The Bracketology Report: Texas-El Paso

Updated: March 4, 2004, 2:05 PM ET
By Charlie Creme | Insider Bracketologist

Editor's note: Each week Bracketology Insider will take an in-depth look at teams headed for the NCAA Tournament ... or not.

Week in review
UTEP's three-win week was highlighted by Monday's 71-62 home victory over Hawaii (InsideRPI No. 53, SOS No. 68). Now the Miners (InsideRPI No. 45, SOS No. 132) somehow need Hawaii to squeeze into the RPI Top 50 to make that win even more significant. A third quality victory may be much-needed for UTEP.

Beating Louisiana Tech (InsideRPI No. 164, SOS No. 161) and SMU (InsideRPI No. 177, SOS No. 112 SOS) as part of the mini-streak was also important, largely because both victories came on the road. Otherwise, these latter two games were more a matter of "holding serve" and avoiding a major late-season gaffe.

Coming up
All that remains to finish off an outright regular-season WAC championship is a win at Boise State (InsideRPI No. 83, SOS No. 157) on Saturday. The Miners began their conference season with a 98-94 home loss to the Broncos, who are the only WAC team UTEP hasn't beaten this season and the only one to win in El Paso.

That Jan. 3 meeting was a 53-whistle foul-fest. UTEP made 34 of 38 free throws and still lost. Junior Omar Thomas made 13 of those on his way to a most-efficient 29 points (in 22 minutes).

UTEP has already clinched at least a share of the conference title, the school's first since 1992, and has accomplished one of the nation's most dramatic turnarounds. A year ago the Miners were wrapping up a 3-15, last-place regular-season finish.

"Planting Seeds"
The Miners are No. 36 this week on The Bracketology Report national seeding chart. This makes UTEP a No. 9 seed.

UTEP is in good enough position that winning at Boise State will bring all of the following: the WAC title, the top seed in the conference tournament and, most importantly, it should seal an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament. The WAC isn't the ACC or SEC, but it would hard to deny the regular-season champ from the No. 10 conference a spot in the eventual NCAA field.

Games of the Week
Texas-El Paso fans should root FOR and AGAINST the teams in ALL CAPS.
For Illinois @ OHIO STATE (Sat.)
KANSAS @ Missouri (Sun.)
Against BRIGHAM YOUNG @ UNLV (Sat.)
Virginia @ MARYLAND (Sun.)


Inside the Numbers
Additional considerations for the NCAA Selection Committee include:
"Good" wins
(vs. RPI 1-25) NONE
(vs. RPI 26-50) Rutgers, Nevada
(vs. RPI 51-100) Hawaii, Rice
"Bad" losses
(vs. RPI 101-150) NONE
(vs. RPI sub-150) NONE
Record vs. projected field (1-1)
Win: Mississippi Valley State
Loss: @Texas Tech
Record vs. at-large pool (4-4)
Win: Rutgers, Nevada, Hawaii, Rice
Loss: Boise State, @Nevada, @Hawaii, @Rice
Reason(s) to INCLUDE UTEP
  • 9-1 in last 10 games
  • 6-4 road record
  • Reason(s) to EXCLUDE UTEP
  • Zero RPI Top 25 opponents
  • NonConf SOS No. 186
  • Season breakdown (20-5, 13-4)
    All RPI data through Monday, March 1

    Date      Opponent               Result      Opp. RPI      Opp. SOS
    11/22     Texas-Basin (Non-DI)   109-49        n/a           n/a	
    11/24     Sul Ross (Non-DI)      98-76         n/a           n/a	
    11/29     Portland State         70-57         266           267	

    12/3 @Texas Tech 57-70 (L) 34 35 12/6 @New Mexico State 83-74 188 149 12/8 Houston 88-61 179 95 12/17 New Mexico State 85-60 188 149 12/22 Arkansas-Pine Bluff 103-60 191 265 12/27 Mississippi Valley St 84-63 126 302 12/28 Rutgers 94-68 36 17

    1/3 Boise State 94-98 (L) 83 157 1/8 @Tulsa 59-56 172 56 1/10 @Rice 68-84 (L) 57 93 1/15 Nevada 79-76 43 44 1/17 Fresno State 72-58 111 41 1/22 @Hawaii 63-85 (L) 53 68 1/24 @San Jose State 82-72 270 171 1/29 SMU 88-62 177 112 1/31 Louisiana Tech 71-68 164 161

    2/5 Rice 105-62 57 93 2/7 Tulsa 78-66 172 56 2/12 @Fresno State 58-55 111 41 2/14 @Nevada 63-92 (L) 43 44 2/19 San Jose State 65-52 270 171 2/23 Hawaii 71-62 53 68 2/26 @Louisiana Tech 76-65 164 161 2/28 @SMU 81-71 177 112

    3/6 @Boise State 83 157 3/11 WAC TOURNAMENT


    Joe Lunardi's forecast (March 4)
    Chance of NCAA top seed: 0 percent
    Chance of NCAA "protected" (1-4) seed: 0 percent
    Chance of NCAA bid: 70 percent
    Chance of NCAA at-large bid: 55 percent
    Chance of NIT bid: 30 percent
    Chance of missing post-season: 0 percent

    Charlie Creme | email

    Women's College Basketball
    Charlie Creme projects the women's NCAA Tournament bracket for ESPN.com.

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