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The Bubble Watch: Kyle Isaacs edition

On February 28, 2012

Xavier Musketeers

Record: 18-10, Ratings Percentage Index (RPI): 53, Strength of Schedule (SOS): 52

Xavier finds itself in an unfamiliar place for the first time in recent memory. The Musketeers are squarely on

the bubble as the season comes to a close. With solid victories at Vanderbilt, against Purdue and at home versus

Saint Joseph's, Xavier is currently projected to make the NCAA Tournament (by "bracketologists" such

as Joe Lunardi and Kyle Isaacs). With that being said, Xavier still could use a win at Saint Louis this week or

an impressive performance in Atlantic City (at the Atlantic 10 Tournament) in order to sit comfortably come

Selection Sunday.

North Carolina State Wolfpack

Record: 18-11, RPI: 70, SOS: 25

According to many analysts, the Wolfpack are the "first team out" of the NCAA Tournament if it were to

start today. North Carolina State is the definition of an average team, with zero great wins and no bad losses

on its resume. With the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament around the corner, the Wolfpack can solidify

its chances at securing a berth by winning two games in the ACC Tournament against quality competition. It

seems that each year a team from the ACC gets the short end of the stick (Virginia Tech), so if the past is a

good indicator, North Carolina State might not be too pleased when the bracket is announced.

Virginia Commonwealth Rams

Record: 25-6, RPI: 62, SOS: 232

Last year's surprise Final Four team might be watching the NCAA Tournament from home this year if they

cannot string together some wins in the Colonial Athletic Association tournament. If the Rams are unable to

secure an automatic bid via the conference tournament championship, they will need some help from some

other bubble teams. The Rams have an impressive record but have not been challenged much this season,

evidenced by their top win coming against South Florida. Though it is rare for a Final Four team to miss the

subsequent NCAA Tournament, VCU might find itself in this predicament.

Dayton Flyers

Record: 17-10, RPI: 66, SOS: 61

The Flyers have only made the NCAA Tournament once in the past seven seasons. Dayton might continue

that streak (sounds familiar to another long streak) despite their impressive victories over Alabama, Saint

Louis and at Temple. While the Flyers have nine wins against the RPI Top 100, they also boast two losses

against teams with sub-200 RPIs, Rhode Island and Miami (Ohio). The Flyers need to win out and make a

deep run in the A-10 Tournament in order to find themselves on the right side of the bubble.

Northwestern Wildcats

Record: 17-11, RPI: 41, SOS: 9

Despite claiming ownership of the 1931 national championship, the Chicago-based school has never played

a game in the NCAA Tournament (which began in 1939). Each of the past four years, the Wildcats have

come close to making the tournament only to fall short in the closing weeks. Their resume boasts one of the

toughest schedules in the nation and includes victories over Seton Hall and Michigan State. If the tournament

were to start today, Northwestern would not be included in the field of 68. If the Wildcats are able to defeat

Ohio State tonight at home, they might be able to sneak into the tournament.

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