Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Bubble Watch: Heading Into March 13th

For the most part, Tuesday was a slow night for Championship Week. The first round of the Big East tournament wasn't exactly as competitive as it's been in the past, and not a single team on the bubble played. We did have three auto bids: LIU (NEC), South Dakota State (Summit) and Valparaiso (Horizon). That does push us up to 35 NCAA Tournament locks. And that is a mark worth nothing: the majority of the Field of 68 has been filled. 33 more spots will be claimed over the next five days.

Things will start to pick up on Wednesday. We will have another automatic bid handed out (Patriot League), but more importantly we'll see more competitive games in the Mountain West and Big East tournaments. We'll also see the Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC tournament tip off, among others.

The game of the day might be San Diego State/Boise State. The winner of that game will be very safe for an NCAA Tournament bid, but the loser is going to have to sweat out Selection Sunday. Cincinnati, Villanova and Colorado are all teams on or near the bubble that really cannot afford to lose their opening games. And with all of the big boys in the Mountain West in action, we could see a total shift in the favorites if New Mexico, Colorado State or UNLV goes down.

Anyway, here is how the bubble stands as we head into Saturday, March 13th:

Tournament locks (35 teams):
Duke, Miami (Fl), North Carolina, Florida Gulf Coast, St.Louis, Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Liberty, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, James Madison, Valparaiso, Harvard, Iona, Creighton, Colorado State, New Mexico, UNLV, LIU, Belmont, Arizona, Florida, Davidson, South Dakota State, Western Kentucky, Gonzaga

Automatic bids yet to be awarded (18, of which 11 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, CUSA, MAC, MEAC, MWC, Pac-12, Patriot, SEC, Southland, SWAC, WAC)

Teams that look safe (6):
NC State, Butler, VCU, Notre Dame, Memphis, Missouri

Teams definitely in the Tournament... for now (9):
Cincinnati, Villanova, Temple, Minnesota, Iowa State, Wichita State, San Diego State, UCLA, Oregon

The Bubble (14 teams for 9 bids):
Virginia, La Salle, Illinois, Iowa, Baylor, Oklahoma, Boise State, California, Colorado, Alabama, Kentucky, Ole Miss, Tennessee, St. Mary's

Best of the rest (5):
UMass, Southern Miss, Arizona State, Arkansas, Louisiana Tech

Long shots (11):
Charlotte, Xavier, Florida State, Maryland, Providence, St. John's, Akron, Air Force, Stanford, LSU, Middle Tennessee 

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