The 2018 bubble watch has been relatively subdued with the plethora of upsets throughout the latter half of the college basketball season. At the same time, teams that are providing these upsets have slowly worked themselves from being a question mark at the bubble to now solidly in the tournament (ie. Virginia Tech).
Of the major conferences, the Big Ten is up in the air on how the end of February/ beginning of March will play out. Remember, to host their tournament in Madison Square Garden, the conference elected to move it a week earlier than the rest of the power leagues. Will it affect how many teams they have in the big dance? Right now they have four teams in but two more are hovering at the bubble.
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Aside from the Big Ten, several other teams are striding the line. Many of which have done so all season long.
Of the teams listed, they are battling for roughly 10 spots in the field of 68.
All rankings and records are as of Thursday, Feb. 22 at 12:00 pm
Oklahoma (16-11, 6-9 Big 12)
RPI: 32 BPI: 43 KenPom: 43 SOS: 12
Could Trae Young’s Oklahoma actually miss the NCAA Tournament? Yes. The Sooners have dropped six straight games and nine of their last 11. Yes, they have racked up the most high-quality wins in the country, but they are in a tailspin. They have beaten Kansas, TCU twice, Texas Tech, and Wichita State, but some of their losses are bad and they are piling up. Of their final three regular season games, two are against bubble teams that are desperate for a respectable win. If they lose out and then don’t make it past the first round of the Big 12 tournament, they are 16-15 (6-12).
St. Mary’s (CA) (25-4, 14-2 WCC)
RPI: 29 BPI: 20 KenPom: 22 SOS: 137
Early season losses to Georgia and Washington State are not as okay as they appeared back in non-conference play. Added to it was their surprising loss to San Francisco has now put the Gaels falling down the slide. Its hard to imagine though a 25-4 team not making the tournament.
Kansas State (20-8, 9-6 Big 12)
RPI: 55 BPI: 47 KenPom: 46 SOS: 73
The Kansas State Wildcats are your typical bubble team. They have beaten everyone in the Big 12 aside from the ranked teams. They have some good wins but lack a high quality or ‘Quadrant 1’ victory. Their win over Texas on Feb. 21 give them a head-to-head over another team attempting to steal a bubble spot.
Providence (17-11, 8-7 Big East)
RPI: 37 BPI: 72 KenPom: 69 SOS: 20
Being in the Big East will always give a team a strong SOS, but the Providence Friars have lost to teams they should not have. While they have impressive wins over Xavier and Villanova at home, they have a DePaul loss at home that counters one of those wins. Their looming contest against Xavier has now developed into a must-win on Feb. 28.
NC State (19-9, 9-6 ACC)
RPI: 57 BPI: 51 KenPom: 50 SOS: 61
A team that has benefited from a strong conference has been the Wolfpack from NC State. Out of the ACC, NC State had a horrid schedule and even dropped games against Northern Iowa and UNC Greensboro. However, they have made up for that with some of the most impressive wins in the ACC. They beat Duke, Clemson, and North Carolina on the road to climb back to the bubble watch.
Baylor (17-11, 7-8 Big 12)
RPI: 59 BPI: 37 KenPom: 36 SOS: 23
Beating Kansas and Texas Tech at home are really the only reasons the Baylor Bears are in consideration at the bubble. But, they are in the deepest conference in college basketball this season, which gives them a ton of decent wins that they can add to their resume. The Bears realistically have to win out to get into the dance.
St. Bonaventure (21-6, 11-4 A10)
RPI: 25 BPI: 58 KenPom: 68 SOS: 91
As a borderline bubble team, the St. Bonaventure Bonnies have followed that with a nine-game winning streak and a crucial victory over Rhode Island. As long as the Bonnies take care of their own business and make no worse than the semis in the A10 Tournament, they should be good. Guards Jaylen Adams and Matt Mobley are overdue for a tournament berth.
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Syracuse (18-10, 7-8 ACC)
RPI: 46 BPI: 52 KenPom: 51 SOS: 22
A month and a half ago, the Syracuse Orange had no business being in the bubble conversation. Still, their four best wins are over Miami, Virginia Tech, Louisville, and then Buffalo. They have some work to do in their final three weeks.
Louisville (18-10, 8-7 ACC)
RPI: 52 BPI: 35 KenPom: 37 SOS: 29
The Louisville Cardinals are in a worse spot than Syracuse, they only have one would be ‘Quadrant 1’ win at Florida State from nearly two months ago. With all the drama surrounding this program through the entire 2017-18 season, you have to give it to David Padgett for keeping them in the race.
USC (20-9, 11-5 Pac-12)
RPI: 36 BPI: 50 KenPom: 52 SOS: 49
The Pac-12 could be in extreme trouble. If USC does not make the push into the NCAA Tournament, there will only be two teams from that conference dancing. With an interesting resume, there is not much that jumps off the Trojans record. Then again, there isn’t much that takes away from it either.
UCLA (19-8, 10-5 Pac-12)
RPI: 47 BPI: 60 KenPom: 54 SOS: 66
Their win over Arizona solidified their claim to the bubble. Win-out situation upcoming for the Bruins who have been hurt by a weak Pac-12.
Texas (16-12, 6-9 Big 12)
RPI: 54 BPI: 39 KenPom: 41 SOS: 16
The Longhorns have such a good schedule. They’ve played all of their games close, but few close games against high-quality teams have translated to wins.
Marquette (16-11, 7-8 Big East)
RPI: 58 BPI: 45 KenPom: 48 SOS: 18
The Golden Eagles were sitting pretty until a four-game losing streak and a loss to St. John’s took them out of the conference race. Not much room for error with Marquette as they move closer to Selection Sunday.
Nebraska (21-9, 12-5 Big Ten)
RPI: 60 BPI: 61 KenPom: 57 SOS: 101
A win against Michigan and a six-game winning streak in the Big Ten has the Cornhuskers alive despite a sub-.500 SOS. They still need a Big Ten tournament upset to get in.
Washington (18-9, 8-6 Pac-12)
RPI: 48 BPI: 109 KenPom: 95 SOS: 37
The only reason the Washington Huskies are in this conversation is because they beat Arizona and Arizona State back-to-back.
Utah (17-9. 9-6 Pac-12)
RPI: 49 BPI: 70 KenPom: 60 SOS: 65
Another bubble team that hasn’t done much. They’ve won the games they should have and only have snagged an upset on Arizona State.
Florida (17-11, 8-7 SEC)
RPI: 64 BPI: 34 KenPom: 29 SOS: 39
Georgia (15-12, 6-9 SEC)
RPI: 70 BPI: 84 KenPom: 71 SOS: 48
LSU (16-11, 7-8 SEC)
RPI: 74 BPI: 64 KenPom: 63 SOS: 47
Temple (15-12, 7-8 AAC)
RPI: 44 BPI: 83 KenPom: 85 SOS: 9
Games to Watch This Week:
UCLA at Utah 2/22 – 9:00 pm (ESPN)
Baylor at TCU 2/24 – 12:00 pm (ESPN2)
LSU at Georgia 2/24 – 2:00 pm (ESPNU)
Louisville at Virginia Tech 2/24 pm – 1:00 pm (CBS)
Syracuse at Duke 2/24 – 6:00 pm (ESPN)
Kansas State at Oklahoma 2/24 – 6:00 pm (ESPN2)
No. 12 Auburn vs. Florida 2/24 – 8:30 pm (SECN)
Penn State at Nebraska 2/25 – 5:15 pm (BTN)
NC State at Florida State 2/25 – 6:00 pm (ESPNU)
Oklahoma at Baylor 2/27 – 9:00 pm (ESPN2)
Davidson at St. Bonaventure 2/27 – 9:00 pm (CBSSN)
Providence at No. 4 Xavier 2/28 – 6:30 pm (FS1)