Bubble Watch: February 15th

In 4 weeks, the First Four will be in progress. The bubble is wide open, and most teams have at least a couple crucial matchups remaining.
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Teams in parentheses after the conference name are locks. For each key win/loss, a * indicates a game on a neutral court. No @ or * denotes a home game. Kenpom/Sagarin rankings for bubble teams will be up to date, but other teams’ rankings will be updated every 2 weeks, because they’ve got to be put in manually and it takes a pretty long time to do that, and I can’t guarantee that I’ll have enough time to update all ~450 rankings twice a week.

A-10

Dayton (19-5, Kenpom 31/Sagarin 35)

Key wins: @ Alabama (57/61), East Tennessee State (60/74), Vanderbilt (63/65), @ St. Bonaventure (87/88), home/away vs Rhode Island (45/49)

Losses: Saint Mary’s (18/25), Nebraska* (90/94), Northwestern (30/30), @ VCU (47/47), @ Massachusetts (125/115)

News + Analysis: Dayton got a pair of big wins this week, and they are all but a lock. The A-10 just doesn’t have enough big games to give Dayton the definite lock spot, but their at-large tournament odds are looking very good at the moment.

Upcoming games: Feb. 14 @ St. Louis, Feb. 18 vs St. Bonaventure

VCU (20-5, 46/45)

Key wins: Princeton (79/91), Middle Tennessee State (48/63), Dayton (31/35), @ St. Bonaventure (87/88)

Losses: Baylor* (8/3), Illinois* (80/74), Georgia Tech (78/77), @ Davidson (88/86), @ Fordham (210/192)

News + Analysis: VCU got another absolutely miracle win over George Washington, drawing a foul on the inbounds defender with .4 of a second remaining and making 2 free throws to go up 1 and win. While the way they’re winning may concern their fans, at this point they’re 20-5 with a 10-2 conference record, in a similar position to Dayton: they aren’t quite a lock, but their tourney hopes look pretty safe. Even if they drop their road matchups against Rhode Island and Dayton, they should still be in if they can beat everybody else.

Upcoming games: Feb. 14 vs St. Joseph’s, Feb. 17 @ Richmond

Rhode Island (16-8, 44/49)

Key wins: Cincinnati* (17/16), St. Bonaventure (87/88)

Losses: Duke* (16/11), @ Valparaiso (83/75), @ Providence (62/61), @ Houston (43/48), home/away vs Dayton (31/35), La Salle (112/108), @ Richmond (110/101)

News + Analysis: Rhode Island took a tough 1-point loss to Dayton at home, and will likely need to win out in the regular season to make the tourney. Fortunately, they’ll be the favorite in their remaining 6 games and going 6-0 is realistically possible, with their toughest game at home against VCU in 2 weeks.

Upcoming games: Feb. 14 vs Fordham, Feb. 18 @ George Mason

ACC (Duke, UVA, UNC, Florida State, Notre Dame, Louisville)

Pittsburgh (14-11, 74/70)

Key wins: Marquette* (34/36), @ Maryland (35/33), Penn State (89/82), Virginia (4/7), Syracuse (47/38)

Losses: SMU* (16/25), @ Duquesne (224/204), Notre Dame (22/23), @ Syracuse (47/38), home/away vs Louisville (6/5), Miami (39/32), @ NC State (91/73), Clemson (38/43), @ North Carolina (7/3), @ Duke (16/11)

News + Analysis: Pitt won twice this week to remain on the bubble. They just have to keep winning to stay on the bubble. This week they have 2 home games that are tough but could potentially be big wins.

Upcoming games: Feb. 14 vs Virginia Tech, Feb. 18 vs Florida State

Clemson (13-11, 38/43)

Key wins: Georgia (50/52), Davidson* (88/86), Nebraska (90/94), Alabama* (57/61), @ South Carolina (28/26), UNC Wilmington (56/62), @ Wake Forest (33/42), @ Pitt (74/70), Georgia Tech (78/77)

Losses: Xavier* (29/24), Oklahoma* (64/59), North Carolina (7/3), @ Notre Dame (22/23), @ Georgia Tech (78/77), Virginia (4/7), @ Louisville (6/5), Virginia Tech (55/54), @ Florida State (20/21), Syracuse (47/38), @ Duke (16/11)

News + Analysis: Clemson’s poor ACC stretch continued, with a road loss to Duke by 2 and getting beaten at the buzzer by a Syracuse 3. This makes Clemson 2-9 in their last 11 games, and they desperately need a win, maybe two, this week.

Upcoming games: Feb. 14 vs Wake Forest, Feb. 18 @ Miami

Wake Forest (15-10, 33/42)

Key wins: Miami (39/32), home/away vs NC State (91/73)

Losses: Villanova* (5/6), @ Northwestern (30/30), @ Xavier (29/24), @ Florida State (20/21), Clemson (38/43), @ Virginia (4/7), North Carolina (7/3), @ Syracuse (47/38), @ Notre Dame (22/23)

News + Analysis: Wake Forest had a good week, with a close loss @ Notre Dame and a 30-point blowout of NC State at home. This week is a tough one and Wake almost need at least 1 win, and @ Clemson is going to be difficult but Clemson have been struggling for a while now.

Upcoming games: Feb. 14 @ Clemson, Feb. 18 @ Duke

Georgia Tech (15-10, 78/77)

Key wins: @ VCU (46/45), North Carolina (7/3), NC State (91/73), Florida State (20/21), Notre Dame (22/23)

Losses: Ohio (99/99), @ Penn State (89/92), @ Tennessee (43/57), Georgia (50/52), @ Duke (16/11), Louisville (6/5), @ Clemson (38/43), @ Virginia Tech (55/54), @ Virginia (4/7), @ Wake Forest (33/42)

News + Analysis: Georgia Tech had some struggles against Boston College at home, scoring 5 points in the first 13 minutes of the game, but pulled out the win to keep up in the bubble race. This week they have 2 big games against bubble teams.

Upcoming games: Feb. 15 @ Miami, Feb. 19 vs Syracuse

Virginia Tech (17-7, 55/54)

Key wins: Nebraska* (90/94), @ Michigan (40/34), Mississippi (83/98), Duke (16/11), Syracuse (47/38), @ Clemson (38/43), Virginia (4/7),

Losses: Texas A&M* (62/60), @ NC State (91/73), @ Florida State (20/21), Notre Dame (22/23), @ North Carolina (7/3), @ Virginia (4/7), @ Miami (39/32)

News + Analysis: Virginia Tech knocked off Virginia in overtime for a massive win, and totally offsetting any disappointment from the road loss to Miami. 2 tough road games await them, and 1 win would be solid.

Upcoming games: Feb. 14 @ Pitt, Feb. 18 @ Louisville

Miami (16-8, 39/32)

Key wins: NC State (91/73), @ Pitt (74/70), Virginia Tech (55/54)

Losses: Iowa State* (26/21), Florida* (13/15), @ Syracuse (47/38), Notre Dame (22/23), @ Wake Forest (33/42) @ Duke (16/11), @ Louisville (6/5)

News + Analysis: Miami lost @ Louisville but knocked off Virginia Tech at home for a crucial victory. This week they have 2 more potential big wins at home, and a 2-0 week would do wonders for their resume.

Upcoming games: Feb. 15 vs Georgia Tech, Feb. 18 vs Clemson

NC State (14-12, 91/73)

Key wins: Virginia Tech (55/54), Pitt (74/70), @ Duke (16/11)

Losses: Creighton* (25/23), @ Illinois (80/74), @ Miami (39/32), @ North Carolina (7/3), @ Boston College (149/143), Georgia Tech (78/77), home/away vs Wake Forest (33/42), Miami (39/32), Syracuse (47/38), Louisville (6/5), home/away vs Florida State (20/21)

News + Analysis: NC State have fallen off the bubble with their 4th and 5th straight losses, both by 20+ points. Their remaining schedule has plenty of potential big wins, but they’re going to need an incredible finish to the season to get back in.

Upcoming games: Feb. 15 vs North Carolina, Feb. 18 vs Notre Dame

Syracuse (16-10, 47/38).

Key wins: Pitt (74/70), Monmouth (85/93), Miami (42/36), Wake Forest (33/42), Florida State (20/21), @ NC State (91/73), Virginia (4/7), @ Clemson (38/43)

Losses: @ Connecticut (104/89), Georgetown (61/49), @ Boston College (149/143), @ Wisconsin (10/9), St. John’s (101/98), @ Pitt (74/70)

News + Analysis: Syracuse hit a last-second 3 to win @ Clemson by 1, but were outplayed @ Pitt to bring them back to earth after 5 straight wins. This week they’ll be happy if they can get just 1 win.

Upcoming games: Feb. 14 vs Louisville, Feb. 19 @ Georgia Tech

American (Cincinnati)

Houston (18-7, 43/48)

Key wins: Vermont* (65/81), Rhode Island (45/49), UCF (69/73)

Losses: @ Arkansas (53/47), @ LSU (156/141), Harvard (127/120), Cincinnati (17/16), @ SMU (16/25), @ UCF (69/73), Memphis (74/70)

News + Analysis: Houston got 2 more road wins to improve to a lot 9-4 in conference play, and while they are still likely out of the tournament field as of right now, a potential tournament bid is steadily growing more in likelihood. They have a crucial matchup with SMU this week.

Upcoming games: Feb. 18 vs SMU

SMU (22-4, 16/25)

Key wins: Pitt* (74/70), TCU (32/37), home/away vs Temple (94/102), Memphis (74/70), Cincinnati (17/16)

Losses: @ USC (57/53), @ Boise State (98/102), Michigan* (40/34), @ Cincinnati (17/16)

News + Analysis: SMU got 2 more big wins last week, and have now won 18 out of 19 games. It would take an incredible collapse at this point to fall out of their at-large spot, and SMU just don’t look like losing any time soon, becoming a lock.

Upcoming games: Feb. 15 vs Tulane, Feb. 18 @ Houston

Big 12 (Kansas, Baylor, West Virginia)

Kansas State (16-9, 28/31)

Key wins: Texas (70/62), Oklahoma (64/59), @ Oklahoma State (21/22), West Virginia (3/2), @ Baylor (8/3)

Losses: Maryland (33/35), home/away vs Kansas (9/8), @ Texas Tech (42/41), Baylor (8/3), @ Iowa State (26/21), TCU (32/37),

News + Analysis: Kansas State lost again @ West Virginia, but this was expected and doesn’t hurt them. This week is huge: a big home game against likely Tourney team Iowa State and a road game against the always-dangerous Texas team which would definitely be a harmful loss.

Upcoming games: Feb. 15 vs Iowa State, Feb. 18 @ Texas

Oklahoma State (16-9, 21/22)

Key wins: @ Wichita State (17/18), Georgetown* (61/49), @ Texas Tech (42/41), TCU (32/37), Arkansas (53/47), @ Oklahoma (64/59), @ West Virginia (3/2), Texas (70/62)

Losses: North Carolina (7/3), @ Maryland (33/35), West Virginia (3/2), @ Texas (70/62), home/away vs Baylor (8/3), Iowa State (26/21), @ Kansas (9/8), Kansas State (28/31),

News + Analysis: Oklahoma State lost to Baylor at home by 3 but returned to winning ways over Texas. This week, 2-0 isn’t unrealistic and would nearly solidify their spot in the field, with 8 wins in 9 games.

Upcoming games: Feb. 15 @ TCU, Feb. 18 vs Oklahoma

Iowa State (15-9, 26/21)

Key wins: Miami* (39/32), Texas Tech (42/41), Texas (70/62), @ Oklahoma State (21/22), Kansas State (28/31), @ Kansas (9/8), Oklahoma (64/59)

Losses: Gonzaga* (1/4), Cincinnati (17/16), @ Iowa (96/78), @ Baylor (8/3), Kansas (9/8), @ TCU (32/37), West Virginia (3/2), @ Vanderbilt (63/65), Texas (70/62)

News + Analysis: Iowa State shot themselves in the foot again by losing to Texas, and while their tournament chances still look quite good, they might have cost themselves a seed with that one. 2 big bubble games await this week and a pair of victories could balance out the harm from the Texas loss.

Upcoming games: Feb. 15 @ Kansas State, Feb. 18 vs TCU

Texas Tech (17-9, 42/41)

Key wins: West Virginia (3/2), Kansas State (28/31), TCU (32/37), Oklahoma (64/59)

Losses: @ Kansas (9/8), Auburn* (86/79), @ Iowa State (26/21), @ Oklahoma (64/59), Oklahoma State (21/22), @ Baylor (8/3), @ Texas (70/62)

News + Analysis: Texas Tech dropped two 1-point games against Texas Tech and @ Baylor before picking up a massive win against Kansas. They play @ West Virginia this week before finishing the regular season with 4 games against unranked teams

Upcoming games: Feb. 18 @ West Virginia

TCU (17-8, 32/37)

Key wins: Illinois State (40/45), Oklahoma (64/59), Texas (70/62), Iowa State (26/21), @ Kansas State (28/31), Kansas (9/8)

Losses: @ SMU (16/25), @ West Virginia (3/2), Kansas (9/8), @ Texas Tech (42/41), home/away vs Baylor (8/3), @ Oklahoma State (21/22), Auburn (86/79)

News + Analysis: TCU picked up a big home win over Texas Tech to get themselves back on track. They play two bubble teams this week, 1 home and 1 away, and could put themselves safely back in the field with 2 wins.

Upcoming games: Feb. 15 vs Oklahoma State, Feb. 18 @ Iowa State

Big East (Villanova, Butler, Creighton, Xavier)

Seton Hall (15-9, 52/50)

Key wins: @ Iowa (96/78), California* (54/46), South Carolina (28/26), Marquette (34/36), Providence (62/61)

Losses: Stanford* (103/87), Florida* (13/15), @ Creighton (25/23), @ Marquette (34/36), @ Providence (62/61), @ Villanova (5/6), Butler (14/19), @ St. John’s (101/86)

News + Analysis: Seton Hall lost @ St. John’s, which is always a tricky game, and knocked off Providence at home. Their next 3 games are against 3 of the conference’s top 4, and 1 win would be very nice, two would be excellent.

Upcoming games: Feb. 15 vs Creighton, Feb. 18 vs Villanova

Marquette (15-10, 34/36)

Key wins: Vanderbilt* (63/65), @ Georgia (50/52), Georgetown (61/49), Seton Hall (52/50), @ Creighton (25/23), Villanova (5/6)

Losses: Michigan* (40/34), Pitt* (74/70), Wisconsin (10/9), @ Seton Hall (52/50), @ Villanova (5/6), home/away vs Butler (14/19), @ St. John’s (101/86), Providence (62/61), @ Georgetown (61/49)

News + Analysis: Marquette dropped two disappointing ones against Butler at home and Georgetown away, and now their home game against Xavier is a must-win considering their recent struggles.

Upcoming games: Feb. 18 vs Xavier

Big Ten (Purdue, Wisconsin)

Northwestern (18-5, 30/30)

Key wins: Wake Forest (33/42), Dayton* (31/35), Texas* (70/62), @ Penn State (89/82), home/away vs Nebraska (90/94), @ Ohio State (60/57), Indiana (41/29), @ Wisconsin (10/9)

Losses: @ Butler (14/19), @ Michigan State (49/39), Notre Dame* (22/23), Minnesota (37/40), @ Purdue (11/12), Illinois (80/74)

News + Analysis: Northwestern lost at home to Illinois but won @ Wisconsin, because that makes sense. Two home wins this week would probably seal their tourney spot.

Upcoming games: Feb. 15 vs Maryland, Feb. 18 vs Rutgers

Michigan (16-9, 40/34)

Key wins: Marquette* (31/32), SMU* (16/25), Texas (70/62), Nebraska (90/94), home/away vs Indiana (41/29), Illinois (80/74), Michigan State (49/39),

Losses: @ South Carolina (28/26), Virginia Tech (55/54), @ UCLA (19/17), @ Iowa (96/78), Maryland (35/33), @ Illinois (80/74), @ Wisconsin (10/9), @ Michigan State (49/39), Ohio State (60/57)

News + Analysis: Michigan gave their resume a major boost with 2 big wins over bubble teams, with a blowout of in-state rival Michigan State and a double-digit road win against Indiana. A win this week would be simply fantastic for them.

Upcoming games: Feb. 16 vs Wisconsin, Feb. 19 @ Minnesota

Minnesota (16-7, 37/40)

Key wins: UT-Arlington (72/84), Arkansas (53/47), Vanderbilt* (63/65), @ Purdue (11/12), @ Northwestern (30/30), Ohio State (60/57), @ Illinois (80/74)

Losses: @ Florida State (20/21), home/away vs Michigan State (49/39), @ Penn State (89/82), Wisconsin (10/9), @ Ohio State (60/57), Maryland (35/33)

News + Analysis: Minnesota won twice last week, and it’s pretty simple: two more home wins this week would solidify them as a tourney team.

Upcoming games: Feb. 8 vs Iowa, Feb. 11 @ Rutgers

Indiana (15-9, 41/29)

Key wins: Kansas (9/8), North Carolina (7/3), @ Penn State (89/82), Michigan State (49/39)

Losses: @ Fort Wayne (123/112), Butler* (14/19), Louisville (6/5), Nebraska (90/94), home/away vs Wisconsin (10/9), @ Maryland (35/33), home/away vs Michigan (40/34), @ Northwestern (30/30), Purdue (11/12)

News + Analysis: Indiana didn’t do themselves any favors with a pair of losses at home last week, and they’re going to have to win 3 of their final 5 to have a shot. The Big 10 isn’t great this year, and 3 games below .500 is poor enough already.

Upcoming games: Feb. 15 @ Minnesota

Michigan State (14-9, 49/39)

Key wins: home/away vs Minnesota (37/40), Northwestern (30/30), Wichita State* (17/18)

Losses: Arizona* (12/14), Baylor* (8/3), Kentucky* (2/1), @ Duke (16/11), Northeastern (118/129), Penn State (89/82), @ Ohio State (60/57), Purdue (11/12), @ Indiana (41/29), @ Michigan (40/34)

News + Analysis: Michigan State got murdered @ Michigan but bounced back against Iowa and Ohio State, neither of which are great wins but they should be enough to right the ship. A 3-2 or better finish

Upcoming games: Feb. 7 @ Michigan, Feb. 11 vs Iowa

Ohio State (14-10, 60/57)

Key wins: Providence (62/61), Marshall (117/121), Michigan State (49/39), @ Nebraska (90/94), Minnesota (37/40)

Losses: @ Virginia (4/7), UCLA* (19/17), @ Illinois (80/74), Purdue (11/12), Florida Atlantic (275, 272), @ Minnesota (37/40), @ Wisconsin (10/9), Northwestern (30/30)

News + Analysis: Ohio State picked up losses 9 and 10 in two potentially winnable games, but right as they seemed to be falling off the bubble, they won @ Michigan to keep themselves somewhat in the conversation. Their matchup against Rutgers is an absolute must-win.

Upcoming games: Feb. 8 vs Rutgers, Feb. 11 @ Maryland

Illinois (14-12, 80/74)

Key wins: NC State (91/73), Ohio State (60/57), BYU* (71/66), VCU* (46/45)

Losses: West Virginia* (3/2), Florida State (20/21), @ Indiana (41/29), @ Maryland (35/33), Winthrop (119/81), @ Michigan (40/34)

News + Analysis: Illinois beat Northwestern on the road, then lost by 13 at home to Penn State. Go figure. This loss has knocked them out of serious consideration and they’ll need to win out plus make a deep B1G tourney run to have any sort of chance.

Upcoming games: Feb. 18 @ Iowa

Pac-12 (Arizona, UCLA, Oregon)

USC (21-5, 57/53)

Key wins: Texas A&M (62/60), SMU (16/25), BYU (71/66), @ Colorado (93/76), UCLA (19/17)

Losses: home/away Oregon (15/13), California (54/46), @ Utah (44/44), Arizona (12/14)

News + Analysis: USC killed Oregon State and lost to Oregon at home. Their remaining schedule is 2 games against top 10 teams and 3 against teams nowhere near the bubble. As long as they can avoid bad losses, they should be in solid shape.

Upcoming games: Feb. 18 @ UCLA

California (18-7, 54/46)

Key wins: Princeton* (79/91), @ USC (57/53), Utah (44/44)

Losses: Seton Hall* (52/50), Virginia (4/7), home/away vs Arizona (12/14), UCLA (19/17), San Diego State* (73/71)

News + Analysis: Cal lost by 5 @ Arizona, but this is np big deal and like USC, a 3-2 finish or better should have them safely in.

Upcoming games: Feb. 17 @ Stanford

Utah (17-8, 44/44)

Key wins: Colorado (93/76), USC (57/53)

Losses: Butler (14/19), @ Xavier (29/24), San Francisco* (105/113), @ Arizona (12/14), UCLA (19/17), Oregon (15/13), @ California (54/46), @ Stanford (103/87)

News + Analysis: Utah won the two easier games, with some issues against Washington State but a win in the end. After their Oregon game, they finish with 4 games against unranked teams and would be safely in with, you guessed it, 3 wins.

Upcoming games: Feb. 16 @ Oregon, Feb. 19 @ Oregon State

SEC (Kentucky, Florida, South Carolina)

Arkansas (18-7, 53/47)

Key wins: UT-Arlington (72/84), Houston (43/48), @ Tennessee (43/57), @ Texas A&M (62/60), @ Vanderbilt (63/65)

Losses: @ Minnesota (37/40), Florida (13/15), @ Kentucky (2/1), Mississippi State (80/81), Missouri (188/170), @ Oklahoma State (21/22), Vanderbilt (63/65)

News + Analysis: Arkansas took a potentially devastating loss at home to Vanderbilt and had to come back to win @ LSU. 3 wins in their next 4 games is vital for maintaining their spot barely in the tournament field.

Upcoming games: Feb. 15 @ South Carolina, Feb. 18 vs Mississippi

Georgia (14-11, 50/52)

Key wins: @ Auburn (86/79), @ Mississippi (83/98), @ Tennessee (43/57)

Losses: @ Oakland (114/100), Marquette (34/36), South Carolina (28/26), @ Clemson (38/43), Kansas* (9/8), @ Texas A&M (62/60), Alabama (57/61), Florida (13/15)

News + Analysis: Georgia need 2 wins this week, no exceptions. With 11 losses and not a particularly strong SEC conference, they need a signature win and have a big opportunity against Kentucky at home, who they took to overtime @ Kentucky earlier in the season. Their victory @ Tennessee was crucial, but they still have plenty of work to do.

Upcoming games: Feb. 14 vs Mississippi State, Feb. 18 vs Kentucky

Others (Gonzaga, St. Mary’s)

Wichita State (23-4, 17/18)

Key wins: Oklahoma* (64/59), Illinois State (40/45)

Losses: Michigan State* (49/39), Louisville* (6/5), Oklahoma State (21/22), @ Illinois State (40/45)

News + Analysis: Wichita won twice again, bringing their win total to the 3rd in the NCAA at 23. The game plan is simple: keep beating inferior teams.

Upcoming games: Feb. 15 vs Southern Illinois, Feb. 18 vs Northern Iowa

 

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