BracketBusters hurting mids on bubble (cont.)
Fact of the week from the inimitable Jerry Palm: Only eight teams without an RPI Top 50 win have received at-large bids in the last 16 seasons, and none in the last three (when a number of current Selection Committee members were voting). In related news, Cal is 0-4 vs. the RPI Top 50 and looks very likely to end the season without a win in that category.
Cal's atrocious performance at Oregon State (I watched it) wasn't just bad, it was utterly indifferent. It is very reasonable to say that the Pac-10 should be treated like a mid-major conference this season and that only the tournament winner will be assured an NCAA bid. If teams like last year's Creighton and New Mexico didn't make it with shares of comparable conference titles in their pocket, a Pac-10 crown shouldn't put Cal in either, despite a weak bubble. Reminder: Eligible Pac-10 teams are 2-24 in nonleague games vs. the RPI top 50.
SHOULD BE IN
IN THE MIX
California (18-9, 10-5, RPI: 24, SOS: 10) continues to have killer computer numbers due to a 12-2 record vs. the RPI 100-199 and only one 200+ game. Despite early-season injury credit, though, the Golden Bears have a thoroughly unworthy at-large profile. As noted above, the Pac-10 is essentially a good mid-major league this season, so a league title, especially with five or six losses, shouldn't be enough to guarantee an NCAA bid.
Arizona State (19-8, 9-5, RPI: 58, SOS: 76) held off Arizona to stay in second. The Sun Devils still play at Cal on Saturday, so they control their own fate to get at least a share of the league title. They also have a better win (San Diego State) than Cal, but are just 4-7 against the RPI Top 100.
Washington (18-9, 8-7, RPI: 51, SOS: 39) losing at home to USC may have ended the Huskies' at-large hopes. An 11-7 mark and a loss in the Pac-10 final isn't at-large worthy this season, even if the Huskies win their final three on the road (where they're 1-5 in league play).
Locks: Kentucky, Vanderbilt
After the overtime win at Mississippi State, a gutsy last-possession win at Vandy more or less gives the 'Cats the SEC crown and keeps them firmly as a No. 1 seed. Vandy's a pretty good club, too.
SHOULD BE IN
Tennessee (20-6, 8-4, RPI: 18, SOS: 24) bounced back nicely, holding off Georgia and then winning at South Carolina. The Vols are just about at lock status with the bubble so soft. Win at Florida or beat Kentucky this week and they're good to go. Ending with five straight loses might not even KO them.
IN THE MIX
Florida (19-8, 8-4, RPI: 53, SOS: 57) got an enormous road win at Ole Miss to cap a 2-0 week and strengthen its position. The bad news is the last four (Tennessee, at Georgia, Vandy, at Kentucky) are really tough. Get two and the Gators are fine. Get one and that SEC quarterfinal (assuming a first-round win over a West bottom-feeder) will loom very, very large.
Mississippi State (19-8, 7-5, RPI: 63, SOS: 116) almost took a devastating misstep after losing to Kentucky in overtime, but escaped at LSU. The Bulldogs swept fading Mississippi and beat bubbler Old Dominion. They also lost at Florida, if that ends up being a tiebreaker. They're cutting this very close at the moment.
Mississippi (17-9, 5-7, RPI: 61, SOS: 54) lost at home to Vandy and Florida and is now in a lot of trouble, although the Rebels have two "gimme" home games and two very winnable road games left. They may need to get all four. There's precious little else besides the K-State win that will help.
South Carolina (14-12, 5-7, RPI: 81, SOS: 26) would have been deleted, but the Gamecocks still have trips to Kentucky and Vandy. If they somehow win both, sweeping Kentucky... that would be interesting. Won't happen.
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