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March to Madness: NCAA Basketball Bubble Watch, January 14th

Frogs holding steady with close road losses, return home for critical match up with West Virginia

NCAA Basketball: Texas Christian at Oklahoma Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

Frog Status

· NET Rank: 31 (↑1)

· RPI: 9 (-)

· KenPom Rank: 23 (↑4)

· ESPN BPI: 34 (↓1)

NET result for the loss at Oklahoma

Everything about the box score in Norman points to a Frog win – 75% from the free throw line, 45% on 3-pointers, 17 offensive rebounds…but the killer is shooting just 35% on 72 (!) field goal attempts, along with amassing double the personal fouls as the Sooners. Kouat Noi was a bona fide superstar, but with him coming off the bench, the starters shot an abominable 26% from the field. All that considered, TCU just fell by a single point on the road to #15 Oklahoma. These were always going to be two of the toughest games on the schedule and TCU has handled them admirably, but these losses leave little room for error at home and against the lower-tier of the conference. Luckily, or perhaps unluckily, the Big XII is stacked top to bottom, with West Virginia as the lowest ranked team at #96. With the Mountaineers coming to Schollmaier this week, TCU must bounce back to hold on to a spot in the NET top 50.

The résumé also took a hit over the weekend, with bad losses for opponents lingering around the Quadrant split lines. Baylor dropped out of the Top 75 with the home loss to Kansas and USC fell 11 spots and out of the Top 100 with a massive loss at Oregon. It continues to be unfortunate that Staples Center is considered a neutral site and not an away location.


NET Impact

· #20 Wisconsin (↓5) vs #18 Purdue (↑6) – The B1G is definitely putting together a strong case for best conference, with as deep a roster of good teams as it has fielded in some time. 10 teams current sit in the NET top 50 – a cynic may say that this is due to their scheduling methodology, as every B1G team has played 5 or 6 conference games, making their current résumés appear stronger than other top conferences with fewer conference games played. We’ll see how that is sustained throughout the season, but for now NET has put B1G on a bit of a pedestal until the other conferences complete more top-level games. That said, this was a good game between good teams that will likely get good seeds. Wisconsin is on losing-streak watch this week, with games against #22 Maryland and #3 Michigan on deck.


NET Positive / NET Negative

· #23 Louisville (↑7) – Program win for the post-Pitino Cardinals with a dominant victory in the Dean Dome over #10 UNC. A Q1 win that will keep Louisville in the Tournament field unless they have an extreme losing streak.

· #41 Utah St. (↑8) – The Mountain West was expected to be a one-bid league: Nevada and everyone else, but the Aggies have been holding steady in the Top 50. Fresno isn’t far behind, but after that the conference falls off a cliff – a loss to any team other than the top 3 of the conference may be held as worthy of elimination from Bubble contention

· #37 St. John’s (↓10) – This is one of those “algorithms don’t have eyes” situations. The narrative out of this game will be that the Red Storm were without superstar Shamorie Ponds, coming off an emotional loss at Villanova and got caught sleeping. The NET doesn’t care about your narrative, it only sees a home loss to #123.

· #28 Iowa St. (↓9) – The Cyclones have taken two bad losses since their huge win over Kansas and now have to travel to Lubbock and face the #4 Red Raiders…This could get worse before it gets better.


Bubbles Burst

· #52 VCU (↓7) – The Rams have now given control of the A10 over to Davidson and it is looking more likely that it will be a single bid conference – no teams in the top 50 and an average NET rank of 157.

· #57 North Texas (↓17) – The Mean Green picked up just a 2nd loss on the season, but falling at #177 UTSA was a killer to their NET rank. C-USA has also likely been relegated to single-bid status, with current average NET rank of 170

· #59 Syracuse (↓13) – Listen, we knew this was going to happen – the Orange will bounce between sides of the Bubble all season. I fully expect Syracuse to hand Coach K a loss tonight at Cameron Indoor, vaulting the Orange back into the Top 50, just in time to lose at home against Pitt this weekend.


New Faces

· #38 Washington (↑16) – The Pac-12 took a lot of bad press recently on a lot of fronts, including being wholly uncompetitive in basketball, with some experts suggesting the league should receive no at-large bids. The NET loves a road win, even if it’s over #92 Colorado, so for now the Huskies are the darling until a contender can emerge

· #46 Minnesota (↑10) – The Golden Gophers atoned for a rough home loss with a dominant home win and now can turn that into a solid win streak with #125 Illinois and #78 Penn State this week.

· #49 Kansas St (↑2) Like Syracuse, the Wildcats seem to constantly flip on and off the Bubble. The road win over ISU only moved them up 2 spots, so NET must be holding something against them. It also appears Frog Killer Dean Wade is healing up in time for this critical stretch of OU, TCU, and Texas Tech.


What to (Bubble) Watch

· #22 Maryland vs. #20 Wisconsin – Monday January 14, 7:30 PM, FS1

· #34 Mississippi St. vs. #40 Florida – Tuesday January 15, 6:00 PM, SEC Network

· #24 Ole Miss vs. #25 LSU – Tuesday January 15, 8:00 PM, SEC Network

· #37 St. John’s vs. #55 Creighton – Wednesday January 16, 5:30 PM, FS1