Yesterday, we presented the blind resumes of four current conference leaders, with the idea that they have lost their conference leads, and only two of them can make the tournament.
In my eyes, Team B was an obvious choice, given their 31 RPI ranking, their 47th ranked non-conference SOS and their 10-4 record away from home. Team B is Monmouth, the current leaders of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. The Hawks have wins over USC, Notre Dame, UCLA and Georgetown this season, so they have more than proven that they have what it takes to win a game or two (or maybe more) in the tournament. Monmouth is being discussed by experts as a team that would be squarely on the Bubble if they were to not win the MAAC.
With the other three teams, it was a much more difficult choice. Team D is ranked 23rd in the nation by KenPom, and their non-conference SOS is ranked 40th, and Team C is 6-1 away from home this year. I ultimately decided to go with Team A, because they had the highest SOS of the four teams, and they have six wins against the Top-100 teams. Team A is LSU. They are a very questionable tourney team as their resume stands, but a lot of people want to see Ben Simmons play in the NCAA Tournament. The Tigers have more chances to improve their resume, and playing in a major conference could help them come Selection Sunday.
Team C is Gonzaga. They are jockeying with Saint Mary’s and BYU for the West Coast Conference championship, and many experts had them in the field as an at-large when Saint Mary’s was in 1st place. Depending on how the rest of their season goes, they could go either way if they fail to get the WCC auto-bid.
Team D is Valparaiso. They haven’t been discussed much when it comes to at-large consideration, mostly because they are the clear favorite to win the Horizon. Certain parts of their resume scream at-large berth, but there are other parts that could drag them down. The easiest route to the tourney for Valpo is to win the Horizon League Tournament.
Now, here is a look at the Bubble as it is currently constructed, with teams separated into three categories:
- In For Now – these are teams that I feel would be somewhat comfortably in the tournament if the field were selected today, but could find themselves out of the tourney depending how they play the rest of the way.
- Could Be In – these are the teams that are directly in the conversation for the final spots in the tournament field. I have some of these teams in the field, and some of them as the first teams out. These are the teams that need to win the games they should win, and can’t afford any bad losses from here on out.
- Work To Do – these are the teams that are on the very bottom of the Bubble, or might not even be on it at this point, but with positive results the rest of the way, they could work their way more into the conversation.
If you have any questions why certain teams are placed in their respective categories, drop me a comment, and I’ll be glad to explain!
*Teams are in no specific order; current conference leaders are in ALL CAPS*
In For Now: UConn, Notre Dame, Duke, Pittsburgh, Seton Hall, Michigan,
WICHITA STATE, Utah, California, South Carolina, Florida, Saint Mary’s, GONZAGA
Could Be In: Cincinnati, VCU, St. Joseph’s, George Washington, Clemson, Florida State, Syracuse, Kansas State, Butler, VALPARAISO, MONMOUTH, SAN DIEGO STATE, Washington, Colorado, Oregon State, LSU, Vanderbilt
Work To Do: TEMPLE, Tulsa, St. Bonaventure, Texas Tech, Creighton, Georgetown, Marquette, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Evansville, UCLA, Georgia, ARKANSAS-LITTLE ROCK, BYU