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March to Madness: NCAA Basketball Bubble Watch, February 1st

Frogs hang onto Top-30 spot, look to end Baylor’s hot streak

TCU v Texas Tech
This was a play involving a drive by a TCU player, so it was definitely called a charge
Photo by John Weast/Getty Images

Frog Status

· NET Rank: 30(↓2)

· RPI: 20 (↓2)

· KenPom Rank: 29 (↓5)

· ESPN BPI: 35 (↓1)

Note: Again this week the NCAA didn’t update NET with Thursday results. Maybe they need a tutor to do the work for them

NET impact from the road loss at Texas Tech

Wait, there was a basketball game this week? Not just uniform reveals and NBA star Kenny Hustle? Well, that game way back on Monday certainly was not good; getting blown out is embarrassing and disheartening, but this is nowhere near the death-blow that it felt like as it was happening. Yes, this was by far the worst defensive performance of the season. Sure, TTU exposed and exploited many of the flaws of this TCU team: limited scoring options, lack of depth, etc. However, given all that negativity, the NET was not especially concerned with this performance, moving the Frogs down just two spots. TCU misses out on the opportunity to take the express train up the rankings, but did not fall of a cliff despite the terrible game. The good news is that at this point there is no single game that could shoot the Frogs drastically down the rankings, as the worst game is on the road vs #104 WVU. The bad news is that every game is lose-able, and it’s certainly possible to fall into an extended losing streak like the one in 2017 that dropped Coach Dixon’s first Frog squad into the NIT. That zero in the Quadrant 1 win column is really standing out as a major blemish on this resume, but TCU gets another Q1 opportunity Saturday in Waco.

TCU now has to travel to Waco for the season rematch with surface-of-the-sun hot Baylor. The Bears’ surge has been quite remarkable, especially considering they’ve now won five in a row without starter Tristan Clark. However, losing Clark’s 30 minutes per games has granted opportunity for Makai Mason to shine and Coach Drew to spread minutes across the bench and play matchup advantages. Baylor has become the Big 12 favorite du jour, as the team to slay the Jayhawk giant while their national attention explodes. I understand I am incapable of thinking rationally when it comes to Baylor, but think that noise, and that win streak, are silenced Saturday.


NET Impacts

· #32 Oklahoma (↓8) vs #34 Baylor (↑8) – And here you thought TCU had a bad Monday…OU lost at home by 30 points to Baylor. Baylor was a sub-100 team headed into conference play and I was hoping they could move above 75th to boost up their quadrant status…careful what you wish for. The Sooners are now at the lowest NET ranking they’ve been all season and have to travel to Morgantown, where a sub-100 loss could deal another major blow to the Oklahoma résumé

· #56 Liberty (↓10) vs #36 Lipscomb (↑3) – The Bisons put on an absolutely dominant performance, going on the road and smashing their nearest conference foe by 20 points. Lipscomb could legitimately be in line for an at-large bid if they can avoid any slips during the A-Sun regular season, Liberty on the other hand did not have a comparable résumé going into this contest and now will need to make a massive run, including defeating the Bisons in Nashville later this month, but most likely they will require an A-Sun tourney championship to go Dancing.


NET Positive / NET Negative

The NET is clearly stabilizing at the top, as only 2 of the top 14 moved, and those just moved one place each. The weekend was hard on the bottom of the Bubble, but this week those teams bounced back (9 wins for teams ranked 35 to 50, with 2 on bye) while the middle tier fell back to the pack (6 losses for teams #24 to #35, with 3 on bye). The Bubble appeared to be tightening, but the door is now more open for an uprising from teams looking to return to the conversation. With seven of the Top 50 on bye, a bad loss could really send a team tumbling.

· #44 Saint John’s (↑5) – The Red Storm were on the wrong side of this section after losing to Georgetown, but they bounced back with a critical road win at Creighton. They now enter an impossible stretch at Duke and at Marquette – a win in either of those would send St. John’s flying up the rankings again.

· #48 Indiana (↓7) – The Hoosiers end January on a 7-game losing streak and picked up their ninth loss of the season with its worse loss, falling by 8 to sub-100 Rutgers. Somehow the NET loves the B1G so much that despite this horrendous loss, Indiana is still holding on to a Top-50 spot. Indiana now has to go to East Lansing and try to take down the Top-10 Spartans in order to stay afloat in the Bubble race.


Bubbles Burst

· #55 Butler (↓5) – The Bulldogs got smashed at home to drop to the bottom of the Big East standings, and the NET does not allow such failure, even if it is against #18 Marquette. Butler now faces a key Bubble test with Seton Hall coming to Indy looking to climb back onto the right side of the Bubble.

· #56 Liberty (↓10) – Discussed above….have to think the at-large opportunity is now over for the Flames


New Faces

· #50 Minnesota (↑1) – The Golden Gophers got an easy home win over a sub-100 team and that was enough for NET to sneak them back up the one spot into the Top 50. Their weekend travels bring them to #11 Purdue, likely sending Minnesota back down below the cut line.

· #51 UNC Greensboro (↑??) – These Spartans will almost certainly jump into the Top-50 for the first time all season once their Thursday result is actually added to the NET’s calculations – the 27-point home drubbing of VMI should be enough to climb the single spot upwards.


What to (Bubble) Watch

It’s another busy Bubble slate, with 29 of the Top 50 playing their next game against other Top 50 squads.

· #55 Butler vs. #63 Seton Hall – Saturday Feb. 2, 11:00 AM FS1

· #37 Ole Miss vs. #26 Miss State – Saturday Feb. 2, 2:30 PM SEC Network

· #52 Saint Mary’s vs. #46 San Francisco – Saturday Feb. 2, 3:00 PM THEW.TV

· #45 Syracuse vs. #71 Pitt – Saturday Feb. 2, 5:00 PM ESPN2

· #24 Auburn vs. #43 Alabama – Saturday Feb. 2, 7:00 PM ESPN2