Here We Go - Bubble-Ology Week 3

Bubble_mediumBud Light is sponsoring a series of posts on the SBN Network titled "Here We Go". It is March Madness (in February) but college basketball is ramping up and the NCAA Tournament will soon be here (or the NIT) so HERE WE GO!

The Gophers, as you know, have dropped six of their last seven games (thank God for Iowa). Lunardi has us as the first team out. Stat Junkie still has us in ahead of just two other teams. We have three games left to get ourselves back into the NCAA Tournament so "Here We Go!"

RPI - 48
SOS - 32
W/L vs. RPI top 100 - 5-8
Big Wins - Purdue (RPI-8), North Carolina (RPI-12), West Virginia (RPI-20)
Bad Losses -@Indiana (RPI-185), Virginia (RPI-135)

I want to be crystal clear here. Those of us who watch this team know that we currently are not playing well enough or are talented enough to be considered an NCAA Tournament team. I know that and you know that. But it is important to realize that this isn't just about how bad we are, it is about where does our resume fit in with other teams that have flaws and warts and who are sitting squarely on the bubble. We can still sneak into the NCAA Tournament, whether we deserve it or not is another post altogether. This is not a post about how we belong in the field of 68, but just an overview of where we stand.

With all of that said was there any good news for the Gophers over the past week? There are two key things to look at. The first is the mid-major or small-major conferences and making sure that certain teams don't sneak into earning the leagues auto bid and then we see the at-large field shrink because a school like Harvard might be deserving of a bid with an Ivy League title. On that note, Princeton lost. The Ivy is the only conference that does not hold a conference tournament. So for now, Harvard is driver's seat for the Ivy auto-bid. Two bids from the Ivy League would be really bad for us. The two schools play on March 5th, we want Harvard to win.

Conference USA is another conference to watch closely. A week ago UTEP was leading the league with a few at-large deserving teams trailing (Memphis, Southern Miss and UAB). UTEP would not earn an at-large on their own and they have really stumbled this past week going 1-2 and falling into 4th place. So that leaves Memphis, UAB and Southern Miss fighting for the league's #1 seed and eventually the auto bid. Hopefully one of them wins their conference tournament and another one picks up a bad loss or two so C-USA

The Missouri Valley is also worth watching closely. Missouri State is currently on the bubble and they have a huge game with conference co-leader Wichita St on Saturday. A Shockers win would keep Missouri St below the cut line. Ultimately we want Wichita St to win the conference tourney title, they'd get in as an at-large should they happen to lose and take up another precious bubble spot.

Horizon is another. We want Milwaukee to lose.

The other key thing to watch are the BCS teams around us and pray that they lose games and look worse than we do. I'll highlight some key games this weekend below. But first here is the table.

(updated thru 2/24) Record new RPI ∆ in RPI SOS Conf Rnk Lst Wk
Michigan St 16-11 37 12 5 4th 2-0 SAFE
Cincinnati 22-6 35 16 88 7th (t) 3-0 SAFE
Florida St 19-8 51 -3 100 3rd 1-1 Relatively Safe
UAB 19-7 34 1 52 1st (t) 1-1 Relatively Safe
Memphis 21-7 33 0 40 1st (t) 2-1 Relatively Safe
Illinois 17-11 39 2 11 6th 1-2 Relatively Safe
Washington 19-8 36 2 63 3rd 2-1 Likely IN
Colorado St 18-9 44 -2 37 4th 1-2 Likely IN
Georgia 18-9 40 0 29 3rd (t) 1-2 Likely IN
Marquette 17-11 51 14 27 9th 2-0 Likely IN
Boston College 16-11 49 -6 16 7th 0-2 Bubble-IN
Nebraska 18-9 77 0 74 6th (t) 1-1 Bubble-IN
Minnesota 17-10 48 -12 32 8th 0-2 Bubble-IN
Butler 20-9 45 -1 80 1st (t) 1-0 Bubble-IN
Missouri St 22-7 46 1 138 1st (t) 1-1 Bubble-OUT
Penn St 15-12 53 10 6 5th 2-1 Bubble-OUT
Oklahoma St 16-11 61 -6 36 9th 0-3 Bubble-OUT
Richmond 21-7 62 8 130 3rd 1-1 Bubble-OUT
Gonzaga 20-9 64 8 78 2nd 3-0 Bubble-OUT
Alabama 19-8 74 - 139 1st 2-0 Bubble-OUT
Wichita St (AQ)
23-6 47 - 108 1st 1-1 in as AQ
Sourthern Miss (AQ) 21-6 41 9 99 1st 3-0 in as AQ
Cleveland St (AQ) 23-7 42 -3 107 1st 1-2 in as AQ
Harvard (AQ) 20-4 42 3 176 1st 2-0 in as AQ

I know all Gopher fans reading this will say I'm crazy for including the Gophers in the field yet. But you have to look beyond how bad we are and look at the teams around us. Butler has a similar RPI, worse SOS and their two best RPI wins are Cleveland St and Cleveland St. They are no stronger than we are on paper. Penn State just beat us but their record is worse, their RPI is lower and their loss to Maine is worse than anything on our resume. Point is our resume is still OK, our current play is not.

We still have some control over our own destiny. A win at home against Michigan is imperative and a win at home over Penn State is huge as well. The trip to Northwestern in the middle is an interesting one and we could "maybe" survive losing that one. 2-1 is an absolute must and then a win over whoever in the Big Ten Tourney first round. The way this team has played, nobody expects that we'll finish strong and hang on to our tenuous bubble spot. I'm not making predictions just giving a gauge where we are today.

NOTES:

I've added Alabama to the bubble. They have a good record, propped by playing in the weak SEC West. Typically a BCS school with an 11-2 conference record including wins over Kentucky and Tennessee would be a lock right? But this team also lost to Iowa and St. Peters. They have a couple road games coming up and then finish at home with Georgia. They are here for now but I don't expect they'll stick around.

Cincinnati was the biggest mover after their 3-0 week beating Louisville and at Georgetown!

I've also included a few teams currently in position to get their conference AQ but if they were to lose they might steal a bubble spot.

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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.

SATURDAY - these are not ALL of the games for the teams listed above, just some of the key ones

  • Michigan at Minnesota
  • Wichita St at Missouri St - we want Wichita St to win
  • Boston College at Virginia - go Cavaliers
  • Nebraska at Iowa St - we need Nebraska to lose a couple games
  • Memphis at UTEP - can both teams lose? I think we want Memphis.

SUNDAY

  • UConn at Cincinnati
  • Washington St at Washington

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