Big East Bubble Teams: Who’s Getting In Who’s Left Out? Pt. II
Just as it was last year, the Big East is arguably deepest conference in the nation and will again have a slew of “bubble teams” when Selection Sunday rolls around. With three weeks left until the Big East Tournament in Madison Square Garden, many teams will be fighting for their NCAA dreams with every game that they play.
It’s safe to say that the Big East has four locks to make the tournament in Syracuse, Villanova, West Virginia, and Georgetown. At 19-6, the Pittsburgh Panthers are all but in the tournament as well. But outside of the five locks, there are seven Big East teams that can consider themselves “on the bubble” as the home stretch comes into view.
To check out predictions on Marquette, Notre Dame, South Florida, and Connecticut, click here. Today’s bubble teams will be Louisville and Cincinnati.
1. Louisville, 16-9 (7-5)
RPI: 31 SOS: 4
Good Wins (RPI): Syracuse (4)
Bad Losses (RPI): Western Carolina (128)
Why They’re In: Louisville was sitting on the bubble looking for their signature win before their victory over Syracuse in the Carrier Dome. Now that they have it, the ball is in their court to finish the season strong and enter the tournament on a high note. With a great RPI against one of the toughest schedules in the nation, Louisville’s resume is rounding out very nicely.
Why They’re Out: The Cardinals have a couple of bad losses to their name and have also failed to beat other bubble teams in the Big East. A home loss to Western Carolina doesn’t help, and they also stumbled by getting blown out by St. John’s. Playing in Seton Hall is no easy task, but it would have gone a long way in the Big East standings had they won.
Outlook: The Syracuse win will be the foundation of Louisville’s season if they make the tournament, and with games against other bubble teams in Notre Dame, Connecticut, and Marquette, as well as two other potential upsets in Georgetown and Syracuse, there are many opportunities for Louisville to make a statement.
Predicted Finish: 19-12, (10-8), bye and two wins in Big East Tournament, No. 8 Seed in NCAA Tournament
2. Cincinnati, 15-9 (6-6)
RPI: 49 SOS: 20
Good Wins (RPI): Vanderbilt (15), Maryland (42)
Bad Losses (RPI): none
Why They’re In: Wins over Maryland and Vanderbilt in the Maui Invitational have put Cincinnati, who is just .500 in league play, into the bubble mix this season. They still have some chances later in the season to do some damage and will need to beat a top-5 Big East team.
Why They’re Out: The interesting part of Cincinnati’s season is that they have no “bad losses” (RPI above 100) this season, but the problem is they have not defeated any teams in conference and are just 6-6 entering Tuesday. The lack of big wins will be a problem come tourney time, and they have just two opportunities left to make a statement.
Outlook: Cincinnati can really go either way depending on how they finish their last six games. They play at Georgetown and West Virginia and are home against Villanova in three of their last six games, and will need to win at least one if they want to have a chance. In the end, the lack of a big win will hurt them. VERDICT: OUT
Predicted Finish: 17-13, (8-10)
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