Baylor appears to be back on the right side of the bubble after a strong run over the past two weeks.
Coming off a difficult stretch that had the Bears teetering away from an NCAA tournament bid, they put themselves back in the conversation with a four-game winning streak capped by Saturday’s decisive road victory over West Virginia.
“We’ve got to keep working hard to get to the tournament,” said Baylor’s Royce O’Neal, who scored a season-high 22 points against the Mountaineers. “But this means a lot against a good team that had been playing well.”
It’s certainly a good step for a team that had been reeling.
Baylor opened the season 13-2, its only losses to Syracuse and Iowa State.
After that, the Bears went into a near freefall, losing eight of their next 10 games to go from what seemed to be an NCAA tournament lock to a team needing a strong push at the end of the season.
Baylor started the stretch run with a dominating win over TCU, then padded its resume with victories over Kansas State and Oklahoma State.
The win over West Virginia put the Bears at 18-9 overall and 6-8, with an RPI of 40.
There’s still work to do and the final four games of the regular season won’t be gimmes, but Baylor is in much better position than it was just two weeks ago.
Here’s a look at some of the other teams that rose and fell from the NCAA tournament bubble over the past week:
SMU. The Mustangs, as you might recall, were among the teams teetering on the bubble last week. They moved a few steps away from it with a pair of victories last week. SMU took care of business with a win over Houston, then strengthened its NCAA credentials by knocking off No. 21 Connecticut in Storrs. That moved the Mustangs to 22-6 and back into The Associated Press poll at No. 23.
BYU. A road loss to Pacific could have put a dent in the Cougars’ NCAA chances. Three straight wins, including Thursday night’s 73-65 shutdown of No. 25 Gonzaga has them looking pretty good now. BYU (19-10, 11-5 WCC) has a solid RPI of 33 and one of the nation’s toughest schedules, with five of its 10 losses to teams that were ranked at the time.
Stanford. Already peeling away from the bubble, the Cardinal picked up a massive victory over the weekend, knocking off No. 23 UCLA at home. Stanford is 18-8 overall, 9-5 in the strong Pac-12 and an RPI of 39. Barring a late-season meltdown, the Cardinal appear to be in good shape.