Bubble Banter: Oklahoma State back in the mix, N.C. State continues their run
As we will do every day throughout the rest of the season, here is a look at how college basketball’s bubble teams fared on Saturday.
It’s worth reminding you here that the way winning are labeled have changed this season. Instead of looking at all top 50 wins equally, the selection committee will be using criteria that breaks wins down into four quadrants, using the RPI:
- Quadrant 1: Home vs. 1-30, Neutral vs. 1-50, Road vs. 1-75
- Quadrant 2: Home vs. 31-75, Neutral vs. 51-100, Road vs. 76-135
- Quadrant 3: Home vs. 76-160, Neutral vs. 101-200, Road vs. 136-240
- Quadrant 4: Home vs. 161 plus, Neutral vs. 201 plus, Road vs. 240 plus
The latest NBC Sports Bracketology can be found here.
OKLAHOMA STATE (RPI: 115, KenPom: 74, NBC seed: Out): The Cowboys are back in the mix! The Cowboys had lost three in a row and seven of their last ten games before going into Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday and knocking off Kansas. Combine that with a win over Oklahoma at home and a win over Florida State on a neutral and that’s three Quadrant 1 wins, two of which came over top 15 teams. Seven of their nine losses are against Quadrant 1 teams as well, and they don’t have any bad losses. They still have quite a bit of ground to make up, but in the Big 12, they’ll have chances to do just that.
ALABAMA (RPI: 41, KenPom: 62, NBC seed: 9): Alabama landed a massive, 20-point win at Florida. It’s the fifth Quadrant 1 win for the Crimson Tide, who had put together quite an array of victories. They’ve beaten Auburn (5), Rhode Island (8) and Oklahoma (11). But this matters because it is a Quadrant 1 win on the road. It is just their second true road win of the season. The other was LSU.
WASHINGTON (RPI: 43, KenPom: 90, NBC seed: 10): Washington may have just played their way into the NCAA tournament thanks to a sweep of the Arizona schools this weekend. On Saturday night, they beat Arizona at the buzzer.
MISSOURI (RPI: 35, KenPom: 42, NBC seed: Play-in game): For the second straight game, Missouri landed themselves a Quadrant 1 win, this time knocking off Kentucky at home. The Tigers now have five Quadrant 1 wins, including three of which that came on the road. The win over Kentucky looks better on an NCAA tournament résumé than it does in real life, but it should be enough to slide Missouri that much closer to playing their way off the bubble. Missouri entered this week having lost three in a row and six of their last nine.
N.C. STATE (RPI: 65, KenPom: 64, NBC seed: 9): The Wolfpack have now won three in a row and six of their last eight games, a stretch that has included wins over Duke, Clemson and at North Carolina, after blowing out Notre Dame at home. Kevin Keatts has four Quadrant 1 wins, including three over top ten teams, They are probably comfortably in the tournament as of today, but a poor non-conference SOS (271) is something of a concern.
BUTLER (RPI: 26, KenPom: 21, NBC seed: 9): The Bulldogs did what they needed to do by knocking off DePaul at home. Wins over Villanova and Ohio State at home plus a blowout win at Marquette gives Butler three Quadrant 1 wins. They don’t have a single loss that isn’t a Quadrant 1 loss. They are in a very good spot right now.
PROVIDENCE (RPI: 36, KenPom: 61, NBC seed: 10): The Friars added another Quadrant 1 on Saturday, going into Milwaukee and knocking off Marquette. They now have five Quadrant 1 wins and eight wins in the top two Quadrants. Throw in the fact that five of their remaining eight games are at home, and the Friars look like they’ll be able to cruise into the NCAA tournament.
UCLA (RPI: 55, KenPom: 60, NBC seed: Next four out): The Bruins are working their way back into the bubble picture, and they’ve put themselves in a position where they’ll have an opportunity to win the games they need to win to get in. Beating USC at home helped -- UCLA only has one Quadrant 1 win and now three Quadrant 2 wins -- but it’s just the start. Five of their last seven games are on the road, including Arizona, Arizona State and USC.
MISSISSIPPI STATE (RPI: 58, KenPom: 69, NBC seed: Out): Beating Georgia at home isn’t a game-changer for Ben Howland’s club, but it is another Quadrant 2 win. They only had two of those before today, along with just a single Quadrant 1 win. They’ve now won three in a row after losing five out of six. That pesky non-conference SOS (310th) may be their downfall.
BOISE STATE (RPI: 40, KenPom: 44, NBC seed: First four out): The Broncos picked up an overtime win at home against UNLV (163) on Saturday. They needed that, mainly because they don’t have a Quadrant 1 win and cannot afford any more bad losses; believe it or not, Iowa State on a neutral is Boise State’s worst loss. They might need to win out and beat Nevada at home if they want to get in with an at-large.
TEXAS A&M (RPI: 31, KenPom: 33, NBC seed: Play-in game): The Aggies won a game that they needed to win, beating South Carolina at home on Saturday. I say they needed to win it because they’ve now won two in a row heading into the toughest stretch of their season: at Auburn, Kentucky, at Missouri, at Arkansas. The Aggies already have four Quadrant 1 wins and three more Quadrant 2 wins. Splitting that four game stretch would put them into really good position down the stretch of the season.
HOUSTON (RPI: 48, KenPom: 38, NBC seed: 11): The Cougars added their fourth Quadrant 1 win of the season on Saturday, as they went into Orlando and picked off a UCF team that has been obliterated by injury. The Cougars are right on the edge, however. Three of their four Quadrant 1 wins could easily fall to Quadrant 2 -- Arkansas (28) and Wichita State (29) at home, UCF (70) on the road -- which means that they still have some work to do.
MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE (RPI: 20, KenPom: 40, NBC seed: 12): MTSU couldn’t afford a loss at Charlotte (309). They didn’t lose at Charlotte.
SOUTH CAROLINA (RPI: 60, KenPom: 74, NBC seed: First four out): The Gamecocks were absolutely smoked on the road by Texas A&M in a game between two teams right on the edge of the bubble’s cut-line. This is the third-straight loss for South Carolina, and their next four games are rough: at Arkansas, Florida, at Tennessee, Auburn. We’ll know by the end of that run if they’re going to the tournament.
VIRGINIA TECH (RPI: 62, KenPom: 39, NBC seed: 11): The Hokies missed out on a chance to protect their home court on Saturday, losing out on a Quadrant 1 win by losing to Miami. The Hokies have one of the toughest remaining schedules. They have four games against top RPI five teams and six games against top RPI 20 teams: at Virginia, at Duke, Clemson, Louisville, Duke, at Miami. There are plenty of chances left.
GEORGIA (RPI: 55, KenPom: 63, NBC seed: First four out): Georgia is not all that far away, but they have not really done anything to help themselves in recent weeks. A loss at Mississippi State is a Quadrant 1 loss, but it is also their sixth loss in the last eight games. They have two Quadrant 3 losses that they need to make up for, and this is not going to get the job done. With five Quadrant 1 games left -- including three at home -- Mark Fox will still have a few chances to stave off that hot seat.
MARQUETTE (RPI: 55, KenPom: 50, NBC seed: First four out): The Golden Eagles blew another chance to land a quality win at home this week, as Providence beat them in Milwaukee on Saturday afternoon. They have now lost four in a row, including three straight games at home. Five of their next six games are on the road, and as of today, Marquette has just two Quadrant 1 wins and only six wins that are not Quadrant 4. They are in a very, very difficult spot.
SYRACUSE (RPI: 46, KenPom: 47, NBC seed: Next four out): The Orange missed out on a chance to land a win over the No. 1 team in the RPI, losing at home to Virginia. The Cuse have good underlying numbers, but they just don’t have the quality wins to back those numbers up at this point. They are 0-4 against Quadrant 1 opponents now.
ARKANSAS (RPI: 28, KenPom: 48, NBC seed: 10): The Razorbacks lost their second straight game on Saturday, falling at LSU to drop to 15-8 on the season. Mike Anderson’s team should still feel pretty good about themselves. They are 3-6 against Quadrant 1 teams with two more Quadrant 2 wins. Perhaps more importantly, for a team that plays much better at home than on the road, they play five of their last eight in Fayetteville including their three toughest opponents left.
USC (RPI: 39, KenPom: 43, NBC seed: 10): Losing at UCLA doesn’t really hurt USC. It’s a Quadrant 1 loss and those can be forgiven. Where it hurts is that the Trojans held a double-digit lead in the second half and gave it away. There are only so many Quadrant 1 wins available in the Pac-12. They can’t waste opportunities.
WESTERN KENTUCKY (RPI: 48, KenPom: 56, NBC seed: Next four out): The Hilltoppers couldn’t afford a loss to anyone not named Middle Tennessee State. They lost to UT-San Antonio.
KANSAS STATE (RPI: 66, KenPom: 41, NBC seed: Last four in): Losing at West Virginia is not exactly ideal. But West Virginia has lost five of their last six games and needed to make a statement. Sometimes you run into a buzzsaw, Bruce Weber.
NOTRE DAME (RPI: 77, KenPom: 35, NBC seed: Out): The Fighting Irish were smoked at N.C. State on Saturday. They will no longer be featured in this space until they land a win or two of note. Or until Bonzie Colson makes a return.
OREGON (RPI: 89, KenPom: 88, NBC seed: Out): We can probably count Oregon out after they lost by 35 points at Stanford.