Thursday March 3rd, 2011

This time of year, the bubble picture can change pretty significantly from day to day. That's certainly been the case this week, as the landscape has shifted since Monday's Bubble Watch. Here are some of the notable movers 10 days out from Selection Sunday:

(Teams in each section listed alphabetically)

Cincinnati (23-7, 10-7 Big East; RPI: 36, SOS: 83): The Bearcats got an impressive and crucial win at Marquette Wednesday night that should ensure they make the field of 68. They've more than held their own in the nation's best conference, and during their very weak nonconference schedule nabbed a win over Xavier that keeps looking better. This isn't a season where going 10-8 in the Big East will keep a team out, especially with big road wins at Georgetown and St. John's.

Kansas State (20-9, 9-6 Big 12; RPI: 21, SOS: 5): The Wildcats are suddenly one of the hottest teams in the country, having won five straight, including home victories over Kansas and Missouri and a road win at Texas. With K-State now armed with strong computer numbers, two big marquee wins and a host of other wins over bubble-type teams, Jacob Pullen won't have to worry about his threat not to play in the NIT.

Boston College (18-11, 8-7 ACC; RPI: 38, SOS: 17): The Eagles went 0-4 against Duke, UNC and Florida State, but swept Virginia Tech and stand a great chance of going 9-7 with only a home date against league minnow Wake Forest remaining. They still have some work to do, but a comparison between the Eagles and Hokies now is really interesting. Aside from the sweep, BC lacks the marquee win but has fewer bad losses and much better computer numbers overall.

Colorado State (18-10, 9-6 MWC; RPI: 46, SOS: 37): The Rams have a trip to San Diego State this weekend that they probably need to win, but they look set to land in the 4-5 game in the MWC tournament, which means they will be on BYU's side of the bracket for a possible semifinal. If the Cougars don't figure things out before then, CSU could have a much more reasonable shot at making the league title game than expected, and then who knows.

Florida State (20-9, 10-5 ACC; RPI: 50, SOS: 82): When is a loss not a loss? When it comes on a last-second three-ball against North Carolina, which is pretty good proof that the Seminoles are maintaining a level of quality without Chris Singleton. That's important, because aside from the win over Duke, FSU's profile lacks significant quality. Ten wins doesn't mean as much in the ACC as it used to, but that mark should be enough this season.

Michigan State (16-12, 9-8 Big Ten; RPI: 44, SOS: 9): Beating Iowa doesn't mean a lot in a vacuum, but just avoiding bad losses at this point probably will be enough to see Michigan State through. That means a split of the next two (at Michigan and the first round of the Big Ten tournament) will more than likely be enough to allow the Spartans to hang on for an at-large.

Richmond (23-7, 12-3 A-10; RPI: 60, SOS: 157): The Spiders will be an interesting selection debate if things continue trending this way. Their win over Purdue now looks fantastic, but 20 of their 23 wins are outside the top 100 and there are a couple of questionable losses on the résumé, too. Beating Duquesne at home in the finale is important.

UAB (21-7, 11-4 C-USA; RPI: 28, SOS: 55): The Blazers beat Southern Miss on the road by a point Wednesday night for their best RPI win of the season. With Memphis' loss, the C-USA leaders now have some chance to squeeze out an at-large. There's still a lot of work to do, though. Despite solid computer numbers, there's not a ton of legitimate meat in their profile.

Illinois (18-12, 8-9 Big Ten; RPI: 39, SOS: 13): I don't know if Illinois can successfully play its way all the way out of the bracket, but the Illini are sure trying. They couldn't handle any of the three big road chances they had down the stretch and now need to beat Indiana at home just to finish at .500 in the league. They're fortunate they got North Carolina early in the season. That win is a huge help right now at the top of their profile.

Marquette (18-12, 9-8 Big East; RPI: 57, SOS: 28): The Golden Eagles took a step back by losing at home to fellow bubble competitor Cincinnati on Wednesday. Now they need to win at Seton Hall on the weekend to finish above .500 in the league. There are no bad losses here, so as long as Marquette can avoid one down the stretch, it probably will be OK. The 4-11 mark against the RPI top 50 is actually all against the top 36. Marquette may not be able to beat teams that are second-round or better quality, but that's not a selection metric.

Memphis (21-9, 9-6 C-USA; RPI: 35, SOS: 42): If the committee thinks sweeps of UAB and Southern Miss are worthy, the Tigers have the best wins in the league. They also beat Gonzaga if it comes down to a bubble comparison. If not, they should be in the category below this. Three suspect road losses in league play have put a big damper on their prospects. The latest came Wednesday at East Carolina.

Virginia Tech (19-9, 9-6 ACC; RPI: 63, SOS: 88): The road to getting off the NCAA schneid did not include getting crushed at home by fellow bubbler BC. Virginia Tech has now been swept by the Eagles. The Hokies also have been swept by Virginia and lost to Georgia Tech, so there are multiple poor losses dotting a profile with one big, marquee win and not that much else.

Alabama (19-10, 11-4 SEC, RPI: 85, SOS: 129): The Tide's nonleague performance and the SEC West schedule were so weak that they needed a gaudy league mark and multiple marquee wins against the East to get there. Right now, they only have two, so without considerable work in the SEC tournament, it doesn't look good. Three RPI top 100 wins and five losses outside that cutoff make things very dicey.

Baylor (17-11, 7-8 Big 12; RPI: 76, SOS: 47): A loss at Oklahoma State makes it four defeats in five games for the Bears, who have a sweep of Texas A&M and not much else helping them at the moment. Like Alabama, their best nonleague win is over Lipscomb, and they also have three bad losses and are 3-9 road/neutral.

Clemson (19-9, 8-7 ACC; RPI: 68, SOS: 94): The Tigers probably needed to beat Duke at Cameron to have a legit claim, although they do host Virginia Tech on Saturday to close out the season and could create a jumble at 9-7 with a win. It's hard to think this is an NCAA team, though, when its best league wins are over BC and Florida State and the best nonleague win (which isn't bad at all) is at College of Charleston.

Colorado (17-12, 7-8 Big 12; RPI: 80, SOS: 73): All the buzz from the Texas upset evaporated when Texas was beaten at home by Kansas State and Colorado lost at Iowa State. The Buffaloes have some decent wins, including a sweep of surging K-State, but need to beat Nebraska just to get to .500 in the league and likely need at least two Big 12 tournament wins after that.

Penn State (15-13, 8-9; RPI: 59, SOS: 6): The Nittany Lions likely needed to beat Ohio State at home and got crushed. They only have one bad loss this season, but have too many losses in general. A 2-8 road/neutral mark is another red flag.

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