The week before Selection Sunday gives clarity on college basketball’s rising and falling stock.
BY MATTY D.
On the morning of Thursday, March 9th CBS Network bracketologist Jerry Palm had Michigan in and Rutgers out. Mississippi State was also on the edge of the March Madness bubble. And as quickly as games could tip on that day, the tournament landscape shifted again.
Michigan lost to Rutgers by 12 points, effectively losing its place on the bubble.
Conversely, Rutgers raised its stock on the right side of the bubble.
In the SEC, Mississippi State effectively punched its ticket with a close win against the Florida Gators. The Bulldogs will now play Alabama where it’s academic who wins. Both teams should be tournament teams.
Oklahoma State is another bubble team that couldn’t pop through its own glass ceiling. The Cowboys lost in the 7 vs. 2 matchup against Texas in the Big 12 Conference Tournament. With Joe Lunardi listing them as one of the last four in, this loss almost certainly ensures they’ll show up as an 11 seed in a play-in game (if at all).
The ACC has a similar dynamic on its hand. None of its “bubble teams” are seizing the moment. Clemson, UNC, and Pittsburgh are all showing their warts within the final chapter of conference play.
Mid-major teams take care of business as bubble teams drop the ball
The team that is remiss from the bubble conversation on both Palm and ESPN bracketologist’s Joe Lunardi’s projection mid-way through Championship Week was Florida Atlantic. The Owls were a mainstay in the Top 25 before getting into the meat of its own difficult Conference USA schedule. They avoided this bubble conversation because they simply took care of business. Having only 3 losses on the season, FAU had slowly risen out of bubble talks and into the 9 or 10 seed on projections. Having played the likes of a talented North Texas and UAB squad, FAU’s regular conference season was not without its NET-boosting opportunities. The few losses that the Owls had suffered were respectable. The Owls were also able to upset the aforementioend Florida Gators in one of its few Quad 1 opportunities. FAU was still battling for its conference title heading into the weekend, but looking solid for an at-large bid regardless. Another mid-major team that took care of its business was College of Charleston. The Cougars went into Championship Week also as a 3 loss team. Joe Lunardi had them out of the tournament if it weren’t for a conference championship. But the Cougars took care of business. They beat a respectable challenger in Towson during the quarterfinals then capped off the crown with a win against UNCW. Teams like College of Charleston and FAU should be seen for what they are. They are hardened by a conference schedule where they were the hunted. And they survived. These teams should be much more fear than a fledurling Michigan or Wisconsin “bubble team” from the Big 10. (Wisconsin lost to a pathetic Ohio State team in the conference tournament).
Mountain West climbs towards five tournament teams as Selection Sunday nears
Utah State is considered a bubble team, although Aggies fans shouldn’t worry. Very rarely does a team within the top 25-30 of the NET not make the NCAA Tournament. This year, their losses are a lot more justified with the Mountain West ranking higher than the ACC in a lot of categories. Conference mate Boise State is also technically on the bubble line, although the Broncos are in a similar power position. Utah State could be the fifth tournament team from the Mountain West, joining Boise State, San Diego State (regular season champions), New Mexico and Nevada or San Jose State.
Other news and notes from NCAAB’s Championship Week:
Baylor is officially in damage control mode after getting swept this season by the Iowa State Cyclones of all teams. ISU beat the Bears three times total this season, including a conference tournament win Thursday afternoon in Kansas City.
Marquette messed around and was losing to 8 seeded St. John’s at halftime before conference player of the year Tyler Kylek and the Golden Eagles came back to win.
UCLA got great contributions from Amari Bailey and Adem Bona in their PAC-12 Tournament win against a fiesty Colorado Buffs program. Bailey and Bona are going to be crucially important as the Bruins just lost Jaylen Clark, likely out for the season.
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