Thursday, March 11, 2010

Heading Into Thursday: Where The Bubble Stands

With a few of the big conference tournaments getting under way on Wednesday (Big East, Big 12, Conference USA) we got quite a bit of bubble action. The biggest result was Notre Dame beating Seton Hall, which probably kills any chance of Seton Hall earning an at-large. For Notre Dame, the win almost surely puts them in the bracket for the time being, but they're nowhere near assured a bid. If they lose their next game (to Pitt) then they will be sweating it out on Selection Sunday. Another big win was collected by Cincinnati, knocking off Louisville. But I don't see any chance Cincy gets in without at least one more win, which would have to happen against West Virginia. Oklahoma State and Marquette both collected wins, locking in their at-large bids. Meanwhile, South Florida should be out of the bracket for good with their loss.

Keeping in mind that two of the Tournament spots I'm listing below will be taken by the WAC and C-USA winner, here is how I see the bubble as we head into Thursday's games:

Teams definitely in the bracket... for now:
Wake Forest, Missouri, UTEP, UNLV, Clemson, Notre Dame

The Bubble: 12 teams playing for 7 spots:
Georgia Tech, Florida, Washington, San Diego State, Memphis, Utah State, Wichita State, Illinois, UAB, Arizona State, Ole Miss, Rhode Island

The best of the rest:
Dayton, South Florida, Cincinnati, Mississippi State, Seton Hall, Minnesota, Saint Louis

The last of the conference tournaments get under way on Thursday. And every year it's either Thursday or Friday of Championship Week that has the best and most bubble match-ups. So there will be a lot of great games to follow.

Here is a complete listing of bubble games that will be played Wednesday:

1 PM Eastern Time (CBS College Sports): Memphis vs Houston: Memphis gets their C-USA tournament defense underway in the C-USA quarterfinals. They also need a win here to keep their realistic at-large hopes alive.
2 PM ET (Raycom/ESPN360): Wake Forest vs Miami (Fl): Wake Forest is probably in the bracket even if they lose this game, but a win here will lock up that at-large bid for certain.
3 PM (ESPNU): Utah State vs Boise State: Every other bubble team in the nation will be rooting for Utah State to take care of business in this game, and in the remainder of their WAC tournament games. They'd have a decent shot at an at-large if they lost in the latter rounds of the WAC tournament.
5:30 PM (ESPNU): San Diego State vs Colorado State: San Diego State would probably be an at-large bid if the season ended now, but a loss here would probably drop them right back out. They need a win here.
7 PM (ESPN): Notre Dame vs Pittsburgh: Notre Dame is in the bracket right now, but they could easily end up in the NIT if they lose this game. A win here, though, and they'll nearly lock up an at-large bid. Their whole season could come down to this game.
7 PM (ESPN2): Georgia Tech vs North Carolina: A win here wouldn't lock up an at-large bid for Georgia Tech, but it would put them in a strong position. A loss here, however, and they're more than likely going to the NIT. It's pretty unbelievable that UNC's only purpose in the ACC tournament is to try to play the spoiler.
7:30 PM (SEC Network/ESPN360): Florida vs Auburn: A win here definitely puts Florida into the bracket for the time being, although it will not lock up an at-large bid. A loss, though, really jeopardizes Florida's at-large chances.
7:30 PM (Big Ten Network): Minnesota vs Penn State: Minnesota needs to win this game and at least one more game to have any chance at an at-large bid.
7:30 PM (CBS College Sports): Tulsa vs Marshall: Both teams are long shot at-large teams. But there's no question that the loser is out of contention.
9 PM (ESPN): Cincinnati vs West Virginia: It's very hard to see Cincy making the NCAA Tournament without a win here.
9 PM (Raycom/ESPN360): Clemson vs NC State: Clemson should be able to punch their Dancing ticket with a win here.
9:20 PM (FoxSports): Arizona State vs Stanford: Arizona State definitely needs to win this game, and probably also their next game, to earn an at-large bid.
10 PM (CBS College Sports): UTEP vs UCF: UTEP is probably in the NCAA Tournament no matter what, although a win here would seal it. Other bubble teams are rooting for a UTEP victory because somebody has to win the C-USA tournament, and it might as well be the team with the best at-large resume.
11:30 PM (MoutainWest Sports): UNLV vs Utah: A win here would probably be enough to assure a UNLV at-large bid, although they could certainly use one additional win to avoid any stress at all on Selection Sunday.
11:40 PM (FoxSports): Washington vs Oregon State: It's hard to see Washington making the NCAA Tournament without a win here and then another one in their next game (most likely against Arizona State).


Anonymous said...

Really? ND vs Pitt is a bubble game? Get real. Let's look at ND's last five games - W over Pitt, W over Georgetown at Georgetown, W over UConn, W over Marquette at Marquette, and a W to Seton Hall (a team that previously scored 100+ plus points the night before who was held to just over 50).

If you think ND is anywhere close to being on the bubble and could be forced to the NIT if they lose today, I have to question your knowledge on anything basketball related, as this is about as far from the truth as possible.

Jeff said...

I'm going to assume you came over from, where I noticed a couple of over-the-top homers getting mad at me for saying that Notre Dame might not be in the Tournament before the Seton Hall game. The angriest posts I get always get from people who are not regular readers and don't know how things are done.

Yes, Notre Dame has had a really good last five games. Unfortunately, they've played 32 games, and are judged on the full body of work. Notre Dame has only three RPI Top 50 wins, and those go with three RPI 100+ losses. Their 15-10 record against the RPI Top 200 is one of the worst of all of the teams in the field. Their Sagarin ELO_CHESS is currently 38th, but with a loss to Pitt and with some unlucky results around the rest of the nation that ELO_CHESS number could easily get up around 42-45th.

The fact is that teams with an ELO_CHESS in the mid-40s have about a 50% chance of making the Tournament.

Now, is Notre Dame in the bracket right now? Of course. But have weirder things happened then the bubble getting dramatically tougher and four or five teams getting booted to the NIT who thought that they were safe? Absolutely.

I've got Notre Dame listed amongst teams like UTEP, Missouri and Wake Forest. Do you really think that Notre Dame's resume is clearly better than those teams?? I've made it clear in this post that Notre Dame is not one of the last seven teams in the field. That should be good enough for you right now.

And just a little hint... those who have knowledge "on anything basketball related" are generally able to discuss basketball without resorting to personal attacks.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jeff,

Different poster here.

Just to follow up on the ND not being one of the last 7 in, you have them as a 12 seed, did you move them down a seed to avoid a matchup with another big east team, otherwise a 12 seed is typically one of the last 4-5 teams.

Actually in looking at your seedings you have 2 at large teams at 13 and another 2 at 12 (including ND) and only 1 at 11, so based on your seeding (even presuming you dropped ND a seed (from 11 to 12) to avoid a BE matchup you have them in your bottom 5 teams.

Jeff said...

The answer is that my brackets are PROJECTIONS while this post is a "where things are now." So I'm PROJECTING a 12 seed, because I think that teams like Florida and San Diego State have at least one more win in them. And I'm projecting Notre Dame to lose their next game.

So right NOW Notre Dame has a better resume than a few of the teams ahead of them on the BP65. That seems to be the main complaint that people on the Notre Dame board seem to have, and it's simply a misunderstanding of what the BP65 is.

I hope that makes more sense?

Anonymous said...

That makes more sense.

I disagree with you on the substance (I think ND is currently a 10 seed (and a lock for the tournament) and will likely move up 1 seed for each additional win in the BET - those 3 top 50 RPI wins for ND are also 3 top 14 RPI wins which is significantly better than those teams on the bubble.)

Disagreeing on the substance is fine I just didn't understand that the two enties were using different criteria (as of now, projection) which made them appear inconsistent.


Jeff said...

In general, everything I do here is a projection. These daily "where they stand now" bubble updates are a new feature I'm doing this year, and just for one week, just as an experiment.

I agree that Notre Dame is a 10 or 11 right now. I've got them as a 12 in my bracket because I expect them to be passed by several teams if they don't win another game.

Anonymous said...

Your post prior to the Seton Hall game: "For Notre Dame, a win will definitely put them in the bracket for the time being. But with a loss, Notre Dame is probably headed to the NIT."

Your post going into the Pitt game: "Notre Dame is in the bracket right now, but they could easily end up in the NIT if they lose this game."

The problem with this is it's an inconsistent argument. You said yourself prior to Seton Hall that if ND won, they're in (with some BS-CYA lingo in there as well). Now, you're saying they lose to Pitt and they could easily be in the NIT? Sorry, it doesn't work both ways.

Jeff said...

It's only inconsistent if you lack reading comprehension. I said that a win over Seton Hall would definitely put them in the bracket FOR NOW. In other words, if the field of 65 was made up last night, Notre Dame gets in.

But being in the bracket on Wednesday night is not the same as being in the bracket on Sunday night. If Notre Dame loses to Pitt then they risk falling out of the bracket again.

If you read my blog more carefully you'd see that I'm always very careful with my word choices. If a team is in for good then I'll say something like "Team A is now definitely in the bracket for good" or "Team B has now punched their ticket". For me to say that about Notre Dame, they've got to beat Pitt.

Anonymous said...

No, no, you see, if ND loses tonight they could EASILY fall into the NIT, provided that all of the following happen:

1) Florida wins twice in the SEC tourney

2) SDSU beats New Mexico but then loses the MWC final to #7 seed TCU, giving that conference five bids

3) Rhody and Dayton make the A-10 Final

4) Illinois gets to the Big Ten Final where it loses to Minnesota

5) Ole Miss wins three SEC tournament games [er, wait, that would mean they'd have to beat Florida though, so maybe that's a wash].

6) Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, UNLV, and Washington all win [twice in the latter two cases] to avoid dropping below ND, and the committee doesn't punish Wake and Louisville for losing to tomato cans in their conference tournament openers ['Ville has fewer top 15 and top 50 wins than ND].

Simple. As. That. LOL. Honestly, there's not a less asinine scenario than this that would leave ND out. Stranger things may have happened, but I can't recall when.

Jeff said...

Thanks for proving my point. There's a scenario where Notre Dame wouldn't make the Tournament. Therefore they are not a "lock". That's my point.

You seem to be under the misconception that I'm employed by ESPN, where they use the word "lock" to mean "I think it will happen." No, when I use the word "lock" then it's a... lock.

And by the way, there are plenty of more realistic scenarios that would knock Notre Dame out.

Anonymous said...

Two things:

1) I never used the word "lock." I agree that ESPN's use of said terminology is stupid [as evidenced by the fact that ESPN often drops teams from "lock" status, which is oxymoronic. I took issue with you saying more than once that ND could "easily fall into the NIT" with a loss to Pitt, because I think at this point it would take a convoluted and extremely unlikely (i.e.: not "easy") scenario for that to come to pass.

2) What is the likeliest scenario you can come up with that has 7 or 8 teams passing ND without something as goofy like Utah or TCU winning the MWC happening? I'm honestly curious about this.

Jeff said...

They don't need 7 teams to pass them. Maybe 5. And Georgia Tech will pass them by winning a game or two. Florida could pass them with two wins. San Diego State will pass them if they can win their game tonight and then win one more. Rhode Island could pass them if they make the A-10 finals or win the thing. Washington can possibly pass them by winning the Pac-10 tournament. Illinois could pass them with two wins. Dayton can pass them by winning the A-10 tournament. Obviously a spot can go away if Utah State loses in the WAC, or if we once again have a spot stolen by a Pac-10 or SEC team that had no chance at an at-large (as we've seen the past few years).

There is a LONG time until Selection Sunday. The bubble WILL get stronger. The only question is how much stronger.

You should spend more time rooting for your team to win tonight. If they win this one then they're in.