There are just three weeks left in the 2016-17 college basketball regular season, plus Championship Week. That’s all that remains in the season.
Things are starting to tighten up in terms of the NCAA tournament bubble, and with Marquette (kind of still) in contention for a spot, here’s what we’re going to do every Monday: We’re going to take a look at the other teams in contention for the back end of the at-large spots and see what games they have coming up over the next week.
We’ll use Bracket Matrix and their aggregate seed list in order to determine where Marquette stands at the moment, and then look at their competition for the final available spots in the tournament. This week, Bracket Matrix was updated on Sunday morning, which means we’re getting a look at brackets that were updated heading into Saturday and Sunday’s games, but most likely not much that was updated after Marquette’s win over Xavier.
With the cutline for at-large teams coming in directly at the end of the #11 seeds, which is where Marquette is currently landing, we’ll cover from the #9 seeds downwards this time around. We’ll also include Bracket Matrix’s First Four Out teams for a full picture, but that’s it. As it stands now, the matrix checks 92 brackets, and the fourth team off the bubble is only appearing on 17 of them. At that point, it’s not exactly a very serious competitor for entry to the field of 68, y’know?
We’ll give you each team’s current KenPom ranking, whether their games this week are home or away, and the KenPom rankings for their opponents. These games don’t happen in a vacuum, of course, so we’ll try to provide some context for each team along the way.
Here we go then!
Virginia Tech Hokies (#46) - Tuesday vs #38 Clemson; Saturday at #146 Boston College
I don’t think you can bounce VaTech if they were to lose to BC on Saturday, but it’s probably best for them to not test that theory.
Virginia Commonwealth Rams (#41) - Wednesday vs #293 Saint Louis; Saturday at #55 Rhode Island
A win against those other Rams on Saturday would pretty much lock in an at-large spot for VCU, as long as they don’t lose on Wednesday.
Michigan State Spartans (#54) - Thursday vs #79 Nebraska; Sunday vs #15 Wisconsin
Losing at Purdue on Saturday wasn’t bad for MSU, but losing Eron Harris for the season to a knee injury absolutely was. If the Spartans go into a tailspin without him, that’ll give the committee an excuse to leave them out.
Miami Hurricanes (#34) - Monday at #8 Virginia; Saturday vs #12 Duke
Boy, this week sucks for the ‘Canes. Going 0-2 probably won’t knock them out of the field, but it’s definitely not going to help them if they drop to .500 in league play.
Michigan Wolverines (#27) - Wednesday at #126 Rutgers; Saturday vs #11 Purdue
John Beilien’s squad had a three game winning streak snapped in overtime on a road trip to Minnesota on Sunday night, which isn’t bad, but isn’t great either. They can’t afford to be the victim of a RAC Attack this week.
Wichita State Shockers (#13) - Tuesday vs #152 Evansville; Saturday at #127 Missouri State
This is actually the end of the regular season for WSU, with the MVC title game scheduled for the Sunday before Selection Sunday. They seem to be in pretty steady footing here, but winning here and losing the conference tournament game would be a safer idea.
California Golden Bears (#47) - Wednesday vs #14 Oregon; Friday vs #270 Oregon State
The Bears need to grab life by the horns here and get at least one home win. The Beavers shocked Utah for their first P12 win of the season on Sunday night, so they can not be taken lightly.
Arkansas Razorbacks (#50) - Wednesday vs #62 Texas A&M; Saturday at #87 Auburn
The Razorbacks have won three straight after dropping three of four, so they’re trending upwards at the moment. If they want to be in, they probably need to get two wins here.
Kansas State Wildcats (#28) - Wednesday vs #20 Oklahoma State; Saturday at #71 Oklahoma
Fun fact: K-State is 6-8 in Big 12 play right now. I know your league record isn’t a determining factor as to whether the committee takes you in, but they’ve lost six of their last eight games and this week isn’t going to be a picnic.
Seton Hall Pirates (#59) - Wednesday vs #37 Xavier; Saturday at #186 DePaul
Two must win games here for SHU, and that goes double if Trevon Bluiett is still going to be unavailable for Xavier.
TCU Horned Frogs (#43) - Wednesday at #9 Kansas; Saturday vs #3 West Virginia
Have fun with that, Jamie Dixon.
Marquette Golden Eagles (#35) - Tuesday vs #89 St. John’s; Saturday at #58 Providence
We already talked about this: MU can’t lose another game.
Syracuse Orange (48) - Wednesday vs #12 Duke; Sunday at #4 Louisville
Jim Boeheim’s squad has lost three straight and let’s just say that the computers expect that streak to hit five in a row.
Illinois State Redbirds (#49) - Wednesday vs #161 Southern Illinois; Saturday at #139 Northern Iowa
Much like their conference-mate up in Wichita, ISU is wrapping up their regular season this week. They’re in a much more precarious situation, though, as they aren’t in a position to take on any losses, much less to sub-130 KenPom teams.
First Four Out
Clemson Tigers (#38) - Tuesday at #46 Virginia Tech; Saturday vs #19 Florida State
The Tigers have lost 10 of their last 13 games and it shocks me that people are still considering them for the tournament. Their best wins are a road trip to South Carolina and a season sweep of Wake Forest. That doesn’t seem... all that good.
Wake Forest Demon Deacons (#30) - Wednesday vs #64 Pittsburgh
They’ve felt the sting of defeat in three of their last four games, but the computers love the Deacs. With just one game this week and a very challenging week next week, Wake can’t afford to lose here.
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (#76) - Tuesday vs #104 North Carolina State; Sunday at #26 Notre Dame
Josh Pastner has gotten his team within spitting distance of the field of 68. Can he push them over the finish line? If the Yellow Jackets want to get into the tournament, they’d better put the hammer down on the NC State team that’s letting an already fired coach finish out the year.
Tennessee Volunteers (#42) - Wednesday vs #56 Vanderbilt; Saturday at #29 South Carolina
When you’re this far down, losing is officially no longer an option.