Bubble Watch – Week 3

The 3rd edition of the 2023 bubble watch is here and boy are things getting interesting in the land of the bubble. Truthfully, this last week did more to make the bubble picture clearer than it did to muddy the waters, as teams like Kentucky, Texas A&M, Mississippi St and USC picked up wins that put them on firmer ground than they were a week ago. Conversely, teams on the outside a week ago like Oregon, UNC, New Mexico and Clemson all suffered more blows to their chances that helped to widen the gap between teams on the right side and those on the wrong side. With all of that being said, almost everyone still has 4 games to play, and with that many opportunities still out there this thing is still wide open. If fact, we still have 11 of the 14 Big Ten schools on this Watch and all 10 of the Big 12 schools with a legitimate path to an at-large bid. So, without further ado let’s just dive in to exactly what the path forward looks like for every team still in contention. (All data as of 2/20)



Virginia    MIAMI

On the Right Track:

Pitt: 19-8 (12-4) — Q1: (4-2) Q2: (4-4) Q3: (2-1) Q4: (9-1) SOS: (85) TW’s (6)

pittIt’s hard to believe that 12-4 in the ACC would be good enough for a 10 seed but that’s where we are in this year’s weak ACC and with Pitt specifically who has shot itself in the foot time and time again. A 2-0 week would have put them in great position, but the loss @ Va Tech keeps them on the watch, despite the 6 good wins. This week is a must go 2-0 scenario as they have 2 home games with Georgia Tech and Syracuse, both teams below .500. You can’t lose either game, simple as that. A loss puts them in legitimate danger, not that it would bump them out but now they enter those conversations and could be looking at Dayton even if other teams pick up big wins. Recall, this Pitt team lost at home to Florida St in January, so another brutal loss is not out of the cards. The ultimate play to the level of your competition team. Let’s hope for their sake it’s an easy breezy 2-0 week.  

Duke: 19-8 (10-6) — Q1: (2-7) Q2: (6-1) Q3: (2-0) Q4: (9-0) SOS: (51) TW’s (5)

dukeWe said last week they had to go 2-0 to keep things on track and they did just that, in dominating fashion I might add. The win @ Syracuse by 22 was impressive and now they get two home games this week with a chance to push it out to 21-8 and really start to feel comfortable. Of course, with desperate Virginia Tech coming to Cameron Indoor, nothing is guaranteed, and that game could prove pivotal for both teams. Ultimately, with 3/4 at home down the stretch, Duke should cruise to at worst a 3-1 run to finish things out and that would absolutely be enough to get in. Considering they haven’t lost at home all season, it’s probably silly to even keep them out of the lock group at this point, but then you look at that 2-7 Q1 record and remember they absolutely cannot afford bad losses. 1-3 down the stretch is very unlikely, but it would put them in serious jeopardy. 2-0 this week though and we can lock this one up. Just time to take care of business.  

N.C. State: 21-7 (11-6) — Q1: (2-4) Q2: (5-3) Q3: (4-0) Q4: (10-0) SOS: (82) TW’s (3)

ncstateN.C. State was able to avoid disaster after losing early in the week to Syracuse by beating rival UNC at home to keep things moving in the right direction. The lack of Q1 wins is really the only thing holding N.C. State back from being a lock at this point, as I think they’re talented enough to be dancing they just need to take care of business. This week it’s 2 home games with Wake Forest and Clemson, who will both be desperate for huge wins. Go 2-0 in those games and I think you lock up the Wolfpack, with no real pressure on the ACC tourney. A loss though, with the final game @ Duke, then an early exit in the ACC tourney could knock the Wolfpack all the way down to the cut line. The 2-4 record in Q1 would likely sit at 2-5 with Q2 at 5-5, that might not be enough to push them through. So, while these next couple aren’t going to wow anyone, you just can’t afford to drop them. 


Clemson: 19-8 (11-5) — Q1: (3-3) Q2: (4-1) Q3: (4-1) Q4: (8-3) SOS: (123) TW’s (3)

clemsonWellllll if you read last week’s Clemson breakdown you know major alarms are going off as we described a loss this past week like a bomb going off in the hull of the ship. Well, the explosion has happened and now the crew is scrambling, as this thing is going down and going down fast. The Tigers now have a better win % in Q2 than Q4, not exactly a strong selling point to the committee. Losing to Louisville, possibly the worst team in the history of the ACC, is something you almost can’t come back from. They do have 2 Q1 games left on the schedule though, so in theory a 4-0 stretch run puts them back into the conversation. It would be hard to ignore 9-4 in Q1/2 games. But that means winning at Virginia and N.C. State. Extremely unlikely, but 1 of those gives them a fighting chance at 22-9. It is absolutely nut up or shut up time for Clemson, as every game has to be treated as a must win the rest of the way. 

North Carolina: 16-11 (8-8) — Q1: (0-8) Q2: (5-3) Q3: (5-0) Q4: (6-0) SOS: (29) TW’s (2)

uncIf UNC was on the brink last week, they now are lying beneath the rubble. An 0-2 week was both what they could not afford and what they ended up with. They have now lost 5 of 6 and are in complete free-fall…yes this is the team returning 4 of 5 starters from last years Final Four and runner-up group. Maybe Brady Manek was that important? Honestly, if their program name wasn’t North Carolina, having all the history and lore that comes with it, they probably wouldn’t even be on the watch. However, if they are able to go 4-0 the rest of the way, they will at least be in conversations as that would add home wins over Virginia and Duke. So, technically there might still be a path forward, but I’m not sure how you have confidence in this group to pull it together and go 4-0. Hubert Davis has gone from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows. Can a Coach who just went to the Natty be on the hot seat a year later? Wild times in Chapel Hill. 

Virginia Tech: 16-11 (6-10) — Q1: (3-4) Q2: (4-3) Q3: (3-3) Q4: (6-1) SOS: (79) TW’s (4)

vatechMy lack of confidence in this group that I mentioned last week was ultimately good intuition as Va Tech has nearly destroyed its at-large chances with another terrible loss to Georgia Tech. They were able to bounce back and beat Pitt at home though, classic VT, and now they look ahead at 4 games that are all but must-win. They welcome Miami to Blacksburg followed by a trip to Duke this week to try and play themselves into consideration. Anything short of 2-0 keeps them far off the true cut-line as they are still looking up at a strong list of teams ahead of them who are also on the wrong side of the bubble. This could be the last week we see the Hokies on this bubble watch, as the margin between them and the teams I see as the Last 4 in is growing. Time to shrink it or be forgotten…it’s go time in Blacksburg. 

Wake Forest: 17-10 (9-7) — Q1: (1-6) Q2: (4-2) Q3: (4-2) Q4: (8-0) SOS: (74) TW’s (3)

WakeWake did not take advantage of their 2nd to last Q1 opportunity of the regular season losing @ Miami, and now looks ahead at a trip to N.C. State this week as their last chance to add to their 1 Q1 win. Listen, it’s a long-shot right now for Wake to even be on this list, but a 4-0 run to end the season would put them near the cut line as they would improve the 5-8 Q1/2 record to 7-8 and be 21-10 overall. I think that would be good enough to be in that true 12 team bubble (Last 4 in – First 4 out – Next 4 out) conversation. That is best case scenario for the Demon Deacons, and as dark and stormy the path may seem, it is nonetheless a path forward. All hope is not lost at this point, but 1 more loss would likely be the final twisting of the knife, and put all their eggs in the ACC tourney basket. As we say, it’s nut up or shut up time for Wake now. 

–Big Ten–


purdue-4 iu northwestern

On the Right Track:

Maryland: 18-9 (9-7) — Q1: (4-7) Q2: (4-2) Q3: (2-0) Q4: (8-0) SOS: (26) TW’s (5)

marylandWell Maryland made light work of one of the more difficult games they’ve had all season beating Purdue with ease only to go out to Nebraska and lay an egg and keep themselves from locking this thing up. They are in great position though, with the last 4 games of the season all very winnable, they’re in the best shape of anyone else in the Conference to breeze into the dance. With a gigantic win over Purdue to list at the top of the resumé, the Terrapins are all but a shoe-in, especially with Minnesota and Northwestern at home this week, a 2-0 stretch should lock this thing up. Now, Northwestern is as hot as it gets, so a win there isn’t guaranteed, but with how well they’ve played at home it is hard to imagine this team not getting it done. Congrats to Kevin Willard on turning this thing around so fast, as Maryland was below .500 a season ago. 

Iowa: 17-10 (9-7) — Q1: (7-7) Q2: (4-1) Q3: (0-1) Q4: (6-1) SOS: (22) TW’s (7)


The Hawkeyes ran into what might be the hottest team in the Country in Northwestern and got their doors blown off to keep them out of lock territory for now. Ultimately, what I said last week still rings true for Iowa, just win your home games and this thing is going to be just fine. They took care of Ohio St at home last week and get Michigan St there this week after going to Wisconsin. A 2-0 week in those games and that’ll punch the ticket, but 1-1 keeps them right on track to sure this thing up down the stretch as well. They have a ton of good wins, it’s just those bad losses, especially E. Illinois, that have me pausing for now. 17-14 might not be enough, but 1 more win this week would do it for me. It’s all but a done deal for the Hawkeyes, just have to take care of the easy ones to wrap it up. 

Illinois: 17-9 (8-7) — Q1: (3-8) Q2: (4-1) Q3: (4-0) Q4: (6-0) SOS: (28) TW’s (6)

illinois-4That was the dangerous 0-2 week we spoke about last time, as the Illini are now halfway to that dreaded 3-10 Q1 record potential we referenced last week. I’m not saying being 3-10 in Q1 will put them out of the dance, but they may sink low enough to be in those conversations, especially as these bubble teams start to add more to their resumés. What they do have in their back pocket are non-conference wins over Texas and UCLA that are buoying what is otherwise a pretty pedestrian resumé. Three games are on the docket this week as the Minnesota rescheduling puts a lot of pressure on this group. With the first two at home against the Gophers and Northwestern, it feels like a worse-case scenario of 2-1 this week, as another non-Q1 loss would really hurt their chances. The week culminates with a trip to struggling Ohio St, who still offers up a Q1 opportunity, although by the end of the season their free-fall might push it to Q2. I’m not saying 3-0 is necessary, but the more I write the more danger I feel Illinois is in. I’ll stop and just wait and see how it plays out.  

Rutgers: 17-10 (9-7) — Q1: (4-6) Q2: (5-2) Q3: (1-2) Q4: (7-0) SOS: (37) TW’s (5)

rutgersInjuries are starting to send Rutgers into a tailspin, and while they picked up a huge road win @ Wisconsin, the loss earlier in the week at home to Nebraska is as worrying as they come. With Caleb McConnell joining Mawot Mag on the injury report, perhaps going 1-1 was a good week for the Scarlet Knights, but the Q3 loss hurts the resumé big time. I don’t think Rutgers is in major danger so long as they win their home games and beat Minnesota, which would be a 3-1 finish to the season. Even 2-2 could be enough, but that would certainly put them closer than they want to be to the cut line. Ultimately, wins over Purdue and Indiana, among others, are helping to carry a team that is truly limping to the finish line here in February. A home game this week with desperate Michigan gives them a chance to cement themselves into the field of 68. A loss in that one though puts major pressure on the following game @ Penn St. Things could be dicey this time next week. 

Michigan St:  16-10 (8-7) — Q1: (6-8) Q2: (3-1) Q3: (3-1) Q4: (4-0) SOS: (6) TW’s (5)


It was a tumultuous week to say the least for Michigan St, as the on-campus shooting postponed 1 game and weighed heavy on all minds this weekend in what ultimately was a loss @ Michigan. At this time, the Minnesota game hasn’t been rescheduled, so what awaits the Spartans this week is a home game with IU and then a trip to Iowa. 3 of the last 4 games are very winnable so I don’t imagine Sparty will have too much trouble finding their way into the dance for the 24th consecutive time under Tom Izzo. Even if they split the rest of the way, I think the huge number of Q1 wins is going to be enough to keep them in the dance. Any more losses than that and they definitely would float down to that last 4 byes/first 4 conversation. As hard as it is undoubtedly, Sparty just needs to lock in and take care of things at home, which starts with a massive game with IU Tuesday. 


Wisconsin: 15-11 (7-9) — Q1: (5-7) Q2: (4-3) Q3: (1-1) Q4: (5-0) SOS: (12) TW’s (4)

wisconsinWisconsin had the opportunity to really make things much more comfortable this past week with 2 home games against Rutgers and Michigan, but only going 1-1 in those games keeps them right on the cut line. I have them playing in Dayton as things stand today, but every game is going to be crucial down the stretch. It starts with Iowa at home this week in what I would call a must-win for sure, because later in the week they head to Michigan in a very difficult matchup. An 0-2 week may be too much to overcome, so getting it done at home is imperative. The truth of the matter is the Badgers are 4-9 in their last 13 and are relying on big time wins in November and December to carry them into the dance. Go 1-1 this week and a home game with Purdue awaits to lock things up. As easy as it sounds, I just have ran out of confidence Wisconsin can find their December form so I expect this thing to come down to the wire. 

Michigan: 15-12 (9-7) — Q1: (3-9) Q2: (4-2) Q3: (2-0) Q4: (6-1) SOS: (35) TW’s (4)


For the Wolverines last week wasn’t a disaster, but it was another opportunity gone awry with a loss @ Wisconsin preceding the big win over Michigan St at home. With 3 of the final 4 on the road, the recipe for the Wolverines to play their way in remains the same, gotta steal at least 1 on the road. This week is probably the best shot they have, with a hobbling Rutgers on the docket it’s not technically a must-win but I just don’t see them winning the final 2 @ Illinois/Indiana. Beat Rutgers on the road and then Wisconsin at home and I think they will find themselves on the right side of the bubble for the first time all season. Anything short of 2-2 for the Wolverines the rest of the way will put all the pressure on the Big Ten tournament, which of course will present plenty of chances at big wins. However, as we saw with Texas A&M last year, it’s not always as important as we think.  

Penn St: 16-11 (7-9) — Q1: (3-5) Q2: (3-5) Q3: (4-1) Q4: (6-0) SOS: (41) TW’s (3)

PennstLast week we said Penn St needed to go 4-2 down the stretch, and with back-to-back wins this past week that number now shifts to 2-2. With 2 home games against Rutgers and Maryland it looks very do-able, and even that road game with Ohio St offers a legitimate chance for the Nittany Lions to go 3-1 down the stretch and really put themselves firmly on the right side of the bubble. After losing 4 in a row a few weeks ago, they now have a chance to put together a 4 game win streak with 2 more wins this week. Jalen Pickett has been one of the best players in the Country of late, and really all season, so with an elite guard running the show I have a little more confidence in Penn St than some of these other Big Ten teams fighting for those last few spots. The schedule is also favorable, so this program may finally breakthrough and get to a NCAA tournament for the first time since 2011. 

–Big 12–


kansastexas    baylor    kstate   iowast

On the Right Track:

TCU: 18-9 (7-7) — Q1: (4-8) Q2: (6-0) Q3: (1-0) Q4: (7-1) SOS: (15) TW’s (6)

tcuThe full TCU team was finally back on Saturday and they showed out in a major way with a 25-point win over Oklahoma St to stop a 4 game losing streak. A healthy TCU team is as good as any in the Country, and they are as close to lock status as any on this watch. However, with the last 4 games all Q1, I take a look at what a 4-12 Q1 record would look like and pump the brakes on the whole lock discussion. TCU needs to pick up at least 1 win in these final 4 to still feel comfortable. It sounds crazy, but I genuinely am not sure where a 4-12 Q1 record would land them, especially with that Q4 loss out there as well. It’s a really tough schedule the rest of the way too, with Kansas and Texas at home and road games with Texas Tech and Oklahoma who are scratching and clawing trying to stay on the bubble. All of this would be put to bed Monday night if they can knock Kansas off at home though, so I’ll wait to sound the alarms until after that. 


W. Virginia: 15-12 (4-10) — Q1: (5-11) Q2: (3-1) Q3: (2-0) Q4: (6-0) SOS: (4) TW’s (4)

wvuWell it was a disastrous week for the Mountaineer’s hopes for the tournament as they went 0-2, including a home game against last place Texas Tech. Now, the 2 remaining home games are must-win, as I don’t think 1-3 down the stretch is going to be good enough on its own. That would be 16-15 overall, which I don’t think would be quite enough, depending on what the other bubble teams do of course. It starts quickly on Monday night with Oklahoma St coming to Morgantown in a massive bubble clash. They have now put themselves in a do-or-die scenario and have to get it done. I’m not really sure if they’re good enough to get it done, but with 2 road games with Kansas and Iowa St also left, there’s no margin for error anymore. 

Oklahoma St: 16-11 (7-7) — Q1: (4-8) Q2: (4-2) Q3: (3-1) Q4: (5-0) SOS: (9) TW’s (4)

okstateAs quickly as the Pokes ascended they are now just as quickly in danger of sliding right on out of the picture all together. I suppose that’s just life in the Big 12 right now, as they went 0-2 last week and have a tough road game with West Virginia up next before they welcome Kansas St into Stillwater. It is not inconceivable to think they could drop 2 more this week, and while you’d like to think they can get a home win over K-State, the Wildcats can’t ever be considered an easy win. The path forward is pretty simple for Oklahoma St, just win your home games. They have K-State and Baylor the rest of the way at home, that would be plenty to send them dancing. However, 1-3 the rest of the way could also be enough, it just might send them to Dayton or even to the NIT. I’m not sure that there’s room for all of these Big 12 teams to get in, so these matchups down the stretch are pivotal. 

Texas Tech: 15-12 (4-10) — Q1: (4-9) Q2: (0-3) Q3: (3-0) Q4: (8-0) SOS: (17) TW’s (4)


The Red Raiders have now ripped off 3 consecutive Q1 wins in the Big 12 to force there way on to the Bubble Watch for the first time. The resumé still needs a lot of work, but good news for them is they play in the Big 12 where damn near every game is a Q1 opportunity. They are now 5-2 in their last 7 games and are starting to click, but it’s still do-or-die time as we head down the stretch. They get Oklahoma on the road and then get TCU at home to try and keep this wild ride going. Go 2-0 this week and they may find themselves right on the cut line, only being held back by that disgusting 0-3 Q2 record. Now, those 3 losses aren’t horrible, being Oklahoma and W. Virginia at home and then Ohio St on a neutral site before they collapsed. It still looks really ugly especially when comparing to these other bubble teams. Yet and still, this all comes down to what they do in the 4 remaining games. Go 3-1 and they may just have a shot at this thing. 

–Big East–


marquettexavier uconn   creighton providence

On the Right Track: N/A


Seton Hall: 15-12 (9-8) — Q1: (3-7) Q2: (2-4) Q3: (4-1) Q4: (6-0) SOS: (21) TW’s (3)

setonhallWell times are as desperate as they can get in the life of a bubble team, but the outside shot still exists with 3 winnable games left the Pirates could sit 18-12 and have a legitimate shot if they can get it done. It starts this week with a home game against Xavier that is do-or-die. Last week’s loss @ UConn put them in this scenario, but with a home win over Xavier followed by a home win over Villanova all of a sudden they would have life again. That would set them up with a game @ Providence to close out the season that would give them a legitimate chance at an at-large berth. Anything short of that though and it will come down to the Big East tournament for this group. It’s as bleak of a path as I’ve laid out in this watch, but it is a path nonetheless. 



arizona ucla

On the Right Track: N/A


USC: 19-8 (11-5) — Q1: (3-5) Q2: (5-1) Q3: (6-1) Q4: (5-1) SOS (64) TW’s (2)

uscUSC was able to right the ship this past week and take care of business in 2 must-win games. They are now on the right side of the bubble, somewhat comfortably at this moment, but it’s certainly no time for relaxing. Road games this week with Utah and Colorado are the exact set of games that could blow this whole thing up if they lose both. They have to find a way to split these 2 games, which would set them up to beat Arizona and Arizona St at home to shore this thing up. Long story short, if they can go 3-1 down the stretch it’s a wrap in my opinion. Anything short of that and they’ll be right in the mix of teams on the cut line come Selection Sunday, barring a Pac-12 tourney Championship of course. With the Pac-12 scheduling, that of course means 2 road games in 3 days, no easy task, but this time next week a 20-9 record will have them sitting pretty with a 4th Q1 win. Handle your business and make the committee’s job easy breezy. 

Oregon:  15-13 (9-8) — Q1: (3-8) Q2: (6-4) Q3: (2-1) Q4: (4-0) SOS (13) TW’s (3)


3 straight losses now with no more Q1-2 opportunities until the Pac-12 tourney the Ducks are now all but lifeless. They need to win their remaining games and then hope that other bubble teams stink it up. I think a couple of wins in the Pac-12 tourney could get them back in consideration with a 9-12 Q1-2 record, but right now it doesn’t look very good for them. Just when you thought they had a shot to turn things around and make a push with Washington and Washington St on the road, you hoped they could at least pick one of those off. Not so fast, and now they need some help. Another loss in the regular season knocks them out of it, so it’s do-or-die time for Oregon, but they could even be dead already.

Arizona St: 19-9 (10-7) — Q1: (3-3) Q2: (5-5) Q3: (4-0) Q4: (7-1) SOS (90) TW’s (1)

azstateThe path as of a week ago was to go 3-2 down the stretch, with 2-0 last week at home being huge for that to be a reality. Well, a loss at home to Colorado was the exact thing to send the Sun Devils to the NIT. Now they really need to pick up 2 out of 3, which are all on the road and against UCLA/Arizona/USC. A murderers row really, a stretch that could send them packing quickly as 0-3 probably more realistic than 2-1 if we’re being honest. It’s a dark and stormy path, similar to that of Seton Hall, maybe tougher. However, it is a path nevertheless and at this point in the season you hope to at least have a chance to play your way into the field prior to Conference tourney’s. It was a blown opportunity last week, but it’s not completely dead just yet. 

Utah: 17-11 (10-7) — Q1: (2-7) Q2: (3-3) Q3: (2-1) Q4: (10-0) SOS (71) TW’s (1)

utahSimilar to Arizona St, Utah saw opportunities go by the wayside last week with 2 losses in the state of Arizona. There is now no margin for error for the Utes, as going 3-0 down the stretch is likely what it would take to see them through. They get UCLA and USC at home this week, which presents 2 massive opportunities to take that 5-10 Q1/2 record to 7-10, which gives them a much better chance. Plus, a win over UCLA is the type of win you can hang your hat on come Selection Sunday, so it’s one of those opportunities that not many of the other bubble teams have on the docket. They also don’t have much in the bad loss column, so picking up these wins would absolutely give them a fighting chance. They end the season @ Colorado, so 3-0 would put them at 4-7 in Q1 and 4-3 in Q2 if all else remains the same. Damnit that just might be enough. 



bama   vols  mizzou

On the Right Track:

Kentucky: 18-9 (9-5) — Q1: (4-7) Q2: (5-1) Q3: (3-0) Q4: (6-1) SOS (24) TW’s (4)

kentuckyTwo gigantic wins have now put Kentucky back in a more comfortable place on the right side of the bubble, as they picked up two Q1 wins and got above .500 in Q1-2 games. As about as inconsistent as it comes, when this Kentucky team is at its best they can beat anybody, as they showed beating Tennessee this weekend for the season sweep. Now they head to a reeling Florida team without Collin Castleton and then welcome Auburn to Rupp Arena. Another 2-0 week would lock this thing up for the Wildcats and make them one of the scariest 7 or 8 seed in the field. I would not want them in my region if I was a top seed come March as they are as talented as any team in the Country. They just have to play with consistency defensively and this thing could look a lot like it did back in 2014 when Calapari took 8 seeded Kentucky to the Natty. 

Texas A&M: 20-7 (12-2) — Q1: (5-4) Q2: (2-1) Q3: (5-0) Q4: (8-2) SOS (78) TW’s (2)

a&mThe Aggies are unquestionably the hottest team in the Country right now going 14-2 in since dropping to Wofford just before Christmas. Last week they picked up a home win over Arkansas and then went to Mizzou and handed the Tigers their 3rd loss at home this year, joining Kansas and Alabama as the teams to do so. Buzz Williams is turning in one of the all-time coaching jobs getting this team turned around after they looked destined for another disappointing season. A home game against Tennessee on Tuesday gives them an opportunity to lock this thing up and continue to put pressure on Alabama for the regular season SEC championship. They host Bama the final game of the season, so we could be in a world where that game is for the SEC crown. Hopefully, the Aggies aren’t getting as ahead of themselves as I am, but this season has incredibly gone from 6-5 following a loss to Wofford to a potential SEC Championship. What a turnaround. 


Auburn: 18-9 (8-6) — Q1: (2-7) Q2: (6-2) Q3: (5-0) Q4: (5-0) SOS (43) TW’s (4)

auburnAuburn’s resumé is taking blow after blow right now as this group has now lost 6 out of 8 and are in desperate need of a big win to right the ship. A home win over Mizzou looked like what they needed to get this train back on the tracks but they followed it up with a loss @ Vandy and look as shaky as ever. They get a home game against Ole Miss in what is a can’t lose game because the 3 after that could all be losses. They finish the season @ Kentucky/Alabama and then Tennessee comes to town. I would honestly predict that to be an 0-3 stretch with the way they’re playing. However, it’s college basketball and if they’re desperate they could pull off a win over Tennessee to close things out, and they may need it. Going to be an interesting close to the season for the Tigers who at one time were 16-3 and cruising. 

Arkansas: 18-9 (7-7) — Q1: (3-6) Q2: (4-2) Q3: (8-1) Q4: (3-0) SOS (40) TW’s (4)

arkansasThe Hogs continue to just hold on as they dropped another road game against white hot Texas A&M but bounced back to beat Florida at home. The 7-8 Q1-2 record is good enough for now to keep them in the field, but with 3 more potential losses coming they could be in real jeopardy if they don’t pick up a big win down the stretch. They first get Georgia at home in a can’t lose game but that is followed up with trips to Alabama and Tennessee. Drop those 2 and all of a sudden the last game of the season at home with Kentucky becomes extremely important. A 1-3 finish, which is not inconceivable, would put them squarely on the cut line entering the SEC Championship. Just win your home games and you should be in, but that Kentucky game will not be easy with the way they’ve played of late. It’s go time for the Muss Bus. 

Mississippi St: 18-9 (6-8) — Q1: (3-5) Q2: (4-4) Q3: (2-0) Q4: (9-0) SOS (48) TW’s (4)

missstIt was about as expected this week as Mississippi St fell to Kentucky but bounced back to complete the sweep over Ole Miss. They are still just barely on the right side of the bubble and this week presents two big opportunities to improve that. They go to Mizzou and then host Texas A&M in 2 giant Q1 games. After this week it’s a pretty easy end of the season, so picking up 1 of these will be huge come Selection Sunday. Win at home over A&M and I think they have a great shot at getting in the dance in season 1 under Chris Jans. Getting that Q1-2 record up to .500 would be huge in terms of locking this thing up though, so while a 2-0 record seems unlikely it would punch the ticket for the Bulldogs. Huge week for Mississippi St. 

–Mountain West–



On the Right Track:

Nevada: 19-7 (10-3) — Q1: (3-5) Q2: (6-2) Q3: (6-0) Q4: (4-0) SOS (50) TW’s (2)


So Nevada did in fact lose @ Utah St, but the path forward remains the same, finish 4-0 beating up on some bad teams and you’re in the dance. It is just about avoiding disaster as the season winds down for the Wolfpack as it’s all Q3 or 4 the rest of the way. The biggest plus to their resumé right now is they don’t have the bad losses out there weighing them down like some of the other bubble teams do. Just maintain that clean sheet and I think this one is a wrap. Drop 1 or even 2 down the stretch and that’s when things will get dicey, but I don’t see that happening with the way they’ve handled bad teams so far this season. Nevada looks tourney bound, just have to take care of business. 

Boise St: 20-6 (11-3) — Q1: (1-3) Q2: (8-1) Q3: (5-2) Q4: (6-0) SOS (77) TW’s (1)

boiseThe Broncos are in good shape right now, but the rest of the season is a really tough 4 game stretch that of course could sink the ship. It is also chalk full of opportunities to lock things up for them and it kicks off this week with New Mexico coming to Boise followed by a road game with San Jose St. 2 more Q2 wins and I think you can pencil the Broncos into the field of 68 as that 10-1 record would be too good to keep them out. They also still have a home game with San Diego St and a game @ Utah St to pick up some more Q1 wins to boot, so while 0-4 looks really scary just picking up the home wins should be enough to push them over the finish line. The Broncos looked poised to make it back-to-back trips to the dance for the first time in decades (potentially ever?)


New Mexico: 19-7 (7-7) — Q1: (3-2) Q2: (3-1) Q3: (8-3) Q4: (5-1) SOS (94) TW’s (3)

unm Well the collapse is in full swing as last week they dropped a home game against Wyoming to add another blow to this sinking ship. While they were able to bounce back in the road win over San Jose St, this thing is dying a slow painful death. 4-0 down the stretch is the only way they should feel comfortable entering the MW tourney, as they do get 2 more Q1 chances this week as they head to Boise St and then get San Diego St at home. Drop either one of those and now you just won’t have enough meat on the bone to makeup for 4 Q3-4 losses. No team made the tourney last year with 4 such losses, so I think it would take that 5-2 Q1 record to get it done. There is zero, and I mean zero, margin for error for New Mexico right now as they are playing for their lives the rest of the way. 

Utah St: 20-7 (10-5) — Q1: (0-4) Q2: (7-1) Q3: (10-1) Q4: (3-1) SOS (89) TW’s (1) 

utahstUtah St did exactly what they had to do this past week, going 2-0 at home and picking up another Q2 win over Nevada in the process. 0 wins in Q1 is what is holding them back at this point, as you at some point have to prove you can beat a really good team to make the tournament. Wyoming was the last team in the field last year with a 1-6 record in Q1 and was 9-1 in Q2 so Utah St isn’t out of it just yet but they have to have every win the rest of the way. This week they only have 1 and it’s on the road against Wyoming, an absolute can’t lose situation. A 3-0 finish to the season and the Aggies might find themselves on the right side of the bubble, as that would add 2 more Q1-2 wins with the Boise win being Q1. It’s not out of the cards right now for them, they just can’t afford to shoot themselves in the foot this week. As massive as it gets for a Q3 game. 




On the Right Track: N/A


Memphis: 20-7 (10-4) — Q1: (2-3) Q2: (5-3) Q3: (7-1) Q4: (6-0) SOS (68) TW’s (1)

memphisThe Tigers were able to do what they needed to in order to stay on the right side of the bubble, picking up a home W over UCF before falling @ Houston, no shame there. Now they look at a closing stretch that offers 3 more Q1-2 opportunities to lock this resumé up. This week is @ Wichita St and back home against Cincy, 2 games that aren’t must-win but would certainly would take the pressure off if they could nab them both. They still have the home tilt with Houston awaiting them to end the season, but pushing that Q2 record to 7-3 would put a lot less pressure on that game to end the year. They are still in that last 4 byes territory, so losses aren’t detrimental but they move them closer to that cut line. Just make it easy and go 2-0 how bout that? 



zags  smc


On the Right Track:

Florida Atlantic: 23-3 (15-2) — Q1: (2-1) Q2: (3-2) Q3: (10-0) Q4: (7-0) SOS (157) TW’s (1)


The Owls suffered a bit of a blow to their at-large hopes with another loss, but crucially it was Q2 and not worse as they still are above .500 in Q1-2 games and have 0 losses outside of that. To me, that is good enough for an at-large as it stands today but another loss could put things in jeopardy if they don’t take care of business in the Conference USA tournament. It is all in their hands at this point, as they look similar to Murray St from a year ago and even Davidson who got in as a 10 seed at-large last season. A quiet 4-0 run down the stretch should make things rather cozy as they enter conference tourney play. 


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