At a time when bubble teams look to sharpen their resumes, fence-sitters in the Big 12 and Southeastern Conference did just the opposite last weekend.
Baylor’s home loss to Kansas State, Tennessee’s defeat at Georgia, Mississippi somehow losing to Mississippi State and Iowa State’s decisive loss at Oklahoma were blown chances, as were Kentucky’s loss at Arkansas and Alabama’s setback at Florida.
“No question you have to win games this time of year,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said Monday during the Big 12 coaches’ teleconference. “But we have opportunities. And as long as you have opportunities you have to take advantage of them.”
That’s an advantage for Big 12 bubble teams over this final week of the regular season. Iowa State and Baylor have resume-building chances with the Cyclones playing host to No. 13 Oklahoma State on Wednesday and Baylor entertaining No. 4 Kansas on Saturday. Winning those games would create the upward mobility in some of the metrics coveted by the selection committee, victories over RPI top 50 teams and a good late impression.
SEC bubble teams also get some chances Saturday when Kentucky plays host to Florida and Tennessee plays host to Missouri. At the moment, the best guess is only the Gators and Tigers are in the NCAA field.
But the problem for the SEC all season has been a lack of quality teams at the top. Bubble teams play each other and nobody pulls away. The victories aren’t overly impressive, especially when they don’t happen on the road.
The Crimson Tide blew a great opportunity at Florida, leading the Gators by eight in the second half, but couldn’t hold on and lost for the second time in three games.
Conference tournaments and the chance to collect credentials at neutral sites — Big 12 at the Sprint Center and SEC in Nashville, Tenn. — also await. After that, it’s up to the section committee.
Here’s a breakdown of the top bubble teams in the Big 12 and SEC with an in-or-out projection:
•Alabama (19-10, 0-4 vs. RPI top 50):
The Tide needed to beat Florida. They’re hurt by meeting the Gators, Missouri and Kentucky only once in the regular season. Out.
•Baylor (17-12, 1-8 vs. RPI top 50):
Bears need to beat Kansas or make a big run in Big 12 Tournament. Out.
•Iowa State (19-10, 2-8 vs. RPI top 50):
The controversial home loss to KU will be considered, and Cyclones have victories over K-State and Oklahoma. In.
•Kentucky (20-9, 0-3 vs. RPI top 25):
The young Wildcats couldn’t beat any of the heavyweights on the slate, Duke, Louisville or Notre Dame. Next chance is Florida on Saturday. In.
•Mississippi (21-8, 1-2 vs. RPI top 50):
Cannot lose to Mississippi State as a bubble team late in the season. Out.
•Tennessee (17-11, 2-3 vs. RPI top 50):
Great win over Florida, bad loss at Georgia. It may come down to beating Missouri at home on Saturday. In.Two quotes
• “When you’re in a power conference you can’t have a bad day. When you have a bad day you’re going to lose.”| West Virginia coach Bob Huggins
• “We haven’t lost (momentum), we just lost a game at Georgia.”| Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin Double bonus top 10
|Team (prev. rank)||Overall||Conf.||Last wk.||RPI|
|1. Kansas (2)||25-4||13-3||2-0||4|
|2. Kansas State (3)||24-5||13-3||2-0||18|
|3. Florida (1)||23-5||13-3||1-1||6|
|4. Oklahoma State (4)||22-6||12-4||2-0||25|
|5. Oklahoma (6)||19-9||10-6||2-0||22|
|6. Missouri (7)||21-8||10-6||2-0||33|
|7. Iowa State (5)||19-10||9-7||0-2||53|
|8. Tennessee (10)||17-11||9-7||1-1||56|
|9. Kentucky (9)||20-9||11-5||1-1||51|
|10. Alabama (8)||19-10||11-5||1-1||60|
Records and unofficial RPI through SundayProjected top four NCAA Tournament seeds
|Midwest Regional||East Regional||West Regional||South Regional|
|Indianapolis||Washington, D.C.||Los Angeles||Arlington, Texas|
|1.||Indiana (Dayton)||Duke (Philadelphia)||Gonzaga (Salt Lake City)||Georgetown (Philadelphia)|
|2.||New Mexico (Austin, Texas)||Louisville (Lexington, Ky.)||Miami, Fla. (Lexington, Ky.)||Kansas (Sprint Center)|
|3.||Florida (Dayton, Ohio)||Michigan State (Auburn Hills, Mich.)||UCLA (San Jose, Calif.)||Michigan (Auburn Hills, Mich.)|
|4.||Kansas State (Sprint Center)||Saint Louis (Austin, Texas)||Marquette (San Jose, Calif.)||Arizona (Salt Lake City)|
Second- and third-round sites in parentheses