Big East displaying enviable depth (cont.)
Locks: Kentucky, Florida
For those wondering why Florida is a lock, the Gators still have the profile of the second-best SEC team (although Vandy may soon have something to say) and the SEC isn't getting one bid. The win at Xavier this week is another solid one to add to Kansas State (when whole) and at Florida State.
SHOULD BE IN
Vanderbilt (11-2, 0-0; RPI: 15, SOS: 44)
The 'Dores tipped Marquette in the final seconds for a solid home win then pounded Davidson. They now they have until Saturday to rest up for a trip to South Carolina to kick off a manageable start to the SEC slate.
GW: North Carolina (N)
Tennessee (9-4, 0-0; RPI: 39, SOS: 8)
This isn't a blip anymore. There are serious problems in Knoxville. After barely holding off Tennessee-Martin, they were thrashed by the College of Charleston (which lost by 20 at Morehead State on Sunday). Now they have to play Memphis before losing Bruce Pearl for half of SEC play.
GW: Villanova (N), VCU (N), at Pitt
BL: at Charlotte, Oakland (at home), College of Charleston (at home)
IN THE MIX
Georgia (11-2, 0-0; RPI: 60; SOS: 203)
Rest and relaxation is over for the Bulldogs, who open SEC play at home with Kentucky and then head to Vanderbilt. These are the type of games Georgia will need to win to state an at-large case.
GW: None, really
Mississippi (11-3, 0-0, RPI: 61, SOS: 108)
Playing at No. 313 SMU on Wednesday is a no-win for the Rebels. Playing at Florida on Saturday is a virtual must-win for a team that (as noted last week) only has a few chances in SEC play to impress.
This was another bad week for the top of the A-10 and these ongoing misses could haunt the league come Selection Sunday. The good news is that separation at the top of the league may help carry multiple teams with it, if they take care of the rest of the league in conference play.
SHOULD BE IN
Temple (9-3, 0-0; RPI: 14, SOS: 18)
The Owls battled hard but lost a tight decision at Villanova. They should win their first three in A-10 play, at Fordham and then home to Saint Louis and St. Bonaventure.
GW: Maryland (N), Georgetown
BL: Cal (N)?
IN THE MIX
Richmond (11-4, 0-0; RPI: 55, SOS: 172)
The Spiders are one of the most mystifyingly inconsistent teams around. Win at Seton Hall, easily handle Wake Forest and then lose at home to Bucknell by bricking a ton of free throws late and then getting Laettner'd at the buzzer. A team this talented shouldn't lose the games Richmond has and they really could end up being costly.
GW: Purdue, VCU
BL: at Iona, Georgia Tech (N)?, Bucknell
Dayton (10-3, 0-0; RPI: 48, SOS: 106)
The Flyers gutted out solid home wins over George Mason and New Mexico that they really needed. They open with three of four on the road in A-10 play, though, so don't get too comfortable.
GW: A collection of OK ones in Ole Miss, George Mason and New Mexico
BL: East Tennessee State, margin at Cincinnati (by 34)
Xavier (8-4, 0-0; RPI: 57, SOS: 41)
The short-handed X-men are rapidly running out of at-large wiggle room after losing at home to Florida. They really need to get this Shootout game at currently unbeaten Cincinnati and then make some hay in the league. The nonconference performance hasn't been good enough to this point.
BL: Miami (Ohio)
Rhode Island (9-4, 0-0; RPI: 36; SOS: 45)
After several years of expectations and late-season slides, maybe the Rams will try to sneak up on some folks this year. A solid home win over Boston College slips them into this category, for now. The next three games (at Florida Monday night, Xavier on Sunday and then at Richmond) are really big.
GW: Boston College
BL: Illinois-Chicago, at Quinnipiac
Locks: San Diego State, BYU
The Aztecs are tops, but it's hard to see BYU missing at this point, even if the Cougars can't get it done at UNLV on Wednesday night. Both teams should have very gaudy records come March. The Rebels look well-positioned to get in, as well. That's probably where things will end.
SHOULD BE IN
UNLV (12-2, 0-0; RPI: 12, SOS: 40)
The top-of-the-league fun begins on Wednesday, when BYU comes to the Thomas & Mack Center. Wish I was going to be in Sin City for that one. With a trip to San Diego State next week, holding serve here is important.
GW: Wisconsin, Virginia Tech (N)
BL: UC Santa Barbara
IN THE MIX
New Mexico (9-2, 0-0; RPI: 59, SOS: 165)
The Lobos may regret that double-OT loss at Dayton. They'll have at least six chances in league play to pick up quality wins, though.
BL: None, really
There still isn't anyone in this category who's assured of getting in, or really even close at this point, which should make for an even-more intriguing championship week.
Old Dominion (9-3, 0-1; RPI: 20, SOS: 24)
The Monarchs had a chance to really solidify their nonleague resume, but got trampled at Missouri. They have some very decent wins against the top of the A-10, but now only CAA games and BracketBusters remain. This is a good team that needs to do some solid work after already having lost its league opener.
GW: Clemson, Xavier, Richmond, Dayton
BL: at Delaware
Butler (9-4, 2-0; RPI: 19, SOS: 12)
The Bulldogs put away Valpo at home to stay perfect in the Horizon. This should be a fun week, with a trip to UW-Wisconsin before a home date with Cleveland State, with first place at stake.
GW: Florida State (N), Washington State (N)
BL: Evansville (without Nored)
Gonzaga (8-5, 0-0; RPI: 50, SOS: 17)
Are the Zags peaking at the right time? They pounded Oklahoma State on New Year's Eve in their best 40-minute effort of the season and then got by Wake Forest on the road in a tough travel turnaround. Suddenly, there's some heft to their nonleague resume.
GW: Baylor (N), Marquette (N), Xavier, OK State?
BL: None, but five of them already
Central Florida (12-0, 0-0; RPI: 16, SOS: 159)
The Golden Knights rallied past Princeton to win their own holiday tournament and stay unbeaten. Now they start C-USA play with Marshall and then a trip to Houston. It's possible UCF will be 17-0 when they play at Memphis late this month.
GW: Miami, Florida
Cleveland State (13-1, 4-0; RPI: 26, SOS: 157)
The Vikings rolled to two home league wins ahead of a monster week in the Horizon: at Butler on Friday and at Valpo on Sunday. Next week's Bubble Watch will know a lot more about CSU's at-large hopes.
GW: Kent State?
Memphis (11-2, 0-0; RPI: 56, SOS: 95)
It's hard to be a shakier 11-2, but at least the young Tigers are winning while they continue to try to figure things out. With Tennessee reeling, this is a big chance for a win at Thompson-Boling on Wednesday, but what will it ultimately mean?
Saint Mary's (10-2, 0-0; RPI: 45; SOS: 152)
The Gaels don't have a ton of great wins, but their losses are to Mountain West heavyweights San Diego State and BYU, who are a combined 26-1. San Diego transfer Rob Jones has provided extra scoring pop to complement the Dellavedova/McConnell backcourt. Even without Omar Samhan, they could threaten Gonzaga.
GW: None, really
Drexel (9-2, 1-0; RPI: 30, SOS: 122)
The Dragons plastered Niagara in their only action of the holiday week. The win at Louisville will be the nonleague highlight. They can't overlook Hofstra tonight before heading to VCU on Wednesday.
GW: at Louisville
Wichita State (10-2, 2-0; RPI: 43, SOS: 117)
The Shockers eased to an opening-week Valley sweep and should be 4-0 before hosting Missouri State on Sunday in an early "game of the season" in the league. Both the Shockers and Bears will have to be pretty close to perfect in the league to warrant legit at-large consideration.
GW: Virginia (N)?
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