Tag:Texas
Posted on: March 8, 2012 3:53 pm
Edited on: March 9, 2012 1:50 am
 

Poppin' Bubbles: Separation day for bubblers

Texas might have locked up a bid to the NCAA tournament with its quarterfinal win over Iowa State. (US Presswire)

By Jeff Borzello

The Thursday of conference tournament week is always a big day for separation when it comes to bubble teams. Nearly every power-conference bubbler is in action across the country, with most of them facing must-win opportunities or one last chance at a marquee victory. This season is no different, as the docket is filled with teams looking to punch their ticket or simply keep their at-large hopes alive. The bubble picture should look very different tomorrow than it does today.

Note: This page will be updated throughout the day, with bubble discussion and analysis.

Southern Miss avoided a bad loss to East Carolina and locked up a bid. (US Presswire)

Locking things up:

Southern Miss: Had the Golden Eagles lost their opener in the Conference-USA tournament, things might have been a little troublesome on Selection Sunday. While it took an extra five minutes, Southern Miss got it done – and now should be fine for the NCAA tournament. They finished second in the league and have a top-20 RPI, along with wins over Memphis, Colorado State and South Florida. 9-4 against the top 100 is great compared to some of the other bubble teams.

Cincinnati: 
If there were any questions about the Bearcats' at-large status, they were answered on Thursday afternoon. Cincinnati faced Georgetown in a tournament quarterfinal, and made plays down the stretch en route to a double-overtime win. The absolutely awful non-conference schedule and mediocre overall computer profile could potentially only affect seeding at this point; the Bearcats are in. They are now 6-3 against the top-50 and are 9-5 away from home. They could wear home jerseys in the round of 64. 

Alabama: The Crimson Tide were in good shape heading into the SEC tournament, but a loss in the first round would have made it a long couple of days for them. However, that won't be a problem, as Alabama pulled out a win against South Carolina. The Crimson Tide were around a No. 9 seed earlier in the week, so they seem pretty safe there. They are 3-5 against the top 50, and 9-9 against the top 100, but they also bounced back nicely from the personnel situation they had in February. 'Bama could jump to a No. 8 with another win. 

Purdue: The Boilermakers were in the field of 68 no matter what happened in the Big Ten conference tournament, but it's nice to avoid a bad loss and stay in good position for a solid seed. Heading into the week, Purdue was arguably the last No. 8 seed in the S-Curve, and beating Nebraska keeps them on track to wear a home jersey in the round of 64. The Boilermakers are 5-8 against the top 50, although they only beat two definite NCAA tournament teams in Michigan and Temple. Ohio State is next.

Still safe:

Connecticut: The Huskies are fine despite their late loss to Syracuse in the Big East quarterfinals. A win over the Orange would have skyrocketed Connecticut up in terms of seeding, but the Huskies are still in the mix for an 8-9 game in the NCAA tournament. The No. 3 strength of schedule and 10 top-100 wins make them a lock to hear their name called in three days. 

Kansas State: The Wildcats are still very comfortable heading into the weekend. A win over Baylor would have really solidified their resume, but the Wildcats already have victories over Missouri – twice – Baylor, Alabama and Long Beach State. The sweep at the hands of Oklahoma and a 6-8 top-100 record could bring down their seeding somewhat, but a No. 8 or No. 9 seed seems very likely.

It's tough to imagine Colorado State missing the NCAA tournament at this point. (US Presswire)

Winners:

Colorado State:
I really don't see how Colorado State can miss out on an at-large berth this season, after thoroughly handling TCU in the quarterfinals of the Mountain West. The Rams have a terrific computer profile, with a top-25 RPI and top-10 SOS. They have three wins over top-50 teams in UNLV, San Diego State and New Mexico, and they are now 3-0 on neutral courts. The two sub-100 losses and 3-9 record on the road gives cause for a closer look, but compared to other bubble teams, Colorado State should be safe. A loss to San Diego State in the semifinals likely wouldn't drop them several spots. 

California: It wasn't clear if the Golden Bears could survive a quarterfinals loss to Stanford, but we don't need to worry about that just yet. They move on to face the winner of Oregon/Colorado, in a game that could clinch California's bid if it gets to the title game. The at-large resume isn't all that impressive, with the best non-conference win coming against Weber State. The Golden Bears did sweep Oregon, but those are the best victories on the resume, along with Washington. Cal could really cement things with at least one more win.

Texas: The Longhorns took advantage of their chance at a big win on Thursday, coming back in the second half to beat Iowa State in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 tournament. Given Texas' resume and the way things are shaking out across the bubble landscape, that might have been a win-and-in situation for the Longhorns. They improve to 4-9 against the top 50, although it's only 5-10 against the top 100. They have wins over Temple, Kansas State and two over Iowa State. They face Missouri in the Big 12 semis; a win there would lock things up completely. They might be able to survive a loss, though.

North Carolina State
: The Wolfpack needed to beat Boston College in order to get a chance at Virginia in the quarterfinals. That one is the must-win for NC State. As it stands, the Wolfpack still don't have a top-50 win on their resume, going 0-8 against teams in that category. They do have two wins over Miami (Fl.) and one over Texas, which could help in bubble comparisons. They are also now 8-5 away from home, but the lack of good wins and two sub-100 losses complicate things.

Miami (Fl.): The first half wasn't pretty whatsoever for the Hurricanes, but they actually scored some points in the second stanza and also locked down on the defensive end, cruising to an easy win over Georgia Tech. They're still just 3-10 against the top 100, but two of the wins did come over Duke and Florida State. Miami will need to do more damage in the ACC tournament, starting with Florida State on Friday. A win there, and the Hurricanes could be in OK shape. A loss, and they will be sweating it out.

Arizona: I don't see how the Wildcats will get a bid, but the door is now open for the Wildcats to at least get to the Pac-12 title game after they beat UCLA in the quarterfinals and No. 1 seed Washington was upset by Oregon State. The computer profile is still terrible, and they have only defeated one NCAA tournament team (California). A win over Oregon State won't put them in the Dance, and it's unlikely a close loss in the championship game would do it either. Because of the Arizona State loss to end the season, I think Arizona needs to win the tournament.

Ole Miss: The Rebels still likely have to get to the SEC title game to have a chance at an at-large bid due to their 1-6 top-50 record, but beating Auburn easily was a good start. They have one good win over Alabama, but they also beat a couple of bubble teams in Miami (Fl.) and Mississippi State. Ole Miss only has one sub-100 loss, and the Rebels did play 17 games against teams in the top 100; they only went 6-11 in those games, though. If they beat fellow bubbler Tennessee in the quarterfinals, a semifinal contest against Vanderbilt could be a huge chance.

Nevada: The Wolf Pack have a mediocre at-large profile, but they will have a shot if they can get to the WAC title game. After a lackluster first half against San Jose State, they rolled to a double-digit win. The strength of schedule is terrible, and they don't have a single top-50 win, but they did lose just one game in conference play and are above .500 against the top 100.

Long Beach State: With the way things are going, the 49ers could certainly get an at-large bid if they lose in the Big West tournament. However, they need to get to at least the title game in order to have hopes. They didn't waste any time dispatching of UC-Davis in the quarterfinals, winning by 34. Moreover, No. 2 seed Cal State Fullerton was knocked out, which means an easier path for LBSU to the automatic bid. We'll take a closer look at their resume should they lose.

Washington will have a long three days to wait until Selection Sunday. (US Presswire)

Losers:

Washington: Wow, what a weird game for the Huskies. In the first half, the Huskies looked like they were headed to the NIT, going into halftime with a 13-point deficit against Oregon State. However, they came back to take the lead -- before Tony Wroten missed four free throws and the Beavers came out with a win. Will Washington's regular-season title be enough for an at-large bid? That's doubtful. The Huskies simply have a very mediocre at-large profile. They beat zero NCAA tournament teams and were just 1-7 against the top-50, 4-8 against the top 100. They also now have two sub-100 losses. Washington's only potential saving grace will be its regular-season title and the eye test. There's nothing else to like in their resume.

South Florida: The Bulls were so close to locking up a bid to the NCAA tournament, but Notre Dame pulled out an overtime win in the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament. That leaves South Florida in precarious position. It is just 1-9 against the top 50, although it does have a 5-1 record against teams in the 50-100 range. They have one really good win, over Louisville, but they also have victories over Seton Hall and Cincinnati. One thing that could be tough to pass up is the 12 Big East wins that Stan Heath's club came away with in conference play; that trumps many of the middling league records that some of the power-conference bubblers have. South Florida also has three sub-100 losses. It will be close, but the Bulls are probably in for now. 

Northwestern: Another year, another disappointment for Northwestern. The Wildcats came into the Big Ten tournament needing at least one -- more likely two -- win in order to keep their at-large hopes alive. Unfortunately, Minnesota came back in the final minutes to snatch away a victory in overtime. This is a devastating loss for Northwestern, which now has an excruciatingly long three days until Selection Sunday. Right now, I highly doubt they will hear their name called. The Wildcats are just 1-10 against the top 50, and 5-13 against the top 100. They have no bad losses, but that won't save them this season with an 8-11 overall Big Ten record. Although the door hasn't completely shut yet, it's going to be tough for Northwestern to get an at-large bid.

Mississippi State: The Bulldogs will have one of the worst finishes to the season in terms of bubble teams, going just 2-6 in their final eight games. The latest defeat was at the hands of Georgia in the first round of the SEC tournament, their second loss to the Bulldogs in the last month. A loss to Auburn was also included in that recent stretch. Mississippi State is now in serious trouble. It has a bad computer profile, with an RPI that will likely drop to the 70s after tonight. There are three sub-100 losses. On the plus side, they are 8-8 against the top 100, with wins over bubblers West Virginia, Tennessee, Mississippi and Arizona, as well as top-35 wins against Vanderbilt and Alabama. A 3-6 road record isn't doing them any favors, though. The talent is there, but the resume might not be. It will be a long few days for Rick Stansbury.

Oregon: It's looking more and more like the Pac-12 could be a one-bid league if California wins the regular-season title. The Ducks saw a door open when Washington went down in the quarterfinals -- two wins might have done it for the Ducks. Instead, they couldn't make plays in the final minute and lost to No. 6-seed Colorado. Oregon's at-large hopes are basically done at this point. They have 0 top-50 wins and the best non-conference victories are over UTEP and Nebraska. The computer profile looked OK heading into the week, but now the RPI and SOS will drop. Assuming the committee doesn't value sub-100 record over everything else, I'm not sure Oregon can get a bid.

Posted on: March 3, 2012 3:04 pm
Edited on: March 3, 2012 11:02 pm
 

Poppin' Bubbles: Statement time for bubblers

Iowa State answered all remaining questions about its at-large candidacy with a win over Baylor. (AP)

By Jeff Borzello

Saturday is not just for Duke vs. North Carolina and a trio of conference championship games. The final weekend of the regular season has bubble implications galore. There are intriguing bubble battles, chances for bubble teams to get big wins and other spots where bubble teams just simply can’t lose if they want an at-large bid. For some teams, losing might mean their hopes are dashed even before the conference tournament.

Note: This page will be updated throughout the day, with bubble discussion and analysis.

Locking things up

Memphis: The Tigers are all set after clinching the outright Conference-USA regular-season title with a win at Tulsa on Saturday. They finished the conference season with a 13-3 record, have a top-20 RPI and SOS, and own nine top-100 victories. They could wear home jerseys for the first round of the NCAA tournament at this point.

Saint Louis: The Billikens essentially clinched things with their win over Xavier earlier in the week, but avoiding a loss at Duquesne – without head coach Rick Majerus – on Saturday cements things even more. There aren’t any truly marquee wins, but an 8-4 record against the top 100 and a top-30 RPI will get the job done.

Iowa State: If there was any debate about whether the Cyclones would get an at-large bid, it ended on Saturday, when Iowa State knocked off Baylor to clinch the No. 3 seed in the Big 12 tournament. They now have four top-50 wins, including victories over Kansas and a sweep of Kansas State. The soft non-conference schedule was a question mark for a bit, but there's no keeping out Iowa State anymore.

Helped itself

West Virginia picked up a big bubble win by defeating South Florida. (AP)

West Virginia: The Mountaineers had the biggest bubble win in the first few hours of Saturday, going into South Florida and knocking off the Bulls in the final minutes. The win gets West Virginia to .500 in the Big East, and is their fourth top-50 win of the season. The bubble pecking order in the conference is completely up in the air, but two wins in the Big East tournament would likely get a bid for West Virginia.

Connecticut: The Huskies simply couldn’t lose to Pittsburgh on Saturday, unless they had plans to make a run to the Big East title game. It wasn’t pretty, but Connecticut pulled out a win in the final two minutes. 8-10 in the Big East doesn’t look great, but the Huskies have five top-50 wins, including victories over fellow bubblers South Florida, Seton Hall and West Virginia. The No. 2-ranked SOS is also a huge plus. They will need a couple of wins in the Big East tourney as well.

Dayton: Beating George Washington isn’t going to get the Flyers in the dance, but it keeps their hopes alive heading into the conference tournament. They have three top-30 RPI wins over Temple, Alabama and Saint Louis, as well as a win over bubbler Xavier. Nine top-100 wins are more than most bubble teams can say. On the negative side, the computer profile is mediocre and they have three sub-100 losses. They might need a marquee win in the A-10 tournament; could that mean a trip to the title game?

Cincinnati: For the first time in nearly a decade, the Bearcats went into Villanova and came out with a win. They improve to 12-6 in the Big East, including six top-50 wins. The Bearcats should feel pretty comfortable right now, but the three sub-100 losses and the horrendous non-conference SOS still make things shaky. The RPI is slowly getting better, and one win in the Big East tournament could be enough to get the job done for Mick Cronin's crew.

Xavier:
For a while on Saturday, it looked like the Musketeers were ready to see their bubble popped. They were down at home to Charlotte, before going on a huge run in the second half and pulling out the win. Xavier is currently third in the Atlantic-10 standings, which could be helpful for the profile. It looks like they will need a semifinal win to really improve the profile, though. There are good wins over Vanderbilt and Purdue, as well as victories against bubblers Cincinnati, Dayton and Saint Joseph's. They will be an interesting case.

Northwestern:
The Wildcats escaped at Iowa, finishing at 8-10 in the Big Ten. A loss on Saturday would have ended their chances, but now they still have life heading into the Big Ten tournament. They are only 2-10 against the top 50, but suffered zero sub-100 losses and have a top-10 strength of schedule. The win over Michigan State back in January carries some weight, but there's not a ton of heft besides that victory. There is damage to be done in the tourney.

Miami (Fl.):
The Hurricanes were one of the last teams out of the field heading into the weekend, but they stayed alive with a dominant victory over Boston College. With Maryland sneaking into the top 100, Miami has four top-100 wins, including victories against Duke and Florida State. However, the 4-11 record against the top 100 is a huge eye sore and the computer profile isn't overly impressive. They need another big win for the ledger, meaning they have to win a couple games in the ACC tourney. 

Colorado State: The Rams took care of business at Air Force, avoiding a letdown after the huge win over UNLV earlier this week. Had Colorado State lost to the Falcons, most of the good vibes earned by the UNLV win would have been erased. That's irrelevant now, though. The Rams have a very solid resume, with wins over UNLV, New Mexico and San Diego State, as well as a great computer profile. Moreover, Saturday's win gives them another road victory (they only have three). One in the MWC tourney should get it done. 

Mississippi State: The Bulldogs did what they needed to do to finish the season, winning their final two regular-season games and getting back to .500 in the SEC. They still have to do work in the SEC tournament, as the computer profile is mediocre. However, they do have eight top-100 wins, including victories over Vanderbilt, Alabama and fellow bubbler West Virginia. Mississippi State will need to get at least one win in the SEC tournament, and two wins would be more comforting. 

Oregon:
The Ducks continue to make a run toward at-large consideration, hammering Utah to finish 13-5 in the Pac-12. However, they are only 3-7 against the top 100 and 19 of their 22 wins are against teams ranked below 100. They are playing well at the right time, and the availability of Devoe Joseph is certainly something the committee will consider. They need to make a deep run in the Pac-12 tournament, though, as the profile is rather barren at this point.

Drexel: As the outright CAA champion, Drexel has a nice chip compared to some of the other bubble teams, but the Dragons need to get to the tournament title game to have a legitimate chance. They took the first step there by handling UNC-Wilmington in the quarterfinals. We’ll look again if they win in the semifinals.

VCU: Like Drexel, VCU needs to get to the title game to have a legitimate shot at an at-large bid. The Rams handled Northeastern on Saturday, meaning one more win would get them there. The Rams have a terrible SOS and two sub-100 losses, but they are very good away from home and did beat South Florida. The lack of meat on the resume could be a problem.

Tennessee: It seems there is another movement afoot to get the Volunteers some at-large consideration. I would still hold off on that talk, though. The computer profile is poor and they have four sub-100 losses. Even factoring in the arrival of Jarnell Stokes, the overall resume is still mediocre. With all that said, if the Vols get the No. 2 seed in the SEC tourney and make a run to the title game, things could get interesting.

Oral Roberts: The Golden Eagles nearly lost to IPFW in their first game of the Summit tournament, but they pulled out a win late to keep things somewhat interesting. I still think they need to win the automatic bid to get to the NCAA tournament, but a close loss in the title game could raise some questions. Zero top-50 wins is a major problem. 

Harvard:
Could the Crimson have survived a loss to Cornell and a second-place finish in the Ivy? We came close to finding out on Saturday night, as Harvard barely pulled out a win in the season finale. Now, the Crimson will wait and see what Penn does at Princeton this week. If the Quakers win, Harvard has a one-game playoff with Penn for the automatic bid. As far as at-large consideration, the win over Florida State looks good, but the schedule is terrible. 

Hurt itself

Kevin Willard knows his Seton Hall Pirates are in trouble. (US Presswire)

Seton Hall: The biggest bubble loser of the day has to be the Pirates. Going into the week, Seton Hall was in good shape. It just had to beat Rutgers and DePaul and things would be pretty comfortable heading into the Big East tournament. Well, the Pirates lost both games, including an absolutely embarrassing performance on Saturday against the Blue Demons. Things are now very shaky for Seton Hall. The Pirates finished just 8-10 in the Big East and have three sub-100 losses. They now have to win at least two games in the conference tournament; falling short of the quarterfinals won't get it done. 

South Florida: The Bulls had a chance to get a double-bye in the Big East tournament with a home win over West Virginia, which would have looked fantastic on the resume. However, they couldn’t make plays late in the game and dropped an important one to the Mountaineers. South Florida is only 2-7 against teams ranked in the top 50, but they have a solid computer profile and 12-6 in the Big East is nothing to scoff at. They need at least one win in the conference tourney, and most likely two.

Washington: If the Huskies had won the outright Pac-12 title, it would be a heck of a chip heading into Selection Sunday. However, after their loss at UCLA on Saturday, it's likely they will need to share the championship with California. The resume on its own is far from impressive. The Huskies have yet to beat an NCAA tournament team and 18 of their 21 wins are from the sub-100 region. The computer profile isn't awful, but Saturday's loss gives them a sub-100 loss. They need to reach the title game, at the very least.

Southern Miss:
 The Golden Eagles continue to make things difficult for themselves, after losing at Marshall to drop to 11-5 in Conference-USA. The RPI is still in the top 20 and they have a 9-4 record against the top 100, but there are also three sub-100 losses. Moreover, by finishing at 11-5, there is little separation betwen Southern Miss and the rest of the league. They have work to do in the conference tournament if they want to feel comfortable come Selection Sunday.

Alabama: The Crimson Tide are still very likely to get a bid to the NCAA tournament, but they missed out on a chance to truly lock themselves in by losing at Ole Miss on Saturday. Alabama has a very solid computer profile and a 9-7 SEC record, with 10 wins against the top 100. The lack of truly good wins against the top 50 is something of a wart on the resume, but it would be tough to leave Alabama out at this point. Winning one game in the SEC tournament would solidify things, though.  

Texas: I'm not sure anyone actually thought the Longhorns were going to go into Lawrence on Senior Night and knock off Kansas, but the loss hurts nonetheless. Texas drops to 3-9 against the top 50 and 4-10 against the top 100, which doesn't compare favorably with most other bubblers. They also have two sub-100 losses. Getting the No. 6 seed in the conference tournament, Texas will have a quarterfinal matchup with Iowa State. The Longhorns need to win that one to have an at-large chance. Two wins would seal the deal. 

Long Beach State: A loss in the Big West championship game is one thing, but a loss in the season finale is quite another. The 49ers dropped Saturday night's game late to Cal State Fullerton, and now enter the conference tournament in some trouble. If they lose in the championship game, I'm not sure they can survive as an at-large team. They did beat Xavier and Pittsburgh in the non-conference, but neither win is all that impressive right now. They are 0-6 vs. the top 50 and now have a bad loss on the resume.

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Posted on: February 29, 2012 8:43 pm
Edited on: March 1, 2012 12:14 am
 

Poppin' Bubbles: Winners and Losers

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

Winners

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.

Alabama:
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. 

Losers

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. 

Dayton:
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. 

Posted on: February 25, 2012 4:26 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2012 11:44 am
 

Poppin' Bubbles: Winners and Losers

Iowa State beating Kansas State on the road highlighted a big day of bubble winners and losers. (AP)

By Jeff Borzello

Another February Saturday means another monster day for bubble implications. With the overall bubble so weak this season, there are still plenty of bids up for grabs in the NCAA tournament. Moreover, several teams are trying to play themselves into consideration after being an afterthought for much of the season. In the past week, we actually saw some teams play their way into the tournament, as opposed to losing and just hanging on. Which will we see on Saturday?

Note: This page will be updated throughout the day, with bubble discussion and analysis.

WINNERS:

Iowa State: The Cyclones needed one win in their last three games against Kansas State, Missouri and Baylor to feel comfortable about their NCAA hopes. They broke through on the road on Saturday, holding off Kansas State down the stretch for the victory. Iowa State is now 11-5 in the Big 12, with two wins over Kansas State and another win over Kansas. Moreover, the lack of any sort of good win away from home is no longer a glaring weakness.

Purdue: The only thing holding the Boilermakers back in the at-large hunt was the lack of good wins over the Big Ten's best teams. That is no longer the case after Saturday, as Purdue went into Ann Arbor and knocked off Michigan. It gives the Boilermakers a marquee victory, to add to Temple. Purdue improves to 9-7 in the Big Ten, with a home game against Penn State coming up this week. With this win, the Boilermakers are in very good shape heading forward. 

Alabama: 
The Crimson Tide regained the services of the suspended JaMychal Green, and they cruised to a win over fellow bubbler Mississippi State. It was their third victory in a row, and sixth in their last eight games, to solidify their fourth-place spot in the conference pecking order. A home game against Auburn, and a road trip to Ole Miss, still await, but Alabama is in good shape for now. The win over Wichita State looks better and better, and the victory over Purdue is also solid. 

Arizona:
The Wildcats just need to keep winning in order to stay in consideration for an at-large bid. They just survived on Saturday, needing a missed jumper from UCLA's Jerime Anderson to come out with a 65-63 victory. Arizona has now won seven of its last eight games, and sit at 12-5 in the conference standings. The profile is still not impressive in general, with only a win over California standing out. However, if the Wildcats win at Arizona State to finish the season and then get some wins in the conference tournament, it could be tough to leave them out.

Saint Joseph's: The Hawks picked up a huge win Saturday night over Temple, their fourth win in their last five games. The win also gives them a second top-25 victory, with a previous victory over Creighton also on the docket. Saint Joe's has also defeated Dayton and Drexel, which could help in bubble comparisons. A win at St. Bonaventure on Wednesday would get them to 10-6 in the Atlantic-10, and a trip to the conference tournament semifinals could get it done. 

Memphis: The Tigers were in pretty good shape, but they really solidified things by beating Marshall on Saturday. It kept them on pace to stay atop the league, and it also gives them another decent win for the resume. The next two games will still have a say in their Selection Sunday fate, though -- vs. UCF and at Tulsa. Win both, and Memphis won't even be sweating its inclusion to the NCAA tournament. 

Washington: The Huskies didn't make it easy on themselves, but they did come out with a win at Washington State. They are still tied atop the Pac-12 standings with California, which is a nice trump card come Selection Sunday. The lack of marquee wins is still a problem, but a sweep this week over UCLA and USC would guarantee at least a share of the title. Washington will be a very interesting case for inclusion.

Drexel:
The Dragons had already clinched the No. 1 seed in the CAA tournament, but their win at Old Dominion on Saturday gave them the outright regular-season title. That is a big-time addition to the at-large resume, especially since Drexel has won 17 in a row and has lost just once in 2012. There aren't any great wins on the docket, but a run to the CAA title game would give them 27 wins -- would the Committee leave them out?

Texas: For much of Saturday, it looked like the Longhorns might kiss their NCAA hopes goodbye. However, they came back down the stretch against Texas Tech and pulled out a late victory. The win snapped a two-game losing streak, and puts them back at .500 in the Big 12. A win next Saturday at Kansas would likely clinch a bid, but without a victory there, Rick Barnes' club will need to make some noise in the conference tournament.  

Xavier: Jumping out to a 14-0 lead and holding Richmond scoreless for about 10 minutes was enough for the Musketeers to get the win and improve to 9-5 in the conference. The big game for Xavier will be this week at Saint Louis. If the Musketeers can get the key road win, they could feel a lot better about their chances heading into the A10 tournament. 

Dayton: The Flyers has now won four of its last five after handling Massachusetts on Saturday. Their record in the Atlantic 10 improved to 8-6, which puts them in position to potentially make a run to third-place. The wins over Temple, Saint Louis and Alabama are pretty solid, and they also defeated Xavier. Upcoming, the Flyers have winnable games against Richmond and George Washington -- a 10-6 finish in the league and a couple of wins in the conference tournament could get it done. 

Southern Miss: The Golden Eagles don't like making anything easy, barely escaping with a two-point home win over Rice to move to 10-4 in the league. They remain one game behind Memphis in the conference standings, but should take care of business against SMU this week. Next week's game at Marshall could be a key win. 

Northwestern: John Shurna's two free throws with 2.6 seconds left might have saved the Wildcats' season. A loss to Penn State would have really hurt their at-large hopes, but now they still have a chance to finish .500 in the Big Ten. It won't be easy, though. The Wildcats host Ohio State this week, which would be a huge chance at a marquee victory, and a road trip to Iowa next weekend looks tough. A win over Michigan State looks very good, but 2-8 vs. the top 50 isn't pretty. They might need to beat Ohio State. 

VCU: The Rams fell short of the CAA title, but beating George Mason gave them 14 wins in their last 15 games and another top-100 win for the resume. They still need to make a run to the championship game of the conference tournament, but a loss here would have dropped them to third in the league standings and would have made it difficult to get a bid. 

BYU: The Cougars only had to avoid a bad loss to Portland, and they obliged, getting the win and finishing in third in the WCC standings. With only a win over Gonzaga standing out on the resume, it's likely that BYU needs to make a run to the conference title game -- which would mean another win over Gonzaga in the semifinals. 

Oral Roberts: The Golden Eagles improved to 26-5 overall with a two-point win at Southern Utah, finishing 17-1 in the Summit League. Should they lose in the conference tournament, they will be an interesting look. The best win is over Xavier, but the computer profile is better than several bubble teams and they've played consistently well all season.

UCF: The loss earlier in the week at Rice really hurt the Knight's chances, but their win over UTEP keeps them in the conversation for now. They need to win at Memphis on Tuesday to have a shot.  

Nevada: It took three overtimes, but the Wolf Pack finally dispatched of Fresno State to improve to 11-1 in the WAC. Will a gaudy record be enough for an-large bid? Probably not, but they have defeated Washington. Nevada just needs to keep winning. 

LOSERS:

Saint Louis: The Billikens should have felt pretty confident about their NCAA hopes heading into the weekend. The lack of great wins was masked by a good Atlantic 10 record and wins in nine of their last 10 games. On Saturday, Saint Louis lost to 5-23 Rhode Island -- and now Saint Louis gets a second look and is no longer a lock. The Billikens don't have a single top-50 win and the URI defeat is in the sub-250 region. Tuesday's hoem contest with Xavier is now a must-win for both teams. SLU is still OK, but things could get dicey.

Mississippi State: The Bulldogs are falling apart. After making a valiant effort at Kentucky, they looked terrible in the second half against Alabama and fell for their fifth loss in a row. They are now just 6-8 in the conference, and could be on the outside looking in at this point. The resume isn't overly impressive, with the win over Vanderbilt the only truly standout victory. Wins against Alabama and West Virginia are OK. The Bulldogs still face South Carolina and Arkansas down the stretch -- they need to win both. And then win at least one or two in the SEC tourney.

Seton Hall: 
After beating Georgetown this week, the Pirates were in good shape -- as long as they could avoid a bad loss to either Rutgers or DePaul down the stretch. Well, they lost to Rutgers on Saturday in overtime, and now head back to the bubble. If they can beat DePaul in the season finale and then get a win in the Big East tournament, things will look OK. They have a good computer profile (although the loss to Rutgers didn't help) and a really good win over Georgetown plus some other bubble victories. Today's loss does leave less room for error, though.

North Carolina State: The Wolfpack were not in good shape heading into the weekend, and they got their bubble completely popped by losing in overtime to Clemson on Saturday. They are now just 7-7 in the ACC, and the rest of the resume is still paltry. NC State is 0-8 vs. the top-50, has two sub-100 losses and its computer profile is getting worse. The best wins are over Miami (Fl.) and Texas. That's not going to get it done. They need to make a run to the conference tournament title game.

Connecticut: The Huskies came so close to feeling very comfortable about a bid, but they couldn't make the plays down the stretch against Syracuse and fell short. Right now, they would still get a bid due to their tremendous SOS and six top-50 wins. With that said, they need to win at Providence and home vs. Pittsburgh to get to 9-9 in the Big East and get some momentum heading into the Big East tournament. Things can still go either way.

Colorado State: After the Rams' victory over New Mexico earlier in the week, a win at San Diego State could have really solidified their profile. However, they fell short -- but get another chance at a marquee win on Wednesday against UNLV. The computer profile is pretty solid, with an RPI around 30. They do need another key victory, though. They're only 6-6 in the Mountain West, and have two sub-100 losses. 

LSU: Well, that was fun. The Tigers had made their way to the bubble after winning four in a row to get to 7-6 in the SEC. However, after getting destroyed on the road at Ole Miss on Saturday, they're likely no longer under consideration. There are a couple of good wins on the docket, but the overall resume isn't impressive. LSU would need to win out and then do serious damage in the SEC tournament.

Marshall: The Thundering Herd were attempting to play themselves back into the NCAA discussion by taking advantage of their big shots down the stretch: vs. Memphis and vs. Southern Miss. If they could win both, they might have had a chance. Instead, they got destroyed down the stretch by Memphis, losing by 20 on their homecourt. Marshall is now amongst a large group of teams in the middle of Conference USA. Their NCAA hopes are extremely dim at this point.

Harvard: The Crimson now deserve a closer look after losing to Penn on Saturday night and moving back into a tie for first place with the Quakers. Should they stay tied, a one-game playoff will be necessary; if Harvard loses that one, will they get an at-large bid? Their best wins are over Florida State and Saint Joseph's, and they have an RPI in the high 30s. The loss at Fordham in early January looks horrible, but they're 13-3 away from home, and are 7-3 against the top-100. For their sake, they should just take care of business in the potential playoff.

More College Basketball coverage
Posted on: February 20, 2012 11:51 pm
Edited on: February 20, 2012 11:54 pm
 

Night Court: Napier saves UConn's season

By Jeff Borzello

Here’s everything you need to know about Monday’s slate of college basketball games …

Game of the day: Shabazz Napier saved Connecticut’s season. After it looked like the sophomore guard wouldn’t play at all, Napier contributed key minutes and then hit a pull-up 30-footer with 0.8 seconds left in overtime to give the Huskies a 73-70 win at Villanova. Connecticut got behind by 18 points in the first half, but fought back to tie it at halftime. Jeremy Lamb went for 32 points, constantly bailing out the Huskies down the stretch. If Connecticut makes the NCAA tournament, it might look at Napier’s shot as the one that put them there.

Win to brag about: Mississippi Valley State clinched the SWAC regular-season championship in the best way possible – on a 3-pointer with under a second left by 6-foot-8 big Paul Crosby. The shot gave the Delta Devils a 56-53 win over Texas Southern, and also improved them to 15-0 in conference play. Remember, this is a team that was 1-11 in the non-league. Quite the turnaround for Sean Woods’ club.

Loss to hide from: Texas needed this one. The Longhorns, coming off a loss to Oklahoma State over the weekend, had a chance to solidify their resume with a home win over a reeling Baylor club. After getting off to a double-digit lead, they let the Bears come back on the glass – and on the scoreboard. Baylor pulled it out late, 77-72, after J’Covan Brown turned it over in the final minute. Texas’ NCAA hopes are now in trouble, while Baylor is back on the right track. Quincy Acy had 22 points and 16 rebounds for the Bears.

Player who deserves improper benefits: North Florida’s Parker Smith is gunning lately. He’s knocked down at least five 3-pointers in four of his last six games – but nothing topped his performance on Monday. The Ospreys’ guard went 11-for-17 from behind the arc – and also knocked down 9-for-9 from the free-throw line – en route to 46 points in a 75-66 win over Mercer. The loss for the Bears is their second in a row, dropping them two games behind first-place Belmont.

Player(s) who does not deserve improper benefits: There weren't too many disappointing performances tonight, although a couple caught my eye. DePaul's Jamee Crocket had taken 82 3-pointers the entire season heading into Monday night; that's slightly over three attempts per game. For some reason, he took 11 shots from behind the arc against St. John's, only making one in the loss. Meanwhile, even though Baylor won, Perry Jones struggled once again. He shot 3-for-11 from the field -- he still needs to step up in big games.

Numbers don’t lie:

  • 0: The number of Atlantic Sun wins Kennesaw State has this season, after falling just short, 73-71.
  • 0: The number of MEAC wins South Carolina State has this season, after the Bulldogs lost by one to Florida A&M.
  • 5: Delaware State has now had five games in a row decided by either one possession or in overtime. The Hornets won Monday in double overtime over Hampton.

Three other notable results:

  1. St. John’s is now in 11th place in the Big East after beating DePaul by seven. Given what the Red Storm have been through, that’s an accomplishment.
  2. It looks like Belmont will win the Atlantic Sun, after defeating USC Upstate, 88-79. The Bruins are now up by two games on Mercer with just two games left.
  3. Savannah State took a full game lead in the MEAC standings by demolishing Bethune-Cookman, who entered Monday only one game back of first.

Notes:

  • Look out for Fairfield in the MAAC tournament. The Stags won their seventh straight league game by beating Marist on the road.
  • Kyle O’Quinn struggled offensively, but still grabbed 16 rebounds as Norfolk State picked up an easy win over Longwood.
  • Southern looks likely to finish second in the SWAC after improving to 11-4 on Monday, but the Jaguars are ineligible for the conference tournament and won’t thus be able to take down MVSU.
  • There was a false report claiming that Connecticut head coach Jim Calhoun would return for Saturday’s game against Syracuse. It was denied by school officials. 
More College Basketball coverage
Posted on: February 18, 2012 2:12 pm
Edited on: February 19, 2012 1:11 am
 

Poppin' Bubbles: Winners and Losers

Kansas State might have been the biggest winner of the day, getting a marquee road win at Baylor. (US Presswire)

By Jeff Borzello

While BracketBusters is getting most of the attention this weekend, it’s also a BubbleBurster type of weekend. According to most projected brackets, there are still 10-12 spots that could go to any number of teams. Of course, most of those teams are in action today. There are bubble battles and chances for marquee wins across the board, so keep it locked here for all your bubble action.

Note: This page will be updated all day, with bubble discussion and analysis.

WINNERS:

New Mexico:
The win at San Diego State might have vaulted the Lobos into a more comfortable position -- but Saturday's victory over UNLV locks it up. Moreover, New Mexico has the inside track to a regular-season title in the Mountain West after knocking off the SDSU and UNLV in a matter of days. This is a team that can do some damage in March. The Lobos have Drew Gordon on the inside, plenty of shooters on the perimeter, a 10-deep rotation and they play really good defense. 

Kansas State: I wrote last week that Kansas State needed to get one its "big three" games: Kansas, Baylor and Missouri. On Saturday, the Wildcats went into Waco and came out with a huge resume-boosting win over Baylor. They now own wins over Missouri and Baylor, along with decent scalps against Alabama, Texas and Long Beach State. Moreover, today's win will likely vault Kansas State into the top 50 of the RPI, where it's a lot more comfortable. At 7-7 in the Big 12, the Wildcats are in much better shape than they were this morning. Really, really good win.

Miami: The Hurricanes were one of the last teams in the bracket this week, and they couldn't afford to lose to Wake Forest at home. They obliged, pulling away in the second half for a 74-56 win. At 7-5 in the ACC, they continue to inch ahead of North Carolina State in the ACC argument, despite losing to the Wolfpack. The win over Duke remains the only top 50 win for the Hurricanes, but it's not a bad trump card come Selection Sunday. They need to beat Maryland on the road next week, then comes two tough ones vs. Florida State and at NC State. 

Alabama ended its two-game losing streak and stayed in the field by beating Tennessee. (US Presswire)

Alabama: The Crimson Tide will remain an interesting case as long as they're not at full strength. With that said, though, they stayed in relatively comfortable position even without their studs. On Saturday, they welcomed in a hot Tennessee team and dominated the second half to win, 62-50. Alabama only has one marquee win -- over Wichita State -- but its victory over Purdue helps in bubble comparisons. If the Crimson Tide can go 3-1 down the stretch, they will finish above .500 in the SEC and be in pretty good shape. 

Iowa State: It wasn't of the same caliber as Kansas State, but the Cyclones handled their business on Saturday in a 80-69 win over Oklahoma at home. Interestingly, with the win and Baylor's loss, the two teams are now tied for third-place in the Big 12 at 9-5. The win over Kansas a few weeks ago really helps matters, although only three top-100 wins and the lack of road victories remain trouble spots. The three-game stretch to finish the season -- at Kansas State, at Missouri, vs. Baylor -- will decide their fate. 

Washington: What the Pac-12 has been looking for all season is some separation at the top of the league standings. Washington's win over Arizona on Saturday provides some. If California wins this weekend, both teams will have a two-game lead on the rest of the conference -- exactly what the conference needs. In terms of the Huskies' at-large hopes, the victory now gives them a season sweep of Arizona, which is basically the only thing boosting up Washington's resume at this point. Washington now has three road games to finish the season, but the Huskies needed this one. 

Cincinnati: Despite the Bearcats' horrendous computer profile, they're still in at-large consideration thanks to their quality wins. They picked up a monster bubble victory on Saturday, getting off to a hot start against Seton Hall and holding off the Pirates down the stretch. Cincinnati had already beaten Georgetown, Notre Dame and Connecticut, and Saturday's win puts them at 5-5 against teams ranked in the top 100. The bad losses are certainly bringing the profile down, but 9-5 in the Big East keeps the Bearcats in the mix for now. Big chance at home against Louisville next week.

Saint Louis: Isn't it about time we consider the Billikens a step ahead of the bubble? The win over Fordham wasn't profile-boosting by any stretch, but Saint Louis is now 10-3 in the Atlantic-10, with a top-25 RPI. They only have one top-50 win, over Saint Joseph's, but they've also beaten fellow bubblers Washington, Xavier and Dayton. They're 6-5 against the top 100 and have zero bad losses. Barring a collapse, the Billikens will make the Dance.

Saint Joseph's: The Hawks kept their at-large hopes alive by going into Washington D.C. and beating George Washington, 73-66. They don't have an eye-popping at-large profile, but they do own a win over Creighton and also defeated Dayton (and a rapidly-improving Drexel team). For now, the Hawks are on the outside looking in, but 8-5 in the A-10 looks solid. Next Saturday's home game against Temple will be huge for their Selection Sunday chances.

Northwestern: The Wildcats had a couple of road losses heading into the weekend, but they bounced back nicely with a double-digit victory over Minnesota. The win separates them somewhat from Illinois and Minnesota, putting them at 6-8 in the Big Ten. There is still plenty of work to be done, though, as Northwestern sits at 2-8 vs. the top 50. The Wildcats get both Michigan and Ohio State at home down the stretch, so there are chances to add to their marquee win category, which currently includes Michigan State. 

BYU:
With Saturday's win over Santa Clara, the Cougars have now won five in a row and improved to 11-3 in the West Coast Conference. As other bubble teams around BYU start to lose, the Cougars' profile looks better and better. They are 10-3 away from home, and they have a top-20 RPI win over Gonzaga. On Thursday, BYU heads to Spokane in a huge game against Gonzaga -- the Bulldogs could be playing for a chance to share the league title, while BYU would lock up a bid with a win. If the Cougars lose that one, we will reassess. 

UCF: Despite their loss to Southern Miss during the week, the Knights have quietly played themselves back into the at-large picture. They kept those hopes alive with a 64-55 win over East Carolina on Saturday. UCF still sits at just fourth in Conference-USA, so it needs to break into the top three to have a better chance, but wins over fellow bubblers Memphis and Connecticut are decent. Two sub-100 losses do hurt, though. A road game at Memphis on Feb. 28 could be a make-or-break contest.

Xavier: This was a must-win for Xavier, which could have dropped to fifth in the A-10 pecking order with a loss at home to Dayton. However, Tu Holloway came through in the clutch and the Musketeers got an overtime win over the Flyers. The Musketeers are third in the Atlantic-10, and it gives them another nice bubble win, to add to Saint Joseph's, Cincinnati and Purdue. Throw in a victory over Vanderbilt, and Xavier could be in decent shape right now. Road games at Massachusetts and Saint Louis in the final four games make things interesting.

Colorado State: In what boiled down to a Mountain West elimination game, the Rams knocked off Wyoming, avenging a 16-point loss earlier this season. They get back to .500 in the conference and win for only the third time in their last eight games. However, the upcoming three-game stretch will decide their fate: vs. New Mexico, at San Diego State, vs. UNLV. If they can get wins in two of those three, the Rams could be an interesting case heading into the conference tournament. 

California: The Golden Bears kept pace with Washington in the Pac-12 standings, rolling in the second half over Oregon State. Cal still has the best overall profile in the conference, with good computer numbers and a 7-4 record against the top-100. They do face three road games to finish the season, though, and getting separation at the top of the league is important to getting an at-large bid. 

Connecticut is in serious bubble trouble after losing nine of its last 13 contests. (US Presswire)


LOSERS:

Connecticut: The Huskies dominated DePaul during the week, but missed out on a chance to solidify their at-large standing against Marquette. The Huskies got down early and never got closer than four in the second half en route to a 79-64 loss. They now drop to 6-8 in the Big East and 5-6 against teams ranked in the top 50. However, there’s no one marquee win that puts the Huskies over the top. Florida State, Notre Dame and Harvard are good – but Marquette would have been a huge profile-booster. UConn is in serious trouble heading into the final four games – they might need to beat Syracuse next weekend.

Illinois: The Fighting Illini have officially packed it in. After not pulling a win out earlier in the week against Purdue, Illinois went into Nebraska and just got destroyed. The Cornhuskers went on a 31-4 run that ended up being a 52-12 stretch. The final was 80-57, and that wasn't even indicative of how bad Illinois played in the final 20 minutes. Bruce Weber sounded defeated after the loss to Purdue; one can only imagine how he feels now. The Fighting Illini still have really good wins over Michigan State, Ohio State and Gonzaga, but they are now 5-9 in the Big Ten and have lost eight of their last nine games. Barring a 3-1 finish with games against Ohio State, Wisconsin and Michigan, Illinois is finished.

Mississippi State: The Bulldogs have officially entered a danger zone. A week and a half ago, it looked like Mississippi State was primed to rattle off some victories and cement itself into the dance -- now, it has lost three in a row after the latest setback to Auburn on Saturday. After being considered in good shape for much of the season, a closer look reveals that the Bulldogs are in serious trouble. There's the win at Vanderbilt, a couple of nice wins against West Virginia and Alabama, but not much else. They're now 6-6 in the SEC, 4-6 away from home and have two sub-100 losses. This week is enormous: home vs. Kentucky, and at Alabama. 

North Carolina State: After blowing a 20-point lead to Duke on Thursday, the Wolfpack were one of the last teams considered for projected brackets on Friday. They needed to bounce back and get a quality win against Florida State on Saturday. That didn't happen. Florida State took command early in the first half and never looked back, hammering NC State, 76-62. The Wolfpack's resume doesn't have too many good wins, with Texas and Miami (Fl.) leading the way. A win today (or Thursday) would have boosted the profile. Now, this week's game at home against North Carolina amounts to a must-win.

Memphis: Despite not having an overwhelming resume, the Tigers avoided the "real" bubble by beating the teams they were supposed to beat and not suffering bad losses. Well, they suffered a bad loss on Saturday, falling 60-58 to UTEP at home. It was the Miners' first road victory of the season. Taking a closer look at Memphis' resume, and the loss could be trouble. UTEP was ranked No. 183 in the RPI heading into Saturday, and gives Memphis its first true bad loss of the season. Combine it with a 2-6 record vs. the top 50, and Memphis is far from a lock at this point.  

Arizona: The Wildcats had plenty of at-large momentum in recent weeks, moving past Washington in the bubble pecking order. However, they needed to knock off the Huskies on the road on Saturday -- but they fell short, 79-70. Arizona drops to fourth-place in the Pac-12 at this point, and its resume is still based off one win: at California. The Wildcats need more beef to the profile, meaning a trip to the Pac-12 championship game might be necessary. 

Seton Hall: Even though the Pirates' had a six-game losing streak earlier in the Big East season, their resume was still better than many bubblers. In a huge bubble battle against Cincinnati on Saturday, though, they fell short. Seton Hall drops to 7-8 in the Big East, heading into next week's game against Georgetown. If the Pirates beat the Hoyas, they're back in good shape. However, the four good wins -- Connecticut, West Virginia, Saint Joseph's, Dayton -- aren't exactly "marquee." 

Minnesota couldn't get past Northwestern, and now faces a difficult path to an NCAA bid. (AP)

Minnesota: The Golden Gophers had a golden opportunity to boost their at-large profile on Saturday, but they couldn't stop Northwestern's outside shooting and lost, 64-53. It was Minnesota's third straight loss and dropped the Gophers to 5-9 in Big Ten play. What makes it worse is the next three games: vs. Michigan State, vs. Indiana, at Wisconsin. Minnesota might need to sweep those three -- or at least nab two of three -- to have a chance again. They're 2-6 vs. the top-50, with a road win at Indiana highlighting the resume. 

Texas:
With Kansas State and Iowa State winning today, the last thing Texas needed was a loss to Oklahoma State. So the Longhorns went to Stillwater and lost to Oklahoma State, 90-78, as Keiton Page dropped 40 points for the Cowboys. The loss drops Texas to 7-7 in the Big 12, with some separation between itself and the two teams tied for third place. Texas is only 3-8 against the top-100, but wins over Temple, Kansas State and Iowa State are pretty good. The Longhorns face Baylor at home next week; that has become a must-win for Rick Barnes' troops.

Ole Miss: The Rebels needed to bounce back from getting destroyed by Vanderbilt earlier in the week. Playing Kentucky wasn't the answer. They hung with the top-ranked Wildcats for a half, but Kentucky just steamrolled in the second half en route to a 77-62 win. Ole Miss is now just 1-7 against top-50 teams, with the best wins coming over Miami (Fl.) and Mississippi State. The Rebels are ninth place in the SEC and 3-10 vs. the top 100. That doesn't get it done. 

Arkansas: The Razorbacks' homecourt dominance was enough to keep them in the at-large conversation, but that's no longer the case. Florida absolutely annihilated Arkansas today in a 98-68 victory, despite freshman B.J. Young going for 31 points in the loss. The Razorbacks drop to 5-7 in the SEC and are still 0-8 away from home. With losses in five of their last seven games, and four sub-100 losses, Arkansas has a long way to go to get back in the at-large hunt. It was fun while it lasted. 

Wyoming: If the Cowboys could have swept Colorado State, they would still be in the mix for a fourth at-large coming out of the Mountain West. However, they lost by eight, and now sit at 4-6 in the conference. Moreover, they still have road games at San Diego and UNLV remaining. Anything short of an unbeaten run to the league title game won't be enough. 

Dayton:
The Flyers' plethora of decent wins had kept them hanging around the last few spots in the bracket for a couple of weeks now. A win at Xavier would have certainly boosted their profile heading down the stretch. Kevin Dillard and co. couldn't pull it out in overtime, though, and now are in big trouble. Saint Joseph's might have passed them in the pecking order, and they certainly did in the standings. Dayton is now eighth in the league table, and the bad computer numbers don't help. Wins over Temple, Saint Louis and Alabama only get you so far.

Southern Miss:
 This was a bad day for Conference-USA. Southern Miss could have taken control of the conference, as Memphis lost at home to UTEP earlier in the day. So the Golden Eagles went out and lost to Houston. Going into the weekend, Southern Miss should have felt pretty confident about its at-large hopes. It has a great RPI and wins over Memphis and Colorado State. Looking closer, though, the wins aren't great and losses to Houston and UAB are bringing the resume down. They need a regular-season title. 

Long Beach State: If the 49ers lose in the Big West conference tournament, their loss late to Creighton could be the game that keeps them out. To be clear, they do deserve a bid. But what will the Selection Committee see? The team that dominated the Big West? Or the one that missed out on several chances in the non-conference season? There's really only one good win on the resume, Xavier, as the victory over Pittsburgh doesn't look as good as it used to. With the way the 49ers are handling their league, though, this will be a moot point. 

Posted on: February 6, 2012 11:23 pm
Edited on: February 6, 2012 11:57 pm
 

Night Court: Missouri survives another close game

Oklahoma's Steven Pledger reacts after his game-tying 3-pointer rimmed out at the buzzer against Missouri. (AP)

By Jeff Borzello

Here’s everything you need to know about Monday’s slate of college basketball games …

Game of the day: Oklahoma has had several close games recently, and Monday night against Missouri was no different, with the Sooners falling, 71-68. Both teams came out of the gate knocking down shots, especially Marcus Denmon, who finished with 25 points. Missouri had the lead for the entire second half, but Oklahoma kept it within one possession for the final minutes. The Sooners had a chance to tie the game, but Romero Osby missed two free throws and Steven Pledger’s 3-pointer at the buzzer rimmed out.

Win to brag about: Beating Texas A&M this season isn’t the same as it was the past couple of years, but Texas couldn’t afford another close loss (or a loss in general). The Longhorns were 0-7 in games decided by six points or fewer heading into Monday, but they held off Texas A&M down the stretch for a 70-68 win. J’Covan Brown had 20 points and seven assists to lead the Longhorns.

Loss to hide from: Remember when we thought Connecticut might turn things around after its win over Seton Hall on Saturday? Yeah, that didn’t happen. The Huskies were outhustled, outmuscled and outworked by Louisville en route to an 80-59 loss. And it didn’t even feel that close. Louisville shot 44 percent from 3-point range, and held Andre Drummond, Shabazz Napier and Jeremy Lamb to 16 points on 6-for-26 shooting.

Player who deserves improper benefits: Marquette’s Jamil Wilson has only reached double-figures in scoring four times this season, and has not grabbed more than seven rebounds in a game. On Monday night, Wilson led Marquette to a 89-76 comeback win over DePaul, totaling 18 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks – on 8-for-12 shooting.

Player(s) who does not deserve improper benefits: Connecticut’s debacle of an offensive performance deserves more than just one mention. Andre Drummond was dominated by Gorgui Dieng all night, as the Louisville big man finished with 15 points, six rebounds and six steals. Even worse, Drummond went 0-for-6 from the field and didn’t score a single point. Drummond has all the talent in the world, but the desire is lacking.

Numbers don’t lie:

  • 4: Four of Missouri’s last five wins have been by three points or fewer.
  • 3:45: Vermont has trailed for just 3:45 in its last 133:02 played. The Catamounts have won seven in a row after beating Maine.
  • 0: Kennesaw State remains winless in the Atlantic Sun after losing at home to USC-Upstate. The Owls are 0-13 in the league, 2-22 vs. D-I competition.
  • 93: Southern beat Jackson State, 49-44. In overtime. That’s 93 combined points in 45 minutes of basketball.
  • 16: South Carolina State had lost 16 games in a row before beating beating Longwood on Monday.

Three other notable results:

  1. Mississippi Valley State is 11-0 in the SWAC after beating Alabama A&M. MVSU was just 1-11 in non-conference play.
  2. Davidson has now won three in a row since dropping its first league game last weekend, beating Wofford by 22.
  3. Stony Brook stayed atop the America East at 11-1 with a 57-48 victory over New Hampshire.

Notes:

  • Belmont steamrolled Austin Peay, 94-55, in a non-conference tilt.
  • Mercer took a half-game lead in the Atlantic Sun, beating East Tennessee State, 54-46.
  • Idaho State played Montana close for a half, but the Grizzlies dominated the second half in a 76-40 victory to move to 10-1 in the Big Sky.
More College Basketball coverage
Posted on: January 30, 2012 11:40 pm
Edited on: January 30, 2012 11:41 pm
 

Night Court: First 50-point scorer of the season

Kevin Murphy, the man who scored 50 tonight. (US PRESSWIRE)
By Matt Norlander

Here’s everything you need to know about Monday night’s light slate of games …

Game of the Night:  Thank God Missouri had to play Texas on the road, because if this was in Columbia, I feel like we would’ve had to pick Pitt-WVU as the GotN. This just in last century: winning on the road in conference against competent teams is harder than spinning a ping pong ball on your pinky. Missouri learned the lesson again tonight, as it was unable to shake Texas off despite, largely, playing better than the ’Horns for the majority of the game.

Then came the elbow call on Michael Dixon that gave Texas two technical free throws and helped cut a 13-point deficit down to one with less than a minute to go. J’Covan Brown gave UT the lead on the next possession. Dixon, by the way, hit a ridiculous running, falling left-handed, high-arcing layup to give Mizzou the lead. It was the game winner, and Dixon was 9 for 10 from the field and finished with 21 points. Missouri is playing itself into a top seed. They remain a fascinating case study in teams that inexplicably do well with first-year coaches.

Win to brag about: It’s become an unpredictable college basketball season across the board, in almost every conference. Pittsburgh only adds to the haze with its 72-66 win at West Virginia, causing the Mountaineers to dip to .500 in Big East play while taking one in Morgantown. Seth Davis floated the possibility Pitt could become a faint factor in the bubble chase. To that I only say, Seth, I love ya, buddy.

Loss to hide from: I forgot to make the bed today. My fiancée came home in a huff. So I’m hiding from that — and her. I bring this up because there wasn't really a bad loss tonight. And on Jan. 30 college basketball needs to be offering us more than this.

Player who deserves improper benefits: Kevin Murphy became the first 50-point scorer in college basketball this season tonight. He had half a hundred in Tennessee Tech’s 98-80 home win over SIU-Edwardsville. Murphy, a senior, was 16-of-21 from the field, 6-of-9 from 3, 12-of-14 from the foul line, had seven rebounds and just one turnover. It all amounts to what is likely one of the best sports nights of his life and certainly the most impressive statistical performance in the senior’s college career.

The flip side of the game saw Jerome Jones from SIU-E have a season-high 25 points.

Player who does not deserve improper benefits: Shame on you for trimming that beard, Deniz Kilicli. Now it’s merely magnificent, instead of Zeusian.

Numbers don’t lie

  • 18. Texas Southern blew an 18-point lead to Alabama State and lost 66-59 in overtime. The ESPNU play-by-play man called it "one of the most startling and unexpected comebacks you will ever see this college basketball season." I don't know about you, but I'm taking his word for it.
  • 4. After a four-game drought where he was held below 20 points -- the only time that's happened this season -- Penn senior Zack Rosen got back to good, putting up 28 against Princeton. Jack Donaghy is not pleased.
  • 3. The number of BracketBusters games that are actually worthwhile. Check out our succinct breakdown of the games.
  • 83. The number of pages I burned through tonight "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." (Again, thanks for the slow night, CBB!) This book is not making me want to see the movie. Only 200 pages to go. I was told this thing picks up the pace 100 pages in. Lies.

Three other notable results

  1. Penn knocked off Princeton in the Ivy, which means Penn is still undefeated, which means they’re tied in the loss column with Harvard. I'd love a good Ivy race, but it feels like Harvard's going to win the league by at least two games.
  2. Norfolk State dropped its first game in the MEAC tonight (87-82 to Coppin State). Yeah, we’re scraping the barrel’s bottom.
  3. Central Florida, what are you doing playing Palm Beach Atlantic on Jan. 30? Are you not a major player in a respectable conference? Don’t schedule weaklings after Christmas if you want to be a big boy. Now, can someone help me get off this damn high horse?

Notes

  • Did you happen to catch Bob Knight’s mocha sweater tonight? I promptly put on a cup of hot chocolate.
  • I can’t stand the elbow = technical rule in principle. What Dixon tonight warranted two free throws, but all too often we’re seeing players get punished for a natural reaction with the ball. Can we agree to just keep the spirit of the rule alive but chop it to one free throw? That’s a compromise I can live with.
  • I’ll be speaking with Kevin Murphy about his 50-point game early Tuesday morning. Look for the post around lunchtime.
 
 
 
 
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