Blog Entry

Poppin' Bubbles: Winners and Losers

Posted on: February 29, 2012 8:43 pm
Edited on: March 1, 2012 12:14 am
Colorado State likely punched its ticket to the Big Dance with another big win, this time over UNLV. (AP)

By Jeff Borzello

Wednesday amounts to a last chance for some bubble teams. Certain ones are facing opportunities to nab marquee wins to boost their resume, while others are just looking to avoid the true “bubble.” Meanwhile, there is another handful of teams that can’t afford a loss if it wants to stay in the bracket. All in all, a monster night of bubble games is on the agenda.

Note: This page will be updated throughout the night, with bubble discussion and analysis. To see how our Jerry Palm saw the bubble picture heading into the night, check out his Bubble Watch


Cincinnati: The Bearcats were the first team to take advantage and get a marquee win on Wednesday night, getting off to a great start against Marquette and blowing out the Golden Eagles. It could be the win that gets Cincinnati into the NCAA tournament. The Bearcats have now defeated Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette and Notre Dame, and are 11-6 in the Big East. They face Villanova on the road to end the season; a win there, and Cincinnati will be in good shape despite its horrendous non-conference schedule.  

South Florida: The biggest questions facing the Bulls surrounds their lack of good wins -- and if their gaudy Big East record was only a result of their soft in-conference schedule. They answered some of those questions on Wednesday, going into the KFC Yum! Center and knocking off No. 17 Louisville. South Florida is still just 2-7 against the top-50, but it has wins over the Cardinals, Seton Hall and Cincinnati. The computer numbers are good and a 12-5 record in the Big East is very good. The Bulls get a desperate West Virginia team at home over the weekend, and could really solidify things with a victory. Right now, it's tough to picture them getting left out. 

Colorado State: Methinks the Rams have punched their ticket to the NCAA tournament. They needed another marquee win for the ledger, and last week's win over New Mexico got them closer. On Wednesday, Colorado State came back from a 16-point deficit to knock off UNLV and give the Rams a 3-3 split against the top three of the league. The Rams have a great computer profile and just need to win at Air Force in the season finale to feel comfortable about a bid.

Mississippi State: The Bulldogs are still alive for now, after Brian Bryant knocked down a game-winner at the buzzer to beat South Carolina and avoid a five-game losing streak. They have a chance to get back to .500 in the SEC with a home contest against Arkansas to finish the season. A win over the Razorbacks wouldn't be enough for an at-large bid, but it will give them hope heading into the conference tournament. The Bulldogs' computer profile is average, and the best wins are over Vanderbilt, Alabama and ... not much else.

Texas: It looked to be over for the Longhorns, who needed a second-half comeback to take care of business against Oklahoma and keep their at-large hopes alive. Now comes this weekend's showdown at Kansas. A win in Lawrence would obviously put Texas into the Dance, but if the Longhorns fall short? They will be 3-9 against the top 50 with the three wins over Temple, Kansas State and Iowa State. Not overly compelling. With a loss this weekend, Texas needs to pick up some wins -- ideally another marquee one -- to feel safe.

Purdue: It’s tough to imagine the Boilermakers not getting a bid at this point. Their dominant victory over Penn State was their 10th Big Ten win of the season, and improved them to 9-1 against teams ranked below them in the conference standings. Purdue still has six top-50 victories, and a fairly solid computer profile. The Boilermakers have won five of their last six, and can really lock things with a road game at Indiana to finish the season.

The Crimson Tide are looking pretty good right now. They have now won seven of their last nine after holding off Auburn on Wednesday night. At 9-6 in the SEC and nine top-100 wins -- plus the whole suspension/reinstatement situation of early February -- Alabama should feel pretty comfortable. A road win at Ole Miss to end the season would clinch a bid.

Southern Miss: They certainly don't like to make things easy. The Golden Eagles let SMU stay in the game for far too long on Wednesday, but they pulled away late and stayed in the field. They have a top-15 RPI and are one game out of the Conference-USA lead. If they can just avoid bad losses -- Marshall on Saturday probably wouldn't classify -- they're in good shape. 


Northwestern: Jared Sullinger completely devastated Northwestern's at-large hopes. His basket as the clock wound down to give Ohio State a two-point win over the Wildcats could be the one that ultimately send Northwestern to the NIT. The best they can do is 8-10 in the Big Ten, and that would include a very difficult road win at Iowa this weekend. Northwestern is just 2-10 against the top-50, and one of those is against fellow bubbler Seton Hall. The Wildcats swung and missed too many times. 

Miami (Fl.):
The Hurricanes, coming off a big win over Florida State last weekend, just needed to get past a reeling North Carolina State team and then take care of Boston College at home. The Wolfpack didn't give in to that plan, though, holding off the Hurricanes down the stretch to get the win. Miami (Fl.) is just 3-10 against the top 100, and that one win over Duke is not going to carry the rest of the profile come Selection Sunday. The Hurricanes are in trouble. 

The Flyers were in the at-large mix due to a host of good wins, despite a mediocre computer profile and four sub-100 losses. However, they couldn’t afford another bad loss – and they just suffered one on Wednesday night, to Richmond. It drops them to 8-7 in the Atlantic 10 and will push their RPI into the 70s, most likely. A home win over George Washington Saturday might not do the trick; the Flyers have work to do in the A10 tournament. 

Saint Joseph's: It was not a vintage night for the Atlantic 10. The Hawks had two chances to beat St. Bonaventure, leading in the final minute of both regulation and overtime, but couldn't close the deal and dropped one to the Bonnies in two overtimes. Saint Joe's was one of the last teams in the field on Tuesday afternoon, and this might end their hopes entirely. They have two good wins over Xavier and Creighton, but there's four sub-100 wins and SJU is just 2-5 against the top-50.  

Note: Tennessee and North Carolina State both won on Wednesday night. Neither is on the bubble right now, but could conceivably make a run with a few more wins. 


Since: Feb 24, 2012
Posted on: March 1, 2012 5:07 pm

Poppin' Bubbles: Winners and Losers

Colorado State belongs in the dance. UConn does not. If any "bubble" team such as Colorado St. had lost to Providence CBS and others would immediately say they're done. If UConn is being considered then it is time to start looking at Tennessee. Similar good wins and bad losses and Tennessee BEAT UConn head to head just a month ago. Of course, UConn's former AD heads up the selection committee so maybe everyone is just figuring its a done deal regardless of how poorly UConn does.

Since: Mar 17, 2009
Posted on: March 1, 2012 4:08 pm

Poppin' Bubbles: Winners and Losers

Calhoun is a dirty coach?  A dirty coach?  Two NCAA incidents in a 40 year career, one of which involved a player that never set foot on the court for the team and he's a "dirty" coach?  Sounds like lots of sour grapes, nobody does more with talent than Jim Calhoun.  Yea, the team didn't have a great run in academics lately but that is primarily on the shoulders of 3 or 4 illiterate's that came to play for UConn.  He didn't have as good of a system as Coach Cal, balancing out the 1 and one home economics stars with the doofy looking white dudes that are on the team just for their straight A's.  I bet you that Calhoun's "court GPA" is no worse than the average team in the league.  He just made the mistake of not having a few smart bench players.

3 rings, must have won them all in some "dirty" way.  He must have injected steroids into Kemba and Lamb last year right?  He takes boys, turns them into men, and those men go out and beat more highly recruited men year in and year out.  If you need to look at the results of his impact on the kids lives, just look at how many former players are coaching around the league, there are dozens.

We'll be back in 2014, still wearing our 3 rings.  Stick that in your loser program and smoke it.

Since: Feb 13, 2012
Posted on: March 1, 2012 2:36 pm

Poppin' Bubbles: Winners and Losers

YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES ( Daniel Bryan voice ) Cincinnati just about lock up a bid with a win over Marquette!!! Probably still gonna be a 11th or 12th seed ( due to their non-conference S.O.S. ), but it feels so gooood... I feel like singing: "Reunited and it feels so good", woooohhhh!!! 

Since: Jan 25, 2012
Posted on: March 1, 2012 1:16 pm

Poppin' Bubbles: Winners and Losers

I had to look at who the author was after I read the synopsis of Northwestern and of course found the article WASN'T written by Palm whose Big Ten bias can be as annoying as ESPN's bias on whatever is the flavor of the month.

Purdue being a lock with Northwestern being out sounds about right for the Big Ten----6 teams in-- really no bubble teams. Cincinnati and USF should be in (USF was playing at less than full strength when they suffered some of the bad non-conference losses--the committee will factor that in), UConn and West Virginia should be NIT bound. 8 teams from the Big East.

The RPI system is severely flawed (although I personally don't have a better one). To say the SEC is the 3rd best conference in the land is BS. It reminds me when the Big East had the best RPI in football in 2006. What?? The Big East has been a joke in football since Miami and Va Tech went to the ACC. The RPI system is flawed and for the committee to utilize this phoney tool for picking teams is a travesty.

Since: Aug 18, 2006
Posted on: March 1, 2012 12:44 pm

Poppin' Bubbles: Winners and Losers

As a Colorado alum, I'd really like to see Colorado State make the tourney but before Jeff Borzello punches that ticket for the Rams he might want to take a look at how Colorado got screwed last year.
CSU has a 3-5 record vs. Top 50 teams.
Colorado was 6-7 with 3 wins against Kansas State who got a #5 seed in the tournament.

Both CSU this year and Colorado last year had bad road teams.

The fact is that teams east of the Mississippi River always get the benefit of the doubt. UAB got in last year and was promptly crushed by Clemson in a play-in game.

Would love to see CSU make it but in the end we all know how it will play out.

Since: Feb 1, 2007
Posted on: March 1, 2012 11:45 am

Poppin' Bubbles: Winners and Losers

I totally agree that it is great to see the George Masons and Butlers have a run, but if they had no big conference teams to defeat, where would be the fun?

Maybe the fact that we talk about it so much proves that the current system is perfect... 
Not a snowball's chance in hell that the system is perfect or unbiased, raoul; although you do offer up an interesting idea for change.  The "big boys" are always going to be around because their inclusion is what theoretically generates the revenue stream, or so the powers-that-be are convinced.  Take a look at the breakdown of "at large" bids from recent years in terms of "mid-major" vs "power"...obviously, there is absolutely no danger of the major conference teams disappearing.  Shouldn't the main goal of the Big Dance be to provide viewers the opportunity to see the game being played by the most-deserving teams at the highest level possible?!?  That can't happen if a team with a sub-.500 in-conference record, losers of 9 of their last 12, and no Kemba Walker to bail them out are allowed to participate (barring their winning their conference tourney, of course).  As it stands now, politics and money infiltrate the system far too deeply to allow it to approach anything resembling perfection.

Since: Dec 29, 2011
Posted on: March 1, 2012 11:37 am

Poppin' Bubbles: Winners and Losers

To add to that Tennessee beat Uconn earlier in the season and has 4 wins against rpi top 50 teams. If any teams deserves the bid that UCONN may get it should be Tennessee!

Since: Dec 29, 2011
Posted on: March 1, 2012 11:35 am

Poppin' Bubbles: Winners and Losers

It really bothers me that UCONN is still in consideration for an at large. I would feel way more comfortable with giving it to Colorado st or any of the other teams that won big games by beating a ranked team. UCONN's resume is clearly inferior to even Colorado St. No way in the world should a team with a 6-10 conference record be even considered, heck maybe not even for the NIT. It would be poetic justice if so, because Calhoun is a very dirty coach and every year he gets away with infractions that would put any other program on probation. Goodbye UCONN and good riddance!

Since: Jul 27, 2011
Posted on: March 1, 2012 11:22 am

Poppin' Bubbles: Winners and Losers

OK, so St Josephs beat Temple rather than Xavier...

Anyhoo, ignoring the error in detail, as an Atlantic 10 fan, I think the conference tournament could be rather interesting this year. Temple are dancing whatever happens, but there are no clear favourites for the tournament and several others have hopes. With several teams with similar records, a first round loss could kill off a number of teams' hopes.

Much as I hate myself saying it, I think that the big conferences deserve their places  (not always, but in general). I totally agree that it is great to see the George Masons and Butlers have a run, but if they had no big conference teams to defeat, where would be the fun?

Would it not make a bit more sense for each conference to get a fixed number of places based on the previous season, with a number of flexible places allocated based on the current season's outcomes? That way, most places would be locked down, and teams would know from the start of the season what they had to achieve in league play. The current process, where a league like the ACC or Big East only has 1 guaranteed spot when it is clear that they will get a lot more than this is ridiculous (although the selection process makes excellent drama for us fans of course).

Maybe the fact that we talk about it so much proves that the current system is perfect... 

Since: Oct 30, 2008
Posted on: March 1, 2012 11:15 am

Poppin' Bubbles: Winners and Losers

If you had to decide between Northwestern and UCONN, who would make the dance as it stands today?

I think people need to put the school names aside and look at the body of work and the strength of the conference along with the individual losses by each team.  Northwestern, in my mind, should be in over UCONN this year.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or