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March to Madness: 2022 NCAA Tournament Bracket Watch, March 4

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The home victory over Kansas likely locked up a Tournament bid for the Frogs ahead of regular season finale

Syndication: The Topeka Capital-Journal
Damion Baugh and the Frogs rocked the Bubble question to sleep.
Evert Nelson/The Capital-Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

Frog Status

  • NET Rank: 44 (↑5)
  • RPI: 52 (↑6)
  • KenPom Rank: 36 (↑15)
  • ESPN BPI: 44 (↑6)

Bracketologists View of TCU:

  • Lunardi: 8 Seed vs. #23 Murray State in San Diego, CA
  • Palm: 7 Seed vs. #26 San Francisco in Greenville, SC
  • USA Today: 7 Seed vs. #27 San Diego St. in Indianapolis, IN
  • Haslam: 9 Seed
  • Torvik: 99.9% in tourney; 8.6 Seed
  • INCCSTATS: 93.2% in tourney; 8 seed

NET performance for the two games vs. Kansas

THIS. IS. MARCH. And the madness is just beginning for the Frogs. The Bubble Watch is dead; long live the Bracket Watch. It seems ages ago now that TCU fandom was in the dumps following the loss to Texas and staring at an impossible mountain of top teams ahead. TCU flipped that over to earn back-to-back court storms over top-10 foes. It was a complete game from the Frogs Tuesday night, with minimal slumps, minimal mistakes, and maximum effort in all phases (we’re choosing to ignore the 3-point percentage…). The Jayhawks were simply unprepared for the fight they were experiencing in Fort Worth – to be fair TCU hadn’t put up a performance like that against KU since Desmond Bane was knocking down clutch free throws in the 2017 Big 12 Tournament. In 2022, it was Damion Baugh hitting the clutch free throws late to put the game securely out of reach – he is a 64% free throw shooter on the season but had ice in his veins Tuesday, going 7 of 8 from the line on the night. It must also be said that Micah Peavy was a defensive menace, tasked with one of College Basketball’s most difficult assignments: slowing Ochai Agbaji. The National Player of the Year candidate averages over 20 points a game but could never get in a rhythm against Peavy, putting up his worst offensive performance of the season, shooting just 23.5% on the night. The win over Kansas on Tuesday night felt especially special with the extended celebration on the court as fans and players and coaches danced in celebration, reveling in the moment together. It won’t be the last dancing the Frogs do this month, as the consecutive top-notch wins have put the TCU Tournament resume on a rocket ship.

We don’t need to spend too much time on the away tilt in Lawrence, you can read the recap HERE. But the summary for Tournament purposes: to put that kind of scare into the Jayhawks in that building shows to the Committee that TCU can compete with anyone, anywhere. Hopefully the officials in the Big Dance aren’t as easily influenced by the home crowds, though what we’ve seen across college basketball this season I shouldn’t get my hopes up on that front. The underrated terrible call that flipped the game: with 7 minutes remaining, TCU was up by 1 and forced a defensive stop where Emanuel Miller recovered a loose ball and called for timeout. The refs decided he didn’t get the timeout and was actually out of bounds, despite never contacting the touch line; it was an egregiously bad call in a night of terrible officiating. Ochai Agbaji used the ensuing free possession to go foul hunting against Lampkin, which the refs were more than happy to oblige on a very soft call. It was Lampkin’s 4th foul, Agbaji hit the free throws (KU was obviously already in the Bonus with 7 minutes left, because Allen Fieldhouse), and the Frogs trailed the remainder of the evening.

Eman Miller, very much in bounds, calling timeout.
ESPN+

TCU now has another quick turnaround to travel to another difficult environment in Morgantown Saturday night. The Mountaineers have had a disappointing season, but are more than capable of giving anyone a scare and will take advantage of any sloppiness or tired legs the Frogs may experience coming off this gauntlet. A win for TCU Saturday would end any possible debate for nervous nellies (points to self) regarding the Frogs’ Tournament status and push TCU sufficiently beyond any First Four conversation.


Impact Games of the Week

#27 San Diego State (-) def. #47 Wyoming (↓8) –Since earning an AP Top 25 ranking in mid-Feb, Wyoming has lost three games, tumbled down the MWC standings, and now finds itself back on the Bubble. The Cowboys are still strongly in the field today, but with 2 Q2 games remaining, they likely need to win out to lock up a bid ahead of the MWC Tournament. As for the Aztecs, this win likely erases any doubt as to whether they’ll end up in the Tournament – with only 7 losses, all Q1, SDSU would need a monumental collapse for its Bubble to pop.

#99 Florida State (↑1) def. #52 Notre Dame (↓6) – FSU has been in must-win mode for some time, but got a miracle buzzer beater to take down Virginia last weekend and now this win over the Irish to keep alive the tiniest spec of hope. The Seminoles will need to continue to win through to the ACC Championship game to remain in consideration. The bigger impact here is what this loss does to the Notre Dame resume: now given about a coin-flip chance to go dancing, the Irish cannot afford another bad loss – if they were to fall at home Saturday in a Q4 contest with Pitt, it’d all but end their at-large case.


Climbing

#56 Texas A&M (↑10) – The Aggies keep a glimmer of hope alive by securing a huge 16-point road win over #25 Alabama. A&M will need to win through to the SEC Championship to realistically be an at-large contender. We’re still keeping our eyes on the Aggies though, because if they can do enough to jump a few spots into the NET Top 50, TCU’s neutral December win over them will become a Q1.

#60 Creighton (↑7) – The Blue Jays bounce back from a big loss to earn a potentially resume-sealing win over #18 UConn. Creighton could end up anywhere from a 7-seed to out of the Tournament depending on upcoming results, starting with a critical match up Saturday with #33 Seton Hall. The winner there will be fighting with our Frogs for seed positioning, while the loser will return to the Bubble.

#32 Virginia Tech (↑9) – The Hokies not only keep themselves in the Bubble hunt, but with a 32-point victory over Louisville, VA Tech is working its way towards earning the ACC a potential 6th Tournament team. With a weekend trip to #85 Clemson, a loss could send VT back down to the bottom of the at-large conversation even with the newly invigorated analytic metrics.


Falling

#41 Iowa State (↓6) – My word. The Cyclones got absolutely embarrassed at home vs. OK State with a 53-36 score that would have looked more appropriate at Jack Trice instead of Hilton. ISU has a great Q1 record, with 9 wins, but this is the kind of loss that will make Committee members think twice before placing the Cyclones in the final Bracket. As it impacts the Frogs: TCU and ISU have swapped places in most metrics, so could be ships passing in the seeding seas. Side note: shoutout to the reader who reminded me OK State is ineligible for the Tournament; I get stuck watching these games and buried in numbers, I forgot about that situation – one less Bubble contender to worry about.

#40 Michigan State (↓7) – The curious case of the Spartans: last weekend’s celebrated win over Purdue seemed to close the question of their highly secure resume. Then MSU went on the road for two mid-week games and got thoroughly waxed by rivals Michigan and Ohio State. With only a Q3 contest vs. Maryland remaining, the Spartans are now at least in a seed-line fight with TCU. I could certainly see Michigan State being matched up with the Frogs in a 7-10 or 8-9 match up.

#66 Oregon (↓8) – The Ducks lost a must-win game at #120 Washington and now faces deeply long odds to make the Tournament. Every game will be a must-win the rest of the way at least to the Pac-12 final, starting with a Bubble elimination match with #61 Washington State.


Seed Watch

With the Frogs’ ticket to the Dance likely booked, now we turn attention to where TCU may be seeded by the Committee. There is certainly a lot of basketball to be played and much to be determined over the next week, but one way to understand the national view of TCU is to check the average seed across all bracket projections available. Thanks to Bracket Matrix for being an invaluable resource in that effort. Currently TCU ranks as a 9 seed, with an average bracket placement of 8.44, and included in 110 of the 112 brackets listed. Yes, two prognosticators still list the Frogs outside the field, but let’s ignore them for now. Let’s consider that TCU’s resume could warrant anywhere from a 6 seed to a bubbly 12 seed; these are the teams that the Frogs will be fighting for seed-line placement:

The battle for seed-line positioning as the regular season closes this weekend

Conference Tournaments

The early mid-major tournaments have begun, with three conferences to hand out invitations for the Big Dance this weekend: the Ohio Valley, Missouri Valley and Big South. There is no threat of a Big South bid thief - only the team cutting down the nets will be dancing - but the MVC and OVC are a different story. In the MVC, Loyola Chicago may have blown its chance at an at-large bid with last week’s loss to UNI, so if the Ramblers aren’t lifting a trophy this Sunday, they’ll be a nervous group watching the Bracket reveal next Sunday. In the OVC, Murray State locked up a bid by finishing the conference slate undefeated and is ranked in the AP Top 25; if the Racers don’t also take the tournament crown, someone’s Bubble will have burst. The West Coast Conference has also started its tiered multi-bye tournament – Gonzaga and St. Mary’s would only need two wins for the Championship; BYU would need four. With those top two seeds already locking in bids, the game of the WCC Tournament will be Saturday night San Francisco vs. BYU (if BYU wins tonight to advance) – the winner of that game gets a resume boost and another shot at Gonzaga for a signature win opportunity.

Bubble breakdown by conference

Look Ahead: What to (Bracket) Watch

  • #22 Arkansas vs. #17 LSUSat. Mar. 5, 11:00 AM CBS
  • #43 Davidson vs. #54 Dayton – Sat. Mar. 5, 11:30 AM USA Network
  • #33 Seton Hall vs. #60 Creighton – Sat. Mar. 5, 1:30 PM FOX
  • #66 Oregon vs. #61 Washington St. – Sat. Mar. 5, 3:00 PM CBS
  • #46 Oklahoma vs. #64 Kansas St. – Sat. Mar. 5, 3:00 PM ESPN+
  • #67 Fresno St. vs. #47 Wyoming – Sat. Mar. 5, 3:00 PM
  • #63 St. Louis vs. #49 VCU – Sat. Mar. 5, 3:00 PM ESPN2
  • OVC Tournament Final – Sat. Mar. 5, 7:30 PM ESPN2
  • #57 Mississippi St. vs. #56 Texas A&M – Sat. Mar. 5, 7:30 PM SEC Network
  • #30 Boise St. vs. #28 Colorado St. – Sat. Mar. 5, 7:30 PM CBS Sports Net
  • #26 San Francisco vs. #53 BYU* – Sat. Mar. 5, 9:30 PM ESPN2
  • #3 Houston vs. #42 Memphis – Sun. Mar. 6, 11:00 AM CBS
  • #34 Michigan vs. #21 Ohio State – Sun. Mar. 6, 11:30 AM FOX
  • MVC Tournament Final – Sun. Mar. 6, 1:00 PM CBS
  • #15 Iowa vs. #14 Illinois – Sun. Mar. 6, 6:30 PM FS1