College Basketball Bubble Watch 1/23

Welcome to the first edition of “Bubble Watch”. This article is to tell you about teams who are in the running for an At-Large birth into the NCAA Tournament in March. We will list teams that have a realistic shot, at the time of the article, to get into the big dance. They will be listed by their conference.

There are several different categories that will be used:
First is the “Lock” section. This is reserved for teams like Kentucky, who if they lost most of the games left on their schedule, would still make the tournament. We will be pretty stingy on who gets locked, because there is no need to put a team in as a lock and then put them back on the bubble.
The next section is “Should Be In”. This is for a team that would be in if the tournament committee picked teams at this moment, but aren’t quite ready for “Lock” status yet.
The last section is “Work Still To Do”. This is for teams who may or may not be in if the Selection Show was about to be broadcast. This is kind of lengthy article, but is filled with great information.

Teams will have their overall record and their conference record in parentheses. Their RPI and SOS will be next to the conference record. The will also have their Good Wins (GW) and Bad Losses (BL) right underneath that.

And Here………We……….Go……


American Conference: 

No locks for this conference, but a couple of teams are getting close. Could another team emerge and get themselves on the bubble like Tulane or Memphis? Possibly, but they need to start winning, and in a hurry.


Locks: None


Should Be In:


SMU (15-4) (6-1) RPI: 14  SOS: 24

GW: Eastern Washington? Michigan? Temple?  BL: None

The Mustangs did a much better job of scheduling this year. Although they have no wins over the RPI Top 50 (0-4), they have 5 Top 100 wins right now (5-4) and have played a bunch of above average teams. This conference has some poor teams, so they would do themselves well by taking care of business in their next 3 games before a huge showdown with Cincinnati on February 5th.


Cincinnati (13-5) (4-2) RPI: 32  SOS: 32

GW: San Diego State, SMU, NC State  BL: None

Cincinnati is putting together a nice little resume. They have 3 Top 50 wins and 3 more inside the Top 100. Three of the best teams in the conference are on the schedule in the next 5 games. Win 5 in a row here and a move to lock status will happen. The Bearcats should feel pretty safe at this point.


Work To Do:

Tulsa (13-5) (6-0) RPI: 43   SOS: 96

GW: Temple? UCONN?  BL: Oral Roberts

Well, Frank Haith is doing it again, with someone else’s players. He has the Hurricane in the hunt for a bid to the big dance with Danny Manning’s players. These kids have bought in and play hard for him. Somehow though, this team lost to a D2 team, but luckily for them that game does not count towards their overall record.They need to win their next 4 against bottom feeders to avoid anymore bad losses.


Temple (13-7) (4-3) RPI: 59  SOS: 43

GW: Kansas, UCONN? BL: Saint Joe’s

The Kansas win is what is carrying this profile as there is only 2 Top 100 wins on it. They have missed tons of big chances against the RPI Top 50 (1-5) and need to keep getting wins. That is really what they need more than anything is wins. If they win the games they should and find a way to win some 50/50 games, they will be dancing. Any more bad losses and they will be sweating it out.


Connecticut (10-7) (3-2) RPI: 74  SOS: 47

GW: Dayton, Cincinnati  BL: None

The defending NCAA champs are in big trouble at this moment. They have 2 Top 50 wins but are only 3-7 against the top 100. They picked up a must win last night and now need to win Sunday to set up a huge game with Cincinnati next Thursday. They can’t afford many more losses with that low of an RPI already.


3 locks already for this conference. Barring a huge collapse, all 3 of these teams will have high seeds come tournament. Anyone else excited about this Duke/Virginia matchup? I know I am.

Locks: Virginia, Duke, North Carolina


Should Be In:

Louisville (15-3) (3-2) RPI: 25  SOS: 72

GW: Indiana, Ohio State  BL: None

It is a little bit weird to see this team here, but they just have not done a lot  as far as schedule or Top 50 wins (1-3). I have little doubt they will get in, but they just need to win games at this point. Their schedule is about to get tough, with lots of win opportunities that will help push them into lock status.

Notre Dame (18-2) (6-1) RPI: 40  SOS: 185

GW: Michigan State, Miami, North Carolina  BL: None

This is basically a formality like Louisville. This profile has lots of solid wins and no bad losses. The RPI and SOS are a little low, but if they keep winning conference games, 3 nice opportunities up next with NC State, Duke and Pitt, then they will be moved up quickly.


Work To Do:

North Carolina State (13-7) (4-3) RPI: 41  SOS: 6

GW: Tennessee, Duke  BL: None

They would be dancing is the selection was done today. They have one of the better wins in the country and have a great SOS. It would have been nice to beat Miami last night, but they have another nice opportunity with Notre Dame on Saturday to add another quality win to their resume’.

Miami (13-5) (3-2) RPI: 50  SOS: 61

GW: Duke, NC State  BL: Eastern Kentucky (By 28)

Picked up a nice win last night over NC State and have that road win at Duke in their back pocket as well. The Hurricane are 2-3 vs the Top 50 and have some match-ups with other bubble teams on the schedule. If they did not blow the game against Virginia, where they led most of the game, they would probably be up one category.

Syracuse (14-5) (5-1) RPI: 55  SOS: 113

GW: Iowa  BL: None

This isn’t one of Boeheim’s best teams. They are pretty young, inexperienced and not that great offensively. Lucky for them, though, is their defense if one of the top ones in the nation again, and the ACC is strong, so there are lots of good win opportunities. It starts tomorrow with a home game vs. Miami and then they travel to take on North Carolina on Big Monday. Win both of those, and the “Cuse” will be in pretty solid shape.

Pittsburgh (13-6) (3-3) RPI: 64  SOS: 83

GW: None BL: Hawaii

This is not your typical Jamie Dixon team. Their offense and defense are both outside the top 100 in a bunch of categories and they have swung and missed on all their good opportunities (0-4) against the Top 50 RPI. They only have 2 Top 100 wins overall and really need to get on a roll here to get themselves on the right side of the bubble. That starts Sunday when Louisville comes to town. That is almost a must win at this point.



Atlantic 10:

VCU is going dancing again. They are building quite the resume’ and can find themselves with a nice seed. No other real bubble teams are looming to get on this list from the A10.

Locks: VCU

Should Be In: None

Work To Do:

Dayton (15-3) (5-1) RPI: 27  SOS:123

GW: Texas A&M  BL: None

This profile is mainly hurting because of lack of quality wins. They have lots of solid wins, but missed the chance for the big ones. They have a couple of tricky games with Richmond and then at Umass, then a game against a bad Fordham team, before a big showdown with George Washington. They would be wise to win their next 3 and then see what happens. If they keep getting wins, then they will be fine.

Davidson (13-4) (4-2) RPI: 35  SOS: 106

GW: Dayton  BL: None

Picked up a huge win on Tuesday over Dayton. That was their first and only Top 50 win. They played very close in their losses to Top 50 teams, all on the road, but close does not cut it. They would be very wise to win their next 5 over teams that they should be able to handle. This resume’ can’t afford many bad losses.

George Washington (15-4) (5-1) RPI: 48  SOS: 201

GW: Wichita State  BL: None

George Washington was a good team last season, yet they did not schedule that well. Some of that is bad luck as Colorado is down, but scheduling teams from the SWAC and MEAC are never good ideas. Lucky for them, they were able to beat Wichita State in Hawaii and have avoided and bad losses. They play a very winnable game tomorrow, and then they get a chance at a marquee win as they travel to VCU on Tuesday. The schedule really get tough after Saturday. Lots of good chances for good wins.

Rhode Island (12-5) (4-2) RPI: 77  SOS: 144

GW: None  BL: None

This is just kind of ‘meh’ as far as a profile goes. They are only 1-5 against the Top 100 and only have 2 Top 200 wins. If they lose either of their next 2 games, to St. Bonaventure or Fordham, they might burst their bubble……see what I did there?


Big East:

This looks like it is going to be a fun conference race until the end. Villanova has a chance at a 1 seed, but needs to roll the rest of the way to do that.

Locks: Villanova

Should Be In:

Georgetown (13-5) (5-2) RPI: 15  SOS: 5

GW: Indiana, Butler, Villanova  BL: None

Another Big East team with a great profile and numbers. They are only 3-5 against the Top 50, but have a few more wins to add to the Top 100 record. The Hoyas also just added a marquee win on Monday against Villanova. A win like that really boosts your chances and moves you up seed lines. Tricky game tomorrow stands in the way of a big showdown against Xavier, which shellacked Georgetown on New Years’ Eve.

Butler (14-6) (4-3) RPI: 19  SOS: 13

GW: North Carolina, Georgetown  BL: None

5-6 against the Top 50 and no bad losses on the resume’? That is great news. This team will probably be in if it keeps winning the games it should, but there are a lot of losses built up already. They play a big game against Seton Hall on Sunday. Winning that would give them a sweep of the Pirates for the season and would give them another Top 50 win. If Butler and just go 7-4 the rest of the regular season, which is tough in this conference, then I guarantee they will be dancing.


Work To Do:

Seton Hall (13-5) (3-3) RPI: 36  SOS: 58

GW:  Villanova, St. John’s BL: DePaul??

The Pirates missed some shots late in the game and fell at home to DePaul. That is a game Seton Hall needed as you never want to lose games at home. DePaul is no push over anymore but losing that game now has them dropping back to back games and they travel to Butler to play Sunday. Another loss might lead to things snowballing and putting them on the wrong side of the bubble. Stay tuned.

Providence (15-5) (5-2) RPI: 20  SOS: 27

GW: Notre Dame, Miami, Butler, Georgetown, Xavier  BL: Brown, Boston College

Their computer numbers are great. They have some really good wins. So why is this team still in the work to do section? Well, you see, they lost to Brown and Boston College. They have shown the ability to play down to their opponent and it won’t be a shock if they go on a long losing streak. 8 of their next 11 are against the RPI Top 40. They are either moving up to lock really soon or they are going to be sweating it out for a while.

St. John’s (13-5) (2-4) RPI: 33  SOS: 33

GW: Providence  BL: DePaul??

The Red Storm are just a weird team. They have been embarrassed against a majority of the good teams they played, yet they don’t have bad losses. The 1 Top 50 win is a bit concerning, though they have a lot of chances to find some good wins. They play a nicely timed non-conference game against Duke on Sunday. HUGE game for St. John’s.

Xavier (12-7) (3-4) RPI: 37  SOS: 26

GW: Georgetown, Seton Hall  BL: Auburn?? DePaul??

As you can see, DePaul has beaten a lot of these bubble teams. Xavier just has a lot of losses right now. The profile looks good and they are 3-3 against the Top 50. They just really need to keep winning more than anything. Rematch with DePaul is due up tomorrow. Lose that and things will start getting scary with a 12-8 record.


Big 12: 

KU is and Iowa State both have very nice profiles and are going dancing, barring complete collapses. Can TCU find its way onto the bubble? Will the Big 12 get 8 of their 10 teams in?

Locks: Kansas, Iowa State

Should Be In:

West Virginia (15-3) (3-2) RPI: 21 SOS:70

GW: NC State, Oklahoma  BL: None

They are really close to being a lock already, but they need more wins. They play the bottom 3 conference in their next 3 games. Win all 3 games and they will probably move up as any wins after that will likely be Top 50 wins.

Texas (14-4) (3-2) RPI: 16  SOS: 19

GW: Iowa, West Virginia  BL: None

2 Top 50 wins and 4 Top 100 wins are good but not great. They are in the same boat as the team above. Keep winning and move to lock. Big showdown with Kansas is up for tomorrow.

Work To Do:

Oklahoma (12-6) (3-3) RPI: 27  SOS: 17

GW: Butler, Baylor, Oklahoma State, Texas  BL: Creighton

Great RPI and SOS. 5-4 against the RPI Top 50 is good to. The 12-6 record overall and a loss to Creighton is the problem. If the tournament started today, they would be in, easily. But as tough as the Big 12 is, they really need to keep getting wins. If they win tomorrow and Wednesday overly lowly Texas Tech , they will move to Should Be In.

Baylor (14-4) (2-3) RPI: 18  SOS: 34

GW: Texas A&M, Iowa State  BL: None

Huge game tomorrow as Oklahoma comes for a visit. Baylor could really use a win as it would make them 3-2 against the RPI Top 50. If Baylor puts on a little winning streak here, they will be a lock very quickly. Their win over NAIA Huston-Tillotson did nothing for them on Wednesday.

Oklahoma State (13-5) (3-3) RPI: 29  SOS: 42

GW: Texas  BL: South Carolina?

2-4 against the Top 50 is OK, but this team needs more. The RPI is solid and so is the SOS, but there is not a lot of substance to their profile. Would the game at Kansas State tomorrow be a must win for them? Might be in order to stay on the correct side of the bubble.

Kansas State (11-8) (4-2) RPI: 81  SOS: 65

GW: Oklahoma, Baylor  BL: Texas Southern

This has been a weird team. They lost to 8-10 Texas Southern at home and then recently just ran off 4 straight wins in conference. That winning streak came to a close, in a tough loss at Iowa State. Oklahoma St. and West Virginia are up next. They probably can’t afford to lose both of these home games if they want to be on this list next week.


Big 10:       big 10

After such a great year last year, the conference is kind of down this season. Wisconsin and Maryland are going dancing, but how many other teams will join them?

Locks: Wisconsin, Maryland

Should Be In:

Michigan State (13-6) (4-2) RPI: 34  SOS: 15

GW: Indiana, Iowa   BL: Texas Southern

Losing to Texas Southern surely did not help the Spartans chances. They’re 2-5 against the Top 50 but they’ve missed some chances against the Top 25 and are 0-4. Beating Penn State on Wednesday saved them from getting another bad loss. They don’t have a ton of chances left at good wins so they need to take advantages of them.

Work To Do:

Indiana (15-4) (5-1) RPI: 30  SOS: 55

GW: SMU, Butler, Maryland, Ohio State??   BL: None

The Hoosiers have a winning record against the Top 25 at 3-2. Anytime you can do that you will be in good shape. They got a massive win last night by beating the pants off of Maryland. If they can take care of business the next few games they will get a chance to possibly lock up a bid with a win over Wisconsin.

Iowa (13-6) (4-2) RPI: 39  SOS: 11

GW: North Carolina, Ohio State(x2)   BL: None

Sweeping Ohio State might come in handy later on. The win over North Carolina on the road is their signature win and that is carrying them right now. They missed a big chance when they got blown out at Wisconsin but fortunately for them they will see them again next Saturday. They need to add someone else to their good wins so that UNC can stop carrying them.

Ohio State (15-5) (4-3) RPI: 51  SOS: 94

GW: None   BL: None

When your best win is over Illinois you have some work to do. The Buckeyes 0-5 record vs the Top 50 is really going to hurt. The Northwestern win for them last night did nothing. They need to figure out how to start getting good wins and it starts with Indiana on Sunday.

Illinois (13-7) (3-4) RPI: 56  SOS: 53

GW: Baylor, Maryland   BL: None

As inconsistent as Illinois has been this year, they are still sitting squarely on the bubble thanks to a couple big wins. 2-1 vs the Top 25 helps tremendously. They need to keep that “None” in the BL column and add one or two more good wins. They get Michigan State (x2), Iowa, and Wisconsin down the road so they will have their chances.


PAC 12:pac 12

Another conference that is having a down season as far as depth goes. Arizona and Utah are in safely now, but how many more teams will join them?

Locks: Arizona, Utah

Should Be In:

Stanford (13-5) (4-2) RPI: 31  SOS: 49

GW: Texas, Washington   BL: DePaul

The Cardinal missed a big chance last night against Arizona that may have locked up a bid for them. They are 2-2 against the Top 50. 3-2 would look better but at least it’s not a losing record. They’ve done what they’ve needed to up until now and need to continue this.

Work To Do:

Washington (14-4) (3-3) RPI: 44  SOS: 112

GW: San Diego State, Oklahoma    BL: California, Washington State

The loss to California would have looked better at the beginning of the season when everyone thought the Bears would be better than they are. If Andrews wouldn’t have made the buzzer beater last night it really wouldn’t have mattered as Colorado isn’t a good win or bad loss. Taking down Arizona, Stanford, or Utah would help.

UCLA (11-8) (3-3) RPI: 75  SOS: 51

GW: Stanford  BL: None

If you think 0-4 against the top 25 is bad then 2-8 vs the top 100 is even worse. This team has had so many chances and cashed in on just one of them. They’ve avoided the bad losses and Utah comes to town Thursday. The Bruins need to start getting it done.



As bad as this conference is, they have a ton of bubble teams, and a couple of others who could make their way on the list if they get hot. Florida needs to get more wins to get on this list.

Locks: Kentucky

Should Be In:

Georgia (12-5) (3-2) RPI: 24  SOS: 20

GW: Seton Hall  BL: None

Georgia missed a couple of chances against Arkansas and Gonzaga, but they took care of business against Seton Hall. The win against Ole Miss Tuesday night may turn into a good win but the Rebels have some work to do. They should be a lock soon but they need to get a couple more wins to assure it.

Arkansas (14-4) (3-2) RPI: 22  SOS: 39

GW: SMU, Dayton, Georgia, Alabama   BL: None

Bobby Portis helped get Arkansas another good win last night with a tip-in against Alabama. Conference season has barely started and the Razorbacks have already grabbed a couple major conference wins. Depending on how they look against Missouri and Tennessee we may be able to lock them up next week.

Work To Do:

Tennessee (12-5) (4-1) RPI: 45  SOS: 64

GW: Butler, Arkansas   BL: None

I cannot stress enough how major the next two games for the Volunteers are as they play Texas A&M and Arkansas. 2-4 against the Top 50 hurts, but 2-2 against the Top 25 will probably cancel that out.

LSU (14-4) (3-2) RPI: 46  SOS: 116

GW: West Virginia, Georgia   BL: Missouri

Being in the SEC, LSU has to take care of the other bubble teams the rest of the year. If they beat Vanderbilt tomorrow it will do nothing, but they need to avoid a bad loss when they host South Carolina Wednesday.

Texas A&M (12-5) (3-2) RPI: 47  SOS: 54


Wow what a chance they missed when they lost to Kentucky in double OT. However, they’ve bounced back and got a good win and avoided 2 bad losses since then. Beating Tennessee tomorrow will help.

Alabama (12-6) (2-3) RPI: 49  SOS: 38

GW: Texas A&M, Tennessee  BL: South Carolina

Losing three in a row never helps anyone especially when one of them is a bad loss. They need to avoid two letdowns against Auburn tomorrow and Florida on Tuesday.

Ole Miss (11-7) (2-3) RPI: 52  SOS: 16

GW: Cincinnati, Arkansas   BL: TCU, Charleston Southern

This team has me lost on words. They’ve got two bad losses but they’ve gotten just enough good wins to keep them in the discussion. At this point, they can’t afford another bad loss so they will need to handle Florida tomorrow and Mississippi State on Wednesday.


Missouri Valley:missouri valley

3 teams getting in from the Valley? That would be an impressive feat for the conference. WSU is obviously in and UNI is about to lock themselves up.

Locks: Wichita State

Should Be In:

Northern Iowa (17-2) (6-1) RPI: 23  SOS: 148

GW: Iowa  BL: none

The lack of quality wins is the only negative about this profile. Decent SOS and good RPI are helpful and as long as they win their next 2, they will be right here next week waiting for a shot at Wichita State and a possible lock status move.

Work To Do:

Evansville (14-5) (4-3) RPI: 73  SOS: 119

GW: Northern Iowa BL: Indiana State

They are a stretch to have on here, and can’t even help themselves until the end of February when they get another shot at Wichita State and Northern Iowa again. Until then, they just need wins. There a lot of bad RPI teams in their way between now and then.


Mountain West:mountain west

I do not see more than 3 teams getting in. 2 is probably more likely.

Locks: None

Should Be In: None

Work To Do:

San Diego State (15-4) (5-1) RPI: 26  SOS: 67

GW: Utah BL: Fresno State

If they win tomorrow against Colorado State, they will add another good win to their resume’. If they just did not lay that egg against Fresno, they would probably be moved up a category and be getting a lot closer to lock status. They get Fresno again next week.

Colorado State (17-2) (4-2) RPI: 38  SOS: 158

GW: None BL: None

This team just played enough average teams, and won to have this nice RPI. They have no games against the Top 50 and are only 3-2 against the Top 100. They have a huge game at home tomorrow against SDSU. They REALLY need to win to add a marquee win.

Boise State (13-6) (3-3) RPI: 71  SOS: 107

GW: St. Mary’s  BL: Utah State

Boise just needs wins. Plain and simple. Air Force and Colorado State are up next and the Broncos could really help themselves by winning both. That Utah State loss is starting not to look as bad. Hopefully AF can figure it out to give Boise some more help.

Wyoming (16-3) (5-1) RPI: 85  SOS: 272

GW: Colorado State  BL: None

The Cowboys have the best record in the conference. They also have the worst SOS of the bubble teams in the conference. Their non conference was just awful. They need to do something here quickly to keep moving up. The MWC is down, so good RPI wins are tough to come by.



Gonzaga is fighting for a 1 seed and got themselves a nice win last night. Could this be a 1 bid league? Possibly.

Locks: Gonzaga

Should Be In: None

Work To Do:

BYU (15-6) (5-3) RPI: 54  SOS: 48

GW: Stanford  BL: Pepperdine

The win over Stanford keeps looking better and better. Will that win alone be enough? I doubt it. They definitely need to beat St. Mary’s on the road and would do themselves well by winning at Gonzaga.

St. Mary’s (14-4) (7-1) RPI: 58  SOS: 124

GW: BYU  BL: Northern Arizona

If not for the puzzling loss to Northern Arizona, this profile would look much better. But, they lost and are also 0-2 against the RPI Top 50. If BYU starts winning again, then they will be able to count that as a Top 50 win. The Gaels missed a big opportunity last night at Gonzaga. The 21point loss looks bad and also takes away a chance at great win. The get another shot at BYU and Gonzaga. They will probably need both wins.


Other Teams:

Locks: None

What’s Left:

Old Dominion (15-3) (4-2) RPI: 42  SOS: 135

GW: VCU, LSU BL: Middle Tennessee State

The good wins are there. ODU is 2-0 against the Top 50 and 3-1 against the Top 100. With that being said, they lost to a really bad Middle Tennessee team last night and that may have taken away their one slip up they were allowed. Their next 5 games, they will be favored and should win. If they lose any of those, it is going to be hard for them to keep this nice RPI.

Harvard (9-4) (1-0) RPI: 57  SOS: 100

GW: None  BL: Holy Cross

They can easily get into the big dance with a regular season conference championship, and eliminate all doubt. If they tie for it, the probably won’t get in. They can’t afford to lose more than a game and stay bubble relevant.

Wofford (13-5) (6-1) RPI: 60  SOS: 132

GW: NC State  BL: The Citadel, William & Mary

The conference loss to The Citadel hurts. That team has a 318 RPI and it may not get better. They probably need to win out their regular season. If they lose a game, it can probably only be Chattanooga, for them to stay alive on the bubble, and who knows if that will even keep them alive.

Eastern Washington (11-5) (5-1) RPI: 61  SOS: 122

GW: Indiana  BL: Sacramento State, Sam Houston State?

Bubble team with a small chance. They lost to Sacramento State last week and that is a big hurt. They need Sacramento State to basically win out so and then EW needs to beat them in the return game. If EW loses again, they are basically done with the bubble.

Bowling Green (12-3) (4-1) RPI: 62  SOS: 220

GW: None  BL: Akron

Yea, this is probably a stretch. The RPI is just OK and the SOS is poor, but what if they win 12 of 13 to finish the regular season? The RPI will climb somewhere closer, if not better than, to 50. If they lose 2 or more games, then their weak bubble chance will have burst.

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