The Official 2008 Tournament Bubble Breakdown

by David Mihm | March 15th, 2008

Here’s the article I’ll be updating throughout Championship Week to reflect the ever-changing landscape in BubbleLand. I would encourage BracketNation to post its thoughts on teams’ chances on making the NCAA Tournament, as well as seeding discussion, in the comments below.

Updated Saturday March 15, 1:00 PT

The biggest stories on The Bubble…where to begin? Why not reverse order of finish?
1) New Mexico lost to Utah in the MWC quarterfinal. The Lobos are OUT.
2) Arizona lost a semi-competitive game to Stanford, dropping its record in the last 12 games (removing two wins against Oregon State) to just 2-8 against legitimate competition. Nic Wise or no Nic Wise, thata is not very good.
3) Oregon lost a semi-competitive game to Wazzu, giving the Cougs a three-game sweep on the season. The Ducks still “look” like a Tournament team to me, but I’d feel a lot more comfortable without the Oakland-Michigan loss…
4) Georgia dashed any prayers Ole Miss may have had by knocking the Rebels out with an OT victory.
5) UNLV escaped TCU on a horrible foul call on Wink Adams’ drive. It probably puts these Rebels in the Tournament, but winning the semifinal against Utah today would be a good idea.
6) Maryland lost to Boston College, ending the Terps’ chances.
7) Charlotte beat UMass to boost its own remote chances slightly, and possibly end the Minutemen’s…I’ll be taking a very close look at both teams in the next few days. 8) Alabama crushed Florida. Gators are NIT, as predicted here way back at the beginning of January.
9) Kent State survived a can’t lose game to Toledo. I think the Golden Flashes are IN no matter what.
10) Temple survived LaSalle…will the Owls be able to clinch with a win over a streaky Charlotte team in the semis?
11) UAB and Houston, two teams which I barely had on my board to begin with, are OUT after CUSA quarterfinal defeats.
12) Miami beat NC State in a can’t lose game. ‘Canes are in.
13) St Joe’s beat Richmond in a can’t lose game. Beat Xavier today and the Hawks would be awfully close, pending results elsewhere.
14) Arizona State lost to USC on yet another awful call from Pac-10 officials…the Sun Devils clearly looked the part of an NCAA-caliber team, except for the last 8 minutes of the game where they went without a FG…
15) West Virginia locked up a bid by beating UConn. ‘Eers playing for seeding now.
16) Xavier polished off Dayton, and likely the Flyers’ NCAA chances.
17) Georgetown beat Villanova and forced the Wildcats into the worst game ever: “the waiting game.”

The Math: 23 teams for 10 slots.

Total Locks: 35
Total One-Bid Leagues: 16
Total Near-Locks:4


Tournament At-Large Locks (35)

The following teams have locked up NCAA Tournament berths, regardless of what happens during Championship Week. (* = automatic bid)

Atlantic 10 (1) – Xavier
ACC (4) – North Carolina, Duke, Clemson, Miami FL
Big East (7) – Georgetown, Louisville, Notre Dame, UConn, Marquette, Pittsburgh, West Virginia
Big Ten (4) – Wisconsin, Purdue, Indiana, Michigan State
Big XII (4) – Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas A&M
Colonial (1) – George Mason*
Conference USA (1) – Memphis
Missouri Valley (1) – Drake*
Mountain West (1) – BYU
Pac-10 (4) – UCLA, Stanford, Washington State, USC
SEC (4) – Tennessee, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, Arkansas
Sun Belt (1) – Western Kentucky*
WCC (2) – Gonzaga, San Diego*

Automatic “One-Bid” Leagues, regardless of the champion (16)

Horizon League – Butler*, SoCon – Davidson*, Patriot - American, MAAC - Siena*, Big Sky - Portland State*, WAC, Summit – Oral Roberts*, NEC – Mt St Mary’s*, Ivy – Cornell*, Big West, America East - UMBC*, Big South – Winthrop*, Atlantic Sun – Belmont*, Ohio Valley – Austin Peay*, MEAC, SWAC

Tournament At-Large Probables (4)

The following teams have a better than 90% chance of making the Tournament, regardless of what happens during Championship Week.

Big XII – Kansas State
SEC - Kentucky
WCC - Saint Mary’s
MAC - Kent State

True Bubble Teams

Teams are listed in order on my S-Curve.

UNLV – Prior to Missouri State’s snub a couple of years ago, I’d have said that UNLV was safe. The Rebels sport a top-30 RPI, and have a nice home win over BYU. Beyond that, there’s nothing all that impressive, and Lon Kruger’s team is “only” 6-3 in its last nine games. The Committee “loves” the Mountain West (see: Air Force’s inclusion two years ago), but given that UNLV is hosting the MWC Tournament, the Committee might expect them to win it.Odds of making the NCAA Tournament as an at-large: 70-30.
Likely Seed: 8 – 12.

South Alabama - Well, the Jags have gotten the help they’ve needed from the rest of the Bubble. I wrote earlier that “too many other teams can play their way PAST the Jaguars with big conference tournament wins,” but so far pretty much every single one of those teams has suffered an early Tournament exit. South Alabama’s neutral-court win over San Diego in the pre-conference season is looking better now that the Toreros have won the WCC, but their RPI has plummeted a full 13 spots in the last week. I’ll continue to take a close look at this team today and tomorrow, but I think they’re going to scrape in as of now…especially if Mississippi State makes the SEC Final tonight.

Odds of making the NCAA Tournament as an at-large: 54-46.
Likely Seed: 10 – 13.

St Joseph’s – The Hawks are now looking decent for an at-large slot, thanks to a second win over Xavier in the last two weeks.  The Hawks’ R/N record is 12-6, and although they finished behind UMass by a game in the A-10 standings, their non-conference win over Villanova now looks better than UMass’ win over Syracuse.  Better beat Temple tonight to take the decision out of the Committee’s hands, however.

Odds of making the NCAA Tournament as an at-large: 52-48.
Likely Seed: 10 – NIT.

Baylor – Baylor did not survive its can’t lose game against Colorado, but with everyone else around them losing, I can’t see the Bears falling completely out of the Tournament. N-Notre Dame and N-Winthrop are both looking pretty good right now, and Baylor also beat fellow bubble-dweller Texas A&M in their own house, and picked up a late-season win against streaking Kansas State. I’ve gotta believe a 9-8 overall record in the #3 RPI conference, combined with a 9-6 R/N record will be good enough.

Odds of making the NCAA Tournament as an at-large: 60/40.
Likely Seed: 9-12.

Villanova – Despite Wednesday’s win over Syracuse, after the Georgetown loss, ‘Nova is still only 3-6 against the RPI top 50 but owns wins over West Virginia and UConn late in the year. Sadly, they’re missing a marquee W away from home, a gap which the game against Georgetown would certainly have filled. However, early season wins N-George Mason and N-Temple are now looking much better, and they did finish a true .500 against a good Big East schedule (as opposed to West Virginia’s version).

Odds of making the NCAA Tournament as an at-large: 55-45.
Likely Seed: 10-12.

Arizona and Ohio State -Here’s an informative comparison, if the discussion comes down to Arizona and Ohio State:

Arizona: 9-11 in de facto #1 league, 8-8 away from Tucson, 4-8 in its last 12 games, with significant injury to Nic Wise for several games
Best wins: @USC, @WSU, WSU, @UNLV, Texas A&M, San Diego State, @Houston
Bad losses: none.

Ohio State: 10-9 in #6 league, 5-10 away from Columbus, 4-8 in its last 12 games, no injury issues
Best wins: N-Syracuse, @Cleveland St, Florida, MD-BalCo, Purdue, Michigan State
Bad losses: @Iowa, @Michigan (both in last 12 games)

Personally, I don’t see any way that Ohio State gets in over Arizona in a head-to-head comparison. Obviously there are other teams under consideration on the board, but this one seems clear-cut to me …

Arizona’s Odds of making the NCAA Tournament as an at-large: 52-48.
Likely Seed: 8 – 12.

Ohio State’s Odds of making the NCAA Tournament as an at-large: 48-52.
Likely Seed: 11 – NIT.

Arizona State - If this team does indeed make the NCAA Tournament, the Sun Devils can point to the home win over Southern Cal two weeks ago as the one that sealed their bid. If they fail to make it, it will not be because ASU lost to the Trojans in the first round of the Pac-10 Tournament on a questionable call; instead it will be failing to win a far easier game at the end of February: at home to Cal.

Odds of making the NCAA Tournament as an at-large: 51-49.
Likely Seed: 9-12.

Temple – Temple played a brutal non-conference schedule and has three good wins in conference play (Xavier, UMass, @Saint Joseph’s). But the A-10 Tournament will be highly competitive, and as with South Alabama, too many teams can pass the Owls. They need to reach the Final to really feel good about their chances, and simply must beat Charlotte today. But their chances of an at-large with a trip to the Final have improved dramatically since Championship Week began.

Odds of making the NCAA Tournament as an at-large: 50-50.
Likely Seed: 10-13.

VCU – After re-examining VCU’s resume on Thursday…the Rams’ outright regular-season title (by three full games no less) just might be good enough to make the NCAA’s, what with the chaos occurring all around them on the rest of the Bubble…

Odds of making the NCAA Tournament as an at-large: 50-50.
Likely Seed: 11 – NIT.

__________________________________________________________Oregon – The Ducks, Wildcats, and Sun Devils are no doubt going to be the most hotly debated teams on Selection Sunday. Despite the fact that the Committee does not look at conference affiliation when selecting teams, it is hard for me to imagine the nation’s best league getting only four in. When that exact situation happened with the ACC a couple of years ago, it wasn’t as big a surprise because the middle of that league simply wasn’t that good. Having seen a dozen Pac-10 games in person this year, the Sun Devils, Ducks, and Wildcats all deserve bids, in that order, but I’m not sure it’s going to happen. At this point, I think the sweep of the ‘Cats by both teams gets them in ahead of Arizona.

Odds of making the NCAA Tournament as an at-large: 50-50.
Likely Seed: 10-12.

Illinois State – For a team that looked SO solid going into The Valley Tournament, last week couldn’t have been worse. First they get blown out by 30 points on national television in the MVC Final, then VCU, South Alabama, and Saint Mary’s all lose. The Redbirds are a discouraging 0-5 against the RPI Top 50, and don’t own a marquee non-conference win. It’s looking like a one-bid year for the first time in ages for The Valley. But with everyone around them losing, does the trip to the Valley Final now become a feather in the cap of Tim Jankovich’s team? This is another team that is very, very close to inclusion.

Odds of making the NCAA Tournament as an at-large: 45-55.
Likely Seed: 11 – NIT.

Ohio State (see above)

Charlotte – If Bobby Lutz’s team beats Temple today, it’s hard for me to see them getting left home. Yes, there are some bad losses, but the 49ers are 9-7 against the RPI Top 100, including early-season wins over Davidson, Wake Forest, Southern Illinois and @Clemson. They’re 11-8 overall in A-10 play, and split the regular season series with Temple.

Odds of making the NCAA Tournament as an at-large: 40/60.
Likely Seed: 11 – NIT.

Virginia Tech – We’re still talking about the Hokies…barely. The win over Miami FL was big for Seth Greenberg’s team, and after taking Carolina very deep, they have a chance.  But there’s just nothing at all exciting about VaTech’s non-conference resume.  As Jay Bilas said earlier, there are teams with similar resumes, but better wins…

Odds of making the NCAA Tournament as an at-large: 30/70.
Likely Seed: 12 – NIT.

UMass – Ugh. The Minutemen laid an egg against Charlotte in the second half of a can’t lose affair. Non-conference wins at Syracuse and over Houston look a lot worse now than they did then, as does their win at Dayton. A 10-7 record away from Amherst works in their favor, but I think UMass needed at least one A-10 Tourney win to get in.

Odds of making the NCAA Tournament as an at-large: 30/70.
Likely Seed: 11 – NIT.

New Mexico – Most other analysts seem to like this team as “IN,” but with the quarterfinal loss to Utah, I think the Lobos are unequivocally out. JR Giddens’ turnaround under Steve Alford has been well-documented, but the fact is that Ritchie McKay and Alford’s #263 non-conference SOS does not earn them any brownie points with the Committee, nor does their 1-4 record against the RPI Top 50.Odds of making the NCAA Tournament as an at-large: 20-80.
Likely Seed: 10 – NIT.

Syracuse – Let me be about the 384th analyst to officially welcome Jim Boeheim back to the Bubble again. The difference for Boeheim this year is a) his SOS is #9 in the country and b) the team has overcome tremendous adversity with respect to injuries just to get into consideration. The opening round Big East Tournament game with Villanova probably eliminated the ‘Cuse, though.

Odds of making the NCAA Tournament as an at-large: 25-75.
Likely Seed: 11 – NIT.

Dayton – Those wins against Pittsburgh and Louisville are just too long ago to be given much weight…for now. All that could change if the Flyers were to make a run to the A-10 Final. Dayton lost a monumental second-round game to Xavier in the second round on Thursday…

Odds of making the NCAA Tournament as an at-large: 22-78.
Likely Seed: 8 – NIT.

Stephen F Austin – To my mind, the Lumberjacks needed to make the Southland final in order to have a realistic at-large chance, despite an early-season wins at Oklahoma and at San Diego.

Odds of making the NCAA Tournament as an at-large: 20-80.
Likely Seed: 12 – NIT.

Southern Illinois – A 5-11 record away from Carbondale, and ending the season with two consecutive defeats spells curtains for Chris Lowery’s team, despite a solid resume which includes N-Mississippi State, Saint Mary’s, Western Kentucky, and Drake.

Odds of making the NCAA Tournament as an at-large: 5-95.
Likely Seed: 12 – NIT.

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55 Responses to “The Official 2008 Tournament Bubble Breakdown”  

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  1. you Says:

    You have Arkansas needing a first round win in the SEC tournament to get in. GUess what, Arkansas doesn’t play in the first round. they have a first round bye

    shhh. stop talking. your knowledge is endless.

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  2. Jon Says:

    It’s safe to say that Maryland is not “on the outside looking in”. Last night, Virginia opened the door and booted them a few blocks over. They can’t even see the window now.

    Maryland has played very poor late in the season. The 3 point loss at the buzzer to Clemson after being up by 20, losing to Miami and to the worst team in the ACC (Virginia). 8-8 isn’t cutting it in the ACC this year and Maryland clearly does not stand a chance to win the ACC tourney.

    It has been a very, very dissapointing ending to the season for Gary Williams….he deserves players with at least half of his passion. He’s too good of a coach to keep getting crap recruits. He can only do so much. With so much talent in the DC area, you would think MD would recruit better, instead they get sub-par players from the West Coast. I can’t figure it out. Clearly, the recruiting needs to be looked at and addressed, or Gary Williams will continue to see his dreams flushed year in and year out………

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  3. coolbreeze Says:


    i think you left out four automatics
    mid continent
    mid america

    this changes things a bit

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  4. Jake Says:

    @David Mihm I don’t see why you have the Hurricanes with a 85% chance. I think they’ll take an early exit in the ACC tourney.

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  5. David Mihm Says:

    @ “you” – you’re talking semantics here. What you refer to as the first round, I would refer to as the opening round. It’s Arkansas’ first round game, and they need to win it.

    @Jon – agreed, Maryland has some serious work to do in the ACC Tournament now.

    @Coolbreeze – Actually, I purposely left those out as pure one-bid leagues, because at the time I wrote this, it wasn’t clear that they would only get one bid. VCU, Kent State, South Alabama, and Davidson all have legit at-large profiles. Davidson is IN now as an automatic; the Mid-Con is now called the Summit this year.

    @Jake – Their non-conference profile is very good, and the odds are “as of right now” – that’s why I’m going to update throughout the week :)

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  6. Leena Says:

    I’m not sold that St. Mary’s is even in the tourney now, let alone a “home” seed. 3 teams from the West Coast will be tough. Losing 3 of their last 5, along with zero impressive wins outside of Moraga, I don’t know.

    I assume South Alabama is NIT bound now. Tough year for the top seeds in the conference tournies.

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  7. Sam Says:

    How is Southern Illinois on the outside looking in? Yes, they beat Mississippi State, St. Mary’s and Drake, but they are also loaded with bad losses, and have a terrible road record. I don’t ever remember a team with 14 losses getting an at-large bid, and it won’t happen to a team that’s not in a power conference. They shouldn’t even be under consideration.

    Also, you say that the committee loves the MWC based on Air Force’s inclusion two years ago. But don’t forget that Air Force was then snubbed last year with an RPI of 30.

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  8. Andrew Force Says:


    I agree with you. Southern Illinois isnt even close nor should they be.

    That said your comment, “I don’t ever remember a team with 14 losses getting an at-large bid, and it won’t happen to a team that’s not in a power conference.”
    is well taken, but Southern Illinois’ ridiculously difficult schedule is not normal.

    They have the 13th hardest SOS in the nation. Their pre-conference SOS was 4!

    If they would have handled their business, their inclusion would have been acceptable mathematically.

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  9. Joe Says:

    @ David Mihm

    Another thing the Selection Committee will know….

    Arizona is 15-5 with Bayless and Wise (2 starters)
    Arizona is 3-8 without either Bayless and/or Wise (2 starters)

    I’m just surprised how none of the major sports networks seem to know this.

    Living in the Pac-10 is tough we don’t get to beat up the cupcakes like other conferences. We only have one cupcake, but they are in really bad shape (Oregon State (2)).

    For example:
    SEC: LSU, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, Auburn
    B10: Northwestern, Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, Penn State.
    BE: Rugers, South Florida, St. John’s, DePaul, Providence
    ACC: Boston College, NC State, Virginia, Georgia Tech
    XII: Colorado, Iowa State, Missouri

    If other teams can claim wins from these teams, why can’t Arizona claim wins against Oregon State? That is what bothers me about all these hypocrites claiming Arizona needing two wins. When every other team that is on the bubble in a major conference at least has inflated win totals by at least 2 wins if not more.

    Hell if only W’s and L’s mattered then if Arizona played Florida’s schedule they would have at least 25 wins. But it does matter who is on your schedule and if you play road/neutral games and/or home games.

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  10. Christopher Mackinder Says:

    @ Joe: I live in Big Ten country but I still have a good feel for the Pac-10 conference (not as much as our own David Mihm, of course). But, I do have to say that teams deal with injuries all season – you don’t hear about how Michigan State lost a game when Drew Neitzel was out with the flu or something like that. Has anyone mentioned that UNC went 6-0 without Ty Lawson? The point is, every team deals with injuries, sometimes it happens to a team’s best player. But, the best teams still find ways to win. Arizona, as you show, hasn’t done that.

    I don’t believe a team should get a free pass because, for 1/3 of the season, it wasn’t at full strength. Yes, Arizona is 15-5 with Bayless playing. That’s great (and, for the record, still more losses than plenty of upper echelon teams have over the entire season!) but that is only 2/3 of the season. If we looked at a piece of the season for every team, it would be impossible to field a bracket.

    Also, you mentioned other power conferences and say they have a bunch of teams to beat up on… I find this very biased in your opinion. Oregon State is awful, everyone knows that. But to say that Washington and Cal are solid teams and then lumping teams like Alabama, Providence, DePaul and Georgia Tech into the “terrible” category is a little off. Yes, Cal almost beat UCLA (likely should have) but that doesn’t all of a sudden make Cal a team we should fear. If that was the case, Penn State wouldn’t be on your list for beating both Indiana and Michigan State; Ga Tech wouldn’t be listed for beating Clemson and Notre Dame; Missouri wouldn’t be on your list for beating Texas… etc.

    Do I think Arizona is one of the best 34 at-large teams? Yeah, I do. Do I think they’ve earned the right to play in this year’s NCAA Tournament? Absolutely not.

    The 30-game season is where teams should be judged, not based on a few games here or a few games there. This has to be the biggest case, that I can remember, of a team (and fans alike) to ask the committee to extremely special considerations. I know the committee takes injuries into account – and it should, to a point. A line needs to be drawn and Arizona continues trying to cross it.

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  11. David Mihm Says:

    Just want to respond here quickly; I’ll be writing a piece in a little more depth later this week with “miscellaneous Tournament thoughts” where I’ll look at why Arizona will likely be included in the field, why Texas will get a #2, and more.

    It’s true Arizona has had a bunch of injuries, but they need to prove that they can win with Wise back in the lineup. He played a great game in Eugene Saturday night, but the team lost a game against a Tournament-caliber opponent. It’s unfortunate that they get two games against Oregon State in the same week, because they really aren’t going to tell the Committee anything. There’s still a chance they’ll get in with a loss to Stanford, but I think they need it.

    That said, I’m willing to bet I’ve watched more Pac-10 basketball than any other major analyst this season, with the possible exception of Doug Gottlieb, and one of the few things that he and I have EVER agreed on is the fact that the league deserves six at-large bids to the NCAA Tournament this year. The league is deeper than any in the country, and has enough power in the top four to contend with any other conference.

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  12. Ryan Says:

    Is there any chance of the A-10 sending 3 teams if 2 of Saint Joseph’s, Dayton or Umass make it to the finals?


    I feel you. Before the conference play, smaller conferences were looking to send multiple teams (A-10 projected 3-4).

    After conference play, the cannibalistic play brought these numbers down in the small conference (A-10 now only Xavier has at-large). While in the power conferences, the inner splits and upsets helped the underdog while the powerhouse team remained popular and remained at large (overall helping the conference). In the smaller conferences, the upsets crushed the topdog’s chances of making the NCAA, while in no way helping the underdog (overall hurting the conference). Such as Villanova having better odds then Temple to make it into the tournament, even though both had very similar inner-conference plays. Villanova increased its odds without hurting the chances of the conferences top dog, where as Temple knocked out Saint Joe’s and possibly UMASS.

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  13. Will Says:

    Arkansas could very well play Vanderbilt in their first game of the tournament – a team they barely held off in Arkansas a month ago. Should be an entertaining game.

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  14. John Says:

    @ Leena. Obviously, you don’t watch a lot of West Coast basketball. Saint Mary’s beat Drake, Oregon, Gonzaga and Seton Hall, plus they lost to San Diego in the WCC Semifinals ON SAN DIEGO’S HOME COURT. Also, to say South Alabama is automatically in the NIT is patently ridiculous. They have wins over Mississippi State, San Diego(how good does that win look right now?), and they swept Western Kentucky(the Sun Belt Champions.) Their profile is much better then most at-large teams. And to say that it’s ”a tough year for the top seeds in the conference tournies” is just not paying attention. Austin Peay, Belmont, Drake, Siena, Davidson, Oral Roberts, and Butler have all won their conference tournaments as top seeds.

    @ Joe. Finishing 8-10 does not help your cause and David is right: Playing Oregon State twice does nothing for the Wildcats. Injuries are no excuse. You play with what you got. Why say “if Arizona played Florida’s schedule they’d have 25 wins”? Why not compare Arizona to another team besides Florida lol? Good luck to the Wildcats in LA.

    @ David Mihm. I agree with you completely about Stephen F. Austin. This team could definitely win a game in the NCAA Tournament should they get there. I also think San Diego could win a game in the Tournament with their underrated duo of Brandon Johnson and Gyno Pomare. What teams have looked most impressive so far on Championship Week? I say Drake and Belmont.

    Finally a few fun facts:

    Maybe we should have seen San Diego’s WCC Championship Game win over Gonzaga coming. As in 2003, the Zags had won the conference tournament 4 straight years(1999-2002), much like this time(2004-2007). As in 2003, the WCC Tournament was played in San Diego’s Jenny Craig Pavilion.

    Winthrop, Austin Peay and Belmont all won their conference championship games by 18 points(Winthrop 66-48 over N.C.-Asheville, Austin Peay 82-64 over Tennessee State and Belmont 79-61 over Jacksonville.) I wonder if 3 teams have ever won their respective conference championship games by the same margin on the same day before.

    Siena and San Diego both rallied from 17 points down to win their conference tournament semifinal games.

    Maryland-Baltimore County will host Hartford in the America East Championship Game. Neither team has ever made the NCAA Tournament. This is the first conference championship game since the 2006 Atlantic Sun final(Belmont vs Lipscomb) where this has occurred.

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  15. Leena Says:

    @ John: Obviously, you aren’t aware of the definition of home games.

    I agree that South Alabama’s resume is impressive, but I’m being realistic that they are probably NIT-bound.

    I guess 6-7 of the 11 conference tournament champions at the time is pretty good. My bad.

    For someone who is doing this because Lunardi is an unworthy know-it-all… the people here sure are condescending pricks. Good job losing a viewer, David. :)

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  16. David Mihm Says:

    Leena, I am concerned about your comment that the staff of this site are “condescending pricks”…the only responses I’ve made have been entirely factual. Same for Andrew Force’s comment. Chris Mackinder expressed an opinion, but backed it up with a legitimate argument.

    All other comments on this thread so far are from readers…

    Also, as I’ve said on numerous occasions throughout the site, I have great respect for Joe Lunardi, but it’s important to know that he (nor I, nor Jerry Palm, nor any other analyst) has a 100% perfect idea, or even a 90% perfect idea, of what the Committee is going to do!

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  17. John Says:

    @ Leena. What decent team would schedule St. Mary’s on their home court? It’s the old argument of winning the game does more for St. Mary’s then the team that hosts them(in a power conference, of course.) Take that into consideration.

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  18. David Mihm Says:

    John, I would say that if Saint Mary’s can continue to build the kind of program that Gonzaga, Butler, Xavier, Davidson, and others have built — home-and-homes that are really neutral-and-neutrals (something like Oracle Arena for Saint Mary’s) will become an option that Randy Bennett should look into.

    But I think what Leena was referring to with her “home” argument was my placement of the Gaels in Anaheim…which is nowhere near a home game against potentially UCLA, but it IS the closest site, and only one slot from their true S-Curve slot on the #10 line.

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  19. Nick Says:

    i personally think Oregon is in because they have closed down the stretch winning three straight games two of them against Arizona and Arizona State. Also they have taken UCLA down to the last 2 or 3 minutes. Not to mention they are playing in one of the toughest leagues in the country.

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  20. coolbreeze Says:

    how will the committee take into account Villanova loses to NCSt. and Georgetown. As you know, both games had fantom calls with less than 1 second on the clock. Nova would have won the State game and the G-town game would have went into ot.

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  21. John Says:

    @ David Mihm. I think it was good for the conference that San Diego won the WCC Tournament. While it is true that if Gonzaga was not as good as they were, the WCC would not be in a position to recieve a TV contract to televise a WCC game every week after the Mountain West left for ESPN. At the same time, with San Diego defeating Gonzaga, it shows there are other viable programs in the WCC. Teams may start to look at the rest of the WCC, and not just Gonzaga. Saint Mary’s is part of that ”other exposure” for the conference. Perhaps, a few more Big Mondays without Gonzaga will come the WCC’s way. Also:

    I think if Dayton defeats Xavier tommorrow, they are in.

    I don’t know if you agree or not, but if Leena was talking about the site of St. Mary’s game, I don’t pay attention to that, because the pod system ruined the structure of the NCAA Tournament.

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  22. Andrew Force Says:

    @ Coolbreeze

    I am of the opinion a loss is a loss and a win is a win. Illinois State lost to Drake by 30 in the final game of the MVC Tournament final. They get no credit for competing, but they shouldnt be penalized beyond the loss.

    In the same vein, Oregon does not brownie points for coming close against UCLA. Ten teams came close against UCLA. Not one of them should be patted on the butt for a nice try.

    Villanova got shafted twice, NC State and Georgetown. It isnt fair, but neither is the fact that it takes 25 wins to get in from the Colonial or MAC conferences.

    Villanova lost to Georgetown and probably needs to beat them today to be comfortable.

    I understand your stance, just disagree with the merits of close losses.

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  23. David Says:

    I do not understand the thinking that Oregon would not be ahead of Arizona. Yes the Ducks had a couple of bad losses, but in your analysis, you mention that the Win against Stanford was at the beginning of the conference season. However, so were those two bad losses – Oregon did sweep Arizona and winning AT Arizona is difficult. Plus it took time for Oregon to get the guard play resolved. Porter is just now coming into form. Last year he had free reign due to Aaron Brooks being in the lineup. They finished the conference strong with sweep against both AZ schools. Thanks

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  24. David Mihm Says:

    David, I actually believe that the Ducks are a better team than the Wildcats, but I base my projections on the selection criteria, and how previous Committees have considered those criteria. When one team is #5 in the non-conference RPI (Arizona) and the other is #66 (Oregon), that is a significant factor. Their conference RPI’s are more or less equal (Oregon 46, Arizona 54).

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  25. coolbreeze Says:

    watching georgetown in the big east tournament this afternoon got me thinking. since you guys are big on the odds, what are the odds of John Thompson III coaching Patrick Ewing Jr., to a national championship just as John Thompson II coaching Ewing to a championship. I am assuming this has never been done before in which the son of a coach, coached the son of one of the coaches fathers former players. At the same school none the less.
    whatever the odds are, i’ll take ‘em

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  26. tarlander Says:

    pac 10 the great!
    I know its hard to send east coast to pacific very often, goodness, the reason they all play is that their in school to better their life. but to read the strength of pac 10 and noone compares eirks me. we did send one of our acc teams over there even though they are basically at the bottom of our pit and you say they give 2 free games to the rest of the conference but Arizona wished they stayed over here. We sent duke to Hawaii but that must have been too far to travel for the pac 10 so duke came home with a trophy. the RPI ratings I see dont show the pac 10 as the best conference. easier non conf. schedule and lower non-conf RPI.
    the worst ACC team is ranked 136, a far cry from 266. the top 5 of the big East went 0-2 against the ACC.
    Non conference games are the way they are because of the non-power conf.
    and the power conf. usually dont have to prove too much
    —shafted by NC state? William & Mary probably think the same thing when they lost to the worst of the ACC
    Take the wins in the bottom 3 teams of each conference and they both are at the lucky number of 13. there is no free games in the ACC from the little guys when they stand beside the pac 10 in that respect.
    Everyone has good teams & bad. ACC goes from 1 down, PAC 10 from 3 down.
    I agree with the end of the season play. some teams rippen up and can go far in the tournament even though they stunk early on.

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  27. John Says:

    It’s amazing how weak the bubble is. Syracuse and UAB are definitely out. Teams like Arizona, Arizona State, Dayton, Villanova and Mississippi will definitely be sweating out these next two days. I think Massachusetts is safe. Arkansas, Ohio State, Saint Joseph’s and Virginia Tech all have opportunities to punch their tickets with wins Friday in their respective conference tournaments. Miami-Fla solidified their spot. I also think that Illinois State and Virginia Commonwealth are now back in the mix. I’m wondering if a team from the WAC could merit consideration. South Alabama will get in based on the happenings of Thursday. Baylor suffered an awful loss, but will make it based on their overall body of work. As for my team, well it’s been a tough season(by our standards), but i’ll be happy for this young team to get the experience and hopefully that experience will help us finish off games next year. Finally, did anyone realize there is a third postseason tournament? It’s called the College Basketball Invitaitonal. 16 teams will be invited, all games are on campus sites, and the championship round is best 2-of-3.

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  28. Tim Says:

    I hope you’ll change your mind about South Alabama, after what happened today!!!

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  29. Joe Says:

    VCU in over Arizona, Wow?!

    VCU bad losses: James Madison, Old Dominion, Hampton and William & Mary (tournament)
    VCU notable wins: Maryland, Houston
    VCU close losses: Miami by 6, Arkansas by 10
    VCU RPI: 55
    VCR SOS: 154

    Arizona bad losses: Virginia, @ Washington
    Arizona notable wins: Washington State (2), USC, Texas A&M, Cal St. – Fullerton, UNLV, Houston
    Arizona close losses: @ Kansas by 4 (OT), UCLA by 2, Stanford by 1
    Arizona RPI: 34
    Arizona SOS: 2

    I hope you reconsider.

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  30. Dex Says:

    David Mihm, I was thinking the the MWC tourney is in Las Vegas, right? I see that you have BYU winning that tournament. That makes since considering that BYU is pretty hot right now and probably has a better team overall, but my pick is UNLV for these reasons: It is on their home court, the Rebels beat the Cougars by 29 in the Thomas & Mack Center in January, UNLV is 18-2 at home this year and perfect at home in MWC play and the majority of the wins came by 10 points or more. Just my opinion.

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  31. Joseph Baressi Says:

    If SFA loses to Sam Houston St in the Southland Conference finals, I would have to disagree with your odds (12-88) that they’ll be an at-large bid. I think it’s closer to 50-50.

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  32. steve Says:

    IF Arizona makes the field then why not Arizona State? ASU swept Arizona head to head man! PAC-10 is strong and deserves 5-6 bids to the dance..period.

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  33. David Mihm Says:

    Steve, I agree. I have ASU pretty safely in the field…several slots ahead of the Wildcats on my S-Curve. ???

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  34. Michael Greenway Says:

    I believe that the Pac-10 should get all 7 teams in. Oregon beat ASU and Arizona the last weekend before the pac-10 tourney. Arizona has played the toughest schedule in the country and beat USC 80-69 at the Galen Center. Arizona State beat Xavier by 22 pts and beat USC 80-66. All three of these “bubble” teams have no reason to be on the bubble as far as I am concerened these teams are in. Arizona. St will be a 12 seed, Oregon will also be a 12 seed while Arizona will be a 10 seed.

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  35. Michael Greenway Says:

    One more question, If Boise.St (23-8) beats Utah.St but gets beat by New Mexico.St in the WAC Championship, would 24-9 Boise.St be able to get in to the NCAA Tourney?

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  36. David Mihm Says:

    RE: WAC getting two bids, I don’t see it happening. Boise’s blowout loss at home to Siena pretty much ended their chances, even though the win over San Diego is looking better right now…

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  37. Chris Says:

    I think some of the other guys at ESPN are idiots with their rationale as to why Zona and AState get in without considering Syracuse. No offense, but the committee members owe the Orange just based on last years embarrassing decision to be left out. I would think Arizona has got the upper hand on AState, but how can you honestly sit there and tell me AState has a much better chance then Syracuse. Especially since Devendorf their leader and best player at the time was lost to injury during the year. That absolutely has to be taken into consideration. It’s a complete outrage and it is a huge problem with thisTournament. Politics plays a huge role in this and it is never discussed. Favoritism also shows. The Big East really should get 9 teams based on how difficult the conference is over the likes of Dayton or Baylor. Any of these mid majors wouldn’t stand a chance in the Big East or any big conference for that matter over the course of a year. So to any committee member who visits this site, you better really crunch the numbers this year and take a hard look at all of these bubble teams and pick fairly. If not I might call for another snub.

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  38. David Mihm Says:

    Chris, first of all, Baylor is not a mid-major, and the Big XII is actually rated ahead of the Big East in the RPI. I don’t believe it’s actually a better league, but there are many more bad teams at the bottom of the Big East, including South Florida, which Syracuse lost to.

    Secondly, Devendorf’s injury, along with Rautins’, would only be taken into account by the Committee if either player were going to be available for the Tournament. As that is not the case, the Committee will rightly evaluate the Orange based on the resume it has put together in their absence. Syracuse still does have a chance at selection, but they’re clearly behind the 8-ball.

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  39. Josh Denny Says:

    hey dave who would u say gets in the ncaa tournment before the other a mid major with 22 wins and a second place finish or a team in a major conference with 18 wins and a .500 conference record. They have the same sos. Just a little argument between me and a friend. Thanks, and agree mostly with your bracket though i do think syracuse has a better chance of getting in than say a charlotte or an illinois state with just so so competition.

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  40. David Mihm Says:

    It completely depends on whom those wins were against, and where they were, both temporally and geographically. The thing that hurts Syracuse is the only decent road win for the Orange is at Villanova, a team they just lost to on a neutral court by 19 points.

    I agree that they should be getting more consideration than other analysts are giving them, though.

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  41. Mike Says:

    Leading NCAA tournament analysts???? Giving yourself a little undeserved credit I see. Never heard of you.

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  42. David Mihm Says:

    Mike, happy to see you’ve found your way to our site…what took you so long? ;)

    I think if you compare Bracketography’s record to that of other bracket analysts, you will agree with that assessment. We don’t necessarily claim to be the best, but we do claim to be among the best.

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  43. Michael Says:

    After the tough loss aganist UCLA, will USC still get at least a number 6 seed come sunday?

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  44. Michael Says:


    Much of the talk on the discussion board has focused on the at-large hopes of Oregon and the two Arizona schools (Arizona, Arizona St.).

    I know this will sound like a narrow-minded Big East fan-and I do follow the league closely-but I wouldn’t be surprised if all three teams Pac-10 bubble teams were left out.

    -Arizona is 4-6 in last 10 games. The committee often excludes teams who perform so poorly down the stretch. Also, a losing record in conference. Teams with losing records almost never receive at-large bids.

    -Arizona St. killed its chances in November & December. It’s non-conference SOS is 301. The Sun Devils beat a quality Xavier club, but played absolutely no one else the first two months. Buying wins against Idaho, Montana St., and St. Francis (PA) was good for their record, but bad for their RPI.

    -Oregon, who I think has the weakest at-large profile among the three, did finish 3-1 against the Arizona schools. This could help come selection time. But, Oregon was just 1-7 against the top four teams in the Pac-10 (UCLA, Stan, Wash St., USC).

    In my opinion, the Pac-10 probably is the best basketball conference this season. That said, I’m not sure if that’s because the conference seems to lack in terrible teams-except Oregon St.-like many other power conferences. As mentioned by many earlier, there really aren’t any easy wins.

    Is the idea of only four Pac-10 teams making the Big Dance so far fetched? Thoughts?

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  45. Sam Says:

    Here are my thoughts on Arizona and Arizona State:

    Arizona: I personally think they’re out. As I said earlier, 14 losses is where usually a team should no longer be considered for an at-large candidate. Arizona is an exception, in that they still have a chance, because they played such a tough schedule, but I think they’re out. Not only do they have a 4-8 record in their last 12 games, but 2 of those wins are over Oregon State, the only truly bad team in the Pac-10, and another is over California, the second worst team in the league. In a conference where there’s just so many possibilities for big wins, they’ve produced just one big win in their last 12 games. I can’t see them in.

    Arizona State: Now here’s where I don’t like using a numerical ranking for schedule strength. They have a 301 nonconference SOS because they played a lot of bad teams, but their schedule still had some decent teams. They beat a tough Xavier team by 22. One of their losses is to Nebraska, who has been very tough at home this year, and shouldn’t count as a bad loss. I think they’re one of the last teams in.

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  46. Jeff Says:

    So Utah St. is out for sure, and the WAC team will be either Boise St. or NMSU?

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  47. Philly Dog Says:

    I think Arizona State is out. Sure, RPI is not everything, but at #83, Arizona State would be getting picked ahead of a number of teams with better resumes. I’ll give you one: Southern Illinois.

    61 RPI, 15 SOS, 5-7 against RPI Top 50, 56 Non-Conf RPI, 6-4 in last 10 games
    83 RPI, 77 SOS, 5-7 against RPI Top 50, 112 Non-Conf RPI, 5-5 in last 10 games

    Anyone have Southern Illinois on the bubble? I don’t think so.

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  48. Mark Says:

    @Philly Dog: You left out one big difference — SIU has 6 losses against RPI sub-100 teams, including 2 against Northern Iowa in the last 10 games. ASU has 2 for the season and both were early in the season. I don’t know whether ASU will get in, but you can’t just selectively throw up part of two teams’ resumes and make the judgment that way. You have to look at the whole picture, and that’s why ASU is still in the conversation while SIU is not.

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  49. Joe Says:

    @ SEC and Big East fans

    If the SEC gets as many bids as the Pac-10, it should be a disgrace.

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  50. lefty Says:

    where is Nebraska. Seems like every year the big east gets marginal teams like syracuse in. Nebraska should be considered

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  51. Philly Dog Says:


    Fair point on SIU’s bad losses. I don’t think they deserve a bid either. But ASU is only 19-12, despite the fact that they scheduled Cal Poly, Florida Gulf Coast, Delaware State, Coppin St., Montana State, Idaho, and St Francis PA. If they played a real non-conference schedule, this team would be lucky to be .500. And their only good road win is at Arizona.

    I know the “bubble” is weak this year, but I don’t see ASU as tournament-worthy.

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  52. Dex Says:

    Although I didn’t get a response about UNLV, looks like I was right. I thought they’d get in anyway.

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  53. Paul Says:

    For all of the Arizona bashers out there, let me remind you that in the last 12 games, two of them were “stolen” at home on questionable to downright horrible/intentional non-calls against the Cats. As Billy Packer stated during the Ucla game, “Whenever you can get an elbow like that you’ll always block a shot.” The shot was only at about 16 feet away after blocking Bayless on the arm the ball fell 3 feet short. Everyone saw it, but none of the officials would make the call. Ucla went on to win on anothe last-second no call and a 2 point win. BTW, JB is an excellent FT shooter.

    The other farce game was against Stanford in McKale Center. Another nationally televised game showing the BS refs we put up with all year. Picture a game of calls like ASU had in their Pac10 tournament game, but picture an entire game of calls like this one.

    So yes, both Oregon and ASU swept Arizona, but WSU swept both Oregon and ASU and the Cats swept a ranked WSU. Note that Oregon and ASU did not play a full-strenght team (the last Oregon game was played after Nic Wise was back for only his second game having been out for over a month).

    Does that make Oregon and ASU better than Arizona?

    Hardly. Come on people, open your eyes. Let them play in front of other conference refs and watch what happens…

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  54. Mike Says:

    For Arizona, you say “Bad losses: none”. What about:
    (123) Virginia at home
    (83) Arizona St. (twice) – and how is an RPI 83 team even on the “bubble”? How many better teams lose a spot if they get in?
    (122) Washington (by 9)

    Having a tough RPI schedule strength doesn’t mean anything if you lose all the games that are ranked above you. They beat 3 teams that were ranked above them and lost to 6 teams that are ranked below them. Their average loss is to RPI 43.5 by almost 8 points across those 14 losses (regular season) Their last regular season loss to (58) Oregon (18-13) was by 9 points. There are better schools out there. The only reason Arizona is ranked where they are in RPI is because of the artificially inflated schedule strength – and as I said, they lost the games that are driving that score up. Why should a bunch of losses make you look better?

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  55. umass all the way Says:

    it’s so frustrating to see your team go from probable tournament bid and make one slip to go to a rare chance on the bubble. this team realy deserves to play in the tourny they are a very good team but it may not be shown in thier record.

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