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Women’s Bubble Watch: Splitting hairs among the top of the Atlantic 10

Saint Joseph’s, George Mason and Richmond are all viable threats to make the NCAA Tournament

Florida Atlantic v Charlotte Photo by Isaiah Vazquez/Getty Images

I think the rule is that once February hits, you’re allowed to have serious bubble talk. So let’s have some serious bubble talk.

It seems like every year there’s a handful of mid-major teams hovering around the Last Four In to Next Four Out range and they just kind of…stay there. Deep into conference play and without opportunities to pick up key wins, there isn’t much movement. And then the power conference teams start playing their conference tournaments, and in the span of just a few days can compile several Quad 1 or 2 wins. That’s how the mid-majors sink. It’s unfortunate and it makes what the mid-majors do in November and December all the more important.

In the meantime, there’s not much else to do but avoid bad losses – something our bubble teams have done a good job of. For the most part.

Here’s where the mid-major bubble stands.

Virtual Locks

Gonzaga Bulldogs

Record: 22-2 | NET: 10 | SOS: 38

Charlie Creme Projection: 4 seed (AQ)

Last Week: W at San Diego 80-52, W vs. Pacific 104-39 | This Week: Feb. 8 vs. Pepperdine, Feb. 10 vs. Loyola Marymount

Best Wins: vs. Alabama (NET 28) vs. Stanford (NET 2), at California (NET 65) | Bad Losses: NONE

It’s always fun at this point in the season to look at the “virtual locks” and figure out what could go wrong to keep them out of the Tournament. For Gonzaga, which continues to beat up on the rest of the league, maybe it involves Brynna Maxwell commandeering the team bus and taking them to a small airport where a private plane is waiting, ready to transfer her and the top nine scorers on the team to a remote island. At that point, fine, maybe the rest of the Bulldogs can’t hold it together and things fall apart.

In Good Shape

UNLV Lady Rebels

Record: 19-2 | NET: 33 | SOS: 116

Charlie Creme Projection: 7 seed

Last Week: W vs. Wyoming 58-51, W at New Mexico 62-56 | This Week: Feb. 10 at Fresno State

Good Wins: vs. Arizona (NET 50), at Oklahoma (NET 38), at Colorado State (NET 94) | Bad Loss: vs. New Mexico (NET 167)

UNLV avenged that ugly loss from earlier in the year to New Mexico and has the week off to bask in the victory. If the Rebels take maybe one more loss the rest of the way, they won’t have to worry about a thing on Selection Sunday.

Princeton Tigers

Record: 17-3 | NET: 31 | SOS: 61

Charlie Creme Projection: 9 seed (AQ)

Last Week: W vs. Yale 79-59, W vs. Brown 76-63 | This Week: Feb. 10 at Penn

Best Wins: at Middle Tennessee (NET 45), vs. Oklahoma (NET 38), at Villanova (NET 44) | Bad Losses: NONE

The quirks of the Ivy League schedules means the Tigers just played four straight home games and are now going on the road for four in a row. The first three should be clear wins, but circle Feb. 24 on your calendar. That’s when Princeton visits Columbia.

Work Left To Do

Green Bay Phoenix

Record: 16-5 | NET: 41 | SOS: 118

Charlie Creme Projection: 10 seed

Last Week: L at Cleveland State 86-63 | This Week: Feb. 8 vs. Northern Kentucky, Feb. 10 vs. IUPUI

Best Wins: at Creighton (NET 26), vs. Washington State (NET 24) | Bad Loss: at Oakland (NET 243)

The Phoenix lost in a route at Cleveland State and, as result, move from the projected AQ in the minds of most Bracketologists into the bubble conversation. Without a game on the schedule remaining against a top 150 NET team, there aren’t any opportunities for Green Bay to improve its resume. It can only hope not to slip up.

Middle Tennessee Lady Raiders

Record: 17-4 | NET: 45 | SOS: 163

Charlie Creme Projection: 10 seed (AQ)

Last Week: W vs. Western Kentucky 80-48 | This Week: Feb. 8 vs. Liberty, Feb. 10 vs. FIU

Best Win: vs. Tennessee (NET 49) | Bad Losses: NONE

With the Raiders doing what they need to do (beating bad teams), their attention turns to the Lady Vols, at least as far as at-large consideration is concerned. Tennessee picked up two solid wins this week and has won four out of five to crack the top 50 of the NET.

Saint Joseph’s Hawks

Record: 21-2 | NET: 56| SOS: 180

Charlie Creme Projection: 12 seed (AQ)

Last Week: W at Loyola University Chicago 61-50, W vs. UMass 77-67 | This Week: Feb. 8 at George Mason

Good Wins: vs. Villanova (NET 44), at Rhode Island (NET 79), vs. Davidson (NET 76) | Bad Losses: NONE

Eight straight conference wins is a great way to ascend to first in your league – pretty darn important when your league tournament figures to be a battle royale of bubble teams. One of those teams is George Mason, whom the Hawks visit on Thursday.

George Mason Patriots

Record: 17-3 | NET: 54 | SOS: 159

Charlie Creme Projection: First Four Out

Last Week: W vs. Fordham 54-47, W at Loyola University Chicago 61-52 | This Week: Feb. 8 vs. Saint Joseph’s, Feb. 11 at Dayton

Good Wins: vs. Davidson (NET 76), vs. VCU (NET 75) | Worst Loss: at East Carolina (NET 102)

Wednesday isn’t just huge from a bubble perspective, but a win over Saint Joe’s would put the Patriots in first place in the A-10. A loss wouldn’t exactly be catastrophic, as Mason still has three more games against top 100 NET teams with two of them on the road.

Richmond Spiders

Record: 19-4 | NET: 58 | SOS: 94

Charlie Creme Projection: Next Four Out

Last Week: W vs. Fordham 79-60 | This Week: Feb. 7 at Rhode Island, Feb. 11 vs. George Washington

Best Wins: at Drake (NET 70), at Saint Joseph’s (NET 56), at Davidson (NET 76) | Bad Losses: NONE

Charlie has Mason and Richmond right next to each other on his seed list, but if it were me, I just might flip the two. They haven’t faced off yet and we’re splitting hairs, but two Quad 1 wins to zero is enough for me to look past miniscule differences in record and NET. Oh, and the Spiders have a much better SOS.

Win Your Autobid

Drake Bulldogs

There wasn’t much for Drake to do this week, but another road win on the resume (the Bulldogs are now 7-3 in roadies) certainly helps. It’d also help if Drake could avenge that loss to Illinois State when it faces the Redbirds at home on Saturday.

South Dakota State Jackrabbits

The Jackrabbits haven’t lost since Dec. 21…but they haven’t played anyone in that time either. That said, similar to Drake, SDSU picked up a pair of road wins this week. The dub at South Dakota could age well, so keep an eye on what the Coyotes do from here.

Columbia Lions

Remember those quirks in the Ivy League schedule that is sending Princeton on the road for four games? That schedule also puts Columbia away from home in six of its final seven of the season. Friday’s tilt against Brown is the Lions’ final home game until Senior Day against Princeton.