Wednesday Bubble Wrap: B1G Shakeup

We’ll take a quick trip around conference tournaments each night this week with an eye toward bubble implications.


Georgia Tech and Wake Forest each scored vital wins in Tuesday’s play-in games, then both lost their first game of pool play on Wednesday to Miami and Louisville, respectively. These two are basically in the same situation. They don’t have to worry about the RPI, with Georgia Tech at No. 20 on and Wake at No. 24, they just need wins. Tech went 13-16 in the ACC in the regular season and Wake 13-17, both of which are dicey. Georgia Tech’s resume is a shade better right now, with a road series win at Clemson and a sweep of Coastal Carolina in addition to the slightly stronger RPI, but both could use another win to feel more secure. They’ve each got two more chances, starting Thursday when Tech faces Florida State. Wake Forest has Thursday off before picking back up Friday against Virginia.


The SEC’s bubble picture is perfectly simple after Alabama beat Kentucky in Tuesday’s single-elimination first round, given those were the conference’s only two bubble teams. Kentucky is done for, despite owning series victories against both Florida and South Carolina. Its RPI has slipped out of range to 63, doomed by series losses to non-contenders Auburn and Arkansas and a poor finishing stretch that saw UK go 6-9 in its last 15 games. Alabama still has more work to do itself, and after losing to top-seeded Mississippi State on Wednesday, the Crimson Tide has its back to the wall in Thursday’s elimination game. With an RPI of 58, a loss likely means the end of Alabama’s season and the SEC having to settle for seven bids. A win wouldn’t secure the Tide’s bid, but it’d be a big step.


Good news and bad news for Connecticut, the American’s lone bubble dweller. Most important, the Huskies won their opener against Memphis to climb to No. 51 in the RPI, ever closer to at-large territory. The good news/bad news comes in with East Carolina, the No. 2 seed, getting upset by No. 7 seed South Florida in the other opening round game in that bracket. So, UConn gets USF, the No. 159 RPI team, in the next round. Good for UConn’s chances of making a deeper run, but bad for the fact that a loss to USF would be highly damaging, and the may not get a chance at a resume-boosting win against the Pirates.

Big Ten

Several key developments here. On one side of the bracket, regular-season champ Minnesota was upset by 8-seed Iowa and Ohio State knocked off Michigan, setting up a Minnesota-Michigan elimination game. That one could well be an NCAA elimination game as well. The Gophers have slipped to No. 50 in the RPI, and while their regular-season title is a major selling point, they have just three top 50 wins and are staring at a potential 0-2 showing in the conference tournament in addition to losing two of their last three series. Michigan finished even worse, going just 6-9 in its last 15 regular-season games before losing to Ohio State Wednesday. Michigan’s No. 36 RPI is still healthy, but a two-and-out in Omaha tacked onto a fifth place finish in the regular season would leave it in real peril.

On the other hand, Ohio State is looking better and better as it climbed to No. 48 for beating Michigan. That’s still not lock territory, and playing No. 80 Iowa on Thursday won’t provide any help, but the Buckeyes, winners of nine of their last 10, including series over Michigan and Minnesota, look to be playing their way into the field. Both lower seeded teams won on the other side of the bracket, with Maryland beating Indiana and Michigan State beating Nebraska. The Huskers are still relatively safe with their No. 39 RPI paired with a second-place finish, but a loss to IU in Thursday’s elimination game might make things more interesting than they’d like. Maryland’s at-large hopes are still alive with their RPI now at 53, but there’s more work to do.

Conference USA

The higher seeds all won in CUSA. Rice out slugged Louisiana Tech 13-12, but the Bulldogs’ RPI is still fine at No. 38. Losing to No. 8 seed Charlotte in Thursday’s elimination game would be dangerous, but avoid that pitfall and the Bulldogs should be in. Marshall, the second-place finisher, took care of Florida International to earn itself a shot at host Southern Mississippi in the winners bracket. The Herd still needs at least two more wins to get its No. 61 RPI in shape, but they’re certainly in play.

Bid Thief Watch

Iowa would certainly qualify as a bid thief, as would South Florida, but those tournaments are of course still in the early stages. Most of the favorites to watch in this department have taken care of business so far, though not all have played yet. Coastal Carolina is out to a 2-0 start in the Big South, and Dallas Baptist (Missouri Valley) and Louisiana-Lafayette (Sun Belt) both won their openers. In other Sun Belt action, South Alabama was upset by Texas-Arlington. With their RPI dropping to 45, the Jaguars, another team that finished poorly, could be playing their way out of a bid if they don’t get at least a win or two this week.

Comments are closed.

Download our app

Read the newest magazine issue right on your phone