College Basketball Bubble Watch
The final judgments for 2007
As such, there are 25 at-large locks and four teams (Georgia Tech, Michigan State, Texas Tech and Xavier) that look likely to be in, as well.
That leaves five spots to debate, and the following 12 teams realistically in the mix: Syracuse, Illinois, Purdue, Kansas State, Stanford, Arkansas, Missouri State, Old Dominion, Air Force, Akron, Appalachian State and Drexel.
Of that group, I don't see Missouri State (missed too many chances for statements), Air Force (late slide, lacking big wins), Akron (no big wins), Arkansas (under .500 SEC West) or App State (couple of bad Ls, Minter boost not enough) getting there.
That leaves seven, and this is where it gets sticky. We'll go bullet point-style:
• There is no legitimate argument for the committee to take Syracuse ahead of Drexel. None. Syracuse has three good wins all season -- Georgetown (very good), at Marquette (solid, but sixth-place in Big East) and Villanova (the league's 9-seed). They didn't play a road nonconference game. Drexel won at Syracuse, also won at Villanova (better than Cuse's home win) and won at Creighton (not G'town, but a very good win). Drexel also won 13 true road games (Cuse won five) and has an RPI that's 11 spots better (39 to 50).
Given what the committee has said in the past about teams having to prove themselves on the road and get quality wins, it would be completely hypocritical to take the Orange over the Dragons.
• That said, I don't see how you can take Drexel over Old Dominion. ODU was two places and two games ahead of Drexel in the CAA, swept the Dragons by 37 points, have a better RPI Top 50 record and went 4-2 against the other three top CAA teams vs. 1-5 for Drexel.
When it comes to intraconference comparisons, I put more weight on order of finish and then head-to-head. It's a better sample to look at 18 games against a comparable schedule than a disparate set of nonconference results.
Furthermore, if Syracuse is hanging its hat on the Georgetown win at home, ODU beat the Hoyas on the road (in their on-campus gym, no less). Syracuse's ConfRPI (accounting for the harder schedule): 33. ODU's? 36.
ODU-Syracuse is very close, but Drexel-Syracuse isn't, and ODU is ahead of Drexel, so can't you make a case that both CAA schools are ahead of the Orange?
• K-State, despite 22 wins, 10 Big 12 conference wins and a fourth-place finish, could be in trouble if the committee likes both CAA teams. They were only 2-6 against the RPI Top 50, have a worse RPI than any of the three listed and the nonconference SOS (227) is horrible.
• Purdue versus Illinois is the toughest debate around. There's almost nothing distinguishing these two teams, so we'll put them aside for a minute.
• Stanford only has 18 wins, but don't have a loss outside the RPI top 100 and had some injury issues (Lopez and Goods) that can be debated (as do K-State and Illinois). The Cardinal have some very solid wins (UCLA, USC, Wazzu, Oregon, at Fresno), and some very ugly losses (by 34 to Air Force, by 30 to Santa Clara).
Given all of that, if the committee is consistent to its word, and values road wins, nonconference scheduling and showing that you can compete with the best teams, I don't see how they omit either CAA team.
That leaves three spots for five teams, and frankly, almost any combo is fine. No one has room to complain anymore. For whatever it's worth, I'd probably take Stanford, Purdue and Syracuse. Illinois and K-State fall short.
Here's the last look at the bubble. Enjoy Selection Sunday and thanks for reading (and debating) the column all season.
|The Bubble Breakdown|
|CONFERENCE||LOCKS||SHOULD BE INS||AT-LARGES TAKEN (OUT OF 34)
(assuming no auto bid outlier)
|Other Locks/Should Be Ins^||2||1||3|
(Please remember, per selection committee criteria, that records displayed are Division I only.)