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Bubble Banter: Minnesota’s loss to Illinois sets them back

Feb 20, 2014, 10:39 AM EDT

Andre Hollins, CJ Carter

There are 24 days left until Selection Sunday. Every morning from now until the bracket comes out, we’ll help you get caught up on the happenings with impact on the bubble from the night before. 

You can see NBCSports.com’s latest bracket here.

Minnesota (RPI: 43, KenPom: 50) really hurt themselves on Wednesday night, as they lost to Illinois at home by 13 points. The Illini entered the night having lost 10 of their last 11 games.

More than anything, that hurts because the Gophers have a tough three-game stretch coming up: at Ohio State, Iowa, at Michigan. They’ve now lost five of their last seven games, six of their last nine and seven of their last 11. They haven’t won back-to-back games since early January and currently sit at 6-8 in the Big Ten.

They have a strong RPI, however, which is largely boosted by a top five strength of schedule. The win at Richmond is nice, and they have wins over top 15 teams Ohio State and Wisconsin, but if they struggle during these next three games, Richard Pitino’s first season may wind out in the NIT.

THE REST OF WEDNESDAY’S BUBBLE ACTION:

Winners:

  • Xavier (RPI: 49, KenPom: 39) got past DePaul on Wednesday. A win over Cincinnati probably has them above the rest of the Big East’s bubble teams. They’re at Georgetown and St. John’s next, and still get Creighton and Villanova at home.
  • Saint Joseph’s (RPI: 39, KenPom: 68) is still on the cut-line after hanging on to beat Rhode Island on the road. They have two top 25 wins, but just one top 100 win out of conference. After Fordham this weekend, the Hawks get Dayton, at St. Bonaventure, at GW and La Salle. They’ll have a chance.
  • SMU (RPI: 46, KenPom: 28) has three really good wins — UConn, Memphis, Cincinnati — but they all came at home. Their schedule is fairly weak, and they lost at South Florida and Temple.
  • LSU (RPI: 67, KenPom: 75) avoided disaster by beating Mississippi State at home on Wednesday. They’re 3-2 against the top 50 and 5-6 against the top 100, but they’ve lost to three sub-100 teams. Their best road win? At Texas Tech. They probably need to get Florida or Kentucky on the road to feel safe.
  • Missouri (RPI: 36, KenPom: 47) has one top 25 win (UCLA), but they’re 8-7 against the top 100 and they don’t have any sub-100 losses. They’re probably in as of today, although they might need to win out to feel comfortable.
  • Colorado (RPI: 23, KenPom: 55) picked up a huge win on Wednesday, knocking off Arizona State. Their profile is strong, but this is their first really good win since Spencer Dinwiddie got injured.
  • Oregon (RPI: 38, KenPom: 35) is now 5-8 in the Pac-12 after beating Washington. They’re 8-8 against the top 100, but 1-6 against the top 50 with BYU being the only win. They have no bad losses. A win at UCLA or at home against Arizona would be massive.

Losers:

  • Marquette (RPI: 77, KenPom: 51) is in a tough spot. They’re now 15-11 on the season and 2-9 against the top 50 with just four top 100 wins. They had a chance to get Creighton at home on Wednesday, but they were blown out by the Bluejays. Winning out — which includes at Villanova — may be the only option.
  • Arizona State (RPI: 31, KenPom: 33) is still in a good position after their win over Arizona on Friday, but getting beaten by Colorado certainly didn’t help. Road losses to top 25 teams are anything but a crushing blow, however.
  • Cal (RPI: 50, KenPom: 52) lost to UCLA on Wednesday, putting themselves in a dangerous spot. They have USC at home this weekend and head to the Arizona schools next week. They beat Arizona and won at Stanford and Oregon, but their resume is not strong enough to make them a lock for the tourney.
  • Utah (RPI: 99, KenPom: 42) had a chance to play their way into the bubble conversation, but they lost in overtime to Arizona. That one will hurt.
  1. jcmeyer10 - Feb 20, 2014 at 10:47 AM

    Re CU: I think Utah is an underrated win and they will make some noise over the next couple of years. Just glad to see the kids learning. They are not a danger in the Tourney but they have some young bucks who will be solid sophomores and juniors with this extra playing time.

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