Busting Brackets

Bracketology 2024: Bubble Watch of key teams in early February

Notre Dame v Virginia
Notre Dame v Virginia / Ryan M. Kelly/GettyImages
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Washington State (16-6) (NET: 40)
4-3 (Q1), 3-2 (Q2), 1-1 (Q3), 8-0 (Q4)

Washington State’s resume is built on those great performances against Quad 1 opposition, with the most notable being a close win against Arizona a few weeks back. The Cougars beat Boise State right before Christmas in another win that’s aging well, while their recent streak of winning has included two more of those nice wins.

Their loss to Santa Clara back in the middle of December is Quad 3, but this team is playing better basketball than back then. Most recently, a six-point road loss at California was a real downer, while the other Quad 2 loss came against Oregon a month ago.

It’s been a successful stretch, as that Cal loss is their only blemish in the last seven games. In fact, the Cougars have beaten Utah (by 22 points) and gotten Quad 1 wins over Colorado and rival Washington ever since. They’ll be at Oregon for potential revenge this weekend and only have a few more chances for notable victories in the Pac-12.

Xavier (12-10) (NET: 47)
3-7 (Q1), 3-1 (Q2), 1-2 (Q3), 5-0 (Q4)

A 17-point win over Saint Mary’s in Las Vegas back in November was a sign of life for the Musketeers. They added additional Quad 1 wins against rival Cincinnati in early December and then at Providence once conference play began in the Big East. Home wins over Butler and St. John’s are just shy and sit as Quad 2 victories.

The two Quad 3 losses are obviously not great. Those came at home against Oakland and Delaware in two games the Musketeers should have won. They actually played better than expected in losses to Houston and Purdue but lost by 43 at Connecticut less than two weeks ago. Again, ten losses isn’t ideal for any bubble team right now.

It’s not been an awful stretch in the Big East, though the Musketeers lost winnable games against Villanova and Creighton during that time. Fortunately, Xavier hosts both of them this week and still get two shots at Marquette. There are avenues on this schedule that can put Xavier into the Big Dance; they just have to get back on track.

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Which of these bubble teams will take that necessary step to secure their place in the NCAA Tournament? Which ones will the Selection Committee look down upon in the weeks ahead?