here over UNC will make this race much more interesting. The Cavaliers are two games back due to a loss at Miami this past week, so they’ll definitely be motivated to avoid a losing streak this late in the season.

Gonzaga @ BYU
Sat 2/27, 8:00 pm ESPN2
It is weird to say that Gonzaga is on the Bubble, but Gonzaga is on the Bubble. They played some really good teams this year, but where in the past they won some of those games, this year they simply did not, and that is hurting their chances to make the Field of 68. The Zags are 0-3 this year against Saint Mary’s and BYU, and they REALLY need to win this game, or they can kiss their at-large chances goodbye.

Florida @ LSU
Sat 2/27, 8:30 pm ESPN
Florida is looking like a Tournament team, barring an epic collapse. LSU isn’t looking like a Tournament team, and it’s a shame that we might not get to see Ben Simmons play in the Big Dance. If LSU wants any prayer of an at-large bid, it begins with a win here. Florida is a very good team, and they could use a win like this to enhance their resume. One of these teams is going to get a big win.

#5 Xavier @ Seton Hall
Sun 2/28, 12:30 pm FOX Sports 1
Last season, Seton Hall started off red hot and then completely collapsed in Big East play. This season has been the exact opposite, as the Pirates came out of the gates a little slow, but have ratcheted it up in conference play. Meanwhile, the Musketeers are looking like a National Championship contender, and are coming off of a win over #1 Villanova. Xavier will look to avoid a letdown, while Seton Hall looks for a win that could cement their spot in the Tournament.

#15 Duke @ Pittsburgh
Sun 2/28, 2:00 pm CBS
If there is a team this season that is like Seton Hall was last season, it’s Pittsburgh. This team went 11-1 in non-conference play, but they are just 8-7 in the ACC, and their resume lacks a signature win. Luckily for them, the schedule makers decided to be friendly and give them a shot at one here at the end of the season with the Blue Devils coming to town. A win in this one, and the Panthers should get into the Dance.

Michigan @ Wisconsin
Sun 2/28, 6:00 pm Big Ten Network
These teams are taking completely different paths to the NCAA Tournament, but both should be in. Michigan started the season really well, but have struggled at times without their leading scorer Caris LeVert. Wisconsin struggled under Bo Ryan, but when he retired and Greg Gard took over, this team eventually turned a corner, and they have won nine of their last ten games. Like I said, both teams look like they’ll get in, but that doesn’t mean a win in this one wouldn’t help them both feel better about their standing.

USC @ California
Sun 2/28, 8:00 pm FOX Sports 1
If you would have told me a month ago that USC would be struggling to hold onto a spot in the Tournament field, I would have called you crazy. But crazy is the way we can describe this basketball season, and here USC sits, having lost four of their last five, including brutal losses to Arizona State and Stanford. I don’t want to say that the Trojans need this win, but they are in a lot of trouble if they continue to lose.

Washington @ #13 Oregon
Sun 2/28, 8:30 pm ESPNU
Washington had a really nice start to the season, but they have struggled in Pac 12 play. They’re an extremely young team, and that youth has shown over the last month or so. They need to win a couple big games here down the stretch, and a road game against a Top-15 team counts as a big game, especially against Oregon, a team that has yet to lose at home this season.

We are almost there! Just a couple more weeks until the Big Dance! Once Tuesday rolls around, it will officially be time for March Madness, and I hope you are all as excited as I am! Have a good weekend everybody!


Top-25: February 25

Another #1 team has fallen, as Xavier avenged their blowout loss to Villanova earlier in the season with a 90-83 victory in front of the Musketeer faithful. Xavier has flown a little under the radar this season, but they are definitely a threat to go to the Final Four. Here is Bracketball’s new Top-25 ranking!

25. Texas Tech (18-9, 8-7)
Last Week: Win 71-61 @ Oklahoma State; Win 83-79 vs TCU
Upcoming Games: Sat 2/27 @ Kansas; Wed 3/2 @ West Virginia

24. Iowa State (19-9, 8-7)
Last Week: Win 92-83 vs TCU; Loss 87-97 @ West Virginia
Upcoming Games: Sat 2/27 vs Kansas State; Mon 2/29 vs Oklahoma State

23. SMU (22-4, 10-4)
Last Week: Loss 62-68 @ Connecticut; Win 74-63 vs East Carolina
Upcoming Games: Thu 2/25 @ Memphis; Sun 2/28 vs Tulane

22. Utah (21-7, 10-5)
Last Week: Win 75-73 @ UCLA; Win 80-69 @ USC
Upcoming Games: Thu 2/25 vs Arizona State; Sat 2/27 vs Arizona

21. Indiana (22-6, 12-3)
Last Week: Win 77-73 vs Purdue
Upcoming Games: Thu 2/25 @ Illinois; Tue 3/1 @ Iowa

20. Texas A&M (21-7, 10-5)
Last Week: Win 79-77 vs Kentucky (OT); Win 68-66 vs Mississippi State
Upcoming Games: Sat 2/27 @ Missouri; Tue 3/1 @ Auburn

19. Baylor (20-8, 9-6)
Last Week: Win 78-64 @ Texas; Loss 60-66 vs Kansas
Upcoming Games: Sat 2/27 @ TCU; Tue 3/1 @ Oklahoma

18. Purdue (21-7, 9-6)
Last Week: Loss 73-77 @ Indiana
Upcoming Games: Sat 2/27 vs Maryland; Tue 3/1 @ Nebraska

17. Duke (20-7, 9-5)
Last Week: Loss 64-71 @ Louisville
Upcoming Games: Thu 2/25 vs Florida State; Sun 2/28 @ Pittsburgh; Tue 3/1 vs Wake Forest

16. Notre Dame (19-8, 10-5)
Last Week: Loss 62-63 @ Georgia Tech; Win 69-58 @ Wake Forest
Upcoming Games: Sat 2/27 @ Florida State; Wed 3/2 vs Miami FL

15. Maryland (23-5, 11-4)
Last Week: Loss 63-68 @ Minnesota; Win 86-82 vs Michigan
Upcoming Games: Sat 2/27 @ Purdue

14. Louisville (22-6, 11-4)
Last Week: Win 71-64 vs Duke; Win 67-60 @ Pittsburgh
Upcoming Games: Sat 2/27 @ Miami FL; Tue 3/1 vs Georgia Tech

13. Oregon (22-6, 11-4)
Last Week: Win 91-81 vs Oregon State; Win 76-62 vs Washington State
Upcoming Games: Sun 2/28 vs Washington; Wed 3/2 @ UCLA

12. Iowa (20-7, 11-4)
Last Week: Loss 59-67 vs Wisconsin
Upcoming Games: Sun 2/28 @ Ohio State; Tue 3/1 vs Indiana

11. Kentucky (21-7, 11-4)
Last Week: Loss 77-79 @ Texas A&M (OT); Win 78-53 vs Alabama
Upcoming Games: Sat 2/27 @ Vanderbilt; Tue 3/1 @ Florida

10. West Virginia (21-7, 10-5)
Last Week: Loss 62-76 vs Oklahoma; Win 97-87 vs Iowa State
Upcoming Games: Sat 2/27 @ Oklahoma State; Wed 3/2 vs Texas Tech

9. Arizona (22-6, 10-5)
Last Week: Loss 72-75 @ Colorado
Upcoming Games: Sat 2/27 @ Utah

8. Miami FL (22-5, 11-4)
Last Week: Loss 71-96 @ North Carolina; Win 64-61 vs Virginia
Upcoming Games: Sat 2/27 vs Louisville; Wed 3/2 @ Notre Dame

7. North Carolina (23-5, 12-3)
Last Week: Win 96-71 vs Miami FL; Win 80-68 @ NC State
Upcoming Games: Sat 2/27 @ Virginia; Mon 2/29 vs Syracuse

6. Virginia (21-6, 10-5)
Last Week: Loss 61-64 @ Miami FL
Upcoming Games: Sat 2/27 vs North Carolina; Tue 3/1 @ Clemson

5. Oklahoma (22-5, 10-5)
Last Week: Win 76-62 @ West Virginia; Win 71-49 vs Oklahoma State
Upcoming Games: Sat 2/27 @ Texas; Tue 3/1 vs Baylor

4. Xavier (25-3, 13-3)
Last Week: Win 88-70 @ Georgetown; Win 90-83 vs Villanova
Upcoming Games: Sun 2/28 @ Seton Hall

3. Villanova (24-4, 13-2)
Last Week: Win 77-67 vs Butler; Loss 83-90 @ Xavier
Upcoming Games: Sat 2/27 @ Marquette; Tue 3/1 vs DePaul

2. Michigan State (23-5, 10-5)
Last Week: Win 69-57 vs Wisconsin; Win 81-62 @ Ohio State
Upcoming Games: Sun 2/28 vs Penn State; Wed 3/2 @ Rutgers

1. Kansas (24-4, 12-3)
Last Week: Win 72-63 @ Kansas State; Win 66-60 @ Baylor
Upcoming Games: Sat 2/27 vs Texas Tech; Mon 2/29 @ Texas

Bubble Watch: February 24

We’re back today to conclude this week’s Bubble Watch, looking at 10 more teams and why they will or will not make this year’s NCAA Tournament. It’s the home stretch for these teams, and now is the time for them to make their impression on the Selection Committee.

Oregon State (15-10, 6-8 Pac 12)
Why They’ll Get In – Despite double-digit losses, the Beavers are ranked 33rd in RPI, which we all know the Committee loves. The RPI loves the Pac 12 this season, and that will benefit Oregon State’s case. In conference play, they have wins over Oregon, California, USC and Utah, which will help them as well.
Why They’ll Be Left Out – All four of those great conference wins came at home, and the Committee likes teams who are able to win on the road. The Beavers have just three road wins on the season, and only one of those was in conference play. They have a great chance to make a final impression on the Committee by ending their regular season at USC and UCLA.

Michigan (19-9, 9-6 Big Ten)
Why They’ll Get In – They have avoided a bad loss to this point in the season, and that definitely helps their case. Their worst loss on the year was on the road against hated rival Ohio State. The lack of a bad loss and wins over Maryland and Purdue should be enough to get the Wolverines into the dance.
Why They’ll Be Left Out – Michigan simply has not played very well down the stretch, and that is never good for a Bubble team. They’ve lost some close games, and struggled in some wins. They end their season with a trip to Madison to take on Wisconsin, followed by a home match-up with Iowa. They need to play well in those games.

Temple (17-10, 11-4 AAC)
Why They’ll Get In – They are currently in 1st place in the AAC, and if they win the conference title, they’ll automatically get in. They have just as good a chance to win that tourney as any team in the conference. If the Owls get an at-large bid, it will be based on their performance in conference play, as they swept Cincinnati and Connecticut, and also have wins over SMU and Tulsa.
Why They’ll Be Left Out – Temple does not have a good RPI and that will hold them back. They had chances for big non-conference wins against North Carolina, Butler, Utah, Villanova, St. Joseph’s and Wisconsin, but lost all of those games. Their 6-6 non-conference record, combined with losses to Memphis and East Carolina, will probably keep them out of the field.

Cincinnati (20-8, 10-5 AAC)
Why They’ll Get In – Cincinnati is just a solid team all over the board. They don’t have a great RPI, but they have road wins over VCU and Connecticut, as well as home wins over Tulsa and Connecticut. Advanced analytics¬†love the Bearcats this season, and they have a chance to enter the postseason with momentum as they end the regular season at home against SMU.
Why They’ll Be Left Out – Cincinnati has struggled to close out close games this year. Six of their eight losses have been by four points or less. While some may view that as a good thing, I think the Committee will see that and see a team that struggles under pressure, and we all know that there is no greater pressure situation than in the NCAA Tournament.

VCU (20-7, 12-2 A10)
Why They’ll Get In – VCU has been extremely good in Atlantic 10 play this year, winning their first nine games, which was part of a 12-game winning streak. If they fail to win the A-10 Tournament, a 47th ranked RPI will help them, as will potential wins at George Washington and Dayton down the home stretch of the regular season.
Why They’ll Be Left Out – The Rams could really use those wins over GW and Dayton, as a lack of big wins is holding them back at the moment. They’re 12-2 in conference play, but their best wins are against St. Joe’s and St. Bonaventure. They also lost all of their big non-conference games, which included match-ups with Wisconsin, Florida State and Georgia Tech.

St. Bonaventure (18-7, 10-4 A10)
Why They’ll Get In – The Bonnies are playing their way into the conversation here in February, and that’s the way to do it. In this month alone, they are 5-1 with road wins over St. Joseph’s and Dayton, the consensus top two teams in the Atlantic 10. They have one more chance in the regular season for a massive win as they go for the season sweep over St. Joe’s in Rochester.
Why They’ll Be Left Out – Strength of Schedule is the biggest thing holding St. Bonaventure back, as they did not get any big wins in non-conference play. Their best out of conference win is over Ohio, so they lack a marquee non-conference win. They also have losses to Hofstra, Siena and Duquesne. That will ultimately hurt the Bonnies’ chances.

Alabama (16-11, 7-8 SEC)
Why They’ll Get In – We hear all the time, “It’s not about who you play, it’s about who you beat.” That is how experts believe that the Committee separates teams, and Alabama has wins this season over Wichita State, Notre Dame, Clemson, South Carolina, Florida, LSU and Texas A&M. Those are all good wins, and prove that Alabama is capable of winning some games in the Tournament.
Why They’ll Be Left Out – Despite all of those good wins, the Crimson Tide just have too many losses. They have a losing record in SEC play, which includes losses to Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Auburn. It would definitely benefit them to close out the regular season with three wins, as they face Auburn and Arkansas at home, then a road game against Georgia.

Gonzaga (21-7, 13-3 WCC)
Why They’ll Get In – We like to think that the Committee doesn’t judge teams based on their name, but I’m in the camp that says it’s impossible to completely disassociate the school from the resume. I think Gonzaga may get in based on their name alone, coupled with a solid resume. It’s not a great resume, but they’ve won 21 games. That’s difficult to do no matter who you play.
Why They’ll Be Left Out – We’re so used to Gonzaga playing a tough non-conference schedule and knocking off some really good teams. Their only good win of the season was over Connecticut. They were also swept by Saint Mary’s, and lost to BYU as well. Gonzaga just doesn’t lose three conference games. They still have to play BYU on the road, so that could be a fourth conference loss. That wouldn’t be good for the Zags.

Vanderbilt (17-11, 9-6 SEC)
Why They’ll Get In – Strength of schedule, strength of schedule and strength of schedule. Did I mention strength of schedule? Vanderbilt has played one of the most difficult schedules in the country, and having won 17 games despite their difficult schedule could be enough to get them in.
Why They’ll Be Left Out – Despite that rough slate of games, they’ve lost 11 of them already, with a couple weeks still left. They have losses to Ole Miss and Mississippi State, and that coupled with double-digit losses could keep the Commodores out of the Big Dance.

Washington (16-11, 8-7 Pac 12)
Why They’ll Get In – I’m peering a bit into the future with the Huskies, but this week, they make the Oregon trip, as they take on Oregon State and Oregon. If they can win both of those games, they will definitely move up the Bubble. They have wins over Texas, USC and a season sweep of UCLA, and those wins will definitely help their cause.
Why They’ll Be Left Out – BUT, just like Vanderbilt, Washington has 11 losses, and they could be adding two more this week. Unless they make a deep run in the Pac 12 Tournament, I think the Huskies will be heading to the NIT.

The last week of February is a very “Bubbly” time of year, and now you have an idea on where some of these Bubble teams stand in the grand scheme. It’s going to be an exciting race to the finish line, and I am very interested to see how it all shakes out.

Bubble Watch: February 23

With a little less than three weeks until Selection Sunday, we still have a ton of teams failing to work their way off the Bubble and into the projected field. Every single one of these teams have qualities that would make you believe that they belong in the NCAA Tournament, but they also have qualities that will make you think they are better suited for the NIT. Today and tomorrow on Bracketball, we’ll be looking at these Bubble teams and giving one reason why they will make the tournament, and one reason why they won’t make the field of 68. Consider this a way of explaining each scenario for these teams so that on March 13, you’ll have an idea as to why they made the tourney or why they didn’t.

Colorado (19-9, 8-6 Pac 12)
Why They’ll Get In – Colorado is currently ranked 34th in RPI, which is a metric the Selection Committee holds in very high regard. The RPI loves the Pac 12 this year, and despite all of their best wins coming at home, that RPI ranking will benefit Colorado’s case.
Why They’ll Be Left Out – Colorado has a winning record in Pac 12 play, but they lack a marquee win. Their best win is a 4-point home triumph over Oregon. While that is a good win, it’s not resume-changing. The Buffaloes will have one more chance for a major win when they close the regular season on the road against Utah.

St. Joseph’s (22-5, 11-3 A10)
Why They’ll Get In – Phil Martelli’s Hawks have a number of impressive wins, including victories over Princeton, Temple, George Washington and Dayton. But the best quality this team possesses is it’s ability to win on the road. St. Joe’s is 8-1 this year in true road games, and 11-2 in all games away from home. The Selection Committee will love to see that.
Why They’ll Be Left Out – The amount of Bubble teams from major conferences could end up hurting St. Joe’s. The Selection Committee may favor teams from major conferences this year due to a better strength of schedule. KenPom ranks St. Joe’s 106th in SOS, 175th in Non-conference SOS. It would behoove the Hawks to go and win the A-10 Tournament to solidify their spot.

Tulsa (18-9, 10-5 AAC)
Why They’ll Get In – The RPI likes the Golden Hurricane a lot, ranking them 37th, the second highest ranking for an American team. Tulsa has wins this season over likely tournament teams UConn and Wichita State, as well as wins over fellow Bubble team Cincinnati and Top-25 SMU, who is ineligible for the postseason.
Why They’ll Be Left Out – Blowout losses to Cincinnati and Houston could hurt Tulsa’s resume, but the biggest blemish is a home loss to 14-14 Oral Roberts. There are plenty of Bubble teams that don’t have a horrible loss like that, so that could hamper Tulsa’s odds of making the field.

Wisconsin (17-10, 9-5 Big Ten)
Why They’ll Get In – The Badgers are one of the hottest teams in the country right now. They have won eight of their last nine games, which includes wins over Michigan State, Indiana and Maryland. The Selection Committee will look for teams that have played well down the stretch, and that’s certainly Wisconsin.
Why They’ll Be Left Out – Despite how well they’re playing now, this team struggled mightily early on this season. They lost games to Western Illinois and Milwaukee, among other head-scratching losses. They have two more chances to make the Committee forget about their early-season struggles with road games against Iowa and Purdue yet to go.

George Washington (20-7, 9-5 A10)
Why They’ll Get In – It’s hard to say that one win could be the difference for a team being in or out of the tournament, but the Colonials are living off of their 73-68 victory over Virginia. A 20-7 team with decent RPI and SOS figures, but with a win like that, could be an NCAA Tournament team.
Why They’ll Be Left Out – That 9-5 record in the Atlantic-10 could be enough to keep GW out of the field. They were blown out at home by St. Joseph’s, and they lost another home conference game to Richmond. They also have losses to Saint Louis and DePaul, and those disappointing results could prevent them from getting an at-large bid.

LSU (16-11, 9-5 SEC)
Why They’ll Get In – Ben Simmons, Ben Simmons and Ben Simmons. One way to look at that is Ben Simmons will carry the Tigers to a late season run, earning them an at-large bid. The other way to look at it is the intrigue of seeing Ben Simmons in the NCAA Tournament will be enough to push LSU in.
Why They’ll Be Left Out – The loss of G Keith Hornsby will definitely hurt them, and it will put a ton of weight on the shoulders of Ben Simmons. The wins over Kentucky and Texas A&M probably aren’t enough for the Committee to overlook losses to Tennessee, Alabama, Wake Forest and College of Charleston. This team hasn’t won enough to warrant an at-large bid in my eyes.

Monmouth (23-6, 15-3 MAAC)
Why They’ll Get In – Obviously Monmouth is the favorite to win the MAAC Tournament and receive the league’s auto-bid to the tournament, but if they fail to do that, this team has non-conference wins over Notre Dame, USC, Georgetown and UCLA, all away from home. Those are four really good wins, and could be enough to get them into the field.
Why They’ll Be Left Out – If they can’t win the MAAC, that alone will be a negative on their resume. On top of that, they have losses to Canisius, Army and Manhattan. I don’t know if the Committee could justify having two teams from the MAAC in the field, especially when one has those losses on its resume.

Florida State (16-11, 6-9 ACC)
Why They’ll Get In – Despite a poor conference record, this team has very good wins this season, including a season sweep of NC State and victories over Florida, VCU and Virginia. Whether that will be enough to get them into the field is yet to be determined. It would be in the Seminoles’ best interest to make a deep run in the ACC Tournament.
Why They’ll Be Left Out – A losing record in the ACC is reason enough to keep them out, let alone the fact that they have lost four straight games, including the last two to Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech. It doesn’t get any easier for them either, as they close the season at Duke, vs Notre Dame and vs Syracuse. This team could be off the Bubble before we even get to the postseason.

Butler (18-9, 7-8 Big East)
Why They’ll Get In – Butler is still in the conversation based on how well they played in the early portion of the season. The Bulldogs scored non-conference wins over Temple, Cincinnati, and Purdue. An 18-9 record playing in the Big East is solid, as is a 64th ranked SOS according to KenPom.
Why They’ll Be Left Out – They’re ranked 63rd in RPI, which isn’t great for a potential at-large team. They also have a losing record in Big East play, which includes an 0-6 mark against the class of the conference: Xavier, Providence and Villanova. They need a good performance in the Big East Tournament to overcome the regular season struggles.

Texas Tech (17-9, 7-7 Big 12)
Why They’ll Get In – The Red Raiders went 10-2 in non-conference play this season, and were nearing Top-25 status before they started to struggle in Big 12 play. But they have corrected that somewhat as they are currently on a four-game winning streak, which includes wins over Iowa State, Baylor and Oklahoma. Their play down the stretch is helping them get into the Tournament.
Why They’ll Be Left Out – This team struggled for a very long stretch this season, and that won’t be overlooked. From January 6th to February 6th, Texas Tech went just 2-8, with the only wins coming against TCU and Oklahoma State. Texas Tech may need to end the season with a winning record in conference play to have a shot at getting in.

That’s it for today, we’ll have about ten more Bubble teams for you tomorrow, so be on the lookout!

Bracketology: February 22

There are just two weeks left in the regular season, and the tournament picture is starting to get a little more clear in some spots. Some lower conference teams are setting themselves up for really good chances at their leagues’ auto-bid, Villanova and Kansas are starting to separate themselves and solidify their 1-seed standings, and some Bubble teams are suffering terrible losses, putting them potentially on the outside looking in. With that in mind, here is this week’s Bracketology, just three weeks away from Selection Sunday!

*Auto-bids in bold, regions listed by #1 pick ranking*

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Kansas won two more games this week, so they remain #1 overall on this bracket. The 2-seed in the South this week is Michigan State, who pretty well handled a red-hot Wisconsin team, winning 69-57. They were led by Denzel Valentine, who continue’s to make his case for National Player of the Year, taking advantage of some Buddy Hield struggles. Miami had a chance for a massive win at North Carolina on Saturday, but couldn’t get it done. UNC dominated the game, but Miami remains a 3-seed. Texas A&M got a sorely needed marquee win when they defeated Kentucky in overtime on a Tyler Davis putback layup as time expired. The Aggies are up to a 4-seed this week because of it. I wasn’t a big believer in Utah until this week, when they swept their Los Angeles trip, scoring fairly easy wins over UCLA and USC. Michigan is on the other end of the spectrum, as I believe they are better than their results are showing. They need Caris LeVert to get healthy, or they could tank down the stretch and end up out of the tournament altogether.
Rising Teams: Michigan State, Texas A&M, Utah
Falling Teams: Miami FL, Michigan, Syracuse

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Villanova also picked up a couple more wins this week, staying atop the AP Poll, and 2nd overall in my Bracketology. North Carolina bounced back from a crushing loss to rival Duke by throttling Miami on Saturday. Maryland had a week to forget, as they gave Minnesota their first Big Ten win, and then followed that up by barely beating an ailing Michigan team at home. West Virginia also had a week to forget, dropping to a 4-seed here following losses to Texas and Oklahoma. USC is precariously hanging onto the 6-seed line after getting defeated at home by Utah this week. They have struggled a little bit lately, and while they aren’t in much danger of missing the tournament, they could fall down towards the Bubble if they’re not careful. Another team like that is Providence, who barely defeated Georgetown, and then missed out on a big opportunity in falling at Xavier. Temple couldn’t stamp their resume with a win over Villanova, but they did get a road win over Houston. They are in as the American leader right now, but if they fail to win the conference, they’ll be right on the Bubble, just like last season.
Rising Teams: Indiana, Pittsburgh, VCU
Falling Teams: Maryland, West Virginia, Providence

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Oklahoma was upset by a surging Texas Tech team, but responded with a huge road win over West Virginia. They have the resume of a 1-seed despite the Texas Tech loss. Xavier gets a chance for revenge this Wednesday when they host Villanova. With a win, those two teams could flip seeds for sure. Kentucky nearly beat Texas A&M, but they came up short. They performed well enough though to show that they are still a top team. Iowa State travels to West Virginia tonight, where they could hand the Mountaineers their 3rd straight loss. That would be big for the Cyclones’ resume. Wichita State bounced back from the home loss to Northern Iowa with three easy wins this past week. They are still a threat to advance deep in this tournament as long as Fred Van Vleet plays at a high level. Gonzaga has now been swept by Saint Mary’s this season, and they are definitely in danger of missing the tournament. It would behoove them to win the WCC.
Rising Teams: Xavier, Wichita State, Seton Hall
Falling Teams: Notre Dame, Gonzaga, Colorado

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They have a difficult finish to the season, including a road match-up with Miami tonight, but for now, Virginia is up to a 1-seed. They also have home games against North Carolina and Louisville still to come, so that could definitely change. Only one game for Iowa and Oregon each this past week, and while Oregon got a nice win over rival Oregon State, Iowa suffered a baffling loss to Penn State. They remain a 2-seed for now, while Oregon is back up to a 3-seed. Baylor got two big wins this week, over Iowa State at home and Texas on the road, moving them up to a 5-seed. Dayton had a rough week meanwhile, losing at St. Joseph’s and at home to St. Bonaventure, dropping them down to a 6-seed. Saint Mary’s is now the favorite to win the WCC, after beating Gonzaga for a second time this season. They are back up to an 8-seed this week. Texas Tech is one of the hottest teams in the country, but they need to keep it going if they’re going to make the tournament. I have them as one of the last four teams in, along with Cincinnati, St. Bonaventure and Colorado.
Rising Teams: Virginia, Oregon, Baylor
Falling Teams: Iowa, Dayton, Connecticut

2016: The Year of the Upset?

What a wild season it has been, and we haven’t even reached March yet. The potential is there for 2016 to go down as one of the most unpredictable seasons in college basketball history. The potential is also there for this year’s NCAA Tournament to be among the most exciting that we have ever seen. That all begs the question, could 2016 end up being remembered as the Year of the Upset?

Upsets happen every year, that is obvious. There’s a reason that people bet on the underdogs. If they never won, nobody would put money on them to win. Kentucky entered the Tournament undefeated last season, but were upset in the Final Four by Wisconsin. In the 2010 Tournament, Kansas was one of the odds-on favorites to win the whole thing, but they were upended in the Round of 32 by relatively unknown Northern Iowa. Back in 1985, Villanova became the lowest seed to ever reach the Final Four as an 8-seed (a record that has since been broken), and went on to win the title. They are still the lowest seed to ever win the National Championship.

So upsets do happen, and fairly regularly. But for some reason, it seems like it is happening more often than usual. Look at this past week for example. Four of the top six teams in the AP Poll lost this week. #3 Oklahoma was defeated by Texas Tech, who entered the game just 5-7 in conference play. #4 Iowa fell at the hands of Penn State, the same team they had just beaten by 24 points two weeks earlier. #5 North Carolina let a double-digit second half lead slip away against hated rival Duke. And #6 Maryland handed Minnesota its first Big Ten win of the season, losing 68-63.

A record number of AP Top-5 teams have lost games this year, compared to the number of losses in past years to this point on the calendar. Not only that, but it seems like the Bubble is bigger than ever, mostly because no team has been able to go on a nice run and separate themselves from the others. All of the Bubble teams are losing games. St. Joseph’s got a huge win over Dayton, but followed it up with a disappointing loss to Davidson. Alabama was working its way into the conversation, but it just suffered an incomprehensible home loss to Mississippi State. Butler looked like one of the Top-20 teams in the country during the first half of their schedule, but after a loss to Villanova, they now have a losing record in the Big East, and are in danger of missing the tourney altogether. Gonzaga has reached 17 consecutive NCAA Tournaments, but after suffering their second loss of the season to rival Saint Mary’s, it looks like the Zags may have to win the WCC in order to keep the streak alive.

It is all a little overwhelming if I’m being completely honest. It has made the process of Bracketology a near impossible task, and I am not looking forward to filling out a bracket on Selection Sunday. If you’re serious about filling out your bracket, if you want any chance of being right, you’re going to have to do some serious thinking. Or maybe just wing it. With the way the season has gone so far, you might have a better chance at a perfect bracket by just flipping a coin, or picking teams by your favorite colors, or by the teams who have a cooler mascot.

If the regular season has been any indication, we are in for a wild and wacky NCAA Tournament this season. Maybe there’ll be another Florida Gulf Coast this year…

Or could we see another Mercer?

Who might be this season’s Stephen Curry?

Will we see another double-digit seed make a run to the Final Four like George Mason or VCU?

All of those questions and more will be answered beginning a little less than a month from now. Selection Sunday is on March 13, exactly three weeks from today. Strap yourselves in and get ready, because we’re going for quite a ride as we close out the Year of the Upset!

Weekend Preview: 2/19-2/21

There are only two more weekends left in February, which means three more weekends until the end of the regular season. In fact, some teams will begin their postseason on March 1, just 10 days from now. It’s crazy how fast this season has gone, but we are coming down the home stretch, and there are some big-time battles on the docket this weekend. The following is a preview of the biggest games going down this weekend.

Iona @ Monmouth
When: Fri 2/19, 10:00 pm ESPNU
Why: You already know about Monmouth, with their crazy bench and their wins this season over traditional powers USC, UCLA, Notre Dame and Georgetown. Iona didn’t have the same success in non-conference play, but the Gaels are in 2nd place in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, and they will be the biggest roadblock on Monmouth’s path to the NCAA Tournament. Monmouth took the first match-up between these two teams 110-102, one of the higher scoring games this season. That should make this rematch fun.
Player to Watch: Monmouth G Justin Robinson – Robinson, a 5-8 junior, is the leading scorer for the Hawks, and he is the difference maker in most of their games. He’s the favorite for MAAC Player of the Year, and he put up 29 points in the first meeting with Iona. Robinson is a terrific player despite his size, and he’s a joy to watch.
Prediction: Monmouth could slip up here, but on their home floor, I like them to get a win and extend their lead in the MAAC.

#20 Duke @ #18 Louisville
When: Sat 2/20, 12:00 noon ESPN
Why: Duke is one of the hottest teams in the country, having won five straight, including the last three over Louisville and Virginia at home, and then in Chapel Hill against the Tar Heels. Louisville is coming off of a win over Syracuse, and they are looking to stay near the top of the ACC standings. Both teams come in hurting, as Louisville lost C Anas Mahmoud for the season, while Duke G Matt Jones suffered a badly sprained ankle in the North Carolina game.
Player to Watch: Duke G Luke Kennard – The freshman guard has had some big scoring nights for the Blue Devils this year, including a 30 point outburst against Notre Dame, and they will need him more than ever with Jones out of the lineup. Kennard will move into the starting lineup and will look to be a spark for Duke, as they look to win their sixth in a row.
Prediction: Duke is playing like a national championship contender despite a very small rotation, but this will be an extremely tough test. Louisville will be fired up for this one at home, and their defense should be good enough to get the win.

St. Bonaventure @ #15 Dayton
When: Sat 2/20, 12:00 noon NBC Sports Network
Why: These are two teams coming off of disappointing losses in the City of Brotherly Love. Dayton had their nine-game winning streak snapped at Hagan Arena by St. Joseph’s, while St. Bonaventure was upset by lowly La Salle, a brutal loss for a team looking for an at-large tourney bid. Dayton won the first game between these teams 85-79 on the Bonnies’ home floor.
Player to Watch: St. Bonaventure G Jaylen Adams – The sophomore guard had a massive game last time these teams played, totaling 27 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds and 3 steals. The Bonnies came up short, but with another performance like that from Adams, they could pull off the upset.
Prediction: The Bonnies will play well coming off of a loss, but Dayton is just too talented to lose a second game in a row, especially getting this one at home.

#11 Miami FL @ #5 North Carolina
When: Sat 2/20, 1:00 pm CBS
Why: Not only two of the top teams in the ACC, but two of the nation’s best will do battle, looking to move closer to an ACC regular season title. North Carolina is coming off of a brutal loss to arch rival Duke on Wednesday night, and they will look to bounce back in a big way against the tough Hurricanes. Miami has overachieved this year, as they look positioned for a run at an ACC Championship.
Player to Watch: North Carolina F Brice Johnson – Johnson looked like one of the best players in the country for 31 minutes in the game against Duke. Then for some inexplicable reason, the Tar Heels stopped giving him the ball. They need to take advantage of his talents for 40 minutes if they’re going to beat Miami.
Prediction: Miami is tough, but I expect North Carolina to be super motivated after the loss to Duke. On their home floor, I actually think they’ll win this one easy.

#25 Baylor @ #24 Texas
When: Sat 2/20, 2:00 pm ESPN
Why: These two teams are in right in the middle of the logjam in the Big 12 standings, and they are both definite contenders to win the Big 12 tournament this season. Baylor got a huge win this past week over Iowa State, that coming after a brutal home loss to Texas Tech. Texas also got a huge win over West Virginia, completing the season sweep of the Mountaineers. The Longhorns will look for another season sweep in this one, as they beat Baylor 67-59 in Waco on February 1st.
Player to Watch: Baylor F Johnathan Motley – Motley had 27 points, 10 rebounds and 4 blocks in the game against Iowa State this week, showing that he is capable of taking over a game. He’ll have to contend with Prince Ibeh in this one, but if Motley has another big game, expect the Bears to come out on top.
Prediction: Baylor is an extremely talented team, but they have been a little inconsistent in conference play. Texas has looked very good against the class of the Big 12, and at home, I like them to finish off the season sweep of the Bears.

#3 Oklahoma @ #10 West Virginia
When: Sat 2/20, 4:00 pm ESPN
Why: In the first match-up between these two teams, Oklahoma needed a last second basket from Khadeem Lattin to knock off West Virginia at home. This time, they’ll do battle in Morgantown with Bob Huggins’s Mountaineers looking for some revenge. Oklahoma will look to avoid a three-game losing streak, as they are coming off losses to Kansas and Texas Tech.
Player to Watch: Oklahoma G Buddy Hield – Hield is second in the nation in scoring at over 25 points a game, but he has struggled in Oklahoma’s last two games, leading some to question if he truly is the Player of the Year. If he wants to turn people into believers, a huge game on the road against West Virginia would be a good way to do it.
Prediction: This is a huge game for West Virginia, and luckily for them, this doesn’t look like the same Oklahoma team that we’ve seen for most of this season. West Virginia beat Kansas at home, and I expect them to do the same to Oklahoma.

#14 Kentucky @ Texas A&M
When: Sat 2/20, 6:30 pm ESPN
Why: Two of the top teams in the SEC will go at it with ESPN’s College Gameday in town. Kentucky has started to play really well over the last few weeks, and this is another chance for them to show the nation how good they are. Texas A&M meanwhile has not been playing well, as they have lost five of their last seven games. They snapped a four-game losing streak this week against Ole Miss, but Kentucky will present quite a test.
Player to Watch: Kentucky F Derek Willis – Willis floundered on the bench in Lexington for two season, but since entering him in the starting lineup, he has flourished for John Calipari. Willis scored a career high 25 points on 7-11 3-point shooting in Kentucky’s last game against Tennessee, and they’ll look for another performance like that in this one.
Prediction: The Aggies are getting Kentucky at the wrong time unfortunately. I expect Tyler Ulis, Jamal Murray and company to lead the Wildcats to another big SEC road victory.

#17 Purdue @ #22 Indiana
When: Sat 2/20, 8:30 pm ESPN
Why: The Big Ten has a lot of really good teams at the top of the conference, and Purdue and Indiana are definitely two of them. The Boilermakers are one of the best defensive teams in the country, and will present a challenge for the Hoosiers. But Indiana just simply does not lose to ranked teams at Assembly Hall. So if Purdue can go in there and get a win, that would be massive.
Player to Watch: Indiana PG Yogi Ferrell – Ferrell is the straw that stirs the drink for the Hoosiers. He is one of the most talented guards in the country, and he is capable of taking over any game. They might need him to if they’re going to beat Purdue.
Prediction: I’m going out on a limb here, but I think Indiana has to lose a home game eventually. Purdue presents a difficult challenge for Indiana, and I like the Boilermakers to pull off the upset.

Saint Mary’s @ Gonzaga
When: Sat 2/20, 10:00 pm ESPN2
Why: These teams played a classic back on January 21st, with Saint Mary’s coming out on top at home, 70-67. The Gaels and the Bulldogs are at the top of the WCC, and they are also directly on the Bubble. I fully expect to see these teams playing in the WCC Championship game, so this will be a little preview of that. Both teams need this win, which will create an exciting atmosphere.
Player to Watch: Gonzaga G Eric McClellan – McClellan had his best game of the season in the first meeting with Saint Mary’s, finishing with 23 points and 6 boards. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough for the Zags to come away with the win, but this time at home, another big performance from McClellan could go a long way.
Prediction: You could argue that Gonzaga outplayed Saint Mary’s in the first match-up, and just couldn’t pull it out on the road. They’re playing at home this time, and I expect them to get the win.

Hawaii @ UC Irvine
When: Sat 2/20, 11:30 pm ESPNU
Why: With these two teams and Long Beach State, the expectation is that the Big West is going to send a team to the NCAA Tournament that is easily capable of knocking off a couple top teams. Hawaii and UC Irvine are the top two teams in the conference, and this is the second time they will meet up this year, with Hawaii winning the first one at home by 22 points just over a week ago. I’m sure that the Anteaters have been looking forward to this rematch every minute since that loss.
Player to Watch: Hawaii G Roderick Bobbitt – Bobbitt, a 6-3 senior, is the unquestionable leader for the Rainbow Warriors, and he definitely led them in the win over UC Irvine, totaling 23 points, 7 assists and 6 rebounds. Hawaii will look for Bobbitt to lead them to another victory tomorrow night.
Prediction: These teams are much closer in talent than the result of their first meeting would suggest. It’s difficult for any team to travel to Hawaii for a game. With this one on the mainland, I expect UC Irvine to get the victory and even the season series.

Michigan @ #6 Maryland
When: Sun 2/21, 1:00 pm CBS
Why: Michigan is finally back to full strength, as John Beilein has just about fully integrated Caris LeVert into the rotation. They underwhelmed a little without him, but they are a contender in the Big Ten with him back. Maryland is coming off of quite possibly the worst loss of any top team this season, as they fell to Minnesota last night 68-63, giving the Golden Gophers their first Big Ten victory, snapping a 14-game losing streak. The Terrapins get to return home, and they need to bounce-back from that loss.
Player to Watch: Maryland C Diamond Stone – The star freshman center did not play against Minnesota as he served a 1-game suspension for slamming an opponent’s head into the ground during the Wisconsin game last weekend. Stone will return to the lineup in this one, and it’s clear that they need him to play at their full potential.
Prediction: Maryland is too good to lose to a team like Minnesota. They know that, and I think in front of their fans, they’ll play inspired and get the win over Michigan.

It looks like we’re going to have beautiful weather this weekend, but if you still don’t feel like leaving the house, there will be plenty of good basketball for your viewing pleasure. Have a good weekend everyone!