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2019 March Madness heats up with the Bubble Watch

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The final weekend of regular season basketball and some conference tournaments are getting started, let’s look at the Bubble

NCAA Basketball: Purdue at Minnesota Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports

Here we go with the weekly look at the NCAA Tournament bubble.

Current Status...

Safely IN

The Purdue win was a clincher for Gopher basketball. I know that most people still think we have to win one more game, but their chances of missing the tournament just took a major nose dive. Here’s why.

There are currently right around 6 or 7 teams that would be considered still in the tournament AND behind Minnesota in terms of resume strength. First and foremost, keep in mind that these are mediocre teams who have flaws and a resume with enough question marks to put them where they are. Not only do ALL 6 or 7 of these teams have to outplay the Gophers over the next 10 days, but so does one additional team who is currently considered “out.”

Is that possible? Yes. Has it ever happened were 7 teams that are on the bubble go on a run to win 2 or 3 games and all move up? No. But last night you see NC State losing at home to Georgia Tech, and you realize that these bubble teams have warts too.

Mid-major bid stealers are a threat who will take up one or 2 of those spots. So in reality “only” 5 teams have to outplay Minnesota. Which is still unlikely. Let’s say the Gophers lose at Maryland. Not an unlikely outcome and one that really won’t hurt their resume or NET ranking one bit. Then they go and they face Ohio State or Illinois in the Big Ten Tournament and lose. That will certainly drop them and they’ll likely end up playing in Dayton...but they’ll still be in.

My point here is that the win over Purdue very likely put the Gophers in. They may end up closer to the cut line than we’d like, but they are going to make it. CBS projections don’t even have us on the Bubble.

The Resume

Record: 19-11
NCAA Net Ranking: 54
Quad 1 Wins: 3
Quad 2 Wins: 7

Good Wins (top 50 NET): @Wisconsin, Purdue, Washington (N), Iowa, Penn State

Bad Losses: @Boston College, @Rutgers

Three Quad 1 wins is actually pretty good and they have a chance to get one more on Friday. In fact if they beat Maryland, that would probably drop their first Maryland loss in to a Quad 2 loss while still getting the Quad 1 win for the road win.

The Bubble

Here we go, time to really start paying attention to other teams.

Safely In (for now) - This list is getting smaller this week as I’m pushing more teams into that middle category. Right now these teams would be in and safely above the play-in games.

  • Seton Hall - Beating Marquette on Wednesday vaulted Seton Hall into very safe territory. But the Big East teams move from “safe” to “straddling bubble” to “how did we ever consider them” to “back in” about every 3 hours.
  • Minnesota - atop of the safely in list with their Purdue win.
  • St. John’s - A win over Xavier on Saturday should be enough, a loss makes things interesting for the Red Storm.
  • Arizona St - Probably safe. (?) They go to Arizona tomorrow though, so if that’s a loss then the Pac 12 is back to looking like a 1-bid league. Assuming a loss to the Wildcats, ASU would have work to do in Pac 12 Tourney.
  • TCU - Lost 6 of 7 and at Texas on Saturday. A loss may push them out...pending Big 12 Tourney.
  • Alabama - Lost to Auburn, up next is a trip to Arkansas. Bama is dangerously close to falling below the cut line.

Straddling the Bubble - depends on which bracketology you look at, some have these teams sneaking in, this is the danger zone.

  • Temple - Huge win at UConn for the Owls this week. Up next is a tough game against a hot UCF team. They are currently “in” but are in danger of getting sniped by a bubble shrinking mid-major.
  • Clemson - Almost universally the last team in from an at-large standpoint. They get Syracuse on Saturday and they really have to win. When the bubble shrinks by one, they are not going to be very happy.
  • NC State - this team has been all over the map but consecutive losses including a bad home loss to Georgia Tech has them somewhere between Dayton and out, depending on which projection you look at.

Outside Looking In

  • Indiana - Such a weird resume here. At one point they had won 7 games in a row with wins over Louisville and Butler. Then they lose 12 out of 13 (1-12 is AWFUL). But what was that one win? It was over Michigan State. Then they beat Michigan State again, along with Wisconsin as they’ve now won three in a row with just Rutgers left. Such a weird team. Great wins, but overall kind of weak.
  • Saint Mary’s - Let’s assume they get to the WCC Finals and lose to Gonzaga, I doubt it will be enough.
  • Loser of Belmont / Murray State - I’m on record as actually rooting for both of these teams to make the NCAA Tournament.
  • Creighton - 4 straight wins and DePaul on Saturday. The Blue Jays are one of the few teams earning their way in.
  • Xavier - Xavier is working their way back into the conversation but have to beat St. John’s at home on Saturday.

Gopher Fan Rooting Interests

  • Washington - this will be a constant for the rest of the year, go Huskies!
  • Gonzaga - win the WCC
  • Arizona - Arizona State at Zona this weekend and we are rooting for the Cats.
  • Texas - over TCU to continue the Horned Frog’s free fall...right out of the tournament.
  • Xavier - over SJU and keep SJU from leapfrogging us.