Bracket Breakdown: The Field of 68
Mississippi State has played its way back to the bubble.
By: Mitch Light | 2/24/12, 9:19 AM EST
In: Duke, Florida State, Miami, North Carolina, Virginia
Worth a mention: NC State
Notes: NC State had three opportunities in the past eight days to pick up a much-needed marquee win, but the Pack went 0-for-3 with the meltdown at Duke the most painful. If they sweep their remaining regular-season games (at Clemson, vs. Miami, at Virginia Tech), they should be in good shape heading into the ACC Tournament. Miami has only one good win — but it was very good, at Duke. The Canes also have no bad losses. A win on Saturday vs. Florida State would be a nice boost.
American East (1)
In: Saint Louis, Temple, Xavier
Worth a mention: Dayton, Saint Joseph’s, UMass
Notes: Xavier was among the final teams in the field this week.
The Musketeers’ best win was at Vanderbilt, but that was in November when the Commodores were playing without Festus Ezeli. They have a huge game next Tuesday at Saint Louis. Win, and the X-Men will likely make the field. Dayton has three top-35 RPI wins, but also had two losses to teams ranked in the 200s. The Flyers have eight top-100 RPI wins — a solid number for a bubble team. Saint Joe’s loss at home to Richmond on Wednesday was very damaging.
Big 12 (6)
In: Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Texas
Worth a mention: None
Notes: Six of Texas’ 11 losses have come against North Carolina, Kansas, Baylor (twice) and Missouri (twice). The only thing close to a bad loss for the Horns was a neutral-court two-OT setback vs. Oregon State. They have a win over Temple on their résumé, too. Iowa State doesn’t have a top-100 win away from home, but the Clones have dates at Kansas State and Missouri looming, plus a home game vs. Baylor.
Big East (9)
In: Cincinnati, Connecticut, Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette, Notre Dame, Seton Hall, Syracuse, West Virginia
Worth a mention: South Florida
Notes: South Florida played very well on Wednesday night at Syracuse, but lost 56–48. The Bulls are 10–5 in the Big East but are lacking quality wins. They have won at Pitt and Villanova, but those two teams are a combined 8–22 in the Big East. With a season-ending schedule that has home games vs. Cincinnati and West Virginia sandwiched around a trip to Louisville, USF will have several opportunities to pick up some decent wins. Cincinnati picked up a huge win Thursday night at home vs. Louisville. Some UC doubters will point to an RPI of 74, which is admittedly very high, but that is a product of a very soft non-conference schedule that included nine games vs. teams ranked 200 or worse in the RPI. Keep in mind that the Bearcats are ranked No. 39 by KenPom and have seven wins away from home. Seton Hall solidified its résumé with a convincing win over Georgetown. West Virginia is trending in the wrong direction (2–6 in last eight), but there is still enough meat on the bone (wins vs. Georgetown and K-State) to keep the Mountaineers in the field.
Big Sky (1)
In: Weber State
Big South (1)
Big Ten (7)
In: Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern, Ohio State, Purdue, Wisconsin
Worth a mention: Illinois, Minnesota.
Notes: Illinois has lost six straight and nine of the past 10 games. Minnesota’s loss Wednesday night at home to Michigan was gut-wrenching. Both the Illini and Gophers probably need to win out in the regular season to even be in the discussion for an at-large bid. Northwestern is still in, even after Tuesday night’s crushing overtime loss to Michigan at home. The Wildcats have a top-5 win (vs. Michigan State) and no bad losses. They probably need to be 8–10 in the Big Ten heading into the league tournament. That means winning two of three vs. Penn State (road), Ohio State (home) and Iowa (road).
Big West (1)
In: Long Beach State.
Worth a mention: George Mason, VCU
Notes: George Mason boasts a gaudy 14–3 mark in the CAA but has no wins vs. top 70 RPI teams. Its best wins are at home against Bucknell and VCU. The Rams have played a good schedule but failed to beat any of the good teams on their slate.
In: Memphis, Southern Miss
Worth a mention: UCF
Notes: The Knights are close, thanks to wins vs. Memphis and UConn (on a neutral court). Plus, four of their eight losses have come against teams ranked in the top 35. The RPI (64) likes this team more than KenPom (96).
In: Norfolk State
In: Creighton, Wichita State
In: New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV
Worth a mention: Colorado State
Notes: New Mexico solidified its position with wins over San Diego State and UNLV but then took a small step back with a loss at Colorado State. The Rams have played their way into the discussion. The RPI likes this team (No. 5); KenPom doesn’t (86). CSU’s next two games are at San Diego State and at home vs. UNLV. We’ll know more in a week.
In: Long Island
In: Murray State
Pac 12 (3)
In: Arizona, California, Washington
Worth a mention: Colorado
Notes: Arizona and Washington are new entrants into the field this week. Washington lacks quality wins, but doesn’t really have many bad losses, either. The Huskies’ final three regular-season games are on the road, at Washington State, USC and UCLA. Arizona’s win at Cal in early February is by far its best achievement. The Cats should be glad the field was expanded to 68 teams last year.
In: Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt
Worth a mention: LSU, Tennessee
Notes: Mississippi State has lost four in a row and has dipped under .500 in the SEC for the first time this season. The Bulldogs’ RPI is 60, and they are ranked 78th in KenPom. Those are dangerous waters. LSU, on the other hand, has won four straight. The Tigers, however, only have two top-50 wins (and one was vs. an Alabama team that played without four starters), and 12 of their 17 wins have come against teams ranked 120 or lower in the RPI. Tennessee is a nice story, but the Vols likely will have to win the SEC Tournament to make the field. Alabama's win at Arkansas Thursday night boosted the Tide's profile.
In: Oral Roberts
Sun Belt (1)
In: Middle Tennessee
In: Mississippi Valley State
In: BYU, Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s
Notes: BYU has solid numbers (RPI 45, KenPom 36) and two wins vs. teams projected to make the field, Gonzaga and Nevada. Saint Mary’s still has decent numbers (RPI 49, KenPom 42) despite losing three of their last five. The Gael’s trip to San Francisco on Saturday could be tricky.
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