Posted: Tuesday January 24, 2012 12:55PM ; Updated: Tuesday January 24, 2012 2:17PM
Andy Glockner
Andy Glockner>BUBBLE WATCH

Bubble Watch: SEC, Atlantic-10, Mountain West, more (Cont.)

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SEC

Kentucky remains the lone lock in the SEC, with Alabama and Vanderbilt not far behind.
Kentucky remains the lone lock in the SEC, with Alabama and Vanderbilt not far behind.
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Locks: Kentucky

Alabama gave it a good run in Lexington but fell short and the Cats claim the No. 1 ranking their fans assume is a birthright. Behind them, the order continues to shake out. Vanderbilt looked resurgent and then lost at home to enigmatic Mississippi State.

SHOULD BE IN

Alabama (13-6, 2-3; RPI: 29, SOS: 11)

The Tide played well at Rupp, but couldn't get it done and dropped their third straight SEC game. Because of the uneven schedule, though, Alabama has a much easier run-in the rest of the way. The Crimson Tide are done with Kentucky and Vanderbilt and also played the Mississippi State road game already.
GW: Wichita State, Purdue?
BL: None, really

Vanderbilt (14-5, 4-1; RPI: 30, SOS: 12)

Mississippi State is a mercurial bunch, but not one you'd assume would march into Memorial Gym and win. That's a small step backward for the surging Commodores, who have a tricky week ahead with home games against defensive-minded Tennessee and very good in-state foe Middle Tennessee State.
GW: at Marquette, N.C. State? At Davidson?
BL: Indiana State, Cleveland State?

Mississippi State (16-4, 3-2; RPI: 39, SOS: 29)

Lose at Ole Miss and then win at Vanderbilt? Sounds like a typically unpredictable Bulldogs week. Now, with the exception of a trip to Florida on Saturday, the schedule is very soft for the next seven games.
GW: at Vanderbilt, Arizona?, West Virginia
BL: Akron at home

IN THE MIX

Florida (15-4, 3-1; RPI: 36, SOS: 96)

The Gators cruised past LSU at home, so nothing really changed for them overall. They need to navigate a trip to Oxford before three straight winnable home games follow.
GW: Arizona?, Florida State?
BL: at Rutgers, at Tennessee

Atlantic 10

Locks: None

Xavier ran into a buzz saw once again in Dayton, which leaves the Flyers leading the league and everyone scrambling for league wins and position. Can there be enough separation at the top by season's end for the league to nab three or even four bids?

SHOULD BE IN

Dayton (14-5, 4-1; RPI: 22, SOS: 13)

Big home win for the Flyers over Xavier and Archie Miller's men keep on keepin' on. They're the only team in the league with fewer than two losses and have a solid collection of wins. The home schedule left is pretty soft. If Dayton can navigate one or two tough road tests, it could win the league.
GW: Alabama, Xavier, at Temple, Ole Miss? (plus a couple others losing steam)
BL: at Miami (Ohio), Buffalo by 29?

Temple (13-5, 2-2; RPI: 19, SOS: 19)

Solid two-win week for the Owls, who handled La Salle and then Maryland in a nonleague tilt. Four of the next five are against teams outside the top 100, so there's a chance for a run here.
GW: Wichita State (N), Duke, at Saint Louis
BL: at Bowling Green, at Richmond?

IN THE MIX

Xavier (13-6, 4-2; RPI: 44, SOS: 22)

The Musketeers handled their home business but couldn't get it done in Dayton. Now they host Saint Louis in a big game before a run on the road, including a really important matchup at Memphis on Feb. 4.
GW: at Vanderbilt, Purdue
BL: at Hawaii, at La Salle?

Saint Louis (14-4, 3-2; RPI: 51, SOS: 110)

The Billikens manhandled Duquesne in their only action of the week. This week features road tests at Xavier and UMass, which kick off a testing schedule down the stretch. For a team lacking signature wins, this is a crucial away opportunity.
GW: Oklahoma (N), Villanova (N)?, Washington?
BL: at Loyola Marymount

Massachusetts (15-5, 4-2; RPI: 65, SOS: 128)

Winning at Richmond keeps the Minutemen in the mix for now. Saturday is a huge home game against Saint Louis. Get past that and UMass might have a pretty gaudy league mark heading into a final late-February run that includes Xavier and road tests at Dayton and Temple.
GW: None, really
BL: None, really

Saint Joseph's (12-8, 2-3; RPI: 58, SOS: 33)

Losing at Xavier happens. Losing to city rival Penn is a big blow for the Hawks' at-large hopes. Now Dayton comes to town before the Hawks head to Temple. This could be the last week in the Watch.
GW: Creighton
BL: at American, Charlotte?

Mountain West

Locks: UNLV, San Diego State

It looks all but certain the MWC will get two teams in, with the Rebels and Aztecs continuing to impress. Whether they can sneak a third in will depend on whether New Mexico can recover from a tough week or whether someone else moves in as a strong third or surprise auto bid winner.

SHOULD BE IN

None.

IN THE MIX

Colorado State (12-5, 2-1; RPI: 21, SOS: 17)

The computer profile monster keeps breathing despite a harmful loss at Wyoming. We'll know all we need to know after the next three games: at New Mexico, San Diego State, at UNLV.
GW: None, really
BL: None

New Mexico (14-4, 1-2; RPI: 57, SOS: 101)

The Lobos are in significant trouble in the MWC race already after losing at home to San Diego State and then being run ragged at UNLV. New Mexico needs to stabilize and take care of the next five games, with Colorado State in town to kick that stretch off, before a huge four-day haul at San Diego State and home to UNLV starting Feb. 15. Without much nonconference heft, the Lobos will need at least a split of those two, and probably a tournament win over one or the other, to feel OK.
GW: Saint Louis?
BL: Santa Clara (N), New Mexico State?

Note: If Wyoming handles San Diego State at home and a trip to Boise this week, we'll take a longer look.

Missouri Valley

Locks: Creighton

The two-bid scenario is unfolding great, with Creighton and Wichita State pulling away atop the league. If there's a surprise winner of Arch Madness, it looks like a three-bid league.

SHOULD BE IN

Wichita State (16-3, 8-1; RPI: 24, SOS: 67)

The Shockers got a big road win at Northern Iowa to help create a three-game gap between the top two and the rest. The 19-point thrashing of UNLV continues to look great. Wichita State needs to navigate this week home to Evansville and at Drake before a four-game stretch that will determine how comfortable its Selection Sunday will be.
GW: UNLV, at Northern Iowa
BL: None

IN THE MIX

None. Northern Iowa has too many league losses and not enough quality wins at this point.

Conference USA

Locks: None

Is this the league that will benefit from slippage in other significant conferences? The top four schools continue to beat each other and take care of everyone else, which is a good recipe for multiple bids.

SHOULD BE IN

Memphis faces critical upcoming home games against Marshall and Xavier.
Memphis faces critical upcoming home games against Marshall and Xavier.
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Memphis (13-6, 4-1; RPI: 26, SOS: 10)

The Tigers suffered their first league loss thanks to a very dicey and-one call in the final seconds at Central Florida. After a should-win at home with Rice, there's a massive three-game run with home games against Marshall and Xavier wrapped around a trip to Southern Miss.
GW: Southern Miss?, Belmont?, at Miami?
BL: None

IN THE MIX

Southern Miss (15-3, 4-1; RPI: 15, SOS: 55)

A big home win over Marshall keeps the Golden Eagles right in the hunt. They can't let their guard down at East Carolina ahead of a trip to Central Florida and then a home date with Memphis. After that, the schedule is very soft until the season-finale at Marshall, but more quality wins are needed.
GW: Ole Miss, at Colorado State, sweep of New Mexico State?
BL: None

Marshall (12-6, 4-2; RPI: 46, SOS: 24)

Tough week for the Herd, which lost to West Virginia and then at Southern Miss. This week, it's home to UAB before a game at Memphis, which Marshall really needs. The only good win is losing steam.
GW: Iona?
BL: Akron at home

West Coast

Locks: Saint Mary's

The Gaels still have to play at BYU and Gonzaga, so this could change, but they're in great position at the moment. So are the Zags, but the second-place team isn't always a lock, so we'll keep them down for now.

SHOULD BE IN

Gonzaga (16-3, 6-1; RPI: 16, SOS: 38)

Five of the next seven, including a trip to BYU, are on the road, but one of the home games is the return match with Saint Mary's on Feb. 9. If the Zags get either of those, they should be in solid shape for a bid.
GW: at Xavier, Arizona (N)?
BL: None

IN THE MIX

BYU (15-5, 6-2; RPI: 56, SOS: 90)

A mystifying 14-point home loss to Loyola Marymount complicates things for the Cougars. Now they have to navigate a trip to Virginia Tech before Saint Mary's and Gonzaga arrive back-to-back. They're in bad need of quality wins, but if they somehow get all three of these, things will look much rosier.
GW: None
BL: at Utah State?

The Others

Other than Murray State, it's hard to see anyone from this group being a truly legit at-large threat, thanks to the Ivy League's lack of a tournament making a Harvard bid less likely. That's even with the Ivy being fairly close right now to having four top-100 teams. That said, there are several "perfect season" scenarios brewing that we'll keep an eye on.

Murray State (17-0, 8-0; RPI: 33, SOS: 224)

The Racers got a big scare at Morehead State, but stayed perfect with two more league wins. Their CUSA and A-10 wins continue to look very solid, so there should be no issues with an at-large if the Racers somehow stumble in the league tournament. It's hard to see the Racers losing at home, so they should remain undefeated until their final four games, three of which are on the road plus a solid BracketBusters matchup TBD.
GW: at Memphis, Dayton, Southern Miss
BL: None

Harvard (15-2, 2-0; RPI: 48, SOS: 223)

The home-and-home with Dartmouth is done and now playtime is over. The next four are on the road, including matchups at Yale (on Friday), Princeton and Penn, the league's three other best teams. If Harvard takes care of all of its business, the second half of the season should be a coronation. If they drop one, or better yet two of those, this league could become awfully interesting.
GW: Florida State (N), UCF (N)?, Saint Joe's?
BL: at Fordham

Long Beach State (12-6, 7-0; RPI: 40, SOS: 61)

The 49ers curbstomped UCSB on the road to stay perfect, which is what they're going to have to do to remain at-large worthy. Pitt is absolutely killing one of their two good nonleague wins.
GW: at Pitt, Xavier (N)
BL: at Montana

Davidson (13-4, 8-0; RPI: 49, SOS: 107)

If the Wildcats run the table until the SoCon final, could they squeeze in thanks to the upset of Kansas? Stranger things have happened ... although not many.
GW: at Kansas
BL: at Charlotte?

Oral Roberts (18-4, 10-0; RPI: 45, SOS: 141)

Replace "Kansas" with "short-handed Xavier" and "SoCon" with "Summit," and you have the same question for Oral Roberts. Good team, maybe with not enough juice for an at-large. That galling loss to UTSA in the first-round of the preseason NIT, when vulnerable Oklahoma State was on tap for a trip to NYC, is a killer.
GW: at Xavier
BL: UT-San Antonio (N)

Iona (15-5, 7-2; RPI: 43, SOS: 112)

The Gaels blew another huge lead, this time at Siena, and really are pressing their luck for at-large consideration. They don't have any real quality wins.
GW: Saint Joe's?, at Denver?
BL: at Hofstra, at Siena, at Manhattan

Middle Tennessee State (18-2, 8-0; RPI: 54, SOS: 215)

The Blue Raiders are a very good team that probably won't have the schedule strength to garner an at-large safety net, but in a year where so many major conferences are down, would a three-loss MTSU get a long look? That would include a road win at Vanderbilt, which is on the docket Saturday. Hmmm...
GW: Ole Miss (N), at UCLA?
BL: at UAB

Note: Neither Drexel nor VCU appear to have enough schedule juice to be a credible at-large. They don't play each other again in the regular season and neither team plays a top-100 team the rest of the way in league play. The Dragons beat VCU and George Mason, but suffered harmful losses at Delaware and Georgia State. Does Mason, which plays VCU twice late? Also unclear. There will need to be big separation at the top of the league for the league champ to have a chance.

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