Bubble Watch: Florida State, Washington Score Key Wins
Conference tournaments are in full swing around the country and teams are making their final statements to the selection committee to improve their standing in the NCAA Tournament race. We look at the winners and losers from Friday’s action.
Arkansas: The Razorbacks were seemingly on solid ground to get a top-eight seed coming into the Southeastern Conference Tournament. But by winning their first two games in Hoover, Ala., including on Friday knocking off top-ranked Florida, Arkansas has eliminated all doubt. The Razorbacks are up to No. 2 in RPI and if they win the SEC Tournament, they may end up with the No. 2 overall seed—especially if Stanford on Saturday doesn’t close out the Pac-12 title.
Connecticut: The Huskies beat South Florida in the American Athletic Conference Tournament semifinals. UConn is up to No. 16 in RPI and a win in the championship game against East Carolina would probably seal a hosting bid. Even with a loss the Huskies should stay in the mix, but they would be on the bubble.
East Carolina: The Pirates are in the same boat as UConn. East Carolina rolled past Houston in the AAC Tournament semifinals to advance to the championship game with a chance to lock up a hosting bid on the line. A loss wouldn’t necessarily sink the Pirates’ hosting chances because of their 42 wins and No. 13 RPI, but it would leave them very vulnerable.
Florida State: While most teams that came into the week with a chance to move into the top-eight seeds faltered, Florida State went 2-0 in pool play at the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament to advance to the semifinals. The Seminoles on Friday beat North Carolina State to clinch their semifinal spot and move up to No. 8 in RPI, putting them squarely in the discussion.
Washington: The Huskies on Friday beat No. 2 Stanford, 4-2, to clinch a huge series win and sew up an NCAA Tournament bid. Going into the final day of the Pac-12 Conference season, Washington is in third place in the standings but can win the conference title with a win and an Oregon State loss. It’s been an impressive run for the Huskies over the last month as they have won 12 of their last 15 Pac-12 games.
Arizona: The Wildcats lost, 2-1, at Oregon, ensuring that they will finish below .500 in Pac-12 play. Arizona’s RPI also fell to No. 50 and it is now just 10-16 away from Tucson. All of that makes tomorrow’s regular-season finale a must-win for the Wildcats, but even that would not guarantee them a berth. If they get into the NCAA Tournament, they figure to be one of the last teams in.
Duke: The Blue Devils needed on Friday to beat Louisville to advance to the ACC Tournament semifinals. Duke lost, 9-2, and slipped to No. 22 in the RPI as a result. The Blue Devils have 40 wins, including 19 ACC wins—numbers that are typically enough to host a regional. But it increasingly looks like Duke will be on the wrong side of the hosting bubble.
Louisiana-Lafayette: The Ragin’ Cajuns hosted the Sun Belt Conference Tournament, but the home-field advantage didn’t help them. Texas State on Friday routed Louisiana, 11-1, in an elimination game that not only knocked the Cajuns out of the conference tournament, but also burst their NCAA Tournament bubble as they fell to No. 58 in RPI.
Louisiana Tech: The Bulldogs have spent much of the year hanging around the NCAA Tournament bubble, but Friday’s loss to Florida Atlantic looks like it will leave LaTech on the outside looking in. The Bulldogs’ RPI fell to No. 60 as they were eliminated from the Conference USA Tournament.
Texas Tech: The Red Raiders were one of the teams that came into the week with a chance to play their way into the top-eight national seeds. But a 1-2 week at the Big 12 Conference Tournament ended those chances. Texas Tech remains in position to host after losing Friday to West Virginia thanks to its No. 10 RPI, 20 wins against top-50 RPI teams and 14-10 road record.