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March to Madness: 2022 NCAA Tournament Bubble Watch, February 18th

TCU’s path to the Big Dance became more treacherous following damaging home defeat, but not all hope is lost

NCAA Basketball: Iowa State at Texas Christian
Can Jamie Dixon’s squad pick up the pieces after the Tournament resume took a dive with the home loss to Iowa State
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Frog Status

  • NET Rank: 56 (↓2)
  • RPI: 63 (↓8)
  • KenPom Rank: 59 (↓1)
  • ESPN BPI: 52 (-)

Bracketologists View of TCU:

NET score performance for the home loss to Iowa State

Folks. The sky has not fallen and our Purple Bubble has not yet disappeared into the wind. It is clear however that losing at home in one of the final remaining favorable opportunities this season will make the task ahead much more difficult. Iowa State has been toiling at the bottom of the conference for several weeks, but now TCU has given the Cyclones new life in the Bubble race and entered a resume tailspin as the schedule turns even more difficult. I understand the urge to jump ship and lose hope after suffering this tough-to-swallow loss where the team doesn’t live up to its potential, but that potential still exists and can still be put on display to push this squad forward. The rest of the Bubble took plenty of hits as well this week, and TCU can certainly win its way beyond the Bubble and into likely-lock territory. Let’s dump last week in the garbage and move forward.

There is plenty of season remaining for the Frogs to strengthen the Tournament with high profile Q1 wins, but those wins would be high-profile for a reason: they would be significant upsets over the Big 12’s top teams. This weekend will be one of those significant upset opportunity which would be viewed nationally as a massive surprise and be impossible for the Selection Committee to ignore. For the second weekend in a row TCU will have to play on the road against a top conference team that is coming off a loss. Baylor took a 10 point loss in Lubbock in the first game without Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua following his devastating knee injury the week before. Even without JTT and with other key players hampered, the Bears are a top team and Waco is a terrible place to go, so a TCU win would be absolutely massive for the Frogs’ Tournament hopes.


Impact Games of the Week

  • #72 Texas A&M (↑1) def. #53 (↓4) Florida – The Aggies stole a one point home win from the Gators to begin its slow creep back into the Bubble discussion - with only winnable games remaining on the schedule, A&M could go on a run to move up these rankings. This one was helpful as it continues to boost TCU’s neutral win over A&M while dropping Florida out of the Top 50. The Gators have a difficult stretch run, with Auburn, Kentucky, and Arkansas still left on the slate; however all of those games are in Gainesville so certainly an opportunity for UF to move onto the right side of the Bubble.
  • #42 San Diego State (↑8) def. #63 (↓5) Utah State – The Mountain West will be an intriguing case headed into Selection Sunday – with 6 teams in the Top 68, this could certainly be a 3 or 4 bid conference. The Aggies from Utah took a big step in the wrong direction in trying to position itself for one of those spots – picking up an 8th conference loss, and by such a giant margin, likely keeps Utah State on the outside. Meanwhile the Aztecs are in prime position to earn an at-large bid and keep moving up, but it could all fall away with difficult road games remaining at Fresno, Wyoming, and current conference leaders Boise.

Climbing

  • #74 Rutgers (↑7) – The Scarlet Knights are on a Cinderella run right now and despite the low NET ranking, must be considered a likely tournament team at this point. Rutgers has now won 4 in a row, with victories over #24 Michigan State, #17 Ohio State, #23 Wisconsin, and now a double-digit win over #13 Illinois. Can the magic continue Sunday in West Lafayette vs. #10 Purdue?
  • #25 Colorado State (↑6) – The NET had MWC teams making big moves in all directions this week, but we know NET is most loving towards large margins of victory on the road, regardless of opponent
  • #66 Creighton (↑6) –The Blue Jays have entered the chat via a road win over #108 DePaul…did you know the NET only loves margin of victory in road games? Creighton is riding the Bubble fence and this win did probably put it on the good side. I expect Creighton to end up with a similar resume as TCU, so would be nice if the rest of the Big East could go Rougned Odor on the Blue Jays

Falling

  • #61 Chattanooga (↓6) – I think it’s time to take the Mocs out of consideration for an at-large bid. Losing to #148 UNC Greensboro at home to pick up a 2nd Q3 loss to add to 2 Q4 losses (including a loss to #288 W. Carolina). This is while only having 1 fringe Q1 win (#64 VCU) and two fringe Q2 wins (#84 Furman and #114 Wofford). The SoCon should now remain as a one-bid league.
  • #45 North Carolina (↓8) – Losing at home to #159 Pitt is the kind of game that should eliminate a fringe team from Bubble contention. But we know Big Brand Blue Bloods will always tip the scales, especially in a bad ACC where the Tar Heels sit in 4th place and has nothing but Bubble-level showdowns the rest of the way until a season finale with the Cameron Crazies.
  • #35 Wyoming (↓10) – New Mexico was influencer of the week: getting smashed at home by CSU to move the Rams into the NET Top 25 while also crushing Wyoming just as the Cowboys entered the AP Top 25. The MWC is the Wild West and I’m nervous we could find a bid thief during their conference tourney, so hopefully the conference can keep eating itself like the Big 12 is doing.
  • #67 Fresno State (↓10) – The Bulldogs are another MWC team that got crushed by NET, with a home loss to #102 UNLV. Another team that’s moving further away from at-large contention, which is good news for the Frogs’ chances.

Look Ahead: What to (Bubble) Watch

The Bubble will be busy this weekend, with many head-to-head contests and signature-win opportunities as contenders fight for position in an effort to stay on the right side of the cut line.

  • #88 Richmond vs. #64 VCU – Fri. Feb. 18, 6:00 PM ESPN2
  • #57 Notre Dame vs. #39 Wake ForestSat. Feb. 19, 12:00 PM ACC Network
  • #52 Oklahoma St. vs. #60 Kansas St.– Sat. Feb. 19, 1:00 PM ESPNU
  • #38 Oklahoma vs. #43 Iowa St.– Sat. Feb. 19, 1:00 PM ESPN+
  • #55 St. Louis vs. #58 Davidson– Sat. Feb. 19, 2:30 PM CBS Sports Net
  • #41 North Texas vs. #46 UAB– Sat. Feb. 19, 3:00 PM
  • #37 Virginia Tech vs. #45 North Carolina – Sat. Feb. 19, 3:00 PM ESPN 2
  • #36 Boise St. vs. #63 Utah St. – Sat. Feb. 19, 5:00 PM CBS Sports Net
  • #42 San Diego St. vs. #67 Fresno St.– Sat. Feb. 19, 5:00 PM CBS Sports Net
  • #40 Memphis vs. #47 SMU – Sun. Feb. 20, 2:00 PM ESPN
  • #32 Marquette vs. #65 Creighton – Sun. Feb. 20, 2:00 PM FS1
  • #26 USC vs. #49 Wazzu – Sun. Feb. 20, 6:30 PM FS1

Results and look-ahead for the Bubble