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2015 Bubble Watch: March 3 Update

A look at the Bubble shows that Purdue is pretty close, but still secure... for now.

Jason Mowry-USA TODAY Sports

Sunday's loss for Purdue was not a bad one. It did not knock the Boilers out of the NCAA Tournament. What it did do, however, was prevent Purdue from locking a spot up. The win would have clinched a double bye in the Big Ten Tournament and a true road victory over a top  40 team would have probably locked a bid for Purdue.

The good news is that Purdue can still get both this week.  In less than 36 hours we face a Michigan State with a very similar profile to Ohio State. Most brackets still have Purdue in the tournament, with the consensus having the Boilers in Dayton for a First Four game. We'd like to get out of that, however, and winning these last two regular season games would likely do that.

So, let's look at the Bubble again. Once again, we're using the Bracket Matrix composite and looking at the last four byes, last four in, first four out, and next four out for 16 teams, plus some teams from one-bid leagues that might earn an at large if they are upset in their conference tournament.

Texas A&M (20-8, 11-5 SEC) - At this point the Aggies are looking very, very good. They are currently in third place in the SEC. They don't really have a bad loss and the fluctuating RPI has given them two top 50 wins with LSU moving into the top 50. The Aggies sit pretty high mostly because they don't have a bad loss, as their worst is to No. 83 Alabama.

Cincinnati (20-9, 11-5 American) - The Bearcats had a midseason slip with three straight losses, but have responded after winning three in a row over bad teams. They can really help their cause with a win tomorrow night at No. 30 Tulsa. They have a loss to No. 223 East Carolina as well as losses to No. 123 Nebraska and No.188 Tulane, which makes you wonder how much the talking heads look at the name on the jersey as opposed to the actual profile of teams. Some very nice wins over San Diego State and SMU are helping them.

Oregon (22-8, 12-5 Pac-12) - The Ducks have done extremely well to get here, as they have won 8 of 9 and after a 73-70 win at Stanford this past weekend they are probably in the field regardless of what happens. Even if they lose their regular season finale at Oregon State it wouldn't be a terrible loss.

Temple (20-9, 11-5 American) - Temple sits pretty solidly at No. 40 in the RPI, but they lost a pair of recent road games at Tulsa and SMU to put them behind both in the pecking order. Their only "bad" loss was to St. Joseph's in one of the Philly Big 5 games that is supposed to be huge. A 2-7 record against the top 50 is not great, however.

Boise State (22-7, 12-4 Mountain West) - After winning at San Diego State this past weekend and securing a season sweep of the Aztecs Boise State is in excellent position to make the tournament. All they need to do is beat San Jose State (winless against D-1 teams) and 12-15 Fresno State to secure the Mountain West Conference title and No. 1 seed for their tournament. That would also send them into the postseason having won 14 of 15, so this team is in great shape.

Purdue (19-10, 11-5 Big Ten) - The loss to Ohio State stings, but results elsewhere have moved BYU and Iowa into the top 50. Unfortunately, North Carolina State's awful loss to Boston College knocked the Wolfpack out of the top 50. A win on Wednesday and NC State getting back into the top 50 would give Purdue an impressive seven wins against the top 50, and North Florida does have the No. 1 seed in the Atlantic Sun Tourney, so that loss could at least be to a tourney team. Of all the Bubble teams, Purdue has the best wins with five against the top 50 (six if NC State moves back up from 53). Vanderbilt and Kansas State also moved into the top 100, helping our profile to look better that way too. The Boilers still likely need one more win, at minimum, to feel safe, while two means they can avoid Dayton.

Tulsa (21-7, 14-2 American) - The Golden Hurricane were featured this weekend in a Bubble discussion and one of their bad losses was not mentioned at all. THIS TEAM LOST TO A DIVISION II TEAM! Still, they are leading the American with a 14-2 record, which is impressive. They close out with Cincinnati and SMU, both NCAA teams as of right now, so a conference title means they are solidly in the field.

Davidson (21-6, 12-4 Atlantic-10) - Here is another team where a regular season conference title in a multi-bid league will likely help them a lot. Davidson is tied with Dayton and Rhode Island atop the Atlantic-10. As a bonus, Davidson get VCU, a consensus lock, Thursday night as a chance for another huge win. It seems like these "Last Four in" teams of Boise, Purdue, Tulsa, and Davidson all have an excellent chance to grab a statement win this weekend.

Texas (18-12, 7-10 Big 12) - Texas saved itself Monday night despite overtime and a brawl that had seven players ejected. A 61-59 win over Baylor keeps them alive, but they have still lost 8 of 12 and will finish Big 12 play with a losing record. As I have said before, no team with a losing conference record deserves an at large bid. Period. Hopefully Kansas State can knock them off on Saturday. Even then, it is ridiculous that this team is still even being considered.

BYU (23-8, 13-5 West Coast) - No team on this list has a bigger win than BYU at Gonzaga, as they became the first WCC team to win at Gonzaga in over four years. It was a gigantic win that moved them to 37 in the RPI. That's great for us. Unfortunately, the Gonzaga win is BYU's only top 50 win. They have three losses to sub-100 teams, but one more game with Gonzaga in the WCC final can help them a lot. Of course, if they beat Gonzaga again it won't matter, because that means they won the WCC auto-bid, but that could affect things because if BYU wasn't in as an at large it takes a bid away from somewhere else since Gonzaga is in no matter what.

Stanford (18-10, 9-7 Pac-12) - There is no consistency with Stanford, but in my book they are ahead of Texas because they won on Texas' floor in overtime in December. They have a shot to end the nation's longest home court winning streak at Arizona on Saturday. They have some questionable losses to DePaul, Colorado, and Washington State.

Illinois (18-11, 8-8 Big Ten) - Here is why the home game on Saturday with Illinois is so big. If the illini, a fellow Bubble team, sweep Purdue we're going to be knocked back behind them, especially if we lose at Michigan State. Their RPI is very similar to Purdue's (60 to our 58) and a season sweep would be a major chip in their favor. On the other hand, a loss to Purdue to go with losses to Miami and Oregon would probably eliminate them barring a run in Chicago. Beating Nebraska tomorrow is a must for them.

UCLA (18-12, 10-7 Pac-12) - With a 2-7 record against the top 50 they have the schedule strength, but not the results. A win over USC does little to move the needle, but why are they considered better than Purdue by some when they also have two sub-100 losses and far fewer top 50 wins?

Pittsburgh (19-11, 8-8 ACC) - A loss to Wake Forest this weekend has put Pitt in dire straits. They now host Miami tomorrow night in what amounts to an elimination game. They are only 2-6 against the top 50 teams, but the wins are over Notre Dame and North Carolina.

Miami (FL) (18-11, 8-8 ACC) - Miami's RPI is way down at 72, but if they can win their last two games at Pitt and home against Virginia Tech they will be on the edge. What's killing them is a terrible 10-6 home record. Win at Duke or not, this team has been awful at home.

Wofford (25-6, 16-2 Southern) - Wofford is in right now projected with an auto-bid, but their seeding and overall RPI means they could have an at large case if they lose in the SoCon final. They won the regular season title. Their RPI is right on the border at No. 50. They have an absolutely horrid loss to No. 323 The Citadel, but nothing else is bad. A win over Iona and NC State in their non-conference are both pretty good. They are more deserving of a bid than Texas, Miami, Pitt, or Illinois.

Mid-Majors to watch:

Iona (24-7, 17-3 MAAC) - Any chance that Iona had of an at large was probably flushed away with a regular season finale loss to St. Peter's. They still won their league and have an RPI of 54, but they don't even have a win against the top 100. If you're going to do that you need to do something insane like go undefeated in your conference.

Stephen F. Austin (25-4, 15-1 Southland) - Their biggest rival, Sam Houston State, dropped a game this weekend, but SFA still plays them at home this Saturday. They can reach the conference title game with 29 total wins, just one loss since November, and a decent win at Memphis. Like Wofford, they can fall back on a regular season conference title.

Valparaiso (26-5, 13-3 Horizon) - Valpo is a lot like Iona in that they likely saw their at large chances go away with a 63-60 loss last week to Detroit. The RPI is now at 68 and likely too high.