With the calendar now turned to February, we are just one short month away from March Madness, and I thought now would be a good time to evaluate where we stand at this point in the season and our post season chances.
We are currently 14-8, 5-4 in the SEC, with an RPI of 41, and a very good strength of schedule ranking 10th in the nation. We have quite a few quality wins, including over RPI 7 auburn, 9 Rhode Island, 11 Oklahoma and number 30 Texas A&M. We've avoided the bad losses, although it doesn't feel that way having watched some of those games. For resume purposes, our worst losses are to 126 Vandy on the road, 122 Minnesota on a neutral site (but I think everyone knows to put an asterisk by that one) and #70 UCF at home. The only real concerning part of our resume right now is the lack of quality wins away from home. We did beat #69 BYU on a neutral site and have a top 100 road win at #82 LSU.
Jerry Palm has not updated his bracket, but he had us as a 9 seed in the Midwest before the Mizzou loss. Joe Lunardi has us as a 9 seed in the East, opening up in Pittsburgh against Michigan. RealTimeRPI has us as an 8 seed in the West bracket playing Gonzaga in the first round in Raleigh.
These brackets project if the tournament started today, but there's a lot of basketball to be played, and we still have a very formidable schedule to navigate. The bottom line is, barring something unusual happening, with our resume and strength of schedule, we probably just need to get to 18 wins to get in. If we win any 4 of the remaining regular season games, we'll be in, worst case scenario would be Dayton. I think 3 more wins might be enough to get us to Dayton if everything falls right, and 5 more wins has us in comfortably.
In previous years when we've been on the bubble, I've posted a daily "bubble watch," updating where we stand with various bracketologists and the best outcomes for us on that day's games. Unless others feel strongly about me doing it again this year, I think I'm going to discontinue that feature because every year I've done it, we've failed to make the tournament. I think most people know where to find the various projected brackets, and generally speaking, we need to root for teams we have played and against other teams that are on the bubble.