As of right now, I have 10 potential at-large spots that have not been fully claimed (though a couple of them are probably safe) and about 20 teams that could still claim them. To review the bubble situation, I’m looking at the RPI (since we know the committee looks at it), consulting sites like Crashing the Dance which look at profiles compared to historical decisions by the committee, and then also going through the teams myself and creating rankings based on quality of wins and losses.
I did that by looking at all the potential at-larges (from Kentucky through the last bubble teams) and comparing teams to what the average at-large candidate did against various levels of competition. That exercise is why I have Cincinnati clearly in, with a well-above average profile against tourney type teams compared the bubble teams, and an RPI being pulled down by some non-conference wins against the dregs of D-I.
I’ve got West Virginia in too as of now, and probably okay. South Florida is also in, and is at least guaranteed to be in that First Four discussion if they don’t win today. They are playing to seal it against Notre Dame. They also are going to be ahead of Seton Hall on the conference pecking order, and I think Seton Hall is out, and in trouble as other bubble teams have chances to add wins. I don’t even have them as the top “bubble” team who has lost and has no games remaining.
After West Virginia, that honor goes to Iona. Going through it again, I think the Gaels are going to be the choice amongst the vanquished mid-majors. They got that late season win over Nevada in the Bracketbusters, and their RPI, even now, is at 42 and ahead of many of the bubble teams they will be facing. Drexel’s strength of schedule is going to be an issue with the committee, and Oral Roberts and Middle Tennessee State took worse losses. I’ve got Iona just ahead of BYU and both setting the floor for the bubble in the First Four. Does this mean they are in? No, but teams like Miami, NC State, Tennessee and Oregon need to add quality wins. I also think the only way the Pac-12 gets three teams is if Oregon beats California in the semis and then plays Washington in the final.
Last 10 At-Larges In:
- Colorado State (10 or 11 seed)
- California (10 or 11 seed)
- West Virginia* (11 seed)
- Texas (11 seed)
- South Florida (11 or 12 seed)
- Northwestern (12 seed)
- Washington (12 seed)
- Iona* (12 seed)
- BYU* (12 or 13 seed)
- Xavier (12 or 13 seed)
Just on the Outside for Now, but chance to play in (see scenarios from earlier in the week):
- Mississippi State
- Seton Hall*
- NC State
- St. Joseph’s
- Central Florida
- Ole Miss
Not much separates many of these teams, and so one big win today or a bad loss can swing a team from out to in. By the end of today, we should have a less cloudy picture of who is still alive for a bid.
[photo via US Presswire]