BracketBusters hurting mids on bubble (cont.)
Locks: Syracuse, Villanova, Georgetown, West Virginia, Pitt
Even at 8-6 in league play, Georgetown remains safe with wins over Villanova, Duke and Temple, to go with the nation's strongest schedule. The Hoyas would have to do something disastrous to miss out, but should they slip at Louisville and then home to Notre Dame this week, we'll take a closer look. Pitt rejoins with impressive wins at Marquette and over Villanova.
SHOULD BE IN
IN THE MIX
Marquette (17-9, 8-6, RPI: 59, SOS: 50) got a crucial road win at Cincinnati in overtime on Sunday to help ease the hurt from a home loss to Pitt. Team Bubble Watch remains on course for the predicted 11-7, although road games at Saint John's and Seton Hall now look more daunting than they did a couple weeks ago.
Louisville (18-9, 9-5, RPI: 30, SOS: 5) continues to win while others dither, and it's going to add up to an NCAA berth if things keep going this way. The Cards got the two crucial wins they needed this week, although neither was easy. With a difficult last four ahead (Georgetown, at UConn and Marquette, Syracuse), Louisville may be just two total wins away from an NCAA bid, although three (counting the Big East Tourney) would make things a lot more comfortable.
Cincinnati (15-11, 6-8, RPI: 56, SOS: 16) has some problems now after losing at USF and to Marquette. The Bearcats have DePaul next, but close at West Virginia, vs. Villanova and at Georgetown. They were very close to in this week, but the bubble always contracts, so Cincy could very well need to get two of those last three and get to 9-9.
Connecticut (16-11, 6-8, RPI: 45, SOS: 2) scoffed at BW's DOA notice last week, shocking Villanova on the road and then rolling at Rutgers to reignite its NCAA hopes. This week now features enormous home dates with West Virginia and Louisville. Get both and things suddenly are very realistic. Get one? Make it West Virginia, I guess, and then roll the dice at Notre Dame and USF to close the regular season.
South Florida (16-10, 6-8, RPI: 64, SOS: 42) suffered the kind of home loss with everything at stake that makes you shake your head. After downing Cincy and being in strong position to make the NCAAs, the Bulls got crushed at home by St. John's. Now they head to ticked-off Nova and are staring at 6-9, which likely means they'd need to win at least four in a row after that to have legit at-large hopes.
Notre Dame (17-10, 6-8, RPI: 79, SOS: 56) almost stole an epic win at Louisville without Luke Harangody, but a double-overtime loss doesn't cut it right now. The Irish look headed to the NIT.
Locks: Michigan State, Purdue, Wisconsin, Ohio State
This is the major conference with the clearest picture. It stands a good chance of getting five bids, and probably is only getting five bids. In the four-team scrum at the top, Purdue has made its statement, winning at Ohio State and beating Illinois to make it nine in a row and move into a No. 1 seed in this week's bracket. The Buckeyes then bounced back to win at Michigan State and are benefiting from a Wisconsin slide.
SHOULD BE IN
IN THE MIX
Illinois (17-9, 9-5, RPI: 68, SOS: 49) lost at Purdue despite 16 assists from Demitri (Yes, I played with Evan Turner in high school) McCamey, and now has a very important road game at Michigan on Tuesday before a home game with Minnesota. Could be a make-or-break week for the Illini, who close at Ohio State and vs. Wisconsin.
Minnesota (16-8, 7-7, RPI: 75, SOS: 60) pulled a UConn, unexpectedly crushing Wisconsin at home and then routing Indiana to get back to .500 and shockingly close to reentering the bracket. This is now an enormous week for the Gophers, who host Purdue and then visit the Illini. Wins over Butler and Ohio State (with Turner) also continue to look strong.
Northwestern (17-10, 6-9, RPI: 94, SOS: 93) gamely tried to rally at Wisconsin for a season-saving upset, but fell short. Now the Wildcats probably must win six in a row, making the semis of the Big Ten tourney in the process, to even have a claim. The last three in league play (Iowa, at Penn State, at Indiana) are not going to help them, nor is the nonleague game against Chicago State.
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