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Bubble Watch: Damn you, Vanderbilt

Syracuse’s bubble is getting close to being popped.

ACC Basketball Tournament - Second Round Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

Syracuse Orange fans better home the NCAA selection committee doesn’t put too much stock into conference tournament results, because if they do, Syracuse’s chances of making the NCAA Tournament don’t look too good right about now.

Both ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi and SB Nation’s Chris Dobbertean have Syracuse just barely making the tournament as one of the last four at-large bids. Lunardi pegs Syracuse as a 12-seed and facing the USC Trojans, while Dobbertean also has Syracuse as a 12-seed, but facing the Rhode Island Rams.

Unfortunately, the majority of bracketologists disagree with Lunardi’s and Dobbertean’s assessment, as only 50 of 121 projections included at Bracket Matrix have Syracuse making the tournament – a steep drop-off from the 68 projections that listed Syracuse yesterday. Bracket Matrix currently predicts Syracuse to be one of the first four teams out.

While yesterday’s results weren't as discouraging as Thursday’s, they sure as hell weren’t that great either.

Let’s just dive right in, shall we?

Vanderbilt Commodores

Vanderbilt (19-14) entered the SEC Tournament outside the bubble with a modest 17-14 record and needing to make a serious run in order to warrant an at-large bid. The Commodores have done just that, blowing out Texas A&M 66-41 before taking down No. 17 Florida 72-62 in overtime, Vanderbilt’s third win over Florida this season. With its recent success in the SEC Tournament, Vanderbilt is almost surely a lock (the Commodores are listed in 105 of 121 projections included at Bracket Matrix).

California Golden Bears

California (21-12) gave Syracuse fans quite a scare as the Golden Bears nearly solidified its resume with a marquee win over No. 5 Oregon last night in the PAC-12 Semifinals. The Golden Bears trailed by just two points with 45 seconds remaining, only to let the game – and its NCAA Tournament hopes – slip away. California is listed in just seven Bracket Matrix projections.

Kansas State Wildcats

Similar to California, Kansas State (20-13) also missed an opportunity to add another impressive win over a ranked opponent to its resume, as the Wildcats fell 51-50 No. 11 West Virginia. Kansas State led 25-16 at halftime only to blow its 14-point lead and miss a potential game-winning three-pointer with two seconds left. Despite Kansas State previously taking down No. 9 Baylor in the Big 12 Quarterfinals, the Wildcats remain squarely on the bubble with Syracuse, according to most bracketologists.

TCU Horned Frogs

TCU (19-15) wasn’t even being seriously considered for an at-large bid before upsetting No. 1 Kansas (albeit, without Josh Jackson). However, Syracuse Orange antichrist Jamie Dixon’s magic ran out last night, as the Horned Frogs were blown 84-63 by No. 23 Iowa State, ending TCU’s chances of potentially sneaking into the tournament.

Seton Hall

Seton Hall (21-11) may have lost to No. 2 Villanova last night, but the Pirates are almost surely a lock for the NCAA Tournament after a close 55-53 loss to the Wildcats and recent wins over No. 13 Butler and Marquette. Seton Hall is currently listed in 113 Bracket Matrix projections.


Similar to Seton Hall, fellow Big East member Xavier (21-13) also suffered a narrow loss last night, a 75-72 defeat at the hands of Creighton. And just like Seton Hall, Xavier’s NCAA Tournament chances also remain relatively intact, with a recent win over No. 13 Butler in the Big East Quarterfinals, combined with a No. 32 RPI and No. 19 strength of schedule.

Rhode Island

Rhode Island (22-9) took down former Syracuse rival St. Bonaventure 74-63 in the Atlantic 10 Quarterfinals to continue its late push for a NCAA Tournament bid. Rhode Island, however, remains squarely on the bubble, with Lunardi listing the Rams as one of his last two teams out.

Michigan State

Michigan State (19-14) lost 63-58 to Minnesota last night, ending its short-lived time in the Big Ten Tournament with just one win over Penn State. However, despite the Spartans’ similar record to Syracuse and owning just two wins over ranked teams, Michigan State is still listed higher than the Orange in most bracketologists’ projections, and is presumed to be safely in.


Syracuse fans probably didn’t like rooting for UConn, but the Huskies did its part in helping the Orange’s bubble chances by taking down Houston (21-10) 75-64, ending any chance of the Cougars potentially making a run and sneaking into the tournament.


With most conference tournaments either playing its Finals or Semifinals game, there are much less contests to review. However, there are still two that could have a major impact on Syracuse’s NCAA Tournament chances: Rhode Island vs. Davidson and Vanderbilt vs. Arkansas.

Rhode Island

Despite winners of its last six games, Rhode Island remains right on the cut line, according to most bracketelogists projections. A win over Davidson in the Atlantic 10 Semifinals to get to 23 wins, however, might just be enough to push the Rams over the edge and into the tournament.


While many experts now consider Vanderbilt to be a NCAA Tournament lock, nothing is assured. And although the Commodores have some solid wins, three of them have come against one team (Florida). A win over Arkansas (24-8), however, will only further cement Vanderbilt’s resume and push them above Syracuse on the bubble (if the Commodres weren’t already).