Thursday, March 13, 2014

Bubble Watch Heading Into March 13th

One new team joined the Field of 68 on Wednesday: American won the Patriot League after upsetting a brutally cold-shooting Boston University. That marks 36 teams locked in, with 32 spots still to go.

The only game that really significantly impacted the bubble was Georgetown losing to DePaul and probably knocking themselves out of the Tournament for good. It's been a rough season for them, though obviously they have some higher hopes for next season.

Utah is probably the most interesting case, as they're yet more proof that "the eye test" and "picking the 36 best teams" are nonsense. Utah came into that game 2-8 in games decided by six points or less... and won by six, because luck in close games isn't really a skill. No matter which computer rating you prefer, Utah is close to the 30th best team in the country. They're a better team than some teams that will earn at-large bid. But their brutal luck in close games and their super weak non-conference strength of schedule means that if they lose to Arizona it's very likely that they won't go Dancing. This will likely be the game that seals Utah's fate.

March 13th will be a huge day for the bubble. We have a couple of really big Bubble Battles, including Providence/St. John's, Colorado/California and Marquette/Xavier.

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 13th:

Tournament locks (36 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, American, Florida, Kentucky, Wofford, North Dakota State, Gonzaga

Automatic bids yet to be awarded (19, of which 10 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, SEC, Southland, Sun Belt, SWAC, WAC

Teams that look safe (9):
Memphis, SMU, UMass, VCU, Ohio State, Baylor, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Oregon

Teams definitely in the Tournament... for now (5):
Pittsburgh, George Washington, Iowa, Arizona State, Colorado

The Bubble (13 teams for 9 bids):
Florida State,  Dayton, Saint Joseph's, Providence, St. John's, Xavier, Minnesota, Nebraska, Toledo, California, Stanford, Tennessee, BYU

Best of the rest (12):
Clemson, Georgetown, 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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