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March to Madness: NCAA Basketball Bubble Watch, February 9th

This is fine. For now

NCAA Basketball: Texas Christian at Kansas Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Frog Status

Current KenPom Rank: 24 (↑1)

Opponent Average KenPom Rank: 84 (↑1)

Strength of Schedule: 16th (↑12)

After another loss to the Big 12 elite, I’m feeling like the This Is Fine Dog – continuing to suggest that it’s all good, while everything is burning around us. TCU keeps dropping close games to strong opponents, causing limited damage to our KenPom ranking, but allowing the general public (and eventually the Committee) to start melting away our Bubble résumé. The National Media has started issuing their Bracketology forecasts and TCU is understandably in the Bubble category, but we’re lumped in with teams rated far below us in KenPom (i.e. #63 Providence, #69 Utah, #78 Georgia, #97 Washington, #106 UCF). I am standing by the theory that a top-50 KenPom ranking is necessary to push a Bubble résumé into the Tournament, but I am starting to feel the flames a bit more.

It is still too early in the season to call Saturday’s match-up with #38 Texas a Bubble Elimination Game, but it is a pivotal moment for both teams. The Longhorns already have wins over Tech, OU, Bama and Butler - add in a season sweep of TCU and there’s no question which résumé would be favored on Selection Sunday. A Horned Frog win Saturday is critical to extinguishing this fire before it burns the season away; our Frogs cannot let the losing streak reach three games ahead of next week’s trip to Morgantown.

Week’s Biggest Impact

· #54 SMU (↓5) vs #33 Houston (↑2) The Ponies were up 7 deep into the 2nd half, but only scored 1 point over the final 6 minutes, allowing Houston to steal a win and put a dent into the TCU résumé. If SMU can get Shake Milton healthy for Sunday’s showdown with potential 1-seed Cinci, they could have a chance to pull off a stunner and get back into the Bubble picture. For Houston, outside of hosting Cincinnati the remaining schedule is all sub-50 and has average rank of #156, so the Cougars can simply take out the trash and stroll into the Tournament.

On the Move

· #39 Baylor (↑6) – Taking care of business against the basement of the Big 12 has pushed the Bears into the Top-40. Every remaining game is a Top-50 match-up, so Baylor will have a chance to play itself into the Dance with a strong finish, starting with the National Spotlight game on CBS vs. #11 Kansas.

· #22 Texas A&M (↑4) – The Aggies captured a big upset in the first leg of a tough two game Top-30 stretch, stealing a win at #10 Auburn. A home win over #26 Kentucky would likely push A&M into lock status

· #29 Michigan (↓5) – Though not as dramatic or important as the 2017 version of this upset, where Northwestern won at the buzzer to boost itself into the NCAA Tournament, the Wildcats steal one from the Wolverines again. Michigan gets two sub-90 games to climb back up the ranks before closing the season with three top-50 games

· #27 Arizona (↓4) – With consecutive losses to sub-50 teams, the Wildcats are serving as a résumé boost to their PAC 12 Bubble brethren, even pushing UCLA into the top 50 with Thursday’s home loss. I thought the FBI would be the only thing that could force Arizona out of the Tournament, but with their next two being against top-50 teams, this losing streak could extend and put them in dangerous territory.

Bubbles Burst

· #51 Boise St. (↓5) – There was a time that simply escaping The Pit with a win was a huge success, but the Broncos 2-point victory at #121 New Mexico sent Boise below the Bubble line. Their Valentine’s Day date with #21 Nevada will be big in determining Boise’s viability as an at-large candidate

· # 52 Alabama (↓4) – I’m tired of this yo-yo season Bama is having, jumping across the Bubble line each week. This could continue, as have a dense close to the season, with average opponent ranking of #31. Here’s to hoping the Vols ebb the Tide on Saturday, as I’m running desperately low on Tide pun Dad Jokes.

· #54 SMU (↓5) – As discussed above, times are dire in Dallas and it’s looking increasingly unlikely that SMU will be in the Bubble discussion into the stretch run.

New Faces

· #46 Syracuse – Boeheim’s Boys went into the YUM Center and took down #34 Louisville. The Orange still have time for several statement wins, with 4 games remaining against the Top 30. All other Bubble teams should be rooting for Wake Forest to defeat Syracuse this week and push them back below the Top-50

· #48 Kansas St. – K-State is back in the Top-50 just in time to host #8 Red Raiders, where a likely loss would send the Wildcats back down under the Bubble line.

· #50 UCLA – The Bruins followed up a dreadful 3-game losing streak with a 4-game winning streak to climb into 2nd place in the PAC 12 and the last spot on the Bubble Watch. Their time here may be short lived, with a trip to #31 ASU Saturday.

Look Ahead Bubble Impact

· #32 Rhode Island vs. #57 Davidson – Fri. Feb. 9; 6:00 PM CT; ESPN2

· #22 Texas A&M vs. #26 Kentucky – Sat. Feb. 10; 7:15 PM CT; ESPN

· #27 Arizona vs. #43 USC – Sat. Feb. 10; 9:15 PM CT; ESPN

· #31 Arizona St. vs. #50 UCLA – Sat. Feb. 10; 6:00 PM CT; PAC12 Network