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March to Madness: 2022 NCAA Tournament Bubble Watch, February 11th

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Where does TCU stand in the race for an NCAA Tournament bid?

NCAA Basketball: Oklahoma State at Texas Christian
TCU kept its resume Tournament-worthy with the home win over OK State
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Frog Status

  • NET Rank: 55 (-)
  • RPI: 57 (↑8)
  • KenPom Rank: 55 (↑2)
  • ESPN BPI: 53 (↓2)

Bracketologist Views of TCU:

NET performance for the home win over Oklahoma State

After a few years away, the Horned Frogs are back in contention for a coveted at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament for the 2nd time under Jamie Dixon. And I am back to watch the Bubble and update you following each game on TCU’s standing in the at-large pecking order. We are now into mid-February and TCU has secured some high-profile wins to position its tournament resume for strong consideration by the Selection Committee. Being short-handed without Mike Miles could have introduced a great deal of uncertainty into the Frogs’ post-season prospects. After dropping what should have been a very winnable home game against #69 Kansas State, things could have really spiraled in a hurry. Thankfully the firm of Lampkin, O’Bannon, Baugh, Miller, and Associates held on against #61 OK State. While the win didn’t move the NET needle, it served as a nice survive-and-advance to hold steady and avoid the big drop in the ranking. The Big 12 is an absolute gauntlet (average NET rank of 36.4, with lowest ranked team being #69), and accumulating wins will continue to be a major challenge, but this squad has shown a resilience to withstand the storm. They’ll need to dust themselves off because from this point on the road only becomes more treacherous.

TCU still has seven Q1 opportunities on the schedule, where victories will prove a significant boost nationally. The first of these chances to impress comes Saturday in Lubbock where the #13 Red Raiders haven’t lost this season. The home court advantage was on full display 10 days ago when the traitorous Chris Bead and his Longhorns came to town. Though I doubt Jamie Dixon and the Frogs will bring out that level of vitriol, TCU can expect few friends in the building. This one appears to be quite a mismatch on the analytics models, projecting TCU’s sub-100 offense to struggle to produce points against Tech’s #3 overall defense (per KenPom). We can point to K-State’s home victory over TTU last month as a model for how the Frogs can leave Lubbock victorious: shoot over 30% on threes while holding them to under 25% on threes and under 40% on all FGs, while winning the turnover and assist battles. A similar game plan propelled TCU to victory against defensive juggernaut LSU, so we know Coach Dixon can put the plan in place and this squad can execute.

Aside from simply winning games and surviving the brutality of the Big 12, we must also turn our attention to the fellow competitors jockeying for position on the Bubble to earn a spot into the Field of 68. Every game will impact the NET rankings and the positioning in the Bubble race, but we’ll be watching especially closely at those fringe teams with similar resumes as TCU’s. Hopefully we’ll watch as the Bubble contenders begin to dwindle away as losses mount and opportunities for signature wins are squandered. After our Bubble experience in 2019, where several mid-major teams snuck in with at-large bids ahead of our Frogs, despite suspect resumes, I’ll be paying close attention to an especially strong slate of contenders from the MWC, MVC, WCC, OVC, and C-USA, hoping many of these teams suffer an unexpected loss to drop off the radar. Let’s dig into which games had the biggest influence last week.


Impact Games of the Week

· #40 (↑6) Oklahoma def. #13 (↓2) Texas TechSpeaking of our friends from Lubbock, they must have been looking ahead to the showdown with TCU, because the Red Raiders got absolutely waxed in Norman on Wednesday. Tech is certainly in no danger as a result of this game, but the win proves a huge boost to Oklahoma who had been floundering with four straight losses and a brutal upcoming schedule. OU was on the brink of disappearing from the Bubble entirely over the next month, but the signature win puts it squarely in the race.

· #67 (↑2) Santa Clara def. #21 (↓1) St. Mary’s – This one didn’t have quite the impact to the overall NET rankings because it qualified as a Q1 road game for St. Mary’s. The impact on this game was high for our Frogs, by piecing the armor of an at-large lock for the Gaels while boosting a non-conference opponent, keeping the early season non-conference neutral loss to Santa Clara as Q2. St. Mary’s still has home games against fellow top WCC contenders San Fran, BYU, and Gonzaga where its Bubble fate could be sealed.


Climbing

· #30 Michigan (↑22) – The Wolverines earned two wins this week, at #88 Penn State by one point and a total demolition of #9 Purdue at home, to catapult way up the rankings and back into the Bubble discussion. With another headliner home game Saturday against #18 Ohio State, Michigan could continue to claw its way into the Tournament.

· #51 SMU (↑8)Former Frog Kendric Davis amassed 22 points, including the game sealing free throw, to give the Ponies a court-storming signature win over #3 Houston. With a couple of bad losses and a struggling AAC limiting further Q1 opportunities (only the return trip to Houston will qualify), SMU is still in the hunt for an at-large bid, but likely cannot afford more than one loss the rest of the way.


Falling

· #38 San Francisco (↓6) – The Dons suffered a major blow to their at-large hopes and the dream of a 4-bid WCC with the home loss to sub-200 Portland on Tuesday night. With its best win being a November neutral game vs. UAB, San Fran will likely need to defeat Gonzaga and St. Mary’s in the regular season and eventually reach the WCC finals, while avoiding any more embarrassing losses, to build a bid-worthy resume. This Bubble isn’t fully burst, as the NET still loves the Dons for some reason, but the rest of the Bubble is breathing easier following this game.

· #39 Iowa State (↓8) – February has not been full of love for the Cyclones, losers of all three contests in the month, including an ugly 16-point drubbing in Morgantown this week. There is plenty of time for ISU to bounce back, with its next six games being coin-flips that could certainly lead to an equally strong winning streak to get back into likely-lock safety.


Look Ahead: What to (Bubble) Watch

  • #17 UConn vs. #22 Xavier – Fri. Feb. 11, 8:00 PM ESPN2
  • #101 St. Bonaventure vs. #49 St. Louis – Fri. Feb. 11, 8:00 PM ESPN2
  • #36 Colorado St. vs. #57 Fresno St. – Fri. Feb. 11, 8:30 PM CBS Sports Net
  • #32 Arkansas vs. #23 Alabama – Sat. Feb. 12, 11:00 AM SEC Network
  • #96 Florida State vs. #41 North Carolina– Sat. Feb. 12, 1:00 PM ESPN
  • #59 West Virginia vs. #61 OK State – Sat. Feb. 12, 1:00 PM ESPN2
  • #54 Davidson vs. #129 Rhode Island – Sat. Feb. 12, 1:00 PM ESPNU
  • #73 Miami FL vs. #33 Wake ForestSat. Feb. 12, 2:00 PM ACC Network
  • #28 Murray St. vs. #108 Morehead St. – Sat. Feb. 12, 3:00 PM ESPN+
  • #69 Kansas St. vs. #39 Iowa St.– Sat. Feb. 12, 3:00 PM ESPNU
  • #38 San Francisco vs. #67 Santa Clara – Sat. Feb. 12, 5:00 PM FuboTV
  • #82 Syracuse vs. #44 Virginia TechSat. Feb. 12, 5:00 PM ESPN2
  • #63 Notre Dame vs. #83 Clemson– Sat. Feb. 12, 6:00 PM ACC Network
  • #56 Mississippi St. vs. #16 LSU – Sat. Feb. 12, 7:00 PM ESPN2
  • #36 Colorado St. vs. #35 Boise St. – Sun. Feb. 13, 3:00 PM FS1

View of the Bubble (NET 26-68) results for last week and upcoming games.