Bubble Banter: Six bubbles in action, all six play on the road
Here is the latest NBC Sports Bracket Projection.
MINNESOTA (NET: 60, SOS: 45): The Golden Gophers a nice win at Northwestern (85), giving them their seventh Q2 win of the season. They also have a pair of Q1 wins -- at Wisconsin (16) and Washington on a neutral (29) -- and thanks to late season runs from Illinois (91), Rutgers (104) and Boston College (112), all 11 of their losses have come to Q1 or Q2 opponents. They lost six of their last seven before tonight, and with Purdue (12) and at Maryland (26) left, there’s no guarantee they’ll improve their profile. They need a split to feel good.
UNC GREENSBORO (NET: 61, SOS: 118): The Spartans won at The Citadel on Thursday night. If they win at Mercer on Saturday, there is still hope for an NCAA tournament at-large bid, but to get it, they are probably going to have to land a win over Furman in the SoCon tournament. That may not even be enough, however, and since UNCG is locked into the No. 2 seed in the SoCon tournament win this win, they won’t play Wofford until the title game. UNCG does not have a single bad loss on their resume, but their only Q1 win is at East Tennessee State (66). I would strongly recommend getting the at-large bid.
FURMAN (NET: 47, SOS: 200): The Palladins beat Samford (158)on Thursday, keeping their dreams of an at-large bid alive. Their issue is that while they did win at Villanova (27) in November, they also lost to Samford at home, a Q3 loss, and they played a non-conference SOS that ranks 294th nationally -- 14 of their 20 wins are Q4 opponents. They are in the same boat as UNCG, and if they get the No. 3 seed in the SoCon tournament, then it’s very unlikely they’ll be able to get an at-large at all.
MURRAY STATE (NET: 54, SOS: 286): I’m trying to find a way to talk myself into the Racers getting an at-large this year, and I just cannot see a way that it is possible. They are just 1-4 against Q1 and Q2 competition, and the ‘1' is a win at Austin Peay (125). They have three Q3 wins in addition to beating Austin Peay, and then 18 of their 22 wins came against Q4 competition. But they do have Ja Morant on their roster, and if we’re being honest, that really should be considered a tie-breaker in a year where a 14-14 Indiana team is still in the conversation.
BELMONT (NET: 50, SOS: 222): Belmont won at Murray State the only time these two teams played. They swept Lipscomb (46). They won at UCLA (109). Put it all together, and they have a 5-2 record against Q1 and Q2 opponents. But they have a pair of Q3 losses -- Jacksonville State (135) and at Green Bay (217) -- and 16 wins against Q4 competition. A Belmont-Murray State OVC title game would probably be a play-out game.
ARIZONA STATE (NET: 63, SOS: 84): The Sun Devils got smoked at Oregon (74) on Thursday night, who is 15-12 on the season, 6-8 in the Pac-12 and still a Q1 opponent. As it stands today, Arizona State has four Q1 wins and a 9-5 record against Q1 and Q2 opponents, but they have two Q3 losses and a pair of ugly Q4 losses, including getting blown out by 20 points by Washington State in their own gym. All of those good wins are probably going to end up being enough to get the Sun Devils into the tournament, but with two more road games left in the regular season -- Oregon State (81) and rival Arizona (80) -- this is going to be a stressful final 10 days.