NCAA – Chris’ Infamous Annual Conference Tournament Week Bubble Cheat Sheet (v.2017)

According to past precedent, everyone in the RPI Top 28 is locked in at this point, while everyone below #62 needs an auto bid. Here’s assessing the chances of everyone in between…

29 – Murray State

Will they finish in the Top 30 if they lose in the OVC Tournament final? I’m skeptical. I think they’ll need the auto bid, especially with no RPI Top 50 results.

30 – Rice

Pretty much everything above said about Murray State applies for Rice too. Their draw against Baylor could turn into a Top 50 result, but it’s not going to count for much. They have a better shot at staying in the Top 30 though if they get to the C-USA Tournament final.

31 – Hofstra

Have a draw against Monmouth and wins against Drexel and Northeastern, who are edging closer to the RPI Top 50. Another team that could hop up into the RPI Top 30, but I suspect they need the auto bid.

32 – Santa Clara

I do think the Broncos will end up in the RPI Top 30 if they win at home to San Diego and BYU, with both of next week’s foes in the RPI Top 100. But all hell could break loose if SCU drops points to either. They have just one RPI Top 50 result all season, a win against Washington State, and even that could evaporate if WSU loses to Washington. It’d be best for the sanity of everyone at SCU to just take care of business next weekend.

33 – Georgetown

I suspect the Big East Tournament semi between the Hoyas and Marquette might be an elimination game. Georgetown looks like a Top 25 team on paper but has just the one win against the RPI Top 50…that coming against Marquette, with another win over the Golden Eagles potentially pushing them out of the RPI Top 50. The Hoyas do have a draw against Rutgers, though the Scarlet Knights are out of the Big Ten Tournament. I think GU will get the benefit of the doubt if they get to the Big East Tournament final, but a loss to Marquette could be trouble.

34 – Florida Gulf Coast

FGCU’s holding on to their win against Arizona on the road early in the season for dear life. It’s a better result than many of their bubble rivals’ best result, but FGCU just has that one going for them. They’ll get a long look if they don’t get the auto bid, but it’s best to just take care of business this week.

35 – Clemson

Wins over Auburn and Wake Forest, draws against Virginia and Florida State. Despite not making the ACC Tournament, the Tigers should have the resume to extend their season into the NCAA Tournament.

36 – Northwestern

Have won five in a row, including topping Purdue in the quarters of the Big Ten Tournament. Win at Ohio State, vs Wisconsin, vs Minnesota and a draw with Rutgers. With other teams on the bubble blowing chances left and right, the Wildcats have played their way into the field and potentially into a home game in the opening round.

37 – Colorado

Profile doesn’t look as awful as it once did, with wins over TCU and Washington State adding some much needed weight to their thin resume. But CU’s 0-5-1 against the RPI Top 40. Could the draw against Arizona push them over the top? Maybe, depending who’s on the bubble. But the Buffs really need to beat Utah to close out strong.

38 – Ole Miss

“How Not To Make A Final Impression” – The Rebels limped across the line with just one win in their final eight matches, losing to fellow bubble side Arkansas in the opening round of the SEC Tournament. Ole Miss has just a pair of RPI Top 50 wins, against Memphis and Arkansas, neither of whom are guaranteed to be in the Top 50 at week’s end. Draws against Auburn and Mississippi State could help, but it’s going to be a long week in Oxford.

39 – Vanderbilt

Needed results down the stretch and got them with wins over Tennessee and Auburn. It’s likely all gravy for the Dores at this point, as their quarterfinal against Tennessee isn’t going to damage their RPI if they lose. A win probably shifts the mindset towards thinking about hosting a first round game in the NCAAs.

40 – Wake Forest

For some reason, the RPI just doesn’t like the Demon Deacons. Wake has wins against South Carolina, Notre Dame, and Florida State, all in the RPI Top 20 but could be staring at the prospect of traveling for a first round game in the NCAA Tournament after dropping their ACC Tournament quarterfinal to Virginia. Regardless, it’d be a shock if Tony da Luz’s side didn’t make their NCAA return this year.

41 – Cincinnati

The Bearcats are probably very happy that Northwestern and South Florida have hit a rich vein of form late, as a three match winless streak late in the league had the club sweating it out. UC’s probably on the right side of the bubble, but losing to SMU on Wednesday would hurt.

42 – Mississippi State

Considering the history of the program, it’s been an astonishing year for MSU. But they don’t have a win against anyone in the RPI Top 50 and aren’t going to end up with one at week’s end. The Bulldogs have some decent draws, but it’s probably not going to be enough.

43 – TCU

Ask Virginia Tech last year the value of good draws without RPI Top 50 wins. The Horned Frogs have zero RPI Top 50 wins and aren’t going to get that chance until at least the semi-finals of the Big 12 Tournament, as they drew Kansas in the quarterfinals. I suspect a loss on Wednesday will end their season, but they might need to get to the final to have a chance.

44 – Monmouth

The Hawks have a draw at Hofstra, which puts them ahead of some teams in the bubble mix, but realistically, that’s not going to be enough. Monmouth’s a big favorite to win the MAAC auto bid, and history suggests they’ll need it.

45 – Minnesota

The Gophers could’ve all but locked themselves in by beating Wisconsin on Sunday but let the chance slip through their fingers in a 2-0 loss. However, they’ve got a win at Rutgers and draw against Notre Dame at a neutral site, so I’m still positive on their chances.

46 – Memphis

The Tigers’ profile isn’t completely empty, with a win against Rice and a draw at Cincinnati on their resume. But that’s not exactly reassuring considering some of the big wins elsewhere on other rivals’ slates. A loss to UConn in the AAC Tournament quarterfinal would be disastrous, and the Tigers might need two wins this week to truly breathe easier next Monday.

47 – Butler

Got the less desirable of the semi-final opponents in the Big East Tournament semi-final in terms of the RPI, but at #80, Providence probably isn’t going to be a huge hit to Butler with a loss. Probably. The Bulldogs still would like to win and likely remove all doubt. A win at Texas A&M and draw against Notre Dame in South Bend probably mean Butler just has to be on the bubble. One more win should seal that.

48 – Washington State

I’m a bit split on the forecast for WSU. On the one hand, the home win against UCLA really stands out against some of the Cougars’ bubble rivals. But WSU doesn’t really have much else to tout in terms of wins against the RPI Top 50. The loss at Arizona probably hit their RPI a little harder than expected, which leaves them just inside the Top 50. Will a loss at Washington push them outside the bubble range? If I were the Cougars, I wouldn’t want to find out.

49 – Marquette

The Golden Eagles passed their first test with a win over Xavier in the Big East Tournament quarterfinal. They also got the more advantageous matchup in the next round with Georgetown potentially presenting a chance for their first RPI Top 50 win. A victory would certainly help their case, but a loss would likely leave them out with no Top 50 wins to their name.

50 – Arkansas

The Razorbacks absolutely had to win their opening round matchup in the SEC Tournament with Ole Miss and did so on Sunday. Their resume is still shaky though, with the victory at Auburn still the best on their record. Obviously, a result against South Carolina on Tuesday would erase any doubts, but it still could be a nervous week if Arkansas gets bounced.

51 – Virginia Tech

There’s a very big negative hanging around the Hokies’ neck like an anchor right now, that being their twelfth place finish in the ACC. Nobody that far down in the standings of a league has even gotten a sniff of the NCAA Tournament in the past. VT also has just seven wins to their name. But the Hokies also have a gigantic win at Notre Dame and great draw at a neutral site at Pepperdine. Is it enough? I’m not optimistic, but I’d argue they have a better case than you might think.

52 – Boston College

Wake Forest’s dip in the RPI probably proved fatal for BC, who don’t have any other RPI Top 50 results to boast on the resume. They had a chance to rectify that with a win against Duke in the ACC Tournament but fell to the league champs. It’s hard to see them in the field.

53 – Drexel

The Dragons don’t have a result against an RPI Top 50 team and won’t get a chance until a potential meeting with Hofstra until the CAA Tournament final. They need the CAA’s auto bid.

54 – LSU

The Tigers won just one of their final eleven (!) games, so their presence on the bubble is something of a minor miracle. But their best win of the season in RPI terms is Cincinnati (#41), with a couple of draws at Alabama and Auburn tossed in as well. The loss to end the regular season against Missouri wasn’t fatal for knocking LSU off the bubble, but it’s hard to see how they’re a viable option considering some of their rivals on the bubble.

55 – Baylor

The bad news for Baylor is that they don’t have an RPI Top 50 win to their name entering the Big 12 Tournament. The good news is that they’ve got a chance to rectify that on Wednesday against Texas in the opening round of the conference tournament. A loss likely knocks them out of the picture entirely, while a win could potentially see them edge their way into the field.

56 – Saint Louis

The Billikens are teetering on the edge of the back end of the bubble having lost their opener in the A10 Tournament to Saint Joseph’s. SLU does have wins against Vanderbilt and Murray State though and will be rooting like crazy for that duo this week. Do they have a chance at an at-large? I’d say it’s not a great one, but I still like their profile more than some others on this list.

57 – Northeastern

NU’s profile isn’t totally vacant of RPI Top 50 results having beaten TCU on the road this year, but that alone probably isn’t going to get them in. There’s just not enough left in the CAA Tournament for them to outpace some of their bubble rivals.

58 – Washington

It’s been a pretty quick decline for the Huskies, who have lost five straight to fall to the very bottom edge of the bubble right now. They’ve got a win against Florida on their resume but no other RPI Top 50 wins and just one RPI Top 50 draw, that coming against potential bubble rival Colorado. It’s difficult seeing them in the picture if they don’t beat Washington State at home though, and even that might not be enough.

59 – San Jose State

The Spartans blazed through most of their Mountain West slate to climb up the RPI. But they have played just two teams in the RPI Top 50 this season, Santa Clara and Georgetown, and lost to both, so they need the auto bid.

60 – Drake

Drake have done very well to dominate the Missouri Valley this season but have an 0-2-0 record against the RPI Top 50 this year, meaning they need the league’s auto bid.

61 – La Salle

A shaky non-conference schedule and losses to the two teams the Explorers have played in the RPI Top 60 have meant a slow climb in the RPI for a very good La Salle team. It also means they’ll need the A10’s auto bid to make an NCAA Tournament return.

62 – Michigan

The longest of all long shots, Michigan are technically alive on the furthest end of the bubble. But them being in the bubble picture at this point is just that: a technicality. The Wolverines do have a win at Wisconsin and a slew of solid draws but they also have just six wins, didn’t qualify for the Big Ten Tournament, and really have no room to move up significantly on this list.

One thought on “NCAA – Chris’ Infamous Annual Conference Tournament Week Bubble Cheat Sheet (v.2017)

  1. DebbyS

    This is very educational. Last year, my daughter’s team ended the season with an RPI around 30 because of strong preseason play. The coaches were very hopeful for an at-large bid, despite a mixed showing in the league. I never understood the reason for their optimism. Now I do. Alas, the team didn’t make it last year, but should this year with a much improved RPI, even if they don’t win the automatic bid. Thanks for enlightening me on how the NCAA might arrive at these decisions.


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