It's been a remarkably bad day for bubble teams all over the country. Nobody can win a game. The big winners today are actually teams like VCU, New Mexico and St. Joseph's. Suddenly these teams that finished so well are looking better than many of these BCS conference teams that are tripping all over themselves and finishing on a slew of losses. A few examples:
Alabama 80, Florida 69
I don't think Billy Donovan drew up a 30-5 deficit in his game plan. The thing is that Donovan is a very intense and emotional coach, so there's no way that he didn't have his team up for the game. Maybe they were just out too late last night partying. Florida actually made a great second half run to make this a close game briefly, but they ran out of steam. It's just so hard to come back from a large deficit. This loss doesn't absolutely knock the Gators out of the Tournament, but the outlook is definitely bleak. They are 21-11, but against an atrocious schedule. The RPI is in the 70s, and the Sagarin Rating will fall into the 50s with this loss. The big stat for me: 3-10 against the RPI Top 100. Championship Week has been all about bubble teams losing games left and right, so I suppose it's possible for everybody relevant to lose their next game and for Florida to sneak into the Tournament's back door. But in my mind, they're basically out. Even the most optimistic Florida fan probably recognizes that they're going to the NIT.
Temple 84, LaSalle 75
With all of the chaos on the bubble, does that open up things for a team like Temple? Nobody thought they were in the at-large race after that 7-7 non-conference record, but look where they are now. They went 11-5 in a strong Atlantic Ten, and feature wins over Xavier, Rhode Island, UMass, St. Joe's and Ohio. The RPI is up to 61st, and the Sagarin Rating will be somewhere around 70th when tomorrow morning's numbers come out. They are a decent 6-8 against the RPI Top 100, and 7-5 in true road games. They're not in the Tournament yet, but they've got to be in the discussion with all of the losses to teams like Florida. If they can get by Charlotte tomorrow and lose a close game in the A-10 Tournament Finals, don't you have to give Temple a serious look for an at-large bid?
Charlotte 69, UMass 65
Speaking of Charlotte, they threw another monkey-wrench in the Atlantic Ten Tournament. Charlotte continues to be alive for a long shot at-large bid, although they need to beat Temple tomorrow to even be in the discussion. The computer numbers are still pretty bad, but we can see how much they move up if they can get another win. Should a team make the Tournament that got swept by Richmond and also lost to the likes of Hofstra and Monmouth? Probably not, but we'll keep them in the discussion, and I'll come back to this issue if they beat Temple tomorrow. The more interesting case here is UMass, which really could have used a win here. This loss drops them to 21-10, following a 10-6 season in the A-10. They have wins over Syracuse, Houston and most of the leading Atlantic Ten teams, but they probably will end up with none over Tournament teams. The RPI slips into the mid-40s with this loss, which is close to danger territory. What's more dangerous is the Sagarin rating in the 50s, an area that never produces more than one or two at-large teams. They are 6-7 against the RPI Top 100, which is actually one of the worst records among the A-10 bubble teams. They are a solid 9-6 in road/neutral games, and did manage to win six straight before this final loss (8-4 over their final twelve). They'll be an interesting case on Selection Sunday, for sure. The more losses by teams like Florida, Baylor and Syracuse, the better things look for the Minutemen.
Washington State 75, Oregon 70
A very nice comeback for Oregon, but just not quite enough. I can go through the stats, but to me Oregon will come down to what Jay Bilas calls the "eye test." Oregon looks like a Tournament team when you watch them, but they just haven't been able to put together the overall resume. Sagarin has them in the high-30s, which is a nice place to be, and the RPI isn't all too bad. The question becomes, how do you rank Oregon, Arizona and Arizona State. Arizona went 8-10 in the Pac-10, while the other two went 9-9. Oregon does have the best head-to-head record, going 3-1 against those four teams. The Ducks only went 7-11 against the RPI Top 100, but if you go through the wins one by one it's really not that bad. Arizona, of course, is still playing in the Pac-10 Tournament. But if they go down tonight to Stanford, I think Oregon becomes the 5th team in the Pac-10 pecking order. And if they are, then they're probably in the Tournament. I know that the Selection Committee claims not to care how many teams make the Tournament out of each conference, but I can't imagine that it's not at least a subconscious factor. The Pac-10 will not get only four teams.