NCAA Tournament Bubble Teams – 01/15/07
It was rough past week for the Panthers, as they gave up their MVC lead with losses at Illinois State and at home to Creighton. Things don’t get any easier for UNI, as they sandwich a home game with surprising Indiana State between trips to MoState and SIU. It’ll take a great Valley record for the Panthers to make it as an at-large with their triple-digit non-conference RPI.
Contrast Bradley’s profile with their fellow Valley member listed above. The Braves (mid-20’s RPI, both non-conference and overall) could use some help from DePaul, their best non-conference win, but took care of business nicely this week, beating SIU at home and Indiana State in Terre Haute. A chance at another Sweet 16 is not out of the question for Jim Les’ club.
With so many great games in the Pac-10 this year, it’s tough to keep track of what’s happening in the conference, particularly if you’re not on the West Coast. Oregon’s last eight days notwithstanding (home win against UCLA, road wins in Arizona), the hottest team out here might be Stanford. The Cardinal beat Virginia in the new John Paul Jones Arena last Sunday and backed it up with nailbiters at home against both Washington schools this week. Add those wins to one over Texas Tech in the Pete Newell Challenge and Stanford’s NCAA profile puts them squarely on the bubble.
It wasn’t a terrible week for Matt Painter’s team (L at Indiana, W against Michigan), but they were passed over in the projected bracket this week as former conference leaders Drexel, Butler, and Missouri State fell into at-large status. The Big Ten may not see five teams in the Tournament this year, and it would behoove the Boilermakers to finish ahead of Michigan State and Illinois. Their season hinges on the next four games: at Wisconsin and Michigan, home to Illinois and Ohio State. Earning at least a split is essential.
The Huskies and Hoosiers find their roles reversed from 2006 as they head into their showdown this weekend. Last year it was Indiana that needed a win to shore up its NCAA profile, but this year, the Huskies need it far more dearly. As usual, the only thing UConn’s gaudy record tells us at this point in the season is that Jim Calhoun loaded up on home cupcakes prior to Big East play. Their triple-digit non-conference SOS bears striking resemblance to Florida State of a year ago.