That’s right folks – only three at-large bids remain, making conference tournament week a real scramble for teams like Missouri, Minnesota, St. John’s and Providence. It’s going to take more than one win for them to leapfrog into the tournament.
Right now Tennessee, Nebraska and California would nab the last three tournament bids.
Syracuse, Duke, Virginia, North Carolina, Louisville, Cincinnati, UConn, Memphis, SMU, Villanova, Creighton, UMass, St. Louis, VCU, George Washington, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Michigan, Ohio State, Iowa, Iowa State, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas State, Baylor, Wichita State, Arizona, UCLA, Arizona State, Oregon, Colorado, Florida, Kentucky, San Diego State, New Mexico, Gonzaga, BYU, America East, Big West, Coastal Carolina (Big South), Conference USA, Mid-American, Horizon, Colonial, MAAC, Summit, Sun Belt, Harvard (Ivy), Patriot, WAC, Mercer (Atlantic Sun), Eastern Kentucky (Ohio Valley), Northeast, Big Sky, Southland, Southern, MEAC, SWAC
Near Locks (6)
Pittsburgh, Xavier, St. Joseph’s, Oklahoma State, Arkansas, Stanford
Available Bids (3)
Pittsburgh (23-8 : 11-7 RPI 46 SOS 75): A hard-fought overtime road win at Clemson might just propel the Panthers into the tournament. If close counted, the Panthers would be in for taking Syracuse to the wire twice. But alas, close does not count and the Panthers have a fairly weak resume. A win against Stanford is their only over a tournament team. They are safe now, but let’s see them win one game in the ACC tournament before locking them up.
Xavier (20-11 : 10-8 RPI 48 SOS 26): It’s fairly simple for the Musketeers – one win of any kind should send them to the tournament. A win over Cincinnati is their best. 8 top-100 wins is a solid number for any bubbler. The loss at Seton Hall certainly did not help the cause.
Dayton (22-9 : 10-6 RPI 39 SOS 56): A huge win at St. Louis had the Flyers rocketing up the charts, and a beatdown of Richmond probably sealed an at-large bid. They beat Gonzaga and Cal in the non-conference, both on a neutral court, so beating the Billikens gives them three quality road/neutral wins.
Oklahoma State (20-11 : 8-10 RPI 40 SOS 24): .The Cowboys have probably shown enough to warrant a bid since Marcus Smart returned, but the heartbreaking loss at Iowa State would have definitely sealed the deal. It’s still very tough to see them missing the tournament given the state of the bubble.
Arkansas (21-10: 10-8 RPI 62 SOS 84): We will keep them here despite the lopsided loss at Alabama. Do they even need one more win? The Kentucky sweep is something few Bubblers have. They now have 9 top-100 wins. The classic quality-win sleeper of 2014 (see USC, 2011). As the rest of the bubble falters, it will be tough to ignore the Razorbacks above-average resume. The RPI is troublesome, though.
Stanford (19-11 : 10-8 RPI 43 SOS 18): Three losses in a row – albeit to tournament teams – had started to make Cardinal fans worry but a home win against Utah calmed a lot of nerves. They are 7-11 against the top-100, meaning they have no bad losses. They are also 3-5 against the top-50 with a non-conference win at UConn. Their spot in the tournament is all but assured now.
Florida State (18-12 : 9-9 RPI 59 SOS 42): With a home loss, the Seminoles at-large chances are pretty much cooked. Let’s see what they do in the ACC tournament before completely writing them off, though - they did beat VCU and UMass in the non-conference.
NC State (19-12: 9-9 RPI 66 SOS 52) Wins at Pitt and vs. Boston College put the Pack back on the board, but a run to the finals in the ACC tournament is necessary for serious consideration.
Georgetown (17-13 : 8-10 RPI 53 SOS 10): The Hoyas lost at Villanova in a rout, putting their tournament hopes in peril. Dig a little deeper into the resume, and they have a pretty good case for making the tournament. The win over Creighton gave them an impressive 5 over the top-50. They now have solidified their resume as having two high-quality non-conference wins and three in-conference top-50 scalps. The Creighton, VCU, Michigan State and Kansas State wins continue to carry weight, but getting swept by Seton Hall has been dragging them down. All of this adds up to a First Four appearance or being the last team chopped out of the tournament. It’s going to be very close.
Providence (20-11 : 10-8 RPI 54 SOS 63): A loss at Creighton shouldn’t hurt, but being a non-competitive game might sway the opinion of some in the committee. We think they are just about at the cutline right now, meaning a Big East tournament run is their last chance to secure a bid. A close – and important – win over Marquette kept the Friars at the cutline. A stretch of wins in early January over Georgetown, Creighton and at St. John’s showed the Friars’ potential. Unfortunately that was the last time they beat anybody thats going to make the tournament.
St. John’s (20-11 ; 10-8 RPI 57 SOS 49): An exhausting, double overtime win at Marquette keeps hope alive, but they still need to do some damage in the tournament to jump back on top of the cutline. A win vs. Creighton is their only top-50 scalp, and their best non-conference win was against San Francisco. 6-9 against the top 100 isn’t going to get you an at-large.
St. Josephs (21-9 : 11-5 RPI 34 SOS 59): The Hawks lost a clunker at home to LaSalle, which is cause for some concern. A 6-8 mark against the top-100 wont turn many heads, and they did nothing out of conference. Luckily the VCU and UMass wins still sparkle, as does a sweep of Dayton. Back to the bubble for the Hawks.
Minnesota (18-12 : 8-10 RPI 51 SOS 7): The Gophers took care of Penn State to stay right at the cutline, although probably one of the last four out. Even with that win, they can’t afford a first-round Big Ten tournament loss. They have nice wins over the Buckeyes, Iowa and Wisconsin, as well as non-conference wins over Richmond and Florida State, although neither are surefire tournament teams.
Nebraska (19-11 : 11-7 RPI 41 SOS 27): The win against Wisconsin was huge to be sure, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves – the Huskers have some work to do in the Big Ten tournament, and they may get a chance in the quarterfinals against a quality team. They have beaten Michigan State, Wisconsin and Ohio State, but their best non-conference win is Georgia. Three sub-100 losses are hurting the cause, despite having 4 top-50 wins. They are 7-8 against the top-100.
California (19-12 : 10-8 RPI 55 SOS 30): Sneaking past Colorado in overtime keeps the Bears right at the cutline. The RPI has suffered quite a bit in recent weeks. They still have the home Arizona win, and a looking-better-all-the-times wins at Stanford, at Oregon, vs. Colorado and vs. Arkansas. Losses at USC and against UCSB hurt a bit, so nothing is a given right now.
Missouri (21-10 : 9-9 RPI 52 SOS 76): The loss to Tennessee hurts, but is not fatal. They are a lot closer to a bid than most believe. They have no bad losses, and a solid 8 top-100 wins. Let’s see how they do in the SEC tournament before writing them off.
Tennessee (19-11 : 11-7 RPI 44 SOS 25): While not an elimination game, the win over Missouri gave them a season sweep and a distinct advantage over the Tigers in the SEC bubble pecking order. The Volunteers seem to always boast an impressive SOS, and this year is no different, but at some point you just have too many losses to deserve a bid. Wins over Virginia (by 35!) and Xavier continue to impress. They have a nice-sized top-100 win number of 8.
Southern Miss (24-5 : 13-3 CUSA RPI 35 SOS 152): The Eagles have seemingly gamed the RPI, because this is way too high for a team whose best win is Louisiana Tech. Get to the CUSA final and maybe we will take another look.
Wisconsin Green Bay (21-6 : 14-3 Horizon RPI 63 SOS 145): Now there is trouble in Title Town. The loss in the Horizon semifinals throws them into a crowded at-large pool in which they do not stand out. The non-conference win over Virginia may turn out to be the ultimate trump card in the group, as the Cavs won ACC crown. There is still half a chance at an at-large, so we will keep them on the page.
Belmont (22-9 : 13-3 Ohio Valley RPI 56 SOS 139): Now that the Bruins have lost in the OVC finals, an at-large seems like the longest of shots. They do have a win at North Carolina, so you never know – the committee is a bunch of idiots, afterall.
Stephen F. Austin (27-2 : 18-0 Southland RPI 67 SOS 324): A great team with a resume full of wins against bad teams. They need their RPI to creep up into the 50′s to have any shot at an at-large. It doesn’t look like they will need it, as their win streak currently sits at 24 in a row.