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NCAA Bubble Watch (2/29): Can Texas A&M grab a #4 seed?

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A comfortable victory at Mizzou keeps Texas A&M safely in the discussion for a top four seed in the Big Dance.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Updated: Monday February 29.

Next Update: Friday March 4

Moving Up: Seton Hall, Vanderbilt, Oregon St.

Moving Down: USC, Florida, George Washington

Locked Up: Duke, Indiana, Texas, Iowa State, Purdue, Baylor, Cal, Colorado

Eliminated: Arizona St., Kansas St., UCLA, BYU, Davidson, Washington

Bubble Teams by Conference

American
The AAC is the conference with the most bubble drama this year. While SMU is ineligible as the only top 25 team, the 2nd tier of the conference has 4 teams that are all hovering within 10 spots of the bubble burst line.
Locks: None
Bubble: Tulsa, UConn, Cincinnati Temple

Atlantic 10
The A10 is starting to give the AAC a run for its money in the bubble drama race. Until the last few weeks it looked like Dayton was an early lock but the Flyers have really stumbled and there really is not much separating any of the 5 bubble teams at this point.
Locks: None
Bubble: Dayton, George Washington, St. Joseph's, VCU, St. Bonaventure

ACC
The ACC has 4 easy locks and may have 2 or 3 more in the next week or so. FSU and GT really have a long way to go to get back in it.
Locks: UNC, Virginia, Miami, Duke
Bubble: Notre Dame, Pitt, Syracuse, Florida St. Georgia Tech

Big 12
Another great year for the Big 12, which is clearly the class of the country from top to bottom. 6 are in easily at this point and Texas Tech is really the only bubble team going into March.
Locks: Kansas, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Iowa State, Texas, Baylor
Bubble: Texas Tech

Big East
There isn't much to the Big East after Villanova and Xavier who both should be #1 or #2 seeds. The conference could add as many as 3 more teams from the 7th seed line on.
Locks: Villanova, Xavier
Bubble: Providence, Butler, Seton Hall

Big 10
Still plenty to figure out in terms of how many bids for the Big 10 in what most would describe as a down year for the league with a horrible bottom tier.
Locks: Iowa, Maryland, Michigan St., Purdue, Indiana
Bubble: Michigan, Indiana, Ohio St., Wisconsin

Pac 12
Cal and Colorado join the lock line as the 4th and 5th teams in. USC which has really faded and OSU who has really come on will probably be the 6th and 7th but there is still a lot to be determined.
Locks: Oregon, Utah, Arizona, Cal, Colorado
Bubble: USC, Stanford, Oregon St.

SEC
A&M and Kentucky are still alone on the lock line and may be the only 2 locks going into the SEC Tournament. That being said 6 bids is still a decent possibility if the 2nd tier of the conference can pull it together over the next 2 weeks.
Locks: Kentucky, Texas A&M
Bubble: Florida, South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Alabama, LSU

Non Power Conferences
There don't look to be too many bid thieves out there this year. There are a couple mid majors to keep an eye on (Monmouth, Wichita St., St. Mary's, Gonzaga, Arkansas-Little Rock). That said, none of them would be assured of an at large bid if they were to fail to win their conference's automatic bid.

Who's in? (Conference listed indicates projected auto bid)

Projected one bid leagues/automatic bids listed first. Then locks from multi-bid conferences. Teams are ranked from 1-N. This is not a ranking of how good teams are or how much of a threat they are for a deep tourney run, it is a measure of if the season ended today based on past selection committee behavior, who is in and who is out and how relatively safe teams are.

1. ACC (Virginia)
2. America East
3. Atlantic Sun
4. Big 12 (Oklahoma)
5. Big 10 (Maryland)
6. Big East (Villanova)
7. Big Sky
8. Big South
9. Big West
10. CAA
11. Conference USA
12. Horizon
13. Ivy
14. MAC
15. MEAC
16. MWC
17. NEC
18. OVC
19. Pac 12 (Oregon)
20. Patriot
21. SEC (Kentucky)
22. Southland
23. Southern
24. SWAC
25. Summit
26. Sun Belt
27. WAC

28. Iowa
29. Kansas
30. Xavier
31. North Carolina
32. Miami
33. Michigan St.
34. Utah
35. Arizona
36. West Virginia
37. Texas A&M Remember, once a team reaches lock status their position on this list is just a placeholder. After the game against Auburn a fairly defined floor to the A&M seed line will be clear and we should have more of an idea what a realistic ceiling is as well, and so within the next week I will develop the first look at seeding projections for the entire field of 68. As of right now I have Texas A&M as the last 4 seed with an absolute ceiling of a 2 if they win out and win the SEC tournament and get a little bit of help. An absolute floor of losing each of the last 2 regular season games and the first game of the SEC Tournament would probably be an 8 seed but that floor would go up quite a bit with a win at Auburn.
38. Duke
39. Indiana
40. Texas
41. Iowa State
42. Purdue
43. Baylor
44. Cal
45. Colorado

At large teams if listed with an italic conference this is the conferences auto bid projection.

35 teams fighting for 23 spots

46. Notre Dame (RPI 31: 19-9, 10-6) Got blown out by Florida State on Saturday to finish their 3 game road swing 1-2. If they could have gone at least 2-1 they would be a lock. Only 6 wins over the top 100 but several really high quality wins over UNC, Louisville, @Duke, and on a NC vs. Iowa. No bad losses on the season. Each of the next 2 are at home and they just need to win 1 more to make things official. (Next Up: 3/2 Miami)

47. Seton Hall (RPI 39: 19-7, 9-5) Won 7 of their last 8 against the bottom of the Big East and by far the biggest one was their last one over Xavier. They were also able to complete the season sweep of Providence and have a good OOC win over Wichita St. No losses outside of the top 100. With this winning streak they are on and the quality wins they have racked up if they can get just one more win they will punch their ticket. (Next Up: 3/2 @Butler)

48. Wisconsin (RPI 34: 18-10, 10-5) Wisconsin may be the hottest team in the country winning 10 of their last 11 games and during this stretch they have won @Iowa, @Maryland, and beaten Michigan St. and Indiana at home. They do have 4 troubling losses outside of the top 100 including one to 250+ Western Illinois but what they have done the last month or so plus OOC wins @Syracuse and over VCU and Wisconsin is in great shape. In fact they could potentially lose each of their remaining games and still sneak in, but winning 1 more would erase all doubt. (Next Up: 3/2 @Minnesota)

49. (Atlantic 10) Dayton (RPI 23: 22-6, 11-4) Dayton is really struggling now with their 3rd loss in 4 games, the latest to a sub 100 RPI Rhode Island team on Dayton's home court. It is still hard to see Dayton missing the tournament after starting 21-3 but it is starting to be fair to question if they really one of the 34 best at large profiles. They do have 5 top 50 wins, including OOC over Iowa, Monmouth, Alabama and Monmouth and in conference over St. Bonaventure and GW and good wins just outside of the top 50 over Vandy, William & Mary & Davidson so the quality W's are there, the record is there, the RPI is still there.but the recent struggles are also there and the bad losses are starting to have an effect. I am not sure if they can afford to lose each of their last 3 games. (Next Up: 3/1 @Richmond)

50. Texas Tech (RPI 24: 18-10, 8-8) Losing @Kansas is not a bad loss by any stretch of the imagination and is not going to affect Texas Tech's standing on the bubble. They do likely still need to win one of their last 2 however and it most likely will come down to their final game of the year hosting Kansas State. If they win that one they will finish .500 in the Big 12 and an impressive 10-2 OOC record which should be good enough. They have 6 top 50 wins including one over Oklahoma. (Next Up: 3/2 @West Virginia)

51. St. Joseph's (RPI 25: 23-5, 12-3) Good rebound from the loss @Davidson by blowing out UMass on the road and Saint Louis at home. They have a great record and only the 1 loss to Davidson outside of the top 50 but on the quality wins side there isn't much there other than the 1 very good win over Dayton. They are most likely in at this point even if they lose out but 1 more would make it a certainty. (Next Up: 3/2 @St. Bonaventure)

52. South Carolina (RPI 36: 22-6, 10-6) South Carolina took another bad loss at Mississippi State for their 3rd sub 100 loss in the last 8 games. That's not good folks. South Carolina is still pretty well positioned as the 3rd best SEC team but #4, 5 and potentially a 6th aren't far behind. They do have 22 wins, 4 of them over the top 50 and ultimately that should be good enough to put them through to the NCAA tournament, but they cannot afford to keep taking bad losses. They went undefeated OOC but their best wins were to Tulsa and Hofstra, which are nice but not anything special. (Next Up: 3/3 Georgia)

53. Pitt (RPI 44: 19-8, 9-7) Huge win over Duke for their biggest win on the year. The lack of big wins was the biggest question mark as this was just the 2nd top 50 win in addition to the win @Notre Dame. They also have a nice season sweep of Syracuse. The OOC slate was pretty uninteresting, lost to Purdue, won on a NC vs. Davidson. No losses outside of the top 100. (Next Up: 3/2 @Virginia Tech)

54. Syracuse (RPI 55, 19-10, 9-7) Syracuse got a nice win over NC State on Saturday to halt a 2 game losing streak to Louisville and Pitt. Big picture they have still won 9 of 12 and have 5 top 50 wins, so despite their RPI they are still in pretty good shape. They have one loss to St. John's (RPI 200+) which is really hurting them. Great wins on a NC vs. Texas A&M & UConn, @Duke and home against Notre Dame. Each of the last 2 is on the road and if they can find a way to go 1-1 they should be able to sneak in, otherwise they may have work to do in the ACC tournament. (Next Up: 2/29 @UNC)

55. Providence (RPI 43: 20-9, 8-8) Since the last update they have lost @Seton Hall and beat DePaul at home, so a couple of expected results, meaning their position hasn't changed much solidly in for now but still with a little work to do in order to secure their spot in the big dance. One more win would probably do it but 2 more would remove all doubt. They do have a huge win @ Villanova but really only one other quality win (vs. Arizona) and 3 losses outside of the top 100. (Next Up: 3/2 Creighton)

56. (American) UConn (RPI 42, 20-9, 11-6) 3-3 in their last 6 has not allowed UConn to get any distance from the bubble, even though this stretch has included a win over SMU and a season split over Tulsa. Getting swept by Cincinnati and Temple hurts a lot though especially if UConn happens to drop a 3rd game to one of them in the tournament as it would be tough to get the nod over them at that point. In addition to beating SMU they do have 2 other pretty good wins at Texas, and on a NC vs. Michigan and no terrible losses. Another game @SMU coming up and a win there would pretty much punch their ticket to the Big Dance. (Next Up: 3/3 @SMU)

57. Oregon St. (RPI 27: 15-10, 8-8) Got both of the must wins at home this week vs. the Washington schools to get back to .500 in conference. The Beavers are firmly planted as the 7th team out of the Pac 12 and with how strong the conference is there isn't any reason they shouldn't get 7 in. OSU has the #2 SOS in the country, 6 wins vs. the top 50 (5 vs. the top 30 all in conference). Only one good OOC win over Tulsa but no sub 100 losses. If they can just win one of their last 2 on a road swing to LA they should feel pretty good about their chances. (Next Up: 3/2 @USC)

58. USC (RPI 35: 19-9, 8-7) USC got waxed for the 5th time in their last 6 games as they may be the team limping into the tournament more than any other team. That is of course if they can win at least one more to secure their place in the tournament at all. That may be easier said than done as they will be an underdog to Oregon and Oregon State will be fired up to play USC given they are still fighting for their own tournament bid. They do have a handful of decent wins over Colorado, Arizona, Monmouth, winning on a NC vs. Wichita St. and sweeping UCLA but still zero top 25 wins. (Next Up: 3/2 Oregon State)

59. St. Bonaventure (RPI 32: 20-7, 11-4) It wasn't pretty but they survived over UMass for their 8th win in 9 games and the streak does include wins @Dayton and @St. Bonaventure which muddies the waters for who is the best team in the A10. They still have only 6 top 100 wins and 2 sub 150 losses that are really hurting them but with a weak bubble and a lack of mid majors swallowing up bids they look like they may be able to sneak in if they can just avoid bad losses down the stretch. This is one team that I have significantly higher than many other national sites, however I see their profile as being very similar to these other teams around them. They will be able to prove they belong in their next game by sweeping St. Joseph's. (Next Up: 3/4 St. Joseph's)

60. (Missouri Valley)Wichita St. (RPI 40: 22-7, 16-2) WSU just keeps winning games and taking advantage of a weak bubble to rise in their projected outlook. They still will be sweating it out a little bit if they are not able to win the MVC Tournament but at this point it looks like they will probably be able to survive a loss and still sneak in as an at large, although it may be as a last 4 in situation. WSU only has 3 wins over the top 100 (Utah and Evansville twice). They did challenge themselves in OOC but lost 4 in a row to average competition vs. Tulsa, USC, Bama & Iowa). (Next Up: 3/4 MVC Quarterfinals vs. Loyola/Bradley)

61. Florida (RPI 46: 17-12, 8-8) The gators are officially in trouble after losing their 3rd straight game and seeing their RPI drop about 25 spots. They still have just 2 wins in the top 50, both OOC (@St. Joseph's & West Virginia). Only 1 really bad loss on the year @Tennessee, but sooner or later to get into the NCAA tournament don't you have to beat a good team in your conference? They have their shot up next against Kentucky, if they lose that game their 4th straight and 13th of the season then there will be lots of work to do in the SEC tournament. (Up: 3/1 Kentucky)

62. Cincinnati (RPI 52: 21-8, 11-5) Got the must win against ECU to stay in the field of 68. They have another must win coming up @Houston unless they plan on knocking off SMU in the season finale. 6-7 vs. the top 100, just about every metric you look at screams bubble team. Hard to see them NOT being one of the last 4 in or first 4 out. Still no top 30 wins although they do have 3 top 50 wins (Next Up: 3/3 @Houston)

63. Vanderbilt (RPI 48: 18-11, 10-7) Lots of analysts counted Vanderbilt out after losing to Mississippi State 2 weeks ago. 3 wins later and I think it is safe to say Vanderbilt is in the tournament if it started today and may even have an argument for being the 4th team out of the SEC ahead of Florida since they did sweep them and have more quality wins and a better SEC record. Problem for them is the season does not end today and they still have some tough games ahead of them to stay where they are (or potentially improve it). Still only 7 top 100 wins (7-9 vs. top 100) with 2 losses outside of the top 100. Vandy did nothing OOC which is troubling with a best win vs. Wake Forest on a NC and after that perhaps the Stony Brook win. If they can beat Tennessee and they should at home, they may not even need to beat A&M so long as they do not flame out in the SEC Tournament. (Next Up: 3/1 Tennessee)

64. Tulsa (RPI 38: 19-9, 11-5) Lost to Memphis on Saturday to halt their 3 game winning streak and move them back to right smack on the bubble again. They do have a season split vs. Temple, Cincy, UConn and SMU as well as beating Wichita St. OOC so lots of data points to compare them against other similarly situated competition. Trouble is, all the data at this point shows that they are somewhere between the 32nd-36th best at large profile right now and things could still go either way on Selection Sunday. Absolutely must win game to finish the season and then they probably need a win or 2 in the conference tournament also. (Next Up: 3/5 USF)

65. Alabama (RPI 49: 17-11, 8-8) Stopped the bleeding of a 2 game losing streak by getting a home win against Auburn. That's nice but beating Auburn doesn't get you NCAA tournament bids. They really need to win each of their last 2 to feel good about their chances of an at large. Winning 1 of 2 may be ok but they would need to do major damage in the SEC Tournament. Alabama did decent in OOC with wins vs. Wichita St., Notre Dame and at Clemson, and also has a win over South Carolina but the overall record as well as conference record will raise a lot of questions in the committee room. (Next Up: 3/2 Arkansas)

66. (MAAC) Monmouth (RPI 53: 24-6, 15-3) Monmouth won their last 3 and 11 of their last 12 to still have an outside shot at an at large bid if they do fail to win their conference tournament. Monmouth only played 1 home game before January and went on the road to win some tough games at UCLA and Georgetown as well as on a NC vs. USC and Notre Dame. That kind of scheduling and then getting the result is going to go a long way in that committee room but at the same time several of those wins have lost a lot of luster and Monmouth just hasn't taken care of business in conference. Iona is now their 4th loss to a sub 100 team of the season and their previous 3 are all to RPI 200+ against Army, Canisius and Manhattan. Any loss in the MAAC tournament would be a 5th bad loss so they would be doing a lot of sweating and if I had to guess at this point, would probably land them in the NIT. (Next Up: 3/5 MAAC Quarterfinals Rider/Quinnipiac)

67. Butler (RPI 56: 19-9, 8-8) Butler got the close to a must win by surviving in overtime over Georgetown. Still only 2 wins over the top 50 wins over Purdue and @Seton Hall. Only 1 sub 100 loss. A very blah resume and the RPI, conference record and lack of signature wins would give the committee every reason to leave them out at this point. They finish with 2 more at home and each will be good measuring sticks for where they are. 2-0 should put them solidly in, 1-1 and it will depend on the tournament and 0-2 may put them at auto bid or bust. (Next Up: 3/2 Seton Hall)

68. (WCC) St. Mary's (RPI 54: 23-4, 15-3) St. Mary's has won 5 straight to get a WCC team back in the field of 68 headed into March. The season sweep of Gonzaga is nice and it makes St. Mary's the best at large candidate but with zero top 50 wins and no wins vs. any other tournament team it is going to tough to argue that they were unfairly left out if they can't win the WCC Tournament. The 2 losses to Pepperdine are really killing them. 1 more must win coming up to end the regular season. (Next Up: 3/1 Grand Canyon)

-------The Bubble Bursts Here------------

69. Virginia Commonwealth (RPI 45: 21-8, 13-3) Got a critical win @George Washington on Saturday to move slightly ahead of them in the A10 pecking order. Still only 2 top 50 wins and 2 losses to sub 150 RPI teams. 6-6 vs. the RPI top 100. 2 more tough games to end the year which makes their game vs. Davidson at home this week pretty much must win. (Next Up: 3/2 Davidson)

70. (Sun Belt) Arkansas Little Rock (RPI 37: 24-3, 16-2) Another low major with a gaudy record but no meat behind it. Won @SDSU and @Tulsa but the 3rd best win is @UTA. So in other wordsthey may not have beaten any tournament teams when it is all said and done. 2 really bad sub 150 losses. Win out until the final and if everyone else losesthen they probably still wouldn't make it. Still, with the record and RPI where it is they are worth keeping an eye on and hopefully for bubble teams they take care of business in their tournament. (Next Up: 3/1 Arkansas St.)

71. Temple (RPI 60: 18-10, 12-5) 4 top 50 wins, but they are only 7-8 vs. the top 150 with 2 really bad losses outside of the top 150. They are really hanging their hat on what they have done against the top tier of the conference beating SMU and sweeping both UConn and Cincinnati. They finish the year with 2 more against sup 150 RPI competition and they really need to win both to just hang on to the positioning they are in now. (Next Up: 3/3 Memphis)

72. George Washington (RPI 58: 21-8, 10-6) Really needed to beat VCU this weekend to stake their claim as the definitive 4th team out of the A10 and have a good chance at an at large. As of now they still have only 2 wins vs. the top 50 and 5 vs. the top 100 so there is very little margin for error remaining as they head into the homestretch. (Next Up: 3/1 George Mason)

73. Michigan (RPI 50: 19-10, 10-7) Michigan has lost 3 of their last 4 and is fading fast at the wrong time. 3 top 25 wins this season over Purdue, Maryland and against Texas on a NC. The problem is they don't have any other top 100 wins after that. No bad losses but being 3-10 vs. the RPI top 100 is a metric that is a huge red flag and suggests Michigan is not a tournament team as the bubble shrinks in March as it always does. If they can beat Iowa in the regular season finale they would move back into the field of 68 going into the Big 10 tournament where they may need another win there to keep their spot. (Next Up: 3/5 Iowa)

74. Florida St. (RPI 68: 17-12, 7-10) Florida State had looked terrible for most of February with 5 really bad losses in a row and then came the blowout win over Notre Dame to put them back into the at large discussion. They are still just 7-10 in conference so the last game against Syracuse and then making some noise in the conference tournament are still an absolute must. Their win against Florida has lost a lot of luster but the win over Virginia still looks good. Still only 5 top 00 wins. (Next Up: 3/5 Syracuse)

75. (Horizon) Valparaiso (RPI: 51: 23-5, 15-2) Won 15 out of 17 to end the regular season but it is probably too little, too late with both of their losses during that streak to Wright State who isn't terrible but at an RPI of 150+ still qualifies as 2 bad losses. They also have a horrible OOC loss to Ball St. and other than beating Oregon St. in OOC there probably is not enough meat to justify the bad losses and poor RPI. With the Horizon setup they will get a double bye all the way to the Conference semifinals so they only need to win 2 games to secure the automatic bid. (Next Up: 3/12 Horizon Semis TBD)

76. Gonzaga (RPI 65: 22-7, 15-3) A nice win @BYU to eliminate them but Gonzaga is still without a doubt behind St. Mary's who beat them twice. This hasn't been much of an interesting resume outside of the Battle4Atlantis where they lost to Texas A&M and won vs. Washington and UConn. If they win out and get to the WCC final it probably still is not enough but they would at least get into the discussion as one of the teams barely left out. Almost certainly needs the auto bid at this point. (Next Up: 3/5 Portland)

77. (Mountain West) San Diego St. (RPI 59: 19-8, 14-2) After the Aztecs lost on their home floor to Boise St. they almost certainly need to win their conference tournament at this point. Only 1 win vs a top 80 RPI team (California). Bad losses to San Diego and Grand Canyon. (Next Up: 3/1 New Mexico)

78. Ohio St. (RPI 78: 19-11, 11-6) OSU beat Iowa on Sunday in order to stay in contention for an at large. That is their second really high quality win of the season and their first since December over Kentucky. Still only 3 top 100 wins so they still need to get their highest quality win of the season in their next and last game coming up @Michigan State. That may be asking a lot but with their RPI and lack of quality wins it is a must if they want to be in the conversation going into the conference tournament. Bad back to back losses to La Tech and Memphis and 11 losses already. (Next Up: 3/5 @Michigan State)

79. Georgia Tech (RPI 71: 17-12, 7-9) Won 4 including against @Florida State, Notre Dame and Clemson. Still need to continue to win out in order to have any chance at all. Beat VCU and Virginia. (Next Up: 3/1 @Louisville)

80. Stanford (RPI 64: 14-12, 8-8) Won 4 of their last 5 to stay in the discussion as a fringe bubble candidate. Still in must win mode and if they can win each of their last 2 to finish 10-8 in conference with wins over Utah, @Arizona, Oregon, Cal, @Oregon St., USC they would absolutely be deserving to be in the conversation going into the Pac 12 tournament despite the overall record. Best OOC win was on a NC vs. Arkansas. (Next Up: 3/3 @Arizona St.)

81. LSU (RPI 84: 17-12, 10-6) Beat Florida on Saturday to stop the 3 game losing streak and stay on this page. After the must win against Missouri on deck they have a big opportunity to rise up the RPI if they can knock off Kentucky on the road and potentially would be able to get a share of the SEC regular season crown by doing so. It is still a very outside shot but if they could do that and then make noise in the SEC tournament an at large is not entirely out of the question. LSU is just 11-12 vs. the RPI top 150 and has a stunning 6 losses to teams outside of the top 100. Their best OOC win is Oral Roberts. (Next Up: 3/1 Missouri)