This is the entire NCAA Tournament bubble heading into Championship week. Are there some teams with a less than 2% chance on the list? Certainly. Thing is – they’re alive! That’s the beauty of March Madness.
“Six spots” is pretty general – here’s Lisk’s last Bracketology – it could really be as few as four, and expect tons of movement in the next 72 hours. Heck, look how much movement there has been since mid-January!
Take Maryland. I wrote glowingly about the Terps in the preseason. Then, a point guard never emerged, and they often forget about the 7-foot-1 lottery pick who can dominate. The Terps have wins over Duke and NC State, but a weak strength of schedule, have been awful down the stretch, and need at least two wins in the ACC tourney before really getting into the discussion. One of those wins will have to be against Duke.
I figure the team that will be most-talked about this week is Middle Tennessee State, which couldn’t win the Sun Belt tournament, but has 28 wins. What matters more – 28 wins against inferior competition … or, say, Xavier having five Top 50 wins, but being far down the list on wins/RPI and having some bad losses? Iowa and Arkansas each have four Top 50 wins. With a win or two this week, does either have a case to be ahead of MTSU?
What about Baylor? Was Saturday’s thumping of Kansas enough? Probably not. Especially if a team like Richmond or Arkansas or Florida State go on a tear this week and the Bears lose in the first round of the Big 12 tourney.
Akron should have an asterisk. The Zips lost their point guard to drug dealing last week, and despite a gaudy resume, will have problems getting a ticket to the dance if they bow out early in the MAC tournament. Ohio is on here, and might win the MAC tournament. But what if the Bobcats don’t? Zero top 50 wins will obviously hurt.
So yes, this list is certainly pushing the bubble envelope, and Arizona State has virtually no business being on the list. But what if the Sun Devils peel off three wins in the Pac-12 tourney? At that point, we’ll listen to their argument. That’s why they’re here.