Blogging The Bracket has its latest bubble watch up, and four local teams still stand some chance of making it into the NCAA tournament. Pitt and West Virginia are listed as "locks," while Duquesne and Penn State will need strong finishes to make it in. On Duquesne:
Despite a one-loss Atlantic 10 mark, the Dukes aren't the strongest at-large candidate, thanks to a lack of wins outside of the league, and no quality wins away from home (their best road win: Green Bay). Duquesne will be tested down the stretch, starting with Sunday's home game against A-10 co-leader Xavier. As the weeks roll on, they'll also visit Dayton and Richmond, with the latter game looking to be a key one for A-10 tournament seeding (and a first-round bye).
The Dukes' upcoming games against Xavier (tomorrow), Dayton and Richmond will be crucial, and they need to pick up wins against easier opponents like UMass, Saint Louis and St. Bonaventure as well. Winning the Atlantic 10 would obviously be their clearest path to March Madness.
On Penn State:
Penn State's issues are twofold, no quality non-conference wins and just a single road victory (Indiana) on the profile. While the Nittany Lions have done a respectable job in the Big Ten, they've struggled of late, which isn't good considering the schedule they have ahead of them. A home loss to Michigan wasn't helpful, while a loss at Michigan State all but sealed their fate. Penn State still has a modicum of hope, as they still must visit Madison, play Minnesota twice, and head to Ohio State, but the chances of them remaining on this list much longer are slim.
The Nittany Lions still have a chance, but they're in a tough spot. They've now dropped three in a row, to Illinois, Michigan and Michigan State, they're only 12-11 overall, and four of their remaining six games are against ranked teams. They're going to have to go nuts in these last few games to make it as an at-large bid.