Sunday, March 06, 2011

Bubble Watch: Heading Into March 6th

It turns out I did manage to get this bubble watch done... in the wee hours of the morning. This bubble watch is where things stand as we head into Sunday's games. Six teams locked up Tournament bids on Saturday (three via auto bid, three locked up at-large bids), bringing the total number of teams in the Field of 68 up to 26. The bubble is still very weak, and actually got weaker on Saturday. The bubble always tightens up a little bit through Championship Week, though, so all of the teams on the bubble still have work to do.

Remember, teams are listed alphabetically (the same way they're listed in the BP68s). Here is where things stand right now:

Tournament locks (26 teams):
Duke, North Carolina, Belmont, Temple, Cincinnati, Connecticut, Georgetown, Louisville, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, St. John's, Syracuse, West Virginia, UNC-Asheville, Ohio State, Purdue, Wisconsin, Kansas, Texas, George Mason, BYU, San Diego State, Morehead State, Arizona, Florida, Kentucky

Automatic bids yet to be awarded (28, of which 22 are not projected to be won by teams currently locked into the Tournament):
America East, ACC, A-10, Big East, Big Sky, Big Ten, Big 12, Big West, Colonial, CUSA, Horizon, Ivy, MAAC, MAC, MEAC, MVC, MWC, NEC, Pac-10, Patriot, SEC, SoCon, Southland, Summit, Sun Belt, SWAC, WCC, WAC)

Teams that look safe (8):
Xavier, Villanova, Kansas State, Missouri, Texas A&M, Old Dominion, UNLV, Vanderbilt

Teams definitely in the Tournament... for now (8):
Florida State, Richmond, Marquette, Illinois, UCLA, Georgia, Tennessee, Utah State

The Bubble (15 teams for 11 bids):
Boston College, Clemson, Virginia Tech, Michigan, Michigan State, Colorado, UAB, Memphis, Butler, Cleveland State, Harvard, Washington, Alabama, Gonzaga, Saint Mary's

Best of the rest (14):
Maryland, Penn State, Baylor, Nebraska, VCU, Marshall, Southern Miss, UTEP, Missouri State, Wichita State, Colorado State, New Mexico, USC, Washington State

Longshots (11):
Miami (Fl), Virginia, Minnesota, Northwestern, Oklahoma State, Hofstra, Tulsa, Princeton, California, Mississippi, Mississippi State

Key Bubble games to be played on March 6th (all times are ET):

#23 Kentucky at Tennessee (Noon, CBS): Tennessee still has a little bit of work left to do to secure their spot in the NCAA Tournament. They probably need one more win to secure a Tournament spot - they definitely would lock it up if that win came over Kentucky. Both of these teams are also playing for seed in the wide open SEC East. Both teams still have a shot at a first round bye in the SEC tournament.
VCU vs #25 George Mason (Noon, George Mason will be in the NCAA Tournament no matter what happens here, but they can still move their seed around quite a bit. VCU, on the other hand, will be NIT-bound if they lose this game. They need to win this game to keep their at-large hopes alive, as well as (obviously) their hopes at the automatic bid. The winner will play Monday in the CAA tournament finals on Monday, against the winner of ODU/Hofstra.
Wake Forest at Boston College (Noon, ESPN3): BC would probably be in the NCAA Tournament if the season ended now, but they'll be out if they lose to a horrid Wake Forest team. Even a win here won't be enough to lock up anything for BC. They'll have to win at least one game in the ACC tournament. Wake Forest is playing for nothing but pride - they're already locked into last place in the ACC.
Penn State at Minnesota (1PM, Big Ten Network): Penn State has moved close to the bubble just from all of the carnage that happened on Saturday, but they still have a lot of work to do. Even with a win here against Minnesota they'll have work left to do in the Big Ten tournament. As for Minnesota, they probably have a stronger non-conference resume than any bubble team, but their 6-11 Big Ten record is a killer. It's hard to see the Selection Committee accepting a 7-11 Big Ten team, even with the expanded field and the weak bubble. Certainly Minnesota has to win here to keep any hope of getting onto the bubble alive. Penn State is also playing for Big Ten tournament seed, and can either end up as the 6 or 7 seed in the Big Ten tournament.
Hofstra vs Old Dominion (2:30PM, ESPN3): Old Dominion is probably in the NCAA Tournament no matter what, but they would lock up a bid for sure with a win here. Hofstra still has an outside chance of getting onto the bubble if they can win this game. They also need to win this game to keep their hopes of an automatic bid alive, as the winner of this game will face the winner of George Mason/VCU for the CAA's automatic bid.
Florida State at NC State (6:15PM, Fox Sports): Florida State is in the Field of 68 right now, but they still have work to do. A loss here will drop them to the bubble. Even with a win here they probably need to win at least one ACC tournament game. Florida State has started playing better - they've finally found some offensive options to (somewhat) replace Chris Singleton - so they should have a good chance of winning this one. FSU is locked into the 3 seed in the ACC tournament. NC State can still earn anything between the 8 and 10 seed in the ACC tournament.


DMoore said...

VCU wins. One bubble popped.

Jeff said...

Bubble is unhappy about that result for sure. But a bubble hasn't popped yet. If VCU loses to ODU in the CAA finals they could end up in the NIT.

Jeff said...

I'll add that the bubble also isn't happy about Indiana State winning. Missouri State could steal an at-large bid if the bubble gets weaker.

Tom said...

I know there are so many other variables to consider, but let's say Wazzu knocks off Washington for a 3rd time and then proceeds to lose in the P-10 finals. Can both teams get in? In other words, does Wazzu have to win the tournament or could things fall so that they could get in without doing it? What about USC? If they win a game in the P-10 tourney could they sneak in too? I know they have a ton of really bad losses, but they also have a bunch of really good wins.

Jeff said...

I really don't think there's a way that all three of those teams can make the Tournament. It might be possible of the bubble weakens over the next week, but historically we see the bubble tighten over the final week of the season.

I think Washington is in big, big trouble if they lose to Wazzu in the Pac-10 quarterfinals.

Although if you hang tight, I'm working a post right now where I discuss the Washington/USC game from last night, and I'll get into those two teams in more depth.