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Bubble watch 3/5

There’s plenty of bubble action to be had on a Saturday chock full of basketball.

Old opera in the bubble
Photo by Frank Rumpenhorst/picture alliance via Getty Images

Last night wasn’t deep in bubble action, but almost every team we identified took care of business. Loyola handled Bradley, St. Bonaventure walked away from Dayton late, and BYU walked away from Loyola Marymount early. Belmont succumbed to the threat of Morehead, putting the final nail in the coffin for their at-large hopes.

On to today’s action! Bubble teams are bolded; cheering for chalk isn’t fun, but cheering against teams trying to steal your ticket to the big dance makes it more palatable.

Davidson at Dayton, 12:30pm, USA Network

Dayton’s resume is a weird case. They’ve got solid computer numbers and are 8-5 in the top two quads, but they have a staggering 3 Q4 losses. All of those came in the span of basically a week in mid-November. Since then, they’ve played pretty well and only had one stumble. This would be a Q2 win; pick up another one or two of those and they’ll be a tough call for the committee.

Miami (FL) at Syracuse, 1pm, ESPNU

The Hurricanes are right on the cut line in bubble terms according to the Bracket Matrix. They’re being dragged down by 3 Q3 losses, 2 of which were by a single possession and the sum total of which were by 10 points. This is a Q2 road opportunity in a game KenPom sees as a coin toss. With a 4-1 Q1 record, Miami is a team just looking to do damage if they can get in.

Kentucky at Florida, 2pm, CBS

Florida is a bit adrift of the bubble, thanks largely to a 6-10 record in Q1/2 games and Q4 loss in which Texas Southern beat them by 15. They don’t have anything that impressive on the top line of their resume, but that could sure change with a Q1 victory today. This might not punch their ticket, but it would put them in the thick of the conversation.

Virginia Tech at Clemson, 2pm, no TV

Both of these teams are on the wrong side of the bubble, and Clemson all but needs the auto bid at this point. They have 0 Q1 wins, are 3-12 in Q1/2, and have 3 losses below Q2. Va Tech is a much more interesting study. Their computer numbers are good, but they’re just 5-9 in the top 2 quads and have 2 Q3 losses. It’s a big hill to climb for them, but they aren’t dead yet.

Indiana at Purdue, 2pm, ESPN

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Indiana was sitting pretty at the end of January, but a disastrous month of February has them squarely in the danger zone. They don’t have any bad losses, but they’re just 2-6 in Q1 and 4-5 in Q2. Very few bubble teams have a win as good as picking one up at Purdue would be for the Hoosiers; this is a monstrous opportunity for them.

Seton Hall at Creighton, 2:30pm, FOX

Creighton’s only questionable loss came by one to Arizona State; get one more bucket there and they’re sitting pretty. Time doesn’t work that way, though, and now they’re in the tournament but not entirely comfortable. They’ve got a 6-5 record in Q1 and are 3-3 in Q2; winning one more game before Selection Sunday likely has them in with no worries.

Pittsburgh at Notre Dame, 2:30pm, ESPNNews

Pitt is the Georgetown of the ACC; if Notre Dame loses this one, they won’t deserve to be in and likely won’t. Pitt is 190 in the NET right now; this would be a solid Q4 loss. Notre Dame’s resume lacks high-end firepower but only features one loss outside the top 2 quads. The only thing they have to earn today is a chance to make further games higher up the resume mean something.

North Texas at UTEP, 3pm, no TV

Could North Texas pinch an at-large bid? They’re 1-1 in Q1, 5-2 in Q2, and have just one loss below that level. Their resume is padded out by a lot of unimpressive wins, but they have excellent computer numbers and have taken care of business at the level at which they play. The problem with playing in a low-major conference is that one bad game can erase a season’s worth of good work, and that’s the ice the Mean Green will be skating on the rest of the year.

Loyola Chicago v. UNI, 3:30pm, MVC semifinal, CBSSN

I think Loyola is in. If you think so too, cheer for them to win this game and the next and make the MVC a one-bid league. If you think they’re one Q2 loss from sweating out Selection Sunday, pull for the Fightin’ Farokhmaneshes.

Fresno State at Wyoming, 4pm, no TV

Are so many of these games really not on TV? I can’t find a listing for them. Wyoming is 4-4 in Q1 and 5-1 in Q2, but they’ve got a couple of bad losses further down the quads. Their computer numbers are not great, as you might imagine from a team in the Mountain West. This is a Q2 game and big opportunity for a team just on the right side of the bubble right now.

VCU at Saint Louis, 4pm, ESPN2

Part of me will always resent VCU for what they did to Dee Davis during the Shaka Smart “they can’t call every foul” era of defending. Right now the Rams are the first team out according to the Bracket Matrix; this is a huge opportunity for them to snag a Q1 win and bump their mediocre computer numbers.

North Carolina at Duke, 6pm, ESPN

ESPN’s hype of this game has been insufferable; I’ve only been looking forward to it so it will finally be done. UNC is 1-7 in Q1, 4-0 in Q2, and has a Q4 loss to Pitt. They’re in according to the Bracket Matrix for reasons I’m not quite sure I understand. A win here would be a huge boost to them; a loss here would make Coach K and ESPN happy. Do yourself a favor and just don’t pay attention to this game, because any result will make a reasonable person mad.

Georgetown at Xavier, 7pm, FS1

Watching Xavier for the past month gives a person the impression that they’d be lucky to make the CBI. Reading 30 resumes to write these Bubble Watch posts gives a little perspective and helps you see Xavier’s resume isn’t as bad as their performances. This is a deeply Q4 game that they can’t afford to lose, but with 5 Q1 wins and a 9-11 record in Q1/2, X is okay. Not brilliant, but okay.