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March Madness Bracketology: Texas, NC State, Oregon, Arizona On NCAA Bubble

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Duke guard Austin Rivers (0) drives on Boston College's Lonnie Jackson during the first half of Duke's 75-50 win in an NCAA college basketball game in Boston, Sunday, Feb. 19, 2012. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
Duke guard Austin Rivers (0) drives on Boston College's Lonnie Jackson during the first half of Duke's 75-50 win in an NCAA college basketball game in Boston, Sunday, Feb. 19, 2012. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

By Zach Hayes, Rush the Court

Last Four In: NC State, Northwestern, Texas, Washington

First Four Out: South Florida, Oregon, Arizona, Dayton

Next Four Out: Miami, LSU, UCF, Massachusetts

(bold indicates auto bid, italics indicates a bubble team)

1 Seeds: Syracuse, Kentucky, Duke, Michigan State

2 Seeds: Missouri, Kansas, North Carolina, Ohio State

3 Seeds: Michigan, Marquette, Baylor, Georgetown

4 Seeds: Florida State, Louisville, Florida, Indiana

5 Seeds: Wisconsin, UNLV, Temple, Wichita State

6 Seeds: Notre Dame, Murray State, Vanderbilt, New Mexico

7 Seeds: Creighton, Kansas State, Gonzaga, San Diego State

8 Seeds: Saint Mary’s, Virginia, California, Iowa State

9 Seeds: Saint Louis, Memphis, Cincinnati, Harvard

10 Seeds: Connecticut, Mississippi State, West Virginia, Purdue

11 Seeds: Alabama, Southern Miss, Long Beach State, Seton Hall

12 Seeds: BYU, Xavier, Colorado State, Washington, Texas

13 Seeds: Northwestern, NC State, Middle Tennessee, Oral Roberts, Akron

14 Seeds: Iona, Drexel, Nevada, Davidson

15 Seeds: Belmont, Weber State, Valparaiso, Bucknell

16 Seeds: LIU Brooklyn, UT-Arlington, UNC-Asheville, Stony Brook, Mississippi Valley State, Savannah State

  • Cincinnati is one of the more difficult teams to seed in recent memory. It really boils down to how much you believe the committee is going to weigh RPI/SOS relative to RPI top-50 wins. I tried to find a happy medium at a #9 seed. The Bearcats computer numbers are appalling (74 RPI, 114 SOS, 319 non-conference SOS) but no teams behind them in today’s S-Curve boast the same abundance of quality wins: at Georgetown, Louisville, at Connecticut, Notre Dame, Seton Hall with a 6-4 true road record and a 10-5 mark in the Big East. That’s an impressive portfolio for a supposed bubble team without even glimpsing at the RPI. One has to believe Cincinnati is in at 11-7.
  • Missouri dropping from the third number one seed to the first number two seed after one loss may seem a bit harsh, but it’s more about what Duke and Michigan State have done than what Missouri hasn’t done. Duke and Michigan State played much more rugged non-conference schedules and currently lead their respective leagues. For example, Duke beat Michigan State, Kansas, Michigan, Washington, NC State, Belmont and Davidson along the way, not to mention true road ACC wins at North Carolina and Florida State. Duke may be the most flawed top seed in recent memory, but that shouldn’t alter any objective analysis of their resume to date. Missouri is hampered a bit by a #269 non-conference SOS and fewer quality wins throughout the season than either the Devils or Spartans. That can change with a win at Kansas on Saturday.
  • All Oregon and Arizona can do is keep winning and let the dominoes fall as they may. Until a potential Pac-12 tournament meeting with either Cal or Washington, there’s no opportunity for even anything resembling a quality win remaining on the schedule. The Ducks visit rival Oregon State before finishing at home with Colorado and Utah while Arizona topped USC last night and end their schedule with UCLA and Arizona State. Playing in the Pac-12 this season limits chances to pick up scalps, especially after squandering nearly all of their marquee non-league games in November and December. Washington’s sweep of Arizona looms mighty large at the moment.
  • The opposite is true with South Florida. The Bulls back-loaded schedule brings Cincinnati to Tampa this Sunday. Depending on how other bubble teams fare, USF may move into Monday’s field with a victory. A trip to Louisville and a home date with West Virginia prior to the Big East Tournament present even more opportunities. If Stan Heath’s team can win two games, it would be awfully hard for the committee to leave a 12-6 Big East team out of the field despite non-league losses to Auburn, Penn State and Old Dominion. USF boasts a 48 RPI, 28 SOS and 49 non-conference SOS.
Bubble Games This Weekend

Friday- Marquette at West Virginia: The Mountaineers have lost six of eight and are quickly trending in the wrong direction. They receive a gift from the bubble gods: a top ten team in their joint. Let’s see if WVU can capitalize and create some distance between themselves and the cut line.

Saturday- Iowa State at Kansas State: The Cyclones rigorous three-game stretch to end the campaign — at Kansas State, at Missouri, Baylor — begins Saturday in Manhattan. Given this year’s bubble climate, stealing just one win may be enough for a bid barring a horrible loss in KC.

Saturday- UCLA at Arizona: With a #70 RPI and #101 SOS, the Wildcats desperately need to hold serve at home. The Wildcats have what Washington and Oregon do not: a win over California.

Saturday- NC State at Clemson: After blowing their golden opportunities at Duke and home vs. Florida State and UNC, the Wolfpack now face the portion of their schedule where they have everything to lose and little to gain: at Clemson, Miami, at Virginia Tech. They’re NIT-bound barring a sweep.

Saturday- Mississippi State at Alabama: The Tide boast much better RPI/SOS numbers, State holds more quality wins. Alabama won the first meeting in Starkville. A season sweep for Anthony Grant’s team could go a long way if both teams sit on the bubble come Selection Sunday.

Saturday- Massachusetts at Dayton: The loser is eliminated from at-large bid contention. Simple as that.

Saturday- Purdue at Michigan: Given Michigan’s home dominance, this is a long shot upset. Should Purdue pull off the miracle, they’ll feel a whole lot better about their chances. Right now all the Boilers really have is a November win over Temple and a sweep of Northwestern.

Saturday- Washington at Washington State: Depending on how other bubble teams fare, the Huskies may drop out of the projected field with a loss. The same could apply to their season finale at UCLA.

Saturday- Syracuse at Connecticut: If the Huskies can finally put it together for 40 minutes and hand overall #1 seed Syracuse their first loss with Fab Melo, UConn should feel good about getting to 9-9 and sneaking in the tournament. Their last two games are winnable: at Providence and vs. Pittsburgh.

Saturday- Northwestern at Penn State: Northwestern’s spot in the field is precarious at best. A loss to bottom-feeder Penn State obviously drops them out, possibly for good.

Sunday- Cincinnati at USF: Despite Cincinnati’s lackluster RPI, this is an enormous game for USF. Their lofty conference record is nice, but all that will even mildly impress the committee is a home win over Seton Hall. USF could move into the projected field with a win Sunday. The Bearcats all but lock up a bid with a win in Tampa.

Sunday- Florida State at Miami: The Canes boast the win at Duke and…..(crickets). Their next best scalp is UMass at home. This is a must win.

Sunday- Oregon at Oregon State: The Ducks can’t slip up in Corvallis to stay in the bubble hunt. Oregon beat Washington and won at Arizona.

Zach Hayes is an editor, contributor and bracketologist for Rush the Court. Follow Rush The Court on Twitter @rushthecourt.

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