Let me start off by saying that in me my opinion we need to win the conference tournament to make the NCAA tournament. The Miners have just dug themselves too deep a hole by losing those three recent games against Southern Miss, UCF, and ECU.However, Joe Lunardi's (ESPN) most recent S-Curve projections place UTEP in 78th position. That's only ten teams outside the tournament, with one regular season game and the conference tourneys still left. I've been doing a litttle research to see just how the Miners' NCAA tournament resume stacks up against those of other bubble teams, and here's what I've found.
UTEP Miners (21-8, 10-5) RPI: 65, SOS: 125, R/N Record: 5-6, Last 12: 8-4
1-4 vs the top 50, 5-5 vs the top 100
Good wins: Memphis (37), Marshall (53), Michigan* (56), Tulsa (86), Air Force (100)
Bad losses: at ECU (113), Pacific (145), Georgia Tech* (179).
A little about the Miners' resume. At first glance the RPI/SOS numbers really stick out at you. They just don't seem like those of a serious at large contender, but compared to the rest of the teams on the bubble they are not so bad at all. Also, Michigan still has a game against Michigan St on Saturday. A win there could take the Wolverines into the top 50. Marshall still has a game against UCF that could potentially take them into the top 50. If those work out favorably for the Miners, they would wind up 3-3 vs the top 50, and 5-5 vs the top 100, heading into the conference tourney.
Here we will start with the last four teams in the tourney, and work our way down to where the Miners currently sit. Keep in mind, these are only the projections of one person, and there is nothing to say how right or wrong he really is. Also, these projections were as of yesterday so losses or wins from last night had no effect on the order of the teams.
LAST FOUR IN
1.) Richmond Spiders (A-10) (23-7, 12-3) RPI: 61, SOS: 182, R/N Record: 12-4, Last 12: 10-2
1-3 vs the top 50, 4-6 vs the top 100.
Good Wins: Purdue* (6), VCU (64), at Dayton (77), at Seton Hall (99)
Bad Losses: Georgia Tech* (179)
The Spiders are likely going to ride their win over Purdue all the way to the tournament. They've played well down the stretch and on the road, and still have a top 100 game left against Duquesne (97) before their conference tourney.
2.) Boston College Eagles (ACC) (18-11, 8-7) RPI: 39, SOS: 15, R/N Record: 7-7, Last 12: 5-7
1-5 vs the top 50, 7-10 vs the top 100.
Good Wins: Texas A&M* (30), Virginia Tech (59), at Virginia Tech (59), California* (69), Maryland (84), at Maryland (84)
Bad Losses: Yale (154)
The Eagles have not played well as of late, and only have a game against Wake Forest left in the regular season. They should win there, and one win in the ACC tourney will probably be enough to get these guys in.
3.) Michigan Wolverines (Big Ten) (17-12, 8-9) RPI: 56, SOS: 22, R/N Record: 5-7, Last 12: 7-5
2-8 vs the top 50, 8-11 vs the top 100.
Good Wins: at Michigan St (43), Harvard (46), Penn St (58), at Penn St (58), Oakland (62), at Minnesota (63), at Clemson (68), Northwestern (89).
Bad Losses: at Indiana (174)
The Wolverines have come on a bit as of late, but they're still under .500 in conference, and that probably won't get it done. They take on Michigan St in the season finale. That game will likely decide their tournament fate.
4.) Memphis Tigers (C-USA) (21-9, 9-6) RPI: 37, SOS: 47, R/N Record: 5-7, Last 12: 7-5
6-3 vs the top 50, 9-6 vs the top 100.
Good Wins: UAB (28), at UAB (28), Southern Miss (47), at Southern Miss (47), UCF (48), at UCF (48), Marshall (53), Gonzaga* (66), Miami FL (67).
Bad Losses: at ECU (113), at Rice (195), at SMU (198)
The Tigers are in a very tough position. Honestly you won't find another team on this list with a better resume. But, they have now lost three of four, and are hardly even competitive. If they don't make a late run in the C-USA tourney, they'll be on the outside looking in.
FIRST FOUR OUT
5.) Clemson Tigers (ACC) (19-10, 8-7) RPI: 68, SOS: 90, R/N Record: 5-8, Last 12: 6-6
1-4 vs the top 50, 7-7 vs the top 100
Good Wins: Boston College (39), Florida St (51), Miami Fl (67), at Miami Fl (67), at Charleston (74), LBSU* (97), Seton Hall* (99).
Bad Losses: at NC State (103), at South Carolina (112), at Virginia (143)
The Tigers are not doing themselves any favors down the stretch. They did play DUKE well last night, but still lost by double digits. They have a game against Va Tech left on the schedule. A loss their should take these guys out of contention.
6.) Colorado Buffaloes (Big 12) (17-12, 7-8) RPI: 80, SOS: 84, R/N Record: 4-10, Last 12: 4-8
5-6 vs the top 50, 6-9 vs the top 100.
Good Wins: Texas (16), Kansas St (21), at Kansas St (21), Missouri (31), Colorado St (45), Oklahoma St (52)
Bad Losses: at San Fransisco (122), at Iowa State (127), at Oklahoma (139)
The Buffs were making a strong push for an at large bid, but lost last night at Iowa St. They've got some real quality wins, but is it really enough to make up for a 4-8 record in their last 12, and the 3 bad losses? They've still got Nebraska on the schedule. A win there might give them a little life.
7.) Baylor Bears (Big 12) (17-11, 7-8) RPI: 76, SOS: 49, R/N Record: 3-9, Last 12: 6-6
2-4 vs the top 50, 5-8 vs the top 100.
Good Wins: Texas A&M (30), at Texas A&M (30), Oklahoma St (52), Nebraska (71), Colorado (80)
Bad Losses: at Iowa State (127), at Oklahoma (139), Texas Tech (160)
The Bears may be the biggest disappointment of this basketball season. They should've been much better, but just haven't been able to pull it together. They finish with Texas, so you can assume the Bears lose and drop out of the at large race.
8.) Alabama Crimson Tide (SEC) (19-10, 11-4) RPI: 87, SOS: 160, R/N Record: 4-10, Last 12: 9-3
2-3 vs the top 50, 3-6 vs the top 100.
Good Wins: Kentucky (12), at Tennessee (33), Mississippi (81)
Bad Losses: at Arkansas (115), St Peter's* (124), at Providence (148), Iowa* (183)
I'll be blunt, the only reason the Tide are even in the discussion is because they lead weakest division in major CBB, the SEC West. These guys have no business in the NCAA tournament. Numbers like these from a power conference should tell you all you need to know.
NEXT FOUR OUT
9.) Colorado St Rams (MWC) (17-10, 9-6) RPI: 44, SOS: 29, R/N Record: 9-6, Last 12: 7-5
2-5 vs the top 50, 5-8 vs the top 100
Good Wins: at UNLV (26), Southern Miss* (39), Mississippi* (81), New Mexico (90), Air Force (98)
Bad Losses: Hampton* (175), Sam Houston St (203)
The Rams have a decent resume, but I don't think its enough to get a 4th MWC team in the tourney. They still have a matchup against SDSU left, a win there might be enough to get them in, but a loss would put them at 9-7 in conference, hardly worthy of an at large.
10.) Maryland Terrapins (ACC) (18-12, 7-8) RPI: 84, SOS: 72, R/N Record: 4-9, Last 12: 7-5
0-9 vs the top 50, 4-12 vs the top 100.
Good Wins: Florida St (51), at Penn St (58), Clemson (68), Charleston (75)
Bad Losses: None
The fact that the Terps have no bad losses is definitely a plus, but last night's game against Miami was probably a must win. They didn't. They now only have Virginia left on the schedule, and a win there won't do much. They've got to pick up probably 1 or 2 good wins the conference tourney to have any shot.
11.) Nebraska Cornhuskers (Big 12) (19-10, 7-8) RPI: 71, SOS: 56, R/N Record: 2-8, Last 12: 6-6
3-6 vs the top 50, 7-7 vs the top 100.
Good Wins: Texas (16), Texas A&M (30), Missouri (31), Oklahoma St (52), USC (79), Colorado (80), Hofstra* (82)
Bad Losses: at Iowa St (127), Davidson* (155), at Texas Tech (160)
Their good wins are probably not enough to get them in right now. They still have a road game at Colorado. Loser of that game is done, winner still has to win a couple in the Big 12 Tourney.
12.) Wichita St Shockers (MVC) (22-7, 14-4) RPI: 55, SOS: 95, R/N Record: 10-3, Last 12: 8-4
0-4 vs the top 50, 1-5 vs the top 100.
Good Wins: Tulsa (92)
Bad Losses: Northern Iowa (104), Southern Illinois (218)
The Shockers are in no shape for an at large bid. No top 50 wins, and only 1 top 100 win will surely overshadow the rest of their resume. They need to win the MVC tourney to get in.
ON THE HORIZON
13.) Washington St Cougars (Pac-10) (18-10, 8-8) RPI: 70, SOS: 100 R/N Record: 8-7, Last 12: 6-6
2-5 vs the top 50, 6-7 vs the top 100.
Good Wins: Washington (40), at Washington (40), Gonzaga (66), California (69), Baylor* (76), Portland* (94)
Bad Losses: Stanford (137), at Oregon (141), at Arizona St (149)
The Cougars sit at .500 in conference with two games against USC, and UCLA remaining. They lost to both of those teams on the road, and will likely need both of them to get in. A split leaves them at .500, and the Pac-10 just isn't strong enough.
Its pretty obvious that the bubble is extremely weak this year, and extremely may be an understatement. There are not many teams who really look like they deserve a bid, and thus UTEP may be able to play itself in with a run to the C-USA championship. It's a stretch, but if you see what's going on with these teams here, it may be possible. Here's what I think an updated list could look like.
LAST FOUR IN
FIRST FOUR OUT
NEXT FOUR OUT
Obviously, UTEP hasn't necessarily improved too much, but its a start. Also, all three of the Big 12 teams are under .500 in conference, and it is very likely that two of them will finish 7-9 which certainly wont get them in. Alabama has not done nearly enough, and a loss to Georgia should settle that. Memphis is one that has probably almost killed their at large hopes with their play as of late. They have the resume, but if they don't finish strong, their likely done. It is very possible that, according to Lunardi, UTEP could move into the first four out by the time conference tournaments start. A strong showing there might be enough to get us in, but for good measure I'd like to win the damn thing so we know we're in.