Jeff Eisenberg

Bubble Watch: Notre Dame-Seton Hall winner should be in

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

View photo

.
Bubble teams got good news on Tuesday night when Butler crushed Wright State to snatch the Horizon League's automatic bid and leave an at-large spot for somebody else.

By my count, 57 of the 65 spots in the NCAA tournament are accounted for right now, either by automatic qualifiers or teams almost certain to earn at-large berths. About 20 teams are still in contention for the eight remaining at-large bids.

Here's a look at the bubble picture as it stands on Wednesday morning:

Last Five In, First Five Out

61. Illinois (18-12, 10-8, RPI: 75) Although it's hard to imagine a team with victories over Clemson, Vanderbilt, Michigan State and Wisconsin not making the field, Illinois is in jeopardy as a result of its bloated RPI and poor finish. The Illini have to avenge Sunday's loss to Wisconsin in the Big Ten quarterfinals, or Selection Sunday will be very dicey.

62. Washington (21-9, 11-7, RPI: 50): The Huskies finished a game behind Arizona State in the Pac-10 standings, but victories over Cal and Texas A&M are more impressive than anything on the Sun Devils' resume. A Pac-10 title game appearance is a must for Washington, meaning the Huskies will probably have to defeat Arizona State in the semifinals to get there.

63. Seton Hall (19-11, 9-9, RPI: 54): The best aspect of Seton Hall's profile is no losses to teams outside the top 75 in the RPI, a trend that continued Tuesday as the Pirates survived a late Providence comeback bid in the first round of the Big East tournament. Up next for Seton Hall is a classic high-stakes bubble matchup against Notre Dame, likely a must-win for the Pirates if they want an at-large bid.

64. San Diego State (20-8, 11-5, RPI: 36): Unlike other bubble teams, San Diego State's NCAA tournament hopes can be summed up fairly simply. A win over likely Mountain West semifinal opponent New Mexico would put the Aztecs solidly in the field, while a quarterfinal or semifinal loss would likely knock them out.

65. Georgia Tech (18-11, 7-9, RPI: 44): Can a team that finished below .500 in the ACC and lost eight of nine road conference games make the NCAA tournament? This season, absolutely. The Yellowjackets' victory over Duke is keeping them afloat right now, but they need a first-round ACC tournament win over North Carolina at minimum and perhaps a quarterfinal victory over Maryland on top of that.

------- CUT LINE --------

66. Arizona State (22-9, 12-6, RPI: 55): Eight wins in their final 10 games earned the Sun Devils second place in the Pac-10 and a spot on the bubble, but their most impressive victories are over bubble teams Washington and San Diego State. They must beat the Huskies again in the Pac-10 tournament semifinals to merit legit consideration.

67. Mississippi (21-9, 9-7, RPI: 56): It took a late surge to get to 9-7 in the SEC for Mississippi to give itself a chance to make the NCAA tournament. Non-conference wins over Kansas State and UTEP will help the Rebels' cause, but without a quarterfinal victory over Tennessee this week, Ole Miss is probably NIT-bound.

68. South Florida (20-11, 9-9, RPI: 65): A second upset of Georgetown on Wednesday would give South Florida a case for an at-large berth, but it would probably take a quarterfinal Big East tournament victory over Syracuse for the Bulls to feel confident. Unlike Seton Hall, South Florida suffered bad losses out of league to Central Michigan and South Carolina.

69. Memphis (23-8, 13-3, RPI: 46): Memphis' RPI is solid because it played strong non-league competition, but the trouble is that the Tigers didn't win any of those games this season. They'll need to get to the Conference USA title game by perhaps beating Alabama-Birmingahm for a third time and then hope that other bubble teams continue to falter.

70. Mississippi State (21-10, 9-7, RPI: 68): No bubble team endured a more damaging week last week than the Bulldogs, who lost at Auburn and then got torched at home by Tennessee. The Bulldogs face a must-win SEC quarterfinal against fellow bubble team Florida and then depending on how other bubble teams fare, they may still need one more win after that.

Wednesday's Bubble Look-ahead

• South Florida vs. Georgetown — The Bulls already beat Georgetown once this season behind 29 points from star Dominique Jones.

• Seton Hall vs. Notre Dame — The surging Irish lock up a bid with a win; The Pirates need a win just to stay alive.

• Oklahoma State vs. Oklahoma — The Cowboys are probably fine no matter what, but a win here seals it.

Tuesday's Bubble Recap

South Florida 58, DePaul 49 — The Bulls slogged to a win over the Big East's last place team to stay alive for an at-large bid.

Saint John's 73, UConn 51 — A fitting conclusion to a disastrous season for the underachieving Huskies.

Seton Hall 109, Providence 106 — The Pirates nearly let a 29-point second-half lead slip away in a must-win game.

Dayton 70, George Washington 60 — At minimum, the Flyers need an Atlantic 10 title game appearance to make up for an 8-8 conference record.

Rhode Island 87, Saint Josephs 76 — Another must-win game awaits the Rams in the Atlantic 10 quarterfinals against Saint Louis.

View Comments