Despite falling in the first round of the 2012 Big Ten Tournament and witnessing its own bubble nearly burst following Illinois' upset win over Penn State in the tournament's semifinals, Wisconsin is still alive and kicking in its quest for its third berth in the NCAA Tournament in the last four years.
The official announcement of the 64-team field will not occur until Monday at 3:30 p.m. (CT), but that gives us two days to project and form our own opinions on the chances that Bucky will see at least one more game this season.
The RPI rankings are one of the biggest indicators of a potential NCAA Tournament team. A team's strength of schedule, combined with its overall record, cannot make or break a team's chances, but are huge in the grand scheme of things. In theory, teams in the RPI top-40 are in the comfort zone, while Nos. 41-64 are sweating as they keep an eye out for upsets come conference tournament time. There are exactly 24 AQ (automatic qualifier) bids in the tournament, which go to each conference's tournament champion.
When looking at the latest RPI rankings, which were released Oct. 29, Wisconsin was in the top-40, falling to No. 36 after its loss to Iowa on Oct. 27. The Badgers' 2012 schedule featured matches against six teams in the current RPI top-25, which included games against four of those seven teams on the road. UW also suffered one-goal losses to a pair of RPI top-five squads in UCLA (8/31) and Penn State (9/16).
According to former MLS star and U.S. National Team member turned women's soccer blogger, Chris Henderson, this past week's conference tournament did not hurt UW as much as we thought. Following multiple losses for various bubble teams and squads poised to steal AQ bids, it looks like Wisconsin's season is still intact -- but nothing is for certain until the NCAA Tournament selection committee says it is.
The selection committee will make its announcement on the field of 64 on Monday, Nov. 5, at 3:30 p.m. (CT). The selection show can be viewed live on NCAA.com.