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Women’s Bubble Watch: How many bids can the Atlantic 10 get?

Saint Joseph’s and Davidson have put together the best resumes so far, but there are several other solid teams in the conference

NCAA Basketball: Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament-Virginia Commonwealth vs St. Bonaventure David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

You gotta love the Atlantic 10. With six women’s teams ranked in the top 100 of the NET, there are several routes to the league sending multiple teams to the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three years.

To simplify things in the early stages of January, we’ll stick to the teams that ESPN Bracketologist Charlie Creme projects as automatic qualifiers with real at-large resumes or that are on the at-large bubble anyway, and the A-10 boats two such teams: Saint Joseph’s and Davidson.

But don’t be fooled. Richmond is 13-3 and has the best NET in the league. The Spiders are tied with Rhode Island atop the conference, and the Rams have won five in a row. Meanwhile, VCU has won nine out of 10, and George Mason is on a roll of its own.

As it stands now, here’s the Bubble Watch for the upcoming week.

The At-Large Candidates

Santa Clara Broncos

Record: 11-3 | NET: 65 | SOS: 92

Charlie Creme Projection: Next Four Out

Last Week: Def. Pacific 80-77 | This Week: Jan. 11 at Gonzaga, Jan. 13 at Portland

Good Win: at Oregon (NET 92) | Bad Loss: NONE

If you have plans Thursday night, you can go ahead and cancel them. The Broncos are visiting Gonzaga in a game that could catapult them from Next Four Out to squarely in the tournament field. Gonzaga is a top-20 NET team that boasts wins over Stanford and Alabama. The Bulldogs are going to dance. Santa Clara doesn’t have a win that really jumps out quite yet, but that could change awfully fast.

Saint Joseph’s Hawks

Record: 13-2 | NET: 60 | SOS: 152

Charlie Creme Projection: Next Four Out

Last Week: Def. George Washington 60-47, Lost vs. Richmond 64-59 | This Week: Jan. 9 at Saint Louis, Jan. 13 vs. Duquesne, Jan. 15 vs. La Salle

Good Wins: vs. Villanova (NET 46) | Bad Loss: NONE

I’d love to see where Charlie would have had Saint Joe’s had it beaten Richmond this week. Despite a strong NET ranking, gaudy record and no bad losses, the Hawks don’t have much to their resume in terms of quality wins. Richmond is a good team – one that I think merits at-large consideration itself, but perhaps we’ll get to the Spiders next week. I’d expect that Villanova win to age well, as the Wildcats took care of a solid Seton Hall team this week. Unfortunately, we won’t know more about Saint Joseph’s’ at-large chances for a few more weeks when they visit Rhody on Jan. 21.

Drake Bulldogs

Record: 10-4 | NET: 74 | SOS: 70

Charlie Creme Projection: Next Four Out

Last Week: Def. Indiana State 77-47, Def. Evansville 78-68 | This Week: Jan. 12 at Valparaiso, Jan. 14 at UIC

Good Win: vs. Iowa State (NET 44) | Bad Loss: NONE

Drake might be in Next Four Out territory, but the Bulldogs have plenty of opportunities to move up the seed line list. With four remaining regular season games against Belmont and Murray State, there are still marquee wins on the table. And that’s not counting Illinois State and Missouri State, who the NET seems to like more than their records would indicate.

Green Bay Phoenix

Record: 11-3 | NET: 36 | SOS: 93

Charlie Creme Projection: 10 seed

Last Week: Won at Northern Kentucky 86-56, Won at Wright State 75-63 | This Week: Jan. 11 vs. Youngstown State, Jan. 13 vs. Robert Morris

Good Wins: at Creighton (NET 26), vs. Washington State (NET 22), vs. Cleveland State (NET 89) | Bad Loss: at Northern Iowa (NET 179)

Green Bay hasn’t lost in over a month, and with a pair of wins against power conference teams, the Phoenix are in a good spot. That loss to Northern Iowa still stings, but as long as they don’t slip up anywhere else, they should be in a good spot. Two-bid Horizon, anyone

Davidson Wildcats

Record: 12-2 | NET: 46 | SOS: 204

Charlie Creme Projection: 11 seed (AQ)

Last Week: Won at La Salle 69-50, Lost vs. VCU 65-55 | This Week: Jan. 10 at George Mason, Jan. 14 at Fordham

Good Win: at Duke (NET 28) | Bad Loss: None

That VCU loss should go down as little more than a wasted opportunity for Davidson, though to be honest the Wildcats can ill afford many of those. The win over Duke is great, but they’ll need some more heft to their resume in order to be in the at-large mix. Back-to-back roadies loom this week, including one against a 10-3 George Mason team that ranks in the top 75 of the NET.

Princeton Tigers

Record: 11-3 | NET: 42 | SOS: 28

Charlie Creme Projection: 11 seed (AQ)

Last Week: Won at Cornell 79-38 | This Week: Jan. 13 at Harvard, Jan. 15 at Dartmouth

Good Wins: at Middle Tennessee (NET 57), vs. Oklahoma (NET 59), vs. Seton Hall (NET 41), at Villanova (NET 48) | Bad Loss: NONE

I’m going to go ahead and disagree with Charlie on the Tigers and say that an 11 seed is too low. In fact, I’d only call Princeton a bubble team because the Tigers not getting the Ivy League AQ means they would have to take at least one more loss…and even that might be to a quality team. No, Princeton has the heft on its resume to make dreams of a two-bid Ivy realistic this year if Columbia or Harvard sneak up and win the Ivy League Tournament. If Green Bay is a 10 seed with the same record, a loss to Northern Iowa, and a significantly worse strength of schedule, Princeton should be on the 10 line as well – at worst.

Middle Tennessee Lady Raiders

Record: 10-4 | NET: 57 | SOS: 182

Charlie Creme Projection: 12 seed (AQ)

Last Week: OFF | This Week: Jan. 10 at Louisiana Tech, Jan. 13 at Sam Houston State

Good Wins: vs. DePaul (NET 93), vs. Tennessee (NET 67) | Bad Loss: NONE

When it comes to evaluating MTSU’s resume, keep an eye on the Houston Cougars, hovering right around the top 100 in the NET. It’s a win that looked great at the time, but Houston has now lost three in a row and wasn’t particularly competitive against either of the two ranked opponents it faced last week. Thankfully for MTSU, it can snag two more road wins this week. It already has three of them, and showing you can win away from home goes a long way in the committee room.

Ball State Cardinals

Record: 11-2 |NET: 92 | SOS: 217

Charlie Creme Projection: 12 seed (AQ)

Last Week: Won at Western Michigan 78-56, Won at Akron 71-64 (OT) | This Week: Jan. 10 vs. Buffalo, Jan 13 vs. Bowling Green

Good Win: vs. Georgia (NET 88) | Bad Loss: NONE

Ball State’s at-large chances might come down to what it does against Kent State and Toledo, provided the Cardinals can avoid any bad losses. It gives them a razor-thin margin for error, but that’s life when you have a strength of schedule in the 200s.