Commentary

All roads lead to Saturday

Mississippi State, Virginia Tech, Illinois and Notre Dame need pre-Champ Week W's

Updated: March 4, 2010, 3:16 PM ET
By Mike Hume | ESPN Insider
Getty ImagesJarvis Varnado and the Bulldogs beat Tennessee to win the SEC tournament last year; doing it again Saturday would be very helpful for them.

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.

Another team on the bubble, the Connecticut Huskies, remained in the field after falling to Big East bubble buddy Notre Dame Fighting Irish. What gives?

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.