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2/21 Bubble Bursting Guide

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Which teams need to lose this week for UW to stay in the hunt for an NCAA berth?

NCAA Basketball: Colorado at Washington Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

The only thing the Huskies can control is their own performance. And that’s all well and good but as fans we have permission to spare precious brain cells worrying about how everyone else is doing around the bubble.

NCAA tournament qualification is not static. Everything is relative. The Huskies can win their final 4 games but if everyone around them also wins their remaining regular season games then they won’t gain much if any ground.

Right now I have 23 teams that I consider to be on the bubble that are fighting for up to 10 spots (note- this doesn’t include teams like Middle Tennessee who will be on the bubble if they don’t win their conference tournament). And each time a bid thief steals a place, one of those teams loses its wings. It’s eat or be eaten time folks.

So here are the games taking place through this weekend that aren’t completely obvious where UW’s rooting interests should lie. Clearly we want every bubble team to lose at home to the last place team in the conference. These are the tricky ones.

Rather than list out everyone’s record in each quadrant I’ll list their quadrant wins and quadrant losses. This is my own system rather than something the selection committee will actually look at although what falls into which quadrant is the same. A Quad 1 win is worth 3 points, Quad 2 win 2 points, Quad 3 win 1 point, and Quad 4 win 0 points. The opposite is true going from 0 to 3. A team’s resume should be roughly equivalent to the difference between the two as a team with a lot of both good wins and bad losses will look similar to a team with few of either.

Wednesday 2/21 Games

Texas 16-11 (6-8) at Kansas State 19-8 (8-6)- 6:00pm (all times PT), ESPNU

Texas- 24 quad wins, 3 quad losses. Kansas State- 24 quad wins, 1 quad loss.

Ah, the luxury of playing in the Big 12. Because the conference is so stacked there are very few matchups that don’t fall into quadrant one or at the least quadrant two. Only one of the 11 losses that Texas has comes against a team not currently on the right side of the bubble. The same is true for Kansas State. Their resumes are pretty equal but I’m rooting for K-State here. Texas still has to play Kansas and West Virginia next week. The Big 12 is good but I don’t know if the committee lets in a team that is 7-11 in conference play. Hope that Texas loses their remaining premium games.

Rooting against: Texas.

USC 19-9 (10-5) at Colorado 15-12 (7-8)- 6:00pm (all times PT), ESPNU

USC- 20 quad wins, 6 quad losses. Colorado- 16 quad wins, 10 quad losses.

Utah, UCLA, Colorado, and Utah play a round robin over the next 2 weeks. That means the Huskies need to pick which team they want to go 3-0 and which to go 2-1. I don’t think that any of the three bubble teams will enter the top-30 of RPI or fall out of the top-75 which would change their quadrants for the UW games. I think the best situation is that Colorado wins out, USC goes 2-1, UCLA goes 1-2, and Utah goes 0-3.

That keeps Colorado in the top-75 to give UW a quadrant one road win and quadrant two home win over the Buffs and elevates USC who may get penalized for missing Bennie Boatwright and so is least likely to win a tiebreaker come selection time especially over the Huskies against whom they’re 0-1.

Rooting against: USC.

Thursday 2/22 Games

UCLA 19-8 (10-5) at Utah 17-9 (9-6)- 6:00pm, ESPN

UCLA- 18 quad wins, 5 quad losses. Utah- 19 quad wins, 3 quad losses.

See USC/Colorado above.

Rooting against: Utah.

Saturday 2/24 Games

Louisville 18-9 (8-6) at Virginia Tech 19-8 (8-6)- 10:00am, CBS

Louisville- 15 quad wins, 2 quad losses. Virginia Tech- 23 quad wins, 3 quad losses.

As you can see in the quadrant wins/losses above, I think Virginia Tech has a lot stronger profile than Louisville. I’m willing to concede that Tech is likely to get a spot no matter what especially since they already beat the Huskies and it would make that loss look a little better. I have nothing against the good people of Louisville but here’s to hoping this continues a really rough year for them.

Rooting against: Louisville.

LSU 16-11 (7-8) at Georgia 15-11 (6-8)- Saturday- 11:00am, ESPNU

LSU- 23 quad wins, 7 quad losses. Georgia- 27 quad wins, 8 quad losses.

Both of these teams need to win out to still have a shot at the NCAA tournament. The Bulldogs have two opportunities left for a good win whereas this is it for LSU. Plus a home loss for Georgia would be more damaging than a road loss for LSU. Geaux Tigers.

Rooting against: Georgia.

Kansas State 19-8 (8-6) at Oklahoma 16-11 (6-9)- 3:00pm, ESPN2

Kansas State- 24 quad wins, 1 quad loss. Oklahoma- 26 quad wins, 3 quad losses.

I sided towards K-State above but I’m going the other way here. Oklahoma is on a massive slide and have a bad record in conference but they end the year with a home game against Iowa State. A win in this one and over ISU gets them to 8-10 which will be more than enough. The Sooners have a better chance to get in at 7-11 in conference than Texas. That’s because I expect Oklahoma to win any tiebreakers come selection Sunday with the presence of Trae Young and so they get the nod here.

Rooting against: Kansas State.

Sunday 2/25 Games

Penn State 19-10 (9-7) at Nebraska 21-9 (12-5)- 3:15pm, Big 10 Network

Penn State- 17 quad wins, 7 quad losses. Nebraska- 16 quad wins, 5 quad losses.

Both of these teams are on the wrong side of the bubble as things stand right this second. And this game is the regular season finale for both since the Big 10 moved up their conference tourney by a week in order to have it at Madison Square Garden. Penn State has a great KenPom number (25) but a bad RPI (75). Nebraska’s best win in the non-conference was at home over Boston College and they have only one quadrant one win all season.

I think the best news for Husky fans is the status quo. That means rooting for the home team since this win is less impressive for Nebraska than it would be for Penn State on the road. Then we want both to lose in the 1st round of the Big-10 tournament.

Rooting against: Penn State.

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