LMBF College Basketball Bubble Watch: February 11th8 min read
New To The Bubble
Kansas State 17-8 KenPom: 57
Key Wins: Oklahoma, TCU, Texas
Bad Losses: Tulsa
I don’t know if you’ve heard, but the Big 12 is a deep conference. The last place team, Iowa State, holds wins over Oklahoma, Texas Tech, and West Virginia. The Wildcats are currently 4th in the Big 12 at 6-6, and have games against Texas, at Oklahoma, and at TCU left on the schedule. Take one of those and avoid a bad loss to Iowa State and K-State will be dancing.
Texas 15-10 KenPom: 43
Key Wins: Texas Tech, Oklahoma, TCU, Butler, Alabama
Bad Losses: None
Shaka’s team is an interesting case. They have plenty of nice wins as you can see above, but 10 losses is simply leaving too many chances on the table. They blew two chances this week for nice wins against K-State and TCU, but the Longhorns have a ton of opportunities left because of the strength of the Big 12. Road game at Oklahoma this week would be another huge win.
Nebraska 19-8 KenPom: 55
Key Wins: Michigan
Bad Losses: None
Nebraska has quietly gone 10-4 in Big Ten play, sitting in 4th place in the conference. However, the Cornhuskers are 0-5 against top 25 teams this season and lack some big wins. Michigan is a nice win, but that isn’t enough especially given how bad the Big Ten is this season. Maryland this week is the only chance for a decent win, otherwise, it is avoiding the bad loss at Illinois. The Huskers need a run at MSG during mid-major week to have a serious shot at a bid.
UCLA 17-8 KenPom: 49
Key Wins: Arizona, Kentucky, Washington, USC
Bad Losses: Oregon State
Meanwhile, over in the conference of champions, UCLA has quietly risen to 2nd place in the Pac-12 and holds wins over Arizona, USC, and Washington. If they close out the game at Michigan this team is safely in the field, but right now they on the right side of the bubble. Avoid a second loss to Oregon State and take down USC on the road and the Bruins will be dancing.
St. Bonaventure 18-6 KenPom: 69
Key Wins: Buffalo, Syracuse, Vermont
Bad Losses: St. Joe’s, Niagara
The Bonnies were expected to be the best team in New York and challenge Rhode Island for the A-10 title. The season has not gone that way. Jalen Adams had a monster week highlighted by a 44-point outburst against Saint Louis. Friday is the final chance for the Bonnies to show what they’ve got as the Rhode Island Rams come to town. URI is perfect this season in A-10 play and won the first match-up between the two teams 87-73.
Missouri 17-8 KenPom: 37
Key Wins: Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama
Bad Losses: Illinois
Mizzou sweeps the Mississippi schools to continue to improve their hopes of an at-large bid sans Michael Porter Jr. The Tigers have a big chance at home against resurgent Texas A&M to add to their resume. There is also a road trip to Rupp Arena ahead for Cuonzo Martin’s team.
Houston 18-5 KenPom: 33
Key Wins: Wichita State, Arkansas, Temple, Providence
Bad Losses: Tulane, Drexel
Wins over an undermanned SMU team and Tulane, who has already beaten Houston, is how the Cougars finished their week. They look to be in the field as of this writing as a 7/8-seed. They can drastically improve seed line with a win this week over Cincinnati, as the Bearcats come to town. Houston also needs to avoid a loss at Temple next Sunday.
North Carolina State 16-9 KenPom: 60
Key Wins: Clemson, North Carolina, Duke, Arizona
Bad Losses: Northern Iowa
The wins are some of the best around – all four are top-20 wins – but the loss to Northern Iowa is rough. They missed a few chances this week losing at Virginia Tech and at home against North Carolina. Road games at Syracuse and Wake Forest this week provide the Wolfpack with a chance at a big win. Not too many chances left to pad their resume, so a 2-0 week this week would go a long way.
Virginia Tech 18-7 KenPom: 39
Key Wins: Virginia, North Carolina, Washington
Bad Losses: St. Louis
The Hokies had a monster week beating NC State and Virginia on the road for College Gameday. I have Virginia Tech firmly in the field right now as a 7 or 8-seed, but with a game against Georgia Tech still looming, they could quickly see themselves back on the bubble given their difficult schedule to close the year. It is ripe with chances for big wins or could really hurt the aesthetic of their record.
Boise State 20-5 KenPom: 54
Key Wins: Loyola (Chicago)
Bad Losses: Utah State
Zero top-50 wins for the Broncos and the loss to Utah State is a killer at this time of the season. Really, that loss should knock them out, but they have new life as Caleb Martin is hurt for Nevada, giving the Broncos a chance to knock off a team that I believe is firmly in the field. That game is this Wednesday night in Idaho. A win there and Boise State has a real shot at the NCAA Tournament.
Washington 17-8 KenPom: 96
Key Wins: Kansas, Arizona, Arizona State, USC
Bad Losses: Oregon State
Right as I was ready to put Washington in the “trending in” column, they go and lose to Oregon State in double overtime. Absolutely killer loss for Mike Hopkins’ team as they have been one of the hottest teams in the Pac-12. I said last week that the Oregon road trip is a tough one and the Huskies dropped both games. They do not have any additional opportunities in the regular season for top-50 wins so they will need to play mistake-free basketball and make a Pac-12 tournament run.
SMU 15-10 KenPom: 53
Key Wins: Arizona, Wichita State, Boise State, USC
Bad Losses: Tulane, Northern Iowa
Tim Jankovich’s team had a real chance to pick up a quality win this week/weekend but an injury to Shake Milton left them with just 7 healthy scholarship players. Three straight losses in the AAC is killer and it leaves SMU with just two opportunities for top-50 wins with Wichita State and Houston coming to town to finish February. They need to sweep those and make a decent run in the AAC tourney to have a shot at an at-large bid.
Syracuse 16-8 KenPom: 46
Key Wins: Buffalo, Louisville
Bad Losses: Wake Forest, Georgia Tech
Cuse has plenty of opportunities left to pick up big wins, and the road win at Louisville was a good start for the Orange. They need a sweep this week to put themselves firmly in the field with a home game against NC State and a road trip to Miami. 18-8 is a hell of a lot nicer than 17-9, especially with losses to Wake Forest and Georgia Tech on the resume.
Providence 16-9 KenPom: 74
Key Wins: Xavier, Creighton, Butler, Washington
Bad Losses: DePaul, UMass
The Friars got absolutely blown out by DePaul this weekend putting a dent in their at-large chances. However, Providence has a finish to their season that is filled with opportunities, especially on the road, to pick up wins. This week is home for Nova before heading to Hinkle to play Butler. A win against Villanova would erase both the bad losses.
Marquette 14-11 KenPom: 50
Key Wins: Seton Hall (twice), Vermont, Providence
Bad Losses: None
Marquette was well on their way to a big week after beating Seton Hall in Newark until the hottest team in the Big East, St. John’s, knocked off the Golden Eagles. Fortunately for Marquette, St. John’s has just beaten two of the top teams in America and the RPI is a horrendously flawed system so the Johnnies are not a bad loss. Wojo’s team will have a full week of rest before a road trip to Creighton, another chance for a good win.
Notre Dame 15-10 KenPom: 38
Key Wins: Wichita State, Syracuse, Florida State
Bad Losses: Georgia Tech
A solid week for the Irish beating Boston College and Florida State. The name of the game is “survive until Bonzie is healthy again”. With Colson, ND is easily a top-20 team, without him, they are lost. The Irish have a big week with road games at North Carolina and Boston College, they let the Tar Heels escape South Bend last month and could really use the win now.
Maryland 17-10 KenPom: 40
Key Wins: Butler
Bad Losses: None
Maryland’s schedule has been littered with top-50 teams and the Terps have failed to convert, they need a run in the Big Ten tourney to have a shot at a bid. They really should be in the slim-to-no chance column, but I don’t have that just yet.