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March to Madness: NCAA Basketball Bubble Watch, February 23rd

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Road win holds TCU Bubble position steady ahead of massive weekend showdown

NCAA Basketball: Texas Christian at Iowa State Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Frog Status

Current KenPom Rank: 22 (↓1)

Strength of Schedule: 22 (↑2)

Current RPI Rank: 20

Current ESPN BPI Rank: 18

There is something fantastic about listening to an entire basketball game on the radio. As a non-millionaire, I did not pony up the cash to watch Iowa State’s in-house TV feed of the game, instead deferring to Brian Estridge, John Denton, and the TCU Sports Network team. Everything has more tension on the radio:

“Bane with the drive reverse layup? Soul-stealing poster-izing slam dunk? Fouled, and-one??kicks to Noi behind the arcJackNicholsonNodding.gifgets it to go and the Frogs take the leadLET’S GOOOO!

We’ll be back in black at Schollmaier on Saturday for the showdown against #36 Baylor. Get your Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit, load up on caffeine, get to the arena early, and get loud even before tip-off. A groggy start Saturday will not be as easily overcome as in the previous two games – the Bears sport the 14th-best defensive efficiency in the country. This is a strength-vs-strength match-up, as TCU boasts the 4th-best overall offensive efficiency. Baylor has been on a tear in February, winning 5 of 6 in the month to get back on the Bubble radar after falling below the top-50 to end January. This is perhaps the biggest Bubble game of the weekend nationally and is a critical point for both teams.

Week’s Biggest Impact

· #34 Creighton (↓7) vs #20 Butler (↑4) – Butler put a complete beat down of the Bluejays in Indianapolis on Tuesday night. The Bulldogs are finally booking some highlight wins to go with their top-20 KenPom ranking. They now get the weekend off ahead of two road Big East games that they must at least split to stay on the good side of the Bubble. Creighton meanwhile lost its third straight conference game and now hosts #2 Villanova on Saturday and has fallen from near-lock to true-Bubble status

On the Move

· #33 Seton Hall (↑7) – The Pirates were able to overcome a road environment that was so hostile that they had to push postpone completion of the game to the next day and change venues…ok so this was just because the floor was too slippery for safe basketball, but a big Seton Hall win nonetheless. The win also served to put Big East conference rival Providence on Bubble life support and the Pirates will have the chance to do the same to St. John’s Saturday morning in Madison Square Garden.

· #28 Virginia Tech (↑6)On Monday I told you the Hokies needed any two wins to secure a bid and the Hokies went out and got a home victory over #17 Clemson. This puts VA Tech up to 20 wins with a chance to reach lock status on Saturday and force #38 Louisville to vacate their 2018 Tournament before the NCAA or FBI have the opportunity.

· #32 Texas A&M (↓6) – The Aggies appeared to be Tourney locks after wins over Auburn and Kentucky two weeks ago, but since then they’ve lost three straight and are keeping the mediocre middle of the SEC afloat in the Bubble race. Frog fans will be rooting hard against A&M Saturday, as they travel to Vanderbilt – a chance for the Commodores to boost TCU’s numbers while putting the Aggy Tournament dreams on life support

· #43 Oklahoma (↓5) – Another game, another loss, and another big downward arrow for the Sooners. This game went so poorly for OU that ESPN already had the “Will Trae Young miss the Tournament” segments ready to go immediately post game. Now with 11 losses and falling way behind in the conference race, OU will need to win out to get back into near-lock territory and will probably need to make noise in the conference tournament to guarantee a bid.

Bubbles Burst

· #51 Syracuse (↓6) – It’s hard to fault losing to #7 UNC, but the Orange missed a huge opportunity at the Carrier Dome for a showcase win. Syracuse now travels to Cameron Indoor for another chance to impress the Committee, even if the entire Blue Devils squad is held out with injury or eligibility concerns

New Faces

· #48 Mississippi State – The Bulldogs enter the Top-50 for the first time all season with a 12-point romp in College Station to climb to fifth in the SEC. State picked up their 20th win, should add two more wins ahead of the SEC Tournament, and the shock of those quantity of wins will influence the Committee on Selection Sunday. Hopefully the Committee will recognize that many of those wins came against the #346-rated non-conference schedule

What to (Bubble) Watch

· #38 Louisville at #28 VA Tech – Sat. Feb. 24; Noon CT; CBS

· #52 USC at # 59 Utah – Sat. Feb. 24; 1:30 PM CT; Pac12 Network

· #46 Kansas St. at #43 Oklahoma – Sat. Feb. 24; 5:00 PM CT; ESPN2

· #39 Missouri at #25 Kentucky – Sat. Feb. 24; 7:15 PM CT; ESPN

· #42 Arkansas at #44 Alabama – Sat. Feb. 24; 7:30 PM CT; SEC Network

· #27 Penn St. at #55 Nebraska Sun. Feb. 25; 4:15 PM CT; Big Ten Network

· #26 Florida St. at #49 NC State – Sun. Feb. 25; 5:00 PM CT; ESPNU