NCAA Tournament: Gophers on the Bubble With Big Ten Tournament and Selection Sunday Looming

USA TODAY Sports

The regular season is over and the Gophers finished off Penn State at home in convincing fashion to keep themselves relevant in the NCAA Tournament discussion.  Up next is a re-match with Penn State in round one of the Big Ten Tournament.  The good news is that the Gophers have another opportunity to win and inch themselves closer to a bid.

Before we even begin, I'd like to point you to this incredibly scientific method of predicting who is actually going to be in and who will be out.  I highlight it because it is brilliant and it has the Gophers "IN"!  Basically you add each team's RPI plus their KenPom rank and the top 32 teams who don't win their conference tourney are in.  Yay for us!

The Resume

Current Record: 18-12
Current RPI: 50
Strength of Schedule: 5
Record vs. RPI top 50: 3-8
Record vs. RPI top 100: 6-10
RPI Top 100 Wins: Wisconsin (6), Ohio State (22), Iowa (45), Florida State (54), @Richmond (70), Indiana (89)
Bad Worst Losses: Northwestern (130), @Purdue (137)

And I should add that we have 2 additional wins over teams who have officially won their conference tournament and are "IN".  Coastal Carolina and Wofford have won the Big South and SoCon conference tourneys to punch their ticket.

The Bubble

At one point the bubble was shrinking but now my list seems to be growing, with more disagreement on who will be landing where. SBN's Blogging the Bracket has BYU out of the Tourney and Nebraska well above the cut-line.  Joe Lunardi on the other hand has BYU as a team avoiding Dayton but Nebraska is his last team in.  Dayton is all over the place, as is Arkansas and Xavier.  The Gophers are still in the conversation but they are almost universally considered out.  My faint hope currently rests on the fact that even the best prognostications get one or two teams wrong every year.  A consensus "OUT" team is considered "IN" by the one group that really matters, maybe that is Minnesota.  Or better yet we earn our way in with at least a couple wins beginning with one over Penn State tonight.  But let's look at the teams we are battling with on the bubble.

Here is the list...

Lunardi Seed SBN Bracket Bracket Matrix Team Record RPI SOS Rec vs. Top 50 Streak Upcoming Arbitrary Grouping
11 F4O 11 BYU 22-11 34 16 3-6 1L done Safe
11 10 11 Nebraska 19-11 41 26 4-7 3W B1G Tourney Safe
10 11 10 Stanford 20-11 46 35 4-8 2W Arizona St. Safe
11 11 11 Saint Joseph's 21-9 42 72 4-5 2L A10 Tourney Safe
11 11 11 Xavier 19-11 49 42 3-5 2L Marquette Bubble-IN
12 11 11 Dayton 22-9 39 46 4-5 3W Fordham Bubble-IN
11 11 12 Tennessee 19-11 43 14 2-5 4W SEC Tourney Bubble-IN
12 12 12 Arkansas 21-10 56 87 4-3 1L South Carolina Bubble-IN
F4O 11 F4O Cal 19-12 53 29 4-9 1W Colorado Bubble-OUT
F4O F4O F4O Minnesota 18-12 50 5 3-8 1W Penn State Bubble-OUT
F4O OUT F4O Providence 20-11 55 75 2-6 1L St. John's Bubble-OUT
F4O N4O N4O Florida State 18-12 54 39 3-8 1L Maryland Bubble-OUT
N4O N4O OUT Missouri 21-10 52 85 2-3 1L Texas A&M Bubble-OUT
N4O F4O F4O St. John's 20-11 57 52 1-7 2W Providence Bubble-OUT

Now that we know the names, we need to focus on their games (that rhymes).  Since we are out, unless we notch a big win or two in the B1G Tourney, we'll be relying on other teams faltering.  Whether we earn it or back in, I don't care.  But here are the games that would most help the Gophers right now.

  • Arkansas losing to South Carolina - 2:25 - ESPN3 - Go Gamecocks.  Arkansas lost to Bama to end their regular season, dropping another to a bad team would really damage their resume
  • Cal losing to Colorado - 4:30 - Pac12 - This is a rematch of their regular season finale that Cal snuck out by point in OT.  A Buffs win here would likely move the Gophers up a spot in the pecking order.
  • Xavier losing to Marquette - 8:30 - FoxS1 - these teams split in the regular season and a loss would be the third in a row for Xavier.
  • Dayton losing to Fordham - this would really help as well, but I'm not holding my breath here.  KenPom gives them an 83% chance to win.
  • Florida State over Maryland - I think I actually want FSU to win here.  Their RPI has fallen outside of the top 50, a win might push them back in giving us another top 50 win again.

But I go, I wanted to throw out this blind resume of a few teams.

Blind Resume

Team Record RPI SOS Rec vs. Top 100 Streak Worst RPI Loss
Team A 20-11 48 43 9-9 2L 222*
Team B 18-12 50 5 6-10 1W 137
Team C 19-12 53 29 8-11 1W 165
Team D 21-10 56 87 8-8 1L 138

*non-conference loss

I bring this up only partially as a weak attempt to make a case for the Gophers, but mostly because I find it rather interesting.  2 of the teams listed above are considered "IN", one of which isn't even near the bubble and a projected 8 or 9-seed.  The other two are considered "OUT".

RPIs are all relatively the same, strength of schedule varies and for three of the teams the record vs. RPI top 100 is rather similar.  What Team B has is an incredibly high strength of schedule, no real bad losses (RPI-137 being their worst loss) but they lack in Top 100 wins compared to the other three.

Team B is Minnesota (I'm going to assume you all figured that one out).  Team A has a lower RPI and a much lower SOS and they have a non-conference loss to an RPI-220 team; yet Team A is considered a lock and projected as high as an 8-seed!  Team A is Kansas State.  I am NOT making the argument that the Gophers belong ahead of K-State, but this does make for an interesting comparison.  Beating Kansas goes a long way here (kind of like the Gopher's win over Indiana last year) and their 9-9 record against RPI top 100 teams is much better than Minnesota's 6-10.

Team C is Cal, also a team considered "OUT" and Team D is Arkansas who is considered in by most accounts.

The one argument that I don't hear being made for Minnesota much is that they lost a few games in their February swoon to mediocre teams with arguably our best player out of action or hobbled.

But this is why I love this time of year.  Games matter, games are on multiple channels all week and there is never a dull moment.  March Madness begins in earnest tonight and I cannot wait!

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