Impact of Yesterday’s Games
Well, we all know about the game that had the biggest impact on Northwestern’s Bubble chances – Northwestern vs. Minnesota. A win would have helped solidify their resume (but by no means would it have locked up a bid), and a loss, well, as we’ve all been thinking and reading since the end in Indy, a loss may just have punched their ticket to the NIT. Here’s a quick look at some of the other games played in Bubbleland yesterday…
Good news – South Florida and Oregon. If South Florida had been able to hold on against Notre Dame, instead of falling to them in OT, that would have made them a tourney lock. Now they are still going to have to sweat it out. As for Oregon, their loss to Colorado likely keeps them out of the Field of 68.
Bad news – Texas, California. A loss by either of these teams on Thursday would have put them in a precarious position come Sunday (a spot with which Northwestern fans are now all too familiar). However, each team took care of business, with Cal knocking off rival Stanford and Texas taking down a tourney-bound Iowa State team, making big strides towards solidifying their tournament resumes.
Unclear – Washington. The loss by the Pac-12’s top seed at the hands of Oregon State yesterday was ugly, with four missed free throws by UW’s Tony Wroten in the last 18 seconds of an 86-84 game, two of which obviously could’ve sent the game to overtime. On the one hand, Washington’s loss could create an additional at-large team, going under the idea that the Pac-12’s regular season champ would get a bid. On the other hand, the Pac-12 was the #10 conference this year, and conventional wisdom suggests that the Pac-12 may only get one team in on Sunday. So, we’ll have to wait and see on this one.
Bubble Watch Watch
You might want to put down that cup of coffee or snack that you might be chewing on, as this is where your stomach may start to turn. However, one expert does still thing the Cats will hear them name called on Sunday night…
Joe Lunardi/ESPN.com – OUT, “First Four Out”
- Northwestern is now behind Joe’s “Last Four In” of Washington, Mississippi State, Drexel, and Seton Hall, all teams who’ve also already been knocked out of their conference tournaments, (and behind Tennessee in the “First Four Out,” who still have some control over their own destiny, starting with a game tonight against Ole Miss). So, in Joe’s eyes, it’s not like these four teams could do anything to knock themselves out and open the door for Northwestern to get in. Joe dropped Northwestern to 71 on his S-Curve (subscription required). “Rule No. 1 when you’re on the bubble: Don’t lose. It’s a simple enough concept, but wins eluded several teams that badly needed them on Thursday, none more so than the Northwestern Wildcats. Thursday’s loss to the Minnesota Golden Gophers was precisely what the Wildcats needed to avoid.”
- In a post on ESPN.com’s College Basketball Nation Blog, Myron Medcalf acknowledges that there’s still a chance for the Wildcats, but based on yesterday, he’s not given them much hope. “They had their chance to impress and they squandered it…the Wildcats got an F on the eye test against the Gophers. They had something to prove and didn’t play like they knew it in crucial stretches. They didn’t execute like a tournament team desperate for résumé-boosting victories… I watched the Northwestern-Minnesota game from press row at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. And I did not see a team that belonged in the Big Dance.”
- A little bit of sunshine in the sea of Bubble darkness – Jerry kept Northwestern in his bracket. Jerry did seem to be higher on Northwestern going into last night’s game than the rest of the group here. He was the only one of the four who didn’t have the Cats as part of the “First Four.” Now he does, dropping the Cats to a 12 seed to take on South Florida in Dayton. Jerry points out that Northwestern wasn’t the only Bubble team to go down, which may have left the door open for the Wildcats – “Washington, Northwestern, Oregon and Mississippi State were among those that not only lost, but lost badly. The Wildcats lost to Minnesota, but the other three all lost to triple-digit RPI teams. Despite Northwestern’s loss, I still have them in the bracket.” Jerry is far from placing the Cats bid in stone however…
Andy Glockner/SI.com – OUT – Last Four Out
- Andy didn’t have us in his Field of 68 entering yesterday’s game, so it’s not exactly a shock that we are not in there today. He bumped the Cats down to the last spot in his “First Four Out,” behind Iona, South Florida, and Mississippi State. Above that, his “Last Four In” are Dayton, Xavier, Drexel, and Tennessee. So, it would appear that, in Andy’s eyes, there’s nothing that can happen between now and Sunday to move NU into the Field. All but two of those eight listed schools are done playing, and the two still with court time left are Dayton and Xavier, who are playing each other tonight.
- Andy does leave the door slightly open for Northwestern, but more by default than anything else. “Right now, the bracket has more empty slots than a corrupt casino. Arizona? Tennessee? Ole Miss? Every A-10 team after Temple and Saint Louis? Come on down! Northwestern and South Florida, a combined 2-20 vs. the top 50? Still in the mix!” His case against NU –“The Wildcats suffered a crushing OT loss to Minnesota that may end up costing them their first-ever NCAA bid. There are no bad losses, but there are way too many against one solitary top-50 win.”
- The first change all week from Andy, and it’s obviously not a happy one for the Wildcat faithful. And not only did Andy bump us out, but he pushed us way down in his pecking order, beyond the “First Four Out.” Andy lists 8 “First Schools Out,” and Northwestern is #5 on that there, behind Washington, Seton Hall, South Florida, and Mississippi State. Andy’s “Last Four In” – Drexel, Tennessee, St. Joseph’s, and Iona. So, even more so than Mr. Glockner, Andy has the door to the tourney latched closed for Northwestern.
Games to Watch
Not sure there’s a whole lot that matters here at this point. Four games to keep an eye on…
- Ole Miss vs. Tennessee, SEC Tournament, Quarterfinal, 6:30 pm CT – Tennessee could play their way into Lunardi and Palm’s projections (and possibly knock Northwestern out), or they could play their way out of Glockner’s and Bottom’s brackets. We’ll see.
- Dayton vs. Xavier, Atlantic 10 Championship, Quarterfinal, 8 pm CT, CBS College Sports – A matchup of two Bubble teams, both of whom are currently grasping onto spots in Glockner and Bottom’s bracket. Xavier is in for Lunardi and Palm. Palm has Dayton in his “First Four Out,” while Lunardi doesn’t have Dayton anywhere near the tournament, not even listing them among his “Next Four Out.” So, that all being said, I’d say root for Xavier to push/keep Dayton out of it.
- Texas vs. Missouri, Big 12 Championship, Semifinal, 9 pm CT, ESPNU – With the win over Iowa State yesterday, Texas moved their way out of everybody’s “Last Four In.” A win tonight against #5 Missouri would all but engrave their bid, but even without that, Texas is probably safe.
- Colorado vs. California, Pac-12 Tournament, Semifinal, 10:30 pm CT, FSN – Like Texas, California may have already played their way in, no longer listed in anybody’s “Last Four In.” However, that is likely because, with top-seeded Washington out of the Pac-12 Tournament, everybody is projecting Cal to win the conference tournament title. Considering how bad the Pac-12 was this year, a loss tonight would probably put Cal right back on the Bubble Bus, with many experts predicting no at-large bids for the conference.