Big East basketball: NCAA Tournament bubble breakdown

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Friday is usually when I do my updated Big East Basketball Power Rankings.  Since nobody cares about the DePaul’s, Providence’s, and Rutgers’ of the world this late in the season, this week’s Big East Power Rankings will an analysis of the teams in the conference who have solidified their status in the NCAA Tournament or are firmly on the bubble and still have work to do.  Let’s break down some resumes… (Click here to check out my latest bracketology.)

REGARDLESS OF WHAT HAPPENS FROM HERE OUT, THEY ARE IN:

Syracuse: 28-1 overall, 15-1 in Big East (RPI: 1, SOS: 23)
The ‘Cuse has been cutting it a little too close for comfort over their last three games, edging out a one-point win at Louisville and getting all they could handle from Rutgers and South Florida.  Even if they slip up during the final week of the season, they are still pretty much a lock for a #1 seed.

Remaining Games: at UConn (Sat), vs. Louisville (Mar. 3)

Notre Dame: 20-8, 12-3 (RPI: 40, SOS: 42)
Just give Mike Brey the Big East Coach of the Year Award now.  The Irish have been remarkable in Big East play and quite frankly, it’s rather annoying.  If they can win at Georgetown, Notre Dame will likely lock up the #2 seed in the Big East Tournament and should be a four or five seed come tourney time despite their less than stellar play during the non-conference.

Remaining Games: at St. John’s (Sat), at Georgetown (Mon), vs. Providence (Mar. 2)

Marquette: 23-5, 12-3 (RPI: 8, SOS: 20)
The Jae Crowder “Big East Player of the Year” campaign in gaining steam as he has 79 points on 27-41 shooting, 27 rebounds, and ten steals during his last three games.  In all honesty, both he and Darius Johnson-Odom deserve to be on the All-Big East First Team.  Anyway, Marquette has won 11 of their last 12 since starting conference play by losing two of their first three.  If the Golden Eagles take care of business during their tough final stretch of the season, they could be as high as a two seed in the tourney.  If they falter once or twice in this final week, it shouldn’t hurt them too much as MU will likely fall no lower than a four seed.

Remaining Games: at West Virginia (Fri), at Cincinnati (Wed), vs. Georgetown (Mar. 3)

Georgetown: 20-6, 10-5 (RPI: 13, SOS: 15)
The Hoyas ran into a hungry, almost desperate Seton Hall team Tuesday night who was fighting for their NCAA Tournament livelihood.  G-Town has a pair of tough games to close out the season and could solidify their status as a three seed with victories.  Perhaps the more pressing need; finishing strong in hopes of locking up one of the four double-byes in the Big East Tournament.

Remaining Games: vs. Villanova (Sat), vs. Notre Dame (Mon), at Marquette (Mar. 3)

Louisville: 21-7, 9-6 (RPI: 20, SOS: 34)
Even if the worst happens and the Cards lose their final three games, they are safe.  Right now, their tourney seed could wind up anywhere from four to seven depending on how they finish up their season.

Remaining Games: vs. Pittsburgh (Sun), vs. South Florida (Wed), at Syracuse (Mar. 3)

SOLID CONFERENCE RECORD, WEAK NON-CONFERENCE RESUME:

Cincinnati: 20-8, 10-5 (RPI: 81, SOS: 122)
The Bearcats win against Louisville last night likely solidified their status in the NCAA Tournament.  However, their low RPI, poor strength of schedule, and non-conference loss to Presbyterian still hang over their tourney resume.  Even if they just win one more conference game though, you figure an 11-7 Big East record will be plenty enough to get them in on a weak bubble.

Remaining Games: at South Florida (Sun), vs. Marquette (Wed), at Villanova (Mar. 3)

South Florida: 17-11, 10-5 (RPI: 51, SOS: 45)
At first glance; it’s pretty remarkable that USF is 10-5 in the Big East but would be on the wrong side of the bubble if the tourney started today.  Then again, you consider that their best non-conference win is against Cleveland State and that they lost to Penn State and Auburn prior to Big East play beginning, and you can understand why their RPI is so low.  The Bulls have three tough games to finish out the season and need to knock off at least two of those teams to help their chances.

Remaining Games: vs. Cincinnati (Sun), at Louisville (Wed), vs. West Virginia (Mar. 3)

SOLID NON-CONFERENCE RESUME, FLOATING AROUND .500 IN CONFERENCE:

Seton Hall: 19-9, 8-8 (RPI: 30, SOS: 25)
That very well could have been a season saving win the Pirates had Tuesday night against Georgetown.  With two very, very winnable games to wrap up their season, Seton Hall should be in the tourney.  A loss won’t be devastating but I’d feel a lot more comfortable entering the BET with a 10-8 record rather than 9-9 with a bad loss to Rutgers or DePaul on my resume.

Remaining Games: vs. Rutgers (Sat), at DePaul (Mar. 3)

UConn: 17-10, 7-8 (RPI: 24, SOS: 2)
The Huskies needed overtime and a Shabazz Napier 35-footer with .2 seconds left to escape with a much, much, much-needed win at Villanova and keep their tourney hopes alive.  The best thing UConn has going for them is their incredible strength of schedule.  Beat ‘Cuse and they are in.  Win two of their final three and they are without question in.  Only come away with one victory and finish 8-10 in conference; things get a little murky as the Huskies will have to win at least one game in the BET to feel truly comfortable.

Remaining Games: vs. Syracuse (Sat), at Providence (Tue), vs. Pitt (Mar. 3)

West Virginia: 17-11, 7-8 (RPI: 43, SOS: 10)
The only the way the Mountaineers will feel completely safe is if they win out.  An above five hundred record in the Big East combined with their solid RPI and SOS will get them into the Big Dance regardless of what they do in the Big East Tournament.  Lose one of their final three games and WVU will have to at least win a game or two in the BET.  Get beat twice in their final three regular season games and the Mountaineers will need a run to the BET Championship Game to save their tourney hopes.

Remaining Games: vs. Marquette (Fri), vs. DePaul (Tues), at South Florida (Mar. 3)

David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank.  He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities.  David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu.  He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft on the web.

You can follow him on Twitter at DavidKay_TSB.

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Comments

  1. I dont why I hate this Notre Dame team so much, but I do. I like Mike Brey a lot, I loved last year’s team. They had talent, and as they rolled through the Big East season, they seemed to make a compelling story, even though you doubted if they would do anything in the NCAA Tournament, versus this year’s team……

  2. …which you KNOW will do nothing in the NCAA Tournament despite their ravaging the Big East. this year’s team is getting “cheaper” wins because they’re taking advantage of a weaker league than last year. and that’s annoying. But most annoying is who they’re winning with: Jack Cooley, Jerian Grant, Pat Connaughton Pat McNaughton whatever that guys name is, the scrub who scores 25 one game, 0 the next, with regularity.

    NO ONE had heard of any guys before the season started, and I’m wondering if anyone had heard of them now. some would say that makes for a compelling story, but I don’t. not to me anyway.

    besides the ND peeps are too busy forecasting football spring practice position battles and contemplating Harrison Smith’s NFL draft stock

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