Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Bubble Watch: Heading Into March 12th

Five automatic bids were handed out on Monday. One went to Gonzaga, who was already a Tournament lock. The four new tournament locks are James Madison (Colonial), Iona (MAAC), Davidson (SoCon) and Western Kentucky (Sun Belt). That moves us to 32 teams locked into the NCAA Tournament. With three more automatic bids getting handed out on Tuesday (Horizon, NEC and Summit), we will have the majority of the Field of 68 handed out by the end of the night.

The Gonzaga win is the biggest story of the night because it should earn them a 1 seed, but also because it leaves St. Mary's on the bubble. If the season ended now, I think the Gaels would most likely be in the Tournament, but the bubble historically gets stronger as Championship Week goes along. So I wouldn't be at all surprised if St. Mary's falls out. Gaels fans will have to do a lot of rooting this coming week for a softer bubble.

BCS tournaments tip off on Tuesday with the Big East tournament getting started. The Mountain West tournament also gets underway. That said, neither tournament will have games with bubble implications on Tuesday. The most interesting game on Tuesday, in my opinion, is actually the Summit League title game. South Dakota State vs North Dakota State is what we were all waiting for. My money is on Nate Wolters, but it should be a great game.

Here is how the bubble stands as we head into Saturday, March 12th:

Tournament locks (32 teams):
Duke, Miami (Fl), North Carolina, Florida Gulf Coast, St.Louis, Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Liberty, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, James Madison, Harvard, Iona, Creighton, Colorado State, New Mexico, UNLV, Belmont, Arizona, Florida, Davidson, Western Kentucky, Gonzaga

Automatic bids yet to be awarded (21, of which 14 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, MAC, MEAC, MWC, NEC, Pac-12, Patriot, SEC, Southland, Summit, SWAC, WAC)

Teams that look safe (6):
NC State, Butler, VCU, Notre Dame, Memphis, Missouri

Teams definitely in the Tournament... for now (9):
Cincinnati, Villanova, Temple, Minnesota, Iowa State, Wichita State, San Diego State, UCLA, Oregon

The Bubble (14 teams for 9 bids):
Virginia, La Salle, Illinois, Iowa, Baylor, Oklahoma, Boise State, California, Colorado, Alabama, Kentucky, Ole Miss, Tennessee, St. Mary's

Best of the rest (5):
UMass, Southern Miss, Arizona State, Arkansas, Louisiana Tech

Long shots (11):
Charlotte, Xavier, Florida State, Maryland, Providence, St. John's, Akron, Air Force, Stanford, LSU, Middle Tennessee 

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