The last day of Championship Week without the BCS conferences in action ended up being very exciting. All four of the conference title games came down to the final seconds, with a couple of them going into overtime. In the end, Davidson, Loyola-Maryland, VCU and St. Mary's won the four auto bids.
St. Mary's and Gonzaga were both already locked into the NCAA Tournament, so that game didn't impact the bubble. VCU and Drexel were both of the bubble, though. Drexel will have to sweat out Selection Sunday. I'll break down their resume more when I do a game recap (most likely tomorrow night), but sadly I just don't think Drexel will get in. They're right on the bubble now, but it's historically been the case that mid-major teams on the bubble with a week to go end up falling out. Six days from now we'll be talking about mid-conference teams that just made a run to the SEC or Big Ten tournament semis or finals. They'll end up passing Drexel. It happens every year.
On Tuesday we will start up the BCS conference tournaments, with the Big East beginning action. The bubble, which is still quite large, is going to start thinning out. By the time we hit Selection Sunday, the bubble will most likely be down to 7 or 8 teams fighting for 3 or 4 spots.
For now, here is where the bubble stands:
Tournament locks (28 teams):
Duke, North Carolina, Belmont, Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette, Syracuse, UNC-Asheville, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Baylor, Kansas, Missouri, VCU, Loyola-Maryland, Creighton, Wichita State, UNLV, New Mexico, San Diego State, Murray State, Kentucky, Davidson, Gonzaga, St. Mary's
Automatic bids yet to be awarded (23, of which 17 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, CUSA, Horizon, Ivy, MAC, MEAC, MWC, NEC, Pac-12, Patriot, SEC, Southland, Summit, Sun Belt, SWAC, WAC)
Teams that look safe (6):
Temple, Notre Dame, Iowa State, Kansas State, Memphis, Florida
Teams definitely in the Tournament... for now (8):
Florida State, Virginia, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Purdue, BYU, Alabama, Vanderbilt
The Bubble (18 teams for 14 bids):
Miami (Fl), Xavier, UConn, Seton Hall, South Florida, West Virginia, Northwestern, Texas, Long Beach State, Drexel, Southern Miss, Harvard, Colorado State, California, Oregon, Washington, Mississippi State, Middle Tennessee
Best of the rest (8):
NC State, St. Joseph's, Central Florida, Iona, Arizona, Tennessee, Oral Roberts, Nevada
Maryland, Dayton, UMass, Iowa, Minnesota, Marshall, Akron, Ohio, Wyoming, Colorado, Stanford, Arkansas, LSU, Ole Miss, South Dakota State,
Key Bubble games to be played on March 6th (all times are ET):
UConn vs DePaul (Noon, ESPN2): It's do-or-die for UConn. They're right on the bubble now, but the odds are that they'll be NIT-bound if they fall here. Even if they win this game, they'll need to beat West Virginia in the second round or they're going to have to sweat out Selection Sunday.
Seton Hall vs Providence (7PM, ESPNU): Seton Hall was looking pretty good a week ago, but getting demolished by DePaul in their final regular season game was a disaster. Now they have to win this game to avoid the NIT. Like UConn, the probably need to win a second Big East tournament game after this to stay in the NCAA Tournament.
St. Joseph's vs Charlotte (7PM): St. Joseph's would be heading to the NIT if the season ended now, but they still can work their way onto the bubble with a strong performance in the Atlantic Ten tournament. They're going to need at least two wins, and probably three, but it all has to start here. This is a must-win for them.