February 23, 2016
It’s strange to think that a 22-5 Atlantic 10 team is in danger of missing the NCAA Tournament, but after St. Joe’s lost at Davidson over the weekend, I figured it would be squarely back on the bubble this week. Where are the good wins?
There is no shame in losing to Bob McKillop on the road, but the Hawks only have three RPI Top 50 wins: Princeton, George Washington, and Dayton, which isn’t exactly a murderer’s row. As it turns out, last week’s win over Dayton really seemed to help the Hawks’ case.
Despite my concerns, the bracketologists all seem to think that the Hawks find themselves in a solid position:
• ESPN, Joe Lunardi
• CBS Sports, Jerry Palm
• USA Today, Shelby Mast
• FOX Sports, Reid Forgrave
• Chris Dobberton, SB Nation
As the Wildcats continue to pile up wins and remain atop of the polls, the story won’t change: Number one seed and a Brooklyn/Philly road to the Final Four.
Of the four remaining games left on Villanova’s schedule, Wednesday night’s matchup in Cincinnati against Xavier looms very large. The 24-3 Musketeers are also on the 1-line in three of the five Bracketology posts listed above, and they are looking for revenge after ‘Nova trounced them by 30 on New Year’s Eve at The Pavilion (I was there for that one). Jay Wright’s team doesn’t need a win at the Cintas Center, but if they got it…
8, 8, 8, 9, and 11 are currently where the Hawks are seeded. Only Forgrave believes the Hawks are on the bubble, but it seems clear to me that they can’t crumble down the stretch. Massachusetts (road), Saint Louis, and Duquesne would all qualify as bad losses and St. Joe’s also has to travel to a St. Bonaventure team they lost to on Hawk Hill a few weeks ago.
If the Hawks can stay on the 8-9 line, watch out for the possibility of them being paired up with Villanova. If St. Joe’s could’ve finished off eventual champion UConn in the first round two years ago, we would have seen a Holy War rematch in the second round.
Temple is projected to slide in the field by everyone as the American’s automatic bid, but could they still get an at-large? After a huge win at Houston over the weekend, tonight’s game at Tulsa is a must-win in that regard. From Jerry Palm:
Temple visits Tulsa in a double-bubble battle for position at the bottom of the bracket. The Owls lead the American conference by two games over their nearest eligible contender and have one of the strangest profiles out there.
This would be Temple's eighth win against a top 100 team, which is a pretty good number. However, the win would bring the Owls back to just .500 against the top 200 teams in the RPI. That does not include their loss to East Carolina. Teams below .500 against that group very rarely get at-large bids.
Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann