Living week-to-week with Big Dance hopes
by Patrick Stevens, Special for USA TODAY Sports
Welcome to another week of USA TODAY Sports’ annual Bubble Tracker breakdown.
Three weeks remain before Selection Sunday, a scramble to determine the 68-team NCAA tournament field. For now, plenty remains murky and subject to some wild fluctuations.
Two things bear repeated mention: No team exists in a vacuum, and the tournament selection committee is going to take 37 at-large teams no matter what. There is value in knowing the strengths and weaknesses of borderline tournament teams, and that’s what the daily Bubble Tracker is for.
Team Resumes (W-L/RPI; Plus/Minus; AT-L Board; Next Two Games):
Plus: Beat N.C. State, Wisconsin; 6-2 vs. T100
Minus: 6 100+losses, No. 305 NC SOS
At-large ranking: 37
Next two games: Duke (Feb. 28) | at Boston College (March 3)
Analysis: The Cavaliers might just be befuddling right up until Selection Sunday. The great record against the top 100 helps them and the dreadful nonconference strength of schedule and six dubious losses (including the clunker of the year against Old Dominion) drags the Hoos down. Beating Duke, even at home, would provide another much-needed asset for a team that’s difficult to judge (Feb. 24)
Plus: Beat Duke and N.C. State
Minus: No. 298 NC SOS, 3-6 on road/neutral
At-large ranking: 42
Next two games: at Georgia Tech (Feb. 27) | at Wake Forest (March 2)
Analysis: The pros (two top-25 wins) and cons (dreadful nonconference schedule mostly designed before coach Mark Turgeon added three pieces to his rotation) are obvious. There’s no fixing that problem, but the Terrapins really just need to string together a few wins. That might not be especially likely, since the Terps have not won more than two in a row since a 13-1 start. (Feb. 24)
Team Resumes (W-L/RPI; Plus/Minus; AT-L Board; Next Game):
Plus: Beat Syracuse and Saint Louis, 8-5 vs. T100
Minus: Lost to Duquesne and St. Bonaventure at home
At-large ranking: 30
Next two … [For more on Bubble Tracker: Teams living week-to-week with Big Dance hopes, click here.]