Bracketology Bubble Tracker: VCU, George Washington both on last 4 out

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Saturday has a full slate of games involving bubble teams including an interesting “Double-bubble” game with VCU at George Washington in a battle of two teams that are in my last four out.

Bracketology

Jerry Palm’s projected bracket

They met just a few weeks ago in Richmond when the Colonials overcame a late deficit to steal an important win on the road.

That win at VCU is the only win that George Washington has away from home against a top 100 team. They beat Virginia at home, which is obviously a high quality win, and also defeated Seton Hall at home. VCU is the only league contender that the Colonials have home-and-home in conference play. They lost their one and only meetings with Dayton, St. Bonaventure and St. Joseph’s, the latter of which came at home.

The Rams are left with trying to build a tournament resume in conference play after failing on three attempts to get a tournament-quality win outside the league. They also have four losses to teams that are not tournament quality, including recently to UMass and George Mason. They only have four top 100 RPI wins and need more than that. This game provides a chance to improve on that and avenge an earlier loss.

SATURDAY’S DOUBLE-BUBBLE GAME

VCU at GEORGE WASHINGTON (12:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN)

  • Rams’ status: Work to do Record: 20-8, 12-3 Atlantic 10 | RPI: 63 | SOS: 88
  • Colonials’ status: Work to do Record: 21-7, 10-5 Atlantic 10 | RPI: 48 | SOS: 103

VCU doesn't have many chances to pick up quality wins. (USATSI)
VCU doesn’t have many more chances to pick up quality wins. (USATSI)

OTHER BUBBLE TEAMS IN ACTION SATURDAY

SYRACUSE: vs. North Carolina State (2 p.m. ET)

  • Status: In for now
  • Record: 18-10, 8-7 ACC | RPI: 59 | Strength of schedule: 42

Syracuse has lost two in a row and this game is very important to trying to avoid a significantly longer one. With road games coming up against North Carolina and Florida State, a loss to the Wolfpack could put the Orange in danger of turning a two-game skid into a five-game one.

CINCINNATI: at East Carolina (12 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

  • Status: Work to do
  • Record: 20-8, 10-5 | RPI: 60 | Strength of schedule: 89

The Bearcats have a good record against bubble teams (5-3), but didn’t beat any of the better teams on their schedule and have a bad loss already to Memphis. The last thing Cincinnati can afford is another bad loss. The Bearcats will get their chance to get the quality win they need when SMU visits later.

TEMPLE: vs. UCF (12 p.m. ET, ESPNNews)

  • Status: Work to do
  • Record: 17-10, 11-4 AAC | RPI: 55 | Strength of schedule: 48

Temple is in first place in the American and remarkably, below .500 against the top 200 teams in the RPI. In fact, two games below (8-10). Teams that finish below .500 against that group very rarely get at-large bids. This game won’t help as the Knights are south of 200, and the schedule in general is not helpful for the Owls. Nothing but bad losses left until the conference tournament. By the time they get that problem with the top 200 fixed, they may have won the A-10 tournament.

SAINT BONAVENTURE: vs. Massachusetts (4 p.m. ET)

  • Status: Work to do
  • Record: 19-7, 11-4 Atlantic 10 | RPI: 35 | Strength of schedule: 75

The Bonnies are the last team in the bracket in part due to their ability to beat the better teams in the league on the road. However, they are hanging on by a thread and a loss to the Minutemen would knock them out in a minute.

BUTLER: at Georgetown (12 p.m. ET, CBS / CBSSports.com)

  • Status: On the fence
  • Record: 18-9, 7-8 | RPI: 65 | Strength of schedule: 72

Butler has reached the must-win portion of the schedule. The Bulldogs are living off wins over Purdue, Seton Hall and a couple of other bubblers, but they aren’t in a position to afford losses to teams that aren’t tournament quality, and that includes the Hoyas, even on the road.

PROVIDENCE: vs. DePaul (4 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network)

  • Status: On the fence
  • Record: 19-9, 7-8 Big East | RPI: 65 | Strength of schedule: 72

Providence has lost six of eight to put the Friars’ selection to the tournament in jeopardy. One of those losses came at DePaul, which only has a few conference wins all season. Righting the ship at home against the Blue Demons is necessary if the Friars are going to hang around in the bracket.

WICHITA STATE: vs. Illinois State (2 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

  • Status: Work to do
  • Record: 22-7, 15-2 MVC | RPI: 41 | Strength of schedule: 100

Wichita State doesn’t have much of an at-large case, but if they want to keep their slim hopes alive, the Shockers cannot afford to get swept by the Redbirds. Wichita State has already clinched the regular season conference title and the top seed in Arch Madness.

ALABAMA: vs. Auburn (5 p.m. ET, SEC Network)

  • Status: On the fence
  • Record: 16-11, 7-8 SEC | RPI: 52 | Strength of schedule: 22

One of the negatives on the resume for Alabama is a loss at Auburn. The Tide also lost at home to Mississippi State, which was the start of their current two-game skid. Alabama has three winnable games left and they pretty much need to win them all

FLORIDA: at LSU (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)

  • Status: On the fence
  • Record: 17-11, 8-7 SEC | RPI: 44 | Strength of schedule: 15

The thought of LSU as an NCAA tournament team is pretty much over, but the Tigers can still play the role of spoiler. Florida has lost two in a row and has two of their last three on the road. The home game is Kentucky, but that’s a problem for another day. Not many teams get at-large bids with 14 losses, so Florida has to win at least two of these last three to avoid possibly putting themselves in that position.

VANDERBILT: vs. Kentucky (4 p.m. ET, CBS and CBSSports.com)

  • Status: Work to do
  • Record: 17-11, 9-6 SEC | RPI: 54 | Strength of schedule: 34

Vanderbilt has won four of their last five to breathe some life into their tournament chances in what has been a disappointing season. The Commodores have a win over Texas A&M at home and most recently completed a season sweep of Florida, but they are going to need more than that. This game is a good chance to add to their case

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