Thursday, February 16, 2012

Bubble Time

And down the stretch they come! Xavier and U.C. are both on the NCAA tournament bubble. They can ill afford many slip-ups the rest of the way. Both teams have five games left in the regular season. The Musketeers are to the point where they may not be able to afford one more loss in the regular season. At one time it would have seemed ludicrous to think Xavier would be in this position. But after an 8-0 start, the Musketeers have stumbled to an 8-9 record in the past 17 games. There are daunting road games ahead at Umass and St. Louis. Just one more loss means the Musketeers will finish 20-10 at best. Cincinnati would appear to need at least three more wins in the last five to have a chance at getting in. Four wins in the last five would clinch a spot. But with road games at South Florida and Villanova, plus home games against Louisville, Marquette, and Seton Hall, four wins seems like more than a stretch. If the U.C. guards don't get it together on both ends of the floor then three wins is a stretch. There is that awful strength of schedule ranking for the Bearcats and based on the way the committee has judged that in the past, U.C. could have some issues there no matter what happens in the final five games. The projection for U.C.'s strength of schedule at the end of the season is 105. Ouch! The one thing going for both teams is the strong possibility other teams on the bubble will lose. They also will have a chance to make impressive showings in their conference tournaments.

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