Teams who are in bubble trouble, and those who have work to do
UConn and Charlottee are in danger after crushing losses Wednesday
Mississippi St., Louisville, Florida still need more wins to secure berths
Marquette and Clemson look like tournament teams and appear to be safe
In just the past two days, the bubble landscape has changed significantly. Here's an updated review of where things stand heading into the final 10 days before Selection Sunday.
Teams now in a lot of trouble
Charlotte (19-10, 9-6, RPI 60, SOS: 92): The 49ers got crushed at bubble competitor Rhode Island on Wednesday, and this isn't the first (or even fifth) time they have been rocked on the road this season. With five losses in their last six and a weak RPI, they're the clear No. 6 in the A-10 pecking order, and the league may not even get four.
Connecticut (17-13, 7-10, RPI: 49, SOS: 2): The Huskies have beaten three top-10 teams (yes, Texas has faded badly), but also have 13 losses and a 7-10 Big East record after losing at Notre Dame on Wednesday. Winning at USF on Saturday is now mandatory, but how many more in a row will be needed in the Big East tournament? Feels like three.
Minnesota (17-12, 8-9, RPI 77, SOS: 44): Losing by 28 at Michigan is inexcusable at this stage. It makes .500 the ceiling in the Big Ten, leaves the Gophers having to play the 6-11 game in the Big Ten tournament, and then facing at least one must-win game against a league heavyweight. If they get hobbled Purdue in the quarters, that might not impress, either.
Cincinnati (16-13, 7-10, RPI: 65, SOS: 14): The sweep of UConn doesn't resonate much when both the Bearcats and Huskies are stuck at 7-10 in league play. Wins over Vandy and Maryland are very solid, but not solid enough to erase all of the losses barring a very deep Big East tournament run.
Teams in more trouble than you think
Mississippi State (21-9, 9-6, RPI: 59, SOS: 113): It was a very bad idea by the Bulldogs to lose at Auburn on Wednesday. They have a 1-3 top-50 record (the win's over Old Dominion in South Padre Island), only three wins in the top 85, and four losses outside the top 100. Now the Bulldogs host Tennessee and could wind up 9-7 in the SEC and then facing Florida in a loser-is-done SEC quarterfinal.
Louisville (19-11, 10-7, RPI: 36, SOS: 7): The Cardinals have a massive win at Syracuse ... and that's barely their only top-50 win, with UConn dropping to No. 49 after Wednesday's loss at Notre Dame. Even with the Huskies still in that category, Louisville is 3-7 vs. the RPI top 50 and has (with some injury undertones) a 22-point home loss to Charlotte and a home loss to Western Carolina. After getting smoked at Marquette, if the Cards can't beat the Orange at home on Saturday, they're strongly advised not to fall short of the Big East quarterfinals.
Florida (20-10, 9-6, RPI: 52, SOS: 37): The Gators beat Tennessee and Michigan State and will finish over .500 in the SEC East, but the home loss to Vandy dropped them to 3-7 vs. the RPI top 50 with an RPI of 51. There's also a pesky home loss to No. 212 South Alabama. Yes, six of Florida's 10 losses are to top-20 RPI teams, but unless Florida can pull a stunner at Kentucky on Saturday, a trip to the SEC semis may very well be needed.
Wake Forest (18-9, 8-7, RPI: 34, SOS: 33): The Demon Deacons have lost four straight. If they lose at home to Clemson on Sunday, they also could play their way into a first-round ACC tournament game against North Carolina in Greensboro. If they finish 18-11 overall and 8-8 in this year's ACC and end the season with six straight losses ... that wouldn't be good.
Illinois (18-12, 10-7, RPI: 72, SOS: 49): The Illini blew a home game against Minnesota last week, lost at Ohio State and now might be staring at two straight games against Wisconsin, first at home on Sunday and then in the Big Ten quarters. If the Illini don't get either of those, it's hard to imagine their profile holding up.
Georgia Tech (19-10, 7-8, RPI: 37, SOS: 24): The Yellow Jackets have beaten Duke and ... what's their second-best win? Clemson at home? Wake Forest? Siena? Tech is 4-7 vs. the RPI top 50 and 1-7 in ACC road games with an under .500 league mark. Saturday's home date with fellow cutline straddler Virginia Tech plus at least one in the ACC tourney are must-win. Lose either and NCAA tournament attire could be "Jackets optional."
Virginia Tech (22-7, 9-6, RPI: 53, SOS: 131): In January, Bubble Watch mentioned a scenario where coach Seth Greenberg was outraged after the Hokies missed the NCAAs after going 22-9, 9-7 in the ACC. Well, after Wednesday's win over N.C. State, the Hokies are 22-7, 9-6 heading to suddenly desperate Georgia Tech on Saturday. A loss there and an early one in the ACC tourney, and the Watch's prophecy might be fulfilled thanks to Virginia Tech's hideous nonleague schedule.
Teams that gained a bit more wiggle room
Rhode Island (21-9, 9-6, RPI: 29, SOS: 62): The Rams got a crucial home win over Charlotte on Wednesday. It puts URI in position to get to 10-6 in the league, plus they have now beaten fellow bubblers Dayton (on the road) and the 49ers, so they would lock up the 5-seed with a win at UMass on Saturday. That would mean being drawn against 4-seed Saint Louis in the A-10 quarters in Atlantic City, instead of one of the league's elite. Perception-wise, making the semis while Dayton and Charlotte potentially get bounced could be huge.
Utah State (23-6, 13-2, RPI: 32, SOS: 106): The Aggies beat Fresno State and now can win the WAC by two games by handling New Mexico State at home on Saturday. That would make it 15 wins in a row for Utah State. Plus, there's a good chance Nevada (which is hosting the WAC tourney) will end up on the other side of the bracket, so the Aggies would only potentially see the Wolf Pack in a final, where a tough loss might just be enough.
UTEP (23-5, 14-1, RPI: 44, SOS: 129): The Miners doubled their pleasure this week, getting an important road win at Marshall and then seeing UAB drop a home game to Memphis, critically weakening the Blazers' at-large hopes ahead of their trip to El Paso on Saturday. UTEP could end up at 15-1 in the conference and with a decisive C-USA regular-season title. One potential problem: The Miners could draw Tulsa on the Golden Hurricane's home court in the C-USA semis. It's still unclear whether they could survive a loss there, but they're better positioned to.
Notre Dame (20-10, 9-8, RPI: 61, SOS: 54): The Irish's unexpected push without Luke Harangody continued on Wednesday with a so-ugly-it's-beautiful home win over bubble rival UConn. Now even if the Irish can't get it done at Marquette in the finale, they have guaranteed a .500 league finish and have a shot to pick up a couple more wins (and KO some bubble contenders) in New York next week.
Florida State (21-8, 9-6, RPI: 38, SOS: 42): The 'Noles grabbed a crucial home win over Wake Forest, but shouldn't rest on their laurels. Losing at Miami on Saturday would prompt a closer look at a profile that really lacks any great wins. FSU beat Marquette, but has an 0-5 league mark against Duke, Maryland and Clemson and a loss to fellow bubbler Florida. The 'Noles did beat Virginia Tech, Wake and Georgia Tech (twice), which helps in those comparisons.
Teams that are feeling really good about their chances
Marquette (20-9, 11-6, RPI: 47, SOS: 51): The Golden Eagles are probably one win away from security after getting to 11-6 in the Big East with a thrashing of Louisville. If they either beat Notre Dame this weekend or win their Big East tournament opener, they're likely good to go. Marquette beat Xavier and Georgetown and have looked the part all season, even when in defeat.
Clemson (21-8, 9-6, RPI: 25, SOS: 25): The Tigers picked up an important home win over Georgia Tech to clinch an above .500 ACC mark. Like Marquette, they should be one more win away from feeling completely safe, but may already have done enough, depending on what happens elsewhere.
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