All roads lead to Saturday
Mississippi State, Virginia Tech, Illinois and Notre Dame need pre-Champ Week W's
The Bubble Insider takes you deeper into the NCAA tournament bubble, and the latest look at it (via Joe Lunardi) can be found here.
Here today, gone tomorrow; such is the life of bubble teams in the final weeks of college basketball's regular season. On Monday, we mentioned that the Mississippi State Bulldogs entered Joe Lunardi's Bracketology. On Wednesday, they fell to the 15-15 Auburn Tigers, and now they're back out of the field.
The reason for Mississippi State's hasty departure is its poor portfolio (ratings percentage index of 59, strength of schedule of 126, 1-3 record versus the RPI top 50). Nothing in that line will make the selection committee think the Bulldogs should stick in the field.
Teams with little to show the committee beyond a gaudy W-L record -- particularly those with weak schedules -- have more to fear from untimely, late-season losses. That's the reason we've been writing that the Virginia Tech Hokies (SOS of 154) still have something to prove but a team like the Louisville Cardinals (three fewer wins but SOS of 7) is better positioned. The Hokies' top win was at home against Clemson. The Cardinals' best win came at Syracuse, a likely No. 1 seed. Pardon the pun, but that's truly comparing apples to oranges.
When you factor in schedule strength and big wins among those lingering in last four in, first four out territory, the breakdown gets a bit clearer.
There's a valuable element after the pay wall: a chart of the leading bubble teams in terms of RPI, SOS, W-L and W-L versus RPI top 50. It would be a useful tool as you consume college basketball this weekend. For that and more detailed analysis, you need to be an ESPN Insider.
Insider's Bracket Bundle
Insider helps college basketball fans stay on top of the NCAA tournament field as it forms.
Joe Lunardi: Behind the Bracket
Insiders get Bracketology details the rest of the public doesn't. See which teams and which games are impacting the bracket, why it's moving and what may happen next.
Lunardi's Tournament Odds/Rundown
Bracketology tells you only how the bracket looks on that day. Lunardi's odds tell you how it's likely to look come Selection Sunday.
See which bubble teams are bound to get bounced and which are likely to crack the field of 65.
Inside the Bracket
Hard-core analysis of squads set to endure the Madness of March.
See how the teams stack up in each region of Bracketology.