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!

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