Bracketology Bubble Tracker: AAC, Atlantic 10 loaded with vital games

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UConn and Cincinnati square off in their American Conference tournament opener and biggest double bubble game of the day.

Bracketology

Jerry Palm’s projected bracket

The Huskies need this more, but only a little. UConn has the best no-conference wins of the AAC bubble squad, having beat Texas and Michigan, but the Huskies did not fare as well within the league. They only finished 3-7 against the other league tournament contenders (and SMU) and among that is a sweep at the hands of the Bearcats. Cincinnati has a similar profile.

The Bearcats have one more top 100 win and one bad loss, but it’s really the sweep of the Huskies that is the difference between the two at the moment. They also have wins against VCU and George Washington, two other teams on the bubble list, which could come into play if they are competing for a spot in the field.

Like the Pitt-Syracuse game the other day – the winner isn’t guaranteed to be in, and the loser isn’t guaranteed to be out. However, the loser is done making its case, while the winner gets to keep building. The American conference is so bubbly that only the tournament winner is likely to feel safe on selection Sunday almost no matter what.

DOUBLE-BUBBLE GAME: Cincinnati vs. UConn, AAC Tournament (2 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

CINCINNATI
Status: On the fence
Record: 22-9 | RPI: 40 | Strength of schedule: 72

UCONN
Status: On the fence
Record: 21-10 | RPI: 59 | Strength of schedule: 55

Michigan's bench was excited when the Wolverines defeated Northwestern on Thursday. (USATSI)
Michigan’s bench was excited when the Wolverines defeated Northwestern on Thursday. (USATSI)

OTHER BUBBLE TEAMS IN ACTION FRIDAY:

MICHIGAN: vs. Indiana, Big Ten tournament (Noon ET, Big Ten Network)
Status: Probably out
Record: 21-11 | RPI: 62 | Strength of schedule: 53

It’s the final chance for Michigan to pick up another quality win and make a case for inclusion in the field. The Wolverines have three top 25 wins, but also only three top 100 wins and are 3-11 overall against that group. That’s not going to get it done, unfortunately. There are no bad losses on the resume, but the record against better competition is not good enough to get in. Beating the Hoosiers would make a pretty good statement and give the committee something to think about.

TEMPLE: vs. South Florida, AAC tournament (Noon ET, ESPN2)
Status: On the fence
Record: 20-10 | RPI: 58 | Strength of schedule: 63

Temple has one of the strangest profiles the committee will examine. Virtually every good thing on the Owls’ resume was done in conference play, which is why they are the league regular season champion. That won’t mean much to the committee though, and they may have to be the tournament champion as well to get into the field. Temple, despite seven top 100 wins, is below .500 vs the top 200 teams in the RPI, and that doesn’t count a loss to East Carolina. They can’t do anything about that today, but another loss like that and they’re done.

FLORIDA: vs. Texas A&M, SEC Tournament (1 p.m. ET, SEC Network)
Status: Probably out
Record: 19-13 | RPI: 51 | Strength of schedule: 19

The Gators have played a strong schedule, but don’t have a good record against the better teams on it, which is why they are out for now. A win over the Aggies would arguably be the Gators’ best of the season since the West Virginia win came at home. It’s probably not enough to get Florida into the field just yet though.

DOUBLE-BUBBLE GAME: George Washington vs. St. Joseph’s, Atlantic 10 Tournament (2:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network)

GEORGE WASHINGTON
Status: On the fence
Record: 23-9 | RPI: 61 | Strength of schedule: 110

ST. JOSEPH’S
Status: Probably in
Record: 24-7 | RPI: 32 | Strength of schedule: 77

The Hawks have had a pretty decent year, but their tournament profile is less than spectacular. Dayton is the only sure tournament team they have beaten, although they also have a win over the Colonials and at Temple, the American conference regular season champion. The best thing you can say about Saint Joe’s really is the lack of negatives. Only a late-season home loss to Duquesne stands out as a negative.

GW is in more dire straits. The Colonials only have four top 100 wins, which is the bare minimum for selection, but two of them are Virginia and Seton Hall. However, they also have three bad losses, and those wins may not be enough to overcome those. A loss today means that GW is in serious danger of missing the field.

VCU: vs. Massachusetts, Atlantic 10 Tournament (6:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network)
Status: On the fence
Record: 22-9 | RPI: 42 | Strength of schedule: 69

VCU played some pretty decent teams outside the league, but the best of their wins was at Middle Tennessee State. That means the Rams have had to make their case in the league, but they are the only team among the league bubblers that did not beat Dayton. They also have to bad losses, including one to Friday’s opponent. They won’t get another shot at the Flyers until the A-10 title game, so they’ll have to do some work to try to get there.

HOUSTON: vs. Tulane, AAC Tournament (7 p.m. ET, ESPNU)
Status: Probably out
Record: 22-8 | RPI: 74 | Strength of schedule: 126

Houston is a fringe bubble team, largely because of the good work done within the league. Unfortunately, the Cougars have a dreadful non-conference strength of schedule, which usually means that a team has to play themselves comfortably into the bracket to overcome that. I’m not sure Houston can do that, and certainly the Cougars cannot do that vs. the Green Wave.

TULSA: vs. Memphis, AAC Tournament (9 p.m. ET, ESPNU)
Status: On the fence
Record: 20-10 | RPI: 47 | Strength of schedule: 52

Tulsa has a very ordinary profile. The Golden Hurricane is about .500 against the top 50 and top 100. They beat SMU on the road, but have otherwise done most of their damage at home. They have a couple of bad losses, including one at their opponent today, Memphis. They haven’t really done anything to make the committee stand up and take notice, but they haven’t done anything horribly offensive. Losing today would likely knock them out though.

SOUTH CAROLINA: vs. Georgia, SEC Tournament (9:25 p.m. ET, SEC Network)
Status: On the fence
Record: 24-7 | RPI: 53 | Strength of schedule: 123

You wouldn’t think a team that’s 23-7 in a major conference wouldn’t be on the bubble, but South Carolina’s resume isn’t nearly as good as its record. The Gamecocks have two top 50 wins against Texas A&M and Tulsa, but also bad losses to Tennessee, Mississippi State and Missouri and a non-conference strength of schedule that ranks at 265. They have already lost twice to the Bulldogs. A third loss could make for a much more nervous selection Sunday than they would have expected a month ago.

>> More Bracketology: FAQs on selection process | Selection Sunday by the numbers

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