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Tag:Mississippi State
Posted on: March 8, 2012 3:53 pm
Edited on: March 9, 2012 1:50 am
 

Poppin' Bubbles: Separation day for bubblers

Texas might have locked up a bid to the NCAA tournament with its quarterfinal win over Iowa State. (US Presswire)

By Jeff Borzello

The Thursday of conference tournament week is always a big day for separation when it comes to bubble teams. Nearly every power-conference bubbler is in action across the country, with most of them facing must-win opportunities or one last chance at a marquee victory. This season is no different, as the docket is filled with teams looking to punch their ticket or simply keep their at-large hopes alive. The bubble picture should look very different tomorrow than it does today.

Note: This page will be updated throughout the day, with bubble discussion and analysis.

Southern Miss avoided a bad loss to East Carolina and locked up a bid. (US Presswire)

Locking things up:

Southern Miss: Had the Golden Eagles lost their opener in the Conference-USA tournament, things might have been a little troublesome on Selection Sunday. While it took an extra five minutes, Southern Miss got it done – and now should be fine for the NCAA tournament. They finished second in the league and have a top-20 RPI, along with wins over Memphis, Colorado State and South Florida. 9-4 against the top 100 is great compared to some of the other bubble teams.

Cincinnati: 
If there were any questions about the Bearcats' at-large status, they were answered on Thursday afternoon. Cincinnati faced Georgetown in a tournament quarterfinal, and made plays down the stretch en route to a double-overtime win. The absolutely awful non-conference schedule and mediocre overall computer profile could potentially only affect seeding at this point; the Bearcats are in. They are now 6-3 against the top-50 and are 9-5 away from home. They could wear home jerseys in the round of 64. 

Alabama: The Crimson Tide were in good shape heading into the SEC tournament, but a loss in the first round would have made it a long couple of days for them. However, that won't be a problem, as Alabama pulled out a win against South Carolina. The Crimson Tide were around a No. 9 seed earlier in the week, so they seem pretty safe there. They are 3-5 against the top 50, and 9-9 against the top 100, but they also bounced back nicely from the personnel situation they had in February. 'Bama could jump to a No. 8 with another win. 

Purdue: The Boilermakers were in the field of 68 no matter what happened in the Big Ten conference tournament, but it's nice to avoid a bad loss and stay in good position for a solid seed. Heading into the week, Purdue was arguably the last No. 8 seed in the S-Curve, and beating Nebraska keeps them on track to wear a home jersey in the round of 64. The Boilermakers are 5-8 against the top 50, although they only beat two definite NCAA tournament teams in Michigan and Temple. Ohio State is next.

Still safe:

Connecticut: The Huskies are fine despite their late loss to Syracuse in the Big East quarterfinals. A win over the Orange would have skyrocketed Connecticut up in terms of seeding, but the Huskies are still in the mix for an 8-9 game in the NCAA tournament. The No. 3 strength of schedule and 10 top-100 wins make them a lock to hear their name called in three days. 

Kansas State: The Wildcats are still very comfortable heading into the weekend. A win over Baylor would have really solidified their resume, but the Wildcats already have victories over Missouri – twice – Baylor, Alabama and Long Beach State. The sweep at the hands of Oklahoma and a 6-8 top-100 record could bring down their seeding somewhat, but a No. 8 or No. 9 seed seems very likely.

It's tough to imagine Colorado State missing the NCAA tournament at this point. (US Presswire)

Winners:

Colorado State:
I really don't see how Colorado State can miss out on an at-large berth this season, after thoroughly handling TCU in the quarterfinals of the Mountain West. The Rams have a terrific computer profile, with a top-25 RPI and top-10 SOS. They have three wins over top-50 teams in UNLV, San Diego State and New Mexico, and they are now 3-0 on neutral courts. The two sub-100 losses and 3-9 record on the road gives cause for a closer look, but compared to other bubble teams, Colorado State should be safe. A loss to San Diego State in the semifinals likely wouldn't drop them several spots. 

California: It wasn't clear if the Golden Bears could survive a quarterfinals loss to Stanford, but we don't need to worry about that just yet. They move on to face the winner of Oregon/Colorado, in a game that could clinch California's bid if it gets to the title game. The at-large resume isn't all that impressive, with the best non-conference win coming against Weber State. The Golden Bears did sweep Oregon, but those are the best victories on the resume, along with Washington. Cal could really cement things with at least one more win.

Texas: The Longhorns took advantage of their chance at a big win on Thursday, coming back in the second half to beat Iowa State in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 tournament. Given Texas' resume and the way things are shaking out across the bubble landscape, that might have been a win-and-in situation for the Longhorns. They improve to 4-9 against the top 50, although it's only 5-10 against the top 100. They have wins over Temple, Kansas State and two over Iowa State. They face Missouri in the Big 12 semis; a win there would lock things up completely. They might be able to survive a loss, though.

North Carolina State
: The Wolfpack needed to beat Boston College in order to get a chance at Virginia in the quarterfinals. That one is the must-win for NC State. As it stands, the Wolfpack still don't have a top-50 win on their resume, going 0-8 against teams in that category. They do have two wins over Miami (Fl.) and one over Texas, which could help in bubble comparisons. They are also now 8-5 away from home, but the lack of good wins and two sub-100 losses complicate things.

Miami (Fl.): The first half wasn't pretty whatsoever for the Hurricanes, but they actually scored some points in the second stanza and also locked down on the defensive end, cruising to an easy win over Georgia Tech. They're still just 3-10 against the top 100, but two of the wins did come over Duke and Florida State. Miami will need to do more damage in the ACC tournament, starting with Florida State on Friday. A win there, and the Hurricanes could be in OK shape. A loss, and they will be sweating it out.

Arizona: I don't see how the Wildcats will get a bid, but the door is now open for the Wildcats to at least get to the Pac-12 title game after they beat UCLA in the quarterfinals and No. 1 seed Washington was upset by Oregon State. The computer profile is still terrible, and they have only defeated one NCAA tournament team (California). A win over Oregon State won't put them in the Dance, and it's unlikely a close loss in the championship game would do it either. Because of the Arizona State loss to end the season, I think Arizona needs to win the tournament.

Ole Miss: The Rebels still likely have to get to the SEC title game to have a chance at an at-large bid due to their 1-6 top-50 record, but beating Auburn easily was a good start. They have one good win over Alabama, but they also beat a couple of bubble teams in Miami (Fl.) and Mississippi State. Ole Miss only has one sub-100 loss, and the Rebels did play 17 games against teams in the top 100; they only went 6-11 in those games, though. If they beat fellow bubbler Tennessee in the quarterfinals, a semifinal contest against Vanderbilt could be a huge chance.

Nevada: The Wolf Pack have a mediocre at-large profile, but they will have a shot if they can get to the WAC title game. After a lackluster first half against San Jose State, they rolled to a double-digit win. The strength of schedule is terrible, and they don't have a single top-50 win, but they did lose just one game in conference play and are above .500 against the top 100.

Long Beach State: With the way things are going, the 49ers could certainly get an at-large bid if they lose in the Big West tournament. However, they need to get to at least the title game in order to have hopes. They didn't waste any time dispatching of UC-Davis in the quarterfinals, winning by 34. Moreover, No. 2 seed Cal State Fullerton was knocked out, which means an easier path for LBSU to the automatic bid. We'll take a closer look at their resume should they lose.

Washington will have a long three days to wait until Selection Sunday. (US Presswire)

Losers:

Washington: Wow, what a weird game for the Huskies. In the first half, the Huskies looked like they were headed to the NIT, going into halftime with a 13-point deficit against Oregon State. However, they came back to take the lead -- before Tony Wroten missed four free throws and the Beavers came out with a win. Will Washington's regular-season title be enough for an at-large bid? That's doubtful. The Huskies simply have a very mediocre at-large profile. They beat zero NCAA tournament teams and were just 1-7 against the top-50, 4-8 against the top 100. They also now have two sub-100 losses. Washington's only potential saving grace will be its regular-season title and the eye test. There's nothing else to like in their resume.

South Florida: The Bulls were so close to locking up a bid to the NCAA tournament, but Notre Dame pulled out an overtime win in the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament. That leaves South Florida in precarious position. It is just 1-9 against the top 50, although it does have a 5-1 record against teams in the 50-100 range. They have one really good win, over Louisville, but they also have victories over Seton Hall and Cincinnati. One thing that could be tough to pass up is the 12 Big East wins that Stan Heath's club came away with in conference play; that trumps many of the middling league records that some of the power-conference bubblers have. South Florida also has three sub-100 losses. It will be close, but the Bulls are probably in for now. 

Northwestern: Another year, another disappointment for Northwestern. The Wildcats came into the Big Ten tournament needing at least one -- more likely two -- win in order to keep their at-large hopes alive. Unfortunately, Minnesota came back in the final minutes to snatch away a victory in overtime. This is a devastating loss for Northwestern, which now has an excruciatingly long three days until Selection Sunday. Right now, I highly doubt they will hear their name called. The Wildcats are just 1-10 against the top 50, and 5-13 against the top 100. They have no bad losses, but that won't save them this season with an 8-11 overall Big Ten record. Although the door hasn't completely shut yet, it's going to be tough for Northwestern to get an at-large bid.

Mississippi State: The Bulldogs will have one of the worst finishes to the season in terms of bubble teams, going just 2-6 in their final eight games. The latest defeat was at the hands of Georgia in the first round of the SEC tournament, their second loss to the Bulldogs in the last month. A loss to Auburn was also included in that recent stretch. Mississippi State is now in serious trouble. It has a bad computer profile, with an RPI that will likely drop to the 70s after tonight. There are three sub-100 losses. On the plus side, they are 8-8 against the top 100, with wins over bubblers West Virginia, Tennessee, Mississippi and Arizona, as well as top-35 wins against Vanderbilt and Alabama. A 3-6 road record isn't doing them any favors, though. The talent is there, but the resume might not be. It will be a long few days for Rick Stansbury.

Oregon: It's looking more and more like the Pac-12 could be a one-bid league if California wins the regular-season title. The Ducks saw a door open when Washington went down in the quarterfinals -- two wins might have done it for the Ducks. Instead, they couldn't make plays in the final minute and lost to No. 6-seed Colorado. Oregon's at-large hopes are basically done at this point. They have 0 top-50 wins and the best non-conference victories are over UTEP and Nebraska. The computer profile looked OK heading into the week, but now the RPI and SOS will drop. Assuming the committee doesn't value sub-100 record over everything else, I'm not sure Oregon can get a bid.

Posted on: March 3, 2012 3:04 pm
Edited on: March 3, 2012 11:02 pm
 

Poppin' Bubbles: Statement time for bubblers

Iowa State answered all remaining questions about its at-large candidacy with a win over Baylor. (AP)

By Jeff Borzello

Saturday is not just for Duke vs. North Carolina and a trio of conference championship games. The final weekend of the regular season has bubble implications galore. There are intriguing bubble battles, chances for bubble teams to get big wins and other spots where bubble teams just simply can’t lose if they want an at-large bid. For some teams, losing might mean their hopes are dashed even before the conference tournament.

Note: This page will be updated throughout the day, with bubble discussion and analysis.

Locking things up

Memphis: The Tigers are all set after clinching the outright Conference-USA regular-season title with a win at Tulsa on Saturday. They finished the conference season with a 13-3 record, have a top-20 RPI and SOS, and own nine top-100 victories. They could wear home jerseys for the first round of the NCAA tournament at this point.

Saint Louis: The Billikens essentially clinched things with their win over Xavier earlier in the week, but avoiding a loss at Duquesne – without head coach Rick Majerus – on Saturday cements things even more. There aren’t any truly marquee wins, but an 8-4 record against the top 100 and a top-30 RPI will get the job done.

Iowa State: If there was any debate about whether the Cyclones would get an at-large bid, it ended on Saturday, when Iowa State knocked off Baylor to clinch the No. 3 seed in the Big 12 tournament. They now have four top-50 wins, including victories over Kansas and a sweep of Kansas State. The soft non-conference schedule was a question mark for a bit, but there's no keeping out Iowa State anymore.

Helped itself

West Virginia picked up a big bubble win by defeating South Florida. (AP)

West Virginia: The Mountaineers had the biggest bubble win in the first few hours of Saturday, going into South Florida and knocking off the Bulls in the final minutes. The win gets West Virginia to .500 in the Big East, and is their fourth top-50 win of the season. The bubble pecking order in the conference is completely up in the air, but two wins in the Big East tournament would likely get a bid for West Virginia.

Connecticut: The Huskies simply couldn’t lose to Pittsburgh on Saturday, unless they had plans to make a run to the Big East title game. It wasn’t pretty, but Connecticut pulled out a win in the final two minutes. 8-10 in the Big East doesn’t look great, but the Huskies have five top-50 wins, including victories over fellow bubblers South Florida, Seton Hall and West Virginia. The No. 2-ranked SOS is also a huge plus. They will need a couple of wins in the Big East tourney as well.

Dayton: Beating George Washington isn’t going to get the Flyers in the dance, but it keeps their hopes alive heading into the conference tournament. They have three top-30 RPI wins over Temple, Alabama and Saint Louis, as well as a win over bubbler Xavier. Nine top-100 wins are more than most bubble teams can say. On the negative side, the computer profile is mediocre and they have three sub-100 losses. They might need a marquee win in the A-10 tournament; could that mean a trip to the title game?

Cincinnati: For the first time in nearly a decade, the Bearcats went into Villanova and came out with a win. They improve to 12-6 in the Big East, including six top-50 wins. The Bearcats should feel pretty comfortable right now, but the three sub-100 losses and the horrendous non-conference SOS still make things shaky. The RPI is slowly getting better, and one win in the Big East tournament could be enough to get the job done for Mick Cronin's crew.

Xavier:
For a while on Saturday, it looked like the Musketeers were ready to see their bubble popped. They were down at home to Charlotte, before going on a huge run in the second half and pulling out the win. Xavier is currently third in the Atlantic-10 standings, which could be helpful for the profile. It looks like they will need a semifinal win to really improve the profile, though. There are good wins over Vanderbilt and Purdue, as well as victories against bubblers Cincinnati, Dayton and Saint Joseph's. They will be an interesting case.

Northwestern:
The Wildcats escaped at Iowa, finishing at 8-10 in the Big Ten. A loss on Saturday would have ended their chances, but now they still have life heading into the Big Ten tournament. They are only 2-10 against the top 50, but suffered zero sub-100 losses and have a top-10 strength of schedule. The win over Michigan State back in January carries some weight, but there's not a ton of heft besides that victory. There is damage to be done in the tourney.

Miami (Fl.):
The Hurricanes were one of the last teams out of the field heading into the weekend, but they stayed alive with a dominant victory over Boston College. With Maryland sneaking into the top 100, Miami has four top-100 wins, including victories against Duke and Florida State. However, the 4-11 record against the top 100 is a huge eye sore and the computer profile isn't overly impressive. They need another big win for the ledger, meaning they have to win a couple games in the ACC tourney. 

Colorado State: The Rams took care of business at Air Force, avoiding a letdown after the huge win over UNLV earlier this week. Had Colorado State lost to the Falcons, most of the good vibes earned by the UNLV win would have been erased. That's irrelevant now, though. The Rams have a very solid resume, with wins over UNLV, New Mexico and San Diego State, as well as a great computer profile. Moreover, Saturday's win gives them another road victory (they only have three). One in the MWC tourney should get it done. 

Mississippi State: The Bulldogs did what they needed to do to finish the season, winning their final two regular-season games and getting back to .500 in the SEC. They still have to do work in the SEC tournament, as the computer profile is mediocre. However, they do have eight top-100 wins, including victories over Vanderbilt, Alabama and fellow bubbler West Virginia. Mississippi State will need to get at least one win in the SEC tournament, and two wins would be more comforting. 

Oregon:
The Ducks continue to make a run toward at-large consideration, hammering Utah to finish 13-5 in the Pac-12. However, they are only 3-7 against the top 100 and 19 of their 22 wins are against teams ranked below 100. They are playing well at the right time, and the availability of Devoe Joseph is certainly something the committee will consider. They need to make a deep run in the Pac-12 tournament, though, as the profile is rather barren at this point.

Drexel: As the outright CAA champion, Drexel has a nice chip compared to some of the other bubble teams, but the Dragons need to get to the tournament title game to have a legitimate chance. They took the first step there by handling UNC-Wilmington in the quarterfinals. We’ll look again if they win in the semifinals.

VCU: Like Drexel, VCU needs to get to the title game to have a legitimate shot at an at-large bid. The Rams handled Northeastern on Saturday, meaning one more win would get them there. The Rams have a terrible SOS and two sub-100 losses, but they are very good away from home and did beat South Florida. The lack of meat on the resume could be a problem.

Tennessee: It seems there is another movement afoot to get the Volunteers some at-large consideration. I would still hold off on that talk, though. The computer profile is poor and they have four sub-100 losses. Even factoring in the arrival of Jarnell Stokes, the overall resume is still mediocre. With all that said, if the Vols get the No. 2 seed in the SEC tourney and make a run to the title game, things could get interesting.

Oral Roberts: The Golden Eagles nearly lost to IPFW in their first game of the Summit tournament, but they pulled out a win late to keep things somewhat interesting. I still think they need to win the automatic bid to get to the NCAA tournament, but a close loss in the title game could raise some questions. Zero top-50 wins is a major problem. 

Harvard:
Could the Crimson have survived a loss to Cornell and a second-place finish in the Ivy? We came close to finding out on Saturday night, as Harvard barely pulled out a win in the season finale. Now, the Crimson will wait and see what Penn does at Princeton this week. If the Quakers win, Harvard has a one-game playoff with Penn for the automatic bid. As far as at-large consideration, the win over Florida State looks good, but the schedule is terrible. 

Hurt itself

Kevin Willard knows his Seton Hall Pirates are in trouble. (US Presswire)

Seton Hall: The biggest bubble loser of the day has to be the Pirates. Going into the week, Seton Hall was in good shape. It just had to beat Rutgers and DePaul and things would be pretty comfortable heading into the Big East tournament. Well, the Pirates lost both games, including an absolutely embarrassing performance on Saturday against the Blue Demons. Things are now very shaky for Seton Hall. The Pirates finished just 8-10 in the Big East and have three sub-100 losses. They now have to win at least two games in the conference tournament; falling short of the quarterfinals won't get it done. 

South Florida: The Bulls had a chance to get a double-bye in the Big East tournament with a home win over West Virginia, which would have looked fantastic on the resume. However, they couldn’t make plays late in the game and dropped an important one to the Mountaineers. South Florida is only 2-7 against teams ranked in the top 50, but they have a solid computer profile and 12-6 in the Big East is nothing to scoff at. They need at least one win in the conference tourney, and most likely two.

Washington: If the Huskies had won the outright Pac-12 title, it would be a heck of a chip heading into Selection Sunday. However, after their loss at UCLA on Saturday, it's likely they will need to share the championship with California. The resume on its own is far from impressive. The Huskies have yet to beat an NCAA tournament team and 18 of their 21 wins are from the sub-100 region. The computer profile isn't awful, but Saturday's loss gives them a sub-100 loss. They need to reach the title game, at the very least.

Southern Miss:
 The Golden Eagles continue to make things difficult for themselves, after losing at Marshall to drop to 11-5 in Conference-USA. The RPI is still in the top 20 and they have a 9-4 record against the top 100, but there are also three sub-100 losses. Moreover, by finishing at 11-5, there is little separation betwen Southern Miss and the rest of the league. They have work to do in the conference tournament if they want to feel comfortable come Selection Sunday.

Alabama: The Crimson Tide are still very likely to get a bid to the NCAA tournament, but they missed out on a chance to truly lock themselves in by losing at Ole Miss on Saturday. Alabama has a very solid computer profile and a 9-7 SEC record, with 10 wins against the top 100. The lack of truly good wins against the top 50 is something of a wart on the resume, but it would be tough to leave Alabama out at this point. Winning one game in the SEC tournament would solidify things, though.  

Texas: I'm not sure anyone actually thought the Longhorns were going to go into Lawrence on Senior Night and knock off Kansas, but the loss hurts nonetheless. Texas drops to 3-9 against the top 50 and 4-10 against the top 100, which doesn't compare favorably with most other bubblers. They also have two sub-100 losses. Getting the No. 6 seed in the conference tournament, Texas will have a quarterfinal matchup with Iowa State. The Longhorns need to win that one to have an at-large chance. Two wins would seal the deal. 

Long Beach State: A loss in the Big West championship game is one thing, but a loss in the season finale is quite another. The 49ers dropped Saturday night's game late to Cal State Fullerton, and now enter the conference tournament in some trouble. If they lose in the championship game, I'm not sure they can survive as an at-large team. They did beat Xavier and Pittsburgh in the non-conference, but neither win is all that impressive right now. They are 0-6 vs. the top 50 and now have a bad loss on the resume.

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Posted on: February 29, 2012 8:43 pm
Edited on: March 1, 2012 12:14 am
 

Poppin' Bubbles: Winners and Losers

Colorado State likely punched its ticket to the Big Dance with another big win, this time over UNLV. (AP)

By Jeff Borzello

Wednesday amounts to a last chance for some bubble teams. Certain ones are facing opportunities to nab marquee wins to boost their resume, while others are just looking to avoid the true “bubble.” Meanwhile, there is another handful of teams that can’t afford a loss if it wants to stay in the bracket. All in all, a monster night of bubble games is on the agenda.

Note: This page will be updated throughout the night, with bubble discussion and analysis. To see how our Jerry Palm saw the bubble picture heading into the night, check out his Bubble Watch

Winners

Cincinnati: The Bearcats were the first team to take advantage and get a marquee win on Wednesday night, getting off to a great start against Marquette and blowing out the Golden Eagles. It could be the win that gets Cincinnati into the NCAA tournament. The Bearcats have now defeated Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette and Notre Dame, and are 11-6 in the Big East. They face Villanova on the road to end the season; a win there, and Cincinnati will be in good shape despite its horrendous non-conference schedule.  

South Florida: The biggest questions facing the Bulls surrounds their lack of good wins -- and if their gaudy Big East record was only a result of their soft in-conference schedule. They answered some of those questions on Wednesday, going into the KFC Yum! Center and knocking off No. 17 Louisville. South Florida is still just 2-7 against the top-50, but it has wins over the Cardinals, Seton Hall and Cincinnati. The computer numbers are good and a 12-5 record in the Big East is very good. The Bulls get a desperate West Virginia team at home over the weekend, and could really solidify things with a victory. Right now, it's tough to picture them getting left out. 

Colorado State: Methinks the Rams have punched their ticket to the NCAA tournament. They needed another marquee win for the ledger, and last week's win over New Mexico got them closer. On Wednesday, Colorado State came back from a 16-point deficit to knock off UNLV and give the Rams a 3-3 split against the top three of the league. The Rams have a great computer profile and just need to win at Air Force in the season finale to feel comfortable about a bid.

Mississippi State: The Bulldogs are still alive for now, after Brian Bryant knocked down a game-winner at the buzzer to beat South Carolina and avoid a five-game losing streak. They have a chance to get back to .500 in the SEC with a home contest against Arkansas to finish the season. A win over the Razorbacks wouldn't be enough for an at-large bid, but it will give them hope heading into the conference tournament. The Bulldogs' computer profile is average, and the best wins are over Vanderbilt, Alabama and ... not much else.

Texas: It looked to be over for the Longhorns, who needed a second-half comeback to take care of business against Oklahoma and keep their at-large hopes alive. Now comes this weekend's showdown at Kansas. A win in Lawrence would obviously put Texas into the Dance, but if the Longhorns fall short? They will be 3-9 against the top 50 with the three wins over Temple, Kansas State and Iowa State. Not overly compelling. With a loss this weekend, Texas needs to pick up some wins -- ideally another marquee one -- to feel safe.

Purdue: It’s tough to imagine the Boilermakers not getting a bid at this point. Their dominant victory over Penn State was their 10th Big Ten win of the season, and improved them to 9-1 against teams ranked below them in the conference standings. Purdue still has six top-50 victories, and a fairly solid computer profile. The Boilermakers have won five of their last six, and can really lock things with a road game at Indiana to finish the season.

Alabama:
The Crimson Tide are looking pretty good right now. They have now won seven of their last nine after holding off Auburn on Wednesday night. At 9-6 in the SEC and nine top-100 wins -- plus the whole suspension/reinstatement situation of early February -- Alabama should feel pretty comfortable. A road win at Ole Miss to end the season would clinch a bid.

Southern Miss: They certainly don't like to make things easy. The Golden Eagles let SMU stay in the game for far too long on Wednesday, but they pulled away late and stayed in the field. They have a top-15 RPI and are one game out of the Conference-USA lead. If they can just avoid bad losses -- Marshall on Saturday probably wouldn't classify -- they're in good shape. 

Losers

Northwestern: Jared Sullinger completely devastated Northwestern's at-large hopes. His basket as the clock wound down to give Ohio State a two-point win over the Wildcats could be the one that ultimately send Northwestern to the NIT. The best they can do is 8-10 in the Big Ten, and that would include a very difficult road win at Iowa this weekend. Northwestern is just 2-10 against the top-50, and one of those is against fellow bubbler Seton Hall. The Wildcats swung and missed too many times. 

Miami (Fl.):
The Hurricanes, coming off a big win over Florida State last weekend, just needed to get past a reeling North Carolina State team and then take care of Boston College at home. The Wolfpack didn't give in to that plan, though, holding off the Hurricanes down the stretch to get the win. Miami (Fl.) is just 3-10 against the top 100, and that one win over Duke is not going to carry the rest of the profile come Selection Sunday. The Hurricanes are in trouble. 

Dayton:
The Flyers were in the at-large mix due to a host of good wins, despite a mediocre computer profile and four sub-100 losses. However, they couldn’t afford another bad loss – and they just suffered one on Wednesday night, to Richmond. It drops them to 8-7 in the Atlantic 10 and will push their RPI into the 70s, most likely. A home win over George Washington Saturday might not do the trick; the Flyers have work to do in the A10 tournament. 

Saint Joseph's: It was not a vintage night for the Atlantic 10. The Hawks had two chances to beat St. Bonaventure, leading in the final minute of both regulation and overtime, but couldn't close the deal and dropped one to the Bonnies in two overtimes. Saint Joe's was one of the last teams in the field on Tuesday afternoon, and this might end their hopes entirely. They have two good wins over Xavier and Creighton, but there's four sub-100 wins and SJU is just 2-5 against the top-50.  

Note: Tennessee and North Carolina State both won on Wednesday night. Neither is on the bubble right now, but could conceivably make a run with a few more wins. 

Posted on: February 29, 2012 12:34 pm
 

Pod: UCLA reaction, OSU doubt, UConn bashing

The photo that will define Reeves Nelson's college career.  (AP)

By Matt Norlander


In immediate wake of Sports Illustrated's piece on Ben Howland, Reeves Nelson and the culture of no accountability at UCLA, the podcast addresses why it's, really, not surprising. Nelson is no longer on the team, UCLA has a big recruiting class coming in -- and you could likely find these sorts of problems at most places not winning consistently right now. Why it's bad: Ben Howland's reputation takes a hit and it's unclear whether he ever separates himself from the past few years of bad chemistry and bad basketball. Aside from UCLA, Jeff Goodman and Gary Parrish and I touch on ...
  • From the beginning: UCLA.
  • 11:46: Aren't a lot of these problems mirrored at Mississippi State the past two seasons?
  • 15:40: Jerry Palm, as of this podcast's posting, has UConn in the field as an 11 seed. Why? Because the profile still stacks up favorably to other fringe squad. But the Huskies aren't a tournament team and cannot be trusted.
  • 19:36: Getting Draymond Green into the POY debate. Also, Goodman thinks it's "sad" one of these guys won't win it. What I forgot to bring up on the podcast: There are six POY awards, which is dumb, and so it's likely T-Rob/AD/Day-Day may split in some regard.
  • 24:26: Ohio State now has problems and Parrish thinks reaching the Elite Eight is highly questionable.
  • 28:28: Indiana away from home in the NCAAs -- will we see a different team?
  • 29:59: The lower seeds we're expecting a lot out of come bracket time.
  • 32:43: And out of nowhere, I'm raked over the coals for my final version of the Non-BCS Power Pyramid.

Again, I thank you for taking the time to listen to the podcast -- whenever you can. I ask that you, if you like what we're doing here, encourage like-minded hoopheads to subscribe in Tunes as well. Guests like Jay Bilas, Seth Davis, they're the guys who make me sound better and make the podcast worthwhile. The other guys? Gary Parrish and Jeff Goodman, they really make it entertaining, and of course you can count on our trio show each Wednesday. The RSS feed is another way to keep the podcasts coming to you ASAP. We've got a Zune download link as well.


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Posted on: February 27, 2012 4:55 pm
 

Miss. St. falling apart on court, in locker room

When asked if Mississippi State had what it takes to get a bid, Arnett Moultrie responded: "Probably not." (US Presswire)

By Jeff Borzello

Mississippi State has lost five games in a row, seeing its NCAA tournament hopes go from “pretty comfortable” to “on the outside looking in” in the matter of three weeks.

When the Bulldogs were supposed to pad their record against the bottom half of the conference, they dropped games to Georgia and Auburn and now sit tied for seventh place in the SEC. Even if they win the final two regular-season games, they need to do damage in the conference tournament to feel good about an at-large bid.  

Instead of coming together for the stretch run, though, it seems Mississippi State has completely fallen apart as a team. Via beat writer Brad Locke from the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, it just seems the team is not optimistic going forward.

“It shouldn’t have went this far,” forward Arnett Moultrie said. “A five-game losing streak is unheard of in basketball at any level, especially when you have this talent.”

What’s the main reason for the struggles? According to Moultrie and senior guard Dee Bost, there’s a lack of cohesion, chemistry and sense of team within the Bulldogs.

“I say what I say,” said Bost, who is looked at as the team leader. “It might go in one ear and out the other. We’re grown men.”

From Locke:

Moultrie said everybody has their agenda. Says people aren’t working hard enough to back up talk.

Despite the players recognizing the main problems facing the team, head coach Rick Stansbury insisted that the locker room has been fine during the losing streak. However, he did comment to Locke about the blame going around from one player to another.

“Now’s not a time to point any fingers at each other,” Stansbury said. “Now’s the time you’ve got to stay together and you’ve got to fight together. You win together and you lose together.”

Mississippi State has winnable games this week at South Carolina and at home against Arkansas. If the Bulldogs win those two, they would get back to .500 in the SEC and have some momentum heading into the conference tournament. With wins over Vanderbilt and Alabama, all hope is not lost for Mississippi State.

Moultrie doesn’t share the same outlook. When asked if the team had what it took to get it together and make a run at an at-large bid, he wasn’t optimistic.

“Maybe not. Probably not.”

And that might be the most damning quote of them all.

Even Mississippi State’s own players are writing them off.

Posted on: February 27, 2012 3:42 pm
Edited on: February 27, 2012 3:48 pm
 

The Poll Attacks: Voter drops KU, just because

By Gary Parrish

Associated Press poll: Fletcher Mackel had Kansas ranked fourth last week.

That was a little high at the time, in my opinion.

But whatever.

I could live with it because after Kentucky and Syracuse the next few spots were up for debate, and KU at No. 4 wasn't unreasonable. So I left Fletcher alone and focused my attention on the 15 AP voters who inexplicably left Indiana off their ballots. But now I have to highlight Fletcher because he's confusing the hell out of me. Again, he had Kansas fourth last week. The Jayhawks then won at Texas A&M and beat Missouri to claim at least a share of the Big 12 title, and now Fletcher has Bill Self's team ranked ... seventh?

Yes, seventh.

So this might be the first time in the history of AP voting that a man has dropped a team three spots after a 2-0 week that featured a win over a Top 10 opponent. Fletcher had Kansas ahead of everybody except Kentucky, Syracuse and Missouri last week. Now he's got Kansas behind Kentucky, Syracuse, Duke, Michigan State, North Carolina and Marquette -- meaning Duke, Michigan State, North Carolina and Marquette all jumped the Jayhawks after the Jayhawks' perfect and impressive week. Following tha logic, my guess is that KU will beat Oklahoma State and Texas this week, win the outright Big 12 title and then fall behind Georgetown, Wisconsin and UNLV on Fletcher's ballot next Monday, at which point Fletcher will also drop Thomas Robinson to Third Team All-American because all this playing well and winning isn't really that impressive.

Coaches poll: Mississippi State has lost five straight games and four of them have come to unranked opponents. So of course the Bulldogs are still getting five points in the coaches poll. That makes sense, right?

Listen, I know coaches are busy this time of the year.

I'm busy this time of the year.

But it's not difficult to click on CBSSports.com and realize the Bulldogs are now a 10-loss team with seven losses to unranked schools, and it doesn't take much time to click on CBSSports.com and see that Rick Stansbury's team has dropped five straight, including a 67-50 decision on Saturday to a nine-loss Alabama team. I'm talking seconds, not minutes. And yet there are still some men somewhere putting Mississippi State on a Top 25 ballot.

Even Mississippi State fans think that's dumb.

Renardo Sidney has punched teammates for things less stupid.

Posted on: February 25, 2012 4:26 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2012 11:44 am
 

Poppin' Bubbles: Winners and Losers

Iowa State beating Kansas State on the road highlighted a big day of bubble winners and losers. (AP)

By Jeff Borzello

Another February Saturday means another monster day for bubble implications. With the overall bubble so weak this season, there are still plenty of bids up for grabs in the NCAA tournament. Moreover, several teams are trying to play themselves into consideration after being an afterthought for much of the season. In the past week, we actually saw some teams play their way into the tournament, as opposed to losing and just hanging on. Which will we see on Saturday?

Note: This page will be updated throughout the day, with bubble discussion and analysis.

WINNERS:

Iowa State: The Cyclones needed one win in their last three games against Kansas State, Missouri and Baylor to feel comfortable about their NCAA hopes. They broke through on the road on Saturday, holding off Kansas State down the stretch for the victory. Iowa State is now 11-5 in the Big 12, with two wins over Kansas State and another win over Kansas. Moreover, the lack of any sort of good win away from home is no longer a glaring weakness.

Purdue: The only thing holding the Boilermakers back in the at-large hunt was the lack of good wins over the Big Ten's best teams. That is no longer the case after Saturday, as Purdue went into Ann Arbor and knocked off Michigan. It gives the Boilermakers a marquee victory, to add to Temple. Purdue improves to 9-7 in the Big Ten, with a home game against Penn State coming up this week. With this win, the Boilermakers are in very good shape heading forward. 

Alabama: 
The Crimson Tide regained the services of the suspended JaMychal Green, and they cruised to a win over fellow bubbler Mississippi State. It was their third victory in a row, and sixth in their last eight games, to solidify their fourth-place spot in the conference pecking order. A home game against Auburn, and a road trip to Ole Miss, still await, but Alabama is in good shape for now. The win over Wichita State looks better and better, and the victory over Purdue is also solid. 

Arizona:
The Wildcats just need to keep winning in order to stay in consideration for an at-large bid. They just survived on Saturday, needing a missed jumper from UCLA's Jerime Anderson to come out with a 65-63 victory. Arizona has now won seven of its last eight games, and sit at 12-5 in the conference standings. The profile is still not impressive in general, with only a win over California standing out. However, if the Wildcats win at Arizona State to finish the season and then get some wins in the conference tournament, it could be tough to leave them out.

Saint Joseph's: The Hawks picked up a huge win Saturday night over Temple, their fourth win in their last five games. The win also gives them a second top-25 victory, with a previous victory over Creighton also on the docket. Saint Joe's has also defeated Dayton and Drexel, which could help in bubble comparisons. A win at St. Bonaventure on Wednesday would get them to 10-6 in the Atlantic-10, and a trip to the conference tournament semifinals could get it done. 

Memphis: The Tigers were in pretty good shape, but they really solidified things by beating Marshall on Saturday. It kept them on pace to stay atop the league, and it also gives them another decent win for the resume. The next two games will still have a say in their Selection Sunday fate, though -- vs. UCF and at Tulsa. Win both, and Memphis won't even be sweating its inclusion to the NCAA tournament. 

Washington: The Huskies didn't make it easy on themselves, but they did come out with a win at Washington State. They are still tied atop the Pac-12 standings with California, which is a nice trump card come Selection Sunday. The lack of marquee wins is still a problem, but a sweep this week over UCLA and USC would guarantee at least a share of the title. Washington will be a very interesting case for inclusion.

Drexel:
The Dragons had already clinched the No. 1 seed in the CAA tournament, but their win at Old Dominion on Saturday gave them the outright regular-season title. That is a big-time addition to the at-large resume, especially since Drexel has won 17 in a row and has lost just once in 2012. There aren't any great wins on the docket, but a run to the CAA title game would give them 27 wins -- would the Committee leave them out?

Texas: For much of Saturday, it looked like the Longhorns might kiss their NCAA hopes goodbye. However, they came back down the stretch against Texas Tech and pulled out a late victory. The win snapped a two-game losing streak, and puts them back at .500 in the Big 12. A win next Saturday at Kansas would likely clinch a bid, but without a victory there, Rick Barnes' club will need to make some noise in the conference tournament.  

Xavier: Jumping out to a 14-0 lead and holding Richmond scoreless for about 10 minutes was enough for the Musketeers to get the win and improve to 9-5 in the conference. The big game for Xavier will be this week at Saint Louis. If the Musketeers can get the key road win, they could feel a lot better about their chances heading into the A10 tournament. 

Dayton: The Flyers has now won four of its last five after handling Massachusetts on Saturday. Their record in the Atlantic 10 improved to 8-6, which puts them in position to potentially make a run to third-place. The wins over Temple, Saint Louis and Alabama are pretty solid, and they also defeated Xavier. Upcoming, the Flyers have winnable games against Richmond and George Washington -- a 10-6 finish in the league and a couple of wins in the conference tournament could get it done. 

Southern Miss: The Golden Eagles don't like making anything easy, barely escaping with a two-point home win over Rice to move to 10-4 in the league. They remain one game behind Memphis in the conference standings, but should take care of business against SMU this week. Next week's game at Marshall could be a key win. 

Northwestern: John Shurna's two free throws with 2.6 seconds left might have saved the Wildcats' season. A loss to Penn State would have really hurt their at-large hopes, but now they still have a chance to finish .500 in the Big Ten. It won't be easy, though. The Wildcats host Ohio State this week, which would be a huge chance at a marquee victory, and a road trip to Iowa next weekend looks tough. A win over Michigan State looks very good, but 2-8 vs. the top 50 isn't pretty. They might need to beat Ohio State. 

VCU: The Rams fell short of the CAA title, but beating George Mason gave them 14 wins in their last 15 games and another top-100 win for the resume. They still need to make a run to the championship game of the conference tournament, but a loss here would have dropped them to third in the league standings and would have made it difficult to get a bid. 

BYU: The Cougars only had to avoid a bad loss to Portland, and they obliged, getting the win and finishing in third in the WCC standings. With only a win over Gonzaga standing out on the resume, it's likely that BYU needs to make a run to the conference title game -- which would mean another win over Gonzaga in the semifinals. 

Oral Roberts: The Golden Eagles improved to 26-5 overall with a two-point win at Southern Utah, finishing 17-1 in the Summit League. Should they lose in the conference tournament, they will be an interesting look. The best win is over Xavier, but the computer profile is better than several bubble teams and they've played consistently well all season.

UCF: The loss earlier in the week at Rice really hurt the Knight's chances, but their win over UTEP keeps them in the conversation for now. They need to win at Memphis on Tuesday to have a shot.  

Nevada: It took three overtimes, but the Wolf Pack finally dispatched of Fresno State to improve to 11-1 in the WAC. Will a gaudy record be enough for an-large bid? Probably not, but they have defeated Washington. Nevada just needs to keep winning. 

LOSERS:

Saint Louis: The Billikens should have felt pretty confident about their NCAA hopes heading into the weekend. The lack of great wins was masked by a good Atlantic 10 record and wins in nine of their last 10 games. On Saturday, Saint Louis lost to 5-23 Rhode Island -- and now Saint Louis gets a second look and is no longer a lock. The Billikens don't have a single top-50 win and the URI defeat is in the sub-250 region. Tuesday's hoem contest with Xavier is now a must-win for both teams. SLU is still OK, but things could get dicey.

Mississippi State: The Bulldogs are falling apart. After making a valiant effort at Kentucky, they looked terrible in the second half against Alabama and fell for their fifth loss in a row. They are now just 6-8 in the conference, and could be on the outside looking in at this point. The resume isn't overly impressive, with the win over Vanderbilt the only truly standout victory. Wins against Alabama and West Virginia are OK. The Bulldogs still face South Carolina and Arkansas down the stretch -- they need to win both. And then win at least one or two in the SEC tourney.

Seton Hall: 
After beating Georgetown this week, the Pirates were in good shape -- as long as they could avoid a bad loss to either Rutgers or DePaul down the stretch. Well, they lost to Rutgers on Saturday in overtime, and now head back to the bubble. If they can beat DePaul in the season finale and then get a win in the Big East tournament, things will look OK. They have a good computer profile (although the loss to Rutgers didn't help) and a really good win over Georgetown plus some other bubble victories. Today's loss does leave less room for error, though.

North Carolina State: The Wolfpack were not in good shape heading into the weekend, and they got their bubble completely popped by losing in overtime to Clemson on Saturday. They are now just 7-7 in the ACC, and the rest of the resume is still paltry. NC State is 0-8 vs. the top-50, has two sub-100 losses and its computer profile is getting worse. The best wins are over Miami (Fl.) and Texas. That's not going to get it done. They need to make a run to the conference tournament title game.

Connecticut: The Huskies came so close to feeling very comfortable about a bid, but they couldn't make the plays down the stretch against Syracuse and fell short. Right now, they would still get a bid due to their tremendous SOS and six top-50 wins. With that said, they need to win at Providence and home vs. Pittsburgh to get to 9-9 in the Big East and get some momentum heading into the Big East tournament. Things can still go either way.

Colorado State: After the Rams' victory over New Mexico earlier in the week, a win at San Diego State could have really solidified their profile. However, they fell short -- but get another chance at a marquee win on Wednesday against UNLV. The computer profile is pretty solid, with an RPI around 30. They do need another key victory, though. They're only 6-6 in the Mountain West, and have two sub-100 losses. 

LSU: Well, that was fun. The Tigers had made their way to the bubble after winning four in a row to get to 7-6 in the SEC. However, after getting destroyed on the road at Ole Miss on Saturday, they're likely no longer under consideration. There are a couple of good wins on the docket, but the overall resume isn't impressive. LSU would need to win out and then do serious damage in the SEC tournament.

Marshall: The Thundering Herd were attempting to play themselves back into the NCAA discussion by taking advantage of their big shots down the stretch: vs. Memphis and vs. Southern Miss. If they could win both, they might have had a chance. Instead, they got destroyed down the stretch by Memphis, losing by 20 on their homecourt. Marshall is now amongst a large group of teams in the middle of Conference USA. Their NCAA hopes are extremely dim at this point.

Harvard: The Crimson now deserve a closer look after losing to Penn on Saturday night and moving back into a tie for first place with the Quakers. Should they stay tied, a one-game playoff will be necessary; if Harvard loses that one, will they get an at-large bid? Their best wins are over Florida State and Saint Joseph's, and they have an RPI in the high 30s. The loss at Fordham in early January looks horrible, but they're 13-3 away from home, and are 7-3 against the top-100. For their sake, they should just take care of business in the potential playoff.

More College Basketball coverage
Posted on: February 21, 2012 9:05 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2012 12:07 am
 

Poppin' Bubbles: Big chances for marquee wins

Northwestern had a chance to solidify its resume against Michigan. Instead, the Wildcats fell in overtime. (US Presswire)

By Jeff Borzello

This week is void of bubble-bubble battles for the most part, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any important games for those teams on the fence. Tuesday’s slate features seven bubble teams facing ranked teams, while two other bubblers are on the road and another team or two need to solidify their resumes by avoiding a bad loss. Simply put, this is a monster night for bubble squads.

Note: This page will be updated throughout the night, with bubble discussion and analysis. 

WINNERS:

Seton Hall:
 The first of what could be several big bubble wins tonight. The Pirates came out with intensity and energy, and never let up en route to a 73-55 win over Georgetown. The win gives the Pirates a marquee win on which to hang their hat, a win that they desperately needed. Prior to tonight, the best wins for Seton Hall were over Connecticut and West Virginia. Moreover, the victory improves Seton Hall to .500 in the Big East, with a home game vs. Rutgers and a road trip to DePaul remaining. The Pirates are feeling confident right now.

Kansas State:
And it's time to lock the Wildcats up. After winning at Baylor to put themselves in good position, Kansas State went into Columbia and handed Missouri its first home loss of the season, 78-68. It also punches the Wildcats' ticket to the NCAA tournament. They now have two wins over Missouri and a win over Baylor, as well as victories over Long Beach State, Alabama and Texas. The two losses to Oklahoma look strange, but that will only matter for seeding now. Kansas State is in. 

Colorado State: The Rams are certainly alive on the NCAA bubble, after taking down a red-hot New Mexico team. Combined with their win over Wyoming on Saturday, Colorado State is back above .500 in the Mountain West, and the Rams' computer profile is only going to get better. Coming into the night, the RPI was 30 and the SOS was 13 -- that will improve after the win over the Lobos. This gives Colorado State two good wins on the resume, with the other coming against San Diego State. The biggest problems right now are the 2-8 road record and the three sub-100 losses. However, with games against UNLV and SDSU coming up, the Rams have chances. Win one, and they could be in good shape.

LOSERS:

Northwestern: Oh, so close. The Wildcats -- in perhaps the biggest game in program history -- had chances to beat Michigan in regulation, but fell short. The Wolverines dominated the overtime en route to a win over Northwestern. The loss is heartbreaking for the Wildcats, which was one of the last teams in the field this week and really could have helped their resume with another marquee win. Moreover, instead of moving to .500 in the Big Ten, Northwestern drops to 6-9. Bill Carmody's club still has to travel to Penn State and Iowa, as well as play host to Ohio State. The Wildcats might need a win over the Buckeyes to look attractive to the Committee. Wins over Michigan State and Seton Hall might not be enough.

Mississippi State: It was a heck of an effort from Mississippi State on Tuesday night against Kentucky, but the Bulldogs simply couldn't make enough plays at either end of the floor in the second half. While they played well, it's now four losses in a row for Rick Stansbury and co. A couple of weeks ago, Mississippi State was looking like a potential Sweet 16 team and a No. 6 seed or so. Now, their at-large hopes could hinge on a road trip to fellow bubbler Alabama this weekend. They're now 6-7 against the top 100 and 6-7 in the SEC. Rodney Hood's injury could be something to watch as well. 

Xavier:
So much for taking advantage of the momentum the Musketeers built after the overtime win over Dayton. Xavier went into Amherst on Tuesday night and never seemed overly competitive against Massachusetts, losing 80-73. A win would have helped the Musketeers feel more confident; instead, they're back in trouble. The best win remains over Vanderbilt, although the victories against fellow bubble teams Purdue, Cincinnati, Dayton and Saint Joseph's could potentially help on Selection Sunday. A win at Saint Louis next week would be nice.

North Carolina State: Last week, North Carolina State was on the verge of really solidifying its at-large profile, leading by 20 at Duke. After a loss to North Carolina on Tuesday, the Wolfpack have lost three in a row and are really struggling. They needed a marquee win for their profile -- the best wins right now are over Miami (Fl.) and Texas -- and they struck out all three times in the past week. NC State now needs to win its final three games of the regular season and then pick up a big win over someone in the ACC tournament.

Miami (Fl.): The Hurricanes had stayed in the field by simply avoiding losses to non-NCAA teams. That ended on Tuesday, as the Hurricanes blew a second-half lead and lost to Maryland in the final minutes, 75-70. Turnovers by Durand Scott and Shane Larkin could come back to haunt them come Selection Sunday. Miami is only 1-6 against the top 50 of the RPI, and it only has one truly "good" win -- at Duke on Super Bowl Sunday. The Hurricanes host Florida State and then travel to North Carolina State next week in a huge bubble battle. Miami likely needs to win both.

Illinois: If you didn't think the Fighting Illini threw in the towel during their miserable blowout loss at Nebraska over the weekend, Tuesday night's loss to Ohio State should have done the trick. The Buckeyes got out to a 28-8 lead and never looked back, getting revenge for an earlier loss with a blowout win. Illinois is now essentially lifeless in terms of the NCAA tournament. The Illini have lost nine of its last 10 games and are five games below .500 in the Big Ten.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com