NCAA Tournament Bracketology: Gopher Basketball Resume Watch, Life on The Bubble

USA TODAY Sports

Another week and some subtle changes in the Bubble Situation.  Yes, the Gophers beat Iowa to move from the outside-looking-in to the right side of the bubble.  That was followed up with a loss at Michigan, which was not unexpected, which put kept them on the bubble but right on the razor-thin-cut-line.  Most of the updated bracket projections have the Gophers as one of the last teams in and one of the lucky few who will get to travel to Dayton on the Tuesday or Wednesday prior to the real tournament.

In is in right?  Well, sort of.  The problem with being one of the last one or two teams considered "in" is that you can very quickly become victim to a team that is "out" making a bizarre run through their conference tournament to either leap-frog a team like Minnesota or come from nowhere near the bubble to out-right steal one.  For instance, the Indiana State Sycamore make a run and knock off Wichita State in the Missouri Valley.  The Shockers are still going to get a bid and the MVC becomes a 2-bid conference and someone like Minnesota gets to fight for a trip to NYC instead of Dallas.

But there is still time to boost your resume and give yourself more confidence on March 16th (Selection Sunday).

The Resume

Current Record: 17-12 (7-10)
Current RPI: 47
Strength of Schedule: 3
Record vs. RPI top 50: 3-7
Record vs. RPI top 100: 6-10
RPI Top 100 Wins: Wisconsin (5), Ohio State (27), Iowa (43), Florida State (58), @Richmond (65), Indiana (78)
Bad Worst Losses: @Purdue (126), Northwestern (129), Illinois (73)

A nice bump from the Iowa win to give us a win over a good team in the last couple weeks.  Then the Michigan game was a loss but our strength of schedule has been boosted to #3 in the nation.  Our RPI is hanging on to a top 50 spot and it should stay there with a win over Penn State on Saturday.

How Many Spots (Bubble-Math)

A few teams moved around between being safe or on the bubble.  I moved Xavier up to being a lock after winning at St. John's this week and then beating Creighton at home.  I dropped Richmond from consideration and a few other minor moves.  But the basic math remains the same...approximately 4 spots up for grabs among 11 bubble teams.

  • 32 Automatic Bids
  • 25 Locks (I moved up Xavier and SMU this week)
  • 7 "Safe" Teams (Saint Joe's, Stanford, Colorado, Oklahoma St, Baylor, Cal, BYU)
  • 11 Bubble Teams, some more realistic than others.

I currently have Georgetown and Dayton listed on the bubble but they really have a lot of work to do and would need a lot of luck.  That would leave 9 teams with the most realistic chance at those final four spots.  But there are still two weeks left and it is entirely possible that some team may surge into the conversation (see Indiana and Illinois all of a sudden beating ranked teams and moving up the standings!).

Bubble Team Table

If you count down 7 teams (those are the "safe" ones), then you get to the four teams that are probably in...for now.

  • Arkansas, Oregon, Minnesota and Tennessee are in, according to most projections.
  • Following those are the teams scrambling to work their way back in; Providence, Missouri, St. John's and a resurgent Florida State.
  • And then Nebraska, Dayton and Georgetown still have a pulse but they need some help or a few wins.  Nebraska was rolling towards a bid winning 7 of 8 including wins at Michigan and at Michigan State, but a hot Illini team slowed their momentum and now they get a hot Hoosier club and then Wisconsin at home.
Lunardi Seed SBN Bracket Bracket Matrix Team Record RPI SOS Rec vs. Top 50 Streak Last Game Upcoming Arbitrary Grouping
10 8 9 Stanford 18-10 40 19 4-7 2L L @ AZ Col, Utah Safe
10 9 10 Saint Joe's 21-7 33 67 2-4 6W W St.Bon @GW, LaSalle Safe
10 10 9 Colorado 20-9 30 12 3-7 2L L @Utah @Stan, @Cal Relatively Safe
11 10 11 Oklahoma St 19-10 44 31 4-9 3W W #5 KU KSU, @ISU Relatively Safe
10 11 11 California 18-11 53 37 3-9 2L L ASU Utah, Colo Relatively Safe
12 11 11 BYU 20-10 35 33 3-5 4W W USD WCC Tourney Relatively Safe
11 10 10 Baylor 17-10 45 10 6-8 1W W TTU ISU, @KSU Relatively Safe
12 11 12 Arkansas 20-9 57 75 4-5 5W W UGA Miss, @Bama Bubble-IN
12 11 10 Oregon 20-8 34 40 2-5 5W W @USC ASU, AZ Bubble-IN
11 11 11 Minnesota 17-12 47 3 3-7 1L L @Mich PSU Bubble-IN
11 F4O F4O Tennessee 17-11 48 17 2-6 2W W Vandy @Aub, Mizz Bubble-IN
F4O 11 F4O Providence 19-10 55 65 2-5 2W W @SHall Marq, @Crei Bubble-OUT
N4O F4O 12 Missouri 20-9 50 81 2-2 1W W Miss St TA&M, @Tenn Bubble-OUT
F4O F4O F4O St. John's 19-11 60 43 1-7 1W W DePaul @Marq Bubble-OUT
F4O F4O F4O Florida State 17-11 58 41 3-7 2W W GaTech @BC, Syr Bubble-OUT
F4O N4O N4O Nebraska 17-11 56 36 3-7 1W W NW @Ind, Wisc Bubble-OUT
N4O N4O N4O Dayton 20-9 49 68 3-5 1W UMass @SLU, Rich Work to do
N4O N4O N4O Georgetown 16-12 61 24 4-5 1L @Marq Crei, @Nova Work to do

You can see just how close to the bubble-cliff we really are.

Notes

We are big fans of Iowa State and Kansas State this week.  Those two teams will face other bubble teams Oklahoma State and Baylor.  Both of those teams are likely safe and both are ahead of the Gophers.  I'm not expecting that either will get knocked out altogether but if one of them can lose both the Gophers might move ahead of them on the S-curve.  Just looking for some breathing room here.

Secondly, I'm already starting to look ahead to the Big Ten Tournament.  I am trying to decide who I'd most like to see us play in the first round and then who we would best match-up with in the second round.  My feeling is that I most want to face Northwestern and then be set up to play Wisconsin.  I see it happening by us earning the 7-seed and Wisconsin slots into the 2-seed.  For that to happen we want Indiana to beat Nebraska this week and we want Wisconsin to beat both Nebraska and Indiana.  Make sense?  We would retain the 7-seed over Indiana due to head-to-head win in our only meeting.  Wisconsin would have gone 2-0, which may keep them tied with Michigan State but they also hold the h-2-h tie-breaker.  Northwestern needs to beat Penn State at home and then I'm not sure who would actually get the tie-breaker between them and Purdue if the Boilermakers beat the Wildcats to end the season.  But the moral of the story is that we want Wisconsin to go 2-0 and we want Nebraska to go 0-2.

There are four Pac-12 teams all battling it out in the Safe or Bubble groupings and they all have interesting games to finish off the regular season this week.  Colorado has an interesting week coming up.  After losing at Utah in their most recent game the Buffs now travel to Stanford and then to Cal for two huge bubble match-ups.  A team that was once pretty safe is on the verge of a 4-game losing streak and move closer to the cut-line than they thought they would be.  It isn't much better for Oregon who has won five in a row but gets to host Arizona State and #3 Arizona this week.  Back-to-back losses would really hurt the Ducks.

Down in the SEC there is one key match-up between Missouri and Tennessee.  This might be an elimination game for the loser, unless they can redeem themselves in the SEC Tournament.

As far as the Gophers are concerned I'm not really sure what a win over Penn State is going to do for them.  And yes, I'm assuming a win over Penn State because a loss to Penn State at home is going to make all of this irrelevant.  The win should do very little for our the numbers that matter to us, namely RPI and SOS.  We may move up a line or two but it will largely be dependent on what the other teams do around us.  A win should keep teams from passing us, but I doubt it will help us all that much.

Key Games This Week

MONDAY

  • Kansas State at Oklahoma State (8:00 - ESPN) - big game for the Cowboys and seeding on the line for K State.

TUESDAY

  • Iowa State at Baylor (6:00 ESPN2)
  • Florida State at Boston College (8:00 ESPNU)
  • Marquette at Providence (8:00 FoxSprts1)
  • Arizona State at Oregon (10:00)

WEDNESDAY

  • Nebraska at Indiana (6:00 BTN)
  • Tennessee at Auburn (7:00)
  • Texas A&M at Missouri (7:00)
  • Ole Miss at Arkansas (7:00)
  • Colorado at Stanford (8:00 ESPN)

THURSDAY and FRIDAY

  • nothing of significance

SATURDAY

  • Penn State at Minnesota (7:30 BTN)
  • St. John's at Marquette (11:00 AM FoxSprts1)
  • Baylor at Kansas State (12:30)
  • Oklahoma State at Iowa State (1:00 ESPN)
  • Utah at Stanford (1:30)
  • Arizona at Oregon (3:00 CBS)
  • Missouri at Tennessee (3:00 ESPN)
  • Arkansas at Alabama (3:00)
  • Colorado at Cal (5:30)
  • Providence at Creighton (7:00)

SUNDAY

  • Wisconsin at Nebraska (6:30 BTN)
  • Syracuse at Florida State (1:00)

That is this week's Bubble update, tune in next week as we look ahead to the conference tournaments and try to figure out where we stand.

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