Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Bubble Watch Heading Into March 11th

Once again, there wasn't enough that happened last night to justify a full Morning News post, but I do want to talk briefly about BYU.

For the moment, BYU is probably inside the Field of 68, but at this point if I had to bet money I'd bet against them still being in the Field of 68 on Selection Sunday. Why? They don't have another win besides the one upset of Gonzaga that the Selection Committee will care about. Both Sagarin and Pomeroy rate BYU as a better team than Maryland, but it just doesn't matter. On Selection Sunday you are judged on your wins and losses, and not how good you are or "the eye test".

However, what BYU missing out would also demonstrate is yet again how much road victories are undervalued by the Selection Committee. BYU's resume isn't seen as good because it lacks "RPI Top 50" and "RPI Top 100" wins. Road wins at Portland, San Diego or Utah State simply don't register, because they're not RPI Top 100. But road wins against those teams are equivalent (to the computers and to the Vegas casinos) to home wins against teams like St. John's or Indiana or Maryland. Would the Selection Committee treat a home win over St. John's better than a road win over San Diego? You bet.

This bias against road wins is a huge problem for mid-majors, who simply can't get as many RPI Top 50 opponents on their home court as major conference teams can. You think St. John's or Indiana or Maryland is going to voluntarily play a road game at the Marriott Center? You know they won't. But until the Selection Committee weights road victories properly, it's always going to be extremely difficult for teams like BYU or Murray State or Green Bay or Iona to earn at-large bids.

Rant aside, this is a bubble watch, and we did pick up three new Tournament locks yesterday: North Dakota State (Summit), Robert Morris (NEC) and Valparaiso (Horizon). That pushes us to 32 total.

The bubble remains 14 teams fighting for 9 spots.

Here is how the bubble stands as we head into Wednesday, March 11th:

Tournament locks (32 teams): 
SMU, Duke, Louisville, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Virginia, North Florida, Butler, Georgetown, Villanova, Coastal Carolina, Maryland, Wisconsin, Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Northeastern, Valparaiso, Manhattan, Northern Iowa, Wichita State, Robert Morris, Belmont, Arizona, Utah, Arkansas, Kentucky, Wofford, North Dakota State, Gonzaga

Automatic bids yet to be awarded (21, of which 14 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, Ivy, MAC, MEAC, MWC, Pac-12, Patriot, SEC, Southland, Sun Belt, SWAC, WAC

Teams that look safe (4):
Cincinnati, Providence, Michigan State, San Diego State

Teams definitely in the Tournament... for now (11):
Davidson, Dayton, Temple, VCU, St. John's, Xavier, Iowa, Ohio State, Purdue, Colorado State, Georgia

The Bubble (14 teams for 9 bids):
Tulsa, Miami, NC State, Illinois, Indiana, Oklahoma State, Texas, Boise State, UCLA, Oregon, LSU, Mississippi, Texas A&M, BYU

Best of the rest (7):
Pittsburgh, Rhode Island, Richmond, UMass, Old Dominion, Louisiana Tech, Stanford

Long shots (15):
Connecticut, Clemson, George Washington, Kansas State, UTEP,  Green Bay, Iona, Buffalo, Central Michigan, Murray State, Arizona State, Alabama, Florida, Vanderbilt, Stephen F. Austin


Anonymous said...

Ok, i'm sure i'm just an idiot, but im stuggling with the math here.

There are currently 32 locks, 15 auto-bids that will be given out to teams not locked in, 4 teams that look safe, and 11 that are in for now.

If my math is correct that is 62 of the 68 spots.

Yet, there are 14 teams listed as on the bubble for 9 spots.

Where are those extra three spots coming from? What am I missing here?

Jeff said...

Ah, I realized you just caught a typo... it should be 14* auto-bids handed out to teams not left locked in, not 15.

It has to do with the A-10 and Mountain West, which I'm currently projecting to be won by teams not yet locked into the field.

This ends up being a little confusing every year, but I'm not sure of a better way to do it. I don't want to say that the bubble is "14 teams for 6 spots" when I currently have 9 teams from that category projected to make the bracket.