May 20, 2011
Bubble-watching was superb on
By Phil Stanton
Forget those season-ending cliff-hangers on TV.
Thursday was a great night for bubble-watching.
Numerous teams precariously perched on said
bubble were in action on Thursday, including one on national TV.
Georgia has a strong RPI, but needs wins to keep
its head above the .500 mark. The Bulldogs responded with a 5-4
win on ESPNU over one of the leaders in the SEC, Vanderbilt.
Georgia improved to 28-26 and still has work to do, but took an
important step last night.
The SEC is like a soap opera, especially in the
West. There is drama and intrigue around each corner. Auburn
stubbed its toe at Tennessee, losing its third in a row and
falling to 28-26. Like Georgia, the Tigers have a solid RPI. But
they need to maintain a winning record. LSU won huge at
Mississippi State as it fights to get a spot in the SEC tourney.
Alabama won at home against South Carolina to rise to the top in
the West. Ole Miss got an important win at Arkansas to help its
In the Atlantic Sun, both at-large candidates
faltered on the road. ETSU lost at Mercer to fall to fifth in
the conference standings. The Bucs need a higher finish to stay
on the at-large board. Second-place Jacksonville lost at
Kennesaw State and saw its RPI fall.
In the Southland, leader Texas State lost at UT
Arlington, but is still in good shape for a bid. Southeastern
Louisiana helped its cause with a victory at Northwestern State,
but San Houston State suffered a damaging defeat at home to
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
Dallas Baptist got a huge win at home over
Charlotte to rise a bit on the bid-ometer.
FIU beat Florida Atlantic to move into first in
the Sun Belt. Troy was defeated at South Alabama to drop to
second. The Trojans need a regular-season crown to offset a
In the Northeast region, St. John’s lost at home
to Villanova and Rhode Island fell at Dayton to damage at-large
UCF was shut out at home by Marshall and fell to
sixth in Conference USA. That might offset a strong RPI in the
Baylor beat Oklahoma at home to boost not only
its win total, but its RPI. Kent State beat Akron to win the MAC
regular-season crown. Creighton beat Missouri State to maintain
its hold on first in the MVC.
And maybe the best bubble-news was at USC, as
Frank Cruz had ‘interim’ removed from his title and became
fulltime head coach of the Trojans.
Friday should bring more drama, as UC Irvine in
the Big West and everyone in the Pac-10 take the field to start
weekend series. And tournaments continue in the MEAC and SWAC,
and commence in the NEC.