College Basketball Bubble Watch 2019 Volume 2
After releasing an early bubble watch in February I thought it would be prudent to sit back, take in some more games and really get a feel for things this season and let me tell you, I am more lost than I was before. The bubble this season is extraordinarily weak and this can open the door for some sub-par Power 6 (yes there’s a Power 6 not 5 in basketball) schools or we can finally see some solid Mid-Major (which there are plenty of) get their chance at the Big Dance. On Sunday we will release our projected field of 68 that will detail the conference champs and what not but for now it is just the bubble teams.
**NOTE: This does not include results from Saturday’s game**
Should Be In
Cincinnati Bearcats 22-4 NET: 25 KenPom: 31
The Bearcats are close to locking up their tournament bid. Thursday’s win over UCF was big and they still have 5 games to go including a home game to end the regular season against Houston. Barring a massive collapse, Cincy is in.
Syracuse Orange 18-8 NET: 40 KenPom: 38
This team is interesting. They have a bundle of talent but struggled early on with losses to UConn, Oregon, and Old Dominion. Then they get to ACC play and beat Louisville and Duke. They’re going to make the tournament because that’s what they do, and they’re probably more dangerous than any of the teams that Boeheim has had in the past few years.
North Carolina State Wolfpack 19-8 NET: 32 KenPom: 36
NC State had a rough January and start to February really only beating the teams they should have. This stretch included the blown lead against Virginia at home and the 24 point debacle against Virginia Tech. However, their non-conference resume was strong because of that win over then #7 Auburn.
Baylor Bears 17-9 NET: 33 KenPom: 32
I still do not know if this team is good or not. They’re confusing and I’m almost assuredly going to get the game they play in the first round wrong but that’s what you need to know. They can compete with anyone and lose to anyone.
Texas Longhorns 15-11 NET: 35 KenPom: 26
Frankly, I think this team has drastically underachieved this year and they’re lucky that preseason expectations don’t weigh into the Tournament decision making because they’d be way out. The Horns have played a tough schedule thus far but really haven’t capitalized as much as they should have. No Kerwin Roach for the foreseeable future makes the picture foggy for this team, but as long as they bring orange suited up McConaughey with them wherever they play Round 1, they will be dangerous.
TCU Horned Frogs 17-9 NET: 41 KenPom: 43
Let’s just keep on going in the state of Texas. Jamie Dixon’s team has overcome injuries this year and has earned the bid. February has not been kind to them, but if they can right the ship, they will be heading for the 8-9 game.
St. John’s Red Storm 19-8 NET: 48 KenPom: 57
The Johnnies clinched their bid last Sunday beating Villanova at the Garden. It certainly wasn’t ideal to go out and lose their next game by double-digits to Providence, but that’s St. John’s this year. Shamorie Ponds is one of the most dangerous players in America and this team can matchup with anyone.
Ohio State Buckeyes 17-9 NET: 42 KenPom: 34
This team started the year 12-1 and since the start of 2019 has struggled going 5-8 with losses to Rutgers and Illinois. The good news is they did enough damage earlier in the year to provide themselves with some room for error. They have a Quad 1 heavy end to their schedule and so long as they don’t lose out they will be good to go.
Ole Miss Rebels 18-8 NET: 34 KenPom: 41
Ole Miss really just had one bad stretch of 6 games in mid-to-late January losing 5 of those. They were against quality teams if there’s any consolation there. But this team rode the wave of a 10-game winning streak that was capped off with wins over #11 Auburn and at #14 Mississippi State. That alone has set them up to be in the field.
Mississippi State Bulldogs 19-7 NET: 26 KenPom: 23
Not really the year Bulldogs fans expected but they will be dancing come Selection Sunday. Their worst loss is between South Carolina and Arizona State, neither of which are that bad. They hold wins over St. Mary’s, Clemson, Wofford, Florida, Ole Miss, and Auburn. Defense will be the key for this team.
Auburn Tigers 18-8 NET: 20 KenPom: 14
Auburn had a tough stretch losing 3 in a row and then 2 of their next 5. For a team that had SEC Title and even Final Four aspirations, it was surprising to see them struggle like they did. This team is offense first and they love to get out and run, when they do that, they are tough to beat.
Wofford Terriers 23-4 NET: 23 KenPom: 29
I think this team is in. They’re talented, they win and they’re incredibly efficient offensively. Fletcher Magee is one of the best players you’ve never heard of and deserves to shine under the spotlight of March. 3 of their 4 losses were to teams that were ranked (North Carolina, Kansas, and Mississippi State).
On The Cusp
Temple Owls 19-7 NET: 53 KenPom: 73
Personally, I think Temple still has some work to do. They have losses to Penn and Tulsa that don’t look great and their best win is a great one over Houston. If the Owls can win out and make a nice run in the AAC tournament it will be tough to keep them out of the field.
Davidson Wildcats 20-7 NET: 69 KenPom: 74
Davidson’s loss this week to Dayton was a killer. They dropped in the NET and they simply don’t have the quality games remaining on their schedule to get it back. The Wildcats need to win out and make a run to the A-10 title game.
Clemson Tigers 15-11 NET: 43 KenPom: 33
I’ve flip flopped on this team quite a bit recently because they’re tough to read. Their two best wins are Lipscomb and Virginia Tech. They have had a bundle of Quad 1 chances and lost almost all of them. It is the old conundrum choosing between an average Power 6 team vs a strong mid-major.
Oklahoma Sooners 16-10 NET: 38 KenPom: 37
The Sooners were ranked at one point this year. People forget this. Probably because they had an atrocious start to conference play that saw them at 4-9 and losers of 5 in a row. There are Quad 1 opportunities still on their schedule and if Oklahoma can pick off one, they should be set.
Seton Hall Pirates 16-10 NET: 64 KenPom: 62
This is arguably the most confusing team in the country. They have a neutral court win over Kentucky and a road win at Maryland. They also were swept by DePaul and lost at home to Xavier and St. Louis. The wins are tough to match for most teams in the country. The losses make you scratch your head. This team loves to play tight games but they need to start finishing them. They have just about as tough a finish to their schedule as you can have in the Big East this year with plenty of solid opportunities ahead. Two wins is the magic number to guarantee a bid.
Butler Bulldogs 15-12 NET: 49 KenPom: 51
The consensus seems to be that the Big East will be a 3-4 bid league. Butler is the wildcard in this. They can jump ahead and be the 4th if Seton Hall falls apart. Or they can be that surprise 5th team if they can win games. They need to win their game at Villanova and one of the other remaining three to guarantee a bid. But that is much easier said than done.
Minnesota Golden Gophers 17-10 NET: 51 KenPom: 46
The Gophers looked like they were going to cruise to an at-large bid and then February happened. Minnesota is 1-5 on the month with their only win coming against Indiana who is having major issues. Two winnable games and two big opportunities remain. Take one of those remaining two Quad 1 games and don’t blow it against Rutgers or Northwestern and Minnesota is dancing. Stumble and it will be a nervous Selection Sunday.
Utah State Aggies 21-6 NET: 36 KenPom: 40
I really like this Aggie team, they have no bad losses and still have a home game against Nevada. Win that game and they should be a lock. Otherwise they will need to make a run in the Mountain West tournament.
Florida Gators 15-11 NET: 31 KenPom: 27
Mike White’s team has turned it on when they needed to. Following a bad stretch against some good teams they have won 3 straight heading into a winnable game against Mizzou. They still have LSU and Kentucky on the schedule, win one to stay alive and two to clinch.
Alabama Crimson Tide 15-11 NET: 52 KenPom: 60
Losses to Northeastern, Georgia State, and Texas A&M are questionable and then they have wins over Kentucky, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, and Murray State. That’s Alabama’s year. They’ve lost 4 of their last 6 and are stumbling down the stretch. They need to win 3 of their final 5 to stay alive.
San Francisco Dons 21-6 NET: 50 KenPom: 49
The Dons’ loss to UCSB stands out as a bad one but they did sweep BYU and have a win over Stanford. The resume isn’t anything spectacular but this team can play. Win out and they will have a chance.
UCF Knights 19-6 NET: 39 KenPom: 50
The Knights had a massive opportunity lost at Cincinnati this week. They held the Bearcats to just 60 points and couldn’t find a way to win. Their resume is less than stellar especially with the loss to Florida Atlantic showing up. UCF needs to beat Houston and one of Cincinnati or Temple to close the year to have a chance at a bid.
Nebraska Cornhuskers 15-12 NET: 45 KenPom: 42
Nebraska has been nothing short of awful in Big Ten play. Their non-conference wins did not really hold up as the year went on and now they’re desperately searching for something. The rest of their schedule is resume boosting games, win 2 and they’re in for sure, at least one keeps their hopes alive, losing all of them should end their chances.
Outside Looking In
Lipscomb Bisons 21-6 NET: 46 KenPom: 44
I think Lipscomb is a good team that deserves strong consideration for an at-large bid. That said, you cannot lose to Florida Gulf Coast when you’re fighting for a tournament bid. The win over TCU will move the needle but whatever they gain on that, they gave most of it back with that FGCU loss. Win out and make a run to the conference finals is the only hope Lipscomb has for an at-large.
Georgetown Hoyas 16-10 NET: 71 KenPom: 75
Ewing’s team has life heading into the weekend showdown with Creighton. The Hoyas knocked off Villanova by double-digits and have wins over St. John’s and Butler. Georgetown has very small margin of error down the stretch and will need to win go 4-1 at worst to have stay on the bubble.
Providence Friars 15-12 NET: 74 KenPom: 87
I put Providence on the list because I think they’re capable of making a run. It starts with the Marquette game, it is a must win. Lose that and they have to win out and go to the Big East title game to have any hope of staying on the bubble.
Creighton Bluejays 14-13 NET: 54 KenPom: 52
Creighton has dealt with a ton of injuries as well and is still (barely) alive. They’ve lost so many games by single digits and blown so many late leads. Flip a couple of those and this is a surefire tournament team. Now they have work to do. They need to take care of business in their final four winning at least 3 including Marquette to keep their bubble from bursting.
Toledo Rockets 20-6 NET: 65 KenPom: 56
This team looked stronger a week ago, before they lost to Buffalo (no shame) and Eastern Michigan which is a bad, bad loss. Now they need to win out and make a strong run in the MAC Tournament. The Rockets are one more loss away from their bubble bursting.
Murray State Racers 22-4 NET: 60 KenPom: 59
Belmont Bruins 22-4 NET: 62 KenPom: 55
I put these two teams together because I think one wins the OVC and the other has a shot at an at-large bid. Belmont has a stronger resume with two wins over Lipscomb, a win at UCLA, and a win over Murray State. The Racers have Ja Morant and fortunately for them, name recognition might help sneak them in the field should they fail to win the OVC. Regardless, I’d love to see both teams in.
Arizona State Sun Devils 18-8 NET: 66 KenPom: 54
The Sun Devils have some good wins, but the Pac 12 being so down this year has killed them. Every loss hurts and they have some work to do still to get into the field. This team cannot lose again the rest of the regular season and still might even need to win another game in the Pac 12 tournament.
Saint Mary’s Gaels 17-10 NET: 47 KenPom: 45
The Gaels have had a rocky season but still find themselves with a shot. Beat Gonzaga when they come to town March 2nd and they are looking really good, otherwise it’ll take a run to the WCC Championship game to stay on the bubble.
Indiana Hoosiers 13-14
IU has lost 12 of their last 13 and just couldn’t seem to come up with the big plays and the offense when they needed it. Missed chances and injuries derailed this season.