After more hot number-crunching action at the Chateau Bracket, I've made a few changes to my Last Five In and First Four Out before the selection show at 6 p.m. ET. This is the last Bubble Watch update for this season.
Last Five In
California (23-10; 13-5 Pac-10; RPI: 20; Non-conf. RPI: 10): The Golden Bears remain here after Saturday's loss in the Pac-10 final to Washington.
Minnesota (21-12; 9-9 Big Ten; RPI: 59; Non-conf. RPI: 60): The Golden Gophers are in whether they win or lose to Ohio State in the Big Ten final.
Virginia Tech (23-8; 10-6 ACC; RPI: 58; Non-conf. RPI: 92): The Hokies played the toughest part of their schedule late, and they won three of the five games against the RPI Top 50 they played in their last 12. Sure, the Hokies' non-conference schedule left much to be desired, but they did go 3-4 against teams who would have made the field without an automatic bid. That's more wins than any of their competitiors.
Utah State (26-7; 14-2 WAC; RPI: 30; Non-conf. RPI: 56): Looking deeper at the Aggies' resume, they could very well be out. Even though they own a 10-6 road/neutral record, the best of the 10 wins is against Weber State. Their profile is very similar to UTEP's (finished well, won a weaker conference), but Utah State stays in because they have a marquee non-conference win over a team in the field, BYU, something their Conference USA bubble rival doesn't own.
Florida (21-12; 9-7 SEC: RPI: 56: Non-conf. RPI: 75): Certainly, the Gators didn't finish well, but they have better non-conference wins than others in this group (Michigan State, Florida State) and there was a legitimate attempt to upgrade that part of the schedule. Florida gets the nod over Mississippi State because of fewer bad losses and a slighly higher level of quality in their nine SEC wins compared to the Bulldogs.
First Four Out
Mississippi State (23-10; 9-7 SEC; RPI: 54; Non-conf. RPI: 69): The Bulldogs came within one-tenth of a second of being in and rendering much of this discussion moot. Then DeMarcus Cousins tied the SEC Championship game at the buzzer and Kentucky won. Mississippi State seems to make a habit of coming alive in the conference tournament, but they needed to do so a bit earlier this season. Nine wins in the weaker SEC West and non-conference setbacks to Western Kentucky and Rider aren't selling points. The non-league wins aren't dazzling either, as Old Dominion (good) and UCLA (not so good) are the two best.
UTEP (26-26; 15-1 C-USA); RPI: 38; Non-conf. RPI: 135): Like Utah State, there isn't really all that much to the Miners' resume. They have an 0-1 record against teams who would be in the field without an at-large, thanks to a home loss to BYU. Their record improves to 2-4 if you add in a 1-2 record against Houston and a split with New Mexico State. The Miners' 11-4 road/neutral record is gaudy, but the best three wins are against UAB and Memphis (both out) and New Mexico State (auto bid) with the losses coming at the hands of Ole Miss (out), Texas Tech (out), and two at the hands of Houston. If the Miners' fall out, it will be reason No. 576, 287 to not listen to the polls, who currently have them 25th and 21st.
Illinois (18-14; 10-6 Big Ten; RPI: 70; Non-conf. RPI: 121): No team had more chances to put themselves in than the Illini, as they went 5-9 against teams in the field without an auto bid (6-10 if you count bubble team Minnesota and SoCon champ Wofford). A 7-10 neutral record, including disappointing losses to Georgia, Bradley, Utah and Northwestern doesn't help matters either. The Illini can play like a Tournament team, but they weren't consistent enough through the season, considering their opportunities.
William & Mary (21-10; 12-6 CAA; RPI: 57; Non-conf. RPI: 12): The Tribe has been off since losing the CAA final on Monday, so they haven't had a chance to better their chances. They own good wins over Maryland, Wake Forest and Richmond, and bad losses to James Madison, Towson and UNC Wilmington. Like Illinois and Mississippi State, the blemishes may be too much to ignore.