Nail-chewing time for bubble teams

March 07, 1995|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,Sun Staff Writer

Skip Prosser was a Tulsa fan last night. Tonight, he'll be interested in Western Kentucky's welfare.

Prosser was atop the college basketball world for a few minutes a year ago tonight, when he coached Loyola College to a surprise berth in the NCAA tournament. Now, he's sitting on the NCAA bubble, checking on results from around the nation and waiting to see if his Xavier team will be included when the 64-team field is announced Sunday.

Xavier went 14-0 in the Midwestern Collegiate Conference and entered the MCC tournament ranked No. 25 in the nation. The Musketeers were upset by Wright State in the quarterfinals on Saturday, however, and Prosser hopes there aren't many more upsets like it.

Tulsa, though, was beaten by Southern Illinois in the Missouri Valley Conference championship game last night, while Western Kentucky is favored in the Sun Belt final tonight. Xavier and every other team on the bubble was rooting for Tulsa and Western Kentucky, since both have strong RPIs, the ratings percentage index used by the NCAA selection committee. Their inclusion as automatic qualifiers would have lessened the competition for at-large berths.

Conversely, underdogs emerging from major conference tournaments could wreak havoc. Should St. John's get hot in the Big East, for instance, that's one fewer bid for teams with solid regular-season credentials.

"I'm rooting for Tulsa [No. 18 in the most recent RPI] and Western Kentucky [29]," Prosser said early last night. "If they win, it helps our at-large chances, and everyone else's. I've been told by a lot of people not to worry, that we're in good shape, but I'll believe it when I see it."

The NCAA selection committee will go into hiding Thursday afternoon in Kansas City, Mo., and begin the process of selecting and seeding teams. It will keep close watch on the major conference tournaments and the final regular-season games in the Big Ten and Pacific-10.

A look at how the major conferences should fare:

* Atlantic Coast Conference: Forget Georgia Tech's so-so RPI (50). It has been 12 years since the conference received only four NCAA bids, and the Yellow Jackets are in.

* Atlantic 10: Temple has become a lock, but George Washington probably played its way out of the NCAAs by losing its last three.

* Big East: The renaissance isn't complete yet. Barring an upset in the conference tournament, the Big East will settle for four bids.

* Big Eight: Nebraska or Colorado need to win the conference tournament to get the Big Eight a sixth bid.

* Big Ten: The conference has been politicking for at least six bids. Watch fast-charging Iowa, which beat Michigan by 20 on Saturday. The Hawkeyes (18-10) play host to Michigan State tonight, and finish at Indiana on Sunday.

* Metro: If Louisville wins the tournament, four of the seven teams could make the NCAAs.

* Pacific-10: Thursday's Washington State-at-Stanford game is for the conference's fifth bid.

* Southeastern: Florida's strong RPI (39) probably warrants a fifth bid, but the Gators might need to beat Mississippi State in the SEC quarterfinals just to make sure.

NCAA TOURNAMENT OUTLOOK

The champions of 30 conferences receive automatic bids to the NCAA tournament. The remaining 34 bids are awarded on an at-large basis. The number in parentheses below is a team's ratings percentage index after Saturday's games. The RPI, used by the NCAA selection committee to pick at-large teams and seed the tournament, is a formula that weighs a team's schedule strength (50 percent), winning percentage (25 percent) and opponent's schedule strength (25), but the ratings below do not indicate additional factors weighed by the NCAA.

Note: a-won conference tournament; b-won regular season, no conference tournament.

Conference .......... In ........... ......... On the bubble

American West ..... No bid

Atlantic Coast .. North Carolina (2)

......... ....... Wake Forest (5)

......... ....... Maryland (7)

......... ....... Virginia (17)

......... ....... Georgia Tech (50)

Atlantic 10 ..... Massachusetts (4) ......... St. Joseph's (45)

........ ........ Temple (34) .............. George Washington (59)

Big East ........ Connecticut (6)

........ ........ Villanova (11)

........ ........ Syracuse (20)

........ ........ Georgetown (22)

Big Eight ....... Kansas (1)

......... ....... Oklahoma (12)

......... ....... Missouri (14)

......... ....... Oklahoma State (15)

......... ....... Iowa State (26)

Big Sky ......... Tournament begins Thurs.

Big South ........ No bid

Big Ten ......... Michigan State (10) ....... Michigan (42)

........ ........ Purdue (21) ............... Minnesota (55)

........ ........ Indiana (23) .............. Iowa (74)

........ ........ Illinois (24) ............. Penn State (82)

Big West ........ Tournament begins Thurs. .. New Mexico State (51)

........ ........ .................. ........ Utah State (52)

Colonial ........ a-Old Dominion (101)

Great Midwest .... No bid

......... ....... Memphis (25) .............. St. Louis (40)

....... Cincinnati (30) ........... DePaul (49)

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.