Don't give up on tourney mainstays Butler and Gonzaga just yet (cont.)
Locks: Ohio State
Anyone interested in Purdue at Ohio State on Tuesday? Yeah, me too. This continues to look for all the world to be a six-bid league, and that's most likely all that will make it.
SHOULD BE IN
Purdue (17-3, 6-1; RPI: 12, SOS: 31)
If the Boilers' schedule wasn't so stiff down the stretch, they'd be in lock status. Let's see what happens this week in Columbus. That said, it's pretty much a technicality. Hard to imagine a way they miss at this point, even though they lack truly marquee wins.
GW: at Virginia Tech?
Wisconsin (15-4, 5-2; RPI: 26, SOS: 46)
The Badgers mauled Northwestern on the road on Sunday in a very impressive performance. All the toughest tests in the next couple of weeks come at Kohl, so it should be fun to see what happens.
GW: at Marquette, Boston College (N), N.C. State?
Illinois (14-6, 4-3; RPI: 28, SOS: 10)
The Illini got a credible home split, taking down Michigan State and falling just short against unbeaten No. 1 Ohio State. The next three are relatively soft, but two are on the road, so the Illini need to make sure they take care of business.
GW: Maryland (N), UNC, Gonzaga (N)
BL: Illinois-Chicago (N), at Penn State?
Minnesota (15-4, 4-3; RPI: 22, SOS: 37)
The Gophers host Northwestern before getting a tough road test at Purdue on Saturday. After that, their remaining road games are at Indiana, Iowa, Penn State and Northwestern, so the schedule is as favorable as it can be in this conference. That's the upside to a brutal opening part.
GW: North Carolina (N), West Virginia (N)
Michigan State (11-7, 4-3; RPI: 21, SOS: 3)
The Spartans couldn't win at either Illinois or Purdue, so the questions will persist. They host Michigan and Indiana this week, so even two wins won't give us a better idea of what Tom Izzo has this season.
GW: Washington (N)
BL: at Penn State?
IN THE MIX
Penn State (10-8, 3-4; RPI: 49, SOS: 5)
The Nittany Lions may have had the most gallant 0-2 stretch in the country this season, losing in the final seconds at Ohio State and then at Purdue, where a questionable out-of-bounds call may have helped cost them the upset. PSU still has a ton of chances left to impress, so don't count it out yet.
GW: A couple strong home league wins
Northwestern (13-6, 3-5; RPI: 75, SOS: 109)
It's looking more and more likely that Northwestern's NCAA-less streak will continue. They were crushed at home on Sunday by Wisconsin and basically could be out of the mix next week with a trip to Minnesota ahead of home dates with Ohio State and Illinois.
Washington handled its business at home and then Arizona got a very important road win at Washington State to start to create separation. Will there be room for more than two bids this season? UCLA is the best bet at this point, with the marquee beating of BYU and a favorable schedule.
SHOULD BE IN
Washington (15-4, 7-1; RPI: 23, SOS: 38)
The Huskies reclaimed control of the league by sweeping the Arizona schools at home. If they can survive the trip to Pullman, they will be in very good shape, having already swept the L.A. road trip.
GW: None, really (at UCLA and USC?)
IN THE MIX
Arizona (16-4, 5-2; RPI: 25, SOS: 47)
The Wildcats led briefly in the second half in Seattle before fading, but got a huge win at Washington State to stay in second place in the league. They still lack real quality wins, so league placement is important.
GW: at N.C. State?
BL: at Oregon State
UCLA (13-6, 5-2; RPI: 48, SOS: 31)
The Bruins have won four in a row and now have a huge game at Arizona. After the two-game swing through the desert, they get four straight at home, including the Steve Lavin Bowl vs. St. John's.
GW: BYU (N)
Washington State (14-6, 4-4; RPI: 70, SOS: 92)
Losing at home to Arizona puts huge pressure on the visit from Washington on Sunday. The Cougs still face road trips to Washington and Arizona in a stretch of five road games in seven coming up.
GW: Gonzaga, Baylor (N)
BL: None, really
Locks: Kentucky, Florida
Dear Gators, Please do more of what you did against Arkansas and far, far less of what you did against Auburn. Then we'll be OK. And Kentucky? More South Carolina, less 'Bama. Thanks.
SHOULD BE IN
Vanderbilt (14-4, 2-2; RPI: 18, SOS: 24)
The 'Dores picked up a sneaky quality nonleague win, rolling past Saint Mary's after beating Ole Miss earlier in the week. That the Gaels may be Vandy's best win of the season leaves some reason for pause. They need to handle things at Mississippi State and home to Arkansas this week before a trip to Gainesville.
GW: North Carolina (N), Saint Mary's
IN THE MIX
Tennessee (12-7, 2-2; RPI: 17, SOS: 1)
The Vols poached a solid road win at Georgia on Brian Williams' buzzer-beating putback before getting handled after halftime by surging UConn in Bruce Pearl's one-game return. It's a maddening, confounding team, but one that has a good number of quality wins and the talent to beat just about anyone.
GW: Villanova (N), at Pitt, VCU (N)?, at Georgia?
BL: at Charlotte, Oakland (at home), College of Charleston (at home)
Georgia (14-4, 3-2; RPI: 42, SOS: 65)
The Bulldogs got beat at the buzzer by the Vols, but pounded Mississippi State in the second of three straight at home. The third is a crucial meeting with Florida before a trip to Lexington to try to sweep Kentucky.
South Carolina (12-6, 3-2; RPI: 81, SOS: 91)
The Gamecocks got Arkansas but couldn't get the big win it wanted over Kentucky. They still have road games at the other four SEC East teams besides Florida left, so chances are there to improve this position.
GW: at Florida
BL: at Furman, at Alabama
All season, Temple has been a pretty clear bet to make the NCAAs. After this week's results? That's no longer such a strong presumption, although the Owls' bracket position held pretty well because a lot of teams lost around them. Getting Xavier and Dayton toward the top of the league standings could help the A-10 get more bids than originally expected.
SHOULD BE IN
Temple (13-5, 3-2; RPI: 36, SOS: 53)
After beating city rival Penn, the Owls were handled at Xavier and dropped two games behind the Musketeers and surging Duquesne. With a cadre of teams also in the 3-2 and 4-1 range, Temple needs to be very mindful of its league placement. The Owls' best wins are dropping in quality.
GW: Maryland (N)?, Georgetown, Georgia (N)?
BL: Cal (N)?
IN THE MIX
Xavier (13-5, 5-0; RPI: 27, SOS: 22)
The X-men won their only meeting with Temple, giving them a two-game lead plus tiebreaker on their chief league rival. After a date with GW, five of the next six are away from Cintas, so don't pencil the Musketeers into your brackets just yet.
GW: Butler, Temple, at Rhode Island?
BL: at Miami (Ohio)?
Richmond (15-5, 4-1; RPI: 63, SOS: 118)
The Spiders got the two Ws they needed before this week's trip to Dayton and home showdown with Xavier. League pecking order could be reshuffled by this time next week.
GW: Purdue, VCU
BL: at Iona?, Georgia Tech (N), Bucknell
Dayton (15-5, 3-2; RPI: 58, SOS: 121)
A home dates with Richmond and then a trip to Duquesne make this a very big week for the Flyers, whose profile has some decent wins but nothing great to hang their hats on. The back end of the league schedule is pretty stiff, so these are very meaningful games on tap.
GW: A collection of OK ones in Ole Miss, George Mason and New Mexico
BL: East Tennessee State, margin at Cincinnati (by 34), at UMass?
Rhode Island (12-7, 3-2; RPI: 78, SOS: 90)
A home loss to La Salle really dampens any momentum from the previous week's exploits. Once again, the Rams are a borderline candidate. Feels like almost every season in Kingston.
GW: Boston College, at Richmond
BL: Illinois-Chicago, at Quinnipiac
Duquesne (12-5, 5-0; RPI: 90, SOS: 155)
Ken Pomeroy tweeted last week that the Dukes were, far and away, the favorites to win the league. Now 5-0 in the A-10 with more winnable games on tap, it's not impossible to see that. The Dukes' profile features a quartet of top-50 losses and no nonleague wins of note, so serious A-10 work is mandatory for consideration.
BL: at Robert Morris
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