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NCAA Tournament Bubble Watch: Detailed Insanity For 02/11/2011

It's Friday, which means its time for a pair of complementary Bubble Watch posts. Over at SB Nation, I've counted through the at-large pool, while over here, I'll drop some knowledge on the still crowded bubble.

First, a quick look at how the at-large bid picture looks a month and two days from Selection Sunday.

19 Locks + 11 Looking Good = 30 teams in good shape.
8 of these 30 hold their conference's auto bid at the moment, so that means 22 at-larges are accounted for.
37 Total At-Large Bids - 22 = 15 Available Bids

Texas A&M and Missouri drop from lock status, while Florida moves up. Xavier is back in good shape after beating Georgia in Athens on Tuesday night.

This week, there are 37 detailed profiles in this post, each representing a team that's in the race for one of the final 14 bids. Butler, Cleveland State, Dayton, Marshall, Northern Iowa, and Valparaiso (even though they lead the Horizon League) are gone, while Clemson, Michigan, and Mississippi have jumped in.

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. If you'd like to read more information about these teams, take a look at the team profiles for my Tuesday bracket.

I have a paragraph explaining the status of the nine teams who are Looking Good. Again, there's more detailed information in the team profiles.

For teams with Work to Do, 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 Friday, February 10, 2011. RPI information only reflects games played against Division I opponents through Thursday, February 10, 2011. Records only reflect games played against Division I opponents through Thursday, February 10, 2011.


Little has changed in the ACC race since last week, except that Duke has established itself as the clear favorite, thanks to Wednesday's win over North Carolina. The Blue Devils continue to hold the auto bid in my projection. Florida State, Boston College, and Virginia Tech remain on the bubble and in, while Maryland is joined by Clemson in the "bubble out" group.


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Work To Do


Florida State Seminoles
Record: 17-7 overall; 7-3 conference; 2-4 vs. RPI Top 50; 3-2 vs. RPI 51-100; 11-1 vs. RPI 150+; 7-5 Road/Neutral
Average RPI win: 180 Loss: 71
RPI: 53
SOS: 76
RPI 1-50 Wins: Duke, Boston College
RPI 51-100 Wins: Clemson, at Miami, Baylor (N)
Bad (RPI 150+) Losses: at Auburn
Other Losses: Ohio State, Florida, at North Carolina, Butler (N), at Clemson, at Virginia Tech
This Week: won at Georgia Tech 72-63, Virginia (Sat.)
Next Week: at Wake Forest (Sat.)
At first glance, the Seminoles should be in better shape than they are, thanks to solid positioning in the ACC, a win over Duke and a decent road/neutral mark. However, thanks to their offense (or lack thereof), FSU is constantly playing at the edge of disaster. The two most prominent examples of this are January 29th's 44-point performance at Clemson and the now infamous 65-60 loss at Auburn (RPI 283) on January 3rd. The good news for Seminole fans is that there are wins available the rest of the way, with February 23rd's visit to Maryland the most daunting of the three remaining road games and a March 2nd game against North Carolina, who topped the Seminoles by 20 in Chapel Hill on Super Bowl Sunday, the toughest of three home contests. Of course, this team's definition of "easy" isn't quite the same as yours or mine.


Boston College Eagles 
Record: 15-9 overall; 5-5 conference; 1-4 vs. RPI Top 50; 4-4 vs. RPI 51-100; 5-1 vs. RPI 150+; 5-6 Road/Neutral
Average RPI win: 136 Loss: 56
RPI: 42
SOS: 20
RPI 1-50 Wins: Texas A&M (N)
RPI 51-100 Wins: California (N), Virginia Tech, at Maryland, Bucknell
Bad (RPI 150+) Losses: Yale
Other Losses: at Duke, North Carolina, Wisconsin (N), Harvard, at Florida State, at Clemson, at Miami, at Rhode Island
This Week: lost at Clemson 77-69, Maryland (Sat.)
Next Week: at North Carolina (Sat.)
The Eagles very much look like a team that peaked before Christmas, as the were 10-2 before Christmas (with one of the two losses being their worst [Yale]) and 5-7 since. Plus, the shine is wearing off the Eagles' best win, thanks to Texas A&M's struggles. After topping Virginia Tech at home and losing to Clemson at Littlejohn, BC will need positive results in their last three games against ACC NCAA contenders, particularly their rematch against the Hokies in Blacksburg on March 1st.


Virginia Tech Hokies (Next Four IN)
Record: 15-7 overall; 5-4 conference; 1-5 vs. RPI Top 50; 4-0 vs. RPI 51-100; 7-1 vs. RPI 150+; 7-5 Road/Neutral
Average RPI win: 174 Loss: 63
RPI: 67
SOS: 83
RPI 1-50 Wins: Oklahoma State (N)
RPI 51-100 Wins: Florida State, Penn State, Miami, at Maryland
Bad (RPI 150+) Losses: at Georgia Tech
Other Losses: Purdue, at North Carolina, UNLV (N), at Kansas State, at Boston College, Virginia
This Week: Georgia Tech (Sun.)
Next Week: Maryland (Tue.), at Virginia (Sat.)
You could argue the Hokies are eight to ten points away from being a near lock, thanks to Saturday's 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. Virginia Tech gets another shot at BC, at Cassell Coliseum, a place that will also see visits from Duke and Maryland down the stretch. However, the Hokies face a potential hurdle at the end of the regular season--a trip to Clemson, a team that's starting to make a late push for a bid. A decent 7-5 record away from Blacksburg is a key selling point for Virginia Tech, and if they can add to that against the Tigers, they'll be able to breathe a little easier.


Clemson Tigers
17-7 overall; 6-4 conference; 1-2 vs. RPI Top 50; 4-3 vs. RPI 51-100; 9-0 vs. RPI 150+; 4-5 Road/Neutral
Average RPI win: 163 Loss: 70
RPI: 66
SOS: 100
RPI 1-50 Wins: Boston College
RPI 51-100 Wins: Florida State, Miami, , at College of Charleston, Seton Hall (N)
Losses: at North Carolina, Old Dominion (N), at Florida State, Michigan, at Maryland, at South Carolina, at Virginia
This Week: def. Boston College 77-69, North Carolina (Sat.)
Next Week: at NC State (Thu.), at Miami (Sun.)
The Tigers are making a late push for a bid, but a lack of quality wins, particularly outside of the ACC, may ultimately push them into the NIT (which honestly wouldn't be the worst fate, considering where this team was at the first of the year). On Tuesday, Clemson claimed its first top 50 win of the year, topping Boston College at Littlejohn Coliseum. Other than that victory and one over Florida State, the wins are rather middling. The only really bad loss came at Virginia (thanks to a woeful offensive performance), but defeats to South Carolina and Michigan aren't really helpful either.  Brad Brownell's team may need to pick up a win or two on the road, as their best results away from campus are at the College of Charleston and over Seton Hall at the Paradise Jam. Unfortunately for the Tigers, their only remaining away game of impact comes on March 2nd, at Cameron Indoor.


Maryland Terrapins
Record: 16-8 overall; 5-4 conference; 0-7 vs. RPI Top 50; 3-1 vs. RPI 51-100; 12-0 vs. RPI 150+; 4-5 Road/Neutral
Average RPI win: 214 Loss: 28
RPI: 82
SOS: 80
RPI 1-50 Wins: None
RPI 51-100 Wins: at Penn State, Clemson, College of Charleston
Losses: Pittsburgh (N), at Duke, Duke, at Villanova, Temple (N), Illinois (N), Boston College, Virginia Tech
This Week: def. Longwood 106-52, at Boston College (Sat.)
Next Week: at Virginia Tech (Tue.), NC State (Sun.)
Thanks to Penn State's recent struggles, the Terrapins no longer own a top 50 win, and it's not like a victory over the Nittany Lions exactly screams out "tournament-worthy" in the first place. Maryland squandered numerous chances outside of the ACC, as losses to Pitt, Illinois, Temple, and Villanova litter their profile, which is highlighted by a lot of wins over the bottom half of Division I, including Wednesday night's blowout victory over Longwood. But all is not lost for Maryland as they'll be challenged over the next few weeks, thanks to road games against Boston College, Virginia Tech (two teams they've already lost to in College Park), and North Carolina, along with a home contest against Florida State. If the Terrapins want to get in, they will have to earn it by doing better than .500 against that slate.

Atlantic 10

Dayton falls out of contention, thanks to Wednesday night's loss at Rhode Island. Meanwhile, Temple and Xavier both made significant strides toward "lock" status in the past week.

Looking Good

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Temple Owls
Xavier Musketeers
(A-10 Auto Bid Holder)

Temple will likely move up to lock status next week if they sweep games at fading Dayton and at home against Richmond.

Meanwhile, Xavier jumps back into this category after they handled Georgia in Athens in Tuesday night. Might that win propel the Musketeers to great things, like their late non-league win over Florida did last season? If Xavier can win at Duquesne on Sunday, they'll take control of the A-10 race and all but lock up a bid.

Work To Do


Richmond Spiders (Next Four IN)
Record: 19-6 overall; 8-2 conference; 1-2 vs. RPI Top 50; 4-2 vs. RPI 51-100; 13-1 vs. RPI 150+; 10-3 Road/Neutral
Average RPI win: 177 Loss: 82
RPI: 71
SOS: 136
RPI 1-50 Wins: Purdue (N)
RPI 51-100 Wins: VCU, at Dayton, at Seton Hall, Wright State (N)
Bad (RPI 150+) Losses: Georgia Tech (N)
Other Losses: Xavier, at Old Dominion, Rhode Island, Bucknell, at Iona
This Week: won at George Washington 69-65, Saint Louis (Sat.)
Next Week: at Temple (Thu.), St. Bonaventure (Sun.)
Richmond owns perhaps the best win of any bubble team, a thorough 11-point victory over Purdue at the Chicago Invitational Classic over Thanksgiving. They 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 and George Washington in the past week. The Spiders' final six games are split evenly between home and away contests, with a February 17th game at Temple the most serious of the trips. However, Richmond should feel confident about building on an impressive 9-3 record away from home. Depending on how things go in the over the next few weeks, Richmond's home finale, a March 5th game against Duquesne, could be significant in the A-10 race.


Duquesne Dukes (Next Four OUT)
Record: 15-6 overall; 8-1 conference; 1-3 vs. RPI Top 50; 2-1 vs. RPI 51-100; 11-0 vs. RPI 150+; 6-4 Road/Neutral
Average RPI win: 177 Loss: 59
RPI: 77
SOS: 133
RPI 1-50 Wins: Temple
RPI 51-100 Wins: Dayton, IUPUI
Losses: at Pittsburgh, West Virginia, George Mason, at Penn State, at St. Bonaventure, at Robert Morris
This Week: Xavier (Sun.)
Next Week: at Massachusetts (Wed.), at Dayton (Sat.)
Despite a one-loss Atlantic 10 mark, the Dukes aren't the strongest at-large candidate, thanks to a lack of wins outside of the league, and no quality wins away from home (their best road win: Green Bay). Duquesne will be tested down the stretch, starting with Sunday's home game against A-10 co-leader Xavier. As the weeks roll on, they'll also visit Dayton and Richmond, with the latter game looking to be a key one for A-10 tournament seeding (and a first-round bye).

Big East

The conference holds steady this week, and will get at least eight teams (probably nine or ten) barring a collapse of epic proportions. Pittsburgh, as the only one loss team in the Big East, holds the auto bid. Cincinnati and St. John's are the teams in the most danger, thanks to their respective schedules.


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Work To Do

Marquette Golden Eagles
Record: 15-9 overall; 6-5 conference; 3-8 vs. RPI Top 50; 2-1 vs. RPI 51-100; 8-0 vs. RPI 150+; 3-7 Road/Neutral
Average RPI win: 178 Loss: 21
RPI: 61
SOS: 33
RPI 1-50 Wins: Notre Dame, West Virginia, Syracuse
RPI 51-100 Wins: Bucknell, Rutgers
Losses: at Pittsburgh, Duke (N), at Notre Dame, Connecticut, at Villanova, Wisconsin, at Vanderbilt, at Louisville, Gonzaga (N)
This Week: won at USF 59-58, at Georgetown (Sun.)
Next Week: St. John's (Tue.), Seton Hall (Sat.)
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 11 games against the RPI top 50, winning three. Besides a few more quality wins, the Golden Eagles are in desperate need of good road victories--Rutgers, Milwaukee, and USF (featuring a comical closing sequence by the Bulls) won't move the needle in the committee room. Of Marquette's three remaining road games, only contests against Georgetown on Sunday and Connecticut on February 24th are helpful. The Golden Eagles may very well sneak in on the basis of home results only.


St. John's Red Storm
Record: 14-9 overall; 6-5 conference; 5-7 vs. RPI Top 50; 2-0 vs. RPI 51-100; 5-1 vs. RPI 150+; 5-6 Road/Neutral
Average RPI win: 96 Loss: 58
RPI: 22
SOS: 2
RPI 1-50 Wins: Georgetown, Duke, Notre Dame, Connecticut, at West Virginia
RPI 51-100 Wins: Northwestern, Rutgers
Bad (RPI 150+) Losses: at Fordham
Other Losses: at Georgetown, at Notre Dame, Syracuse, at Louisville, at St. Mary's, Cincinnati, at UCLA, St. Bonaventure
This Week: def. Connecticut 89-72, at Cincinnati (Sun.)
Next Week: at Marquette (Tue.), Pittsburgh (Sat.)
Before the Red Storm blew out UConn on Thursday night, I was prepared to mention that their recent wins over Notre Dame and Duke were the only thing keeping them in the field. Well, you can add another impressive victory to the list, though it would help St. John's if they picked up a road win or two during their tough closing stretch, which started with a loss (and a cross-country trip) at the hands of UCLA. Remaining on the difficult part of the slate: trips to Cincinnati and Marquette, a pair of home games against Pitt and DePaul, then a tough visit to Villanova (followed by comparatively easy games at Seton Hall and against USF).


Cincinnati Bearcats
Record: 19-5 overall; 6-5 conference; 2-5 vs. RPI Top 50; 4-0 vs. RPI 51-100; 11-0 vs. RPI 150+; 5-4 Road/Neutral
Average RPI win: 179 Loss: 13
RPI: 38
SOS: 111
RPI 1-50 Wins: Xavier, at St. John's
RPI 51-100 Wins: Dayton, Rutgers, Seton Hall, Wright State
Losses: at Pittsburgh, at Notre Dame, at Villanova, West Virginia, at Syracuse
This Week: won at DePaul 71-68, St. John's (Sun.)
Next Week: Louisville (Wed.), at Providence (Sat.)
Sure, the Bearcats weren't able to stay undefeated after ripping off 15 straight wins to start the season, but they haven't suffered any bad losses either, remaining perfect in games played against teams outside of the RPI Top 50. However, as Tuesday win at DePaul showed, that run may not last until the end of the year, especially with a trip to an improved Providence team on tap for February 19th. The bigger issue for Cincinnati is the six quality teams left on their slate. The Bearcats are 1-5 against Big East teams with tournament hopes, and 5-0 against those who are playing for the NIT at best.

Big Ten

The Big Ten bubble race has a new entrant, Michigan, because if you're going to consider Michigan State and Penn State at this point, you have to look at the Wolverines too, particularly since they've won in both East Lansing and State College. Unbeaten Ohio State own the league lead and the auto bid for this week and, thanks to a three-game lead, the foreseeable future.


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Looking Good

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Illinois Fighting Illini
Minnesota Golden Gophers

Both the Illini and Gophers remain relatively safe, though Illinois is in better position after winning at Minnesota on Thursday night. That defeat was the Gophers' fourth in a row. Illinois hasn't been the hottest team of late either, as they've dropped four of eight. Still, both teams' overall body of work should be enough to push them over the hump.

Work To Do


Michigan State Spartans (Last Four IN)
Record: 13-10 overall; 6-6 conference; 3-7 vs. RPI Top 50; 4-2 vs. RPI 51-100; 5-0 vs. RPI 150+; 3-8 Road/Neutral
Average RPI win: 126 Loss: 37
RPI: 48
SOS: 6
RPI 1-50 Wins: Wisconsin, Minnesota, Washington (N)
RPI 51-100 Wins: Penn State, Oakland, Northwestern, at Northwestern
Losses: Texas, Connecticut (N), at Purdue, at Duke, Syracuse (N), at Illinois, at Penn State, Michigan, at Iowa
This Week: def. Penn State 75-57
Next Week: at Ohio State (Tue.), Illinois (Sat.)
The Spartans topped Penn State on Thursday night to stop the bleeding after a stretch where they dropped five of six. That win, when combined with Alabama's loss to Vanderbilt sees them back in as the very last team in. That position is courtesy of an uninspiring overall profile (their best non-league wins after Washington: Oakland and South Carolina). Sparty has opportunities to rise again, as they still face four games against the other Big Ten tournament contenders before closing with Iowa and Michigan, two teams they've lost to of late.


Michigan Wolverines
Record: 14-10 overall; 5-7 conference; 2-7 vs. RPI Top 50; 5-2 vs. RPI 51-100; 5-1 vs. RPI 150+; 3-6 Road/Neutral
Average RPI win: 141 Loss: 38
RPI: 54
SOS: 13
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, Syracuse (N), at Wisconsin, Minnesota, UTEP (N), at Northwestern
This Week: def. Northwestern 75-66, Indiana (Sat.)
Next Week: at Illinois (Wed.), at Iowa (Sat.)
Sure the Wolverines dropped six in a row and seven of eight just a few weeks ago, but as I wrote before, if you're going to consider Michigan State (who the Wolverines beat in East Lansing on January 27th) and Penn State (another Michigan victim, on Super Bowl Sunday), you need to take a closer look at John Beilein's team as well. Michigan already owns two more road wins than Penn State, with all three (the third came at bubble newcomer Clemson) being more impressive than the Nittany Lions' lone triumph at Indiana. However, Michigan did lose at Assembly Hall, 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 end of the season provides four more quality win opportunities for Michigan, trips to Illinois and Minnesota and home games against Wisconsin and Michigan State, which could be the most significant of the quartet.


Penn State Nittany Lions
Record: 12-11 overall; 5-7 conference; 3-5 vs. RPI Top 50; 1-5 vs. RPI 51-100; 4-1 vs. RPI 150+; 1-7 Road/Neutral
Average RPI win: 123 Loss: 55
RPI: 63
SOS: 5
RPI 1-50 Wins: Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan State
RPI 51-100 Wins: Duquesne
Bad (RPI 150+) Losses: Maine
Other Losses:
at Ohio State, at Purdue, Purdue, at Illinois, at Michigan State, at Michigan, Michigan, at Mississippi, at Virginia Tech, Maryland
This Week: lost at Michigan State 75-57, Northwestern (Sun.)
Next Week: Minnesota (Thu.), at Wisconsin (Sun.)
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. A home loss to Michigan wasn't helpful, while a loss at Michigan State all but sealed their fate. Penn State still has a modicum of hope, as they still must visit Madison, play Minnesota twice, and head to Ohio State, but the chances of them remaining on this list much longer are slim.

Big 12

The Big 12 drops down to a pair of locks this week, thanks to Missouri and Texas A&M's recent struggles. Three of the conference's four bubble teams are holding steady at the fringes of my bracket, but Colorado is tumbling toward the NIT quickly.


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Looking Good

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Missouri Tigers
Texas A&M Aggies

Like in the Big Ten, the pair of Big 12 teams who fall just outside of the Lock category are dealing with a rough patch. Missouri has lost three of four, though they play three winnable games before a difficult closing stretch (Baylor, at Kansas State, at Nebraska, Kansas). Meanwhile, the Aggies snapped a three-game losing streak on Wednesday, as they topped Colorado in overtime. Of their last seven, A&M should grab four wins (three home games against Iowa State, Oklahoma, and Texas Tech and a visit to the Red Raiders). If the Tigers and Aggies win the games they should, they'll return to the lock group soon.

Work To Do


Oklahoma State Cowboys (Next Four IN)
Record: 16-7 overall; 4-5 conference; 3-2 vs. RPI Top 50; 2-4 vs. RPI 51-100; 7-0 vs. RPI 150+; 4-6 Road/Neutral
Average RPI win: 163 Loss: 71
RPI: 45
SOS: 64
RPI 1-50 Wins: Missouri, Kansas State, Missouri State
RPI 51-100 Wins: at Tulsa, Alabama
Losses: Texas, at Texas A&M, Virginia Tech (N), at Baylor, at Gonzaga, at Colorado, at Texas Tech
This Week: at Nebraska (Sat.)
Next Week: at Texas (Wed.), Texas A&M (Sat.)
The Cowboys followed a three-game skid with wins over Missouri and Oklahoma, but are in no position to breathe easy. Travis Ford's team built up a nice non-conference record while beating just one team of note (1-3 against the top 100 outside of the Big 12) or grabbing any significant road wins, which are major minuses. However, victories over fellow bubble residents Kansas State and Missouri State and a relatively safe Missouri squad help significantly, even if the wins all came in Stillwater. However, to get into the field, the Pokes are likely going to have to win at least one away from home in their last seven, with a victory over Kansas or Texas preferable to one over either Oklahoma or Nebraska, even if those teams have improved as the season's gone on.


Kansas State Wildcats (Last Four IN)
Record: 15-8 overall; 4-5 conference; 0-7 vs. RPI Top 50; 6-1 vs. RPI 51-100; 7-0 vs. RPI 150+; 4-7 Road/Neutral
Average RPI win: 143 Loss: 31
RPI: 32
SOS: 15
RPI 1-50 Wins: None
RPI 51-100 Wins: at Washington State, Virginia Tech, Baylor, Gonzaga (N), James Madison, Nebraska
Losses: at Kansas, Duke (N), Florida (N), UNLV (N), at Missouri, at Texas A&M, at Oklahoma State, Colorado
This Week: at Colorado (Sat.), Kansas (Mon.)
Next Week: Oklahoma (Sat.)
While the Wildcats still don't own an RPI top 50 win, they do have plenty of victories against teams that find themselves on the bubble, which gives them a bit of an edge on their competitors. One of the biggest things the committee will look at in Kansas State's case, however, will be how they perform with the current roster (as Wally Judge and Freddy Asprilla are now gone, and Curtis Kelly is under investigation again) . Luckily for Frank Martin's team, the remaining schedule includes plenty of winnable games, along with some marquee win opportunities (Kansas and Missouri at home and Texas away). Of course, a loss at Colorado, a team that's already beaten the Wildcats in Manhattan, on Saturday, could damage K-State's hopes further.


Baylor Bears (Last Four IN)
Record: 16-7 overall; 6-4 conference; 2-2 vs. RPI Top 50; 2-3 vs. RPI 51-100; 9-0 vs. RPI 150+; 3-6 Road/Neutral
Average RPI win: 175 Loss: 69
RPI: 72
SOS: 78
RPI 1-50 Wins: at Texas A&M, Oklahoma Sate
RPI 51-100 Wins: Nebraska, Colorado
Losses: Kansas, at Kansas State, Florida State (N), Washington State (N), Gonzaga (N), at Oklahoma, at Iowa State
This Week: def. Nebraska 74-70, at Texas (Sat.)
Next Week: Wayland Baptist (Tue.), Texas Tech (Sat.)
Just when you thought it was safe to write the Bears off, they went and grabbed their first top 50 win--over Texas A&M on the road--then all but ended Nebraska's hopes on Wednesday night. Now, Baylor is by no means a lock yet, but they've got some chances to get there, especially on the road, as they visit Texas, Missouri, and Oklahoma State. Meanwhile, the Longhorns and Texas A&M both head to Waco in the closing weeks of the season.


Colorado Buffaloes
Record: 14-10 overall; 4-6 conference; 4-5 vs. RPI Top 50; 0-3 vs. RPI 51-100; 9-0 vs. RPI 150+; 3-8 Road/Neutral
Average RPI win: 191 Loss: 63
RPI: 98
SOS: 85
RPI 1-50 Wins: Missouri, at Kansas State, Colorado State, Oklahoma State
RPI 51-100 Wins: None
Losses: Kansas, at Missouri, Texas A&M, at Georgia, at Harvard, New Mexico (N), at Nebraska, at Baylor, at San Francisco, at Oklahoma
This Week: lost to Texas A&M 73-70 (OT), Kansas State (Sat.)
Next Week: at Kansas (Sat.)
Colorado looked destined for big things in the Big 12 after rattling off three big wins to start the conference season, but six losses in their last seven, with three coming in winnable road games (at Baylor, at Nebraska, at Oklahoma) sees the Buffs at the very edge of the conversation. The Sooners' recent improvement means that loss is no longer a really bad one, but it remains one of several missed opportunities on Colorado's profile, along with losses at Harvard, Georgia, San Francisco, and against New Mexico in Las Vegas. The San Francisco and Oklahoma defeats are particularly responsible for weighing down the Buffs' RPI. Colorado can make up for those disappointments with a strong late push, which is possible thanks to trips to Missouri and Kansas and home games against Kansas State, and Texas.

Mountain West


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Looking Good


UNLV Runnin' Rebels

UNLV wasn't able to beat BYU in Provo last Saturday (and who really expected them to?), but they can solidify their place by topping San Diego State at the Thomas & Mack Center on Saturday. While the Rebels own a nice win over Wisconsin, they really need Kansas State, Virginia Tech, and New Mexico to play well to boost the quality of those three victories.

Work To Do


Colorado State Rams (First Four OUT)
Record: 15-7 overall; 6-3 conference; 2-3 vs. RPI Top 50; 2-2 vs. RPI 51-100; 8-1 vs. RPI 150+; 8-3 Road/Neutral
Average RPI win: 153 Loss: 69
RPI: 43
SOS: 47
RPI 1-50 Wins: at UNLV, Southern Mississippi (N)
RPI 51-100 Wins: Mississippi (N), Air Force
Bad (RPI 150+) Losses: Sam Houston State
Other Losses: Kansas (N), BYU, San Diego State, at New Mexico, at Colorado, Hampton (N)
This Week: New Mexico (Sat.)
Next Week: at TCU (Wed.), UNLV (Sat.)
The Rams' biggest issue is a pair of very questionable 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. Colorado State will have to take care of business in the Mountain West to earn a bid, a task made more difficult with a last second home loss to San Diego State last week. To get in, Tim Miles' team will need to sweep its four remaining games against the bottom four in the league, take advantage of UNLV and New Mexico's visits to Moby Arena, and possibly steal a game at either BYU or San Diego State.


New Mexico Lobos  (First Four OUT)
Record: 16-7 overall; 5-4 conference; 2-2 vs. RPI Top 50;  2-3 vs. RPI 51-100;  9-1 vs. RPI 150+; 5-6 Road/Neutral
Average RPI win: 164 Loss: 89
RPI: 69
SOS: 114
RPI 1-50 Wins: BYU, Colorado State
RPI 51-100 Wins: Air Force, Colorado (N)
Bad (RPI 150+) Losses: at Wyoming
Other Losses: San Diego State, at UNLV, at Dayton, at California, Northern Iowa (N), at Utah
This Week: def. Wyoming 68-57, at Colorado State (Sat.)
Next Week: at San Diego State (Wed.), Utah (Sat.)
The Lobos returned to the bubble picture with a home win over BYU on January 29th, but still have a lot to do to play their way into the field, thanks to non-conference season that featured some disappointing losses and a whole slew of wins that haven't panned out from a quality perspective. The remaining schedule isn't kind to New Mexico either, as they only welcome one MWC contender, UNLV, to the Pit, meaning road trips to San Diego State, BYU, and Colorado State remain. Saturday's game in Fort Collins is a potential elimination match, though the two are likely to meet again in the 4 vs. 5 game at the conference tournament in a few weeks.



Looking Good

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Arizona Wildcats (Pac-10 auto bid holder)
Washington Huskies

The Wildcats are still hovering outside of lock status, thanks to a weak non-conference schedule and a terrible January 2nd road loss to Oregon State. If you take that setback out of the equation, Arizona's three defeats are understandable--Kansas in Las Vegas, BYU in Salt Lake City, and at Washington. To secure their place, the Cats will need to keep winning in conference, but they play only four more games at home. The most important of those is a home set against the Washington schools on February 17th and 19th.

The Huskies are now below the Wildcats on the S-curve, thanks to a now-concluded (thanks to Thursday night's win over Cal) three-game losing streak, which included a sweep at the hands of the Oregon schools. Much like Arizona, 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. Inconsistent road form doesn't help their case.

Work To Do


UCLA Bruins
Record: 17-7 overall; 8-3 conference; 2-4 vs. RPI Top 50; 3-2 vs. RPI 51-100; 8-0 vs. RPI 150+; 4-5 Road/Neutral
Average RPI win: 155 Loss: 45
RPI: 40
SOS: 32
RPI 1-50 Wins: BYU (N), St. John's
RPI 51-100 Wins: Washington State, California, USC
Losses: at Kansas, at Arizona, Villanova (N), Washington, VCU (N), at USC, Montana
This Week: def. Oregon 64-54, Oregon State (Sat.)
Next Week: at Stanford (Thu.), at California (Sun.)
For the most part, the Bruins have taken care of business in the Pac-10, a pattern of events that's improved their situation considerably. (So do wins over BYU and St. John's.) The schedule really opens up for the Bruins over the next few weeks, as they don't play another legit tournament contender until Arizona visits Pauley on February 26th. But that game begins a difficult three-game span to end the regular season, as the Bruins head to Washington for the final weekend.


Washington State Cougars
Record: 16-8 overall; 6-6 conference; 1-4 vs. RPI Top 50; 3-2 vs. RPI 51-100; 9-0 vs. RPI 150+; 7-5 Road/Neutral
Average RPI win: 175 Loss: 69
RPI: 62
SOS: 93
RPI 1-50 Wins: Washington
RPI 51-100 Wins: Baylor (N), Gonzaga, Portland (N)
Losses: Arizona, Kansas State, at UCLA, Butler (N), at California, at USC, at Oregon, Stanford
This Week: lost to Stanford 75-62, California (Sat.)
Next Week: at Arizona (Thu.), at Arizona State (Sat.)
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 a few days later, thanks to a terrible 26-point loss at Oregon. While the Cougars did manage to beat Oregon State two days later, they lost at home to Stanford Thursday night, a defeat that sent them tumbling down the bubble. Three straight road games, a trip to Arizona, then the Apple Cup rematch in Seattle provide more opportunities for wins, as does a regular season-ending homestand against USC and UCLA.


The SEC now has two locks, as Florida, the conference's new auto bid holder earns a promotion, thanks to a pair of close home wins over Vanderbilt and Kentucky and an emphatic 19-point victory at South Carolina. The conference also has a new face in the "Work to Do" category, as Mississippi joins Alabama and Georgia.


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Looking Good

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Vanderbilt Commodores

Tennessee Volunteers

Both of these teams continue to look for a bit of consistency. Tennessee's issues have been well-chronicled, and they've followed up a three-game winning streak with two straight home losses. Meanwhile, Vanderbilt has a 7-5 mark against the top 100, while losing to South Carolina in Columbia and Arkansas in Fayetteville. 

With the bulk of each team's schedules against the tougher East, it's difficult to predict which of the pair will finish highest in the division, but with the bubble as soft as it is, expect to see both in the lock column at some point.

Work To Do


Georgia Bulldogs
Record: 16-7 overall; 5-4 conference; 2-7 vs. RPI Top 50; 2-0 vs. RPI 51-100; 10-0 vs. RPI 150+; 6-4 Road/Neutral
Average RPI win: 175 Loss: 19
RPI: 44
SOS: 41
RPI 1-50 Wins: Kentucky, UAB
RPI 51-100 Wins: at Mississippi, Colorado
Losses: Notre Dame (N), at Kentucky, Florida, Xavier, at Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Temple (N)
This Week: lost to Xavier 65-57,  at South Carolina (Sat.)
Next Week: Vanderbilt (Wed.), at Tennessee (Sat.)
The Bulldogs really need to start grabbing some East Division wins, as fattening up on the West (3-0) is negatively impacting Georgia's RPI. Mark Fox's team is 1-4 against the East, but considering the win was against Kentucky and the losses have all been close, there's hope the rest of the way. However, that hope is tempered by the road ahead, specifically trips to Knoxville, Gainesville, and Tuscaloosa. That's right, of Georgia's four remaining games against SEC contenders, only Vanderbilt visits Athens. It also didn't help that the Bulldogs dropped their final non-conference game, as they fell to Xavier at home on Tuesday night.


Alabama Crimson Tide
Record: 15-8 overall; 7-2 conference; 2-3 vs. RPI Top 50; 0-1 vs. RPI 51-100; 9-0 vs. RPI 150+; 3-8 Road/Neutral
Average RPI win: 199 Loss: 85
RPI: 96
SOS: 145
RPI 1-50 Wins: Kentucky, at Tennessee
RPI 51-100 Wins: None
Losses: at Purdue, at Vanderbilt, at Oklahoma State, Seton Hall (N), at Providence, at Arkansas, St. Peter's (N), Iowa (N)
This Week: lost at Vanderbilt 81-77, Mississippi (Sat.)
Next Week: at LSU (Thu.), Arkansas (Sat.)
The Crimson Tide fell out of the bracket, as they relinquished the SEC lead with a loss at Vanderbilt, a place where they haven't won in 21 years, on Thursday night. As you can see, 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 three games left against the East; however, only the one against Georgia is in Tuscaloosa. Five West Division games round out the slate, with two against Ole Miss looking like they'll be the most important, thanks to the Rebels' earlier win over Kentucky.


Mississippi Rebels
Record: 16-8 overall; 4-5 conference; 2-5 vs. RPI Top 50; 1-2 vs. RPI 51-100;  10-0 vs. RPI 150+; 6-4 Road/Neutral
Average RPI win: 169 Loss: 50
RPI: 58
SOS: 43
RPI 1-50 Wins: Kentucky, Southern Mississippi
RPI 51-100 Wins: Penn State
Losses: at Florida, at Vanderbilt, at Tennessee, Colorado State (N), Georgia, Dayton, at Miami,  Mississippi State
This Week: def. LSU 66-60, at Alabama (Sat.)
Next Week: Auburn (Wed.), at Mississippi State (Sat.)
Mississippi joins Bubble Watch this week, even though the Rebels' chances of earning an at-large are only marginally better than Alabama's. On one hand, the Rebels have a better non-conference resume than the Crimson Tide, thanks to wins over Penn State and Southern Mississippi (both at home), but losses to Dayton, Miami, and Colorado State (in Cancun) are minuses. So is the Rebels' record against the East, which sits at 1-4 (with only a game at South Carolina left). For comparison's sake, Alabama's is 2-1 with games against Vanderbilt, Florida, and Georgia left. Ole Miss' two games against the Tide could be crucial, but there may not be enough quality win opportunities in a West-heavy closing stretch to get the Rebels in.

The Rest of Division I

Several mid-majors drop out of Bubble Watch this week, but that doesn't mean you won't see Cleveland State, Butler, Northern Iowa, and Valparaiso in the NCAAs. They're just going to have to earn their conference's automatic bid to get there.

Work To Do


St. Mary's Gaels (WCC auto bid holder)
Record: 19-4 overall; 9-1 conference; 1-3 vs. RPI Top 50; 1-1 vs. RPI 51-100; 12-0 vs. RPI 150+; 8-4 Road/Neutral
Average RPI win: 174 Loss: 27
RPI: 35
SOS: 129
RPI 1-50 Wins: St. John's
RPI 51-100 Wins: at Gonzaga
Losses: BYU (N), at San Diego State, at Vanderbilt, at Portland
This Week: won at Santa Clara 65-59, at San Francisco (Sat.)
Next Week: at San Diego (Wed.), Utah State (Sat.)
The Gaels' two bests win of the season, a home win over St. John's and a win at Gonzaga, are looking less impressive as the days go on. Still, St. Mary's ability to take out bad teams helps its case, as does a good road/neutral mark. Of course, a weak bubble is the biggest thing working in St. Mary's favor. As for the Gaels' remaining slate,  three straight late home games against Utah State (BracketBusters), Gonzaga, and Portland are crucial to their hopes, particularly if they can't take care of business at the WCC Tournament in Las Vegas.


George Mason Patriots (CAA auto bid holder)
Record: 20-5 overall; 12-2 conference;  2-1 vs. RPI Top 50;  5-2 vs. RPI 51-100;  10-1 vs. RPI 150+; 8-5 Road/Neutral
Average RPI win: 150 Loss: 86
RPI: 24
SOS: 79
RPI 1-50 Wins: Old Dominion, Harvard
RPI 51-100 Wins: Drexel, at Duquesne, at James Madison, Florida Atlantic, Hofstra
Bad (RPI 150+) Losses: Wofford (N)
Other Losses: at Old Dominion, at Dayton, at Hofstra, NC State (N)
This Week: won at UNC Wilmington 78-63, James Madison (Sat.)
Next Week: at VCU (Tue.), at Northern Iowa (Sat.)
At first glance, the Patriots don't look like an at-large candidate, but guess what? Neither did the 2005-06 Final Four team. Actually, with wins over Harvard and Duquesne, it's possible the 2010-11 version could have better non-conference wins than the 2006 East Region champions, and that doesn't even take into account GMU's BracketBuster against Northern Iowa, even if the Panthers have struggled without Lucas O'Rear (the Kryptonite Kids won at Wichita State in 2006, the same team they beat in the Sweet 16 a month later). As for the CAA race, the Patriots biggest obstacles to the crown, now that they hammered ODU in Fairfax, is a February 15th trip to current conference co-leader VCU.


Old Dominion Monarchs (Next Four IN)
Record: 19-6 overall; 10-4 conference; 2-3 vs. RPI Top 50; 5-2 vs. RPI 51-100; 9-0 vs. RPI 150+; 8-4 Road/Neutral
Average RPI win: 155 Loss: 53
RPI: 31
SOS: 67
RPI 1-50 Wins: Xavier (N), George Mason
RPI 51-100 Wins: Dayton, Clemson (N), Richmond, James Madison, at Hofstra
Losses: Georgetown, at George Mason, at Missouri, VCU, at Drexel, at Delaware
This Week: won at William & Mary 69-53, at VCU (Sat.)
Next Week: Georgia State (Tue.), Cleveland State (Sun.)
In terms of their non-conference resume, the Monarchs are the CAA's best hope for an at-large, thanks to three wins against teams that are in contention. So, winning conference games is imperative, especially as Old Dominion sits two games behind co-leaders George Mason and VCU. Thanks to a loss Saturday at George Mason, it will be tough for the Monarchs to finish higher than third, even if they win at VCU this weekend. On February 20th, ODU has one last chance at grabbing a decent non-league win, as they host Cleveland State in a BracketBuster.


Utah State Aggies (WAC auto bid holder)
Record: 22-3 overall; 11-1 conference; 0-2 vs. RPI Top 50; 0-0 vs. RPI 51-100; 19-1 vs. RPI 150+; 8-3 Road/Neutral
Average RPI win: 205 Loss: 54
RPI: 28
SOS: 157
RPI 1-50 Wins: None
RPI 51-100 Wins: None
Bad (RPI 150+) Losses: at Idaho
Other Losses:
at BYU, at Georgetown
This Week: lost at Idaho 64-56, Fresno State (Sat.)
Next Week: Montana Western (Wed.), at St. Mary's (Sat.)
Utah State's margin of error is vanishing, thanks to Wednesday night's loss at Idaho, their first in WAC play. Now, the Aggies' are in real trouble if they don't win the conference tournament. Why? Because they could very well end the season without a top 100 victory, unless they happen to win at St. Mary's in their BracketBuster. Keep in mind that the Aggies earned an at-large last year with two WAC losses, but that team also beat BYU. As it stands now, a win in Moraga may be Stew Morrill's team's only hope at sneaking in without a WAC tourney crown.


Wichita State Shockers (MVC auto bid holder)
Record: 19-5 overall; 11-3 conference; 0-3 vs. RPI Top 50; 2-1 vs. RPI 51-100; 13-1 vs. RPI 150+; 8-2 Road/Neutral
Average RPI win: 187 Loss: 64
RPI: 55
SOS: 115
RPI 1-50 Wins: None
RPI 51-100 Wins: Tulsa, Evansville
Bad (RPI 150+) Losses: Southern Illinois
Losses: at San Diego State, Connecticut (N), Missouri State, Northern Iowa
This Week: lost to Southern Illinois 56-53, at Northern Iowa (Sat.)
Next Week: at Evansville (Tue.), VCU (Fri.)
Like Utah State, Wichita State is an at-large candidate despite not having an impressive win. Both teams also picked up the dreaded bad loss this week, with the Shockers' three-point home loss at the hands of Southern Illinois arguably being worse because it happened at the Koch Center. However, unlike the Aggies, the Shockers have opportunities outside of their home BracketBuster against VCU. That's because they have to visit both Northern Iowa and Missouri State, two teams they've lost to already this season, and it's very possible they'll have to play those teams again at the Missouri Valley Tournament in St. Louis.


Memphis Tigers (Last Four IN)
Record: 18-6 overall; 6-3 conference; 2-3 vs. RPI Top 50; 5-2 vs. RPI 51-100; 8-1 vs. RPI 150+; 6-4 Road/Neutral
Average RPI win: 156 Loss: 66
RPI: 36
SOS: 58
RPI 1-50 Wins: at UAB, at Southern Mississippi
RPI 51-100 Wins: Miami,  at Gonzaga, Marshall, UCF, at UCF
Bad (RPI 150+) Losses: at SMU
Other Losses: Kansas (N), Georgetown, at Tennessee, at Marshall, Tulsa
This Week: won at UCF 63-62, Southern Mississippi (Sat.)
Next Week: UAB (Wed.), at Rice (Sat.)
Memphis remains a game in the loss column behind UTEP in the Conference USA race, in a five-way tie that also features NCAA contenders UAB and Southern Miss and non-factors SMU and Tulsa. The Tigers' inability to dominate the league is especially 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 Saturday's triumph at sliding Gonzaga are the Tigers' best non-conference wins. That means Josh Pastner's team still has a lot to do to get in. Three conference games--two at home (Southern Miss and UAB) and one at UTEP--will play a significant role in determining the Tigers' March fate.


VCU Rams (First Four OUT)
Record: 20-6 overall; 12-2 conference; 2-2 vs. RPI Top 50; 3-1 vs. RPI 51-100; 14-3 vs. RPI 150+; 10-6 Road/Neutral
Average RPI win: 177 Loss: 109
RPI: 53
SOS: 153
RPI 1-50 Wins: at Old Dominion, UCLA (N)
RPI 51-100 Wins: Drexel, at James Madison, Hofstra
Bad (RPI 150+) Losses: at USF, at Northeastern, at Georgia State
Other Losses: Tennessee (N), at UAB, at Richmond
This Week: won at Delaware 84-74 (2OT), Old Dominion (Sat.)
Next Week: George Mason (Tue.), at Wichita State (Fri.)
The Rams were cruising along in the CAA a loss at Northeastern (RPI 172), their second bad CAA loss (the other came at Georgia State on January 3rd). On Wednesday night, VCU nearly picked up a third, as they needed 10 extra minutes to dispose of Delaware, a team that beat Old Dominion in Newark back in December. The Rams have little margin for error, but they also have great opportunities, thanks to consecutive home games against Old Dominion and George Mason. And if those aren't enough, VCU visits Wichita State in BracketBusters after that homestand. A sweep of those three games would be a tough ask, but when combined with an earlier win at ODU and win over UCLA in New York, the Rams may have enough to book a place.


Missouri State Bears (First Four OUT)
Record: 19-6 overall; 11-3 conference; 1-1 vs. RPI Top 50; 1-2 vs. RPI 51-100; 12-1 vs. RPI 150+; 6-5 Road/Neutral
Average RPI win: 180 Loss: 76
RPI: 47
SOS: 126
RPI 1-50 Wins: None
RPI 51-100 Wins: at Wichita State, at Northern Iowa
Losses: at Tennessee, at Oklahoma State, Northern Iowa, at Tulsa, at Evansville, at Indiana State
This Week: def. Bradley 77-69, at Illinois State (Sat.)
Next Week: Drake (Tue.), at Valparaiso (Sat.)
Things are looking up for the Bears. Unlike the other Valley contenders, Missouri State was able to take care of business against one of the conference's bottom-feeders, topping Bradley by eight points in Springfield. Wichita State's loss Tuesday means the Bears and Shockers are tied atop the league again, with a meeting to come at the JQH Arena to close the regular season. Thanks to Northern Iowa's recent struggles, the Bears once again own the best overall profile in the conference, and their BracketBuster game at new Horizon leader Valparaiso doesn't look as uninspiring as it did last week. Nonetheless, Cuonzo Martin's team needs to take care of business against two MVC strugglers before they visit the ARC next weekend.


Harvard Crimson (Next Four OUT)
14-4 overall; 5-1 conference; 1-2 vs. RPI Top 50; 1-2 vs. RPI 51-100; 12-0 vs. RPI 150+; 6-4 Road/Neutral
Average RPI win: 187 Loss: 35
RPI: 50
SOS: 175
RPI 1-50 Wins: at Boston College
RPI 51-100 Wins: Colorado
Losses: at Connecticut, at George Mason, at Princeton, at Michigan
This Week: Yale (Fri.), Brown (Sat.)
Next Week: at Cornell (Fri.), at Columbia (Sat.)
The Crimson relinquished control of the Ivy race to Princeton when they lost at Jadwin Gym on Friday night. Now, they'll have to beat the Tigers in Cambridge, and not lose any more games (a task they nearly failed to accomplish when they needed to two overtimes to beat Penn on Saturday), to force a one-game playoff for the Ivy crown. Harvard doesn't really have a great chance at an at-large, thanks to what the Ivy schedule will do to their computer numbers, but wins at Boston College and in Cambridge over Colorado should earn them more of a look than they'll receive.


Gonzaga Bulldogs (Next Four OUT)
Record: 15-9 overall; 6-3 conference; 2-6 vs. RPI Top 50; 5-1 vs. RPI 51-100; 8-1 vs. RPI 150+; 5-6 Road/Neutral
Average RPI win: 167 Loss: 55
RPI: 74
SOS: 39
RPI 1-50 Wins: Xavier, Oklahoma State
RPI 51-100 Wins: 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), St. Mary's, Memphis, Illinois (N), at Washington State, at San Francisco
This Week: won at Loyola Marymount 67-57, at Pepperdine (Sat.)
Next Week: Santa Clara (Thu.), San Francisco (Sat.)
Gonzaga has not only struggled with a typically difficult non-conference schedule, capped by Saturday's home loss against Memphis, but in the league too, as they dropped three straight WCC games for the first time in 14 years a few weeks back. That means the Bulldogs may have too much ground to make up. Gonzaga really needs Xavier, Oklahoma State, and Marquette to keep winning because that would improve the value of those wins. However, the Bulldogs also has to take care of business in the WCC, with a  game at St. Mary's on February 24th looking particularly critical heading into the conference tournament.


UAB Blazers (Next Four OUT)
Record: 17-6 overall; 7-3 conference; 0-4 vs. RPI Top 50; 6-1 vs. RPI 51-100;  9-1 vs. RPI 150+; 7-4 Road/Neutral
Average RPI win: 178 Loss: 64
RPI: 33
SOS: 65
RPI 1-50 Wins: None
RPI 51-100 Wins:  VCU, UTEP, Marshall, at Marshall, Kent State, at UCF
Bad (RPI 150+) Losses: at Arizona State
Other Losses: at Duke, Memphis, at Georgia, Southern Mississippi, at Tulsa
This Week: won at Marshall 64-48, Rice (Sat.)
Next Week: at Memphis (Wed.), UCF (Sat.)
The Blazers are just a few points away from being in better position, as two of their losses against Top 50 teams (Memphis, at Georgia) were by a total of five points, and they lost at home to Southern Miss by four. A December 21st home win over VCU works in their favor, but a November 20th loss to Arizona State is a serious wart. If the Blazers want to make it to the tournament, they'll need to grab some road wins, as they visit Memphis and Southern Miss down the stretch.


Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles
Record: 16-5 overall; 7-3 conference; 1-2 vs. RPI Top 50; 3-2 vs. RPI 51-100;  10-1 vs. RPI 150+; 7-4 Road/Neutral
Average RPI win: 150 Loss: 82
RPI: 46
SOS: 116
RPI 1-50 Wins: at UAB
RPI 51-100 Wins: at California, Marshall, UCF
Bad (RPI 150+) Losses: at SMU
Other Losses:
Memphis, Colorado State (N), at Mississippi, at Marshall
This Week: at Memphis (Sat.)
Next Week: UTEP (Wed.), at East Carolina (Sat.)
Southern Miss is in the thick of the C-USA race, despite a loss at SMU (something Memphis also has on their profile). Outside of the league, the Golden Eagles own a decent road win, as they knocked off Cal in Berkeley; however, a five-point loss to Colorado State in the Cancun Governor's Cup final is a major missed opportunity. The Golden Eagles will likely need to win the Conference USA crown to dance, and they have three big home games (Marshall, UTEP, and UAB) and one tough road trip (Memphis) left to improve their seeding for the conference tournament.


UTEP Miners (C-USA auto bid holder)
Record: 17-5 overall; 6-2 conference; 0-2 vs. RPI Top 50; 3-1 vs. RPI 51-100; 11-1 vs. RPI 150+; 5-4 Road/Neutral
Average RPI win: 177 Loss: 85
RPI: 59
SOS: 132
RPI 1-50 Wins: None
RPI 51-100 Wins: Michigan (N), Air Force, Tulsa
Bad (RPI 150+) Losses: Georgia Tech (N)
Losses: at BYU, at UAB, at Tulsa, Pacific
This Week: SMU (Sat.)
Next Week: at Southern Mississippi (Wed.), Houston (Sat.), UCF (Mon.)
The Miners lead Conference USA at the moment, as they are the only two-loss team in the league. UTEP will need to take care of business in conference because they simply don't have the wins out of it to make a decent case, though a win over Michigan in Atlantic City is looking better. Keep in mind that the Miners host the Conference USA tournament, which gives them a sizable advantage, if they can adjust for the final's ridiculously early 9 a.m. Mountain tip time.

My next bracket will appear at SB Nation on Tuesday, February 15. In the meantime, I'm interested to hear your thoughts on how the field stacks up with a little more than a month before Selection Sunday. Please leave your thoughts in the comments, but please keep your discussion fact-based and respectful.

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