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Syracuse basketball bubble watch: March 10

Well, that went poorly last night...

NCAA Basketball: ACC Conference Tournament-North Carolina vs Syracuse Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange have done all they can do in terms of resume, so now they’ll sit and wait to find out whether or not they make the NCAA Tournament.

But before Sunday, other results have had an effect on our bubble status, for better or worse.

Games get started at 11 a.m. today. You’ll probably want to start paying attention around 1 p.m. We’ll be updating this daily through Sunday.

Yesterday’s results

Ouch. (teams of interest in bold)

  • Kansas 83, Kansas State 67
  • Arizona 78, UCLA 67
  • Alabama 81, Auburn 63
  • San Diego State 90, Nevada 73
  • USC 74, Oregon 54
  • Buffalo 78, Kent State 61

Did anyone play themselves in? Alabama, if they weren’t already

Work left to do: USC

Sitting and waiting: Kansas State, though they’re probably in — plus, UCLA

San Diego State? Yeah, that’s not good for us.

While once a multi-bid league each year, the Mountain West has fallen on some tougher times lately. This year, Nevada was the only conference team headed to the NCAAs. Now, after Nevada lost to SDSU, either the Aztecs or New Mexico (their MWC title game foe) will steal a bid, relegating the Wolf Pack to the at-large pool.

NCAA Basketball: Pac-12 Conference Tournament - USC vs Oregon Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Today’s games

(all times ET)

A-10 Tournament: Rhode Island Rams vs. St. Joseph’s Hawks, 1 p.m.

A-10 Tournament: St. Bonaventure Bonnies vs. Davidson Wildcats, 3:30 p.m.

Lumping these together again. Just root for the Bonnies and Rams to avoid any more bid-stealing situations.

MAC Tournament: Buffalo Bulls vs. Toledo Rockets, 7 p.m.

Yes, we beat both teams, but winning is the only way Buffalo can potentially end up a top-30 (Quadrant 1) win for Syracuse.

Pac-12 Tournament: USC Trojans vs. Arizona Wildcats, 10 p.m.

Beating Oregon didn’t really do much for the Trojans’ resume. So if they’re not in already, a win over the Wildcats would be what gets them there by way of an auto-bid. As mentioned previously, USC played well in the league, but has just a handful of top-50 victories. That doesn’t necessarily look great, no matter what computer numbers say.

NCAA Basketball: ACC Conference Tournament-North Carolina vs Syracuse Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports

Syracuse’s Bubble Contenders

With so few games left on the schedule, it’s worth just assessing resumes of the teams in question against Syracuse’s body of work. For reference, we got to the Orange first:

Syracuse Orange

W-L (Conf. W-L): 20-13 (8-10)

True road record: 4-6

RPI/BPI/Sagarin/KenPom: 40/54/50/54

Strength of Schedule: 13

Best wins: Clemson, at Miami, at Louisville, Buffalo

Bad losses: at Wake Forest, at Georgia Tech

“Best” wins here will be counted as wins against the RPI top 50 (rather than Quadrant 1, which isn’t exactly that), and “bad” losses are to teams ranked outside the RPI’s top 100. Syracuse is hurt by those Wake and Tech games, and would already be in the field had they won both games, or potentially, even one of them. The committee’s new emphasis on true road record is helpful for Syracuse here, though some bubble teams are still better.

But what about the rest? Included below is the full list of teams we’re considering on the bubble, sorted out by who’s (probably) in already and who’s still in question.

NCAA Basketball: ACC Conference Tournament-Florida State vs Louisville Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Probably in

Florida State Seminoles

W-L (Conf. W-L): 20-11 (9-9)

True road record: 4-7

RPI/BPI/Sagarin/KenPom: 52/38/35/37

Strength of Schedule: 85

Best wins: North Carolina, Clemson, Miami, at Louisville, Syracuse, at Florida

Bad losses: at Wake Forest

FSU’s numbers aren’t great, but the wins are, plus they own a head-to-head victory over the Orange as well. They’ve slid a little recently, but not enough to knock them out of the field by any means.

Alabama Crimson Tide

W-L (Conf. W-L): 19-14 (8-10)

True road record: 2-8

RPI/BPI/Sagarin/KenPom: 35/48/45/44

Strength of Schedule: 5

Best wins: Tennessee, Auburn (2x), Rhode Island, Texas A&M (2x), at Florida, Oklahoma

Bad losses: at Vanderbilt, at Ole Miss, Minnesota

There are just too many high-quality wins to ignore this team. The Tide were probably in before beating Auburn, and now they’re a lock. They can keep playing their way up in the SEC Tournament today and tomorrow.

Oklahoma Sooners

W-L (Conf. W-L): 18-13 (8-10)

True road record: 2-9

RPI/BPI/Sagarin/KenPom: 47/43/37/48

Strength of Schedule: 27

Best wins: Kansas, at Wichita State, at TCU, TCU, Texas Tech, USC

Bad losses: at Iowa State

The numbers don’t floor you, and the SOS is fine. But banking on six big wins (especially both KU and Wichita) seems like enough to push through that. The bigger question beyond the numbers will be how the committee views their play of late. OU has only won three of their last 12 games.

Texas Longhorns

W-L (Conf. W-L): 19-14 (8-10)

True road record: 4-7

RPI/BPI/Sagarin/KenPom: 50/40/33/39

Strength of Schedule: 21

Best wins: TCU, Texas Tech, West Virginia, at Alabama, Butler, at Oklahoma, Oklahoma

Bad losses: N/A

Texas’s record doesn’t look like much, but the quality wins are there, and they don’t have a bad loss. One question could be zero wins over a truly elite team. TCU tops the list with an RPI just inside the top 25.

NCAA Basketball: Pac-12 Conference Tournament - Arizona vs UCLA Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Questionable Status

UCLA Bruins

W-L (Conf. W-L): 21-11 (11-7)

True road record: 3-7

RPI/BPI/Sagarin/KenPom: 36/55/44/49

Strength of Schedule: 54

Best wins: Kentucky, at Arizona, at USC, USC

Bad losses: at Oregon State

UCLA leans on two major wins, but also has solid computer numbers. Their situation is actually pretty similar to Syracuse’s, with a worse SOS. The Pac-12 being down this year won’t do them any favors.

USC Trojans

W-L (Conf. W-L): 23-10 (12-6)

True road record: 6-5

RPI/BPI/Sagarin/KenPom: 34/42/34/36

Strength of Schedule: 58

Best wins: Middle Tennessee, New Mexico State

Bad losses: SMU, Princeton

If USC beats Arizona, it doesn’t matter, since they’re in by default. But this resume lacks quality and just gets fat off computer numbers.

Arizona State Sun Devils

W-L (Conf. W-L): 20-11 (8-10)

True road record: 4-6

RPI/BPI/Sagarin/KenPom: 63/44/49/28

Strength of Schedule: 80

Best wins: Xavier, at Kansas, USC, UCLA

Bad losses: at Oregon State

ASU’s been in a late freefall, but more than that, and the RPI isn’t flattering and largely bank on earlier success in the year. Big wins are good, but can’t just coast afterward. I’d be surprised if the Sun Devils get in, especially with that SOS.

St. Mary’s Gaels

W-L (Conf. W-L): 28-5 (16-2)

True road record: 10-1

RPI/BPI/Sagarin/KenPom: 44/27/42/28

Strength of Schedule: 211

Best wins: at Gonzaga, New Mexico State

Bad losses: at San Francisco, Washington State

I know they’re ranked, but the resume isn’t there. Just two major wins, plus two poor losses. Even with top-50 computer numbers across the board, can’t ignore the deplorable SOS.

NCAA Basketball: ACC Conference Tournament-Virginia vs Louisville Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports

Louisville Cardinals

W-L (Conf. W-L): 20-13 (9-9)

True road record: 4-7

RPI/BPI/Sagarin/KenPom: 38/31/36/33

Strength of Schedule: 12

Best wins: N/A

Bad losses: N/A

Louisville lost every game they were supposed to, and also won every game they were supposed to, by and large. That’s not necessarily a tournament resume, even with top-40 computer numbers and a great SOS. They’re going to be sweating.

Baylor Bears

W-L (Conf. W-L): 17-14 (8-10)

True road record: 2-9

RPI/BPI/Sagarin/KenPom: 64/38/31/35

Strength of Schedule: 14

Best wins: Kansas, Texas Tech, Creighton, Oklahoma, at Texas, Texas,

Bad losses: at Iowa State

Similar to Alabama in a lot of ways, but without the glut of very high-quality wins. The large gap between RPI and the other metrics also throws this resume for a loop, as does the road record. Honestly, no idea what the committee will think of the Bears.

Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders

W-L (Conf. W-L): 23-7 (16-2)

True road record: 12-1

RPI/BPI/Sagarin/KenPom: 33/49/74/59

Strength of Schedule: 84

Best wins: at Western Kentucky, Western Kentucky

Bad losses: Southern Miss

MTSU did what it was supposed to with the non-conference schedule, but the teams didn’t perform well enough and the C-USA schedule also had its own issues. With the non-RPI computer numbers and poor SOS, I don’t think they have enough here.

Oklahoma State Cowboys

W-L (Conf. W-L): 19-14 (8-10)

True road record: 3-7

RPI/BPI/Sagarin/KenPom: 87/59/47/55

Strength of Schedule: 65

Best wins: at Kansas, Kansas, Texas Tech, at West Virginia, Oklahoma (2x), Texas

Bad losses: N/A

A lot of good wins here, and no bad losses. Computer numbers will be what decides the Cowboys’ fate. I’d say they’re a little too far out to leap this many teams.

NCAA Basketball: Big East Conference Tournament-Villanova vs Marquette Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Marquette Golden Eagles

W-L (Conf. W-L): 19-13 (9-9)

True road record: 5-5

RPI/BPI/Sagarin/KenPom: 55/50/51/53

Strength of Schedule: 30

Best wins: at Seton Hall, Seton Hall, at Providence, at Creighton, Creighton

Bad losses: at DePaul

Marquette never got the BIG win it really needed, and the computer numbers don’t pop off the page. They’re out given what the rest of the teams in question have accomplished.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish

W-L (Conf. W-L): 19-14 (8-10)

True road record: 5-7

RPI/BPI/Sagarin/KenPom: 65/33/45/31

Strength of Schedule: 44

Best wins: Wichita State, at Syracuse

Bad losses: Ball State, Indiana, at Georgia Tech

We shouldn’t even have to do this. Two of those three bad losses were with Bonzie Colson. The two wins aren’t really any better than any other at-large teams’, save USC, MTSU and Louisville. Don’t entertain this, tournament committee.


Syracuse likely gets tossed into the second group of these two. They’re ranked in order of probability (according to me) of being included, so if you want to slot them in somewhere, I’d put them between ASU and St. Mary’s. That’s almost exactly on the line. So prepare yourselves for a stressful weekend.