CBB Top-25: 2/21/17

I apologize for this coming a day later than usual, but with some unseasonably warm weather here in Southeast PA, I was pretty busy at work this weekend. So I’m a day late, but I’m definitely not a dollar short!

Anyway, being unable to afford the same amount of time to this as I normally do, I’ve switched it up a little bit this week. With just under three weeks until Selection Sunday, the Bubble is as exciting as ever. With most teams having just three or four games left in their regular season, some Bubble teams are better positioned to improve their resume than others. So before I get to my Top-25, here’s a look at five Bubble teams that can really increase their Tournament chances over the next couple weeks, and three teams that have quite the uphill battle ahead of them.

 

Bubble Teams with Best Chance to Improve Resume:

Iowa State (18-9, 10-5 B12)

The Cyclones may have played their way off of the Bubble recently, having won four in a row after last night’s 82-80 overtime win at Texas Tech. That being said, they could play their way right back onto the bubble if they struggle down the stretch. They finish with home games against Baylor and Oklahoma State, then travel to Morgantown to face West Virginia to close out the regular season. Win one of those three games against likely Tournament teams, and I’d say they’re in for sure. But if they go 0-3 in those games (which is not likely, but possible), a win in the Big 12 Tournament could be essential to their Tourney hopes.

Miami FL (19-8, 9-6 ACC)

Speaking of teams that have probably worked their way off the Bubble, the Hurricanes outlasted Virginia in overtime last night, picking up a huge road win, one that could stamp their ticket to the Dance. If they are still on the Bubble, though, they have a few marquee games remaining to enhance their resume. They’ll host Duke this weekend, which will be followed by trips to likely Tournament teams Virginia Tech and Florida State. Similarly to Iowa State, I think one more win gets Miami into the Tournament. If they can find a way to win two of their last three, or even possibly all three, I could see them rising to as high as a 6 or 7-seed believe it or not.

TCU (17-10, 6-8 B12)

The Horned Frogs have been on the Bubble for most of this season, and I don’t see that ending anytime soon. Jamie Dixon has done a remarkable job in his first season in Fort Worth, but his work is not done if he wants to get his team into the Tournament. Their next two games are at Kansas and versus West Virginia. A win in one of those games is exactly the kind of win TCU’s resume is lacking. I don’t expect them to win either of those, which will make their last two games, versus Kansas State and at Oklahoma, absolute must-wins. Otherwise, it’s NIT for TCU.

California (18-8, 9-5 P12)

In most seasons, a team with Cal’s resume would probably be fighting for their Tournament lives. But it’s a pretty soft Bubble this season, so right now, most experts have the Golden Bears in the field. That being said, they could use a few more big wins, and they’ll get chances. They host Oregon this week, and a win could punch their ticket to the Big Dance. If they aren’t able to knock off the Ducks, they close their season with the Utah-Colorado trip that has proven very tough for teams this year. Two wins there could impress the Committee enough to get them in.

Syracuse (16-12. 8-7 ACC)

The Orange started the year 11-9, 3-4 in the ACC with a loss to Boston College, and nobody had them even sniffing the Bubble. Then they won five in a row, including wins over Florida State and Virginia, and that got them back into the conversation. Now, they are currently on a three-game losing streak, they have 12 losses, and they need to finish at least 2-1 in their last three games to have a shot, and it won’t be easy. They host Duke on Wednesday, then travel to Louisville Sunday. The following weekend, they close with a home game against Georgia Tech. They are not easy games, but lose two of them, and I think Syracuse is out.

 

Bubble Teams with Worst Chance to Improve Resume:

Kansas State (17-10, 6-8 B12)

Wins versus West Virginia and at Baylor are driving the Wildcats’ hopes for making the Tournament. Outside of those two wins, it’s a very lackluster resume, and unfortunately for K-State fans, there aren’t any potential marquee wins left in the regular season. They still have to face fellow Bubble teams Oklahoma State, TCU and Texas Tech, but two of those games are at home, and in my opinion, they cannot afford to lose either of those games. Win all three and I think they have a good shot to get in, but getting to face, and defeat, one of the top teams in the league in the Big 12 Tournament could end up as the only chance they have to get into the Tournament.

Texas Tech (17-11, 5-10 B12)

It’s amazing to me that a team five games under .500 in their own league is being discussed as a possible Tournament team, but that is what this year’s Bubble has given us. The Red Raiders have lost two consecutive games in overtime, missing out on two wins that could have greatly improved their chances to get into the Big Dance. Just like Kansas State, Texas Tech has wins over West Virginia and Baylor that they hope can be enough to get them in. They have road games against Oklahoma State and Kansas State left on their schedule, and I’m saying they need to win both of those games, or they have no chance to get in.

Clemson (14-12, 4-10 ACC)

Clemson sees Texas Tech’s 5-10 Big 12 record and raises them a 4-10 record in the ACC. Now, in my opinion, the ACC is tougher than the Big 12 this year, and with that, I believe that Clemson is a better team than Texas Tech, but equally as deserving (or undeserving) of a berth in the Tournament. Clemson has one huge resume-booster left when they host Florida State this weekend. The Seminoles have struggled on the road in conference play, so Clemson needs to win that game. Especially considering that their final two games are at home against basement-dwellers NC State and Boston College. Wins in those games won’t help Clemson’s chances at all.

 

And now, here’s this week’s Top-25!

 

  1. VCU (Prev: NR)

This Week: Wed 2/22 vs Saint Louis (7:00 pm); Sat 2/25 @ Rhode Island (2:00 pm, ESPN2)

  1. Virginia (Prev: 16)

This Week: Sat 2/25 @ NC State (12:00 pm, ESPN)

  1. Oklahoma State (Prev: NR)

This Week: Wed 2/22 @ Kansas State (9:00 pm, ESPNU); Sat 2/25 vs Texas Tech (2:00 pm, ESPNU)

  1. Saint Mary’s (Prev: 25)

This Week: Thu 2/23 @ Pepperdine (10:00 pm); Sat 2/25 vs Santa Clara (10:00 pm)

  1. Notre Dame (Prev: 24)

This Week: Sun 2/26 vs Georgia Tech (6:30 pm, ESPNU)

  1. Wisconsin (Prev: 21)

This Week: Thu 2/23 @ Ohio State (9:00 pm, ESPN); Sun 2/26 @ Michigan State (4:00 pm, CBS)

  1. Creighton (Prev: 19)

This Week: Wed 2/22 vs Providence (9:00 pm); Sat 2/25 @ Villanova (3:00 pm, FOX)

  1. Florida State (Prev: 11)

This Week: Sat 2/25 @ Clemson (12:00 pm, ESPN3)

  1. Butler (Prev: 20)

This Week: Wed 2/22 @ Villanova (9:00 pm, FS1); Sun 2/26 @ Xavier (3:30 pm, FS1)

  1. Florida (Prev: 17)

This Week: Tue 2/21 vs South Carolina (7:00 pm, ESPN); Sat 2/25 @ Kentucky (2:00 pm, CBS)

  1. Cincinnati (Prev: 14)

This Week: Thu 2/23 vs Memphis (7:00 pm, ESPN); Sun 2/26 @ UCF (3:00 pm, CBSSN)

  1. West Virginia (Prev: 12)

This Week: Sat 2/25 @ TCU (2:00 pm, ESPN)

  1. SMU (Prev: 15)

This Week: Sat 2/25 @ Connecticut (12:00 pm, CBS)

  1. Purdue (Prev: 13)

This Week: Tue 2/21 @ Penn State (6:00 pm, BTN); Sat 2/25 @ Michigan (4:00 pm, ESPN2)

  1. Baylor (Prev: 4)

This Week: Tue 2/21 vs Oklahoma (7:00 pm, ESPN2); Sat 2/25 @ Iowa State (4:00 pm, ESPN)

  1. Kentucky (Prev: 10)

This Week: Tue 2/21 @ Missouri (9:00 pm, SECN); Sat 2/25 vs Florida (2:00 pm, CBS)

  1. Duke (Prev: 18)

This Week: Wed 2/22 @ Syracuse (7:00 pm, ESPN); Sat 2/25 @ Miami FL (4:00 pm, CBS)

  1. Arizona (Prev: 9)

This Week: Thu 2/23 vs USC (10:00 pm, P12N); Sat 2/25 vs UCLA (8:15 pm, ESPN)

  1. UCLA (Prev: 6)

This Week: Thu 2/23 @ Arizona State (9:00 pm, ESPN2); Sat 2/25 @ Arizona (8:15 pm, ESPN)

  1. Oregon (Prev: 7)

This Week: Wed 2/22 @ California (9:00 pm, ESPN2); Sat 2/25 @ Stanford (4:00 pm, P12N)

  1. North Carolina (Prev: 8)

This Week: Wed 2/22 vs Louisville (9:00 pm, ESPN); Sat 2/25 @ Pittsburgh (12:00 pm, ESPN3)

  1. Louisville (Prev: 5)

This Week: Wed 2/22 @ North Carolina (9:00 pm, ESPN); Sun 2/26 vs Syracuse (2:00 pm, CBS)

  1. Kansas (Prev: 3)

This Week: Wed 2/22 vs TCU (7:00 pm, ESPN2); Sat 2/25 @ Texas (6:00 pm, ESPN)

  1. Gonzaga (Prev: 1)

This Week: Thu 2/23 @ San Diego (10:00 pm); Sat 2/25 vs BYU (10:00 pm, ESPN2)

  1. Villanova (Prev: 2)

This Week: Wed 2/22 vs Butler (9:00 pm, FS1); Sat 2/25 vs Creighton (3:00 pm, FOX)

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CBB Top-25: 2/13/17

Yesterday was February 12, and Selection Sunday is March 12. So as of yesterday, we are just one month away from Selection Sunday, and it feels like there is still SO MUCH more basketball yet to play!

A lot of teams will be playing desperation basketball over the next month to try and stake their claim to a spot in the Big Dance, while other teams, those that seem to have their spots locked up, will try their hardest not to screw it up (we’re looking at you Northwestern!!!).

I don’t claim to be right all the time, but for this week’s Top-25, I’m going to try to see how right I can actually be. In order to do that, I have attempted to predict the winners AND final scores for each game to be played by my Top-25 this week. The results will probably show how wrong I can actually be, but I’m giving it a shot anyway, so here we go!

 

  1. Saint Mary’s (Prev: 18)

This Week: Thu 2/16 vs Loyola Marymount (11:00 pm); Sat 2/18 @ BYU (10:00 pm, ESPN2)

The Gaels had a huge opportunity to get a signature win on Saturday when they hosted Gonzaga, but they could not get the job done. They should cruise past Loyola Marymount on Thursday, then they have a tricky trip when they travel to Utah to take on BYU. They should win, but it’s not a sure thing.

Predictions: SMC 79 LMU 55; SMC 69 BYU 65

 

  1. Notre Dame (Prev: NR)

This Week: Tue 2/14 @ Boston College (7:00 pm, ESPNU); Sat 2/18 @ NC State (12:00 pm, ESPN)

The Irish got back on track this past week with home wins over Wake Forest and Florida State. This week they’ll hit the road with trips to Boston and Raleigh, and it won’t be easy, but I think they’ll win two close games.

Predictions: ND 86 BC 77; ND 71 NCST 68

 

  1. Northwestern (Prev: 25)

This Week: Wed 2/15 vs Maryland (7:00 pm, BTN); Sat 2/18 vs Rutgers (6:00 pm, ESPNU)

We can just about pencil Northwestern in for their first trip to the NCAA Tournament in school history. A huge road upset of Wisconsin last night could be the stamp on the resume that they needed. They have another big game Wednesday when they host Maryland. A win over another top team in the conference could be huge. Rutgers at home Saturday should be no problem.

Predictions: NW 62 MARY 60; NW 84 RUTG 61

 

  1. South Carolina (Prev: 21)

This Week: Wed 2/15 vs Arkansas (6:30 pm, SECN); Sat 2/18 @ Vanderbilt (8:30 pm, SECN)

The Gamecocks were taken to four overtimes last week by Alabama, with the Crimson Tide eventually coming out on top. It’s never good to lose, but if the ball bounces their way one other time, they might have won that game. This week they’ll host Arkansas and then face Vanderbilt on the road. I’ll predict that they win one and lose one this week.

Predictions: SCAR 63 ARK 57; VAND 74 SCAR 66

 

  1. Wisconsin (Prev: 15)

This Week: Thu 2/16 @ Michigan (7:00 pm, ESPN); Sun 2/19 vs Maryland (1:00 pm, CBS)

Wisconsin has been surviving as of late, but their luck finally ran out yesterday when they were upset at home by Northwestern. A trip to Michigan on Thursday will be tough, as the Wolverines are red-hot. That is followed by a big home game against Maryland, who is hot on their tails in the race for the Big Ten.

Predictions: MICH 70 WISC 62; WISC 58 MARY 55

 

  1. Butler (Prev: 17)

This Week: Wed 2/15 vs St. John’s (8:30 pm, FS1); Sun 2/19 vs DePaul (1:30 pm, FS1)

It’s been a rough couple weeks for Butler, as they’ve lost three of their last four, including two at home. They were a 4-seed in the Selection Committee’s Top-16 reveal, so they are safe, but any loss they suffer this week would be a very bad loss. I don’t see it happening.

Predictions: BUT 89 SJU 65; BUT 76 DEP 56

 

  1. Creighton (Prev: 23)

This Week: Wed 2/15 @ Seton Hall (8:00 pm, CBSSN); Sun 2/19 vs Georgetown (3:30 pm, FS1)

The Bluejays have continued to play well without star point guard Maurice Watson, but the Big East is tough, and they face a couple teams this week fighting to prove that they deserve a bid to the Tournament. The game at Seton Hall on Wednesday is the toughest, as the Pirates are looking to avenge their 14-point loss to Creighton earlier in the year.

Predictions: SHU 80 CRE 70; CRE 77 GU 61

 

  1. Duke (Prev: 22)

This Week: Wed 2/15 @ Virginia (9:00 pm, ESPN2); Sat 2/18 vs Wake Forest (1:00 pm, ESPN3)

I admit that I may have Duke ranked a little low still, but I need to see more from this team. The UNC win was great, but they were nearly upset by Clemson following that, so who knows if this team has figured it out or not. A road game against a Virginia team coming off a loss to VT will be extremely difficult.

Predictions: UVA 67 DUKE 62; DUKE 79 WAKE 74

 

  1. Florida (Prev: 19)

This Week: Tue 2/14 @ Auburn (7:00 pm, SECN); Sat 2/18 @ Mississippi State (2:00 pm, ESPN)

The Gators have won six in a row, and they should make it through this week easily, as they’ve played extremely well on the road in SEC play. The following week will be massive for them though, when they host South Carolina and travel to Rupp Arena to take on Kentucky.

Predictions: UF 86 AUB 75; UF 101 MSU 81

 

  1. Virginia (Prev: 16)

This Week: Wed 2/15 vs Duke (9:00 pm, ESPN2); Sat 2/18 @ North Carolina (8:15 pm, ESPN)

Virginia continues to be a little perplexing. They easily took care of Louisville on Monday, but followed that up with a double overtime loss to rival Virginia Tech yesterday. They’ll take on Duke and UNC this week, and I think they’ll go 1-1.

Predictions: *See Duke entry*; UNC 72 UVA 62

 

  1. SMU (Prev: 20)

This Week: Wed 2/15 vs Tulane (9:00 pm, ESPN3); Sat 2/18 @ Houston (6:00 pm, ESPN2)

The Mustangs have very quietly been on a crazy hot streak. They’ve won 18 of their last 19, and avenged the only loss in that stretch last night with a win over Cincinnati. The American is weak this year, but those two teams are legit. They are now tied with the Bearcats at the top, so each game from here on out is crucial.

Predictions: SMU 83 TUL 55; SMU 70 HOU 69

 

  1. Cincinnati (Prev: 12)

This Week: Wed 2/15 @ South Florida (7:00 pm, ESPNU); Sat 2/18 vs Tulsa (12:00 pm, ESPNU)

Cincy had a 15-game winning streak snapped yesterday by conference foe SMU, but the Bearcats are still one of the top teams in the country. They’ll get a couple easier games to recover before a tough finish to their regular season over the final two weeks.

Predictions: CIN 90 USF 61; CIN 68 TUL 54

 

  1. Purdue (Prev: 13)

This Week: Tue 2/14 vs Rutgers (7:00 pm, BTN); Sat 2/18 vs Michigan State (4:00 pm, ESPN)

The Boilermakers are just a game back of Wisconsin in the Big Ten, and they are probably playing the best of any team in the conference right now (right up there with Michigan anyway). They need to take care of business at home before closing with three of their last four games on the road.

Predictions: PUR 87 RUTG 52; PUR 75 MSU 70

 

  1. West Virginia (Prev: 14)

This Week: Mon 2/13 @ Kansas (9:00 pm, ESPN); Sat 2/18 vs Texas Tech (2:00 pm, ESPN2)

West Virginia has won five of their last six, and that run started with a 16-point domination of #1 Kansas in Morgantown. Tonight, the Jayhawks look for revenge. I think West Virginia can keep it close, but I don’t know if they’ll be able to close the deal.

Predictions: KU 78 WVU 73; WVU 82 TTU 60

 

  1. Florida State (Prev: 5)

This Week: Sat 2/18 @ Pittsburgh (4:00 pm, ESPN2)

For as good as Florida State has been, they have a tendency to really struggle on the road. That was very evident in their loss at Notre Dame on Saturday night. It’s amazing that they have road wins over Virginia and Miami, but those are their only wins in true road games this season. That makes a Saturday trip to Pitt a little tricky.

Predictions: FSU 69 PITT 63

 

  1. Kentucky (Prev: 11)

This Week: Tue 2/14 vs Tennessee (7:00 pm, ESPN); Sat 2/18 @ Georgia (6:00 pm, ESPN)

I’m still trying to get a feel for Kentucky, and I think they’ll go 1-1 this week as they continue to try and figure themselves out. Revenge will be a factor in the game against Tennessee, but Georgia will have that on their minds as well following an OT loss at Rupp Arena a few weeks ago.

Predictions: UK 85 TENN 70; UGA 78 UK 76

 

  1. Arizona (Prev: 9)

This Week: Thu 2/16 @ Washington State (9:00 pm, FS1); Sat 2/18 @ Washington (8:00 pm, ESPN2)

Arizona is playing very well right now, but I couldn’t bring myself to put them ahead of Oregon after how badly the Ducks beat them up a couple weeks ago. The Washington trip is not very difficult for teams this year, especially one as good as Arizona.

Predictions: ARZ 75 WSU 64; ARZ 81 UW 66

 

  1. North Carolina (Prev: 6)

This Week: Wed 2/15 @ NC State (8:00 pm, ESPN3); Sat 2/18 vs Virginia (8:15 pm, ESPN)

North Carolina is obviously going to be disappointed that they couldn’t beat Duke, but they’ll get them at their place to finish off the regular season. The Tar Heels are still one of the best teams in the ACC and the country, and they have a huge home game against Virginia on Saturday. I think they’ll win that game.

Predictions: UNC 90 NCST 82; *See Virginia entry*

 

  1. Oregon (Prev: 7)

This Week: Thu 2/16 vs Utah (9:00 pm, ESPN); Sat 2/18 vs Colorado (3:00 pm, FOX)

It was quite a collapse for Oregon on Thursday night in the loss to UCLA. They were dominating the game, and then in the snap of the fingers, Lonzo Ball happened and the Bruins won the game. They’ll host two teams that could steal a game from them this week, but I think they’ll handle their business.

Predictions: ORE 79 UTAH 73; ORE 80 COLO 65

 

  1. UCLA (Prev: 10)

This Week: Sat 2/18 vs USC (10:00 pm, P12N)

Collapse aside, it was a huge win for UCLA on Thursday. I don’t feel that comfortable having them this high in the rankings, but I couldn’t keep them below Oregon. I’d say they are neck-and-neck right now. They’ll get the week off before hosting crosstown rival USC on Saturday night. The Trojans upset UCLA a couple weeks ago, so the Bruins will be out for revenge.

Predictions: UCLA 103 USC 80

 

  1. Louisville (Prev: 4)

This Week: Mon 2/13 @ Syracuse (7:00 pm, ESPN); Sat 2/18 vs Virginia Tech (1:00 pm, ESPN3)

Rick Pitino suspended two of his key players for the Virginia game, and they were missed for sure. This team is still a favorite to get a least a share of the ACC title. Syracuse is extremely tough at home, so that game tonight will be a big one for the Cardinals.

Predictions: LOU 67 SYR 65; LOU 73 VT 61

 

  1. Baylor (Prev: 8)

This Week: Mon 2/13 @ Texas Tech (7:00 pm, ESPNU); Sat 2/18 vs Kansas (1:00, CBS)

Two big wins for the Bears last week to get back to their winning ways, which sounds weird considering they are 22-3 on the season. I think a lot of people don’t want to admit it, but this is one of the best teams in the nation, and they are a legit title contender. They’ll get a chance for revenge on Kansas Saturday, and I think they get the job done this time.

Predictions: BAY 62 TTU 58; BAY 72 KU 67

 

  1. Kansas (Prev: 3)

This Week: Mon 2/13 vs West Virginia (9:00 pm, ESPN); Sat 2/18 @ Baylor (1:00, CBS)

The Jayhawks were tested twice on the road this past week, but they were able to squeak out wins anyway, proving their mettle. They should beat West Virginia at home tonight, but I see it being close, and then they’ll have their hands full in Waco on Saturday.

Predictions: *See West Virginia and Baylor entries*

 

  1. Villanova (Prev: 2)

This Week: Mon 2/13 @ DePaul (9:00 pm, CBSSN); Sat 2/18 @ Seton Hall (12:30 pm, FOX)

Coming into the season I felt that Villanova had the potential to be better than the team last year that won the National Championship. So far, they are proving me right. They’ll hit the road for two more games this week, one should be easy, they other could give them issues. Ultimately, I think they’ll add two more wins to the resume.

Predictions: NOVA 80 DEP 62; NOVA 71 SHU 67

 

  1. Gonzaga (Prev: 1)

This Week: Thu 2/16 vs San Francisco (9:00 pm); Sat 2/18 vs Pacific (4:00 pm)

Simply put, the Zags continue their winning ways. Some expected Saint Mary’s to give them problems this time around. Not the case. This team is going to enter the postseason undefeated, and they have a great shot to make a run to the Final Four.

Predictions: GONZ 89 SF 81; GONZ 88 PAC 73

Bubble Watch: 2/9/17

We are just a little over a month away from Selection Sunday (how wild is that?), and I think it’s a pretty good time to start looking at which teams are sitting squarely on that proverbial bubble that we’ll hear about constantly over the last month of the regular season.

The majority of teams have 22-24 games under their belts at this point, and that is plenty of games for us to start evaluating these team’s Tournament resumes, and start determine which ones are sitting pretty, which have no shots, and then which teams will be those bubble teams, the teams that will need to be as impressive as possible over the last four weeks of the season to ensure a berth in the Big Dance.

I have not posted a bracket prediction yet for this season (stay tuned for that in the coming weeks), but I have done a few for my own personal amusement, and let me tell you, when it gets down to the last few at-large teams, it is MIGHTY difficult to decide who should get in and who shouldn’t.

For that reason, I have decided to do this Bubble Watch post, and for it, I have provided Tournament resumes for the eight teams that made up my “Last Four In” and “First Four Out” in the last bracket prediction exercise I did, but I have not provided which teams they are. It’s fun to decide which teams you would put in without knowing which teams they are, rather just seeing numbers that the Selection Committee like to use when evaluating potential Tournament teams.

I will go through which four teams I would put in and why based on just the numbers, and I can tell you that the four I chose here were different than the four I had chosen when I first put my bracket together. Just looking at the numbers can really change the way you think about certain teams.

Here are the Tournament resumes for these eight bubble teams (as of 5:00 pm on 2/9):

Team A

Team B Team C Team D Team E Team F Team G

Team H

RPI

35

29 51 75 77 50 36

76

Record

16-7

14-10 16-7 15-9 14-10 17-7 18-6

15-9

Conf. Record

8-3

5-7 6-5 5-6 5-6 6-5 9-3

5-6

vs RPI Top 50

1-2

0-8 2-6 2-6 4-6 2-5 1-5

3-6

vs RPI Top 100

3-6

5-10 6-7 7-9 6-9 6-5 4-5

6-8

Losses outside RPI Top 100

1

0 0 0 1 2 1

1

 

To start deciding which four teams I would select, I decided to look at the factors one at a time, and I would decide which teams are in good shape in that factor, which are neutral, and which are struggling.

For example, I started with RPI (which is a very flawed ranking system, but it is the one that is held in the highest regard by the Selection Committee, and the one that they use most in choosing teams for the Tournament), and I looked at Team B (29), Team A (35) and Team G (36) as those teams in good shape in that department. Then I put Team D (75), Team H (76) and Team E (77) and marked them as being weak in RPI.

I did that for each of the six factors, and that made it a little easier to decide. There is a method to my madness. One team stuck out after I did this, and that was Team C. They have a good record at 16-7, their 6-7 record against the RPI Top-100 is solid and they haven’t lost to a team outside the Top-100, so for all intents and purposes, they don’t have a bad loss. I wish they had more than two wins against the Top-50, but I don’t have them as weak in any factor, so I put Team C in.

Another team that stood out, but in the opposite direction, was Team E. I love that they have four wins against the Top-50, but their RPI and record are both not great, and they have a losing record in conference play. It’s rare for a team with a losing record in conference play to make the Tournament, so I have Team E out.

Switching back to the positive side of things, I had two other teams that were “good” in three categories, and they were Team A and Team G. They are 35 and 36 respectively in RPI and both have good records overall and in conference play. Team A has played just three games against the Top-50 and only have three wins against the Top-100, but only having one bad loss helps them, so I put them in. I also put Team G in, because while they only have one win against the Top 50, they’ve already played six games against top teams, so they are going to be battle-tested and have proven they can beat a good team.

The next team that I placed out was Team B. I love their RPI at 29, and the Selection Committee likely will as well. But they already have 10 losses, they have a losing record in conference play and in eight tries, they have yet to beat a Top-50 team. For me, that was too many bad factors to put them in the field.

That left me with three teams, Teams D, F and H, each of which have positives and negatives. Team D has seven wins against the Top-100, but they also have a poor RPI. Team H also has a poor RPI, but three wins against the Top-50 is second most among these eight teams. Team F has a winning record against the Top-100, the only team of the eight with that to boast, but they are also the only team here with more than one loss to teams outside the Top-100. Ultimately, I went with Team F because they have a winning record in conference play, while Teams D and H are both 5-6 in conference.

So to recap…

In: C, A, G, F
Out: D, H, B, E

If you’ve stuck with me so far, it’s time to find out who these teams actually are! My first team in, Team C, is Miami (FL). I had the Hurricanes in my field before this exercise, and I think most experts would have them in at this point as well. The biggest positive for Miami is that they have plenty of opportunities left to secure their spot, with road games against Louisville, Virginia and Florida State still on the docket, as well as a home matchup with Duke.

Team A was next, and that is Rhode Island. This is another team that I had in the field in my last prediction, but most experts do not have them in right now. They have a legit chance to win the A-10 Tournament, which would put it out of the hands of the Committee, but home games against Dayton and VCU have to be considered must-wins for the Rams.

My third team in was Team G, which is the California Golden Bears. I did not have Cal in my field, but now I can see where they definitely deserve the consideration. They battle Arizona in Tuscon this Saturday, and a win in that game would be massive. They also still have Oregon at home, which is another chance for a resume-defining win.

My last team in was Team F, which is Arkansas out of the SEC. The Razorbacks play in a weak conference, and they have flown almost completely under-the-radar this season. Mike Anderson’s team has a solid resume, and they can still add to it with road games against South Carolina and Florida still yet to go.

Team D was my first team out, and that is Michigan, who I had in previously. They made quite a statement Tuesday by thrashing Michigan State, but don’t worry UM fans, they have plenty of time to improve the resume. They still host Wisconsin and Purdue, and they play Indiana, Minnesota and Northwestern on the road.

Speaking of Indiana, they were Team H, my next team out. As I type this, the Hoosiers are trying to extend the game against Purdue, but it looks like they’ll come up short. They are still hanging their hats on early season wins over Kansas and North Carolina, which are two extremely impressive wins, but they have work to do if they’re going to make the Tournament. They’ll get another crack at Purdue near the end of the season. That game might end up a must-win.

I liked a lot about Team B, but not enough to put them in. Team B was Wake Forest. I’ve watched the Demon Deacons play, and I think they are a Tournament-quality team, but they have some flaws in their resume. The ACC is really tough this year, so it wouldn’t surprise me if they get a team with a losing conference record into the Tournament, but wins against Duke and Louisville down the stretch could go a long way for Wake.

The final team, the one of these eight that I have furthest away, was Team E, otherwise known as Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets just recently got themselves onto the bubble with wins over North Carolina, Florida State and Notre Dame (all at home). They still have a ton of work to do though, and unfortunately, they don’t have any marquee games left to help them out. A trip to South Bend to take on Notre Dame again at the end of February is the biggest resume-builder left for Josh Pastner’s team.

I had a lot of fun doing this, and I hope everybody that stuck with it did as well! And I more importantly hope I opened your eyes a little bit to the process of selecting at-large teams for the NCAA Tournament. It’ll be interesting to see come March 12 where these eight teams wind up. If enough of you enjoy this, I’ll be sure to do it a couple more times leading up to the Tourney!

 

CBB Top-25: 2/6/17

Yes, this is a college basketball post, but I want to start it off with some of my thoughts from last night’s Super Bowl 51:

  • What a football game. That was without question the best football game that I have ever watched live from start to finish, all circumstances considered. We’ll be talking about that game for a very long time.
  • For my money, that was the biggest choke job in the history of sports. Yes, that includes Bill Buckner. That includes the Warriors last season. That includes the myriad of blown 3-0 leads in basketball, hockey and baseball. All factors considered, blowing a 25-point 3rd Quarter lead in the Super Bowl, and the way it happened, the 2016-17 Atlanta Falcons will now be known, to me, as the biggest choke artists in sports history.
  • Finally, despite the incredible choke job, there is now no doubt in my mind that Bill Belichick is the greatest head coach in NFL history and Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback in the history of the league. I was one of the few remaining people that wasn’t ready to crown either of them with those respective honors, but last night sealed it. I always thought Brady’s success was mostly due to Belichick and Belichick’s success was mostly due to Brady, but even if that’s the case, you can’t deny that they are each the best of all time anymore. You just can’t do it.

Alright, football season is over now, time to turn your undivided attention to college basketball, and to start it off, here is this week’s Top-25!

 

  1. Northwestern (Prev: 20)

There aren’t many teams that go into Purdue and win. That’s why it’s not that surprising to find out that the Wildcats went in there and got smoked, 80-59. Northwestern will get a chance for revenge when they host the Boilermakers to close the regular season, but in the meantime, they’ll get another chance for a massive road win when they take on Wisconsin this Sunday.

This Week: Tue 2/7 vs Illinois (8:00 pm, BTN); Sun 2/12 @ Wisconsin (6:30 pm, BTN)

 

  1. Oklahoma State (Prev: NR)

What a strange season it’s been for the Cowboys. They have now won five straight games after losing six in a row to open Big 12 play. That includes a win at West Virginia on Saturday, a signature victory to add to a resume that was sorely lacking one. Oklahoma State is one of the best offensive teams in the nation, and I hope they’ll get a chance to light up the scoreboard in the Big Dance.

This Week: Wed 2/8 vs Baylor (7:00 pm, ESPNU); Sat 2/11 vs Texas (4:00 pm, ESPN2)

 

  1. Creighton (Prev: 25)

The Bluejays are playing better than I thought they would without point guard Maurice Watson. They got a huge victory at Butler last week before suffering a somewhat disappointing home loss to Xavier on Saturday. The road win against Butler helps to prove why Creighton still has a very good chance to take the Big East title from Villanova.

This Week: Sat 2/11 @ DePaul (2:00 pm, FS1)

 

  1. Duke (Prev: 24)

A great road win over Notre Dame followed by a victory over Pitt in Coach K’s return to the sidelines. It was a good week for the Blue Devils. They haven’t had many of those this season. They’ll need all the momentum they can get though, as they host their bitter rivals, the North Carolina Tar Heels, this Thursday. A win in that game could vault Duke up most rankings.

This Week: Thu 2/9 vs North Carolina (8:00 pm, ESPN); Sat 2/11 vs Clemson (1:00 pm, ESPN3)

 

  1. South Carolina (Prev: 21)

The Gamecocks continued to roll with wins over LSU and Georgia this past week, and they will need to keep winning games. A road game against Florida a couple weeks is really the only big chance in the regular season for SC to improve their resume. So they’ll definitely need to keep beating the teams that they should beat. I think they will.

This Week: Tue 2/7 vs Alabama (6:30 pm, SECN); Sat 2/11 @ Mississippi State (8:00 pm, ESPN2)

 

  1. SMU (Prev: NR)

I kind of overlooked the Mustangs the last couple of weeks, but a two point road loss to AAC-leading Cincinnati is the only loss in the last 17 games for SMU. Sometimes it doesn’t matter as much who you beat, but how many wins you accumulate. The American is not strong this season, but it’s strong enough that a 20-4 team playing in that conference is probably one of the 25 best teams in the nation. They get a chance for revenge when they host Cincy on Sunday.

This Week: Thu 2/9 @ Temple (9:00 pm, ESPN2); Sun 2/12 vs Cincinnati (4:00 pm, ESPN)

 

  1. Florida (Prev: 23)

The Gators punked Kentucky on Saturday, winning by 22 points, the biggest margin of defeat for the Wildcats under John Calipari. It was an extremely impressive victory, but Florida has to avoid a letdown when they travel to Athens on Tuesday night. The eye test has not been great for Florida so far (other than Saturday), but the advanced analysts love them. We’ll see if they can continue to backup that standing.

This Week: Tue 2/7 @ Georgia (7:00 pm, ESPN2); Sat 2/11 vs Texas A&M (12:00 pm, ESPN2)

 

  1. Saint Mary’s (Prev: 18)

The Gaels are avoiding any slip-ups against the weak West Coast Conference, and they are just one game away from their massive home game with undefeated Gonzaga. They were extremely disappointed at their performance the first time they took on the Zags, so on Saturday night on national TV in primetime, I’ll bet they’ll be more than ready to go.

This Week: Thu 2/9 vs Portland (10:00 pm); Sat 2/11 vs Gonzaga (8:15 pm, ESPN)

 

  1. Butler (Prev: 15)

The Bulldogs only had one chance to impress me last week, and they lost at home to Creighton. I wasn’t impressed, but Creighton is a great team, so I gave Butler a pass for the most part. But they have to regroup this week, as they face two tricky road tests against Marquette and Providence. This team is safely in the Tournament for now, but winning both those games will help for sure.

This Week: Tue 2/7 @ Marquette (9:00 pm, CBSSN); Sat 2/11 @ Providence (4:00 pm, CBSSN)

 

  1. Virginia (Prev: 13)

Syracuse just doesn’t lose at home in ACC play I guess. I would not have expected a team as good as Virginia to fall to them, but they did. Luckily for the Cavaliers, they get a quick turnaround as they host Top-5 Louisville tonight. I’ll call it right here right now, Virginia will win tonight. Now go prove me right!

This Week: Mon 2/6 vs Louisville (7:00 pm, ESPN); Sun 2/12 @ Virginia Tech (6:30 pm, ESPNU)

 

  1. Wisconsin (Prev: 17)

It has not been very pretty lately for the Badgers, but they just continue to win games. Indiana gave them a battle yesterday, but they were able to come out on top. Rutgers and Minnesota each took them to overtime recently as well, but in the end, Wisconsin has been on the winning end. Can Nebraska or Northwestern topple them this week? I guess we’ll find out.

This Week: Thu 2/9 @ Nebraska (9:00 pm, BTN); Sun 2/12 vs Northwestern (6:30 pm, BTN)

 

  1. West Virginia (Prev: 12)

Is West Virginia the most inconsistent team in college basketball this year? I say yes. They have wins over Virginia, Baylor and Kansas, and losses to Temple, Oklahoma (at home) and Oklahoma State (also at home). This week they get Oklahoma and Kansas State, two teams that knocked them off the first time around. They should be able to get revenge on both, but anything can happen!

This Week: Wed 2/8 @ Oklahoma (9:00 pm, ESPN2); Sat 2/11 vs Kansas State (12:00 pm, ESPN)

 

  1. Purdue (Prev: 16)

Purdue already has three losses in Big Ten play, but they had two extremely impressive wins this past week, as they dominated Northwestern and went into Maryland and stole one from the Terrapins. They’ll have a tricky one this week when they head to Assembly Hall to take on the reeling Indiana Hoosiers.

This Week: Thu 2/9 @ Indiana (7:00 pm, ESPN2)

 

  1. Cincinnati (Prev: 14)

Don’t look now, but Cincinnati is legit. They are 21-2 and one of those losses is at Butler, which is nothing to hang your head over. Mick Cronin has had a lot of great players over the years, but this might be his best complete team. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them make a long run in the Tournament this season.

This Week: Wed 2/8 vs UCF (9:00 pm, ESPNU); Sun 2/12 @ SMU (4:00 pm, ESPN)

 

  1. Kentucky (Prev: 5)

It’s been a rough couple weeks for Kentucky. The home loss to Kansas, surviving in overtime at home against Georgia and then getting embarrassed on Saturday by Florida. Luckily for them, they get a home meeting with LSU this week, and it’s exactly what the doctor ordered for the struggling Wildcats. They’ll be fine, but they need to figure some stuff out, sooner rather than later.

This Week: Tue 2/7 vs LSU (7:00 pm, ESPN); Sat 2/11 @ Alabama (1:00 pm, CBS)

 

  1. UCLA (Prev: 11)

The Washington trip was no problem for the Bruins, as they easily disposed of both the Cougars and the Huskies. It was a nice, easy lead-in for their massive home game with Oregon this week. It seems like forever ago that UCLA went to Rupp Arena and knocked off Kentucky. As the Wildcats struggle, that win doesn’t look as great, so they could use a win over a team like Oregon.

This Week: Thu 2/9 vs Oregon (10:00 pm, ESPN); Sun 2/12 vs Oregon State (5:00 pm, FS1)

 

  1. Arizona (Prev: 6)

Speaking of Oregon, Arizona can tell UCLA how difficult they are to beat. The Ducks wiped the floor with the Wildcats on Saturday, 85-58. It’s no need for fans to panic, as that snapped a 15-game winning streak for Arizona, so they are going to be just fine. They’ll host Cal and Stanford this week, and should beat both to get right back on track.

This Week: Wed 2/8 vs Stanford (11:00 pm, FS1); Sat 2/11 vs California (10:00 pm, ESPN2)

 

  1. Baylor (Prev: 4)

It was a tough week for the Bears. They played great at Kansas, but just couldn’t finish off the victory. Unfortunately for them, they suffered a brutal hangover, losing at home to Kansas State on Saturday. The schedule doesn’t get any easier for them either, as they head to Stillwater on Wednesday to take on the red-hot Oklahoma State Cowboys. They could really use a win in that game.

This Week: Wed 2/8 @ Oklahoma State (7:00 pm, ESPNU); Sat 2/11 vs TCU (2:00 pm, ESPNU)

 

  1. Oregon (Prev: 10)

After surviving the Arizona State upset attempt, the Ducks shot the lights out en route to a dominating victory over Arizona. They’ll look for back-to-back massive victories on Thursday night when they travel to LA to take on the Bruins. A win at UCLA could propel Oregon towards the top line of the bracket for a lot of experts.

This Week: Thu 2/9 @ UCLA (10:00 pm, ESPN); Sat 2/11 @ USC (10:30 pm, P12N)

 

  1. North Carolina (Prev: 9)

The Tar Heels are one of the hottest teams in the nation, having won nine of their last ten, including wins this past week over Pitt and Notre Dame. UNC has a claim for being the best team in the ACC, and they can improve that claim with a win over hated rivals Duke this Thursday night. Most of America will be tuning in, and the Tar Heels can make a huge impression if they play well.

This Week: Thu 2/9 @ Duke (8:00 pm, ESPN)

 

  1. Florida State (Prev: 8)

I told you all last week that Florida State would be fine, and they proved me right with a road win against Miami and a dominating performance yesterday against Clemson, winning 109-61. They’ll have another big road game next weekend when they head to South Bend to take on the struggling Fighting Irish. ND will be desperate for a big win, so the Seminoles will have to be at their best.

This Week: Wed 2/8 vs NC State (7:00 pm, ESPN2); Sat 2/11 @ Notre Dame (6:00 pm, ESPN)

 

  1. Louisville (Prev: 7)

The Cardinals are the best team in the ACC right now in my opinion, but this week will put them to the test. They head to Virginia tonight, and key pieces Mangok Mathiang and Deng Adel were suspended for the game for missing curfew. After that game, they’ll return home Saturday to take on a solid Miami team that could use a signature win. This team could be even higher in my rankings next week, or they could be a whole lot lower.

This Week: Mon 2/6 @ Virginia (7:00 pm, ESPN); Sat 2/11 vs Miami FL (2:00 pm, ESPN2)

 

  1. Kansas (Prev: 2)

Well, the Jayhawks survived the tough test from Baylor, but on Saturday, their 54-game home winning streak was snapped in overtime by the Iowa State Cyclones. It was a classic letdown game, but I thought Kansas would be good enough to avoid that. They have no time to feel bad about it though, with a road game against rival Kansas State on tap tonight. The Wildcats were screwed in their first meeting against Kansas, so they’ll be hungry for revenge.

This Week: Mon 2/6 @ Kansas State (9:00 pm, ESPN); Sat 2/11 @ Texas Tech (2:00 pm, ESPN)

 

  1. Villanova (Prev: 3)

Nova took care of business this past week with wins at Providence and at home against St. John’s. A pretty ho-hum week for the defending National Champs. It’ll be a little tougher for them this week as they host Georgetown Tuesday, then head to Xavier on Saturday, the first of three straight road games for the Cats. They have a claim to the top spot for sure, and I can’t remember the last time a team had this good a chance to repeat as National Champions.

This Week: Tue 2/7 vs Georgetown (7:00 pm, FS1); Sat 2/11 @ Xavier (2:30 pm, FOX)

 

  1. Gonzaga (Prev: 1)

The only undefeated team remaining also remains on the top of my rankings, but that could very easily change come next week. Some thought BYU could give the Zags some problems on Thursday night, but the Bulldogs easily handled their business. The biggest game left on their schedule comes up this Saturday when they travel to take on Saint Mary’s. If they get past the Gaels, there’s no reason they can’t finish the regular season undefeated.

This Week: Thu 2/9 @ Loyola Marymount (10:00 pm); Sat 2/11 @ Saint Mary’s (8:15 pm, ESPN)