By Jesse Kramer
Oklahoma State (14-5, 4-3 Big 12, No. 36 RPI)
Oklahoma State defeated Iowa State on Wednesday for their first quality win in a while, but the Cowboys’ last win over a Top-25 team was their 76-56 demolition of North Carolina State on November 18.
On Saturday, the Cowboys will play No. 2 Kansas in The Phog. Right now, they are looking like a probable NCAA tournament team, but a rare win at KU would help solidify their spot in the field of 68.
St. John’s (14-7, 6-3 Big East, No. 53 RPI)
The upcoming, four-game stretch is huge for the Johnnies, starting with a matchup at Georgetown on Saturday. The Red Storm has won five games in a row, and their last loss was to the Hoyas on January 12. Getting a win at Georgetown would prove that this St. John’s team is different than the one that started the season at 9-7 with losses to San Francisco and UNC-Asheville.
After the Hoyas, St. John’s will host Connecticut and then play a pair of road games at Syracuse and Louisville.
Iowa State (14-6, 4-3 Big 12, No. 41 RPI)
Iowa State has been quite inconsistent in conference play.
In their Big 12 opener, the Cyclones took Kansas into overtime in Lawrence. Two games later, they barely got by West Virginia at home. Two games after that, they lost at Texas Tech. Since then, they beat Kansas State but lost to Oklahoma State.
In general, the upcoming stretch is huge for the Cyclones, with their next three games matching them up against the three teams tied for second place in the Big 12: Baylor, Oklahoma and Kansas State. If Iowa State gets wins in two or more of these games, its resume will look favorable heading into mid-February.
La Salle (14-6, 4-3 A10, No. 28 RPI)
La Salle moved onto the bubble last week with wins over Butler and Virginia Commonwealth, but on Wednesday night the Explorers lost at home to UMass. Granted that the Minutemen have lots of talent and are at least a NIT team, the loss puts a question mark next to La Salle’s name once again.
On Saturday, the Explorers play at George Washington, which despite being 10-9 overall has a 4-2 record in league play. A win over the Colonials would be nothing spectacular, but a loss could really hurt their resume.
Air Force (13-6, 4-2 MWC, No. 72 RPI)
Much like La Salle, Air Force has also crept onto the bubble in the past few weeks. But unlike the Explorers, the Falcons are still looking for a Top-25 win, although they did come close at UNLV on January 12.
On Saturday afternoon, the Falcons will host No. 22 San Diego State, presenting them with a huge opportunity. Until Air Force gets a win over a Top-25 team, it will remain on the outside looking in.
Wyoming (15-5, 2-5 MWC, No. 63 RPI)
In non-conference play, Wyoming looked like it could be a Mountain West contender with a 13-0 start to the season, including a win over then-No. 19 Colorado. In league play, the Cowboys have really struggled with losses to Boise State and Air Force at home and Fresno State on the road. Their only quality win is over San Diego State at home.
At this point, Wyoming’s chances for winning the conference are slim, but they can get back to the right side of the bubble with a rare road win at Colorado State on Saturday night.
The Rams are yet to lose at home this season, and they lost there only once last year.
Boise State (14-6, 2-4 MWC, No. 60 RPI)
After starting conference play at 2-2, Boise State was on the right side of the bubble with wins at then-No. 11 Creighton and at Wyoming, which had been undefeated at the time. But last week the Broncos picked up an ugly loss to Nevada and were subsequently blown out by Colorado State on Wednesday.
Still, they will have plenty of opportunities for big wins, as they still have to play UNLV and San Diego State twice each and Colorado State and New Mexico once each.
This weekend, the Broncos host UNLV in what is starting to look like a must-win if they want to get back on the right side of the bubble.