WeAreDePaul.com Bubble Report - 1/13/06

Mike Adam's takes a look at the Big East Conference, RPI's, and the world of College Hoops...

Why hasn't one of the late-night talk shows capitalized on the idea of "Spending a Day with Bill Raftery"? You could go to the grocery store ("onions!"), the pet store ("get the puppies set!") and the park. ("That guy's giving his girlfriend a smooooch!")

Have you always wanted to be a buff NFL referee but unsure of the workout program you needed to follow? Fear no more, my friends. cnnsi.com has interviewed the man, the myth, the legend…Hochuli!

Hochuli

If you gave this guy three tries to break through the Texans' offensive line, I bet he would sack David Carr twice. Whew. I was getting the shakes not referencing "Big Eddie" for a while.

As of this morning, DePaul's RPI rank (according to kenpom.com) is 20. This is actually up one spot from yesterday. I'm really liking the schedule so far.

BIG EAST Scores

Syracuse 88, Notre Dame 82. Now the Irish (9-5, 0-3, RPI: 90) have some serious problems. They're playing just well enough to get beat by good teams. Meanwhile, Syracuse (14-2, 2-0, RPI: 23) wins in its first road attempt, and they've validated their lofty record somewhat.

Villanova 84, Rutgers 78 (OT). First, I'm thankful that DePaul is not playing Rutgers in New Jersey. The Scarlet Knights (10-4, 1-1, RPI: 80) are notoriously good there. Second, though, there are no off nights in this conference. As much as we'd all like to look at the schedule, see Rutgers' name and mark "W" next to it, DePaul still has to go out and play Sunday's game with solid energy and execution to win.

Marquette 67, Seton Hall 63. It appears as if the Golden Gold (11-4, 2-1, RPI: 40) are serious about an NCAA Tournament run with a solid road win. It also appears that Louis Orr's tenure at Seton Hall (9-5, 1-2, RPI: 91) is ticking down as loudly as the "60 Minutes" watch.

West Virginia 68, Georgetown 61. Well, the Hoyas (10-3, 2-1, RPI: 71) went to Morgantown in search of a big win, and they leave Morgantown still in search of a big win. The Pittsnogles (10-3, 3-0, RPI: 67) become the conference's only 3-0 team at this point.

The Good

Creighton 55, Northern Iowa 52. Wow, this one's a stunner. The Blue Jays (10-4, 4-2, RPI: 28 ) do something that even Iowa couldn't do – win at Northern Iowa (12-3, 4-2, RPI: 22). Even without Nate Funk, Creighton officially announced to the rest of the conference: "Game on!"

Northern Illinois 75, Bowling Green 74. What's gotten into Northern? The Huskies (7-4, 3-1, RPI: 55) were down 11 at the half and fight back for a road win. Granted, it was against a 3-7 team, but we'll take baby steps of progress after last year's mess.

Bucknell 58, American 50. Chalk up another road win for the Bison (10-3, 2-0, RPI: 25). They get to play their first home game since December 21 on Saturday.

UAB 84, Tulsa 54. About what we all expected, I think. The Blazers (10-3, 1-0, RPI: 41) breeze in their conference opener.

Old Dominion 77, Georgia State 62. It appears as if the Monarchs (12-4, 5-1, RPI: 27) have found a groove, winning five in a row - the last four in conference.

Duke 76, Maryland 52. I have no idea why I put Maryland (10-4, 1-2, RPI: 39) on here every year. Every year, they walk the tightrope of the bubble, and every year, they win one or two crucial games that push them into the Dance. Their main problem right now is that they possess only one/road neutral win against Division I, and there aren't a lot of easy chances left on the schedule.

The Bad

Clemson 74, Wake Forest 73 (OT). The win at Wake Forest (11-4, 0-2, RPI: 63) just lost a little bit of its luster. It's the first time Wake has opened the conference season 0-2 in 13 years. Isn't that just great? On the flip side, it's a big win for Clemson (12-3, 2-1, RPI: 46) at home.

Penn State 65, Northwestern 61. So much for a 3-0 start in the conference for the Wildcats (8-5, 2-1, RPI: 95). Of course, a 3-0 start would put them way too far ahead of their usual 6-10 conference record.

Wichita State 86, Bradley 76. Not good – not good at all. Bradley (8-6, 2-4, RPI: 74) has lost four of five, and it's clear they're not equipped to keep up with the Missouri Valley's best. Meanwhile, the Shockers (12-4, 4-2, RPI: 37) continue to make statements like this one that they want to be considered again this year for the bubble.

North Texas 90, Florida International 81. Arrgh.

The Ambivalent

Oklahoma State 79, Texas A&M 77. The battle of good records (Oklahoma State: 11-5, 1-1; Texas A&M: 11-2, 1-1) but suspect RPI ranks (Oklahoma State: 66; Texas A&M: 82) goes to the home team.

Games to Watch over the Weekend

Cal at Stanford. Although Stanford overall isn't anything about which to write home (6-6 overall), they did something last week Cal (9-4, 3-1, RPI: 85) couldn't – beat Oregon State at home. The Cardinal are (is?) 5-1 at Maples Pavilion, and this is a rivalry game. It's not an automatic "W" for the Bears.

Evansville at Bradley. Aha! Here's a team Bradley (8-6, 2-4, RPI: 74) can beat. The Purple Aces are winless on the road this year.

Virginia Commonwealth at Old Dominion. Jeff Capel's Rams (10-4, 4-2, RPI: 60) are decent this year, but nowhere near the level he's had them over the past couple of years. Still, they present a challenge for streaking ODU (12-4, 5-1, RPI: 27).

Dayton at Richmond. Darn it. Dayton (7-8, 0-2, RPI: 164) has to start playing again.

Holy Cross at Bucknell. The Bison's (10-3, 2-0, RPI: 27) nemesis comes calling to Pennsylvania.

Northwestern at Wisconsin. See, Northwestern? (8-5, 2-1, RPI: 95) I told you to win that game at home against Penn State. Look what you have to do over the weekend?

Northern Illinois at Akron. Winning at Bowling Green was helpful, even if it wasn't spectacular, for the Huskies (7-4, 3-1, RPI: 55). Winning at Akron (8-3, 3-0, RPI: 51) promises to be a tougher task.

Providence at Notre Dame. It never looks good in any basketball standings when you trail South Florida, as the Irish (9-5, 0-3, RPI: 90) currently do in the conference.

UAB at Marshall. Conference USA recently rejected a proposed name change to the "Hostess Conference", they have so many cupcakes outside Memphis, UAB (10-3, 1-0, RPI: 41) and Houston. And did you ever think you'd see the day when Houston would be one of the top three in any conference again?

Florida International at Denver. Arrgh.

Wake Forest at Maryland. Okay, Demon Deacons (11-4, 0-2, RPI: 63). We could really use your help here.

Alabama at Kentucky. How ornery do you think the locals in the "Bluegrass State" will be if Kentucky (10-5, 0-1, RPI: 35) loses this one?

Iowa State at Texas Tech. Normally, the Red Raiders would take up some space on this report, as they perennially seem to be a bubble team. However, the only team in the conference with a worse RPI rank than theirs is Baylor, and the Bears just started playing on Wednesday. No, this blurb is about Iowa State (10-4, 1-1, RPI: 33) who, after getting beat up by Texas earlier in the week, could really use this win.

St. Joseph's at George Washington. How weak has George Washington's (11-1, 2-0, RPI: 58 ) schedule been to this point? A .500 St. Joseph's squad (6-6, 1-1, RPI: 47) has a higher RPI rank.

Georgetown at Connecticut. Another tough road game for the Hoyas (10-3, 2-1, RPI: 71), another opportunity to put a big win on the resume.

Syracuse at Cincinnati. Not much bubble intrigue here for the time being. This is more of a "show me" game.

Pittsburgh at Louisville. See notes above.

Oklahoma at Texas A&M. I would not want to be in the loser's position. (Oklahoma: 9-4, 0-2, RPI: 65; Texas A&M: 11-2, 1-1, RPI: 82)

Florida State at Boston College. The Seminoles (11-2, 2-1, RPI: 73) still have some RPI work to do to be taken seriously. The Eagles (10-4, 0-3, RPI: 44) desperately need this one to get out of the conference winless section.

Duke at Clemson. I'm not rooting for either team in this game, but I suppose it's good for DePaul if Duke keeps its record spotless at the expense of the Tigers (12-3, 2-1, RPI: 46)

Marquette at West Virginia. This one's a big game regardless of which way it goes. The Golden Gold (11-4, 2-1, RPI: 40) would put another huge notch in their NCAA Tournament belt. The Pittsnogles (10-3, 3-0, RPI: 67) would be the conference's lone 4-0 team with a win.

Vanderbilt at Arkansas. Well, now the Commodores (11-2, 2-0, RPI: 21) are everyone's darlings after winning at Rupp Arena for the first time since Jefferson was president. Arkansas (11-4, 0-2, RPI: 79) could be catching them at just the right time.

Missouri State at Wichita State. With Southern Illinois, Northern Iowa and Creighton, it gets very crowded near the top in the Valley. Both of these teams (Missouri State: 11-3, 4-2, RPI: 26; Wichita State: 12-4, 4-2, RPI: 37) could use this win.

Let's go, Demons.

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