Thursday, March 08, 2012

Bubble Watch: Heading Into March 8th

Three new auto bids joined the Field of 68 on Wednesday. Montana won the Big Sky, LIU won the NEC, and Lehigh won the Patriot. That brings us up to 35 Tournament locks, leaving 33 spots still open.

With the last of the conference tournaments getting under way on Thursday, the race to Selection Sunday really starts to heat up. You can see at the bottom of the page just how many bubblicious games there are.

For now, here is where the bubble stands:

Tournament locks (35 teams):
Duke, North Carolina, Belmont, Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette, Syracuse, Montana, UNC-Asheville, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Baylor, Kansas, Missouri, VCU, Detroit, Harvard, Loyola-Maryland, Creighton, Wichita State, UNLV, New Mexico, San Diego State, LIU, Murray State, Lehigh, Kentucky, Davidson, South Dakota State, Western Kentucky, Gonzaga, St. Mary's

Automatic bids yet to be awarded (16, of which 10 are not projected to be won by teams currently locked into the Tournament):
America East, ACC, A-10, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Big West, CUSA, MAC, MEAC, MWC, Pac-12, SEC, Southland, SWAC, WAC)

Teams that look safe (7):
Florida State, Temple, Notre Dame, Iowa State, Kansas State, Memphis, Florida

Teams definitely in the Tournament... for now (8):
Virginia, St. Louis, Cincinnati, UConn, Purdue, Alabama, Vanderbilt, BYU

The Bubble (16 teams for 12 bids):
Miami (Fl), Xavier, Seton Hall, South Florida, West Virginia, Northwestern, Texas, Long Beach State, Drexel, Southern Miss, 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 (12):
Maryland, Dayton, UMass, Marshall, Akron, Ohio, Wyoming, Colorado, Stanford, Arkansas, LSU, Ole Miss

Key Bubble games to be played on March 8th (all times are ET):

UConn vs Syracuse
(Noon, ESPN): UConn got the big win that they really needed over West Virginia. They can lose this game and still be in okay shape, but they also could still fall into the NIT. An upset win of Syracuse would put them firmly into the Field of 68.
Cincinnati vs Georgetown (2PM, ESPN): If the season ended now, Cincinnati would be an NCAA Tournament team, but not with a ton of room to spare. A win here over Georgetown would really put them firmly into the Tournament. With a loss, they'll have to spend the weekend rooting for all of the favorites in all of the tournaments.
NC State vs Boston College (2PM, ESPNU): NC State is still in the bubble discussion, but this is a must-win for them. If they win here and then take out Virginia on Friday, they'll put themselves onto the Tournament bubble.
Alabama vs South Carolina (4:30PM, ESPN3): Alabama is in the NCAA Tournament at the moment, but it's not impossible for them to fall back to the bubble. A win here would probably put them in the NCAA Tournament to stay, no matter what else happens.
Arizona vs UCLA (5:30PM, Fox Sports): Arizona needs to win a couple of Pac-12 tournament games, at a minimum, to make the NCAA Tournament. So this is a must-win. And UCLA is no pushover - I wouldn't be at all surprised to see UCLA win this game outright.
Colorado St vs TCU (5:30PM, MTN): Colorado State is right on the bubble now. They certainly can't afford a one-and-done in the Mountain West tournament, though. So they need to win this game.
Northwestern vs Minnesota (5:30PM, ESPN2): Minnesota's at-large hopes have been dashed, but Northwestern is still right in the thick of things. They are looking for their first NCAA Tournament bid, and will need at least one win (and perhaps two) in the Big Ten tournament. A loss here would almost certainly mean an NIT trip for Northwestern.
Washington vs Oregon State (7PM, Fox Sports): At 14-4 in Pac-12 play, Washington is in the NCAA Tournament at the moment, but what they really can't afford to do is to go one-and-done in the Pac-12 tournament. They absolutely need to take care of business here.
South Florida vs Notre Dame (9PM, ESPN): USF has something of a unique resume that is hard to figure out. But what we can say is that if they win this one then they'll be in pretty good shape. If they lose, they're going to have to sweat out Selection Sunday.
California vs Stanford (9PM, Fox Sports): California is the best placed Pac-12 team for an at-large bid, and they're still looking to be in decent shape, but they cannot afford to go one-and-done in the Pac-12 tournament. They need to win this game.
Miami (Fl) vs Georgia Tech (9PM, Fox Sports): Miami would probably be in the NCAA Tournament if the season ended now, but only narrowly. A loss to Georgia Tech would knock them out. Even if they win here, they probably need to go out on Friday and beat Florida State to feel good about their chances.
Texas vs Iowa State (9:30PM, ESPN3): This could end up the game of the day. Iowa State is safe for an at-large bid, but Texas needs this win or they'll probably end up in the NIT. With a win here, Texas will be in pretty good shape, but they'll still be a long way away from locking up a bid.
Mississippi State vs Georgia (10PM, ESPN3): Mississippi State has played themselves right out of the NCAA Tournament. Their only chance is to win a couple of games (or more) in the SEC tournament. This is a must-win.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for some excellent work here Jeff. Looking forward to an exciting Madness season. Hope the Zags make it past the 2nd round for a change, maybe losing the conference will be good luck for them (since winning it never seemed to help).

Anonymous said...

(MSU Rob) - You were wrong on a lot of teams, but dang it if you were right about Miss State.

I thought our depth would get better, but it got worse as the season went on and we got banged up some down the stretch. Oh well, we had everything in our hands, but could not close the deal time and time again. We were talented but often did not play smart... very frustrating. We didn't deserve to go to the big dance. Funny thing is, looks like a lot of those teams that were in way ahead of us are now out also. crazy end of the season for us. I'll have to come see how you finish up, but I wanted to man enough to admit you were right.

Jeff said...

Thanks for that, Rob. I appreciate you coming back and saying something - usually people don't.

We all make mistakes, and not all of my projections this year came true either. We all just try to do the best we can.