Monday, March 05, 2012

Bubble Watch: Heading Into March 5th

We had some good basketball games on Sunday, but few that affected the bubble much. Only one team locked up a Tournament bid: Creighton, who won the Missouri Valley tournament. They're the 25th team to clinch a spot in the Tournament. The only other real change to the bubble was the fact that some bad results have knocked the Pac-12 closer to the (still unlikely) scenario of being a one-bid league. California had been the one team clear of the bubble, but they're on it now. And Arizona fell off the bubble after a bad loss to Arizona State.

For now, here is where the bubble stands:

Tournament locks (25 teams):
Duke, North Carolina, Belmont, Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette, Syracuse, UNC-Asheville, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Baylor, Kansas, Missouri, Creighton, Wichita State, UNLV, New Mexico, San Diego State, Murray State, Kentucky, Gonzaga, St. Mary's

Automatic bids yet to be awarded (27, of which 20 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, Colonial, CUSA, Horizon, Ivy, MAAC, MAC, MEAC, MWC, NEC, Pac-12, Patriot, SEC, SoCon, Southland, Summit, Sun Belt, SWAC, WCC, 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 (19 teams for 15 bids):
Miami (Fl), Xavier, UConn, Seton Hall, South Florida, West Virginia, Northwestern, Texas, Long Beach State, Drexel, VCU, 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

Longshots (15):
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 5th (all times are ET):

VCU vs Drexel
(7PM, ESPN): March 5th will be the slowest day of Championship Week. There will be no teams from BCS conferences play, and while there are four mid-major title games, this is the only one with bubble implications. The Gonzaga/St. Mary's game (which will be on ESPN when this game ends) will be a great game to watch, but both of those teams are Tournament locks. This VCU/Drexel game, whoever wins, will create a very interesting bubble case. I am hearing a lot of people arguing for both of these teams as potential at-large teams, saying that the "eye test" says that they'll be one of the 37 best teams on Selection Sunday. And they're right, but they're wrong. Both of these teams are playing great basketball right now, but there has never been such a thing as the "eye test" - it's something that television analysts talk about, but it's not something that the Selection Committee cares about. They're picking the 37 best resumes, not the 37 best teams. Will the loser of this game be one of the 37 best resumes? Maybe. They'll get a hard look. But neither of these teams should leave things up to the Selection Committee, particularly since the bubble could end up getting a lot stronger over the next week.

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