The bubble is officially OOC. We might be looking at the wildest, most unpredictable bubble in quite awhile. The picture could get cleared up, or more likely completely filled with smoke by the end of today.
Because most of the top teams haven’t taken the court, there haven’t been many adjustments from my Monday release near the top. Gonzaga is one notable exception, as getting to 30-4 and winning the WCC title again has them posting a score in the clubhouse, and now waiting on the #4 line.
If I were to organize it in tiers, I would say that Virginia and Villanova are in their own locked tier as #1 seeds, there are a handful of teams that can get the remaining two spots. The top 12 is pretty solidly set unless one of the teams just below them wins a conference tourney, a la Michigan. There’s a large group of teams with potential movement based on the next few days of results in the bottom of the 5 seed to the top of the 8 seed range. There’s a group of teams, including ACC losers yesterday in Florida State, NC State, and Virginia Tech, that settle in the 8-10 range. Then, we get to the bubble, which I’ll discuss on the other side. Here are today’s projections of what the committee will do.
The bubble is a mess. And it could shrink. Ken Pomeroy gave Arizona, UCLA, and USC a combined 60% chance of winning the Pac-12, putting about a 40% chance of someone currently outside the field getting in. Nevada has a 38% chance of winning the Mountain West, and they are the only one who would keep it a one-bid league. Rhode Island and St. Bonaventure have a combined 59% chance in the A-10, so that’s another 41% possibility of a bid thief like Davidson or St. Joseph’s emerging. Add in that Middle Tennessee has a 42% chance of winning Conference USA, with Western Kentucky and Old Dominion lurking. The Blue Raiders aren’t a lock but they would immediately go into that same bubble conversation.
So as you look at that bubble cut line with the #11 seeds, you also have to account for the possibility of losing about two more spots to auto bids that will bump presumptive champions to at-large selection.
I’ve got Syracuse and Arizona State OUT after yesterday’s action, but plenty of others have them in. But they aren’t in an envious position either way with other teams able to still put up results. I’ve got Saint Mary’s in but they are in the same boat–at the mercy of bid thieves and today’s events.
Here is a rundown of the raucous and riveting action we are going to get at the bubble today:
Alabama (3rd Out): Needs to beat Texas A&M. I don’t see them getting in at 17-15 with the strength of this bubble group.
Notre Dame (2nd Out): After a tremendous rally, will the committee give them any break for the Bonzi Colson injury? Oh, and they play Duke, who is playing for a #1 seed.
Oklahoma State (1st Out): After winning against Oklahoma again, the Cowboys have a bizarre resume full of big wins, too many losses to similar bubble teams (1-5 against Texas, Baylor, and Kansas State), and a bad RPI that has just climbed to 80. Can they get a third win over Kansas, who also, by the way, is playing for a #1 seed?
Marquette (Last 4 In): They did what they needed to do. They are your more traditional bubble profile, with an RPI in the mid-50’s, some good wins and road wins against decent teams, but an 0-6 mark against Villanova, Xavier, Purdue, and Wichita State. They probably need to win against, yep, yet another #1 seed in Villanova today.
Baylor (Last 4 In): I think they are ahead of Oklahoma State based on the season sweep, if all else is equal. A big win over West Virginia may be necessary, though.
USC (Last 4 In): The RPI ranking is high enough (mid-30’s) but the 2nd place team in the Pac-12 has a resumé devoid of top games against this NCAA field. Their side of the bracket doesn’t have big wins available either, so they have to beat Oregon State today and Utah/Oregon tomorrow.
St. Mary’s (Last 4 In): Waiting and hoping the BYU loss wasn’t a deal breaker.
Louisville (#11 Seed): I think their win against Florida State shot them from right on the cut line to somewhat safe here. But if today is pandemonium and multiple of those other bubble teams pull upsets, they could get jumped again.
Here is my bracketing of the teams by region: