Bracketology Bubble Watch: Last four in, first four out on Friday morning

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Thursday's conference tournament action redefined the bubble once again. Here's a more detailed look at Chris Dobbertean's last four in and first four out for Friday's bracketology. SB Nation's GIF Tournament V

For more, check out today's full edition of Bracketology.

Just Avoiding Dayton: Nebraska Cornhuskers, SMU Mustangs, St. Joseph's Hawks, Dayton Flyers

Last Four IN

Xavier Musketeers

Vitals: 21-11, 10-8 Big East; RPI rank: 52; SOS rank: 61; Non-conf. SOS rank: 162

Next game: Friday vs. Creighton in the Big East semifinals

Pluses: The Musketeers have a quartet of victories over the Top 50, though all of those came at or near home (Creighton, Cincinnati (neutral-site), Providence and Tennessee). Plus, a 9-8 mark against the Top 100 is respectable.


Minuses: While Xavier was able to defeat Tennessee at home during the Tip-Off Marathon, the Volunteers got their revenge in the Battle 4 Atlantis 17 days later with a 15-point win. The Musketeers also lost to Iowa and -- most damagingly -- USC in the Bahamas. A 4-6 record in true road games is not helpful, neither is a sweep suffered at the hands of Seton Hall. Combine those losses to the Pirates with the one to the Trojans and that's three defeats from outside of the Top 100. While Chris Mack's team did defeat St. John's twice, it split with Providence and Georgetown, and went 2-1 against Marquette.

Tennessee Volunteers

Vitals: 20-11, 11-7 SEC; RPI rank: 46; SOS rank: 21; Non-conf. SOS rank: 39

Next game: Friday vs. South Carolina in the SEC quarterfinals

Pluses: Once again, the Volunteers find themselves on the bubble, thanks to a 7-7 record against the RPI Top 100, bolstered by a pair of Top 50 wins. The standout of the pair is a 35-point demolition of Virginia on December 30th, while the other is last Saturday's rout of fellow bubble team Missouri. Tennessee split with Xavier, dominating the pair's second meeting in the Bahamas. Additionally, the Vols have potentially tiebreaking wins over fellow bubble teams Arkansas and LSU.

Minuses: Texas A&M swept Tennessee, though the games were decided by a total of four points. An opening day loss in the Battle 4 Atlantis to UTEP dropped the Volunteers into the losers' bracket, where they were unable to challenge themselves against the likes of Kansas, Iowa and Villanova. Plus, Tennessee lost at home to N.C. State, a team that's pretty far down the bubble pecking order right now. A 6-8 record in games away from Knoxville also damages the case for Cuonzo Martin's squad.

Providence Friars

Vitals: 21-11, 10-8 Big East; RPI rank: 49; SOS rank: 62; Non-conf. SOS rank: 186

Next game: Friday vs. Seton Hall in the Big East semifinals

Pluses: The biggest thing working in the Friars' favor is a relative lack of bad losses. So far, Providence has just one loss to a team from outside of the Top 100, a one-point home loss to Seton Hall (oddly enough, their Friday opponent) in their Big East opener. That's helpful because Ed Cooley's team is really hanging its case on a home win over Creighton -- its lone victory over a Top 50 opponent -- and a whole bunch of splits against fellow Big East bubble teams. However, after Thursday's quarterfinal win, at least Providence has two wins over St. John's, with both coming on the road.

Minuses: With so many splits in the conference and a 1-5 record against the RPI Top 50, it's clear the Friars missed a lot of opportunities during the season. Also, an 8-8 record away from the Dunkin' Donuts Center is not ideal.

BYU Cougars

Vitals: 23-11, 13-5 WCC; RPI rank: 35; SOS rank: 34; Non-conf. SOS rank: 9

Next game: None

Pluses: Based on their computer numbers alone, the Cougars should be in. A trio of Top 50 wins, with two coming away from Provo out of conference (Texas in Kansas City and Stanford in Palo Alto) certainly help. An 8-7 record against the Top 100 is also stacks up nicely against the bubble competition.

Higher Education

Minuses: For starters, guard Kyle Collinsworth is out for the remainder of the season with a torn ACL suffered in the Cougars' WCC final loss to Gonzaga. Since the Selection Committee is evaluating teams based on the rosters that will appear in the Tournament, that doesn't bode well for BYU's hopes, particularly since the squad didn't look so great with Collinsworth absent. Also, the Cougars lost four conference road games to teams ranked 140th or worse in the RPI. That would be an unusually high number of bad losses for an at-large team.

First Four OUT

Minnesota Golden Gophers

Vitals: 19-12, 8-10 Big Ten; RPI rank: 44; SOS rank: 5; Non-conf. SOS rank: 46

Next game: Friday vs. Wisconsin in the Big Ten quarterfinals

Pluses: Minnesota's impressive strength of schedule ranking bolsters the team's RPI position significantly, so much so that it hides an unimpressive record against the Top 50 (2-7) and Top 100 (6-10). The Top 50 wins both came at home (Wisconsin and Ohio State), as did three of the wins over teams ranked between 51 and 100 (Iowa, Florida State, Indiana), with a victory over Richmond coming at the Robins Center. The victory over the Seminoles might end up serving as a tiebreaker.

Minuses: Somehow, the Golden Gophers lost to both Northwestern and Purdue, with the loss to the Wildcats coming at Williams Arena. From a potential tiebreaking perspective, Minnesota lost to Arkansas in Maui. A 5-9 record away from Minneapolis is not all that helpful, especially since the victory over Richmond, a team well outside of the bubble picture, is the best of that group.

Florida State Seminoles

Vitals: 19-12, 9-9 ACC; RPI rank: 51; SOS rank: 37; Non-conf. SOS rank: 88

Next game: Friday vs. Virginia in the ACC quarterfinals

Pluses: The Seminoles' three Top 50 wins are impressive as a group, since each one came away from Tallahassee. FSU defeated VCU in Puerto Rico, UMass in South Florida in front of a slightly pro-Florida crowd (as the game was part of a doubleheader involving the two archrivals), and Pitt at the Petersen Events Center. Plus, Leonard Hamilton's squad lost just one game to a team from outside the Top 100, a four-point decision at rival Miami. Florida State's road/neutral record of 10-7 is quite respectable, particularly among this group.

Minuses: Florida State missed plenty of chances to improve its lot, as indicated by their 3-8 record against the Top 50 and 6-11 mark against the Top 100. Most damagingly, Florida State lost its only meeting with fellow bubble team N.C. State and split with Clemson. Again, a loss at Minnesota could serve as a tiebreaker with the Golden Gophers.

Missouri Tigers

Vitals: 22-10, 9-9 SEC; RPI rank: 47; SOS rank: 77; Non-conf. SOS rank:125

Next game: Friday vs. Florida in the SEC quarterfinals

Pluses: The Tigers boast a respectable 7-8 record against the Top 100, highlighted by a pair of Top 50 home wins over UCLA and Tennessee. Missouri also swept Arkansas and won at fellow bubbler N.C. State back in late December.

Minuses: Mizzou was swept by Georgia and also lost at LSU, Ole Miss and to Illinois in St. Louis. All of those defeats look rather bad at this point, as do a pair of road setbacks against teams currently outside of the Top 100 -- Alabama and Vanderbilt. The Tigers' 6-8 record away from Columbia doesn't help matters either.

California Golden Bears

Vitals: 19-13, 10-8 Pac-12; RPI rank: 54; SOS rank: 25; Non-conf. SOS rank: 92

Next game: None

Pluses: Not many teams can boast a victory over the No. 1 team in the RPI table, but Cal can, having defeated Arizona in Berkeley on February 1st, the night the Wildcats happened to lose Brandon Ashley to injury. Cal also defeated Oregon and Stanford on the road and Colorado at home. From the tiebreaker perspective, the Bears managed to knock off Arkansas back in November on Maui.

Minuses: Unfortunately, the Golden Bears couldn't sweep Arizona, a result that helps contribute to an underwhelming 4-10 record against the Top 50, which again indicates that Cal could not take advantage of the many opportunities it was offered. (The Bears also missed sweep opportunities against Stanford and Colorado.) Additionally, Mike Montgomery's team dropped games at UC Santa Barbara, now out of the Big West Tournament, and USC, one of the Trojans' two Pac-12 wins on the season. Plus, California won just six times in 15 games away from Haas Pavilion. Among those nine losses -- defeats at the hands of Syracuse and Dayton in Maui.

Next Four Out: Arkansas Razorbacks, Green Bay Phoenix, Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles, Clemson Tigers

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