Hey, we can do bubble watch posts, too. The Rhode Island Rams could get some help starting today as they strive to make it to the 2017 NCAA Tournament.
Welcome to life on the bubble, Rhody fans. The Rhode Island Rams are currently battling 15 or so other teams for six or seven at-large spots in the 2017 NCAA Tournament as we enter Championship Week. And in addition to picking up some wins in Pittsburgh, it wouldn’t hurt URI if they got some help from a handful of other schools around the country.
So we put together a listing of “teams to root against” this week. And the guide is broken down into three sections: teams that are likely ahead of Rhode Island in the pecking order, teams that are on the same level right now, and teams that need wins just to catch up to where the Rams lie in terms of the bubble. Obviously none of that is official, but we categorized teams based on the usual metrics, as well as a look at some of the Bracketology projections from a few major sites.
Teams Likely Ahead of URI
Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons are the only team on our list that actually played yesterday, picking up a 92-78 victory over Boston College in the first round of the ACC Tournament. That win moved Wake to 19-12 (9-9) on the year, which doesn’t sound incredibly impressive. But the Deacons have a big win over Louisville on their resume, and they’re benefiting from a big RPI boon by playing in the ACC. They’ll face Virginia Tech this afternoon.
USC: Here’s another team that has benefited from a strong conference despite just one marquee victory on the season. The Trojans downed UCLA in late January to bolster their resume, although they’ve been slipping of late. USC recently lose four straight, and they now sit at 23-8 (10-8) on the year. They’ll take on Washington tonight.
Providence: Ah yes, the Friars. PC has used a late-season surge to get on the right side of the bubble. For now. Ed Cooley’s squad has won six straight, including at least two (and perhaps as many as four) against NCAA Tournament-bound teams. The Friars will battle Creighton tomorrow night.
Seton Hall: Get used to seeing Big East schools on this bubble watch. There are more than a few. The Pirates have won four in a row, including a big win last weekend against Butler. And they’re sitting pretty with a 20-10 (10-8) mark. They’ll meet Marquette tomorrow afternoon.
Teams On Par With URI
Xavier: How the mighty have fallen. The Musketeers were a sure-fire Tourney lock about a month ago, but they’ve plummeted into bubble territory thanks to six straight losses down the stretch. And it means playing on the first day of the Big East Tournament. X will take on DePaul tonight at MSG.
Vanderbilt: Vandy’s record — 17-14 (10-8) — may not look all that special, but the Commodores have some eye-popping computer numbers. And it starts with their #1 strength of schedule. Add in a late season win against Florida and Bryce Drew’s team is right in the thick of things. Vandy faces Texas A&M tomorrow night.
Marquette: The Golden Eagles are also hanging around, thanks in large part to wins over both Xavier and Creighton to end the regular season. Between these guys, Xavier, Seton Hall, and PC, there could be plenty to shake out in the Big East over the next few days. Speaking of Seton Hall, Marquette will meet them in NYC tomorrow afternoon.
Syracuse: Talk about the toughest team on the bubble to gauge. The Orange have a resume that you can easily make a case for or against, depending on how you want to argue. But at 18-13 (10-8), it’s safe to say they could use another win or two. ‘Cuse will take on Miami this afternoon.
Kansas State: If there’s a team that’s been right there in the bubble watch with Rhody over the past few weeks, it’s Kansas State. The Wildcats are 19-12 (8-10), although they have a pair of marquee wins on the season (Baylor, West Virginia). They’ll take on Baylor for the third time this season coming up tomorrow night.
Teams Likely Behind URI
California: Cal may very well be done, especially after ending their season with back-to-back losses to a pair of non-tourney teams. And at 19-11 (10-8), they’re gonna need wins. They’ll aim for one tonight when they match up against Oregon State.
Houston: Yes, they beat URI (without Hassan Martin, mind you), but the Cougars aren’t in great shape right now. In fact, Rhody is their biggest win to date. Houston likely needs wins — plural — in the AAC tourney. They’ll play the winner of USF and UConn on Friday.
Illinois: Here’s another team that Rhode Island probably doesn’t have to worry about. The Illini dropped their season finale to Rutgers, which is never a good look. And as a result, their bubble chances are hanging by a thread. They’ll take on Michigan tomorrow afternoon.
Iowa: Unlike literally every other team in this category, the Hawkeyes are actually hot right now. The issue is, they may have too much ground to make up and not enough time to do it. They’ll meet Indiana tomorrow night.
Georgia: Last but not least, the Bulldogs. Georgia, much like Houston, is without a big win this season, despite having several opportunities in the SEC. They’ll have to do it in the conference tournament if they want to have a chance. UGA faces Tennessee tomorrow afternoon.