Virginia squanders a late 8-point lead at Boston College. Ole Miss flops against a Mississippi State team that had lost 13 straight. Baylor botches an inbounds pass and allows a game-winning three, all in the final second — emphasis on singular — of regulation against Kansas State.
Such was life for those and many other NCAA tournament hopefuls last weekend.
And we shouldn’t be surprised. Teams reside on the proverbial “bubble” because they have obvious flaws and lack impeccable tournament credentials. They lose to inferior opponents, defeat some superior ones and often can’t stand prosperity.
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So yes, Virginia fans, lament Sunday’s 53-52 setback at Boston College. The Cavaliers failed to sustain the momentum created by their Thursday conquest of Duke and certainly damaged their NCAA prospects.
In so doing, Virginia joined Maryland and North Carolina State in stumbling immediately after an emotional home victory over the Blue Devils. The Terps fell at Boston College, the Wolfpack at Maryland.
But the Cavaliers hardly were alone last weekend and still have chances to atone, starting Thursday at Florida State, where they’ve dropped nine consecutive games.
Tennessee, Kentucky, Ole Miss, Arizona State, St. John’s, Villanova, Indiana State and Baylor also endured disappointment. The latter was tied at home against Kansas State with one second remaining and was inbounding the ball from the backcourt end line. But a long pass into the frontcourt went out of bounds untouched, running no time off the clock, and on the subsequent inbounds play, K-State’s Rodney McGruder beat the horn with a 3-pointer.
Understandably, the most common question is: What must Virginia do in its remaining schedule — Florida State, Maryland at home Sunday and next week’s ACC tournament — to secure a bid?
As much as y’all hate to hear this, there’s simply no way to tell. Too much hinges on results elsewhere, as other hopefuls play themselves into, or out of, the bracket.
The most common “bid thieves” are teams from outside the six major conferences who lead their league, have a lofty RPI and fail to win their conference’s tournament and automatic bid. This season’s suspects include Conference USA’s Memphis (No. 19 on the Rating Percentage Index), No. 46 Akron from the Mid-American, No. 36 Creighton from the Missouri Valley, No. 26 Middle Tennessee State from the Sun Belt and No. 23 Belmont from the Ohio Valley.
Colleague Patrick Stevens spends inordinate hours parsing resumes, and you can find his work here on USA Today’s website.
The teams Stevens currently designates as last four “in” are Villanova, Virginia, Massachusetts and Kentucky. His next eight “out” are Iowa State, Alabama, Tennessee, Maryland, Southern Miss, Baylor, Ole Miss and Arkansas.
Here’s how those dozen teams compare in the NCAA’s RPI “nitty gritty” released Monday. Categories are overall record, RPI, road record, non-conference strength-of-schedule, record versus the top 50, record against the top 100.
Record RPI Road NCSOS Top 50 Top 100
Nova 17-12 55 6-7 141 1-5 6-10
UVa 20-9 64 3-7 307 4-2 7-2
UMass 18-9 54 7-4 81 1-5 8-7
UK 20-9 51 4-6 68 1-4 6-9
ISU 19-10 53 3-8 153 2-7 5-8