Thompson: Wild Weekend Impacts Rankings, Bubble Teams
By Brad Thompson–
It was another court-storming weekend for college basketball. The top ranked team went down for the third week in a row. No. 5 Texas was upset by Colorado after leading by 22 points in the first half. In fact, the whole week was wacky. Villanova, Arizona and Georgetown, all ranked in the top 15, went a combined 0-6 last week with each team losing two games apiece.
Last week stayed true to this year’s unpredictable and crazy college basketball season. Not only has the top spot been a revolving door, but so has the entire Top 25 rankings. For example, sixth-ranked Pittsburgh lost to No. 16 Louisville in overtime on Sunday and actually moved up one spot in the polls on Monday. St. John’s, on the momentum of wins over DePaul and Villanova, moved up 10 spots to No. 15 after not even being ranked before last week.
Other significant movers and shakers this week…
(based on ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll Week 17)
No. 3 BYU up four
No. 11 Louisville up five
No. 12 Syracuse up eight
No. 13 North Carolina up six
No. 9 San Diego State down five
No. 17 Georgetown down six
No. 18 Arizona down eight
No. 19 Villanova down five
All the movement in the rankings is impacting regular season conference titles and tournament seeding, but something else is happening too. Certainly Duke’s loss at Virginia Tech and Texas’ shocking collapse at Colorado were costly, the Blue Devils are now deadlocked with North Carolina for first in the ACC and Texas is tied with Kansas atop the Big 12 standings, but these upsets are really affecting bubble teams.
Part of the criteria that the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee looks at when determining the tournament bids is quality wins – has a team beaten other tournament caliber opponents? Virginia Tech tournament profile is a lot stronger now with a win over No. 1 Duke and all of a sudden Colorado is in the bubble discussion after improving to 7-7 in Big 12 play.
As important as Tuesday night’s game is for No. 1 Ohio State, it’s even more important for Penn State, a team on the bubble. The same can be said for other games this week involving bubble teams:
No. 4 Duke vs. Clemson
No. 6 Purdue vs. Illinois
No. 8 Texas vs. Kansas State
No. 9 San Diego State vs. Colorado State.
With upsets happening weekly, it gives bubble teams confidence that they can drastically improve their tourney chances by taking down a ranked opponent.
March is here and it’s clear there isn’t a dominant team in college basketball. Who will win it all is anyone’s guess, but in the final week of the regular season it’s the bubble teams that have the most to gain – tournament bids.
Do you agree with Brad? Post your comments below.
Brad M. Thompson, a former college football player and coach, made his return to the Midwest in 2009 after fighting wildfires out West. He earned his master’s degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and covers the Big Ten Conference and Chicago sports. Follow him on Twitter at @Brad_M_Thompson. Find more of Brad’s blogs here.