March 1, 2008

On Bubble = Loser

"I'm so nervous on the bubble, I have to pee!!"

Usually, the bubble is littered with pretty good teams, making runs at the tournament with late surges. Big wins in late February always lead to hot debates in March, but this year, no one on the bubble appears to be capable of making a decent case. Here are a few examples:

Syracuse (17-12, RPI: 49, SOS: 11) - The Orange should be locks for the tournament, but an injury-plagued season is starting to get away from them. A bad loss to USF was countered by a home victory over the Hoyas. But today, we all witnessed an epic, shocking collapse. Every member of the committee will remember the Orange turning it over twice under their own basket in the last two minutes, en route to a shocking 5 point loss to Pitt when the Orange had the lead and the ball with 10 seconds to play.

Rhode Island (20-9, RPI: 66) - The Rams were 20-4, and seemed assured of a place in the big dance until they lost five straight in the A-10. Now, they need some serious help.

Ole Miss (18-9, RPI: 47, SOS: 61) - The Rebels are 4-9 in the SEC after an undefeated non-conference schedule. You'd think 5-3 against the RPI top 50 would be enough, but 4-9 in the SEC West is how you undo that success. They're not even on the bubble any more.

Ohio State (17-11, RPI: 48, SOS: 30) - The Buckeyes are a victim of the total lack of parity in the Big 10. Unable to beat the top dogs in the conference, the bottom of the conference is too weak to help. They have 4 wins over the top 100 (Florida, Syracuse, Cleveland St., UMBC), none in conference. Ouch. If Florida loses today and slips out of the top 50, OSU will be 0-9 against the RPI top 50.

Other teams that just haven't gotten it done yet: Oregon, Cal, Arizona St., Virginia Tech, St. Joe's, Dayton, West Virginia, Texas A&M, Arkansas, NC State, ... I can't remember a year when so many teams have been in a mediocre state, just unable to stay above the bubble.

This bodes well for Maryland and other teams that have won at least a little bit lately (Pitt, Oklahoma, Miss St., UAB, Houston). The next two weeks will be very interesting.

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