Don't give up on tourney mainstays Butler and Gonzaga just yet (cont.)
Locks: San Diego State, BYU
The showdown in Provo is set: San Diego State at BYU, Wednesday night. Be there. Speaking of being there, no one else from this league may be in March if UNLV (or Colorado State?) doesn't get going.
SHOULD BE IN
IN THE MIX
UNLV (15-5, 3-3; RPI: 30, SOS: 29)
The Rebels lost a costly game at home to Colorado State. Beating New Mexico only got them back to .500 and they've already played four league games at home, with trips to BYU, Colorado State and New Mexico still remaining. The Rebels need to keep contact with the top two to feel secure.
GW: Wisconsin, Virginia Tech (N), at K-State (without Pullen/Kelly)?
BL: UC Santa Barbara
Colorado State (12-6, 3-2; RPI: 52, SOS: 50)
The Rams stunned the Rebels in Vegas, but couldn't take out BYU at home and still have a profile that's more numbers than substance. They need to be able to handle Air Force and then Utah ahead of next week's visit from San Diego State, their last big chance for a home league win.
GW: at UNLV
BL: Sam Houston State, vs. Hampton
This was a crushing week for a lot of the best teams in this category. We could be looking at an NCAA tournament that lacks a number of regulars and also a dearth of quality mid-majors.
SHOULD BE IN
IN THE MIX
Old Dominion (14-5, 5-3; RPI: 33, SOS: 35)
A home loss to VCU after handling James Madison continues the whittling of ODU's margin of error. The Monarchs have some wins over the top of the A-10, but still sit tied for fourth in the CAA, two games behind.
GW: Clemson (N), Xavier (N), Richmond, Dayton
BL: at Delaware
Gonzaga (12-7, 3-2; RPI: 66, SOS: 43)
It's possible no team in the nation damaged its at-large hopes more than the Zags, who lost twice on the road in league play, neither time to St. Mary's or Portland. Now the Gaels come in to kick off a crucial four-game stretch that includes a trip to Portland and a visit from equally needy Memphis.
GW: Baylor (N)?, Marquette (N), Xavier, Oklahoma State
BL: at Santa Clara, at San Francisco
Butler (14-7, 6-3; RPI: 41, SOS: 27)
The Bulldogs lost at home to UW-Milwaukee, completing a Panthers sweep of the season series. At-large hopes are now on the line on this three-game trip that includes attempts to sweep league leaders Cleveland State and Valpo. The wins in Hawaii are nice, but a league title may be paramount.
GW: Florida State (N), Washington State (N), Cleveland State?
BL: Evansville (without Nored), UW Milwaukee (twice)
Saint Mary's (15-3, 5-0; RPI: 40, SOS: 129)
The good news: SMC is unbeaten in the league and two games up on Gonzaga after the Zags' shocking week. The bad news: Getting spanked at Vandy doesn't help perceptions that this team's profile is lacking substance. Now they continue a crucial trip with visits to Gonzaga and Portland.
GW: St. John's?
Missouri State (16-4, 8-1; RPI: 35, SOS: 108)
The Bears suffered their first loss of the league season on a last-second and-one at Indiana State, but remain in first place after escaping Creighton. They only have two top-100 games until the season finale vs. Wichita State (plus a BracketBusters game pending).
GW: at Wichita State
BL: at Tulsa?
VCU (15-5, 7-1; RPI: 54, SOS: 136)
The CAA leaders at 7-1 have a solid chance at the regular-season crown. Back-to-back in mid-February, the Rams host George Mason in the teams' only meeting and the second game with the Monarchs, whom VCU already beat on the road. If they win the league, they could have a decent case.
GW: at ODU, UCLA (N)?
BL: at Georgia State, at South Florida?
Memphis (15-4, 4-1; RPI: 45, SOS: 73)
The Tigers dug deep to win at Southern Miss and UAB. They still have a trip to Gonzaga ahead, too, so this profile can improve some. UAB and UTEP also remain in the mix atop the conference, but the lack of quality wins across the board could condemn the conference to just one bid. Memphis is the best chance for an at-large right now.
GW: Miami (Fla.)?
Wichita State (15-4, 7-2; RPI: 44, SOS: 68)
The Shockers kept dreams alive with a triple-OT win over Indiana State after a home loss to Northern Iowa gave them a second league loss. The win over the Sycamores (No. 85) is their only top-100 win.
George Mason (14-5, 6-2; RPI: 31, SOS: 42)
Does the Colonial have another viable at-large? The Patriots' numbers look solid and they're ahead of ODU in the league standings, but the best win on paper is Harvard. That's not going to be enough.
GW: None, really
BL: vs. Wofford
Harvard (11-3, 2-0; RPI: 50, SOS: 131)
The Crimson almost made a huge mistake, but rallied past lowly Dartmouth to stay unblemished in league play. If they can handle Columbia and Cornell at home, they'll head to Princeton at 4-0.
GW: at BC, Colorado
Utah State (18-2, 7-0; RPI: 43, SOS: 204)
The Aggies are two games clear of the field in the WAC, but there are no quality wins to be had anywhere. If they stumble in the conference tournament, how close to perfect they are in the regular season could determine their NCAA fate.
Belmont (18-3, 10-0; RPI: 70, SOS: 284)
Still rolling, still not accumulating quality wins. The Bruins just need to keep winning and post a garish number of Ws and then see where things stand should they need an at-large. After winning at East Tennessee State, it's hard to see anyone catching them for the league crown.