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March to Madness: NCAA Basketball Bubble Watch, January 21st

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Frogs drop Bubble battle, need to bounce back with hot ‘Horns coming to town.

NCAA Basketball: Texas Christian at Kansas State Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

Frog Status

· NET Rank: 31 (↓5)

· RPI: 16 (↓4)

· KenPom Rank: 22 (↓4)

· ESPN BPI: 33 (↓7)

NET result for the road loss at K-State

This was TCU’s least efficient offensive performance thus far in conference play and it is hard to pin it on any one cause: playing in the hostile confines of the Octagon of Doom is a problem for most teams; the Wildcats rank #5 overall in KenPom defensive efficiency; TCU was missing the 14.2 points per game of Kouat Noi from an already depleted roster. It’s all of those things, plus the killer Wade-Sneed duo putting on another show against the Frogs. This was a tough game, but is not as devastating as it may appear, given all the above factors and the fact that getting any win on the road in Big XII play is going to be a monumental task. The NET will continue to punish the lack of road victories, but with a pair of Q2 opportunities at home this week, TCU can make a leap back into the safety of the Top 30 if a new winning streak can be started.

Coach McConaughey’s #44 Longhorns are looking to continue their rise into NET elite – Texas was #75 going into conference play, but is coming off a giant home win over #30 Oklahoma and looking to secure a Q1 road victory that will push them even further away from their non-conference woes. Texas doesn’t have anyone with the draft prospects of Jarrett Allen, but Dylan Osetkowski and Kerwin Roach are back and capable of terrorizing the Frogs. This is probably the National Bubble game of the week and will have a big impact on the ultimate outcome of conference and Bubble races.


NET Impacts

It was a bad weekend to lose as a Bubble team, with only 12 total losses in the NET Top 50 and those lurking just outside were happy to take the place of any falling teams.

· #42 St. John’s (↓8) vs #43 Butler (↑5) – As the cream of the Big East further separates itself from the pack, the Red Storm are on a similar trajectory as fellow Big East squad Seton Hall – being pushed to the lower rung of the conference by losing to the other low-level Big East teams. They get the week off to prepare for the Hoyas visit to Madison Square Garden, where a loss would knock St. John’s off the Bubble picture. Marquette and Villanova are near locks, even in January, but beyond that the conference is a jumble and looking for some teams to step up for additional bids. Butler took this battle and is putting itself in position to make that leap into the top tier of the Big East.


NET Positive / NET Negative

· #38 San Francisco (↑9) – A dominating home victory over sub-100 BYU was enough to push the Dons into the Top 40. SF must win every non-Ganzaga/Saint Mary’s game to have a good chance at an at-large bid. If the WCC can get 3 teams into the tournament, the Bubble will be very tight at the end.

· #35 Florida (↑7) – NET sure does love dominant road wins, even over sub-100 Georgia. If the Gators can put together a cruising victory over #111 Texas A&M, they may be able to climb into the Top 30, giving the Frogs a Q1 opportunity in the SEC/Big XII match up Saturday.

· #46 Lipscomb (↓7) – The Bisons took a dive down the NET rankings by not playing over the weekend, another signal to what may be obvious – any loss will send Lipscomb off the Bubble and out of at-large consideration.

· #40 Florida St. (↓7) – The Seminoles simply cannot recover from their buzzer beater loss to Duke, this time losing to Jim Christian’s #124 Boston College Eagles to end up in a 5-way tie for last place in the ACC. This week they get back to Tallahassee and face a Clemson team that has been lingering just outside the Top 50 all season, looking for a perfect opportunity to make the leap into real Bubble consideration.


Bubbles Burst

· #52 Liberty (↓8) – The Flames won at home by only 6 points to #179 North Florida and the NET doesn’t take kindly to small home wins to lowly teams. Liberty’s season likely comes down to its two games against Lipscomb and ultimately a run through the A-Sun Tourney.

· #54 Arizona (↓4) – NET has no idea what to do with the Pac 12 and especially the Wildcats – lose to Oregon, climb into Top 50; defeat Oregon St, fall off the Bubble. Let’s root for USC to knock off Arizona this week to boost the TCU résumé and further knock down Arizona.

· #56 Seton Hall (↓7) – The Pirates’ downward spiral continues, picking up a 2nd loss to DePaul. Seton Hall will have to make an incredible run over the next month to get back into Bubble consideration, starting with the tall task of a trip to #28 Villanova this weekend.

· #61 Temple (↓15) – The top of the American had a good week, except for the Owls who couldn’t take home a Philly Big 5 win over # 92 Penn. The Quakers have put together a solid season with surprising wins, and defeating Temple gives them the opportunity to own the Big 5 crown for the first time since 2002. The sub-100 loss could be the death blow for Temple as the Owls enter the toughest part of their AAC slate, with Memphis, Cinci, and Houston ahead to close out January.


New Faces

· #47 Syracuse (↑4) – The crazy win over Duke last week turned out to not be enough to push the Orange back into the Top 50, but avoiding the letdown against Pitt let them sneak back into the NET’s good graces.

· #48 Hofstra (↑9) – I guess taking down #116 College of Charleston at home was enough to vault Hofstra into the Top 50, but I wouldn’t expect the Pride to be a bid thief in March – a CAA tournament championship will be required for them to be dancing.

· #49 Saint Mary’s (↑7) – The Gaels still get three games against top WCC contenders San Francisco and Gonzaga, so still an opportunity to earn an at-large bid, but last season Saint Mary’s was left out despite a generally strong season, weighed down by the overall strength of schedule. They better win out through regular season or win the conference tournament to get into the Big Dance.

· #50 Alabama (↑5) – Bama held tight with #4 Tennessee in Knoxville, eventually losing by three points. The road performance impressed NET and now the Tide get one more critical Bubble test, vs. #25 Ole Miss, before the SEC/Big XII showdown in Waco.


What to (Bubble) Watch

· #40 Florida St vs. #57 Clemson – Tuesday January 22, 6:00 PM, ESPNU

· #28 Villanova vs. #43 Butler – Tuesday January 22, 6:00 PM, FS1

· #58 Northwestern vs. #33 Indiana – Tuesday January 22, 8:00 PM, B1G Network

· #25 Ole Miss vs. #50 Alabama – Tuesday January 22, 8:00 PM, ESPNU