Which bubble teams does BPI favor?

Originally Published: March 2, 2017
By Paul Sabin | ESPN Analytics

John GillonBrett Carlsen/Getty ImagesSyracuse is currently in a favorable position to reach the field, but BPI indicates the Orange have major hurdles ahead.

For the first time, the Basketball Power Index can project how likely each major and mid-major conference team is to make the NCAA tournament. Through 10,000 simulations of the rest of the regular season, conference tournaments and NCAA tournament selection, we look at Joe Lunardi's current bubble teams (entering Thursday's games) and see who has a path to work their way in and who will have a hard time staying in the field between now and Selection Sunday:

Last Four Byes

Syracuse Orange

BPI chance to make NCAA tournament: 18 percent

Syracuse is currently in the tournament as a No. 10 seed, according to Lunardi, but will face a murderer's row in the ACC tournament, with only a 47 percent chance of reaching the final eight of that event. Assuming the Orange get past Georgia Tech (No. 102 in BPI) on Saturday, a loss in their first game of the ACC tournament combined with a stolen bid from a smaller conference could put their spot in jeopardy.

Seton Hall Pirates

BPI chance to make NCAA tournament: 71 percent

While the Pirates have only a 2 percent chance to win the Big East tournament, they currently have the 35th-best strength of record (SOR), which is just one spot behind tournament-likely Northwestern, and a win at Butler (No. 22 in BPI) on Saturday would all but lock up Seton Hall's spot. A loss to Butler, and failing to win a game in the Big East tournament, would make the Pirates sweat come Selection Sunday.

Providence Friars

BPI chance to make NCAA tournament: 63 percent

Providence is in a slightly less favorable position than Seton Hall, as the Friars rank just 44th in SOR, but Ed Cooley's squad has an easier game on Saturday against St. John's (No. 96 in BPI) -- Providence has a 52 percent chance to win that one, according to BPI.

Marquette Golden Eagles

BPI chance to make NCAA tournament: 78 percent

Marquette is just 47th in SOR, but gets a home against a Creighton team (No. 26 in BPI) that has gone just 5-5 without Maurice Watson. If Marquette wins and Providence loses, the Golden Eagles could ascend to the No. 3 seed in the Big East tournament, potentially making a more favorable impression on the committee.


Last Four In

Xavier Musketeers

BPI chance to make NCAA tournament: 99 percent

Despite a six-game losing streak, Xavier is the most likely Big East bubble team to make the tournament. The Musketeers have 12 losses, but their 14th-hardest schedule in the country equates to the 37th-most impressive strength of record. Their final game is against DePaul (No. 187 in BPI), and they have an 82 percent chance to win. Xavier is then likely to play DePaul again in the opening round of the Big East tournament, giving the Musketeers two more good chances at wins to improve their résumé.

California Golden Bears

BPI chance to make NCAA tournament: 28 percent

California is more likely to lose its remaining two games at Utah and Colorado (30 percent) than win them both (20 percent), and the Golden Bears could lose the No. 4 seed in the Pac-12 if they falter. Cal's SOR is 63rd in the country right now. If coach Cuonzo Martin & Co. hold on to the No. 4 seed in the Pac-12, they would be about seven-point BPI underdogs to Oregon or UCLA if they meet either team in the league tourney. 

USC Trojans

BPI chance to make NCAA tournament: 70 percent

Despite starting the season by winning all of their nonconference games, the Trojans have struggled in Pac-12 play and own the 41st-most impressive résumé in the country. The Trojans play a Washington team (No. 194 in BPI) that appears to have given up, before likely playing the Huskies again in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament.

Wake Forest Demon Deacons

BPI chance to make NCAA tournament: 99 percent

Wake has a 45 percent chance to beat Virginia Tech (No. 49 in BPI) on Saturday, which would even its conference record at 9-9. If the Demon Deacons fall and finish below .500 in the ACC, they'll have to hope the committee notes that they played the eighth-hardest schedule in the country. The Deacs also beat Louisville (No. 4 in BPI), which has a 23 percent chance of receiving a No. 1 seed.


First Four Out

Vanderbilt Commodores

BPI chance to make NCAA tournament: 27 percent

Playing the 22nd-hardest schedule has kept the Commodores' case for a tournament berth alive. Their path is fairly simple -- Vandy has a 24 percent chance to beat Florida (No. 5 in BPI) this weekend, and a 3 percent chance to win the SEC tournament. They likely need to do at least one of the two. 

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

BPI chance to make NCAA tournament: 0.1 percent

The Yellow Jackets are just outside the field according to both Lunardi and SOR; they are ranked 55th in SOR. A win at Syracuse (No. 33 in BPI), where they have just a 13 percent chance of prevailing, seems necessary at this point.

Rhode Island Rams

BPI chance to make NCAA tournament: 76 percent

Rhode Island finishes with a very winnable game against Davidson (No. 74 in BPI), and BPI favors the Rams at 82 percent. A win would give them a chance at the No. 2 or No. 3 seed in the A-10 tournament (they'll need help with losses from VCU or Richmond), where they would be BPI favorites against each possible opponent other than Dayton. 

Kansas State Wildcats

BPI chance to make NCAA tournament: 44 percent

Kansas State is 48th in SOR, and BPI gives the Wildcats a 63 percent chance to beat Texas Tech (No. 35 in BPI) on Saturday. If they win, they are guaranteed the No. 6 seed in the Big 12 tournament. From there, the Wildcats would need to beat their first opponent, who would come from the group of Iowa State (No. 25 in BPI), Baylor (No. 15 in BPI) or West Virginia (No. 4 in BPI).


Next Four Out

Georgia Bulldogs

BPI chance to make NCAA tournament: 19 percent

Georgia is No. 51 in SOR and has a 24 percent chance to beat Arkansas (No. 47 in BPI) on Saturday. Résumé-building opportunities will be hard to come by in the SEC tournament, so the Bulldogs may not even have the chance at this point to state their case to the committee.

Illinois Fighting Illini

BPI chance to make NCAA tournament: 13 percent

The Illini are currently on the outside looking in, and a win at Rutgers on Saturday would do little to improve their standing. They will have to make a deep run in the Big Ten tournament to move up.

Houston Cougars

BPI chance to make NCAA tournament: 42 percent

While none of the teams in the Next Four Out section of Bracketology is likely to make the NCAA tournament, Houston has the best shot. The Cougars are currently 61st in SOR, and they need to beat Cincinnati Thursday night (16 percent chance) or in the AAC tournament, or take down SMU in the league tourney. 

Clemson Tigers

BPI chance to make NCAA tournament: 26 percent

The ACC will have no shortage of teams in the NCAA tournament this year, but Clemson will have a hard time joining the pack. Clemson and Illinois face a similar issue; the Tigers play Boston College (No. 162 in BPI) to finish out conference play. But unlike Illinois, the Tigers will be guaranteed to play quality opponents in the ACC tournament -- if they advance past the opening round.

For more of ESPN's college basketball analytics rankings including BPI, visit espn.com/bpi and espn.com/analytics.

Paul Sabin

ESPN Analytics

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