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 troubles me. I still think they are a near lock to get in, but Pitt isn't doing themselves any favors. Losing at home to NC State this late in the game stings. Again, I think they are still safe, but a loss at Clemson on Saturday plus a bad showing in their first ACC tournament could make them sweat. If you look below at some of the stronger recent showings by bubble teams in other leagues, Pitt could fall out of favor. Florida State did what they needed to do by winning at Boston College, but a win in the finale over Syracuse would be huge. Clemson must beat Pitt and have a deep run in the ACC tournament for a shot.
BIG BUBBLE GAMES LOOMING: Pittsburgh at Clemson, Syracuse at Florida State.
BIG EAST: Villanova, Creighton, Xavier, Providence, St. John's, Georgetown.
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: 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 10-7 in Big Ten play and have won 7 of 8 and 9 of 11. 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 had a tough schedule. They also have wins over Ohio State, Iowa and Wisconsin but a loss to last-place Northwestern. Nebraska now has a better RPI and 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. If Nebraska can beat Wisconsin this weekend ... wow!
BIG BUBBLE GAMES LOOMING: Penn State at Minnesota, Wisconsin at Nebraska
BIG 12: Kansas, Iowa State, Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Baylor.
Oklahoma State went from a lock at the beginning of the season, to the bubble, to "out" of the running, back on the bubble and now a virtual lock. All in about a six week period. Baylor beat Iowa State which strengthens their resume. A win over K State in the finale would almost clinch it, a loss wouldn't ruin them. Just don't lose that badly and then get bounced in the Big 12 tournament early.
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. The Bay Area schools (Cal and Stanford) suffered huge defeats and are holding on to bids currently. Both get another shot at a decent sized win. Another home loss of either could be devastating. This will be a great weekend of Pac-12 basketball and will lead to a great Pac-12 tournament in Vegas next week.
BIG BUBBLE GAMES LOOMING: Utah at Stanford, Colorado at Cal, Arizona at Oregon
SEC: Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri.
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.
BIG BUBBLE GAMES LOOMING: Missouri at Tennessee, Arkansas at Alabama
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: American Athletic Conference tournament
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, Dayton, Richmond.
George Washington is pretty much a lock. Their win over fellow bubble team St. Joe's should get them in baring an extreme disaster. While St. Joseph's lost, they still look like a tournament team to me. Dayton got a huge win at suddenly struggling Saint Louis. That win, plus Richmond's loss to VCU, puts the Flyers ahead in the bubble hierarchy. The two play this weekend which could pop the loser's bubble.
BIG BUBBLE GAMES LOOMING: Richmond at Dayton
MVC: Wichita State.
WCC: Gonzaga, BYU
Wichita State is in even if they suffer their first loss during the MVC tournament. 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 (Harvard), MAAC, MAC, MEAC, Northeast, Ohio Valley, Patriot, Southern, Southland, SWAC, Summit, Sun Belt and WAC.