Bracketography’s NCAA Tournament Bubble Breakdown
Updated Sunday morning at 8:00 am PT.
1) A team is only a “lock” if its chance of making the NCAA Tournament as an at-large is better than 95%.
I really don’t like moving teams out of “lock” status because they’ve lost four games in a row.
2) 31 teams earn automatic bids to the NCAA Tournament.
3) 34 teams earn at-large slots to the NCAA Tournament.
4) There are currently 27 automatic bids/one-bid leagues, 31 locks, and leaving a total of 8 open slots. Of those 8, four are pretty well spoken for, and four are in serious question.
ACC (4): Duke, Maryland, Clemson, Florida State
Big East (7+auto): Syracuse, Villanova, Georgetown, Pittsburgh, Marquette, Notre Dame
Big Ten (4+auto): Purdue, Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin
Big 12 (6+auto): Kansas State, Baylor, Texas A&M, Missouri, Texas, Oklahoma State
SEC (3): Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Tennessee
Atlantic-10 (2+auto): Temple, Richmond, Xavier
Mountain West (3+auto): New Mexico, BYU, UNLV
Auto Bids (27): Murray State, Lehigh, Old Dominion, Siena, Wofford, Oakland, Montana, Robert Morris, North Texas, Butler, Saint Mary’s, Cornell, ETSU, Winthrop, Northern Iowa, Ohio, Arkansas Pine Bluff, Vermont, UCSB, Morgan State, Sam Houston, New Mexico State, Houston, SDSU, Washington, West Virginia, Kansas
Should Be Safe (4):
Take a look at the projected scalps on Minnesota’s resume (6, 2, 5, 11, 6, 4) N-Butler, Ohio State, Wisconsin, @Illinois, N-Michigan State, N-Purdue. Had they won in Ann Arbor in their last true road game of the year, the Gophers would be a mortal lock. But they’ve clearly leapfrogged Illinois, Virginia Tech, Mississippi State, Georgia Tech, and Florida on my S-Curve.
I can’t see the regular-season champion of the #8 conference, which made the final of its conference tournament and played a very competitive game against a Bubble team, getting left home, particularly with the Bears’ insanely high RPI. Would I vote the Bears in the field if I were in the Committee room? Perhaps not, but I can’t see the Committee leaving these guys home.
Utah State (57.5%)
Aggies put up a very poor performance against the “other” Aggies last night out in Reno. Shot selection down the stretch was questionable to say the least. Still, USU does have a marquee win on its slate (BYU) that Cal and UTEP don’t have, and finished the season very, very strong.
Yes, beating Syracuse twice was great, but the Cardinals were also helped dramatically by Notre Dame’s run through the Big East Tournament–the only other Tournament-quality team they beat. I think the Cards will be safely in but their seed could suffer.
The Real Bubble (7 teams for 4 slots):
Tournament-caliber wins: none. I can’t make any logical argument for UTEP’s inclusion–they haven’t beaten a single team in the Tournament field–but it’s just a gut feeling that the Miners will not be left home.
Wake Forest (55%)
Tournament-caliber wins: @Gonzaga, Richmond, Xavier, Maryland, Georgia Tech, Clemson. On paper that looks great. The problem is that Wake has stumbled to a 9-8 overall ACC finish and got absolutely smoked by bottom-feeding Miami in its first-round game. This is a team that is extremely lucky that “how you finish” is no longer a Selection Committee criterion in 2010.
Tournament-caliber wins: @Clemson, Vanderbilt, Michigan State, @Wisconsin, N-Wisconsin, 2OT loss to Ohio State. Outside of William & Mary, no Bubble team has done better winning away from home, which is what I think the Committee relies on as its key criterion in these 50-50 situations. Chair Dan Guerrero said yesterday that the Committee was watching games during their break, right about the time Illinois went on its run against OSU at the end of regulation. They surely passed the “eye test” but will that be enough to convince the Committee of their worthiness…perhaps not if Georgia Tech and Mississippi State both pull upsets today.
Georgia Tech (52.5%)
Tournament-caliber wins: Siena, Duke, Clemson, Wake Forest, N-Maryland. That’s only one win against the top half of the bracket, no true quality road wins. Only 7-9 in regular season; now assured of a 10-10 overall finish at worst. That’s why I have Georgia Tech as my last team in the field.
———-NEED TO HELP THEMSELVES————-
Before yesterday’s antics in the WAC, Pac-10, Big Ten, CUSA, and ACC, I thought the Gators would be several teams into the field. But on closer inspection, it’s going to come down to the wire. I do think their overall resume is better than Mississippi State’s, but reasonable minds can differ. I would not fault the Committee either way for their decision on the Gators
Mississippi State (47.5%)
N-ODU. Eight R/N wins. 10-7 in the SEC. Not a single win against the top of the SEC East. Without beating Tennessee at home in the last game of the year, the Bulldogs’ resume looks more like a prototypical mid-major bubble team’s than a division champion’s. But they got the win they desperately needed against Florida yesterday. Vandy was great. Still only the Bulldogs’ second top-50 RPI win. Not sure it’s enough.
Virginia Tech (50%)
Before Hokie fans get excited about a 20-win season, VaTech’s non-conference SOS is 340. Let’s think about that. They lost their only game against a decent opponent (Temple) by 11. It was a dreadful job of scheduling. If the Hokies are left home next week, I do not want to hear Seth Greenberg whining about being snubbed by the Committee again. @Georgia Tech was an elimination game, and the Hokies survived…but faltered against Miami in the ACC Tournament. They did beat Seton Hall on a neutral floor, but other wins against Tournament-level teams were all at home. If anything, VaTech might have been rooting FOR the Yellow Jackets tonight to make sure they had a road win over a Tournament team. But a GaTech win today almost certainly boots them out of the field.
———-NEED SOME HELP————-
William & Mary (40%)
Well, well, well…the Tribe made the CAA Final after squeaking out a two-point victory over Northeastern. Yes, they have some terrible losses, but given how weak the rest of the bubble was–prior to all the upsets on Saturday–there’s still an outside chance for W&M to get in as an at-large.