The Grand National Championships

February 22, 2009

Since Everybody Liked Last Weeks Bubble Top 25?

I figured I would use my brainmeats and go again. After all, if it doesn’t involve me trying to be funny? I can do it twice in a row. Because my funny is accidental. But my brainmeats just keep bringing it.

Anyway, the Bubble is still tightening as the inexorable march of time gets toward Selection Sunday. And while some teams have lost their projected safeline designation, like San Diego State, we have teams with new membership. They’re mostly from Florida.

Maybe all from Florida.

Anyway…here’s the safe teams.

ACC
UNC
Duke
Clemson
Wake Forest
Florida State

Big East
Pittsburgh
UConn
Villanova
Louisville
Marquette

Pac-10
Washington
Arizona State
UCLA
California

Big 10
Illinois
Michigan State
Purdue

Big 12
Oklahoma
Kansas
Missouri

SEC
LSU
Florida

Mountain West
Utah
BYU

Atlantic 10
Xavier

(Note: Odds are that the A-10 is going to get multiple teams, so the Atlantic 10 is going to get the one team safeline that Conference USA is not going to get.)

Safe Likely Conference Champions
Butler
Creighton
Gonzaga
Memphis
Siena
Utah State

And this week we can add a new designation. Just needs one more win to be in.

One More Win
Boston College: (The computer numbers are decent to marginal. If they take down Florida State at home, it’s not just clinched. It’s superclinched. But they will likely go 21-10 (9-7). At North Carolina State and Georgia Tech at home means that will likely happen.)
Dayton: (Winning one of their next three (@ URI, Temple, @ Xavier) makes them safe. They probably already are, but I have a bad feeling about them. Just a feeling.)

I would also put the winner of the South Carolina-Kentucky game as a team that’s in the tournament. But they still both fall on the safeline. So there’s that.

So how many bubble teams does that leave us? 13. So let’s start the rankings? Remember…future schedules count.

1. West Virginia
2. Syracuse

All they need to do is win two games and that is a task of simplicity for both. The computer numbers can fade it if they only beat DePaul, Rutgers, or South Florida. By this time next week, their cards should be punched.

3. Texas (Blake Griffin’s concussion aside, beating Oklahoma is beating Oklahoma. This means they are among the top teams vs. the RPI Top 50 who reside firmly on the safeline. Texas Tech and Baylor at home will get them to 20 wins and over .500 in the Big 12.)
4. Wisconsin (Put it simply? If they manage a win today at the Breslin Center? They could manage a 9 game winning streak going into the conference tournament. And even if they don’t? Their worst case of going 7-3 in their last 10 would tie them for the hottest BCS team going into their tournament.)
5. Kentucky (It is essentially a coin toss game between them and South Carolina on Wednesday, and an RPI of 62 at this point is quite high for a team that I would put on the safeline. But they control the tempo on Wednesday and they get LSU on Saturday. Win the week and the RPI problem is sorted.)
6. Ohio State (They didn’t hold serve. Northwestern is doing well for Northwestern, but it’s still not a good loss. If they beat Illinois at home today? All is forgiven and they’ll still likely have 20 wins in them and a 33/34 RPI/SOS.)
7. San Diego State (They have the best case to be the Mountain West’s third team in the tournament. Not to say that their schedule is downy soft by any stretch of the imagination, but they have BYU and UNLV coming to San Diego. Go 3-1 in their final four? They win the 3rd Mountain West bid.)
8. Arizona (Probably need one more good win (@ Arizona State, California, @ Washington) for clinching purposes, but with their tradition, passable computer numbers 43/40, 6 wins vs. the RPI Top 50, and 20 likely wins overall and 10 in the Pac-10? They can take it down by just beating Stanford and Washington State.)
9. Minnesota (Similar resume to Arizona. Both have hit about .500 versus the RPI top 100, both have some high-quality wins that they have banked. Both have an excellent chance of getting to 21 wins overall with a .500 or better conference record. Both have similar computer numbers (40/48). Arizona just played a couple of higher notched teams. All they need to do is just beat Michigan and Northwestern at home.)
10. South Carolina (So the odds of 4-2 just got a bit longer. Their next three (@ Kentucky, @ Vanderbilt, Tennessee)? They are horseraces. Win one and they’re fine. Thus they can feel relatively safe.)
11. Tennessee (There is always one team that will get in solely on its strength of schedule. Right now? It looks like the Volunteers. Pomeroy expects 18-12 (9-7). That doesn’t matter. Their RPI is 26. That doesn’t matter. Their Strength of Sechedule is 2. That’s all that matters.)

Here’s where you’ll find out the deep dark secret of this years NCAA tournament. A lot more teams are going to go to the NIT unhappy then make the NCAA’s. Right now there are two bids left. And as I type this, there are seven teams that could make a solid case for it. I do not envy the selection committee this year.

12. Maryland (Their emotional win over North Carolina gives them the best winning percentage of what’s left versus the RPI top 25. There are plenty of teams with computer numbers that bring more to the table, but the ACC is the best conference by far, and if they can win at North Carolina State and at Virginia? They would have probably have to beat North Carolina State in the tournament. If they do? That’s a ticket punched.)
13. Penn State (The computer numbers are bad, (61/84), but if you look at Conference RPI? You have a likely 5th place team in the second best confrence with 21 likely wins in their back pocket and three versus the top 25 in RPI. At this point, as I type this? That’s enough. But if they want to stay here? They better get a 22nd win. (The two likely wins are versus Indiana and Iowa, those crack the RPI downward.)

Here’s the current batch of the outside looking in. Again, there are five teams that have strong resumes to get into the tournament even if they would currently be out. I would count New Mexico as a team on the list. The potential fourth MWC bid will either belong to them or UNLV.

14. Oklahoma State (I tossed a coin between the Cowboys and the Nittany Lions for the 65th spot. The Cowboys have much better computer numbers (32/11), but that being said? Their most quality win was against Siena and they need to hold serve just to get to .500 in a marginal big six conference. Next Saturday they play Texas. It’s in Oklahoma City. Win there and hold serve? They are in great shape.)
15. Texas A&M (Beat Nebraska in Lincoln on Tuesday, and they likely get to .500 in conference and 22 wins, as well as a chance at clinching a spot int he Big Dance when Missouri comes to town on March 7th. If they merely hold serve? They likely don’t get themselves to .500 in the Big 12. And that’s kind of problematic especially this year.)
16. Temple (Their key is the road game at Dayton. Win here and they’ll likely be 13-3 in the A-10 with 21 wins overall, and their current computer numbers would be strong enough that they could just hold serve in the tournament and get in. But the way this year is going? Maybe not.)
17. Miami (They still have a good chance of winning out. Their computer numbers are going to be better than Maryland’s. And if it comes down to it? It’s going to be the team that plays North Carolina State that has the better shot of culling the ACC’s seventh tournament berth.)
18. USC (They needed to beat Washington. With this sort of a morass in terms of the edge of the bubble? They need to run the table to stay out of the NIT graveyard. Cal is their last shot at a win you could consider good. And heaven help them if they lose to Stanford or either Oregon team. 19 wins will not be good enough here.)
19. UNLV (Again, the schedule is something bad. They have strong wins versus the Top 50 (Lousiville, Utah, BYU twice.) But here’s the crux of the problem, they have two road games versus Utah (RPI-10) and San Diego State (RPI-48). Their home game is versus Air Force (RPI-287). They need to cull a 22nd win to have a chance of making the dance.)
20. St. Mary’s (CA) (Won what they were supposed to. Would probably need to make a run to the finals with a good effort against Gonzaga to make their case perfectly, any loss until then, even a semifinal tournament loss to Portland? And they would be toast. Especially if they make a regualr season boo-boo. Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount have superawful RPI’s.)
21. UAB (Decent computer numbers (39/71) that will slowly slide downward with games against Marshall and East Carolina, never mind a potential 9-1 record in their last 10. All they have to do is beat Memphis. Do that and it’s a lock. Don’t and they cannot get in. No tomorrow’s. This Thursday they win or they are dead.)
22. New Mexico (Their problem is wholly depended on their computer numbers. Their RPI is 71. Beating Utah at home will make that rise. Doing it like they did versus San Diego State (75-49), would shoot it up the ladder. But then there’s Colorado State, TCU, and Wyoming. Not much quality in those wins, kids.)
23. Georgetown (If they can win out? Then they can usurp Tennessee as the team that gets in solely on the strength of their strength of schedule. They would have to thread the needle of Louisville in DC and at Villanova to do it, but if they can? They will be the Big Easts 8th team.)
24. Michigan (Second best RPI among the currently unlisted. But Georgetown’s proverbial needle to thread is a little less difficult than Michigan’s. (Purdue, at Wisconsin and at Minnesota are their last three.) They would need to beat Iowa in Iowa City and take two of those three to get into consideration.)
25. Niagra (Beat Siena at home and they have to be in the conversation of at-large berths. That being said? They would need to get themselves a third match-up versus Siena and win out to state their case completely.)

Yes! I made a new list! You’re welcome!

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