There are just four 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 clearly 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 everyone from their seed line and down. The good news is that for this first time around, we’re looking at a lot of teams, because the matrix, which was last updated on the morning of February 4th, currently lists the Golden Eagles as the best #9 seed in the field. 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 97 brackets, and the fourth team off the bubble is only appearing on 30 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. If something particularly jumps out as impactful for a particular team, we’ll point that out.
Here we go then!
Marquette (#34): Tuesday vs #23 Butler; Saturday at #59 Georgetown
VCU (#46): Wednesday at #158 George Washington, Saturday vs #82 Davidson
Michigan State (#49): Tuesday at #40 Michigan; Saturday vs #70 Iowa
The Wolverines are the last team in the Bracket Matrix field, so that could be a crucial victory - or perhaps crucial loss - for the Spartans.
Indiana (#41): Thursday vs #12 Purdue; Sunday vs #40 Michigan
The Hoosiers have lost three of four and have seven straight games against top 70 opponents to close the season, with four of them on the road. This week could either lock them into the field or make everything remaining a must win game.
Iowa State (#26): Tuesday at #71 Texas; Saturday vs #72 Oklahoma
Clemson (#38): Tuesday vs #47 Syracuse; Saturday at #15 Duke
This is a make or break week for the Tigers, as they’ve gone just 2-7 in their last nine games. The Syracuse game is major, as not only will the Orange move closer towards inclusion in the field after their win over Virginia, but also because it will be really hard for Clemson to win at Duke.
Georgia Tech (#79): Tuesday vs Tusculum; Saturday vs Boston College
No, I don’t know why the Yellow Jackets are playing a non-D1 team in the middle of their ACC schedule.
Oklahoma State (#20): Wednesday vs #8 Baylor; Saturday vs #71 Texas
Winners of their last five, the Cowboys have a favorable schedule down the stretch with five of their final eight at home, including both of these two. A win over the Bears would be massive, but they have to take care of business against the Longhorns regardless of how Wednesday’s game goes.
Miami (#39): Wednesday vs #55 Virginia Tech; Saturday at #2 Louisville
The ‘Canes are in consideration after dropping North Carolina in Coral Gables over a week ago. Their split this past week was fine, and they really need to beat the Hokies to balance out a likely loss against the Cardinals.
Wichita State (#17): Thursday vs #123 Missouri State; Sunday at #100 Loyola Chicago
The Shockers are not currently the MVC auto-bid placeholder, as that currently goes to Illinois State. However, WSU just stomped the Redbirds on Saturday to earn a tie in the standings. They really can not afford to lose any of their remaining games.
Middle Tennessee (#52): Thursday vs #138 Old Dominion; Saturday vs #227 Charlotte
The Blue Raiders are in this spot as the Conference USA auto-bid placeholder, buuuuuuuuuut they lost at UTEP on Saturday for their first loss in league play, so their at-large hopes are pretty much finished.
TCU (#32): Tuesday vs #42 Texas Tech; Saturday at #8 Baylor
Winning in Waco would most likely guarantee the Horned Frogs a spot in the field, but they have to take care of business at home on Tuesday to make that happen.
Michigan (#40): Tuesday vs #49 Michigan State; Sunday at #41 Indiana
The Wolverines can make a serious statement about their inclusion even with a split this week. A sweep would be very big for them.... and for Marquette, if we’re being honest.
First Four Out
California (#54): Wednesday at #113 Arizona State; Saturday at #22 Arizona
The Pac12’s travel partner scheduling system provides the Golden Bears with two cracks at road wins this week to bolster their profile. Going 2-0 with a win at McKale would be verrrrrry big for them.
Tennessee (#36): Wednesday vs #69 Mississippi; Saturday vs #50 Georgia
Sorry/not sorry Vols, but Marquette fans are going to be cheering for you to drop that weekend contest against the Bulldogs. They’re nowhere near the field, you’re barely in consideration.
Seton Hall (#53): Wednesday vs #63 Providence; Saturday at #88 St. John’s
The Pirates need a 2-0 week to keep themselves in the discussion. They’ve lost five of their last seven and can not absorb losses to obvious non-tournament teams. It would also be really neat for Marquette and their 1-1 record against them if SHU could lift themselves into the field.
Wake Forest (#33): Tuesday at #27 Notre Dame; Saturday vs #91 North Carolina State
Beating Notre Dame might not be as impressive as you think, as the Irish have lost five of six right now. Still, the Demon Deacons desperately need wins right now.