Bubble Watch

Stuart Hammerover 8 years


Aritcle written by:Stuart HammerStuart Hammer


Kentucky was squarely sitting on the fence heading into the weekend showdown with Missouri, but after coming out on the other side unscathed, many media outlets are pushing the Cats to the good side of the bubble. So long as an epic collapse is avoided against Mississippi State, Arkansas and Georgia, it looks as though Kentucky will be playing in the Big Dance come Selection Sunday. And Senior Day versus Florida may turn out to be inconsequential in a loss, or an added resume booster with a win; possibly bumping the Cats up a seed. Take a look at a few of the other teams on the bubble, and learn who you should root for in the closing weeks to the season.   KENTUCKY  (19-8,  10-4,  2nd SEC) RPI:  46 SOS:  47 vs. 1-25:  0-3 vs. 26-50:  1-1 vs. 51-100:  5-4 vs. 101-200:  4-0 vs. 200+:  9-0 BEST WINS:  Missouri, Ole Miss BAD LOSSES:  Texas A&M The biggest thing hurting Kentucky’s resume is stand-out win. The Cats have had their fair share of opportunities, but against high-level competition Kentucky has come up empty, going 0-3 against top-25 teams. The road win over Ole Miss is collapsing, so the Cats saving grace is the home win over Missouri sans Nerlens Noel. And if that wasn’t quite enough for the selection committee, a good showing against the Gators in Rupp Arena may be the ticket. Or if all else fails, an SEC Tournament crown will lock it up. But even without all that, just taking care of business in the next three games should be plenty.   TEMPLE  (19-8,  8-5,  5th A-10) RPI:  42 SOS:  43 vs. 1-25:  1-2 vs. 26-50:  2-1 vs. 51-100:  5-3 vs. 101-200:  6-1 vs. 200+:  5-1 BEST WINS:  Syracuse, Villanova BAD LOSSES:  Canisius, St. Bonaventure, Duquesne Temple picked up a marquee win away from home early in the year against Syracuse, and that has carried the Owls deep through this season. However, without many other signature W’s, and a few head-scratching home losses, most recently to Duquesne — a team with only one win in its last 15 tries — and also Canisius (17-11), and St. Bonaventure (13-13), Temple may find itself on the outside looking in on an at-large bid. The best chance for the Owls to solidify a tournament berth is the season finale at home against Shaka Smart and his VCU Rams.   OLE MISS  (20-7,  9-5,  4th SEC) RPI:  56 SOS:  126 vs. 1-25:  0-1 vs. 26-50:  1-3 vs. 51-100:  3-2 vs. 101-200:  6-0 vs. 200+:  10-1 BEST WINS:  Missouri BAD LOSSES:  South Carolina Much like Kentucky and so many other teams on bubble watch, Ole Miss lacks a quality win to hang its hat on. The Rebels trounced through the early part of their schedule and bolted up in the rankings. But since suffering a loss to Kentucky in late January, Ole Miss has gone 2-4 and lost a lot of steam. Still, there are four winnable games remaining on the schedule. And for Kentucky’s sake of “good wins,” it will be okay if they win out.   VILLANOVA  (18-11,  9-7,  8th Big East) RPI:  54 SOS:  34 vs. 1-25:  3-1 vs. 26-50:  1-5 vs. 51-100:  2-3 vs. 101-200:  7-1 vs. 200+:  4-1 BEST WINS:  Louisville, Syracuse, Marquette BAD LOSSES:  Columbia, Providence, Seton Hall Villanova may have locked up its tournament fate on Monday with a bad loss to Seton Hall. No one will forget its back-to-back victories over No. 5 Louisville and No. 3 Syracuse, but with 11 total losses, and two more games left against No. 23 Pittsburgh and No. 7 Georgetown, things aren’t looking good for these Wildcats. Kentucky fans should be rooting hard for the Panthers and Hoyas next week to keep Nova out of the equation.   BAYLOR  (16-11,  7-7,  6th Big 12) RPI:  64 SOS:  32 vs. 1-25:  0-5 vs. 26-50:  2-2 vs. 51-100:  2-2 vs. 101-200:  4-2 vs. 200+:  7-0 BEST WINS:  Kentucky, Oklahoma State BAD LOSSES:  Northwestern It’s becoming a borderline “bad loss” for Kentucky if it wasn’t already. Baylor was once a top-25 team, but the Bears have fallen off even harder than your Wildcats, going just 8-11 versus top-200 teams. Baylor is certainly out of the picture right now, especially after getting creamed on the road by Oklahoma last week. But with remaining games versus No. 13 Kansas State and No. 6 Kansas (who we all know is beatable), Baylor could play themselves back into the discussion with one of those wins, and certainly get mention with two. Because Baylor is already out of the picture, losses to these Kansas schools won’t affect Kentucky, so root for the Bears in order to improve the Cats resume.   MARYLAND  (19-8,  7-7,  6th ACC) RPI:  67 SOS:  108 vs. 1-25:  2-3 vs. 26-50:  0-1 vs. 51-100:  1-3 vs. 101-200:  9-1 vs. 200+:  7-0 BEST WINS:  Duke, NC State BAD LOSSES:  Boston College Remember Maryland? That huge season-opening win for Kentucky isn’t so shiny anymore, but had it gone the other way it is a win the Terps would be boasting about right now. So take that for what it’s worth. Maryland is a solid squad that has struggled through ACC play with only one impressive win, albeit a pretty big one, over Duke. Fortunately for Terrapin fans, the NCAA expanded the field to 68 teams, so somebody is going to get in. With a relatively easy slate of games remaining and a home contest against North Carolina — another team on the fence — Maryland could play themselves onto the bubble once again and be a toss-up come Selection Sunday. What's more, Maryland winning means Kentucky is winning as far as getting into the Tournament is concerned.

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