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Scouting The Tourney: Bubble Watch
Posted By Yannis Koutroupis On March 4, 2012 @ 12:00 pm In All,Main Page,NCAA | No Comments
There’s nothing more unnerving than being a team on Selection Sunday who is unsure of their fate. Like teams who know they are in the field of 68, they get together as a group with their closest supporters and watch hoping to hear their name called. As each region is announced, they become less and less hopeful. They feel like there is a chance until the final pairing is announced, but some teams never hear their name called. In our scouting the tourney series we’ve looked at the potential conference champions and at-large locks, which totaled 52 teams. As we conclude the series we take a look at the final 16 teams who have the potential to get at-large bids, some being in better positions than others.
Conference: Team Overall Record (Conference Record) RPI/SOS
ACC: Miami 18-11 (9-7) 51/37
Work is far from done. They’re one of our last four teams in right now, but easily could be one of the last four out. Pressure is on for them to pick up a quality win or two in their conference tournament to add to their body of work. Victories against Duke and Florida State will impress the committee, as will their decent RPI and strength of schedule. Shouldn’t expect to be anything other than a 12.
Atlantic 10: Xaver 19-11 53/46
Another team that could end up on either side of the bubble. They just barely made our last four in. Picked up quality victories out of conference against Cincinnati, Vanderbilt and Purdue. Inconsistency to close out the year is going to be something the committee looks heavily at.
Big East: West Virginia 19-12 (9-9) 49/13
Would have been on our locks list had they not gotten robbed of a victory at Syracuse on January 28. Still, they should feel pretty good about themselves. A Top 50 RPI and 13th ranked strength of schedule is nothing to look past. Their seeding is going to be low, though, because they haven’t played their best basketball to close out the regular season. Probably will be either a 10 or 11.
Big East: Cincinnati 22-8 48/89
Their tournament livelihood was hanging in the balance, but wins against Seton Hall, Louisville and Marquette in the latter portion of the regular season put them in. They did not play a strong enough schedule out of conference to justify getting any better than an eight or nine seed.
Big East: Seton Hall 19-11 (8-10) 60/48
A late regular season victory against Georgetown could turn out to be their saving grace. If it isn’t enough, it’s because they lost six straight in January. Three losses to teams outside of the RPI Top 100 won’t help their cause either. Against teams in the top 50 they were 3-8. Should have a sense of urgency to add another quality win or two during conference tournament. May be an 11 seed.
Big East: Connecticut 18-12 (8-10) 34/3
One of our last four teams in, meaning they should feel a lot of pressure to make some serious noise in their conference tournament as they did last year. Very easily could end up missing out on opportunity to defend their championship and end up in the NIT instead. 5-6 against teams in the RPI Top 50. They have really been struggling as of late. 12 seed is the best they can do.
Big East: South Florida 18-12 (12-6) 45/23
Finished the regular season by winning six of their last eight. Knocking off West Virginia in the finale would have been big for them. Luckily, their conference is regarded as the best in the land. The committee will frown upon their three losses to teams ranked outside the RPI Top 100, but they’re a Top 50 RPI team themselves with a strong strength of schedule. Won’t be any higher than a 12 seed if they get in.
Big 10: Northwestern 18-12 46/12
Selection Sunday will either be historic or disappointing as they look to make their first appearance in the big dance since its expansion. They played Michigan and Ohio State within a bucket, but missed out on what would have been statement victories. They’re relying on their wins against Michigan State and Seton Hall to be enough, which they may be. Could end up a 13 seed if they get in.
Big 12: Texas 19-12 (9-9) 52/23
Best win on their schedule is Temple out of conference and Kansas State in league play. Otherwise lacking quality wins. They did play a tough schedule, but the way that other conference tournaments play out will directly affect them. Not one of our last four in but by this time next week could be one of the last four out. If they get in, it’ll be as a 12 or 13 seed.
Big 10: Purdue 20-10 (10-7) 41/30
Highly unlikely to fall out of the tournament picture. Their RPI and strength of schedule are just too good. Wins against Michigan, Temple, Florida and a sweep of Northwestern will standout to the committee. They were just 2-6 against the RPI Top 50, but their résumé warrants an eight seed at best, ten seed at worst.
Mountain West: Colorado State 19-10 (8-6) 23/8
Whether or not they get in will be a true test to gauge just how well their conference is respected. RPI and strength of schedule are more than good enough to warrant selection. Coming up under 20 wins shouldn’t be that big of a deal since they have three wins against teams in the RPI Top 50. Seeding won’t be too high, somewhere in the 11-13 range.
Mountain West: New Mexico 24-6 (10-4) 33/101
To put it simply: they’re in. They’ve moved into first place since the time when we started this series. Against teams in the RPI Top 50 they’re 4-3, which is vital considering that their strength of schedule is weak. As far as seeding is concerned, they could actually be as high as six. With so much left to be determined in their conference, though, a fall to eight or nine is possible.
Pac-12: California 23-7 (13-4) 36/98
Overall in a pretty secure place despite the way the downward spiral their league has endured. A Top 40 RPI is going to standout to the committee, along with their two wins against teams in the Top 50. They did do a lot of beating up on lower-ranked teams, though, and even slipped against a few of them as well. Won’t be any better than a nine seed, they’re more likely to be a 10.
Pac-12: Oregon 22-8 (13-5) 48/89
One of our last teams to get in who should feel really worried on Sunday based on their weak strength of schedule and lack of quality wins outside of conference play. 13 wins in conference play a few years ago would have made them a lock, but the league isn’t what it used to be. If they end up on the outside looking in, they should blame their 0-5 performance against the RPI Top 50.
SEC: Mississippi State 21-10 65/65
Played with fire a bit by losing five of their last seven games, but still very likely to get in. Three of those losses came to non-tournament teams. Early season wins against Texas A&M and Arizona looked like quality ones at the time, but they’ve since fallen off. West Virginia is now their best win outside of league play. Due to their poor finish, they’ll likely be a 10 or 11 seed.
West Coast: BYU 23-8 (12-4) 44/93
Another win against Gonzaga to close out the regular season would have given them a lot more security come Selection Sunday. If they can knock of them or St. Mary’s in the conference tournament, though, it would nearly guarantee that they’re in. As of now, they’re right on the fence as either an 11 or 12 seed.
First four out: Arizona, Virginia Commonwealth, North Carolina State and Saint Joseph’s.
Tournament time is almost upon us! Once again HOOPSWORLD will be bringing you the premier coverage of the big dance on the net. Immediately after the Selection Show we’ll have team-by-team previews, matchup analysis and picks. Throughout the tournament we’ll also provide round-by-round previews, stock watches and more so make sure to make HOOPSWORLD your destination for all the coverage you need for the 2012 NCAA Tournament!
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