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Bubble watch: Syracuse men’s basketball gets some help on Thursday

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The Orange suffered a last-second loss, but picked up some wins elsewhere on the bubble.

NCAA Basketball: ACC Conference Tournament-Virginia Syracuse Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports

No, we’re not talking about the Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team losing a complete gut-punch game on Thursday. That didn’t help their NCAA Tournament bubble case at all. But a three-point loss to a Hoos squad that’s top-15 in NET isn’t really going to hurt us, either. However, Virginia’s positive COVID test might...

Until we know SU’s out for sure, however, we’ll continue entertaining this bubble conversation.

With zero games currently scheduled (no chance they add one but there are murmurs other bubble teams may), here’s where Syracuse stands:

  • 16-9 overall, 9-7 in league play
  • NET: 39
  • SOS: 48 (ESPN)
  • Road record: 2-7
  • Neutral record: 1-1
  • Quad 1 (1-7), Quad 2 (5-1), Quad 3 (7-1), Quad 4 (3-0)
  • Best wins: North Carolina, Clemson, Virginia Tech
NCAA Basketball: Mountain West Conference Tournament- Nevada vs Boise St. Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

We’ll get into the bubble teams remaining shortly. But first, Thursday’s bubble results, so everyone knows the current status of things — bubble teams in bold.

  • Duke COVID case ends season (not thought to affect Louisville)
  • Virginia COVID case potentially ends season (TBD how it affects us)
  • Maryland 68, Michigan State 57
  • Seton Hall 77, St. John’s 69 (OT)
  • Oregon State 83, UCLA 79 (OT)
  • Nevada 89, Boise State 82
  • Utah State 74, UNLV 53
  • Ole Miss 76, South Carolina 59
  • Colorado State 72, Fresno State 62

As you can see, a lot of teams were happy to help us out. Duke’s out of the running for an at-large bid and while Louisville doesn’t seem to be at risk following the game between those two teams on Wednesday, we’ll see if that remains the case. There’s also likely enough distance between where Michigan State and UCLA sit and where Syracuse currently is to worry about those losses for them.

The big results that mattered were St. John’s getting eliminated by Seton Hall and Boise State potentially being knocked off the bubble by Nevada. Coupled with Xavier and Louisville losing on Wednesday and Saint Louis losing over the weekend, the list of legitimate bubble teams is getting shorter and shorter.

So who’s still alive, and what do they need to do to make the field (and as a result, possibly get in over Syracuse)?

Here’s the current bubble watch as of Thursday night.

NCAA Basketball: ACC Conference Tournament-Duke Louisville Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports

Louisville Cardinals (13-7, 57nd in NET, 4-4 road record, 1-5 vs. Quad 1)

We’ve mentioned this repeatedly but Louisville’s getting a bit more credit than they may deserve. Along with playing fewer games due to COVID, their NET has been steadily dropping, the Quad 1 record isn’t better than anyone else’s on the bubble and the Cards are just 4-6 in their last 10 games. Best wins this year are Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech, though they do have four road victories.

Drake Bulldogs (23-4, 44th in NET, 9-2 road record, 1-2 vs. Quad 1)

Drake hasn’t played since falling to Loyola in the MVC title game. They seem pretty likely to make the field with a top-50 net, nine road wins and 23 wins overall (yes, even in a lesser league and with a couple Quad 3 losses).

Boise State Broncos (17-8, 51st in NET, 4-6 road record, 2-4 vs. Quad 1)

Thursday’s loss was just the latest for Boise, who’s now picked up four straight to end the season (though two of those were on the road vs. San Diego State). Of everyone considered “in” the field going into conference tournaments, they were the ones that could least afford a loss, since Nevada’s barely inside the top 100. Falling to the Wolf Pack probably drops them out of the field, as noted earlier.

Colorado State Rams (18-5, 48th in NET, 4-4 road record, 2-3 vs. Quad 1)

Fresno State tested the Rams for a bit, but CSU ultimately collected a 10-point win. That doesn’t do much except move them on to the next round. Whoever wins the Colorado State-Utah State matchup is definitely in the field. Whoever loses may not be out — but is in danger of getting overtaken via bid-stealer.

Utah State Aggies (18-7, 41st in NET, 5-3 road record, 2-4 vs. Quad 1)

Utah State’s biggest advantage over bubble competitors are two wins over the Aztecs. Beyond that, however, it’s not the most impressive resume — even if NET’s a fan of it, for the most part. A one-sided win over UNLV helped them out. But it’ll probably take a win over Colorado State in the Mountain West semifinals for them to leap into the field (and even then, that’s maybe as a swap for the Rams).

Saint Louis Billikens (14-6, 45th in NET, 1-4 road record, 2-3 vs. Quad 1)

Saint Louis lacks a strong resume aside from NET and a couple Quad 1 wins. There’s been talk they’re looking for another opponent since they’ve been off since the weekend after losing to St. Bonaventure in the A-10 Tournament. One possibility for them? A reeling Xavier team. The Billikens can’t really make the NCAAs without beating a team like Xavier (and even then, it’s questionable).

Ole Miss Rebels (16-10, 52nd in NET, 5-6 road record, 3-4 vs. Quad 1)

Beating South Carolina was a needed result to stay in contention, but it doesn’t do anything to boost Ole Miss’s case just yet. Friday can change things considerably for the Rebels, however, when they face off with a top-30 LSU squad. If Ole Miss can beat the Tigers, they’d grab another big win, another win away from home, and another potential Quad 1. We need them to lose to LSU.

Seton Hall Pirates (14-12, 55th in NET, 6-7 road record, 3-7 vs. Quad 1)

Outlasting St. John’s in overtime stopped a Seton Hall losing streak at four, and gave the Pirates their first win since February 17. The total wins aren’t impressive, but the road record and Quad 1 victories are what’s keeping them afloat for now. Perhaps unfortunately for us, though, Georgetown knocked off Villanova, setting up what could be an easy win for Seton Hall en route to the Big East title game (which would currently be a bid stealing situation).

Xavier Musketeers (13-8, 60th in NET, 2-5 road record, 1-2 vs. Quad 1)

We mentioned Xavier above quickly, but if they have any shot to make it now after losing to a lowly Butler squad, they’ll need to add a game. Saint Louis is one option. There are others. Who knows what COVID protocols look like and all, and who’s available on very short notice at this point. It would also need to be a good enough opponent to move the needle for this team, which has lost three straight and is just 5-5 vs. Quad 2 teams.

Memphis Tigers (15-7, 53rd in NET, 4-3 road record, 0-3 vs. Quad 1)

Memphis is in need of help, which a run in the AAC Tournament could provide. Without a Quad 1 win yet, it’s debatable whether one win over Houston in the semifinals could get them in. The Tigers probably need to win the league to make the NCAA Tournament.

SMU Mustangs (11-4, 56th in NET, 5-2 road record, 0-3 vs. Quad 1)

Like Memphis, SMU needs to win the league to make the field. They haven’t played in over a month and haven’t played enough games in general. It’s best to just have them lose to Cincinnati on Friday, though.

St. John’s Red Storm (16-11, 68th in NET, 4-6 road record, 2-6 vs. Quad 1)

Mentioned earlier, but St. John’s is done after losing to Seton Hall.

***

See who we’re rooting for/against now at this point? Cool. Go teams. And let’s just hope Syracuse can still play in the NCAAs if they’re in line to get a bid.