It appears if Cal basketball is going to make the NCAA tournament, they will have to surprise all the prognasticators. Bracket Matrix does not have Cal in its First Four Out on Saturday.
A quick look at their team sheet:
The California Golden Bears (21-12, RPI 55, 1-8 against RPI top 50): If any factor is going to get Cal into the NCAA tournament, it’s their RPI, which is one of the best among all the bubble squads.
If there’s any factor that disqualifies them, it’s their lack of resume wins, which currently consists of USC (Princeton has hovered around the RPI top 50 but currently sits at 51st). Cal is going to look back on winnable games against Arizona (twice), Oregon (twice), Virginia, Seton Hall, and ponder what their season would have been like if they’d won even two of those games.
Here’s a look at the team sheet the Selection Committee will look at on Sunday (this was before the Oregon loss on Friday).
Here's what the Golden Bears' team sheet looked like entering today. pic.twitter.com/p1IQKLKyq5— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) March 11, 2017
Here are the bubble teams that are currently garnering a consensus (or jostling) to make the field of 68 with Cal.
Safest teams in
Seton Hall Pirates (21-11, RPI 40): Wins over Butler and Creighton have Seton Hall safely in. Who would have thought a narrow win over Cal in Pearl Harbor could be such a critical bracket buster?
USC Trojans (24-9, RPI 43): USC might have a much better record than Cal and other bubble squads, but they’re still facing the bubble for a 6th place finish in a pretty meek Pac-12. They do have two marquee wins though—beating a top-5 UCLA team, and beating SMU in November. Those wins should be enough to bump them up over Cal, despite Cal winning the head-to-head.
Providence Friars (20-12, RPI 57): Bracket Matrix has Providence safely in as an 11 seed, thanks in large part to beating Butler (RPI 14) and Xavier (RPI 34) and winning their final six regular season games. Again, Cal has a better record but is done in by the lack of quality wins and the clumsy finish to the season.
Big win resumes
Michigan State Spartans (19-14, RPI 50): Five RPI top 50 wins probably put Sparty in. But man, they have not been impressive at all, going 10-8 in the B1G and losing practically every road game they’ve played this season.
Vanderbilt Commodores (19-14, RPI 33): It’s going to be frustrating for most squads to hear Vanderbilt’s name to be called on Sunday, but they matched up well against top ten Florida three times, beat them three times and should get in safely thanks to those three victories.
Vanderbilt was 12-13 in mid-February. Cal was 18-6. Frustrating.
Marquette Eagles (19-12, RPI 59): Marquette’s claim to fame is handing Villanova their second loss and sweeping Creighton and Xavier. They also finished 10-8 in the Big East and were bounced in the first round of a tournament they needed wins in. It’s going to be close.
Xavier Musketeeers (21-13, RPI 34): Xavier lost SIX GAMES IN A ROW in February. They finished with nine losses in conference play. But they beat Butler, Creighton, and Wake Forest as well. Will that be enough?
Win and in. Or...
Rhode Island Rams (22-9, RPI 40): Rhode Island can erase all doubt by winning the automatic Atlantic 10 bid tomorrow. They are currently relying on two wins: VCU (RPI 22) and Cincinnati (RPI 12). Extremely good, but it might not enough given the overall strength of the Atlantic 10 schedule.
Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders (29-4, RPI 36): You can practically punch in MTSU’s ticket, as they play a Marshall team they beat by double digits twice in the regular season for the Conference USA automatic bid. Cal needs to root hard for the Thundering Herd tonight and hopefully open up another potential bid.
On the bubble.
Kansas State Wildcats (20-12, RPI 58): Kansas State has a lower RPI than Cal, but their resume is slightly better. They’ve beaten a top 10 Baylor squad twice (including once last night) and a top 25-caliber West Virginia team once, and have generally been competitive in all their losses (Cal has an awful blowout losses against Utah in the final week of the season they would LOVE to have back). Cal vs. Kansas State might be the battle we have to watch on Selection Sunday.
Here's what the Wildcats' team sheet looked like coming into today. pic.twitter.com/6wIqq5uAUH— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) March 11, 2017
Wake Forest Demon Deacons (19-13, RPI 39): Wake Forest is essentially the Cal of the ACC. One (admittedly awesome) resume win against Louisville, fairly standard results elsewhere. They’ve beaten whom they were supposed to beat and lost to whom they were supposed to lose to.
Syracuse Orange (18-14, RPI 85): Few things would anger me more than this mess of an Orange team raising up to take the final bid. Syracuse might have a 6-8 record against RPI top 50 opposition, including wins over Virginia and Duke. They’ve also lost to Georgia Tech (RPI 105), UConn (RPI 114), St. John’s (RPI 138), Boston College (RPI 217). Hard turn right.
Houston Cougars (21-10, RPI 54): The team with a resume most like Cal’s is probably not going to dance. Houston has two major wins against Vermont and Rhode Island. A first round loss to UConn in the tourney probably killed them.
Illinois St. Redbirds (27-6, RPI 32): The Redbirds have one marquee win: Beating Wichita State at home. But they lost by a combined 61 points in the next two meetings and have no other top 100 wins on their resume. Feels like they’ll come up short here.
Illinois Fighting Illini (18-14, RPI 62): Didn’t Illinois just fire their coach? They went 8-10 in the Big Ten and is only in this discussion thanks to a sweep of Northwestern and a win over Michigan.
Georgia Bulldogs (19-14, RPI 52): Georgia has the win over Vanderbilt...and that’s about it. Feels like an NIT 1-2 seed here.
Iowa Hawkeyes (18-14, RPI 80): Iowa’s claim is wins over Wisconsin, Iowa State, Michigan and Purdue. Their disqualification is being swept by Illinois, losing to Nebraska and Nebraska (Omaha), and being blown out a lot (six double digit losses in conference play, including losses by 22, 35, and 22).