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March to Madness: NCAA Basketball Bubble Watch, March 2nd

Frogs lock in on Senior Night. Focus turns to watching seed grow

TCU Basketball vs Kansas State, February 27th, 2018
Melissa Triebwasser

Frog Status

Current KenPom Rank: 22 (↓1)

Strength of Schedule: 29 (↓4)

Current RPI Rank: 19 (-)

Current ESPN BPI Rank: 21 (↓2)

Welcome to March! I have never been so excited for my work to be rendered irrelevant. Frog fans no longer have to be constantly looking over our shoulders, fearing the wrath of a shadowy Committee conspiring for our demise. TCU put these concerns to bed on Tuesday night by clearing the last potential résumé landmine, as even losses at #10 Texas Tech and in the Big 12 Tournament would not drop the Frogs far enough to be left out of the Big Dance. It was an electric night at Schollmaier, as the Seniors were the stars of their night – combining for 31 points and 22 rebounds.

This space will now shift focus from whether TCU can reach the Tournament to where the Frogs will be dancing. This team has a ceiling that far exceeds simply making the Tournament - - you’re telling me TCU couldn’t beat St. Bonaventure (again) and Wichita St or UCLA and Tennessee to reach the Sweet 16? This is March Madness, why not a run to the Final Four? Ok, before we get too ahead of ourselves, for now let’s start keeping up with seeding impact with an eye still on the Bubble. A win in Lubbock would give the Frogs a 3rd place finish in the Big 12 and would put a 4-seed in realistic striking distance. A loss Saturday and a one-and-done in Kansas City would likely push TCU at least into the dreaded 8/9 game.

Week’s Biggest Impact

· #45 Oklahoma (↓6) vs #29 Baylor (↑7) – Hooo boy, the Oklahoma Bubble hot seat is officially ablaze as Trae Young shot 18% from long range and the Sooners took a 23-point loss in Waco. If OU drops its Senior Night game Friday night against #99 ISU, they’d drop to 9th in the conference and near elimination. The Bears put a rough week behind them with this massive victory to return as a reasonable Bubble option. Baylor’s trip on Saturday to #46 Kansas State could be a Bubble elimination game.

On the Move

· #35 Miami FL (↑6) The Madness got started early in Chapel Hill with perhaps the most exciting sequence of the season thus far. The Tar Heels’ Joel Berry drained a three to tie this game with 4-seconds left, but Miami hit a half court buzzer-beater to silence the Dean Dome. The win likely closes the case for the Hurricanes to easily make the Tournament, but they get #33 VA Tech at home to close the season, where they can leave no doubt about their inclusion and push up the seed lines

· #40 Missouri (↑5) – We know that winning at Memorial Gym is no small task, so Mizzou’s victory over #91 Vandy is worthy of a climb up the charts, but is most valuable in preventing a bad loss from hitting the résumé. The Tigers could climb up to 3rd in the SEC with a win Saturday over #37 Arkansas, likely locking up their bid. A loss would mean a strong performance in St. Louis at the SEC Tournament will be critical to a happy Selection Sunday for Mizzou.

· #47 Rhode Island (↓20) – This one could be a boon to TCU’s seed-line, while likely having no impact on the Bubble picture. The Rams lost…at home…to #123 St. Joseph’s…by 30 points! URI has likely wrapped up an at-large bid, even if they lose Friday at #55 Davidson and in the A-10 Tournament, but they can still lose ground in the seeding race and there is still time for TCU to jump URI in the eyes of the Committee.

· #25 Butler (↓5) –The Bulldogs will be an interesting case, as they have booked strong wins and have presented strong numbers all season, but have also lost some head-scratchers and have not yet reached their 20th win. Wednesday’s loss to #73 St. John’s has put Butler squarely on the Bubble and at risk of falling into First Four Out category should they lose at #28 Seton Hall Saturday

Bubbles Burst

· #48 Maryland – The Terps have not dropped below the top-50 yet, but they lost in their first game of the B1G Tournament to #77 Wisconsin. Maryland’s résumé is not strong enough to withstand that early exit and Terrapin fans can only hope to hear their name called during the NIT Selection Show.

· #59 Mississippi State (↓9) – The Bulldogs had a chance to make their final Bubble push with a home game against #13 Tennessee, but instead the Vols continued their romp through the SEC and crushed Miss State’s dream. State is eliminated as an at-large option and will need to win the SEC Tournament to steal a bid

· #56 Alabama (↓9) – The middle of the SEC has been a jumble for most of the season, but the cream is beginning to rise while the pretenders are getting exposed. Bama has now fallen into the pretender category, losing four consecutive games, and now travels to College Station for a giant Bubble match-up with the #30 Aggies

New Faces

· #49 Marquette – The Golden Eagles survived the trip to DC, taking down the #96 Georgetown in overtime, where a loss would have eliminated Marquette. With all of the losses at the bottom of the Bubble, simply winning was good enough to jump back into the top-50 this week. They’ll need a win Saturday over #28 Creighton to stay afloat in the Bubble race

· #50 Nebraska – Welcome the Cornhuskers to the Top-50 for the first time this season. The stay may be short-lived as a loss in the B1G Quarterfinals against #16 Michigan would drop them back below the Bubble line and be eliminated from Bubble contention. Nebraska somehow ended up as the B1G 4-seed, but will likely be out of the Big Dance unless they can at least reach the conference final due to a dreadful #271 non-conference schedule

What to (Bubble) Watch

· #47 Rhode Island at #55 Davidson – Fri. Mar. 2; 7:00 PM CT; CBS Sports Net

· #21 Kentucky at #24 Florida – Sat. Mar. 3; 11:00 AM CT; CBS

· #33 VA Tech at #35 Miami FL – Sat. Mar. 3; 11:00 AM CT; ESPN2

· #56 Alabama at #30 Texas A&M – Sat. Mar. 3; 1:00 PM CT; ESPN2

· #29 Baylor at #46 K-State– Sat. Mar. 3; 1:00 PM CT; ESPN

· #27 Creighton at #49 Marquette– Sat. Mar. 3; 1:30 PM CT; Fox

· #37 Arkansas at #40 Missouri – Sat. Mar. 3; 5:00 PM CT; ESPN2

· #34 Louisville at #42 NC State– Sat. Mar. 3; 5:00 PM CT; ESPN

· #25 Butler at #28 Seton Hall– Sat. Mar. 3; 7:00 PM CT; CBS Sports Net

· #53 UCLA at #41 USC– Sat. Mar. 3; 9:15 PM CT; ESPN