Feb. 28, 2017
Bubble Watch Weekend: 2/24-2/26 Edition
The "bubble watch" for the 2017 NCAA Tournament has officially begun. Seton Hall enters the weekend at 17-10 overall and 7-8 in the Big East with an RPI of 48 and a KenPom ranking of 57. Here are the teams that Pirates loyalists should be rooting against over the weekend:
Northwestern (20-8 overall, 9-6 Big Ten, RPI: 44, KenPom: 39):
The Wildcats are the only program from a major Division 1 conference to NEVER make the NCAA Tournament. Given that they have lost 4 of their last 6, they may be playing their way out of their first Big Dance. Northwestern has a chance to make a statement in Bloomington on Saturday night (8:00 ET, BTN) against a struggling Indiana squad, but a loss could be devastating. With home games against Michigan and Purdue to round out their regular season schedule and a non-conference schedule that ranks 167 in the RPI, nothing is a given for the Cats.
California (18-9 overall, 9-6 Pac-12, RPI: 46, KenPom: 50):
The Golden Bears welcome basement dwellers Oregon State (5-24 overall) on Friday night (10:00 ET, FS1) in Berkeley. Don't expect the Beavers to upset Cal, but it will be worth watching what Cal does over the next couple of weeks. Their numbers are very similar to Seton Hall's but the Pirates have a 60-57 win over the Golden Bears that may come in handy come Selection Sunday.
TCU (17-11 overall, 6-9 Big 12, RPI: 54, KenPom: 43):
Like Northwestern, the Horned Frogs are rapidly playing their way out of the NCAAs. Losers of four straight, the Jamie Dixon-led squad needs a signature win to legitimize their candidacy for March Madness. Lucky for TCU, they have that opportunity on Saturday when they host #12 West Virginia (2:00 ET, ESPN). A win will certainly keep them in the conversation and, if Joe Lunardi is accurate, could lead to a play-in matchup with the Pirates.
DePaul (9-19 overall, 2-13, RPI: 223, KenPom: 183):
The Blue Demons are the most dangerous team in the country for Seton Hall right now. Rewind to March 3, 2012 when a bubble-ridden Pirates squad traveled to Allstate Arena, got blown out 86-58 to close out their regular season and all but end their quest for an NCAA bid. Do you think Kevin Willard remembers this heading into Saturday's 2:00 ET matchup? As Myles Powell said after Seton Hall's 71-64 win on Wednesday night, "coach told us we have to approach (the DePaul game) like it’s the national championship."
I think Kevin Willard remembers this.