NCAA Tournament Final Bubble Breakdown: Ole Miss Out, Indiana on the Cutting Block Awaiting Connecticut Result

By Jason Lisk

The NCAA Bubble still remains in flux heading into Sunday, thanks to Connecticut basically getting a home game against SMU in the American Conference Final this afternoon. (The point spread is SMU by 3, if you care, so there’s a decent chance of the upset).

Yesterday, Wyoming burst someone’s bubble by winning the Mountain West. So who’s out? and who’s on the cutting block. Here’s a breakdown of the 10 teams closest to “the bubble”, organized by looking at their four best wins–yes, at this range, going beyond 4 good wins for anyone becomes a task. I also list all of their losses, with the worst at the bottom. Wins in green (the darker colors represent better wins), and losses in red (with dark red representing losses outside the RPI Top 100).

First, five big conference teams (Texas, Indiana, Miami, Ole Miss, UCLA).

And then five more, which include LSU (because their profile actually looks more like a team from the A-10 or Mountain West in terms of bad losses), plus Temple, BYU, Boise State, and Colorado State. These teams will provide the final 7 at-large spots (6 if Connecticut wins).

I put Miami in just to show why they are out. Yeah, they have the Duke win, but then after that, one other over a tourney at-large team (NC State). Meanwhile, they have the lowest RPI and most bad losses of this group.

I’m not sold on Colorado State, but they are likely in. The RPI is 30. The committee uses it as a guide. The handful of teams with an RPI in this range that have missed the tournament had no top 50 wins. Colorado State at least has two, and only one “bad” loss. Boise State has some bad losses but two wins over San Diego State, and played at Wisconsin non-conference. The committee doesn’t think “Wyoming stole a bid, so let’s make it another MWC team.” The MWC isn’t particularly strong this year, but it probably worked out for more bids.

Temple and BYU have very similar profiles from different conferences. One major win. Similar RPI’s. A couple of losses to top seeds, a couple of bad losses. LSU, meanwhile, is it’s own beast. Capable of losing to anyone. I mean, they have 9 losses to teams who will likely not be in the NCAA Tournament. But, they swept Ole Miss, and have better wins.

That leaves the power 4 conference teams up there. I have Texas in. Compare them to Indiana, Ole Miss, and UCLA straight up. Are Indiana’s wins any better? maybe very slightly, but Texas doesn’t have the bad losses, and played tougher teams.

Texas has better wins than UCLA and fewer bad losses, similar best wins to Ole Miss and fewer bad losses. They played the toughest schedule of the group.

The debate, then, for me is Ole Miss, UCLA, and Indiana. I’ve got UCLA out with only two Top 50 wins, and more bad losses than Indiana. It’s close, yesterday, I had Ole Miss slightly above Indiana. Upon further look, I’m swapping them.

So Ole Miss out with the Wyoming win. Indiana very much in trouble if Conncecticut wins today. My ranking of these teams.

  1. Colorado State-IN
  2. BYU-IN
  3. Texas-IN (Holding for Last Four In for Dayton if Connecticut wins)
  4. Temple-IN (Last Four In for Dayton)
  5. LSU-IN (Last Four In for Dayton)
  6. Boise State-IN (Last Four In for Dayton)
  7. Indiana – HOLDING (Out if Connecticut wins, Last Four In otherwise)
  8. Ole Miss – OUT
  9. UCLA – OUT
  10. Miami – OUT