As Selection Sunday approaches, teams jockey for position

Notre Dame fights itself into bubble picture

March 02, 2010|By Shannon Ryan On college basketball

Just when it seemed like every bubble team came down with a case of apathy, some are showing some fight.


Maybe none has showed as much end-of-season vigor as Notre Dame. The Irish, along with Minnesota and Dayton, have put themselves back on the bubble. Oklahoma State looks like it pushed itself into the "in" category with its victory Saturday over No. 1 Kansas.

But hand it to the Irish for doing some damage - victories against Pittsburgh and Georgetown - without their best player.

Here's a look at how the bubble field is shaping up.

Last four in
Dayton (19-9, 41 RPI)

A 20th-rated nonconference strength of schedule gives the Flyers a boost. Wins against Georgia Tech, Old Dominion and Xavier prove Dayton's worth. Losing three of the last five doesn't help, but if the Flyers can beat Richmond on Thursday, that would help secure a berth.

Illinois (18-11, 73)

Just figure it out already, Illinois. The Illini must be one of the more frustrating teams to root for as they've played inconsistently throughout the season. They've lost three of their last four, but a victory at Ohio State or at home against Wisconsin to end the regular season or a strong showing in the Big Ten tournament should be enough. The Illini earned credit with victories against Vanderbilt, Wisconsin, Michigan State and Clemson.

San Diego State (20-8, 39)

The Aztecs have two wins against top-50 RPI teams and have won four of their last five. The downside is they lack a significant road victory, but the bubble teams they're fighting against have their flaws too. With a good showing in the Mountain West tournament, San Diego State should be in.

UAB (23-5, 35)

A No. 109 strength of schedule isn't going to blow anyone away, but the Blazers have been winning. They've won four straight and posted an impressive victory against Butler. They have no glaring losses (the worst is to Virginia), but other than Butler, they have no outstanding victories either. They can change that with regular-season-ending games against Memphis and UTEP.

First four out
Minnesota (17-11, 70)

Thanks, Illinois. The Gophers' two-point victory against the Illini got them back in bubble talk. Minnesota also gets bonus points for victories against Butler, Ohio State and Wisconsin. Losses to Indiana and Michigan are bad but not totally condemning. A 4-8 road record does hurt.

Notre Dame (19-10, 52)

The plus side is the Irish have three top-50 victories (Georgetown, Pittsburgh, West Virginia). They are 2-2 without injured forward Luke Harangody, one of the Big East's best players. A 3-7 road record hurts them, as do losses to Rutgers and Loyola Marymount. Games against Connecticut and at Marquette can decide their future, as will the Big East tournament showing.

Rhode Island (20-7, 37)

A loss to St. Bonaventure on Feb. 27 should destroy Rhode Island's chances. Wins at Dayton and against Oklahoma State, which just knocked off Kansas, look pretty good, but losing four of the last five leaves a horrible impression on the selection committee.

Virginia Tech (21-7, 52)

The Hokies just didn't do enough - or schedule tough enough. A 21-7 record against a nonconference schedule ranked No. 338 doesn't impress. Neither does their 2-4 record against top-50 RPI teams. Losing to Boston College and Miami are big hits too.

Top four seeds: Syracuse, Kansas, Kentucky, Kansas State.

Next four: Duke, Purdue, Ohio State, Villanova.

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