College Basketball: Bubble Watch

Story posted February 12, 2016 in Sports, CommRadio by Joe Esquivel-Murphy

As the college basketball season is starting to hit its stride as teams are past the halfway point of their conference slate. Selection Sunday is a little more than a month away and bubble teams around the country are wondering if they will be dancing in March.

UCONN- 17-6 (7-3 AAC) RPI: 46 SOS: 66

While the Lady Huskies are dominating women’s college basketball, the men’s team seems to be a middle of the road team. It’s not that the Huskies are a bad team, but it seems like they haven’t beaten anybody good. UCONN has only one win against the RPI Top 50 and that was against a Texas team that was really struggling at the time. The Huskies are currently third in the American Athletic Conference and have a good chance of winning the regular season title. Two showdowns against the SMU Mustangs loom in the future and a win against the Mustangs would give UCONN a better night of sleep.

FLORIDA STATE- 16-7 (6-5 ACC) RPI: 38 SOS: 77

After a tumultuous season last year, the Seminoles find themselves in a position to make the NCAA tournament. While Florida State are currently tied for eighth in the ACC, they have played most of their toughest conference games already this season and have plenty of opportunities to pick up key victories. The Seminoles have two wins against the RPI Top 25, which is more than Villanova and North Carolina. The only thing holding back the Seminoles is their nonconference strength of schedule, which was 229th in the country.

SYRACUSE- 16-8 (6-5 ACC) RPI: 46 SOS: 48

Many people did not know what would come of this season for Syracuse as their coach was suspended for nine games and star forward Rakeem Christmas graduated. The Orange have responded in a big way as Syracuse won the Battle 4 Atlantis Championship, which featured teams like UCONN, Michigan and Texas A&M. Syracuse boast three wins against teams in the RPI Top 25, including a road victory against Duke. Their nonconference strength of schedule is not ideal at 124th and a home loss to Wisconsin has not helped them.

TEXAS TECH- 14-9 (4-7 BIG 12) RPI: 42 SOS: 4

At first glance, Texas Tech are a team that should be nowhere near the NCAA Tournament with 10 losses already, with seven conference losses. On closer inspection though, the Red Raiders have put together quite an impressive tournament resume. They have played nine games against the RPI Top 25, which is the most out of any team in the Top 50. While the Red Raiders have only won two of those games, the sheer multitude of games has given Texas Tech the fourth strongest schedule in the nation, the best of any team on the bubble.

SETON HALL- 17-7 (7-5 BIG EAST) RPI: 52 SOS: 75

Seton Hall enters this bubble watch with the weakest tournament resume, but that does not mean the Pirates are not worthy of a bid. While the Pirates are currently winless against the RPI Top 25, their losses were against Villanova and Xavier, the top two teams in the Big East. Seton Hall was competitive in all of those, including a one-point home loss to Villanova. The Pirates had an incredibly poor strength of schedule as it was 272nd in the country, a number that is too high for a team on the bubble.

VCU- 17-6 (9-1 Atlantic 10) RPI: 40 SOS: 70

VCU always seem to have strong teams when the NCAA Tournament rolls around and this year is no exception. The Rams are currently second in the A-10, which is one of the highest conference standings for teams on the bubble. While VCU does not have a terrible strength of schedule, it lacks quality wins. The Rams have only played one team in the Top 25 and that was a neutral court loss to Duke. VCU end their season with a road game at Dayton, meaning a road win could lock the Rams into the NCAA Tournament.

Bubble watch is always an interesting time of year as teams scrap together to collect quality wins while trying to avoid bad losses. If teams start to fall off the wagon, they will find themselves with popped bubbles.

Joseph Esquivel-Murphy is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism and Spanish. To contact him, email jje5139@psu.edu