Welcome back to a new edition of Bubble to Bubble. Here’s where we compare teams from prior years to teams of today. Let’s get right into it:
Post-Jimmer, the Cougars have found themselves on the bubble basically every year. This year is no different. To make matters even more difficult, they may end up in a play-in game yet again and they can’t play on Sunday, which could mess with seeding. But that’s neither here nor there. Their resume isn’t anything special to write home about, but that seems to be the case with many bubble teams. Their best wins are at home over Saint Mary’s, Stanford, and UMASS. Their best win away from home is a neutral court win over Hawaii. They’ve lost at San Diego and been swept by Pepperdine. On the surface it doesn’t appear they really have much merit.
Best 2014 Comparison: SMU
I wanted to discuss BYU because their numbers right now are very similar to what SMU had last year. SMU just missed the big dance. BYU is likely to float around the cut line until Selection Sunday. They’re in the mix, but they don’t have many opportunities left. If they beat Gonzaga, they’ll get in. If they lose at Gonzaga and to them in the WCC tournament finals, they’ll have to hope other teams fall.
A team that really wasn’t in the conversation at all, Pitt has changed that recently with big home wins over Syracuse, Notre Dame, and North Carolina. They have 10 losses and have an average MOV of only +2.3 despite a fairly weak non-conference SOS. But they have cashed in a number of opportunities and are done with ranked teams until the ACC tournament. They somehow got a gift of an ACC schedule, as they only face Duke, North Carolina, Notre Dame, and Virginia once each. They won the 2 at home, and nobody is going to penalize them for not winning at Duke or Virginia. They have a pretty decent opportunity to play their way in.
Best 2014 Comparison: North Carolina St.
I wanted to include Pitt because they have very similar numbers to the NC State team that got in last year. At 9-9 in the ACC, NC State still got chosen with 14 losses. Even if Pitt loses 2 of their final 5 and loses in the ACC tournament, they’ll also be 9-9 with only 13 losses. The final numbers should be similar. Don’t count Pitt out.
It’s common to remember more recent results. St. John’s has taken a lot of heat recently. They started hot at 11-1, but they’re just 6-8 in their last 14 games. They’re also under .500 in the Big East. Those are the arguments against them. But what’s the issue here? Yes, they’ve lost at DePaul and Creighton, but they’ve also won at Xavier and swept Providence. They didn’t have the most difficult non-conference schedule, but certainly winning at Syracuse wasn’t easy. St. John’s certainly gets the job done at home, but is their road performance enough?
Best 2014 Comparison: Nebraska
Nebraska also did little away from home and had 3 sub-100 losses. But the overall profile was good enough. They got good wins and had a tough SOS. That carried a lot of weight. Nebraska had the #23 SOS last year. Right now, St. John’s is #18. Nebraska was 3-7 against the Top 50. St. John’s is 4-6. If the Johnnies can win at Marquette, even a couple more losses should see them above the cut line. They’re in for now but can go either way.