We are less than a month away from Selection Sunday, but many teams will conclude their regular season within the next 10 days. With so few opportunities left, it’s time to take another look at the bubble. There will surely be a lot of debate as there always is. Here are the 8 teams I have as my last 4 in and last 4 out.
Last 4 in
Iowa St.: Fred Hoiberg again has the Cyclones in pretty decent shape, but this year’s resume certainly isn’t as strong as last year’s. A loss to Texas Tech really hurts, and unfortunately home wins over BYU and West Virginia are the only non-conference highlights. Wins over Kansas St., Baylor and Oklahoma are really keeping this team alive. There are many opportunities left, but they could also prove hazardous. When all is said and done, this most likely will be a true bubble team. We’ll have to wait and see.
Iowa: The Hawkeyes are a very interesting case. It’s almost like the Big East talk we had a few years ago where there was a possibility of 10 Big East bids. Iowa could be the 8th best team in a 12 team league, but that doesn’t mean they’re not one of the 37 best at-large teams. Iowa has home wins over Wisconsin, Minnesota and the aforementioned Iowa St. A neutral court win over Northern Iowa is helpful as well. Iowa’s remaining schedule is favorable with two games against Nebraska, home matchups with Purdue and Illinois, and a road tilt at Indiana. With 4 wins, the Hawkeyes SHOULD end up on the right side of the bubble, but they may need one Big Ten tournament win to be safe.
Southern Miss: The Golden Eagles are this year’s mid major test case. They have no bad losses, and the only decent win is a home win over Denver. The most likely scenario is a loss at Memphis in the regular season and a loss to Memphis in the CUSA tourney final. That would leave the Golden Eagles at 24-8 against D-1 competition. I don’t think that’s going to be enough to hold off the other bubble teams from passing the Golden Eagles. I think they need to beat Memphis at some point to get in.
Arkansas: I’ve written about Arkansas previously. Since then, they finally got a win away from home, albeit against Auburn. Arkansas has some less than ideal losses, but they’ve also beaten Florida and Missouri, which no other SEC team has done. They still go to Florida and Missouri and face Kentucky, so the jury is still out on the Razorbacks. This is a team that can make things tough for Southern Miss. They have the potential to move up.
Last 4 out
Villanova: With wins against Syracuse and Louisville, seemingly Villanova should be in. When you strip it down, the Wildcats are just 3-9 against the top 75. That’s a lot of losses. A terrible loss to Columbia is holding the Cats back as well. They play Marquette, Pitt and Georgetown down the stretch. This is another dangerous bubble team that can either play its way in or play its way out. What happens in the next few weeks will decide this team’s postseason destination.
Maryland: Losing to Boston College is not the way to follow up a massive win over Duke. Maryland really did not challenge itself at all in the non-conference other than playing and losing to Kentucky. That being said, for the most part Maryland has beaten the teams they should. Overall, I’m not too impressed with this resume. I really think this team can’t lose more than one regular season game if they want to get in. The magic they found against Duke isn’t going to be there again in the ACC tournament.
Virginia: If Virginia was in the CAA, they’d be in real trouble. Losses to George Mason, Delaware, and Old Dominion look pretty bad. But Virginia has also won at Wisconsin, beat NC State, North Carolina, won at Maryland, and beat Tennessee. There are both good wins and bad losses, and right now I think the losses outweigh the wins a little bit too much. If they could have gotten the win at Miami, they’d be on the right side right now. The game next Thursday against Duke looms large. They’ll also want to beat fellow bubble team Maryland in the final regular season tilt if they want to bolster their case.
Alabama: It does seem a little odd to me that I have 5 SEC teams, and none of them are the 2nd place Crimson Tide, who are 9-3 in conference. The real problem is that the SEC schedule has been extremely skewed. They have home wins over Kentucky and Arkansas, but there’s a chance neither of those teams even make the tournament. In that case, the Tide wouldn’t have a single win over a tourney bound team. They’ve also lost at home to Tulane and Mercer. They still go to Florida and Ole Miss, and ultimately I don’t think this team is going to have enough to get in.
There will be more bubble preview as things move around. Stay tuned!