Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Bubble Watch Heading Into March 12th

Four automatic bids were handed out on Tuesday night: Milwaukee (Horizon), Mt. St. Mary's (NEC), North Dakota State (Summit) and Gonzaga (WCC). That all means that we're up to 35 teams locked into the NCAA Tournament, which means that a majority of the bracket is filled. There are still 33 more spots to be filled in the final five days.

The big question of the night is what will happen to BYU. They're 8-7 against the RPI Top 100 with 4 RPI 100+ losses. They have wins over Gonzaga, Texas and Stanford, along with bad losses to Pepperdine, Portland, Pacific and Loyola-Marymount. Their RPI is 31, though their Sagarin PURE_ELO is only 37th. Those computer numbers seem like a Tournament resume right now, and they'd probably be in the Field of 68 if the season ended now, but the season doesn't end now. And by Sunday, this Gonzaga/BYU game will feel like ancient history. And history says that the bubble usually gets stronger over the last few days, and mid-major bubble teams like BYU tend to get left out. We'll have bid stealers, and shiny new wins in conference tournaments by major conference bubble teams. So BYU is probably still in the Field of 68 at the moment, but there's also a pretty good chance that they'll drop back out over the next five days.

March 12h marks the start of the major conference tournaments. We'll start having games with significant bubble implications, and the bubble will be begin to shrink from its currently large size (14 teams for 9 spots).

Teams that move up a group are colored green while teams that drop a group are colored red. Here is how the bubble stands as we head into March 12th:

Tournament locks (35 teams):
Cincinnati, Connecticut, Louisville, Duke, North Carolina, Syracuse, Virginia, Mercer, Saint Louis, Creighton, Villanova, Coastal Carolina, Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Iowa State, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Delaware, Milwaukee, Harvard, Manhattan, Wichita State, New Mexico, San Diego State, Mt. St. Mary's, Eastern Kentucky, Arizona, UCLA, Florida, Kentucky, Wofford, North Dakota State, Gonzaga

Automatic bids yet to be awarded (20, of which 11 are not projected to be won by teams currently locked into the Tournament):
AAC, America East, ACC, A-10, Big East, Big Sky, Big Ten, Big 12, Big West, CUSA, MAC, MEAC, MWC, Pac-12, Patriot, SEC, Southland, Sun Belt, SWAC, WAC

Teams that look safe (8):
Memphis, SMU, UMass, VCU, Ohio State, Baylor, Kansas State, Oregon

Teams definitely in the Tournament... for now (6):
Pittsburgh, George Washington, Iowa, Oklahoma State, Arizona State, Colorado

The Bubble (14 teams for 9 bids):
Florida State,  Dayton, Saint Joseph's, Georgetown, Providence, St. John's, Xavier, Minnesota, Nebraska, Toledo, California, Stanford, Tennessee, BYU

Best of the rest (11):
Clemson, Marquette, Indiana, West Virginia, Louisiana Tech, Southern Miss, Green Bay, Stephen F Austin, Utah, Arkansas, Georgia

Long shots (11):

Maryland, NC State, Illinois, Middle Tennessee, UTEP, Ohio, Boise State, UNLV, LSU, Mississippi, Missouri

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