Bubble teams should be rooting against Alabama, Maryland, and Florida State…
(One question mark means you’re in, but shaky. Two question marks means you’re out, but can get in with a strong finish.)
ACC (7 teams in) – Duke, North Carolina St., Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, North Carolina, Florida St., Maryland.
Right now Maryland is 13-10 with 8 losses to the top 15. They are 4-7 in conference with 4 games remaining, 3 at home, and 2 of those against the 8th and 9th place teams in the conference. If they get to 6-10, they’ll probably still need a win in the ACC tourney to get in. But the other home game is against Wake Forest, and that is somewhat winnable as well. For now I put them down as safe.
Florida St. faces some difficulty at 6-7 and with road games against Wake and Ga. Tech, and a home game against Duke left. They really could use one of those to be comfortable. Because their non-conference schedule was so pathetic, they are less secure than Maryland in the 6-10 conference record scenario.
SEC (7) – Mississippi St., Kentucky, Florida, South Carolina, Alabama, LSU, Vanderbilt, Georgia(??).
I documented Alabama’s case in my last post. Georgia is saddled with the home loss to #200 Winthrop. That and the fact that they would be the 8th team in from the SEC, which would make Billy Packer even more bitter and angry than usual on Selection Sunday. But if the committee were truly picking the best 34 at-large teams based on their current level of play, Georgia would be on their list.
Big East (6) – Connecticut, Providence, Pittsburgh, Seton Hall, Boston College, Syracuse, Notre Dame(??).
Rutgers loses by 30+ at BC on Sunday, and still have only 2 true road wins on the year. Therefore, they have been dropped off the board.
Notre Dame has easily the worst loss among at-large possible teams with the debacle against Central Michigan (4-20). CMU was below #300 in the RPI before their Bracket Buster win.
Syracuse has proven to be barely NIT-quality since losing Billy Edelin to personal problems. If Edelin doesn’t return and the Orange continue to free-fall, they may be out as well.
Big 12 (5) – Kansas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma St., Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri(??).
Missouri has started to click – or maybe ‘sputtered less than before’ is a better way to put it – since Quin Snyder was forced to shorten his bench with the injury to big man Linas Kleiza two weeks ago. Jason Conley is finally playing like he was at VMI (24 pts, 10-14 shooting in 31 minutes against Baylor on Saturday). But Rickey Paulding still can’t shoot straight. Tuesday night, Missouri shows if its serious about this whole thing as it hosts Oklahoma State on Tuesday, who should be a #1 seed if the season ended today. If Mizzou finishes 3-1, they’ll have an RPI of approximately #34 heading into the Big 12 tourney.
Big 10 (3) – Wisconsin, Michigan St., Illinois.
There are 20 teams that have at least 5 wins over top 50 teams. Purdue’s the only one of them that won’t be dancing.
Conference USA (6) – Louisville, Cincinnati, Charlotte, UAB, Memphis, DePaul(?).
A costly home loss for DePaul against St. Louis. But DePaul gets credit for being a game ahead of Louisville in CUSA. Among common conference opponents DePaul is actually 2 games better than the Cards.
Atlantic 10 (3) – St Joseph’s, Dayton, Richmond (?), George Washington(??), Xavier(??).
All 3 bubble teams won this weekend. All sorts of permutations still possible down the stretch.
Pac 10 (2) – Stanford, Arizona.
Mountain West (3) – Air Force, BYU(?), Utah(?).
AFA’s loss at Texas Pan American knocked the whole conference down. The Falcons lead the conference by 2.5 games after the win at Utah and are still looking fairly good based on that fact alone. The MWC and A-10 may fight it out for the last bid or two.
WAC (1) – Nevada (?), UTEP(??).
The WAC is heading to a one-bid conference.
MAC (2) – Kent State, Western Michigan(?).
Kent State is the stronger of the two teams, but both must avoid another regular season loss to be able to feel good about an at-large bid.
45 bids are available from these 11 conferences, and I listed 51 teams. So that leaves 6 teams on the outside looking in.
Others: Gonzaga (a lock from the WCC), Southern Illinois (looking good from the MVC), Utah St. (Big West). Utah State is still on shaky ground after getting taken to OT by Cal Riverside in Logan.
So here’s this week’s Doubting Dozen. The top six teams would be in, the bottom six are out. Gonzaga, Southern Illinois, and Utah State are assumed to get the automatic bid from their conference. But if they don’t, the bubble divider gets moved up one team. The same applies if a team not listed from the 51 teams above gets one of their conference’s automatic bids. That means that while Nevada is listed as in, they would only get in under the ideal and unrealistic scenario that nothing stupid happens in conference tournaments. Because Nevada is the highest rated WAC team, this renders the WAC a one-bid conference right now.
1) Western Michigan (Utah St.) 2) BYU 3) Utah 4) Richmond 5) DePaul 6) Nevada ---bubble divider--- 7) UTEP 8) George Washington 9) Xavier 10) Notre Dame 11) Missouri 12) Georgia