Bubble Wrap 2013: Heading into the home stretch (week 3)

Contributor
March 9, 2013 - 12:43am
As the battle for NCAA Tournament at-large bids heads into the final stretch, how do women's basketball bubble teams measure up? (Photo courtesy istockphoto.com)

As the battle for NCAA Tournament at-large bids heads into the final stretch, how do women's basketball bubble teams measure up? (Photo courtesy istockphoto.com)

It's easy to find analysis on TV or the Internet of teams that are on the bubble for the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, but such material on women's basketball is a bit more difficult to find. Full Court's annual Bubble Wrap began about a decade ago, when in an effort to fill that void, Jim Carson, a Clemson graduate and fan for 20-plus years, set out to estimate the tournament chances of the Tigers women's team for which his daughter was playing. With the Tigers on the bubble for several years in a row, the Bubble Wrap was born, first on a couple of mailing lists and eventually on Full Court, where it quickly became a favorite of our readers.

Since we began this year's analysis in mid-February, the number of teams with records solid enough to lock up an at-large bid to this year's NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Tournament has slowly grown from 25 to 29. Those locks continue to be spread over eight conferences -- the Atlantic 10 (one lock), the Atlantic Coast Conference (four locks), the BIG EAST (four locks), the Big Ten (five locks), the Big XII (four locks), the Colonial Athletic Association (one lock), the Pac-12 (four locks) and the Southeastern Conference (six locks).

Meanwhile, the number of teams still "on the bubble" has dwindled from 45 to 28 as some programs have simply failed to get the job done down the stretch.

Simple arithmetic would suggest that those 28 bubble teams are battling over just four remaining at-large berths (33 total at-large berths minus 29 locks equals four spots remaining), but experience tells us that at least some of the automatic bids are likely to go to teams that have already locked up at-large bids, releasing those berths for teams that are currently on the bubble. To account for that fact, we've added back eight at-large bids (one for each conference with one or more locks), meaning that we currently have 28 bubbles vying for an estimated 12 available at-large bids.

With Selection Monday now just 10 days away, most of those bubbles are now taking their campaigns into their conference tournaments, hoping to pick up one or two more statement wins that will impress the NCAA Selection Committee. We'll have one more update a week from now, when most of the automatic bids will have been settled and the bubbles will have done all they can to make their cases.

ATLANTIC 10 CONFERENCE
LOCKS
Dayton
DAYTON

26-1/14-0

(RPI 11)
ATLANTIC 10 CONFERENCE BUBBLES
Charlotte CHARLOTTE
CONFERENCE A10
RECORDS  
OVERALL 24-4
CONFERENCE ONLY 13-1
RATINGS PERCENTAGE INDEX 52
STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE 139
ON THE ROAD OR IN NEUTRAL VENUES 12-1
SINCE FEBRUARY 1 9-0
AGAINST TOP-50 OPPONENTS 2-2
BEST WINS Duquesne (63-54); @Saint Joseph’s (71-66)
WORST LOSSES Fordham (56-59)
REMAINING GAMES Xavier or Temple in A-10 quarterfinal (3/9)

Outlook: The 49ers are looking good after winning 13 in a row, with the possible caveat that they didn't play Dayton this season. Charlotte's out-of-conference losses include Florida State (a 54-70 blowout), Kansas State at home (63-67) and Toledo (66-76) in a holiday tourney on a neutral floor; their best pre-A10 win was over Florida Gulf Coast (79-60) at home. As long as there isn't a ghastly loss this weekend, Charlotte should be okay.

Saint Joseph’s ST. JOSEPH’S
CONFERENCE A10
RECORDS  
OVERALL 20-8
CONFERENCE ONLY 11-3
RATINGS PERCENTAGE INDEX 53
STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE 73
ON THE ROAD OR IN NEUTRAL VENUES 10-4
SINCE FEBRUARY 1 6-3
AGAINST TOP-50 OPPONENTS 1-4
BEST WINS Maryland (50-49)
WORST LOSSES n.Central Michigan (84-98)
REMAINING GAMES Duquesne or VCU in A-10 quarterfinal (3/9)

Outlook: The Hawks' hat still hangs largely on that Maryland win, where they held the Terps scoreless for the final seven minutes to win, 50-49. Saint Joe’s only other Top-100 wins were @Drexel (47-45) and @Duquesne (69-68, OT) in a bubblicious A-10 matchup. The Hawks finished their regular season @Dayton where they lost by seven (66-73). Is it a win-and-in situation in the A-10 semis vs. Charlotte (who won by five, 71-66, in Philly)?

Duquesne DUQUESNE
CONFERENCE A10
RECORDS  
OVERALL 22-6
CONFERENCE ONLY 11-3
RATINGS PERCENTAGE INDEX 34
STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE 81
ON THE ROAD OR IN NEUTRAL VENUES 10-4
SINCE FEBRUARY 1 5-3
AGAINST TOP-50 OPPONENTS 2-4
BEST WINS Delaware (51-47); @West Virginia (62-54)
WORST LOSSES Miami-Ohio (49-54)
REMAINING GAMES VCU in A-10 first round ( 3/8)

Outlook: The Dukes lost a heartbreaker @Dayton (57-58) in mid-February in a game where the only points in the last 3:20 were two Flyers’ free throws (and the Dukes missed six shots and turned it over twice in that span). A win there would have relaxed Duquesne, but now it has to sweat, especially since the Dukes are on the same side of the A-10 tournament bracket as the Flyers. The Delaware win looks good but is misleading (as is that RPI) because Elena Delle Donne was out of the picture at the time, and there was and there was a rematch in a Dartmouth tourney won by Del-leDonne-ware by 15 (60-45). Duquesne tested itself well otherwise out-of-conference, losing by just four points @North Carolina (58-62) and winning @West Virginia (62-54).

ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE
LOCKS
Duke North Carolina
DUKE

27-2/17-1 (RPI 5)
NORTH CAROLINA

26-5/14-4 (RPI 13)
Maryland Florida State
MARYLAND

23-6/14-4 (RPI 10)
FLORIDA STATE

21-8/11-7 (RPI 22)
ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE BUBBLES
Miami MIAMI
CONFERENCE ACC
RECORDS  
OVERALL 21-9
CONFERENCE ONLY 11-7
RATINGS PERCENTAGE INDEX 48
STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE 51
ON THE ROAD OR IN NEUTRAL VENUES 5-6
SINCE FEBRUARY 1 6-2
AGAINST TOP-50 OPPONENTS 2-6
BEST WINS Penn State (69-65); Duke (69-65)
WORST LOSSES @Virginia (52-62)
REMAINING GAMES Virginia Tech in ACC quarterfinal (3/7)

Outlook: The U likely hopped off that bubble in the right direction by beating Duke last week. Duke's starting point guard Chelsea Gray was lost for the season after a mid-February injury, but that doesn't attach any Selection-Committee asterisk to Miami's win. Miami's othernotable out-of-conference games were a 12-point drop to Tennessee (67-79) and a victory @Rutgers by a football score of 42-34 and there were seven wins over teams at or below the Top-125. But there was nothing bad, and those two huge wins over Penn State and Duke (by identical scores, by the way) should be enough to remove any doubt.

One-time fellow ACC bubble Virginia (16-13/8-10/RPI 89) lost to four bottom-half ACC teams in its last six games and no longer has a realistic shot at an at-large bid.

ATLANTIC SUN CONFERENCE
LOCKS
The Atlantic Sun Conference Currently Has No Locks
ATLANTIC SUN CONFERENCE BUBBLES
Florida Gulf Coast University FLORIDA GULF COAST
CONFERENCE Atlantic Sun
RECORDS  
OVERALL 24-5
CONFERENCE ONLY 18-0
RATINGS PERCENTAGE INDEX 50
STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE 147
ON THE ROAD OR IN NEUTRAL VENUES 12-4
SINCE FEBRUARY 1 7-0
AGAINST TOP-50 OPPONENTS 1-2
BEST WINS LSU (76-70)
WORST LOSSES Central Florida (53-60)
REMAINING GAMES Kennesaw State in A-Sun quarterfinal (3/6)

Outlook: LSU's biggest fans outside of Baton Rouge are probably in Fort Myers. FGCU played a tough out-of-conference schedule this year, suffering losses @Charlotte (60-79) and to n.DePaul (though just by two, 58-60) and n.South Carolina (46-65) over Thanksgiving in the Virgin Islands. As a result, the Eagles still will probably need the automatic, but they've been destroying people in the A-Sun (smallest margin of victory: 11), so it looks like it won't matter.

BIG EAST CONFERENCE
LOCKS
Notre Dame Connecticut
NOTRE DAME

28-1/15-0 (RPI 4)
CONNECTICUT

27-3/14-2 (RPI 3)
Syracuse Louisville
SYRACUSE

23-6/11-5 (RPI 38)
LOUISVILLE

23-7/11-5 (RPI 23)
BIG EAST CONFERENCE BUBBLES
St. John’s ST. JOHN’S
CONFERENCE BIG EAST
RECORDS  
OVERALL 17-11
CONFERENCE ONLY 11-5
RATINGS PERCENTAGE INDEX 35
STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE 6
ON THE ROAD OR IN NEUTRAL VENUES 6-7
SINCE FEBRUARY 1 7-2
AGAINST TOP-50 OPPONENTS 2-8
BEST WINS Georgetown (76-72, OT); @ Rutgers (48-44)
WORST LOSSES n.Texas (60-70); @Seton Hall (51-61)
REMAINING GAMES Cincinnati or Seton Hall in BIG EAST second round (3/9)

Outlook: The final week of the season brought helpful wins over fellow-BIG EAST bubbles @Villanova (52-49) and DePaul (67-54), sandwiched around an ugly the loss @Seton Hall in a true trap game. The wins mean a lot more, because they were St. John's only Top-50 victories. If the Red Storm can avoid a one-and-done upset in the conference tournament, St. John's should be rewarded with a bid.

Villanova VILLANOVA
CONFERENCE BIG EAST
RECORDS  
OVERALL 20-9
CONFERENCE ONLY 9-7
RATINGS PERCENTAGE INDEX 29
STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE 30
ON THE ROAD OR IN NEUTRAL VENUES 12-5
SINCE FEBRUARY 1 4-5
AGAINST TOP-50 OPPONENTS 4-5
BEST WINS Princeton (61-54); DePaul (65-54); Syracuse (64-59); @Syracuse (77-75)
WORST LOSSES @Providence (60-65, OT)
REMAINING GAMES Georgetown or Providence in BIG EAST second round

Outlook: ‘Nova played a respectable, if not awe-inspiring, out-of-conference schedule. Delaware was the heavyweight, but Villanova can point to wins over four other Top-100 teams in addition to its signature win over Princeton. The Wildcats look better than any of the conference’s other 9-7 teams.

DePaul DE PAUL
CONFERENCE BIG EAST
RECORDS  
OVERALL 20-10
CONFERENCE ONLY 9-7
RATINGS PERCENTAGE INDEX 25
STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE 11
ON THE ROAD OR IN NEUTRAL VENUES 5-8
SINCE FEBRUARY 1 4-5
AGAINST TOP-50 OPPONENTS 3-8
BEST WINS Princeton (86-75); Louisville (86-80)
WORST LOSSES @Marquette (66-70)
REMAINING GAMES Marquette or Pittsburgh in BIG EAST second round (3/9)

Outlook: Down the stretch, the Blue Demons followed blowout losses to conference locks -- @Connecticut (44-91), @Louisville (55-88) and Notre Dame (56-84) -- by beating Georgetown (75-55) and @Pittsburgh (71-73), then losing the regular-season finale @St. John's (54-67).It's still hard to find fault here, except the part about playing only two true road games out of conference -- @Kentucky (losing in a 64-96 rout) and @Loyola-Ill. (a healthy, 87-69 victory). One more win against another decent team in the conference tourney would be huge.

South Florida SOUTH FLORIDA
CONFERENCE BIG EAST
RECORDS  
OVERALL 20-9
CONFERENCE ONLY 9-7
RATINGS PERCENTAGE INDEX 57
STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE 71
ON THE ROAD OR IN NEUTRAL VENUES 9-4
SINCE FEBRUARY 1 6-3
AGAINST TOP-50 OPPONENTS 3-8
BEST WINS @Louisville (73-62); Syracuse (68-66); Florida Gulf Coast (67-46)
WORST LOSSES n.Creighton (74-91); St. John’s (59-65)
REMAINING GAMES Rutgers in BIG EAST second round (3/9)

Outlook: No bubble team did more to help itself in late February than USF, which collected two of its best wins in a four-day span. Those were huge, because before that USF's best win had been Florida Gulf Coast. USF's work isn't done and it may need to reach the BIG EAST Tournament semis which would mean beating Notre Dame.

USF became the answer to the C. Vivian Stringer 900th win question. Rutgers (16-13/7-9/RPI 77) took five tries to get the legendary coach to that number, then turned around and lost @Cincinnati (48-56), so the Knights have dropped out of our list of BIG EAST bubbles.

BIG TEN CONFERENCE
LOCKS
Penn State
PENN STATE

24-4/14-2 (RPI 6)
Nebraska Purdue
NEBRASKA

22-7/12-4 (RPI 15)
PURDUE

21-8/10-6 (RPI 18)
Michigan State Michigan
MICHIGAN STATE

22-7/10-6 (RPI 28)
MICHIGAN

20-9/9-7 (RPI 32)
BIG TEN CONFERENCE BUBBLES
Illinois ILLINOIS
CONFERENCE Big Ten
RECORDS  
OVERALL 16-12
CONFERENCE ONLY 9-7
RATINGS PERCENTAGE INDEX 64
STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE 35
ON THE ROAD OR IN NEUTRAL VENUES 7-5
SINCE FEBRUARY 1 4-4
AGAINST TOP-50 OPPONENTS 3-7
BEST WINS Georgia (70-59); @Nebraska (62-52)
WORST LOSSES Bradley (77-83); Northwestern (58-62)
REMAINING GAMES Wisconsin in Big Ten first round (3/7)

Outlook: The Illini finished 2-3, losing not-all-that-close games @Penn State (62-95), Ohio State (53-64) and @Purdue (65-76), and needs to beat one of the locks in the B1G tourney to have any chance. There were a bunch of missed opportunities in November and December until the Bulldogs visited. The other out-of-conference losses were to Iowa State (50-68), a heart-breaker to Illinois State (68-69), Colorado (62-69) and a beat-down @Texas Tech (56-75).

Iowa IOWA
CONFERENCE Big Ten
RECORDS  
OVERALL 19-11
CONFERENCE ONLY 8-8
RATINGS PERCENTAGE INDEX 37
STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE 11
ON THE ROAD OR IN NEUTRAL VENUES 8-6
SINCE FEBRUARY 1 3-5
AGAINST TOP-50 OPPONENTS 5-7
BEST WINS Iowa State (50-42); Purdue (62-46); @Purdue (72-52); @Michigan (63-57)
WORST LOSSES @ Florida International (65-66); Northwestern (65-67)
REMAINING GAMES Northwestern in Big Ten first round (3/7)

Outlook: The Hawkeyes had a five-game losing streak end in a rather explosive fashion, with a 20-point win @Purdue to complete that sweep, but then they weren't even close @Nebraska (46-66). Iowa has as many major victories as any bubble team, including other respectable wins over n.West Virginia (79-70) and Middle Tennessee (69-63, OT), and what was at the time a major upset over then-nationally ranked Texas (86-63), but a “W” this weekend would make the Hawkeyes feel safer.

BIG WEST CONFERENCE
LOCKS
The Big West Conference Currently Has No Locks
BIG WEST CONFERENCE BUBBLES
Pacific University PACIFIC
CONFERENCE Big West
RECORDS  
OVERALL 23-6
CONFERENCE ONLY 13-4
RATINGS PERCENTAGE INDEX 43
STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE 112
ON THE ROAD OR IN NEUTRAL VENUES 9-5
SINCE FEBRUARY 1 6-3
AGAINST TOP-50 OPPONENTS 1-1
BEST WINS Saint Mary’s (75-72)
WORST LOSSES UC-Santa Barbara (47-52); @Hawaii
REMAINING GAMES @UC-Davis (3/9)

Outlook: Pacific boasts a strong out-of-conference performance against a relatively-strong schedule – a close loss @Florida (82-89), a thumping @Stanford (43-72), and wins over Fresno State (66-56) and Fordham (62-40) -- but you can't lose four league games in the Big West and be seriously considered for an at-large. The Tigers are going to need the automatic.

BIG XII CONFERENCE
LOCKS
Baylor Iowa State
BAYLOR

29-1/18-0 (RPI 1)
IOWA STATE

21-7/12-6 (RPI 27)
TexasTech Oklahoma
TEXAS TECH

21-9/11-7 (RPI 39)
OKLAHOMA

21-9/11-7 (RPI 30)
BIG XII CONFERENCE BUBBLES
Oklahoma State OKLAHOMA STATE
CONFERENCE Big XII
RECORDS  
OVERALL 20-9
CONFERENCE ONLY 9-9
RATINGS PERCENTAGE INDEX 41
STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE 50
ON THE ROAD OR IN NEUTRAL VENUES 7-6
SINCE FEBRUARY 1 5-5
AGAINST TOP-50 OPPONENTS 4-7
BEST WINS Iowa State (71-42); Oklahoma (83-62)
WORST LOSSES @Kansas State (70-76)
REMAINING GAMES Texas Tech in Big XII quarterfinal (3/9)

Outlook: There are no downers anywhere, other than a suspect out-of-conference schedule. Seven of OSU's first eight games were in Stillwater and the toughest opponent was Cal Poly (90-59). On the upside, this is a team that travels well -- nothing bad happened when the Cowgirls ultimately did hit the road, beating Harvard (92-62) on a neutral floor and winning @San Diego State (80-72). The Cowgirls should be fine.

West Virginia WEST VIRGINIA
CONFERENCE Big XII
RECORDS  
OVERALL 17-12
CONFERENCE ONLY 9-9
RATINGS PERCENTAGE INDEX 47
STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE 10
ON THE ROAD OR IN NEUTRAL VENUES 7-6
SINCE FEBRUARY 1 5-4
AGAINST TOP-50 OPPONENTS 3-10
BEST WINS Oklahoma (82-63); @Iowa State (68-66)
WORST LOSSES @Texas (45-58)
REMAINING GAMES Oklahoma in Big XII quarterfinal (3/9)

Outlook: That win @Iowa State from mid-February looks quite nice on the resume next to @Boston University (60-57), @Virginia (54-47), and on the road against fellow league bubble @Oklahoma State (67-61) and former bubble @Kansas (72-56). Unfortunately the loss @Texas in the regular-season finale has made things a bit shaky for the Mountaineers. The worst loss before that was to n.LSU (63-71) at a Thanksgiving tournament in Miami.

COLONIAL ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION
LOCKS
Delaware
DELAWARE

23-3/14-0

(RPI 26)
COLONIAL ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION BUBBLES
James Madison JAMES MADISON
CONFERENCE Colonial
RECORDS  
OVERALL 20-9
CONFERENCE ONLY 14-3
RATINGS PERCENTAGE INDEX 81
STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE 94
ON THE ROAD OR IN NEUTRAL VENUES 9-4
SINCE FEBRUARY 1 7-2
AGAINST TOP-50 OPPONENTS 1-4
BEST WINS n.Wisconsin-Green Bay (89-86, OT)
WORST LOSSES Richmond (66-70)
REMAINING GAMES @Drexel (3/6); Towson in CAA quarterfinal (3/15)



Outlook: JMU's best chance for an at-large bid was to win @Del-leDonne-ware on February 24, but the Blue Hens won by one point (61-60). It's now the automatic or bust for the Dukes, whose only other Top-100 win was over n.Wichita State (63-58) in Cancun.

 

HORIZON LEAGUE
LOCKS
The Horizon League Currently Has No Locks
HORIZON LEAGUE BUBBLES
Green Bay WISCONSIN-GREEN BAY
CONFERENCE Horizon
RECORDS  
OVERALL 23-2
CONFERENCE ONLY 14-0
RATINGS PERCENTAGE INDEX 21
STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE 125
ON THE ROAD OR IN NEUTRAL VENUES 12-2
SINCE FEBRUARY 1 8-0
AGAINST TOP-50 OPPONENTS 0-0
BEST WINS @Marquette (55-46)
WORST LOSSES n.James Madison (86-89, OT); @Central Michigan (50-54)
REMAINING GAMES Loyola (3/7); @Wisconsin-Milwaukee (3/9)

Outlook: No problems here. Though the strength of schedule is not great, there were only two sub-Top-200 out-of-conference opponents on Green Bay’s slate. The Phoenix can also point to blowout wins over respectable teams like Missouri (55-33) and @Wichita State (63-42). For some reason Green Bay played CMU twice, home and away, and destroyed the Chips i75-48) in Green Bay in the first meeting before falling to them on the road.

IVY LEAGUE
LOCKS
The Ivy League Currently Has No Locks
IVY LEAGUE BUBBLES
Princeton PRINCETON
CONFERENCE Ivy League
RECORDS  
OVERALL 18-6
CONFERENCE ONLY 9-1
RATINGS PERCENTAGE INDEX 18
STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE 45
ON THE ROAD OR IN NEUTRAL VENUES 6-5
SINCE FEBRUARY 1 5-0
AGAINST TOP-50 OPPONENTS 1-5
BEST WINS @Saint Joseph’s (69-59); Rutgers (71-55)
WORST LOSSES @Marist (45-56)
REMAINING GAMES Yale (3/8); Brown (3/9); @Penn (3/12)

Outlook: This will probably be a moot point shortly since the Ivy doesn't have a tournament, and Princeton is on track to capture its fourth straight regular-season conference title. But the Tigers are darn good (although that RPI looks a bit high). They tripped @Harvard (55-58) last week, but the Crimson are not bad either and that is the Tigers’ only loss in league play. Out-of-conference losses were all to teams that are either locks or bubbles themselves, and all occurred on the road -- @UCLA (52-65); @Delaware by just one point (58-59) and with Delle Donne spearheading the Blue Hens, @Villanova (54-61) and @DePaul (75-86), and the Tigers beat Rutgers (71-55) and won @Illinois State (67-50).

METRO ATLANTIC CONFERENCE
LOCKS
The Metro Atlantic Conference Currently Has No Locks
METRO ATLANTIC CONFERENCE BUBBLES
Marist MARIST
CONFERENCE Metro Atlantic
RECORDS  
OVERALL 23-6
CONFERENCE ONLY 18-0
RATINGS PERCENTAGE INDEX 49
STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE 123
ON THE ROAD OR IN NEUTRAL VENUES 10-5
SINCE FEBRUARY 1 10-0
AGAINST TOP-50 OPPONENTS 1-4
BEST WINS Princeton (56-45)
WORST LOSSES @Hartford (53-64)
REMAINING GAMES Manhattan in MAAC quarterfinal

Outlook: Strange to see a profile heavily pointing at one win when that win is Princeton, huh? The Red Foxes have also lost blowouts to Purdue (50-71) and Connecticut (39-81) in the Virgin Islands, took another hammering @Kentucky I56-78) and suffered closer tumbles to Boston University (56-62) and @Oklahoma (55-68). Those games have at least kept the RPI respectable, but Princeton was Marist's only Top-100 victory. The Selection Committee has put the screws to better mid-majors in the past, and the next-best team in the MAAC is Iona (RPI 147), so any loss from here out would look bad.

MID-AMERICAN CONFERENCE
LOCKS
The Mid-American Conference Currently Has No Locks
MID-AMERICAN CONFERENCE BUBBLES
Toledo TOLEDO
CONFERENCE Mid-American
RECORDS  
OVERALL 26-2
CONFERENCE ONLY 14-1
RATINGS PERCENTAGE INDEX 45
STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE 221
ON THE ROAD OR IN NEUTRAL VENUES 12-1
SINCE FEBRUARY 1 4-0
AGAINST TOP-50 OPPONENTS 0-1
BEST WINS @Marquette (82-71); n.Charlotte (76-66)
WORST LOSSES Central Michigan (66-73)
REMAINING GAMES Ball State (3/6)

Outlook: It's unusual to see a MAC team that high in the RPI, but then that stat is over-rated anyway. Apart from the win at Marquette, he Rockets' big out-of-conference test was @Dayton and they only lost to the Flyers by three points (76-79). Toledo avenged itself in a big way @Central Michigan (76-63) when they visited the Chippewas in Mount Pleasant a week ago, and CMU and @Bowling Green (48-38) are both in the Top 100, so Toledo might be better able to absorb a league tourney loss than Marist could.

MISSOURI VALLEY CONFERENCE
LOCKS
The Missouri Valley Conference Currently Has No Locks
Creighton CREIGHTON
CONFERENCE Missouri Valley
RECORDS  
OVERALL 21-6
CONFERENCE ONLY 13-3
RATINGS PERCENTAGE INDEX 22
STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE 57
ON THE ROAD OR IN NEUTRAL VENUES 12-4
SINCE FEBRUARY 1 6-2
AGAINST TOP-50 OPPONENTS 1-1
BEST WINS Nebraska (66-57)
WORST LOSSES @Indiana State (41-58)
REMAINING GAMES Evansville (3/7); Southern Illinois (3/9)

Outlook: The Bluejays were looking pretty good until early February, when they followed one ISU loss --@Indiana State – with another @ISU loss -- @Illinois (60-66). The remaining games are must-wins, but they should come. Creighton’s respectable wins @South Dakota State (63-54), @BYU (65-52), and n.South Florida (91-74).

Once considered a Missouri Valley bubble, Wichita State (21-9/14-3/RPI 76) remains on track to tie for the Valley crown, but the Shockers did far less out of conference, their only preconference Top-100 wins coming @SMU (61-59) and against Northern Colorado (51-35), so they’ll likely need the automatic.

MOUNTAIN WEST CONFERENCE
LOCKS
The Mountain West Conference Currently Has No Locks
MOUNTAIN WEST CONFERENCE BUBBLES
San Diego State

SAN DIEGO STATE
CONFERENCE Mountain West
RECORDS  
OVERALL 20-5
CONFERENCE ONLY 13-1
RATINGS PERCENTAGE INDEX 36
STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE 90
ON THE ROAD OR IN NEUTRAL VENUES 10-3
SINCE FEBRUARY 1 8-0
AGAINST TOP-50 OPPONENTS 0-3
BEST WINS SMU (88-72)
WORST LOSSES Fresno State (72-80)
REMAINING GAMES @Air Force (3/6); Boise State (3/9)

Outlook: There are some decent wins on the Aztecs’ resume´ -- n.Auburn (78-57), @San Diego (58-54) – but teen-point losses @UCLA (52-66) and @Colorado (53-67) and a closer drop to Oklahoma State (72-80) were SDSU's missed out-of-conference statement opportunities. But even though the Mountain West isn't as bad overall as it was last year, it still looks like a one-bid league. It’s a shame, because outside of pulling a major out-of-conference upset, the Aztecs have done everything a mid-major is supposed to do (only three out-of-conference opponents ranked below the Top-100 and one was an unexpectedly disappointing USC). After the Mountain West-opener loss to Fresno State, only two conference teams -- @Wyoming (57-51) and @Colorado State (48-44) have managed to keep within single digits as SDSU has run the rest of the table.

NORTHEAST CONFERENCE
LOCKS
The Northeast Conference Currently Has No Locks
NORTHEAST CONFERENCE BUBBLES
Quinnipiac

QUINNIPIAC
CONFERENCE Northeast
RECORDS  
OVERALL 27-2
CONFERENCE ONLY 18-0
RATINGS PERCENTAGE INDEX 42
STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE 262
ON THE ROAD OR IN NEUTRAL VENUES 16-2
SINCE FEBRUARY 1 10-0
AGAINST TOP-50 OPPONENTS 1-0
BEST WINS St. John’s (75-72)
WORST LOSSES @Hartford (61-67); n.Georgia Tech (57-74)
REMAINING GAMES Bryant in NEC quarterfinal (3/10)

Outlook: No real chance here without the automatic. A road win @James Madison (65-60) was Quinnipiac’s only other Top-100 victory, but the Bobcats were worth a shout-out.

PAC-12 CONFERENCE
LOCKS
Stanford Cal
STANFORD

28-2/17-1

(RPI 2)
CALIFORNIA

27-2/17-1 (RPI 8)
UCLA Colorado
UCLA

23-6/14-4 (RPI 14)
COLORADO

24-5/13-5 (RPI 24)
PAC-12 CONFERENCE BUBBLES
Washington WASHINGTON
CONFERENCE PAC-12
RECORDS  
OVERALL 20-11
CONFERENCE ONLY 11-7
RATINGS PERCENTAGE INDEX 83
STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE 98
ON THE ROAD OR IN NEUTRAL VENUES 9-6
SINCE FEBRUARY 1 5-5
AGAINST TOP-50 OPPONENTS 2-2
BEST WINS St. Mary’s (70-68); San Diego State (59-58)
WORST LOSSES @Long Beach State (62-71); Santa Barbara (46-54); @USC (72-81)
REMAINING GAMES Oregon in Pac-12 first round (3/7)

Outlook: Forget about it. The Huskies finished out the regular season by hosting the Bay Area teams and needed an upset to have any chance. Instead, they got squished twice – Stanford (36-71); California (50-78).

SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE
LOCKS
Tennessee Kentucky
TENNESSEE

23-6/14-2 (RPI 7)
KENTUCKY

25-4/13-3 (RPI 9)
Georgia Texas A&M
GEORGIA

24-5/12-4 (RPI 19)
TEXAS A&M

21-9/11-5 (RPI 16)
South Carolina LSU
SOUTH CAROLINA

23-6/11-5 (RPI 12)
LSU

19-10/10-6 (RPI 33)

             

SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE BUBBLES
Vanderbilt VANDERBILT
CONFERENCE SEC
RECORDS  
OVERALL 19-10
CONFERENCE ONLY 9-7
RATINGS PERCENTAGE INDEX 31
STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE 21
ON THE ROAD OR IN NEUTRAL VENUES 7-8
SINCE FEBRUARY 1 5-3
AGAINST TOP-50 OPPONENTS 2-9
BEST WINS @Oklahoma (76-63); Texas A&M (61-51)
WORST LOSSES n.Virginia (60-73)
REMAINING GAMES Missouri in SEC first round (3/7)

Outlook: Vandy really wants something to add to that win over the Sooners, and they got it by beating A&M in late February. As long as the Commodores don’t stumble against a bottom team, they should be fine. In out-of-conference play, the Commodores also lost on the road @Dayton (66-71) and in San Juan, Puerto Rico, to n.Virginia (60-73) and n.Florida State (59-73).

Elsewhere in the conference, former bubbles Arkansas (18-11/6-10/RPI 72), Florida (17-13/6-10/RPI 80) and Missouri (17-13/6-10/RPI 92) needed similar late pushes and didn't get them, though Missouri got a bit of a boost when they beat South Carolina (65-58) in the penultimate game of the regular season. All three teams need to beat two locks each this weekend to revive any hope of an at-large bid. In short, the SEC is about as cut-and-dry as the Pac-12.

SOUTHERN CONFERENCE
LOCKS
The Southern Conference Currently Has No Locks
SOUTHERN CONFERENCE BUBBLES
Chattanooga CHATTANOOGA
CONFERENCE Southern
RECORDS  
OVERALL 26-3
CONFERENCE ONLY 19-1
RATINGS PERCENTAGE INDEX 46
STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE 228
ON THE ROAD OR IN NEUTRAL VENUES 13-3
SINCE FEBRUARY 1 9-0
AGAINST TOP-50 OPPONENTS 1-1
BEST WINS Tennessee (80-71)
WORST LOSSES Elon (60-70, OT)
REMAINING GAMES Georgia Southern in SoCon quarterfinal (3/9)

Outlook: Beating the Vols in the season opener was the early shocker of the national scene, but UT-Chattanooga has faced only two other Top-100 out-of-conference opponents and both games ended in losses -- @St. Mary's (67-70) and @Auburn (40-53). The Mocs had better look for the automatic.

SUMMIT CONFERENCE
LOCKS
The Summmit Conference Currently Has No Locks
SUMMIT CONFERENCE BUBBLES
South Dakota State SOUTH DAKOTA STATE
CONFERENCE Summit
RECORDS  
OVERALL 22-7
CONFERENCE ONLY 17-3
RATINGS PERCENTAGE INDEX 51
STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE 113
ON THE ROAD OR IN NEUTRAL VENUES 10-5
SINCE FEBRUARY 1 7-1
AGAINST TOP-50 OPPONENTS 0-3
BEST WINS Nebraska (60-55); @Georgetown (64-58)
WORST LOSSES @IUPUI (56-57); IUPUI (67-70)
REMAINING GAMES Oakland in Summit quarterfinal (3/9)

Outlook: Well, the Jackrabbits have as many notable wins as some bubble teams in other conferences -- SDSU also beat Middle Tennessee (63-56). They should get some credit from the Committee for tackling a challenging schedule, but that brought along a slew of losses to, among others, n.Villanova (47-71), Creighton (54-63), Marquette (74-77, OT), @Central Michigan (62-88) and @Penn State (50-60). Plenty of teams could learn something about scheduling here. Unfortunately the rest of the Summit has been pretty awful this season. It would be interesting to see what the RPI would look like with two wins over IUPUI instead of two losses (by a combined total of four points).

SUN BELT CONFERENCE
LOCKS
The Sun Belt Conference Currently Has No Locks
SUN BELT CONFERENCE BUBBLES
Middle Tennessee State MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE
CONFERENCE Sun Belt
RECORDS  
OVERALL 22-7
CONFERENCE ONLY 17-3
RATINGS PERCENTAGE INDEX 51
STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE 113
ON THE ROAD OR IN NEUTRAL VENUES 10-5
SINCE FEBRUARY 1 7-1
AGAINST TOP-50 OPPONENTS 0-3
BEST WINS Western Kentucky (79-57)
WORST LOSSES Florida International (51-58); Troy (70-74, OT)
REMAINING GAMES Louisiana-Monroe in SBC quarterfinal (3/9)

Outlook: Would somebody please explain how MTSU's RPI is 17 spots higher than SDSU's? Single-digit losses @Iowa (63-69, OT), @Tennessee (81-88, OT) and @South Dakota State (56-63) only go so far, and it isn't far enough. MTSU’s best win – over Western Kentucky – isn’t all that impressive, as WKU's RPI is just 89 – leaving MTSU without much of a statement. The Raiders will likely need to lock up the automatic to watch the selection show with confidence.

WEST COAST CONFERENCE
LOCKS
The West Coast Conference Currently Has No Locks
WEST COAST CONFERENCE BUBBLES
Gonzaga GONZAGA
CONFERENCE West Coast
RECORDS  
OVERALL 25-5
CONFERENCE ONLY 15-1
RATINGS PERCENTAGE INDEX 40
STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE 104
ON THE ROAD OR IN NEUTRAL VENUES 12-2
SINCE FEBRUARY 1 8-0
AGAINST TOP-50 OPPONENTS 1-3
BEST WINS BYU (74-59); Saint Mary’s (69-54)
WORST LOSSES Washington State (51-57)
REMAINING GAMES BYU in WCC semifinal (3/9)

Outlook: The revenge win over Saint Mary’s in mid-February was well-timed, because finally there's a highlight highlight in Gonzaga’s resume. The Zags have a shot at an at-large bid, but it's still iffy. Notable out-of-conference games include a win over Wisconsin (62-53) and losses to n.Louisville (42-55) in Puerto Vallarta, and to Stanford (41-69) and Ohio State (60-65), both at home. The Zags’ RPI and SOS suffered a bit when neither the Buckeyes nor USC (63-52) proved to be as good as likely was expected when those games were scheduled. For now an outright West Coast Conference title would be the biggest calling card, if the Zags can get it.

As for Saint Mary’s (19-9/11-5/RPI 44), a former bubble, the Gael’s lost three times down the stretch, falling not only @Gonzaga but also @San Diego (50-67) and in the regular-season finale @Pepperdine (67-80), and lost its chance at an at-large.

Key: Records through Tuesday, March 5. RPI/SOS through Monday, March 4, from realtimerpi.com. R/N: road-neutral. FEB: Record since February 1. OOC: Out-of-conference. n.: Game played on neutral court. Within each conference, bubbles and locks are listed in order of their current conference standings.


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