Bubble-ology-2011 (How I learned to stop worrying and love the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee)

Bubble_medium Alright, this is REALLY early but with the injury to Al Nolen and the subsequent slide of the Gopher hoops team it is time to start looking at the bubble as our likely destination for Selection Sunday.

There are a few things worth nothing, the most important thing is that there are two more teams being allowed into the tournament this year so it is a bit easier to stay ahead of the bubble. Secondly, our resume is much stronger this year than it was a year ago (we'll get into more detail later). Lastly, those of us who watch the team on a regular basis may argue that this team doesn't belong in the NCAA Tournament, they just aren't good enough right now. But that does not matter, we are going to take a look at the numbers and try to determine if their resume is good enough (not their roster).

Blogs and other sources I'm using as a resource for this project.

Before I get going too far I want to make it clear that as of today, I am still of the belief that we can get into the NCAA Tournament without too much angst of bubble watching. We have six remaining games, all of which are pretty winable. A 4-2 record to finish the year is not out of the question, this would get us to 9-9 in conference and with our resume would keep us safely off the bubble. Even a 3-3 record might be enough to breath easy in mid-March. We get two games with Penn State who has made a surge to get themselves into the bubble conversation, those games will be important with that last PSU game (at home) potentially being a bracket buster for one of those teams.

Let's take a look at our resume before we start comparing ourselves to the rest of the bubble field.

RPI - 37
SOS - 23
W/L vs. RPI top 100 - 5-6
Big Wins - Purdue (RPI-11), North Carolina (RPI-15), West Virginia (RPI-17)
Bad Losses -@Indiana (RPI-155), Virginia (RPI-149)

A year ago we had worse losses on our resume (Portland St) and not as many big wins (we have three top 20 RPI wins). Our RPI and SOS are both higher as well (last year we finished with RPI right around 70 and SOS in the 40s). This team has done the work necessary to be safely into the Tournament but the hard part is keeping themselves there with a depleted roster that may not actually be a Tournament caliber team.

Based on wasting too much time at work here are the Gophers and 21 other teams vying for the NCAA Tournament. The math is pretty simple. 31 automatic bids and now 37 at-large bids. So we then need to break down the 37 at-large bids further into locks, safe and unsafe. I have 20 locks which still leaves 17 open bids.Most of these teams are considered "IN" by most projections with the bottom five on the outside of the bubble (for now).

Record RPI ∆ in RPI SOS Conf Rnk Lst Wk
- 24
1-0 SAFE
UCLA 17-7 31
- 30
2nd 1-0 SAFE
Texas A&M
- 51
1-0 SAFE
Old Dominion
- 67
3rd (t)
1-0 Relatively Safe
Minnesota 16-8 37 - 23
6th (t)
0-2 Relatively Safe
Oklahoma St 16-7
- 63
5th (t)
- Relatively Safe
Boston College
- 22
0-1 Relatively Safe
Cincinnati 19-5
- 110
7th (t) 1-0 Relatively Safe
Michigan St
- 10
1-1 Likely IN
Kansas St 16-8
- 16
5th (t)
- Likely IN
Colorado St
- 44
- Likely IN
Florida St 17-7
- 78
1-1 Likely IN
Marquette 15-9
- 33
7th (t)
1-0 Likely IN
Washington 16-7 38
- 55
3rd 1-0 Bubble-IN
Georgia 16-7
- 40
3rd (t)
0-1 Bubble-IN
UAB 17-6
- 64
1-0 Bubble-IN
Virginia Commonwealth
- 160
1st (t)
1-0 Bubble-IN
Memphis 18-6
- 53
1-0 Bubble-OUT
Southern Miss
- 117
2nd (t)
- Likely OUT
Baylor 16-7
- 77
1-0 Likely OUT
- 58
1-0 Likely OUT
Washington St

4th (t)
Likely OUT

Washington State really has no business being on this list but so many other projections have them as one of their first four teams out, they don't really belong in the conversation. Next week I'll probably have Clemson, Maryland or Missouri St on the list.

We can get worked up all we want about how bad our team looks right now. But when you look at things from a broader perspective and look at who we are battling with on the bubble things don't loo so bad (yet). We are still safely in and so many other teams have just as many issues as we have, but they didn't do as much to help themselves in Nov-Jan as we did. We may be playing like a bubble team but right now we are not yet a bubble team. And to land outside of the Dance I think there are 10-12 teams that will have to jump us in the pecking order.

If me saying it isn't enough how about this from SBN's Blogging the Bracket written after the Illini loss.

Both the Illini and Gophers remain relatively safe, though Illinois is in better position after winning at Minnesota on Thursday night. That defeat was the Gophers' fourth in a row. Illinois hasn't been the hottest team of late either, as they've dropped four of eight. Still, both teams' overall body of work should be enough to push them over the hump.

We are still above the bubble, the trick is staying there and a win at Iowa will help a LOT.


Games that Matter this Week, and what we need to happen - This weekend's games that may matter to us. Basically we want teams like UNC and West Virginia to win and then we need current bubble teams to lose.


  • Southern Miss at Memphis
  • Old Dominion at Virginia Commonwealth
  • Baylor at Texas
  • Georgia at South Carolina
  • Maryland at Boston College


  • Purdue at Illinois
  • St. John's at Cincinnati
  • Marquette at Georgetown

Things are still very early but I thought this might help for us all to get some perspective on what it is going to take to make the NCAA Tournament.

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