Okay. I've been doing my whole Sportz' Bubble Watch for a few years now and I think it is time to start back up. With only a few weeks left in the season before conference tournaments, let's see how the bubble looks.
So, here are my locks ... yes, by conference. The ones in green are spot on, no doubt locks. The ones in blue are pretty much in, too, though they can't afford to go in a tailspin. The ones in orange are smack dab on the bubble but would be in if the selections were being made today. Every team in red are on the wrong side of the bubble right now and would miss the dance.
I figure there are 21 conferences who are one-bid leagues and 11 conferences that could net multiple bids. So who should be going?
ATLANTIC COAST: Virginia, Syracuse, Duke, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Florida State, Clemson.
Pittsburgh isn't as strong as they looked a few weeks back, but unless they suffer a huge stretch of losses, they should be in. Florida State gets a golden opportunity with a game against struggling Syracuse this weekend. A win then looks pretty good. Clemson is barely holding on to hope. They do have a win over Duke ... and only Syracuse and UNC has beaten the Blue Devils since then.
BIG BUBBLE GAMES LOOMING: Pittsburgh at Clemson, Syracuse at Florida State.
BIG EAST: Villanova, Creighton, Xavier, Providence, St. John's, Georgetown, Marquette.
I'm all in on Xavier. I think with this soft bubble, they are fine. But if they are fine, shouldn't Providence be too? They had a stretch where they beat G'town, St John's, Creighton and Xavier in a two week period then followed with a stretch where they lost to St. John's, Xavier in G'town in consecutive games. A win over Creighton Saturday could solidify it. St. John's may be the hottest of the teams, going 10-3. Georgetown got a huge win over Creighton, but if they need to thin out the herd, the Hoyas poorer Big East record in a round-robin format could hurt them.
BIG BUBBLE GAMES LOOMING: Villanova at Xavier, St. John's at Marquette, Georgetown at Villanova, Providence at Creighton
BIG TEN: Michigan State, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio State, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska.
This is interesting. Nebraska currently sits at 9-7 in Big Ten play and have won 6 of 7 and 8 of 10. Minnesota sits at 7-10 and lost their head-to-head contest with the Huskers. Not to mention they've lost 7 of 11 games. Yet the Gophers get more bubble love? Minnesota has better RPI numbers and a tough schedule. They also have wins over Ohio State, Iowa and Wisconsin but a loss to last-place Northwestern. Nebraska has wins over Minnesota, Ohio State and Michigan State and losses to Penn State and Purdue. This is where those unbalanced conference schedules come into play. A very interesting case.
BIG BUBBLE GAMES LOOMING: Nebraska at Indiana, Penn State at Minnesota, Wisconsin at Nebraska
BIG 12: Kansas, Iowa State, Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Baylor.
When you look at the entire bubble as a whole, Oklahoma State and Baylor are smoking right now while there are up and down teams everywhere else. Right now it looks like the ten-team Big 12 could see 7 teams make it to the Dance. Both have their final game against a locked-in team so it will be interesting to see the weekend in the Big 12. Unless either (or both) lose this weekend and then lose their first Big 12 tournament game -- which isn't a stretch in this league -- I think they are both in.
BIG BUBBLE GAMES LOOMING: Baylor at Kansas State, Oklahoma State at Iowa State
PAC-12: Arizona, UCLA, Arizona State, Colorado, Oregon, Stanford, California, Utah.
I like Arizona State, Colorado and Oregon. They have great records, solid RPIs and, again, when looking at the country has more going for them then many other schools. Stanford and Cal play the two eastern schools (Utah, Colorado) this week and good showings could elevate any of those teams. That includes Utah. This will be a great weekend of Pac-12 basketball.
BIG BUBBLE GAMES LOOMING: Arizona State at Oregon, Colorado at Stanford, Utah at Cal, Utah at Stanford, Colorado at Cal, Arizona at Oregon
SEC: Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri, Georgia.
Honestly, this is all about Tennessee, Missouri and Arkansas. Arkansas has those two sexy wins over Kentucky plus a better SEC mark. However they are 0-3 against fellow SEC bubblers Tennessee and Mizzou. Tennessee has beaten Virginia, Xavier and Arkansas but nothing impressive over the last five weeks. Missouri has beaten Arkansas twice, UCLA and Tennessee. How do you figure these three out? Mizzouri's claim is it's 3-0 mark against the other two; Arkansas has beaten Kentucky twice; Tennessee has better non-conference wins. Georgia needs quite a ride the rest of the way (a trip to the SEC title game, perhaps) to make noise.
BIG BUBBLE GAMES LOOMING: Mississippi State at Georgia, Tennessee at Auburn, Texas A&M at Missouri, Ole Miss at Arkansas, LSU at Vanderbilt, Vanderbilt at Ole Miss, Missouri at Tennessee, Arkansas at Alabama, Georgia at LSU
AMERICAN ATHLETIC: Cincinnati, Louisville, UConn, Memphis, SMU
The easiest league in the Bubble Watch. The top five are in and no one else is close. Nothing to see here.
BIG BUBBLE GAMES LOOMING: Louisville at SMU, Memphis at Cincinnati, SMU at Memphis
MOUNTAIN WEST: San Diego State, New Mexico.
I tried to make this conference interesting over the last month or so. But let's face facts: San Diego State and New Mexico are the only ones going.
BIG BUBBLE GAMES LOOMING: Mountain West Conference tournament
A-10: Saint Louis, UMass, VCU, George Washington, St. Joseph's, Richmond, Dayton.
Dayton got a huge win over UMass and VCU beat Saint Louis. Two huge wins for two bubble teams. Richmond lost to lowly Rhode Island ... badly ... which could knock them off the bubble. St. Joe's beat St. Bonnie which helps. The A10 could outdo the ACC, SEC and Big Ten for bids if everything falls right. And what a bubble week looming.
BIG BUBBLE GAMES LOOMING: Dayton at Saint Louis, St. Joe's at George Washington, VCU at Richmond, Richmond at Dayton
MVC: Wichita State, Indiana State.
WCC: Gonzaga, BYU
Indiana State has a nice record and all, but they can't get an at-large bid. They've beaten nobody and failed in their two shots at Wichita State (duh). In the West Coast Conference, Gonzaga is shaky but still looks good to me. BYU does as well with wins over the Zags, Stanford and Texas on the resume as well as a close loss to Iowa State and Oregon.
BIG BUBBLE GAMES LOOMING: Conference tournaments
ONE BID LEAGUES (21): America East, Atlantic Sun, Big Sky, Big South, Big West, Colonial, Conference USA, Horizon, Ivy, MAAC, MAC, MEAC, Northeast, Ohio Valley, Patriot, Southern, Southland, SWAC, Summit, Sun Belt and WAC.