Villanova falls, Butler's in (cont.)
Locks: Arizona, UCLA
Arizona won the league. The Bruins remain safe. Washington most likely will be OK. Is there a bid thief lurking in USC with the conference tournament in its home city? This league is the most likely major conference to generate an extra bid out of nowhere.
SHOULD BE IN
Washington (20-10, 11-7; RPI: 46, SOS: 52)
Next game: Thursday vs. 6-seed Washington State in Pac-10 quarterfinals
The Huskies got a second win over UCLA, which now looks even larger after they lost to USC on Saturday. Third place in a weak Pac-10, with the three best wins over the two teams ahead of them? Not terribly compelling, but very likely enough this season to dance. Danger lurks in the Pac-10 tourney: a third meeting with cross-state rival Wazzu, which has beaten UW twice already.
GW: Arizona, Sweep of UCLA
BL: at Oregon, at Oregon State, at Stanford (plus swept by Wazzu)
IN THE MIX
USC (18-13, 10-8, RPI: 68; SOS: 42)
Next game: Thursday vs. 5-seed California in Pac-10 quarterfinals
Is a road split enough? The Trojans got the "good" one with a win at Washington and they have a pretty sizable stash of quality wins, but the overall resume is still heavily specked with warts. The Trojans get Cal (season split with road teams winning both) and then probably would see top-seed Arizona.
GW: Texas, at Tennessee, Arizona, UCLA, at Washington
BL: Rider (N), Oregon twice, at TCU, at Oregon State, Bradley (N)
Locks: Florida, Vanderbilt, Kentucky
Tennessee moves up a category simply because the field overall is too weak to find any reasonable way to omit them now that they're .500 in the SEC. They have nine top-50 and 11 top-100 wins. Congrats to Florida for winning the SEC title. The league tourney should be interesting, starting with a possible eliminator quarterfinal between Georgia and Alabama.
SHOULD BE IN
Tennessee (18-13, 8-8; RPI: 36; SOS: 3)
Next game: Thursday vs. W4-seed Arkansas in SEC first round
The Vols must be thrilled not to have to play at home again this season. They are a poor 10-7 at home and a very solid 8-5 road/neutral, with their three best wins of the season coming away from home. They have too many good wins to miss the NCAAs this year, so the SEC tourney is really just for seeding.
GW: Villanova (N), at Pitt, at Vandy, VCU (N)?, at Georgia?
BL: at Charlotte, at Arkansas (plus Oakland and College of Charleston at home?)
IN THE MIX
Georgia (20-10, 9-7; RPI: 39; SOS: 36)
Next game: vs. W5-seed Auburn in SEC first round
The Bulldogs could have firmed things up but lost at Alabama and now will face the Tide again if they can handle Auburn in a first-round SEC tourney affair. The Bulldogs lack quality wins, but all but the loss at 'Bama are inside the top 35. They're just 5-10 vs. the RPI top 100, though. Not good. Can they survive with an early SEC tourney loss?
GW: Kentucky, at Tennessee, UAB?, Colorado? (for bubble purposes)
Alabama (20-10, 12-4; RPI: 79, SOS: 125)
Next game: Friday vs. Georgia-Auburn winner in SEC quarterfinals
After beating Georgia at home, the Tide likely will get another chance at the Bulldogs in the SEC quarters. Lose there and they're done. Win there, it very well could be a chance at Kentucky and a possible golden ticket into the NCAAs. The middle ground (loss in SEC semis) means a debate, with the computer numbers not at all favorable. Bama's RPI would be significantly higher than NC State in 2005 (RPI: 63) and Stanford in 2007 (RPI: 63) -- the two highest RPI at-large teams to be invited since the formula was adjusted.
GW: Kentucky, at Tennessee
BL: Iowa (N), St. Peter's (N), at Arkansas?
Locks: Xavier, Temple
Xavier won the league. Temple kept pace. Both will dance. Richmond continues to win the games it needs to win, but probably needs more to survive. No one else has a chance other than an auto bid. Pretty clean picture heading to Atlantic City
SHOULD BE IN
IN THE MIX
Richmond (24-7, 13-3; RPI: 57, SOS: 139)
Next game: Friday vs. Rhode Island in A-10 quarterfinals
Good for the Spiders. They had a series of very winnable games and won them all down the stretch. This season, that's reason for praise. It would be a bad idea to eat a loss in the quarters, though. The Spiders' profile has a decent chance of holding up with a loss to Temple in the semis.
GW: Purdue, VCU
BL: Georgia Tech (N), Bucknell (at home)
Locks: San Diego State, BYU, UNLV
The Rebels finished strong and make it three teams in for the MWC. The biggest story will be BYU's continued play without Brandon Davies. If they crash out before the MWC final and San Diego State wins it, the Aztecs could swipe the West region away. It doesn't appear that either Colorado State or New Mexico is a realistic at-large candidate at this point, but one will be done after they meet on Friday. The other should get a third shot at BYU.
SHOULD BE IN
IN THE MIX
Colorado State (18-11, 9-7; RPI: 43; SOS: 33)
Next game: Thursday vs. 5-seed New Mexico in the MWC quarterfinals
No dice for the Rams at San Diego State and now they're probably auto bid or bust.
GW: at UNLV, Southern Miss (N)?
BL: Sam Houston State, vs. Hampton, at Air Force
New Mexico (19-11, 8-8; RPI: 71; SOS: 90)
Next game: Thursday vs. 4-seed Colorado State in the MWC quarterfinals
The Lobos would have a better case if they had done better overall in league play once Drew Gordon became eligible. The two wins over BYU are great, but there's not much more to look at. The MWC is good, but not that good to think .500 is enough.
GW: Sweep of BYU
BL: Swept by Utah, at Wyoming
Auto bids: Belmont (A-Sun), Butler (Horizon), Gonzaga (WCC), Indiana State (MVC), Morehead State (OVC), Oakland (Summit), Old Dominion (CAA), Saint Peter's (MAAC), UALR (Sun Belt), UNC-Asheville (Big South), Wofford (SoCon)
Locks: George Mason
Butler most likely saved an at-large for someone else by taking out homestanding UW-Milwaukee to snag the Horizon's auto bid. Will that help someone in this category or go to a middling high-major? Can the Ivy actually squeeze out an at-large? We could be asking that Saturday night if Princeton wins the playoff with Harvard for the auto bid.
SHOULD BE IN
Utah State (27-3, 15-1; RPI: 17, SOS: 122)
Next game: Friday TBD in WAC semifinals
The bubble's likely too weak to see USU dinged at this point, but I hope they win the auto bid so some thoroughly undeserving team doesn't litter the bracket. This league is Exhibit A for the ridiculousness of smaller conferences holding tournaments. Just send your best team.
GW: at Saint Mary's
BL: at Idaho
IN THE MIX
UAB (22-7, 12-4; RPI: 28, SOS: 70)
Next game: Thursday vs. East Carolina-Central Florida winner in C-USA quarterfinals
It's a bit unfair to say the Blazers lack top-50 wins, since they have seven Ws from 49-58 in Monday's RPI. The issue is the (perceived) quality of those wins, so they better hope the committee thinks Marshall and Central Florida are decent teams. They have won some legit road games and only have one truly questionable loss. In this bubble year, they're in consideration at this point.
BL: at Arizona State
Memphis (22-9, 10-6; RPI: 38, SOS: 56)
Next game: Thursday vs. Southern Miss-Tulane winner in C-USA quarterfinals
The Tigers still have the best collection of wins in C-USA as far as an at-large profile, but they finished in third (even with the balanced schedule), two games behind UAB (even after beating the Blazers twice).
GW: Sweep of UAB, at Gonzaga (bubble purposes), some 50-60ish league wins
BL: at ECU, at Rice, at SMU
Saint Mary's (22-7, 11-3; RPI: 47; SOS: 104)
The Gaels lost to Gonzaga in the WCC final and now need to hope their late-season fade doesn't cost them an NCAA bid. There's not a ton of meat to their profile. SMC still plays Weber State before Selection Sunday, but that won't impact the Gaels' at-large hopes unless they lose.
GW: St. John's
BL: at San Diego
VCU (23-11, 12-6; RPI: 49, SOS: 85)
The Rams almost rallied from a huge deficit, but fell to Old Dominion in the CAA final and now must wait and see if their profile is good enough to withstand a week of scrutiny and high-major tournaments. They have more solid wins than some on the list, but the L4 at the end of CAA play that dropped them into a tie for third place may end up condemning them to the NIT.
GW: at ODU, George Mason (N), UCLA (N), at Wichita State?
BL: at South Florida, at Northeastern, at Georgia State
Missouri State (25-8, 15-3; RPI: 41; SOS: 124)
The Bears fell to Indiana State in the Valley final and probably don't have the quality of profile to be a serious at-large consideration, despite the Valley's title. Nothing to do now but wait.
GW: Sweep of Wichita State
BL: at Tulsa?, at Evansville
Harvard (21-5, 12-2; RPI: 35, SOS: 157)
Next game: Playoff on Saturday vs. Princeton in New Haven, Conn.
The Crimson clinched at least a share of the Ivy crown by beating Princeton on Saturday, but now will need to win the rubber match between the two to claim the Ivy's auto bid after Princeton won at Penn Tuesday night to snag a share of the regular-season crown. Can Harvard get an at-large if it loses? Despite solid RPI numbers, it seems unlikely they could make it that way. That three-point loss at Michigan looks pretty meaningful now.
GW: at Boston College, Colorado (for bubble purposes)
BL: at Yale