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March to Madness: 2022 NCAA Tournament Bubble Watch, February 25th

TCU splits mid-week games ahead of challenging remaining schedule. Can the Frogs get on the right side of the Bubble?

TCU v Texas
Mike Miles and TCU’s case for a Tournament bid ran into a wall in Austin
Photo by Chris Covatta/Getty Images

Frog Status

  • NET Rank: 54 (↑2)
  • RPI: 64 (↓1)
  • KenPom Rank: 54 (↑5)
  • ESPN BPI: 54 (↓2)

Bracketologists View of TCU:

  • Lunardi: 11 Seed (Last 4 Byes)
  • Palm: 10 Seed
  • Haslam: 12 Seed (Play-in)
  • Torvik: 47.4% in tourney; 10.1 Seed
  • INCCSTATS: 42.9% in tourney; Projected not in Tournament

NET performance impact for the two TCU games this week.

The Horned Frogs had two games this week, so let’s start with the positive: Facing a must-win challenge at home, TCU prevailed to remain in the picture. The Mountaineers have certainly struggled this season but have faced the 3rd toughest schedule in the country and have been particularly pesky against the middle of the Big 12. The Frogs could have folded in that moment but didn’t. While winning that game kept TCU’s head above water, it will have to do more to move onto the right side of the Bubble and into a strong position for Selection Sunday. TCU had that chance on Wednesday night in Austin – outshooting the Longhorns (UT shot 7.1% on 3-pointers!) and outplaying them for about 30 minutes of game time. Farabello was on fire; Lampkin was back on the floor looking strong; Peavy was getting all his shots to go; and Miles was sinking floaters and threes. Then the final 10 minutes were a mess, including long scoring droughts and sloppy play. Texas took advantage and ran away with things. It’s easy to point to the foul and free throw discrepancy as referees being overly influenced by the big brand home team, but ultimately it’s the egregious turnover margin that did in the Frogs in what was likely the best chance for a signature win remaining on the schedule.

TCU is now an underdog to reach the tournament and will encounter the nation’s most difficult remaining schedule, likely needing two wins to be in strong at-large consideration. That means defeating that same pesky WVU squad in Morgantown and stealing one against #7 Texas Tech or #5 Kansas (home and away). The season is growing shorter and the opportunities growing more challenging, with Tech the first challenge ahead this weekend. Looking back at the matchup in Lubbock, it’s a similar refrain through all of these recent TCU losses: great for ~15 minutes; hold on for final 5 minutes of half; everything gets shattered at some point in 2nd half. The Frogs have yet to play a complete game against these top-tier opponents – even the win over LSU was nearly thrown away in the 2nd half – which is what it must do to get a win over the Red Raiders. The Tech fans will be out in full force at the Schollmaier Saturday, so hopefully TCU can come out strong again to keep them silent and keep their little pistol fingers in their pockets, avoid the 2nd half slog, and come away with a signature resume win.

To add to the issues for TCU, the Bubble (NET rank 26-68) had an especially strong week: just 13 total losses, only two of which were to teams outside of the Top 68. Very few teams took a dive this week, further fortifying Bubble resumes of those in direct competition with TCU for one of the final at-large spots.

Impact Games of the Week

  • #59 Creighton (↑3) def. #71 (↓4) St. John’s – It’s officially time to be worried about Creighton as a high-level contender for an at-large spot that could otherwise go to the Frogs. The Blue Jays have won 7 of its last 8 games, is now up to 5 Q1 wins, and is sitting at 3rd in the Big East. The silver lining is that the Red Storm are now further on the outside of the Bubble cut line, with a resume that boasts only 2 Q1 wins and has a Q4 loss – St. John’s would need a major run to even get a look, but the guard duo of Champagnie and Alexander have the ability to go Kemba down the stretch and through the Big East Tournament.
  • #22 Murray State (↑4) def. #67 (↓12) Belmont – The OVC has been considered as a potential 2-bid league with two teams fighting at the top for conference supremacy. The Racers put that notion to sleep again, following up their 22-point dismantling of Belmont in Nashville in January with a 33-point home win over the Bruins. Murray earned the OVC regular season crown and with only two regular season losses, has basically locked in an invitation to the Big Dance. Belmont now with 6 losses will almost certainly have to win the OVC Tournament to go dancing – here’s hoping the Racers easily blast through the conference tournament and avoid any bid-thieves.


  • #58 Oregon (↑5) – Just when I thought the Ducks’ Bubble had burst with bad losses to #108 ASU and #139 Cal, they finish the season sweep of #13 UCLA on Thursday night to get right back into the picture. The 3 Q3 losses are gross, but with two more Q1 regular season opportunities and likely winnable games in the Pac 12 tournament, Oregon might just hang around to Selection Sunday.
  • #27 Loyola Chicago (↑10) – The NET loves a dominating victory, and it can’t get more dominating than what the Ramblers did to #323 Evanston – a 51 point where the Loyola win probability never dropped below 98.5%. With only two lackluster Q1 wins (neutral vs. #29 San Fran and at #63 Missouri State), I’d like to think this Cinderella only goes dancing with a MVC Tournament Title, but the sentimental Sister Jean factor will be hard to ignore if the Ramblers fall in Arch Madness and are near the Bubble cut line. We need to see Loyola take a couple more losses or go ahead and win the MVC trophy.


  • #52 Mississippi State (↓5) – After narrowly escaping lowly Mizzou over the weekend, the Bulldogs went to Columbia and got smoked. The final margin was 10 points, but the game was never that close – MSU star Iverson Molinar was held to just 11 point in 37 minutes on the court. Miss State is now on the very low end of Bubble consideration, with just 2 Q1 wins to go with 2 Q2 & 2 Q3 losses; with only one Q1 opportunity remaining, MSU will need a deep run in the SEC Tournament to get back into consideration
  • #36 Michigan State (↓8) – The other MSU took a hard fall this week, although it was certainly by at the hands of a better opponent (#19 Iowa), the margin was far worse. The Spartans were embarrassed Tuesday by 26 points, as the Hawkeyes’ Keegan Murray continued his push for the Wooden Award with 28 points on 67% shooting. MSU will get the benefit of the doubt as a basketball powerhouse with a long Tournament pedigree and famous coach, but now have less resume cushion.

Look Ahead: What to (Bubble) Watch

#48 Oklahoma vs. #53 Oklahoma St – Sat. Feb. 26, 11:00 AM CBS

#35 Iowa State vs. #65 Kansas StateSat. Feb. 26, 1:00 PM ESPNU

#40 Virginia Tech vs. #61 Miami FL – Sat. Feb. 26, 2:00 PM ACC Network

#25 Xavier vs. #38 Seton Hall - Sat. Feb. 26, 2:30 PM FOX

#21 Wisconsin vs. #83 RutgersSat. Feb. 26, 5:00 PM B1G Network

#28 Providence vs. #59 Creighton- Sat. Feb. 26, 7:30 PM FS1

#26 USC vs. #58 Oregon– Sat. Feb. 26, 9:00 PM ESPN2

#30 Colorado St. vs. #62 Utah St. – Sat. Feb. 26, 9:30 PM

The Bubble snapshot of results for the week and look-ahead to the weekend