NCAA Tournament Bubble Watch: Detailed Insanity For 02/25/2011

We're now 16 days from Selection Sunday, and the bid picture is finally coming into shape, sort of. And since it's Friday, its time for me to count through the at-large pool at SB Nation, while providing a bit more detail on the teams fighting for bids here at Blogging the Bracket.

First, a quick look at how the at-large bid picture stacks up with a little more than two weeks to go.

26 Locks + 11 In Good Shape = 37 teams in position
10 of these 37 hold their conference's auto bid at the moment, so 27 at-larges are accounted for.
37 Total At-Large Bids - 27 = 10 Available Bids

This week, there are 31 detailed profiles in this post, a reduction of 10 from last week. That shift is due to these changes.

  • Missouri, St. John's, Temple, Texas A&M, West Virginia, and Xavier rise up to Lock status.
  • Cincinnati, George Mason, Kansas State, Michigan State, Old Dominion, UCLA, and Utah State rise up to In Good Shape status.
  • Cleveland State, Duquesne, New Mexico, UTEP, and Valparaiso dropped out.
  • USC jumps in. This is a late edition after their win over Arizona Thursday night and one I was reminded to add, thanks to a kind e-mailer.

As a reminder, here are the ground rules for how teams are represented in this post.

I've broken the teams up by conference, with the Big Six leagues, Atlantic 10, and Mountain West listed separately, as they're the most likely to earn more than a single bid at this point. As for teams from conferences like the CAA, WCC, C-USA, Ivy, and MVC, these are all grouped together at the bottom of the page.

Within their conferences, I've listed teams in S-curve order. If a team in the Looking Good or Work to Do groups owns its respective league's lead (and auto bid), I've noted that. I've also indicated if a bubble team falls within the Next/Last Four In and First/Next Four Out groups.

Locks are represented by team logos. 

I have a paragraph explaining the status of the 11 teams who are in Good Shape.

For teams on the Bubble, I have a full profile including record and win/loss breakdowns.

The ACC begins proceedings after the jump.

RPI and schedule data from Basketball State (subscription), accessed on Thursday, February 24, 2011. RPI information only reflects games played against Division I opponents through Wednesday, February 23, 2011. Records only reflect games played against Division I opponents through Thursday, February 24, 2011.

ACC

There continues to be little separation between the bubble teams in the ACC, a number that's grown to a half-dozen, thanks to Miami's win at Boston College on Wednesday night. While all six will play at least one of the others in the final week and a half of the regular season, expect the conference tournament in Greensboro to be a significant factor in clearing the muddled picture up.

Locks (2)

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Bubble (6)

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Florida State Seminoles
Record: 19-8 overall; 9-4 conference; 2-4 vs. RPI Top 50; 4-3 vs. RPI 51-100; 12-1 vs. RPI 150+; 8-6 Road/Neutral
Average RPI win: 184 Loss: 69
RPI: 54
SOS: 102
RPI 1-50 Wins: Duke, Boston College
RPI 51-100 Wins: Clemson, at Miami, Baylor (N), NC State
Bad (RPI 150+) Losses: at Auburn
Other Losses: Ohio State, at North Carolina, Florida, Butler (N), at Clemson, at Virginia Tech, at Maryland
Remaining Regular Season Schedule: Miami (Sat.), North Carolina (3/2), at NC State (3/6)
The Seminoles still own a win over Duke and a decent road/neutral mark; however, Chris Singleton's absence is negatively affecting their chances. Before the FSU forward went out with a foot injury, March 2nd's home game against North Carolina looked winnable, even if the Seminoles lost to the Heels by 20 in Chapel Hill. Without him, they'll be hard pressed to pick up another victory. FSU only won at Miami by 3 and beat NC State by 13 at home with him in the lineup. However, those teams' motivation, particularly the Wolfpack's, is suspect right now.

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Virginia Tech Hokies  (Next Four IN)
Record: 18-8 overall; 8-5 conference; 1-5 vs. RPI Top 50; 6-0 vs. RPI 51-100; 9-1 vs. RPI 150+; 8-6 Road/Neutral
Average RPI win: 174 Loss: 70
RPI: 63
SOS: 111
RPI 1-50 Wins: Florida State
RPI 51-100 Wins: Oklahoma State (N), Penn State, Miami, at Maryland, Maryland, at NC State
Bad (RPI 150+) Losses: at Georgia Tech
Other Losses: Purdue, at North Carolina, UNLV (N), at Kansas State, at Boston College, Virginia, at Virginia
Remaining Regular Season Schedule: Duke (Sat.), Boston College (3/1), at Clemson (3/5)
You could argue the Hokies are eight to ten points away from being a near lock, thanks to a two-point setback at fellow ACC bubble team Boston College, a three-point home loss to Purdue in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, a three-point come-from-ahead loss at North Carolina, and a consternating three-point defeat at Virginia to start the ACC season. The fact the Cavaliers swept the season series with the Hokies on Saturday is a major negative. To combat that blemish, Tech will need to win two of their last three, which won't be easy. Virginia Tech gets the chance to upset Duke at Cassell Coliseum. However, the final two regular season games, the opportunity to avenge a road loss at BC and a trip to Clemson, who's starting to make a late push for a bid, will likely play a larger role in determining the Hokies' fate.

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Boston College Eagles (Last Four IN)
Record: 16-11 overall; 6-7 conference; 1-6 vs. RPI Top 50; 6-4 vs. RPI 51-100; 5-1 vs. RPI 150+; 5-7 Road/Neutral
Average RPI win: 134 Loss: 52
RPI: 50
SOS: 16
RPI 1-50 Wins: Texas A&M (N)
RPI 51-100 Wins: Virginia Tech, California (N), Bucknell, at Maryland, Maryland, NC State
Losses: at Duke, North Carolina, at North Carolina, Wisconsin (N), Harvard, at Florida State, at Clemson, at Miami, Miami, at Rhode Island, Yale
Remaining Regular Season Schedule: at Virginia (Sat.), at Virginia Tech (3/1), Wake Forest (3/6)
The Eagles very much look like a team that peaked before Christmas, as they went 10-2 before the holiday (with one of the two losses being their worst overall [Yale]) and 6-9 since. Plus, the shine of the Eagles' best win, against Texas A&M in Orlando, has worn off slightly, thanks to the Aggies' up-and-down performance in the Big 12. But Boston College is not without hope, as they recently defeated Virginia Tech and Maryland at home, but a loss at Clemson and a sweep at the hands of Miami is problematic, BC will need positive results in their final three games, which are all winnable. However, the Eagles' final road game, against Virginia Tech, increasingly looks like an elimination game.

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Clemson Tigers (Next Four OUT)
Record:
18-9 overall; 7-6 conference; 2-4 vs. RPI Top 50; 5-3 vs. RPI 51-100; 8-0 vs. RPI 150+; 5-7 Road/Neutral
Average RPI win: 159 Loss: 66
RPI: 64
SOS: 87
RPI 1-50 Wins: Boston College, Florida State
RPI 51-100 Wins: at College of Charleston, at Miami, Miami, NC State, Seton Hall (N)
Losses: at North Carolina, North Carolina, Old Dominion (N), at Florida State, Michigan, at Maryland, at NC State, at South Carolina, at Virginia
Remaining Regular Season Schedule: Wake Forest (Sat.), at Duke (3/2), Virginia Tech (3/5)
The Tigers' lack of quality wins could push them into the NIT (which honestly wouldn't be the worst fate, considering where this team was at the first of the year), but they aren't dead yet because of their remaining schedule. Clemson has just two top 50 victories on the year, which came over Boston College and Florida State at Littlejohn. Otherwise, the Tigers' wins are rather middling. The only really bad loss came at Virginia (thanks to a woeful offensive performance), but defeats at the hands of South Carolina and Michigan aren't helpful either.  The last two games will be key for Brad Brownell's team. A unlikely win at Duke would give them their best road win by far (their best results away from campus are at Miami, College of Charleston, and over Seton Hall at the Paradise Jam). However, a home game against fellow bubble team Virginia Tech on the final Saturday of the regular season will play a significant role in determining whether either makes it to the NCAA.

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Maryland Terrapins
Record: 18-10 overall; 7-6 conference; 1-8 vs. RPI Top 50; 4-2 vs. RPI 51-100; 12-0 vs. RPI 150+; 4-7 Road/Neutral
Average RPI win: 200 Loss: 35
RPI: 81
SOS: 77
RPI 1-50 Wins: Florida State
RPI 51-100 Wins: at Penn State, Clemson, College of Charleston
Losses: at Duke, Duke, Pittsburgh (N), at Villanova, Temple (N), Illinois (N), Boston College, at Boston College, at Virginia Tech, Virginia Tech
Remaining Regular Season Schedule: at North Carolina (Sun.), at Miami (3/2), Virginia (3/5)
After losses at (and season sweeps at the hands of) Boston College and Virginia Tech, Maryland looks to be finished, barring an unbeaten run through the rest of the regular season and two to three wins at the ACC Tournament. The Terrapins got of to a good start, picking up their best victory of the season Wednesday night against Florida State, who's position is shaky without Chris Singleton. Maryland's second best win came against a Penn State team that's not a safe bet at all. The Terps squandered numerous chances outside of the ACC, as losses to Pitt, Illinois, Temple, and Villanova litter their profile. While Gary Williams' team has just one more chance at a marquee win in the regular season, Sunday's trip to Chapel Hill, watch Wednesday's game at Miami, as the Hurricanes decided to interject themselves into the bubble conversation by sweeping Boston College.

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Miami Hurricanes
Record:
17-11 overall; 5-8 conference; 3-5 vs. RPI Top 50; 1-5 vs. RPI 51-100; 9-0 vs. RPI 150+; 7-7 Road/Neutral
Average RPI win: 168 Loss: 53
RPI: 66
SOS: 47
RPI 1-50 Wins: West Virginia, Boston College, at Boston College
RPI 51-100 Wins: Mississippi
Losses: Duke, at Duke, North Carolina, at Memphis, Florida State, Michigan, Clemson, at Clemson, at Virginia Tech, UCF (N), at NC State, at Rutgers
Remaining Regular Season Schedule: at Florida State (Sat.), Maryland (3/2), at Georgia Tech (3/6)
Miami joins this list after winning at Boston College Wednesday night, earning a season sweep over the Eagles. However, that pair of wins is the only two the Hurricanes have earned against an ACC contender, something that could change in the next week, as they visit Florida State, a team they nearly beat with Chris Singleton in the lineup, and host Maryland. Frank Haith's team will need to win both of those games, along with a game at Georgia Tech, to reach .500 in the ACC. If the Canes can do that, and make a run through the ACC tournament, the late wins and a non-league victory over West Virginia will move them into position.

Atlantic 10

I've moved Xavier, winners of six in a row and 13 of 14, and Temple, even with a loss at Duke on Wednesday night, into the lock category. Richmond is now the only team under serious consideration for an at-large, as Duquesne, a team with a thin profile in the first place, has dropped four of five. Dayton could rise into next week's post if they upset Xavier on Sunday afternoon at UD Arena.

Locks (2)

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Bubble (1)

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Richmond Spiders (Last Four IN)
Record: 21-7 overall; 10-3 conference; 1-3 vs. RPI Top 50; 3-2 vs. RPI 51-100; 14-1 vs. RPI 150+; 10-4 Road/Neutral
Average RPI win: 177 Loss: 72
RPI: 61
SOS: 130
RPI 1-50 Wins: Purdue (N)
RPI 51-100 Wins: VCU, at Dayton, at Seton Hall
Bad (RPI 150+) Losses: Georgia Tech (N)
Other Losses: Xavier, at Temple, at Old Dominion, Rhode Island, Bucknell, at Iona
Remaining Regular Season Schedule: at Charlotte (Sat.), at St. Joseph's (3/2), Duquesne (3/5)
Richmond owns perhaps the best win of any bubble team, a thorough 11-point victory over Purdue at the Chicago Invitational Classic over Thanksgiving. But the Spiders also own some confounding losses, with the ones against Georgia Tech in the Bahamas and Bucknell at home the two that stand out the most. Still, since that loss to the Bison, Chris Mooney's team has taken care of the weaker teams on their slate, including Fordham, George Washington, and Saint Louis in the past two weeks. The Spiders' own an impressive 10-4 record away from home. However, the Spiders weren't competitive in their losses to the top two teams in the league, Xavier and Temple.

Big East

Thanks to Cincinnati's surprising win at Georgetown, unexpected not only because of the difficulty of winning away from home in this conference but also because the Bearcats showed a lot of heart down the stretch, 10 bids is becoming a more likely proposition. Cincy isn't quite a lock yet, thanks to three difficult final conference games, but they do earn a promotion for this week. Marquette is close as well, thanks to their win at Connecticut Thursday night, but a rough closing stretch, which includes a home game with the Bearcats on March 2nd, leaves them on the bubble.

Locks (9)

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In Good Shape (1)

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Cincinnati Bearcats

The Bearcats' win over Georgetown on Wednesday night was both a marquee road win and confidence boost heading into a difficult closing stretch. I'm not quite ready to anoint Cincy as a lock yet, not with home games with UConn and Georgetown and a road trip to fellow bid contender Marquette left. However, a sweep of the Hoyas (something Mick Cronin's team couldn't accomplish against St, John's, who they also beat on the road) may do it, as would a win in either of the other two games.

Bubble (1)

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Marquette Golden Eagles  (Next Four IN)
Record: 17-11 overall; 8-7 conference; 4-10 vs. RPI Top 50; 2-1 vs. RPI 51-100; 9-0 vs. RPI 150+; 4-8 Road/Neutral
Average RPI win: 177 Loss: 20
RPI: 69
SOS: 31
RPI 1-50 Wins: Notre Dame, at Connecticut, Syracuse, West Virginia
RPI 51-100 Wins: Bucknell, Seton Hall
Losses: at Georgetown, Duke (N), at Pittsburgh, at Notre Dame, St. John's, Connecticut, at Vanderbilt, Wisconsin, at Louisville, at Villanova, Gonzaga (N)
Remaining Regular Season Schedule: Providence (Sun.), Cincinnati (3/2), at Seton Hall (3/5)
Thanks to some early season games against the absolute worst Division I has to offer (Centenary, Prairie View, South Dakota, Longwood), the computers don't quite recognize the difficulty of Marquette's schedule yet. Buzz Williams' team has played a whopping 14 games against the RPI top 50; however, they've won just four. However, the fourth triumph may have pushed the Golden Eagles in, as they won at UConn on Thursday night. If Buzz Williams' team doesn't slip up late, particularly against Providence and Seton Hall, they'll be the 11th Big East team in.

Big Ten

Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Purdue continue to be locked in, while Michigan State is in better position after three wins in four, all over fellow bubble teams.

Locks (3)

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In Good Shape (1)

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Michigan St. Spartans

Over the past week, the Spartans have defeated Illinois at home and Minnesota in Minneapolis to move closer to safety. While a win over Purdue Saturday would be helpful, it's not as necessary as closing the regular season by avenging earlier losses to Iowa and Michigan.

 

Bubble (4)

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Illinois Fighting Illini
Record:
17-11 overall; 7-8 conference; 4-7 vs. RPI Top 50; 6-2 vs. RPI 51-100; 6-2 vs. RPI 150+; 5-9 Road/Neutral
Average RPI win: 120 Loss: 66
RPI: 39
SOS: 13
RPI 1-50 Wins: North Carolina, Wisconsin, at Minnesota, Michigan State
RPI 51-100 Wins: Michigan, Penn State, Oakland, Gonzaga (N), Northwestern, Maryland (N)
Bad (RPI 150+) Losses: at Indiana, Illinois-Chicago (N)
Other Losses: Ohio State, at Ohio State, Purdue, Texas (N), at Wisconsin, Missouri (N), at Michigan State, at Penn State, at Northwestern
Remaining Regular Season Schedule: Iowa (Sat.), at Purdue (3/1), Indiana (3/5)
The Big Ten slate has been unkind to Illinois, who started out like a house on fire with three straight wins, but have since dropped six of their last nine and eight of 12. A 9-9 or 10-8 finish is looking likely for the Illini, thanks to a tough trip to Purdue between two winnable home games. The bulk of Illinois' best results have come at Assembly Hall, including wins against North Carolina and Wisconsin, with victories at Minnesota and over Maryland (in New York) and Gonzaga (in Seattle) the big away wins. Bruce Weber's team should be OK to get in, but unless they win at Purdue on March 1st, they seem destined to end up in the 8-10 seed range.

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Minnesota Golden Gophers (Last Four IN)
Record:
17-10 overall; 6-9 conference; 3-7 vs. RPI Top 50; 2-1 vs. RPI 51-100; 10-1 vs. RPI 150+; 6-6 Road/Neutral
Average RPI win: 146 Loss: 52
RPI: 48
SOS: 29
RPI 1-50 Wins: Purdue, North Carolina (N), West Virginia (N)
RPI 51-100 Wins: at Michigan, Northwestern
Bad (RPI 150+) Losses: at Indiana
Other Losses: Ohio State, at Ohio State, at Purdue, at Wisconsin, at Michigan State, Michigan State, Illinois, at Penn State, Virginia
Remaining Regular Season Schedule: Michigan (Sat.), at Northwestern (3/2), Penn State (3/6)
Like Illinois, the Golden Gophers have found the Big Ten slate to be a bit more difficult than anticipated, though you have to wonder how much better off they'd be with Al Nolen playing the point. A recent four-game losing streak (which followed a run of four wins) has Minnesota reeling, but it appeared relatively soft closing schedule, which began with an easy win over Iowa on Sunday would see Tubby Smith's team grab a few wins and some hope, but those ideas came to a halt with consecutive losses to Penn State and Michigan State. With the Gophers' personnel issues, expect Minnesota's seed to suffer and for there to be a lot of questions about what might have been.

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Penn State Nittany Lions  (Next Four OUT)
Record: 15-12 overall; 8-8 conference; 4-6 vs. RPI Top 50; 4-5 vs. RPI 51-100; 5-1 vs. RPI 150+; 2-8 Road/Neutral
Average RPI win: 120 Loss: 55
RPI: 62
SOS: 6
RPI 1-50 Wins: Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Michigan State
RPI 51-100 Wins: Duquesne, Northwestern, at Northwestern
Bad (RPI 150+) Losses: Maine
Other Losses:
at Ohio State, at Purdue, Purdue, at Wisconsin, at Michigan State, at Michigan, at Illinois, Michigan, at Michigan, at Virginia Tech, at Mississippi, Maryland
Remaining Regular Season Schedule: Ohio State (3/1), at Minnesota (3/6)
Penn State's issues are twofold, no quality non-conference wins and just a single road victory (Indiana) on the profile. While the Nittany Lions have done a respectable job in the Big Ten, they've struggled of late, which isn't good considering the schedule they have ahead of them. However, the Lions aren't finished, as they swept Northwestern, picking up a key road win in the process, with an opportunity to do the same at Minnesota to close the regular season. Plus, they host Ohio State. A win over a likely number one seed would be an instant profile boost.

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Michigan Wolverines
Record: 16-12 overall; 7-9 conference; 2-9 vs. RPI Top 50; 5-2 vs. RPI 51-100; 8-1 vs. RPI 150+; 4-7 Road/Neutral
Average RPI win: 144 Loss: 41
RPI: 65
SOS: 22
RPI 1-50 Wins: at Michigan State, Harvard
RPI 51-100 Wins: at Penn State, Penn State, at Clemson, Oakland, Northwestern
Bad RPI (150+) Losses: at Indiana
Other Losses: Kansas, Ohio State, at Ohio State, Purdue, at Wisconsin, Wisconsin, Syracuse (N), Minnesota, at Illinois, UTEP (N), at Northwestern
Remaining Regular Season Schedule: at Minnesota (Sat.), Michigan State (3/5)
Michigan already owns three more road wins than Penn State, with three of the four being more impressive than the Nittany Lions' lone triumph at Indiana. However, Michigan did lose at both Assembly Halls, and at Northwestern, and were swept by Syracuse and UTEP in Atlantic City over Thanksgiving weekend. Other than the Clemson victory, the Wolverines' best non-league wins came at home against Harvard and Oakland. The Wolverines have been missing opportunities left and right of late. They had a chance to beat Illinois in Champaign on February 16th, then had their hearts broken by Wisconsin's Josh Gasser a week later. That banked in three may have been fatal to Michigan's chances, but expect them to fight with trip to Minnesota and home game against Michigan State left before the Big Ten Tournament.

Big 12

The number of Big 12 locks has grown to four, as Texas A&M and Missouri jump back up, thanks primarily to events elsewhere around the country. Kansas State's recent 6-2 run sees them improve their position. Colorado also looks better for a bid, while Baylor, Nebraska, and Oklahoma State are in real trouble.

Locks (4)

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In Good Shape (1)

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Kansas State Wildcats

The Wildcats have won six of their last eight, a run that includes home wins over Kansas and Baylor, along with a sweep of Nebraska. However, the Wildcats' face a crucial 72-hour span between Saturday and Monday, as they host Missouri and visit Texas.

Bubble (4)

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Colorado Buffaloes  (Last Four IN)
Record: 16-11 overall; 6-7 conference; 4-6 vs. RPI Top 50; 1-3 vs. RPI 51-100; 9-0 vs. RPI 150+; 4-9 Road/Neutral
Average RPI win: 184 Loss: 58
RPI: 86
SOS: 81
RPI 1-50 Wins: Missouri, at Kansas State, Kansas State, Colorado State
RPI 51-100 Wins: Oklahoma State
Losses: Kansas, at Kansas, Texas A&M, at Missouri, at Georgia, at Harvard, at Nebraska, at Baylor, New Mexico (N), at San Francisco, at Oklahoma
Remaining Regular Season Schedule: Texas (Sat.), at Iowa State (3/2), Nebraska (3/5)
Colorado shouldn't be sniffing the field after winning just three of their last 10, but that's the quality of the bubble this season. Five quality wins, including a sweep of Kansas State, sees the Buffaloes barely in the field at the moment, and they can improve their position over the final days of the regular season. First up, a visit from Texas, which has shown they can be vulnerable on the road (see Nebraska last Saturday). Plus, those Cornhuskers, who the Buffs also lost to in Lincoln, visit for what's fittingly the final Big 12 regular season game for both teams.

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Baylor Bears (Next Four OUT)
Record: 16-10 overall; 6-7 conference; 1-5 vs. RPI Top 50; 3-2 vs. RPI 51-100; 9-0 vs. RPI 150+; 3-7 Road/Neutral
Average RPI win: 164 Loss: 70
RPI: 82
SOS: 65
RPI 1-50 Wins: at Texas A&M
RPI 51-100 Wins: Oklahoma State, Nebraska, Colorado
Losses: Kansas, at Texas, at Missouri, at Kansas State, Florida State (N), Gonzaga (N), Washington State (N), at Oklahoma, Texas Tech, at Iowa State
Remaining Regular Season Schedule: Texas A&M (Sat.), at Oklahoma State (3/1), Texas (3/5)
The Bears need to take advantage of their final three games to get into the field. Season sweeps of lock Texas A&M and fellow bubble team Oklahoma State would be nice items for Baylor's profile, so would a win over Texas, a team the Bears played fairly well in Austin. Otherwise, Scott Drew's team will be in trouble, particularly with their lack of success outside of the Big 12.

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Nebraska Cornhuskers (Next Four OUT)
Record: 18-9 overall; 6-7 conference; 2-6 vs. RPI Top 50; 4-1 vs. RPI 51-100; 9-1 vs. RPI 150+; 2-7 Road/Neutral
Average RPI win: 187 Loss: 55
RPI: 77
SOS: 80
RPI 1-50 Wins: Texas, Texas A&M
RPI 51-100 Wins: Oklahoma State, USC, Hofstra (N), Colorado
Losses: Kansas, at Kansas, Vanderbilt (N), at Missouri, at Kansas State, Kansas State, at Baylor, at Texas Tech, Davidson (N)
Remaining Regular Season Schedule: at Iowa State (Sat.), Missouri (3/1), at Colorado (3/5)
Nebraska earned their way onto this list by beating Texas last Saturday, but they couldn't keep up the momentum Wednesday, when they lost at home to Kansas State, which gave the Wildcats a sweep of the season series. Like so many teams on this list, the Cornhuskers seem to want to get in based on conference results only. And given how they struggled outside of the Big 12, particularly on the road, I can't really blame them. The only real chance Doc Sadler's team has is to sweep their final three conference games, then make a nice run in their final Big 12 Tournament appearance. Otherwise, the NIT is this team's destination.

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Oklahoma State Cowboys
Record: 16-11 overall; 4-9 conference; 3-5 vs. RPI Top 50; 2-5 vs. RPI 51-100; 7-0 vs. RPI 150+; 4-9 Road/Neutral
Average RPI win: 165 Loss: 55
RPI: 57
SOS: 35
RPI 1-50 Wins: Missouri, Kansas State, Missouri State
RPI 51-100 Wins: Alabama, at Tulsa
Other Losses: at Kansas, Texas, at Texas, at Texas A&M, Texas A&M, at Nebraska, Virginia Tech (N), at Gonzaga, at Baylor, at Colorado, at Texas Tech
Remaining Regular Season Schedule: Texas Tech (Sat.), Baylor (3/1), at Oklahoma (3/5)
The Cowboys are yet another team that's all but unstoppable at home, but the complete opposite on the road, as their last two wins away from Stillwater were a pair of December in-state neutral site contests against Tulsa and Alabama. Home victories over fellow bubble residents Kansas State and Missouri State and a safe Missouri squad help significantly, but the road struggles and fact this team is destined to finish below .500 in the Big 12 don't. Oklahoma State's only real chance is to sweep their final three regular season games and win a few games in Kansas City.

Mountain West

The MWC is looking increasingly like a three-bid league, as Colorado State is playing their way out of contention because of their struggles against the contenders. UNLV has moved closer to safety after collecting a pair of key road wins over the Rams and New Mexico. That loss Wednesday, along with a home defeat to Utah last Saturday, knocks the Lobos out of contention.

Locks (2)

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In Good Shape (1)

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UNLV Runnin' Rebels

UNLV's wins at Colorado State on Saturday and New Mexico on Wednesday improved their standing considerably. However, they need to beat Wyoming and Utah on the next two Saturdays to avoid the dreaded bad loss just before the MWC Tournament, which the Rebels happen to host.

Bubble (1)

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Colorado State Rams (First Four OUT)
Record: 17-9 overall; 8-5 conference; 2-5 vs. RPI Top 50; 3-2 vs. RPI 51-100; 9-2 vs. RPI 150+; 9-4 Road/Neutral
Average RPI win: 152 Loss: 67
RPI: 44
SOS: 36
RPI 1-50 Wins: at UNLV, Southern Mississippi (N)
RPI 51-100 Wins: Mississippi (N), New Mexico, Air Force
Bad (RPI 150+) Losses: Hampton (N), Sam Houston State
Other Losses: Kansas (N), San Diego State, BYU, at BYU, UNLV, at New Mexico, at Colorado
Remaining Regular Season Schedule: at Air Force (Sat.), Utah (3/2), at San Diego State (3/5)
The Rams' biggest issues are a 1-4 mark against the other Mountain West contenders and a pair of bad losses, one at home to Sam Houston State Thanksgiving weekend, and another against Hampton in San Francisco over New Year's. A Cancun Governor's Cup crown provides a little bit of a boost, but not much, thanks to the relative weakness of that particular field, but Southern Mississippi's place on the bubble makes that achievement look a bit better. After losing to BYU and UNLV in the past week, Colorado State may have have to make a run through the Mountain West Tournament to earn a bid, unless they can stun San Diego State at the Viejas Arena in their regular season finale.

Pac-10

Arizona swept the Washington schools last weekend, even if they needed a miracle block from Derrick Williams to beat the Huskies on Saturday evening. This week, they face a pair of significant hurdles on the road to claiming a Pac-10 crown, a trip to L.A.. That series opened with a loss at USC Thursday night, and the Wildcats will need to be careful that they don't start a full-fledged losing streak, which will be a difficult task, considering UCLA has a chance at claiming a share of the crown for themselves.

Locks (1)

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In Good Shape (2)

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UCLA Bruins
Washington Huskies

UCLA position was damaged slightly by a Sunday night overtime loss at Cal, but thanks to non-league wins over BYU and St. John's, the best a Pac-10 team owns by far, the Bruins should get ready to return to the NCAAs after a year's absence. Ben Howland's team primary goal over the final two weekends will be to earn a share of the Pac-10 crown, with a huge game against Arizona on the slate for Saturday.

Washington doesn't have any great non-conference wins (their best is against Portland), so they've had to do their work within the Pac-10. Much like last year, the Huskies have struggled with Inconsistent road form in conference. After a home Apple Cup game Sunday night, Lorenzo Romar's team welcomes UCLA and USC to Seattle, with Thursday's game against the Bruins looking like it will be for second place.

Bubble (2)

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USC Trojans
Record:
16-12 overall; 8-7 conference; 4-4 vs. RPI Top 50; 2-2 vs. RPI 51-100; 7-3 vs. RPI 150+; 5-8 Road/Neutral
Average RPI win: 137 Loss: 105
RPI: 89
SOS: 55
RPI 1-50 Wins: Texas, Arizona, at Tennessee, UCLA
RPI 51-100 Wins: at California, Washington State
Bad (RPI 150+) Losses: at TCU, at Oregon State, Bradley (N)
Other Losses: at Kansas, at Arizona, Washington, at UCLA, California, at Nebraska, Rider, Oregon, at Oregon
Remaining Regular Season Schedule: Arizona State (Sat.), at Washington State (3/3). at Washington (3/5)
The Trojans move into this list after their upset win over Arizona on Thursday night, but Kevin O'Neill's team boasts one of the most inconsistent profiles out there. There are four impressive wins, even if three were at the Galen Center, and some really head-scratching losses, even if the ones against TCU, Rider, and Bradley took place without Jio Fontan on the roster. With an unimpressive road/neutral mark and .500 record in their last 12, USC could use some consistency to make a serious push for a bid. Next week's road trip to Washington and Washington State is a pair of opportunities the Trojans must take advantage of heading into the conference tournament, which will be played not that far from campus at the Staples Center. You may not have heard the last of these Trojans...unless they happen to lose to Arizona State Saturday, which would be unforgivable.

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Washington State Cougars
Record: 17-10 overall; 7-8 conference; 1-5 vs. RPI Top 50; 4-2 vs. RPI 51-100; 8-1 vs. RPI 150+; 7-7 Road/Neutral
Average RPI win: 169 Loss: 72
RPI: 83
SOS: 99
RPI 1-50 Wins: Washington
RPI 51-100 Wins: Gonzaga, California, Baylor (N), Portland (N)
Bad (RPI 150+) Losses: at Arizona State
Other Losses: Arizona, at Arizona, Kansas State, at UCLA, Butler (N), at California, at USC, at Oregon, Stanford
Remaining Regular Season Schedule: at Washington (Sun.), USC (3/3). UCLA (3/5)
Much like Penn State, Washington State has been unable to maintain consistency this season, particularly when they make the jump into a bracket projection. For example, they made the first bracket of February after grabbing an impressive win over Washington, but were out on Friday, thanks to a terrible 26-point loss at Oregon. While the Cougars did manage to beat Oregon State 48 hours later, they split the next weekend at home, losing to Stanford and beating Cal. The win-lose pattern continued until their trip to Arizona, where they dropped two, Arizona State's win over the Cougars snapped a nine-game losing streak. The Apple Cup rematch in Seattle next Sunday looks like a must-win for their dwindling hopes, as a regular season-ending homestand against USC and UCLA.

SEC

Florida and Kentucky remain locks, and Vanderbilt joins them, even after they fell at home to Tennessee on Tuesday. As for the Volunteers, their reputation precedes them. Two potential trap games are keeping them from joining the Commodores in the Lock group.

Locks (3)

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In Good Shape (1)

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Tennessee Volunteers
The Volunteers will move to lock status with wins in their next two, a home game against Mississippi State on Saturday and Thursday's contest at South Carolina. Given Tennessee's penchant for inconsistency, they need to win both to feel truly safe, thanks to the 11 losses on their record.

Bubble (2)

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Georgia Bulldogs 
Record: 18-9 overall; 7-6 conference; 3-9 vs. RPI Top 50; 2-0 vs. RPI 51-100; 10-0 vs. RPI 150+; 8-5 Road/Neutral
Average RPI win: 162 Loss: 21
RPI: 40
SOS: 34
RPI 1-50 Wins: Kentucky, at Tennessee, UAB
RPI 51-100 Wins: at Mississippi, Colorado
Losses: Notre Dame (N), Florida, at Florida, at Kentucky, at Vanderbilt, Vanderbilt, Xavier, Tennessee, Temple (N)
Remaining Regular Season Schedule: South Carolina (Sat.), LSU (3/2), at Alabama (3/5)
The Bulldogs' SEC mark of 7-6 looks decent enough, but danger lurks behind that pair of numbers. Mark Fox's team is 3-6 against the East, with the wins coming against Tennessee on the road (excellent), Kentucky at home (good), and at South Carolina (not particularly helpful). That means a 4-0 record against the West is inflating the Dawgs' conference mark. The road ahead, specifically potential trap games against South Carolina and LSU and a trip to Tuscaloosa, must be traveled with care. A late non-conference home loss to Xavier also hurts Georgia's cause. Still, with this bubble, the Bulldogs look to be in good shape.

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Alabama Crimson Tide (First Four OUT)
Record: 19-8 overall; 11-2 conference; 2-2 vs. RPI Top 50; 1-2 vs. RPI 51-100; 11-1 vs. RPI 150+; 4-8 Road/Neutral
Average RPI win: 191 Loss: 90
RPI: 80
SOS: 140
RPI 1-50 Wins: Kentucky, at Tennessee
RPI 51-100 Wins: Mississippi
Bad (RPI 150+) Losses: Iowa (N)
Losses: at Purdue, at Vanderbilt, at Oklahoma State, Seton Hall (N), at Arkansas, St. Peter's (N), at Providence
Remaining Regular Season Schedule: at Mississippi (Sat.), at Florida (3/1), Georgia (3/5)
The Crimson Tide have a win against Kentucky, another at Tennessee, and little else, particularly outside of the SEC. The good news for Alabama is that they have a pair of games against East contenders which will provide quality wins opportunities; however, only the matchup against Georgia is in Tuscaloosa. The Tide have already clinched the West crown, thanks to a difficult home win over Auburn Wednesday night, and they have the inside track for the overall league title, thanks to a 8-1 mark against the weaker West.

The Rest of Division I

As I anticipated last week, BracketBusters cleared up the mid-major at-large picture a bit. The Missouri Valley looks more like a one-bid league, thanks to losses by both Wichita State and Missouri State, while the CAA should get two (and maybe three) in. The Horizon's at-large hopes were hurt by a loss by Cleveland State in the event and another bad RPI loss by Valparaiso outside of it. Both teams then went and suffered conference losses Thursday night to make their departure more permanent. Likewise, it looks increasingly like Conference USA will send just a single team to the field of 68, thanks to a lack of a clear leader.

In Good Shape (3)

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George Mason Patriots (CAA auto bid holder)
Old Dominion Monarchs
Utah State Aggies (WAC auto bid holder)

George Mason has won 14 straight after Thursday night's win over Northeastern. That win gave them the outright CAA regular season title and top seed in the conference tournament in Richmond.

Old Dominion handled Cleveland State, other than Norris Cole, thanks to its superior size to add another quality non-conference win to a profile that already included ones over Xavier and Clemson in St. Thomas and Dayton at home. They followed that win up by handling James Madison in Harrisonburg on Thursday night.

Utah State grabbed a top 50 win in BracketBusters, toppling St. Mary's in Moraga. Plus, they locked up the WAC regular season crown when New Mexico State lost at San Jose State on Wednesday night.

Bubble (10)

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St. Mary's Gaels (WCC auto bid holder)
Record: 20-7 overall; 10-3 conference; 1-4 vs. RPI Top 50; 1-2 vs. RPI 51-100; 12-1 vs. RPI 150+; 9-5 Road/Neutral
Average RPI win: 175 Loss: 77
RPI: 46
SOS: 128
RPI 1-50 Wins: St. John's
RPI 51-100 Wins: at Gonzaga
Bad (RPI 150+) Losses: at San Diego
Other Losses: at San Diego State, BYU (N), at Vanderbilt, Utah State, Gonzaga, at Portland
Remaining Regular Season Schedule: Portland (Sat.), Weber State (3/11)
Even after a BracketBuster loss to Utah State and home loss to Gonzaga, the Gaels have hope, but they may need to take care of business at the WCC Tournament in Las Vegas to be assured of a bid, however. An early win over St. John's and road win over the Bulldogs are the highlights of a profile that doesn't really stand out, but those are better wins than several bubble teams have racked up themselves.

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Butler Bulldogs (Next Four IN)
Record: 19-9 overall; 12-5 conference; 3-3 vs. RPI Top 50; 2-1 vs. RPI 51-100; 11-1 vs. RPI 150+; 9-7 Road/Neutral
Average RPI win: 148 Loss: 94
RPI: 45
SOS: 75
RPI 1-50 Wins: Cleveland State, at Cleveland State, Florida State (N)
RPI 51-100 Wins: Valparaiso, Washington State (N)
Bad (RPI 150+) Losses: at Youngstown State
Other Losses: Duke (N), at Xavier, at Louisville, at Valparaiso, Milwaukee, at Milwaukee, at Wright State, Evansville
Remaining Regular Season Schedule: Loyola-Chicago (Sat.)
The Bulldogs are huge fans of Florida State and Washington State right now, as those two bubble teams fell victim to Butler in Hawai'i over Christmas week, and thus represent the Horizon League power's best non-conference wins. Butler is back in the thick of things because of some changes in the Horizon race and the national landscape. For starters, their bad losses against Milwaukee (a team tied with them for third in the conference) and Evansville don't look so bad now. Plus, the Bulldogs are winning again, picking up six wins in a row heading into their regular season finale against Loyola-Chicago. Additionally, the Bulldogs are 3-1 against Cleveland State and Valparaiso, two teams they're battling with for the league crown (though the sweep at the hands of the Panthers, who's in the driver's seat, hurts them). If Brad Stevens' team can complete a sweep of the Chicago schools by beating the Ramblers, they will likely earn a bye to the semifinals in the Horizon tournament, depending on what their competition does. Still, a loss Saturday will make things very difficult for Butler, both in terms of tournament seeding and the national picture.

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Gonzaga Bulldogs (Next Four IN)
Record: 19-9 overall; 10-3 conference; 2-6 vs. RPI Top 50; 5-1 vs. RPI 51-100; 10-1 vs. RPI 150+; 7-6 Road/Neutral
Average RPI win: 173 Loss: 58
RPI: 71
SOS: 89
RPI 1-50 Wins: Xavier, at St. Mary's
RPI 51-100 Wins: Oklahoma State, Marquette (N), Baylor (N), Portland, at Portland
Bad (RPI 150+) Losses: at Santa Clara
Other Losses: San Diego State, at Notre Dame, Kansas State (N), Memphis, Illinois (N), St. Mary's, at Washington State, at San Francisco
Remaining Regular Season Schedule: at San Diego (Sat.), Cal State Bakersfield (Mon.)
Gonzaga has not only struggled with a typically difficult non-conference schedule, capped by an early February home loss to C-USA leader Memphis, but they've had trouble in the league too, as they dropped three straight WCC games for the first time in 14 years a few weeks back. Just a few days ago, it looked like the Bulldogs may have too much ground to make up, despite good wins over Xavier, Oklahoma State, and Marquette, but that changed when St. Mary's lost at San Diego last Wednesday night, which opened up the league race just in time for this weekend's WCC finales. The Bulldogs took advantage by beating the Gaels in Moraga on Thursday night, moving into a tie for first, and in position to grab a crucial bye to the semifinals for the WCC tournament.

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VCU Rams (First Four OUT)
Record: 21-9 overall; 12-5 conference; 2-4 vs. RPI Top 50; 4-2 vs. RPI 51-100; 13-3 vs. RPI 150+; 11-7 Road/Neutral
Average RPI win: 174 Loss: 88
RPI: 58
SOS: 116
RPI 1-50 Wins: at Old Dominion, UCLA (N)
RPI 51-100 Wins: at Wichita State, Drexel, at James Madison, Hofstra
Bad (RPI 150+) Losses: at USF, at Northeastern, at Georgia State
Other Losses: George Mason, Old Dominion, at UAB, Tennessee (N), at Richmond, at Drexel
Remaining Regular Season Schedule: James Madison (Sat.)
The Rams jumped back into the bracket with a BracketBuster win at Wichita State, but fell right back out when they dropped their third consecutive CAA game, a loss at Drexel. That defeat dropped VCU into fourth place in the league heading into the weekend, which means a projected semifinal matchup with a very hot George Mason team which thumped the Rams in Richmond last week. At this point, a place in the CAA final is an absolute minimum for Shaka Smart's team. If they get that far, they may as well go ahead and win it, ensuring their safety.

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Memphis Tigers (First Four OUT)
Record: 21-7 overall; 9-4 conference; 4-3 vs. RPI Top 50; 5-2 vs. RPI 51-100; 8-2 vs. RPI 150+; 6-5 Road/Neutral
Average RPI win: 145 Loss: 79
RPI: 34
SOS: 43
RPI 1-50 Wins: at UAB, UAB, at Southern Mississippi, Southern Mississippi
RPI 51-100 Wins: Marshall, UCF, at UCF, at Gonzaga, Miami
Bad (RPI 150+) Losses: at Rice, at SMU
Other Losses: Kansas (N), Georgetown, at Tennessee, at Marshall, Tulsa
Remaining Regular Season Schedule: at UTEP (Sat.), at East Carolina (3/2), Tulane (3/5)
Memphis is one of three teams tied atop C-USA at 9-4, and the Tigers have swept the other two, Southern Miss and UAB. That being said, Memphis is on the outside looking in because of two bad conference road losses, a January 12th loss at SMU and last Saturday's 15-point setback at Rice, a game the Tigers were never in. Those defeats hurt the Tigers overall record, which is why Southern Miss gets the auto bid nod right now. Memphis' inability to dominate the league is problematic because there isn't much for them to hang their hat on outside of the it, as a November 15th home win over Miami and a triumph at Gonzaga are the Tigers' best non-conference wins. Josh Pastner's team still has a bit to do to get in. Next Saturday's trip to UTEP is particularly significant, as it's a potential C-USA championship game preview, right down to the venue. If the Tigers win that one, they'll be in line to clinch the top seed for the event and establish themselves as the odds-on favorite to take the auto bid.

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Wichita State Shockers (MVC auto bid holder)
Record: 22-6 overall; 14-3 conference; 0-3 vs. RPI Top 50; 2-2 vs. RPI 51-100; 13-1 vs. RPI 150+; 10-2 Road/Neutral
Average RPI win: 179 Loss: 72
RPI: 49
SOS: 106
RPI 1-50 Wins: None
RPI 51-100 Wins: at Northern Iowa, Tulsa
Bad (RPI 150+) Losses: Southern Illinois
Losses: at San Diego State, Connecticut (N), Missouri State, VCU, Northern Iowa
Remaining Regular Season Schedule: at Missouri State (Sat.)

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Missouri State Bears
Record: 22-7 overall; 14-3 conference; 0-1 vs. RPI Top 50; 2-4 vs. RPI 51-100; 14-0 vs. RPI 150+; 8-6 Road/Neutral
Average RPI win: 186 Loss: 83
RPI: 47
SOS: 138
RPI 1-50 Wins: None
RPI 51-100 Wins: at Wichita State, at Northern Iowa
Losses: at Tennessee, at Valparaiso, at Oklahoma State, Northern Iowa, at Tulsa, at Indiana State, at Evansville
Remaining Regular Season Schedule: Wichita State (Sat.)
I've lumped the summary for the Shockers and Bears together, as their fates are tied together. The two meet on Saturday in Springfield to settle the Missouri Valley regular season crown and top seed at Arch Madness. Both really need the auto bid, as each suffered a damaging BracketBuster loss last weekend--Wichita State to VCU at home and Missouri State to Valparaiso on the road. That means both are lacking quality victories (not a single top 50 win between the two and only four combined wins over the top 100). The best case scenario for both (and the Valley as a whole), for one to win the regular season and the other the tournament crown, with plenty of bubbles burst elsewhere.

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Harvard Crimson (Ivy auto bid holder)
Record:
16-4 overall; 7-1 conference; 1-2 vs. RPI Top 50; 1-2 vs. RPI 51-100; 16-0 vs. RPI 150+; 8-4 Road/Neutral
Average RPI win: 187 Loss: 38
RPI: 41
SOS: 177
RPI 1-50 Wins: at Boston College
RPI 51-100 Wins: Colorado
Losses: at Connecticut, at George Mason, at Princeton, at Michigan
Remaining Regular Season Schedule: at Brown (Fri.), at Yale (Sat.), Penn (3/4), Princeton (3/5)
Thanks to Princeton's loss at Brown last Friday, the Ivy race is back on. The Crimson lead the Tigers by a half-game, with March 5th game in Cambridge looming large. Harvard will have to win that one, and not lose any more games (which will be difficult given the number of recent close calls the Crimson have faced), to force a one-game playoff for the Ivy crown. From an at-large perspective, the Crimson have a better chance at earning a bid than the Tigers do, granted its an extremely slim chance. However, wins at Boston College and over Colorado in Cambridge should earn them more of a look than they'll receive.

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Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles (C-USA auto bid holder)
Record: 18-6 overall; 9-4 conference; 1-3 vs. RPI Top 50; 5-2 vs. RPI 51-100;  10-1 vs. RPI 150+; 7-5 Road/Neutral
Average RPI win: 137 Loss: 73
RPI: 42
SOS: 100
RPI 1-50 Wins: at UAB
RPI 51-100 Wins: Marshall, UTEP, UCF, at California. East Tennessee State (N)
Bad (RPI 150+) Losses: at SMU
Other Losses:
Memphis, at Memphis, Colorado State (N), at Marshall, at Mississippi
Remaining Regular Season Schedule: at UCF (Sat.), UAB (3/2), at Tulsa (3/5)

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UAB Blazers
Record: 19-7 overall; 9-4 conference; 0-5 vs. RPI Top 50; 7-1 vs. RPI 51-100; 10-1 vs. RPI 150+; 7-5 Road/Neutral
Average RPI win: 166 Loss: 57
RPI: 33
SOS: 52
RPI 1-50 Wins: None
RPI 51-100 Wins: VCU, Marshall, at Marshall, UTEP, at UCF, UCF, Kent State
Bad (RPI 150+) Losses: at Arizona State
Other Losses: at Duke, Memphis, at Memphis, at Georgia, Southern Mississippi, at Tulsa
Remaining Regular Season Schedule: at Houston (Sat.), at Southern Mississippi (3/2), East Carolina (3/5)

The Golden Eagles and Blazers join Memphis in a three-way tie at the top of Conference USA, though the Tigers are truly in control of the race, as they've swept their rivals. Both teams have flimsy at-large cases, with Southern Miss holding a slight  advantage because of an earlier win at UAB. That means they have the opportunity for a sweep when the two meet in Hattiesburg on Wednesday night. The winner will likely grab the two seed for the tournament in El Paso, and it's likely the two will be on course to meet a third time in the semifinals. Out of the league, UAB's best win, at home over VCU is marginally better than Southern Miss', which came against Cal in Berkeley.

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