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Sport Bubble Tracker: 10 fringe teams sweating the most on Selection Sunday

21:55  11 march  2018
21:55  11 march  2018 Source:   usatoday.com

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Selection Sunday is here.

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These are the four teams hanging right on the edge of the Selection Sunday bubble , poised to either get snubbed or put on their dancing shoes. On the cusp of the Selection Show, here's a look at the nine bubble teams — and their credentials — sweating it out the most .

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Here’s a look at the 10 teams sweating it out the most — mere hours away from the Selection Show.

Arizona State (projected No. 11 seed, play-in)

The Sun Devils (20-11, 8-10 Pac-12) present a fascinating challenge for the selection committee. Here’s a team that has a dynamite non-conference profile, posting wins over Kansas and Xavier. Then coach Bobby Hurley’s team struggled to keep up in a down Pac-12.  But the committee looks at overall body of work, meaning as bad as this team has been late in the season (losing five of six), that perfect 12-0 non-conference slate counts just as much. An RPI in the 60s and strength of schedule in the 70s are mediocre, and because the Pac-12 featured so many bubble teams this year most of the victories that should be Quadrant 1 wins are instead Quadrant 2 (outside the RPI top-50) wins.

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Same goes for other sweating bubble teams . Their postseason fate is in the hands of the NCAA tournament selection committee here on Selection Sunday . The Orange (19-13, 9-9) have better wins than most bubble teams , defeating Texas A&M in non-conference and Duke in ACC play.

It's been a frustrating second half of the season for the once red-hot Sooners. (Photo: Raymond Carlin III, USA TODAY Sports)

Oklahoma (projected No. 11 seed, play-in)

The Sooners (18-13, 8-10 Big 12) also suffered a late-season plummet, losing six in a row in February and having lost eight of 10 heading into the postseason. But unlike ASU in the Pac-12, OU’s struggles in the Big 12 can be forgiven easier since the conference had the best RPI in the country and nine of 10 teams in the mix for the NCAAs. Superstar freshman Trae Young and Oklahoma are hardly peaking in March, but their overall profile (RPI in the 40s, six top-50 wins, and no bad losses) is good enough to go dancing when conducting a blind eye test. Victories over Kansas, Texas Tech and Wichita State are still hard to ignore.

Marquette (projected No. 11 seed, play-in)

The Golden Eagles (19-13, 9-9 Big East) have an RPI in the 50s and non-conference strength of schedule of 139, but the Big East Conference is their saving grace, as it made their overall SoS top-30. There’s no good eye candy on the résumé as far as marquee victories go, but Marquette does have two victories over fellow bubble team Creighton, which could be a difference maker if it’s close (and it will be).

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Creighton (projected No. 11 seed, play-in)

The Bluejays (21-11, 10-8) have an RPI in the 40s and own a win over likely No. 1 seed Villanova. But ultimately there are just two top-50 victories on this résumé and a non-conference strength of schedule of 235. Their Big East tourney exit to Providence looks better now, given how the Friars knocked off Xavier and went down to the wire with ‘Nova.

Middle Tennessee State (First four out)

The Blue Raiders (24-7, 16-2) are no stranger to busting brackets in March, but their résumé for an at-large bid might not suffice after an early exit loss to Southern Mississippi in the Conference USA quarterfinals. That loss stings for more than one reason, as it gives MTSU a résumé stain it just couldn’t really afford. Because even though the Blue Raiders have a top-10 non-conference strength of schedule and RPI in the 30s, there’s no eye-raising victory on their profile to intrigue the committee. MTSU has won a whopping 12 games on the road, which should count for something, as it’s more than any other bubble team.

Notre Dame (First four out)

The Fighting Irish (20-14, 8-10) realistically needed one more marquee win to punch their ticket and came up short against Duke in the ACC tourney quarterfinals. Coach Mike Krzyzewski said after that game, “I hope they can get in because I think they can beat anybody.” Ah, but Coach K, that’s not the point. Notre Dame is a completely different team now that Bonzie Colson, a preseason All-American, is back from injury. But as lenient as the committee can be to injuries (ND lost seven in a row with Colson out), it’s still hard to rationalize Notre Dame’s résumé (RPI in the 60s, non-conference strength of schedule of 170, just two Q1 wins) beating out some of these other worthy at-large candidates.

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Louisville (First four out)

The Cardinals (20-13, 9-9 ACC) likely had their season dashed on a buzzer-beating loss to Virginia on March 1. They managed to beat Florida State in the ACC tourney but there’s still not enough meat on this profile (just three top-50 wins). There are no bad losses and an RPI in the 30s to make a serious case, but Louisville just didn’t capitalize on the many top-50 opportunities it had in the ACC, and that’s something the committee will harp on.

Oklahoma State (First four out)

The Cowboys (19-14, 8-10) swept Kansas in the regular season — a feat that looks all the more better following the Jayhawks’ impressive Big 12 tournament title and No. 1 NCAA seed status. It also has wins over West Virginia and Texas Tech. Ah, the luxuries of playing in the Big 12. But that’s a doubled edged sword that came in the form of a stretch that saw OSU lose seven of 10. That and the rest of the Cowboys’ portfolio is relatively bare. There are no bad losses on this résumé, but no other bubble team has an RPI in the 80s (flirting with the 90s) and a staggeringly ugly non-conference strength of schedule of 295.

Saint Mary’s (Next four out)

Of the Gaels’ 28 wins, 24 of them came against teams outside the top 100. Just breathe that in. Saint Mary’s (28-5, 16-2) has beaten Gonzaga but its RPI in the 40s and strength of schedule in the 160s might not be enough to make up for the lack of meat on this deceiving profile.

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Syracuse (Next four out)

The Orange’s best win came against Clemson late in the season, but outside of that victory there’s not a ton of eye-raising material here. ‘Cuse (20-13, 8-10) does have four Quadrant 1 wins and a top-20 non-conference strength of schedule means the Orange challenged themselves more than most bubble teams.  This résumé is awfully close to both last year’s when Syracuse was one of the most notable tourney snubs. And it’s also similar to 2016’s profile in which the program used that inclusion to stage an improbable Final Four run.

***

NCAA tourney Language Explainer

  • Quadrant 1 wins: Home games vs. 1-30 RPI teams; Neutral-site games vs. 1-50 RPI; Away games vs. 1-75 RPI
  • Quadrant 2 wins: Home games vs. 31-75 RPI; Neutral-site games vs. 51-100 RPI; Away games vs. 76-135 RPI
  • Quadrant 3 wins, losses: Home games vs. 76-160 RPI; Neutral-site games vs. 101-200 RPI; Away games vs. 136-240 RPI
  • Quadrant 4 wins, losses: Home games vs. 161-plus RPI; Neutral-site games vs. 201-plus RPI; Away games vs. 241-plus RPI

CONFERENCE BREAKDOWN

Results/records shown are against Division I opponents only. Breakdown data as of March 11.

**

Florida State (In, No. 11)

► Profile: 20-11 (9-9) 54 RPI, 75 SoS, 314 NonCon SoS

  • The Good: Wins vs. North Carolina, Clemson, Miami, Louisville, Florida, Virginia Tech, Syracuse
  • The Bad: Loss to Wake Forest

Louisville (Out)

► Profile: 20-13 (9-9) 38 RPI, 15 SoS, 80 NonCon SoS

  • The Good: Wins vs. Florida State (twice), Notre Dame, Virginia Tech (twice)
  • The Bad: No bad losses 

Notre Dame (Out)

► Profile: 19-14 (8-10) 70 RPI, 46 SoS, 147 NonCon SoS

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  • The Good: Wins vs. Wichita State, Syracuse, Florida State, North Carolina State, LSU, Virginia Tech
  • The Bad: Losses vs. Ball State, Indiana, Georgia Tech 

Syracuse (Out)

► Profile: 20-13 (8-10) 45 RPI, 18 SoS, 16 NonCon SoS

  • The Good: Wins vs. Louisville, Buffalo, Virginia Tech, Maryland, Miami, Clemson
  • The Bad: Losses vs. Wake Forest, Georgia Tech

***

Creighton (In, No. 11)

 Profile: 20-11 (10-8) 43 RPI, 51 SoS, 235 NonCon SoS

  • The Good: Wins vs. Villanova, UCLA, Providence, Seton Hall, Butler
  • The Bad: No bad losses

Marquette (In, No. 11)

► Profile: 19-13 (9-9) 57 RPI, 25 SoS, 138 NonCon SoS

  • The Good: Wins vs. Seton Hall (twice), Providence, Vermont, LSU, Creighton (twice)
  • The Bad: Loss at DePaul

**

Texas (In, No. 10)

► Profile: 19-14 (8-10) 50 RPI, 19 SoS, 81 NonCon SoS

  • The Good: Wins vs. Texas Tech, TCU, West Virginia, Butler, Alabama, Oklahoma (twice
  • The Bad: No bad losses

Oklahoma (In, No. 11)

► Profile: 18-13 (8-10) 48 RPI, 27 SoS, 137 NonCon SoS

  • The Good: Wins vs. Kansas, Wichita State, Texas Tech, TCU (twice) USC, Kansas State, Baylor, Oregon
  • The Bad: Loss to Iowa State

Oklahoma State (Out)

► Profile: 19-14 (8-10) 90 RPI, 53 SoS, 295 NonCon SoS

  • The Good: Wins vs. Kansas (twice), Texas Tech, West Virginia, Florida State, Oklahoma (twice), Texas
  • The Bad: No bad losses

Baylor (Out)

► Profile: 17-14 (8-10) 68 RPI, 22 SoS, 123 NonCon SoS

  • The Good: Wins vs. Kansas, Creighton, Texas (twice), Oklahoma State (twice), Iowa State, Texas Tech, Oklahoma 
  • The Bad: Loss to Iowa State

Arizona State (In, No. 11)

► Profile: 20-11 (8-10) 66 RPI, 74 SoS, 103 NonCon SoS

  • The Good: Wins vs. Kansas, Xavier, Utah, USC, UCLA, Kansas State
  • The Bad: Losses to Oregon State

**

Middle Tennessee (Out)

► Profile: 23-7 (16-2) 33 RPI, 89 SoS, 10 NonCon SoS

  • The Good: Wins vs. Western Kentucky (twice), ODU, Murray State
  • The Bad: Losses to Belmont, Marshall (twice)Southern Miss

Saint Mary's (Out for now)

► Profile: 28-5 (16-2) 40 RPI, 165 SoS, 178 NonCon SoS

  • The Good: Wins vs. Gonzaga, New Mexico State, BYU (twice)
  • The Bad: Losses to San Francisco, Washington State

***

Note: All RPI and statistical data is used from WarrenNolan.com

About our bracketologist: Shelby Mast has been projecting the field since 2005 on his website, Bracket W.A.G. He joined USA TODAY in 2014. In his fifth season as our national bracketologist, Mast has finished as one of the top three bracketologists in the past four March Madnesses. He’s also predicted for The Indianapolis Star, collegeinsider.com and is an inaugural member of the Super 10 Selection Committee. Follow him on Twitter @BracketWag.

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