Bubble Watch: Marquette falls off while St. John's and Indiana hang around
Villanova 73, Marquette 56: Marquette got itself back into the tournament discussion by ripping off six wins in eight games, including victories over Providence and Xavier. All that run did, however, was get the Golden Eagles back on the fringes of the tournament field. With a 2-10 record against the RPI top 50, they needed a win over a team like Villanova. After their loss on Sunday, their chance for an at-large bid probably vanished.
The Golden Eagles are 71st in RPI and 57th on KenPom. They've lost 12 games overall and are 9-7 in conference. Their strength of schedule ranks 64th in the country, and their non-conference strength of schedule ranks 160th. Clearly this is not the resume of a team that deserves an at-large bid. Their remaining games in the regular season are against fellow bubble or near-bubble teams St. John's and Providence. Even wins in both of those games wouldn't get them in the field, not with both of them ranking outside the top 50 in RPI.
Rather, St. John's (more on them later), they probably need at least two wins in the Big East tournament, preferably with one coming over Creighton or Villanova. More likely, the Golden Eagles will be headed to the NIT.
Indiana 72, Ohio State 64: Only two teams in the Big Ten have defeated at least four of Michigan, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Iowa and Ohio State. One of those teams is the Wolverines, who are closing in on an outright regular season conference championship. The other is Indiana, which beat Ohio State on Sunday, 72-64. They're not quite on the bubble, but with those four wins the Hoosiers are close.
Without Noah Vonleh, Indiana fell into a quick 20-12 hole. They went on an 18-2 run over the next six minutes, and never trailed in the second half. Fresh off a 30-point game in the win over Iowa on Thursday, Will Sheehey poured in 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting, including 3-of-5 from behind the arc. Yogi Ferrell led the Hoosiers with 20 points, though he shot just 5-of-14 from the floor.
The Hoosiers still have work to do to have a shot at an at-large bid. They've have four losses to teams outside the RPI top 100 and are 6-8 against teams inside that class. They absolutely cannot afford any more losses to teams that are not locks for the tournament, making Wednesday's home date with Nebraska a must win. They finish the season with a shot at another statement victory, heading to Ann Arbor to take on the Wolverines. A win there would put the Hoosiers firmly on the bubble. If they fall to Michigan, they'll have to win a minimum of two games, and more likely three, in the Big Ten tournament to have something to potentially look forward to on Selection Sunday.
St. John's 72, DePaul 64: After losing to Xavier at home last Tuesday, the Red Storm had to bounce back with lowly DePaul visiting on Sunday. They did so, building a 12-point lead by halftime and riding 25 points from D'Angelo Harrison to an easy 72-64 win over the Blue Demons.
With an RPI of 61 and just one top-50 win, the Red Storm is currently on the outside of the bracket. They have a week off before heading to Milwaukee to play Marquette on Saturday. That game has to be a win, as a loss would make them just 5-8 against the top 100 and place them comfortably behind a number of other teams vying for at-large bids. Win or lose, they'll have work to do in the Big East tournament and are currently on a crash course with Xavier in their first game. If they could get to the Big East championship game, that would likely mean a win over the Musketeers and one of either Creighton or Villanova. They may need to do that to get in the field of 68.
Florida State 81, Georgia Tech 71: Beating Georgia Tech on Sunday didn't do much for Florida State's tourney hopes. What it did, though, was avoid the type of damage that the Seminoles can no longer afford.
Four Seminoles scored in double-figures on Sunday, led by Okaro White's 18. Devon Bookert had a perfect day, knocking down all four of his three-point attempts and going 4-for-4 from the free throw line for 16 points. The Seminoles are now 17-11 overall and 8-8 in the ACC. They're 3-7 against the RPI top 50, with the wins coming at Pittsburgh and on neutral courts against VCU and Massachusetts. They're 5-10 against the top 100 and are just outside the top 50 themselves. Florida State finishes the season with a road game against Boston College before hosting Syracuse in Tallahassee on Sunday. The game with the Orange is the one to watch. If they can pull off the upset, an at-large bid will be within reach with another win or two in the ACC tournament.