The Syracuse Orange’s 20-point loss to the Louisville Cardinals on Sunday provides no favors in terms of SU’s NCAA Tournament resume. But we’ll see if falling to a top-10 team on the road really hurts them at all, either. The Orange were expected to lose, and they did. Especially on the road, it doesn’t erase the Duke victory overnight.
Looking around the rest of the bubble too, it’s not as if every team has been doing favors for themselves, either. While Bracket Matrix hasn’t updated since Sunday morning, there’s still plenty to glean from Syracuse’s current standing there, plus who’s directly above and below them.
USC Trojans (21-8, 8-8)
USC has one big win on the year (vs. rival UCLA), and other than that, has beaten everyone they’re supposed to in the Pac-12. They’ve also lost a lot lately -- the Trojans blew a late double-digit lead to Arizona State on Sunday, making it four straight defeats now. They end with two winnable games vs. Washington and Washington State, but USC’s case is suddenly far more questionable.
Michigan Wolverines (19-10, 9-7)
The Wolverines have really strengthened their case in recent weeks, with big wins over Wisconsin and then Purdue this past weekend. They also possess a win over fellow bubble team Marquette and own a split with Michigan State. This resume is far from bulletproof, but a likely 10-8 or so record in the Big Ten with those two wins could be enough to get them in.
Michigan State Spartans (18-11, 10-6)
Sparty grabbed exactly what they needed on Sunday, a win over Wisconsin — something both of the B1G bubble teams have that Syracuse does not (the Badgers trounced SU earlier this year). MSU’s already at the 10-win mark in league play and probably finishes with 11, if not 12 (if they can upset Maryland). They’d have to drop three straight to really be in peril.
Seton Hall Pirates (18-10, 8-8)
SHU struggled at DePaul, but still pulled off the victory, which is all that matters at this point. The Pirates are at .500 in league play, have wins over Xavier and Creighton, and a chance to upset Butler in the regular season finale. Seton Hall has a good case for inclusion, but simply doesn’t possess the type or resume the teams above them (especially the Michigan schools) do. They’re no lock to get in vs. Syracuse either.
Marquette Golden Eagles (17-11, 8-8)
Marquette lost a winnable game at Providence, which won’t help their bubble case at all. The Friars swept MU, and with two tough games to end the regular season (at Xavier, Creighton), the Golden Eagles’ footing is pretty tenuous now. Previous wins over Villanova (huge) and Creighton are helpful, but a sub-.500 league record would not aid them much.
Providence Friars (18-11, 8-8)
Providence has stormed back onto the bubble with four wins in a row, all against quality teams. Through the Friars’ non-conference resume isn’t much, their Big East credentials now include wins over Butler, Xavier, Creighton and Marquette (all in a row). With a more well-rounded group of quality wins, and a sweep against the Golden Eagles, PC would seem to be a better bet than Marquette right now. They close with two very winnable games vs. DePaul and St. John’s.
Kansas State Wildcats (17-12, 6-10)
Kansas State lost by 30 to a bad Oklahoma team -- which is much worse than losing to Louisville by 20. The Wildcats have also suffered eight losses in their past 10 games, as their place in the field gets shakier by the day. KSU’s wins over Baylor and West Virginia may be the best two resume victories of any bubble team, but the rest of their case is weak at best.
California Golden Bears (19-9, 10-6)
Cal took it to Oregon State, just like they were supposed to, so that’s good. USC’s recent drop also stands to help them out too, potentially, as the Bears position themselves for a better seed in the Pac-12 Tournament. At the same time, the Trojans are Cal’s best win to-date. How the committee handles the RPI-inflated Pac-12 teams will be telling.
Illinois State Redbirds (25-5, 17-1)
Nothing changes for the Missouri Valley’s top seed, as they end the regular season with yet another win. Still, it’s tough to assess just how much the quantity of victories outweighs the lack of quality (beyond a split with Wichita State). Winning the MVC Tournament may be the only sure way to get the Redbirds in.
Vanderbilt Commodores (16-13, 9-7)
Vandy has won four straight and owns signature wins over Florida, South Carolina and Iowa State. They’ve also lost by 24 to Marquette and already have 13 losses. Their case could be pretty similar to Syracuse’s come selection time. If one is revealed to be in the field early, it could spell could things for the other.
Syracuse’s place in the field is more secure than last week’s, but clearing the “last four in” line is only part of the battle. Along with the teams listed below them here, TCU, Wake Forest, Rhode Island and Georgia Tech (among others) could close in on SU should they falter. Georgia Tech, in particular, has an opportunity to make life harder for the Orange with another win over them this Saturday.
This should be a wild week as every major conference wraps up its regular season. The picture should look at least a little clearer for Syracuse come next Monday.