Welcome to the latest installment of the BSD Bubble Forecast. You know how this works, so let’s dive right in with the updated summary chart:
After briefly moving into the Matrix field before the Clemson loss was incorporated, the Deacs returned to the First Four Out on Thursday. As you can see, there aren’t many teams behind Wake that should scare us. Clemson stands out, obviously, as they have a fairly soft remaining schedule, plus the head-to-head sweep. Tennessee has a remarkably easy schedule remaining, and a 4-1 finish should not surprise. After that though, the list is fairly thin. Houston’s stock will swing significantly one way or the other tomorrow, as they host SMU with a 49% chance to win. The hot team on the list is Providence, who just won a pair of home coin flips against Butler and Xavier and now has a pretty manageable remaining schedule. They have a couple ugly losses, however, and are still projected for a losing record in a conference that will not get as much benefit of the doubt as the ACC. Finally, Utah and Georgia are lurking, but still have significant ground to make up.
More important, of course, is the group of teams Wake has the potential to pass. The list is a good bit less encouraging than last time, as teams like Seton Hall, Virginia Tech, Michigan, and Arkansas delivered clutch wins, but other candidates to fall back still remain. Kenpom continues to project Illinois State and MTSU to trip up before the end of the regular season, and any losses by either would be crippling at this point. In the Big 12, Kansas State has lost six of seven (with the one win @ Baylor of all places), and TCU is just starting to really dive into their end-of-season gauntlet. Miami’s schedule the rest of the way might be even tougher; I think they’ve built up enough cushion to withstand a 2-3 finish, but 1-4 could be another story. Michigan State is in a similar position.
Big Picture for Wake Forest
Of course, the bottomline is that Wake has to add some wins for any of the above analysis to matter. Our Deacs are still very much alive, despite the Clemson game, and the math hasn’t changed; we probably need three more wins (including the ACC Tournament) to have any chance on Selection Sunday, and four more to feel confident.
In the regular season, Kenpom projects two more wins, although I should note that we’re a bit closer to one than three. We’ll certainly be favored on ACC Tournament Tuesday, while Wednesday is uncertain.
One of the most useful additions to Kenpom in recent years is his addition of scheduling tiers, which account for the fact that a road game against the 60th best team is more difficult than a home game against the 40th best team. I’ll let him summarize for those unfamiliar:
“I’ve added a notation for whether a game was Tier A or Tier B to each game on a team’s schedule. A game in Tier A represents a top 50 opponent adjusting for the location of the game, and Tier B is the same concept for a top 100 opponent.”
This breakdown has been remarkably predictive for Wake Forest this season. Here’s our record based on game difficulty:
(The one lost “B” game? Clemson at home.)
Why do I mention this? Well, we’re in an interesting position the rest of the way. Kenpom projects a 2-2 finish, despite the fact that we have three “A” games remaining (every game except Pittsburgh). In other words, a 2-2 finish will require our best win of the season. Moreover, if we play to our rank, that should be our expectation.
It’s a unique situation to be in; we haven’t won an “A” game all year, but it’s still fair to expect we win one of the last three. This speaks to the fact that our win-loss record has not matched our Kenpom ranking. Unfortunately, that’s a combination that might leave us as the best team in the NIT.
Week in Review
Bubble teams who were supposed to win, and won:
VCU (vs. St. Joseph’s)
Clemson (vs. Wake Forest)
Dayton (@ St. Louis)
Michigan State (vs. Ohio State)
Georgia (vs. Mississippi State)
Ole Miss (vs. LSU)
Wichita State (@ Southern Illinois)
Miami (vs. Georgia Tech)
Alabama (@ Missouri)
Oklahoma State (@ TCU)
Illinois State (@ Missouri State)
Vanderbilt (vs. Texas A&M)
Michigan (vs. Wisconsin)
Bubble teams who were supposed to lose, and lost:
Syracuse (vs. Louisville)
Tennessee (@ Kentucky)
Wake Forest (@ Clemson)
Ohio State (@ Michigan State)
Georgia Tech (@ Miami)
Indiana (@ Minnesota)
TCU (vs. Oklahoma State)
Bubble teams landing upset victories:
Texas Tech (vs. Baylor): Red Raiders stay alive with this great win, but still have a long way to go.
Virginia Tech (@ Pittsburgh): Hokies look to be safely in the field after back-to-back upset wins.
Arkansas (@ South Carolina): Razorbacks right the ship with a huge road win. In the field as of now, with a fairly comfortable schedule ahead.
Iowa State (@ Kansas State): Cyclones have established themselves as Big 12 #4, and are playing themselves off the bubble.
Seton Hall (vs. Creighton): Great bounce-back win for the Pirates after losing @ St. John’s.
Bubble teams suffering upset losses:
Pittsburgh (vs. Virginia Tech): Pittsburgh was actually a slight favorite in this game. I’m not sure why they are still receiving votes in the Matrix.
Kansas State (vs. Iowa State): Kansas State is starting to cut it close now. They have a very interesting stretch ahead, as their next four games are all between 40-60% win probability.
Northwestern (vs. Maryland): Surprising home loss here, but Northwestern is still in very good shape to make the tournament. Not even a bubble team in my opinion (just added to the list as they dropped to an 8 seed briefly).
Rhode Island (vs. Fordham): Backbreaker. Rams couldn’t afford a letdown game after the emotional loss vs Dayton. Fordham beat the spread by 23 points, and Rhode Island probably needs to win out now.
This Weekend’s Bubble Schedule
9:00 ESPN2: 46 VCU (59%) @ 106 Richmond
10:00 FS1: 43 California (56%) @ 103 Stanford
Couple of tricky road games here for a pair of teams currently on the right side of the bubble. Root for the home teams, of course.
12:00 ESPN2: 139 Northern Iowa @ 13 Wichita State (95%)
12:00 ESPN3: 36 Clemson @ 35 Miami (63%)
12:30 FOX: 2 Villanova @ 55 Seton Hall (27%)
1:00 ESPN3: 34 Wake Forest (19%) @ 12 Duke
1:00 SECN: 163 Missouri @ 42 Tennessee (90%)
1:00 ESPN3: 49 Virginia Tech (10%) @ 5 Louisville
2:00 ESPN2: 37 Texas Tech (13%) @ 4 West Virginia
2:00 NBCSN: 92 St. Bonaventure @ 33 Dayton (82%)
2:00 LHN: 29 Kansas State (57%) @ 71 Texas
Obviously we’ll all be watching the game in Durham, but there will be quite a few other scores to follow as well. In the ACC, we’d like Miami and Louisville to hold serve at home. Elsewhere, it’s important that Seton Hall loses. Finally, keep an eye on Shaka; Texas is quietly 4-2 at home in B12 play, with their two losses by a combined five points. Kansas State is currently on the right side of the bubble, but has lost six of seven and the schedule doesn’t get any easier moving forward. They need this one badly.
3:30 SECN: 162 LSU @ 61 Alabama (85%)
4:00 ESPN: 54 Michigan State (14%) @ 11 Purdue
4:00 ESPN2: 14 Florida State @ 68 Pittsburgh (29%)
4:00 NBCSN: 56 Rhode Island (54%) @ 109 George Mason
6:00 ESPN: 7 Kentucky @ 51 Georgia (28%)
6:00 ESPN2: 18 SMU @ 38 Houston (49%)
6:00 SECN: 67 Ole Miss @ 53 Arkansas (71%)
6:00 ESPNews: 40 TCU @ 26 Iowa State (74%)
6:00 ESPNU: 135 Rutgers @ 31 Northwestern (89%)
6:00 (NA): 81 Nebraska @ 62 Ohio State (70%)
6:00 (NA): 45 MTSU (70%) @ 146 Marshall
The midday slate is loaded with bubble games. Wins by SMU and Iowa State would be very helpful. Also prefer Purdue and Kentucky to hold serve.
8:00 ESPNU: 76 Oklahoma @ 20 Oklahoma State (89%)
8:00 CBSSN: 30 Xavier @ 41 Marquette (58%)
8:30 SECN: 27 South Carolina @ 60 Vanderbilt (48%)
Virginia @ North Carolina is certainly the marquee game of the night, but if you want to follow the bubble too, Xavier and South Carolina are the teams to pull for.
3:30 FS1: 52 Georgetown (20%) @ 23 Creighton
4:00 ESPNU: 101 Loyola-Chicago @ 47 Illinois State (79%)
6:30 ESPNU: 48 Syracuse @ 78 Georgia Tech (51%)
7:00 (NA): 28 Michigan @ 39 Minnesota (57%)
8:30 ESPNU: 50 Utah (86%) @ 279 Oregon State
On Sunday, root for Minnesota once again. I’m torn on the ACC game; will be a damaging loss for one of our fellow bubble teams either way. If Georgia Tech loses, their path to 9-9 looks shot, and our 8-10 should easily trump their’s. If Syracuse loses, a 1-5 finish becomes possible (if not likely). If only they could both lose.
7:00 ESPN: 35 Miami (16%) @ 3 Virginia
9:00 ESPNU: 26 Iowa State @ #37 Texas Tech (54%)
Simple rooting interests here — need Virginia to take care of business, and keep rooting for Iowa State to win these B12 coin flip games.
That’s all for now. I’ll be back with another update on Tuesday. Enjoy the games, and Go Deacs!