Boise State and UCF are good comps for what it takes to be on the bubble.
Boise State is currently #25 in the NET (with an 11 spot leap after a big win over UNLV at UNLV). Those Broncos are 2-1 in Quad 1 and 5-2 in Quad 2 for a total of 7-3 across the top two quadrants. They have only one loss outside that.
UCF is a little lower at #35. They are 1-2 in Quad 1 and 3-1 in Quad 2 for a total of 4-3 across the top quadrants. They also have a single Quad 4 loss.
SCU, right now, is 1-4 in Quad 1 (because of that Boise State jump) and 1-0 in Quad 2 (Iona neutral) for a total of 2-4 across the top quadrants. The SJSU loss is currently Quad 3 and our only loss outside the top two quandrants.
Here’s what I think it would take to get SCU to the bubble at this point:
- Boise stays top-30 NET to keep that as a Quad 1 win.
- Iona (currently 53 after a bad loss to Quinnipiac) gets back into the top-50. That becomes another Quad 1 win.
- BYU stays hot and gets to the top-75 in NET. This will come at the expense of other WCC teams like LMU and USF. Then Santa Clara wins in the Marriott Center. That’s another Quad 1 win.
- Santa Clara must take one of the two away games at GU or SMC. Fortunately, SMC is actually neck-and-neck with GU in the various computer rankings. So it actually doesn’t matter as much which one but for the human element of Selection Sunday (which will likely give greater weight to a win in Spokane than Moraga). There’s another Quad 1 win.
- Santa Clara probably needs to win one more against GU/SMC in the WCC tournament semi-final. One more Quad 1 win.
- Lose no more than 1 game at home and only to BYU or LMU. But not both. And better, I think, to beat USF at USF and drop one at home to LMU/BYU than the inverse.
- Get to top-45 in the NET. Honestly, that likely happens if all the above takes place.
That’s a pretty incredible string of if’s–probably less than a 5% chance if that. SCU probably has better odds to just win the WCC Tournament, honestly.
But that would leave SCU as 5-5 in Quad 1. Irvine could sneak into the top-75 for a Quad 2 win. If they get a quarterfinal matchup with BYU or LMU, that could be Quad 2. So maybe 7-5 in the top two quadrants is about as good as it gets.
Santa Clara scheduled well enough, but with Wyoming, NMSU, and Cal all well below preseason expectations, there were fewer opportunities. The home loss to SJSU remains a blemish, but thanks to Tim Miles, it’s not a per se fatal one. But now all that’s left is hoping to beat GU/SMC at least two out of three and pretty much sweep everyone else.
For a glimmer (truly just a glimmer) of hope: SCU is still barely on the positive side of Torvik’s Wins-Above-Bubble metric. SCU was -2 in that metric this time last year (i.e. two losses off the bubble for a bid).
So there’s still some small hope. I genuinely think that SCU is better than BYU. And I also doubt that SCU goes 0-3 the rest of the way vs GU and SMC. But can they sweep BYU? Can they get two wins against the top? Can they not drop either game to USD? That’s what it will take from here.
EDIT: I couldn’t find historical NET numbers. But Torvik has USF for last year as 4-6 in Quad 1, 5-2 in Quad 2, and only one loss outside the top two quadrants. So 9-8 in the top two quadrants and a final rank of #23 with a 10 seed. For reference.