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March to Madness: 2022 NCAA Tournament Bubble Watch, February 28th

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A wild weekend of college basketball included a signature TCU win, putting the Frogs in position for invitation to the Big Dance

NCAA Basketball: Texas Tech at Texas Christian
Micah Peavy helped take down his former team for a major TCU victory in Fort Worth.
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Frog Status

  • NET Rank: 49 (↑5)
  • RPI: 58 (↑6)
  • KenPom Rank: 51 (↑3)
  • ESPN BPI: 50 (↑4)

Bracketologists View of TCU:


NET performance for the home win over Texas Tech

Now THAT’S more like it! TCU desperately needed a top-tier marquee resume win to stand high upon and demand a seat at the March Madness table. Taking down a top-ten team in Texas Tech will certainly do the trick. The Frogs were able to battle back from 11 points down and somehow hold onto a slim lead down the stretch, despite the Red Raiders having several good looks at tying the game – thankfully 0.5 seconds was not enough time to release the successful final heave, as the Schollmaier stands cleared giving way to a storm of Purple onto the court and a flow of red & black into the concourse.

All that said, it’s my expert* Bubble Watching opinion that there is still work to be done for the Frogs to be considered a true lock for an at-large bid into the Big Dance, regardless of what major national commentators may have you believe. We all know that when post-season Committees get involved, it can lead to heart break for TCU fans. We saw what happened in 2019 when that 20-win squad was relegated to the NIT. We saw what happened in 2014 when [redacted for mental health]. The Frogs are no longer treading water, but now it’s time to leave no doubt.

TCU now gets the pleasure of a back-to-back home-and-home with #6 Kansas, about as tough a task imaginable following the emotional high of Saturday. A win in either of those contests will undoubtedly close any door to being left out of the Tournament and likely result in at least one seed-line jump in all the Bracket projections. The Frogs yet again will get a top-10 team coming off of a loss – the Jayhawks will be focused and motivated as a number one seed is still very attainable, but a loss to TCU could knock them down to a 2. As well, Ochai Agbaji is still a top candidate for National Player of the Year and will be looking to make his case with strong performances against the Horned Frogs. We know how the game at Phog Allen on Thursday will be officiated – KU might as well start out in the double bonus with the entire TCU starting lineup nursing 2+ fouls. But perhaps the Frogs feel a home court advantage on Tuesday for a fighting chance at another monumental win to lock up a Tourney bid?


Impact Games of the Week

It was an absolutely brilliant Saturday of college basketball, with upsets all across the country and so many well-played exciting games happening at once. It was the kind of day to remind how great college hoops can be and that makes you want the Tournament to start immediately. Fringe at-large candidates are beginning to fall away, while others are locking in bids to shrink the Bubble.

  • #48 Oklahoma (-) def. #56 Oklahoma State (↓3) – In a de facto Bubble elimination game, the Sooners survived the home overtime fight from the Cowboys. OU still sits in 9th in the Big 12 standings, with 11 conference losses and may not be able to survive another regular season loss, with just WVU and K-State remaining. I’d like to think TCU’s season sweep of the Sooners would hold up in a Bubble resume comparison, but for now Oklahoma is still in the fight. For OK State, still with a solid NET ranking and 2 Q1 games remaining, the door may not be fully closed, but even getting to 15-15 may simply not be enough wins to be viable.
  • #25 Providence (↑3) def. #67 Creighton (↓8) – The Friars’ dream season has now reached a peak, as they locked up the Big East regular season title in emphatic fashion by taking down the Blue Jays by three touchdowns. Providence has been brushed to the side as having a fictional record (only 3 losses!) due to some incredible luck and general weirdness to its season, but this game was a no doubter and Providence is now locked into a top-5 seed in the Tournament. Creighton now heads back to the danger zone of the Bubble and will need wins in two massive upcoming home games with UConn and Seton Hall.
  • #32 Seton Hall (↑6) def. #36 Xavier (↓11) – A major shake up in the Big East Bubble picture. Xavier getting smashed at home has sent it down to 8th in the Big East and hanging on near the Bubble cut-line with two must-win games remaining, a revenge spot at #75 St. John’s and closing at home against #197 Georgetown. Seton Hall has now jumped ahead of Xavier in all resume metrics, including top-30 at KenPom, and approaching likely-lock territory if it can avoid disaster at home against the Hoyas this week. It’s still most likely that both of these teams make it, but we are all Georgetown fans over the next week, as TCU’s opponent in the Big East-Big 12 challenge will have a chance to take down both these teams to potentially knock them out of Tournament.

Climbing

  • #33 Michigan State (↑3) – After being on the other side of this section last week, the Spartans bounced back with a massive win over #12 Purdue. It’s now hard to imagine the Selection Committee leaving MSU out of the field, even if the overall resume is mid. This signature win will be what it takes to convince anyone on the fence. I think the pool of available at-large bids may have just gotten smaller.
  • #46 Notre Dame (↑10) – The Irish continue to amass a high win count by large margins against the terrible teams of the mid-to-low ACC. Notre Dame earned a 34-point victory over #165 Georgia Tech to remain relevant in the Bubble race. The pure accumulation of wins and sitting at 2nd in the ACC regular season standings will make it hard to ignore when comparing resumes.
  • #77 Colorado (↑8) – The Buffs stampede back into the Bubble conversation with a dominating victory over #2 Arizona. With only a Q2 opportunity at #122 Utah remaining in the regular season, the Boulder Bruisers are going to need a deep run in the Pac-12 Tournament to stay in the conversation, but this win shows they may be up for the challenge.

Falling

  • #55 Dayton (↓8) – The Flyers’ embarrassing loss to #236 La Salle would be just about the worst loss on any other Bubble resume, but for Dayton it barely cracks the top 5 as its resume sports 3 Q4 losses. Although Dayton did secure an early season signature win over Kansas in the November ESPN Invitational, it’s hard to imagine a resume with that many black eyes getting a real look for an at-large bid. But with two more Q2 opportunities to open March ahead of the A-10 tournament, perhaps the Flyers go on a run, but any loss ahead of the A-10 title should be cause for elimination.
  • #31 Loyola Chicago (↓4) – The Ramblers overtime loss at Northern Iowa was devasting, if only a minor hit in the NET. Loyola lost the MVC regular season title, an unthinkable outcome, falling all the way to the 4-seed in Arch Madness. Now likely needing a conference tourney title to reach the Big Dance, Loyola’s path to the that trophy is now much more difficult, likely needing to win 3 top-100 games.
  • #57 Washington State (↓7) – After taking down Washington by a score of 78-70 mid-week, the scoreboard flipped and Wazzu lost the reverse tilt in Seattle 78-70. The Cougars are now down to 7th in the Pac-12 with two must-win games remaining, including a possible Bubble elimination match with #58 Oregon match to close the season. Winless in six Q1 tries, WSU will need a long run in the Pac-12 tournament to get back into consideration.

Conference Tournament Time

Several mid-major conference tournaments start this week – A-Sun, Big South, Horizon, MVC, OVC, Patriot, Sun Belt, and WCC- though most of those are certain one-bid leagues or will not have any impact until the later rounds this weekend. Still, it’s time to start looking at the total Bubble picture – available bids vs. number of teams fighting for those bids – to understand where any bid thieves may come from and where TCU stands in the pecking order:

Bubble View by Conference

Look Ahead: What to (Bubble) Watch

  • #92 Syracuse vs. #40 North Carolina – Mon. Feb. 28, 6:00 PM ESPN
  • #18 Iowa vs. #80 Northwestern – Mon. Feb. 28, 7:00 PM B1G Network
  • #30 San Diego St. vs. #39 Wyoming – Mon. Feb. 28, 8:00 PM CBS Sports Net
  • #55 Dayton vs. #87 Richmond- Tue. Mar. 1, 5:30 PM CBS Sports Net
  • #73 West Virginia vs. #48 Oklahoma- Tue. Mar. 1, 6:00 PM ESPN2
  • #79 St. Bonaventure vs. #53 VCU- Tue. Mar. 1, 7:30 PM CBS Sports Net
  • #36 Xavier vs. #75 St. John’s- Wed. Mar. 2, 5:30 PM FS1
  • #46 Notre Dame vs. #100 Florida St.- Wed. Mar. 2, 6:00 PM ESPN2
  • #56 OK State vs. #35 Iowa State - Wed. Mar. 2, 6:00 PM ESPN+
  • #83 Rutgers vs. #44 Indiana- Wed. Mar. 2, 6:00 PM B1G Network
  • #17 UConn vs. #67 Creighton- Wed. Mar. 2, 7:30 PM FS1
  • #18 Iowa vs. #38 Michigan - Thur. Mar. 3, 8:00 PM FS1
  • #61 Fresno St. vs. #30 San Diego St. - Thur. Mar. 3, 10:00 PM
Bubble snapshot with weekend results and the games ahead this week