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NCAA Tournament Projections and Bubble Watch

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Selection Sunday is just more than a week away. After another disappointing road tilt for the Longhorns, I figured I'd distract myself by looking at the NCAA tournament instead of lamenting for the 1,724th time the play of my ‘Horns.

Below is where I think we are in terms of NCAA berths.

Big East (8): Syracuse, Villanova, West Virginia, Pittsburgh, Georgetown, Marquette, Louisville, Notre Dame
Big 12 (7): Kansas, Kansas St, Baylor, Texas A&M, Texas, Missouri, Oklahoma State
ACC (7): Duke, Maryland, Wake Forest, Florida State, Clemson, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech
Big 10 (5): Michigan State, Purdue, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Illinois
SEC (4): Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Florida
Atlantic 10 (4): Temple, Xavier, Richmond, Rhode Island
Mountain West (4): New Mexico, BYU, UNLV, San Diego State
West Coast (2): Gonzaga, St. Mary's
Conference USA (2): UTEP, UAB

Of those listed above Notre Dame, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Florida, Rhode Island, San Diego State, St. Mary's, UTEP, and UAB would be well served by winning a game or two in their respective conference tournaments. If any of them are bounced early, it will be a long wait on Selection Sunday.

One bid leagues (22): Pac 10, America East, Atlantic Sun (E Tennessee St), Big Sky, Big South (Winthrop), Big West, Colonial, Horizon, Ivy (Cornell), Metro Atlantic, Mid-American, MEAC, Missouri Valley, Northeast, Ohio Valley (Murray St), Patriot, Southern, Southland, SWAC, Summit, Sun Belt, and WAC.

A closer look at the bubble after the jump.

The Bubble is really weak this season. Usually, we are talking about 15+ teams for the final eight spots or so. This year even getting to fill the full 65 team field is a bit of a stretch. The ten teams listed below are currently on the outside looking in. None of them really deserve a berth though, and in a typical year, they'd each be much further away from the Dance than where they currently sit. Each team probably needs to win two or more games in their conference tourney to be given legitimate consideration for an at-large selection.

Bubble Teams currently out (10):

Big East-Connecticut, Seton Hall
Big 12-none
ACC-none
Big 10-Minnesota
SEC-Mississippi State, Mississippi
Atlantic 10-Charlotte, Dayton, St. Louis
Mountain West-none
West Coast-none
Conference USA-Memphis
Pac 10-Arizona State
Missouri Valley-none

Bubble Team Rooting Guide:

Bubble teams and those last few teams currently in need to root for Butler (Horizon) and Northern Iowa (Missouri Valley). Both teams are probably in even if they don't win their conference tournaments. If they do lose, the Horizon and the Missouri Valley will send two teams to the NCAA tournament and two at-large berths will disappear.

The other interesting team to probably root for is Cal. The Pac 10 has been so bad this year that it is unclear if the Golden Bears would earn an at-large berth should they not win the Pac 10 tournament. They probably would, though.

The last team whose case is an interesting one is Utah State (WAC). The Aggies are 13-2 in conference and 24-6 overall. Their RPI is decent at 34, but their strength of schedule is just 104 and they are only 1-1 against the RPI top 50. If they were to lose in the WAC tournament, they may be the team that mid-major apologists scream about on Selection Sunday.

I'll try to post this again mid-week and one final time before the brackets are announced.

Your thoughts?