Well, that did not go the way we wanted last night. It’s done now, so lets focus on what’s ahead for Wake Forest basketball.
Big Picture for Wake Forest
This is what I posted before the Pittsburgh game:
5+ wins: We’re dancing
4 wins: Great shape
3 wins: ????
2 wins: Longshot
1 win: Start following NIT bracketology
0 wins: Yikes
We won four (Pittsburgh, Louisville, Virginia Tech, Boston College), putting us in the “Great shape” category. I stand by that assessment. I’ll have a full article coming out on this later, stay tuned.
While I do feel quite confident about our chances, it is not a done deal. I believe we are safely in right now, but the bubble is fluid, and a lot can happen over the next three days. What if MTSU loses in their conference tournament, Kansas State beats Baylor, Rhode Island beats Dayton and UCF wins the AAC? Again, Wake Forest results don’t happen in a vacuum, and the landscape can change quickly. Even if those results don’t materialize, the bubble is worth following because we are currently on the “First Four” bubble. So let’s get right to yesterday’s recap and today’s rooting guide.
Wednesday Bubble Recap
Bubble teams who were supposed to win, and won:
California (vs. Oregon State)
TCU (vs. Oklahoma)
Xavier (vs. DePaul)
USC (vs. Washington)
None of these wins are important on their own, but they do matter in that they give this group of teams a shot at a bigger win today. Notably, TCU now faces Kansas while the Jayhawks’ star Josh Jackson is suspended.
Bubble teams who were supposed to lose, and lost:
Syracuse (vs. Miami)
Clemson (vs. Duke)
It was a rough day for ACC bubble teams. Clemson joins Georgia Tech, now undoubtedly out of the conversation. Syracuse is a much more interesting case. The ESPN talking heads seemed confident that the Orange would still earn an at-large, but I’m not so sure. If I was a Syracuse fan, I’d be pressing the panic button right now.
Bubble teams landing upset victories:
Bubble teams suffering upset losses:
Wake Forest (vs. Virginia Tech)
Ohio State (vs. Rutgers)
Texas Tech (vs. Texas)
Outside the ACC, two more fringe bubble teams played their way out of contention yesterday. The focus in Columbus now turns fully to the Thad Matta situation. In Lubbock, the Red Raiders should be one of the favorites in the NIT.
Finally, in conference championship news, congratulations to Bucknell for capturing the Patriot League title. The Bison are a solid top 100 RPI win for Wake, and project as a 13 or 14 seed.
Thursday Bubble Schedule
12:00 BTN: #67 Illinois (30%) vs. #25 Michigan
12:30 (NA): #252 UTSA vs. #52 MTSU (89%)
1:00 SECN: #61 Tennessee vs. #55 Georgia (52%)
2:30 ESPN2: #38 TCU (19%) vs. #9 Kansas
2:30 FS1: #54 Seton Hall vs. #28 Marquette (62%)
3:00 CBSSN: #132 Utah State vs. #56 Nevada (73%)
3:25 SECN: #86 Mississippi State vs. #64 Alabama (60%)
5:30 P12: #58 California vs. #43 Utah (56%)
6:30 ESPN2: #46 Indiana (58%) vs. #66 Iowa
7:00 SECN: #60 Texas A&M vs. #40 Vanderbilt (63%)
7:00 FS1: #44 Xavier (35%) vs. #23 Butler
9:00 ESPNU: #32 Kansas State (30%) vs. #11 Baylor
9:30 FS1: #27 Creighton vs. #53 Providence (35%)
11:30 ESPN: #62 USC (21%) vs. #16 UCLA
*Note that most of these start times are essentially estimates, and conference tournaments invariably run late
Teams to root for, in tiers of importance:
Teams to root against, in tiers of importance:
That outline should about cover it, its a pretty standard formula. We root against all the bubble teams, particularly ones with opportunities for marquee wins (Kansas State, Xavier, USC), and we root for a couple of mid-major one seeds to take care of business.
Also, note that the four ACC Tournament quarterfinal games in Brooklyn didn’t make the bubble rundown as I believe all eight are safely dancing. Wins by Miami and Virginia Tech would make the value of our wins appreciate slightly.
We’ve also got three more conference tournaments tipping off, including a key one to watch. Out west, the WAC and the Big West tournaments get started with seven and eight-team tournaments, respectively. New Mexico State is the Kenpom favorite in the WAC, despite being the #2 seed and needing to win an extra game compared to the 1-seed, Cal State Bakersfield (thanks to the seven team format as Grand Canyon is still not eligible). The Matrix likes Bakersfield as a 14 seed. In the Big West, UC-Irvine is the clear favorite, checking in as a 15 seed in the Matrix. Both of these leagues will be one-bid leagues, and are not bubble relevant.
More importantly for Wake fans, the AAC also gets underway today. The top two seeds — SMU and Cincinnati — are safely in the field. Houston, the three seed, is on the outside of the bubble discussion. The rest of the league will need the automatic bid most certainly. Kenpom puts SMU and Cincinnati’s odds at a combined 80%, meaning there is a 20% chance of a bid thief here. This tournament will be worth following closely in the later rounds.
That’s all for now, but rest assured there is plenty more Wake Forest / bubble coverage coming soon. Enjoy another great day of college basketball action and Go Deacs!