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NCAA Tournament Projections and Bubble Watch

K.J. McDaniels

K.J. McDaniels

More than any recent week, upsets shook up this week’s NCAA Tournament projections.

Clemson upset Duke, Indiana upset Wisconsin and Arkansas upset Kentucky to shape some of the NCAA Tournament hopes for a handful of teams in different ways.

Indiana confirmed an already strong case, Arkansas put itself into the field, and Clemson rendered itself worth watching for the rest of the ACC season.

At the midpoint of the year we’ve taken stock of the field so far, pinpointing the  teams looking for a bid and the start of the bubble watch. So far, the Big Ten is the bell cow of all conferences with eight teams in this week’s projections.

NCAA Tournament Projections: Jan. 15

ACC (6)
Feeling good: Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Duke
Bubble in: Virginia, Florida State, North Carolina
Bubble out: Clemson, Maryland, NC State
Notes: Pittsburgh’s schedule is finally going to get tougher with road trip to Syracuse. ... Clemson’s win over Duke as great, but the Tigers’ non-conference schedule, including a loss to Auburn, is dismal. ... Virginia and Florida State have near-identical resumes, though the Cavaliers won in Tallahassee. ... North Carolina’s three big non-conference wins are still keeping the Heels in the field, but their margin for error is shrinking.

American (5)
Feeling good: Cincinnati, Louisville, Memphis
Bubble in: Connecticut, SMU
Bubble out: None
Notes: Louisville’s best wins to date are over Southern Miss and SMU. ... Cincinnati has three top-50 wins (Pitt, Memphis, SMU). ... Memphis is 6-2 away from the FedEx Forum. ... UConn’s loss to Houston is ugly, but the Huskies are 6-2 against the top 100. ... SMU to date has avoided the bad loss.

Atlantic 10 (4)
Feeling good: Saint Louis, UMass, George Washington
Bubble in: VCU
Bubble out: Dayton
Notes: The A-10 is sixth in conference RPI, ahead of the SEC, American, Mountain West and Missouri Valley. ... Saint Louis’ only two losses are to Wisconsin and Wichita State ... George Washington continued to build its case with a home win over VCU on Tuesday. ... VCU will hope its non-conference win over Virginia in Charlottesville continues to hold up. ... A game against Saint Louis was a missed opportunity for Dayton to undo some of the damage from USC, Illinois State losses.

Related: 10 Midseason Disappointments

Big 12 (6)
Feeling good: Kansas, Iowa State, Oklahoma State, Baylor
Bubble in: Oklahoma, Kansas State
Bubble out: Texas
Notes: Baylor’s only losses are to Syracuse and Iowa State away from Waco. ... Kansas State has defeated Oklahoma State, Gonzaga, George Washington and Oklahoma, all at home. ... Win over Iowa State is a boon for the Sooners. ... Texas has no bad losses, but no great wins, either.

Big East (4)
Feeling good: Creighton, Villanova
Bubble in: Xavier, Georgetown
Bubble out: Marquette, Providence
Notes: Georgetown’s loss to RPI No. 235 Northeastern could be a resume killer. ... Marquette is 2-7 against the RPI top 100, and one of those wins is at home over DePaul. ... Providence may come to rue a one-point home loss to Seton Hall.

Big Ten (8)
Feeling good: Wisconsin, Michigan State, Ohio State, Iowa
Bubble in: Michigan, Indiana, Minnesota, Illinois
Bubble out: Purdue
Notes: The Big Ten has four top-10 teams Ken Pomeroy’s rankings. ... Michigan is 8-0 without Mitch McGary, but that’s about to get tested in the next three games (at Wisconsin, Iowa, at Michigan State). ... Wednesday’s win over Wisconsin puts Indiana in the field this week. ... The profile the Hoosiers and Minnesota is similar, but the Gophers have the edge in RPI (44 to 56). ... Illinois is playing with fire after loss at Northwestern.

Related: Midseason All-America teams

Missouri Valley (1)
Feeling good: Wichita State
Bubble in: None
Bubble out: Indiana State, Northern Iowa
Notes: Indiana State is off to a 4-0 start in the Missouri Valley and has two top-100 non-conference wins (Belmont, Notre Dame)

Mountain West (2)
Feeling good: San Diego State, New Mexico
Bubble in: None
Bubble out: Boise State
Notes: San Diego State has two marquee wins away from home against Kansas (on the road) and Creighton (on a neutral site). ... New Mexico is ranked 23rd in the RPI. ... Boise State is 0-5 against the top 100.

Pac-12 (6)
Feeling good: Arizona, Oregon
Bubble in: Cal, Colorado, UCLA, Stanford
Bubble out: Arizona State
Notes: Cal entered the mix after Jan. 9 road win over Oregon to go with no bad losses. ... Colorado will slip out of the field if the Buffaloes can’t prove they can win without Spencer Dinwiddie. ... UCLA showed nice fight in loss to Arizona, but the Bruins need to pick up top-50 wins. ... Stanford has nice duo of road victories over Oregon and Connecticut.

Related: Midseason Coaches of the Year

SEC (4)
Feeling good: Florida, Kentucky
Bubble in: Missouri, Arkansas
Bubble out: Tennessee, LSU
Notes: With roster at full-strength, Florida may be No. 1 seed material. ... Kentucky still No. 14 in the RPI despite loss at Arkansas. ... With one game apiece against Florida and Kentucky, Missouri starting to wonder how many NCAA Tourney teams they’ll face this season. ... Win over Kentucky puts Arkansas in for now, but the Razorbacks must conquer their road woes.

West Coast (1)
Feeling good:
Bubble in: None
Bubble out: BYU, Saint Mary’s
Notes: A loss to Portland is troubling, but Gonzaga’s non-conference wins over Arkansas, New Mexico State and West Virginia are looking a little better. ... Bad losses may catch up to BYU (Pepperdine, Loyola-Marymount, Utah) and Saint Mary’s (Hawaii, Santa Clara, George Mason).

One-bid leagues (21)
America East: Stony Brook
Atlantic Sun: Mercer
Big Sky: Northern Colorado
Big South: Radford
Big West: UC Santa Barbara
Colonial: Delaware
Conference USA: Louisiana Tech
Horizon: Green Bay
Ivy: Harvard
MAAC: Manhattan
MAC: Toledo
MEAC: North Carolina Central
Northeast: Robert Morris
Ohio Valley: Belmont
Patriot: American
Southern: Davidson
Southland: Stephen F. Austin
Summit: North Dakota State
Sun Belt: Georgia State
SWAC: Southern
WAC: New Mexico State

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