Sunday, March 16, 2014

Sportz Assassin's Bubble Watch - Conference Tournament Week

It is Conference Tournament time which means that much of hub-bub about the NCAA Tournament bids boil down to four categories:

1-Teams who are locked in
2-Teams who just need to avoid a stunning loss early in their tourney to lock in a bid
3-Bubble teams who are fighting to separate themselves and nail down a bid
4-Teams who must win their conference tournament to get in

To be honest, most of this work is done.  Here are my locked in bids (62 bids):

ACC:  Virginia, Syracuse, Duke, North Carolina, Pittsburgh
AAC:  Cincinnati, Louisville, UConn, Memphis, SMU
A-10:  Saint Louis, UMass, VCU, George Washington
Big East:  Villanova, Creighton, Providence
Big Ten:  Michigan, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Ohio State, Iowa
Big 12:  Kansas, Iowa State, Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Baylor
Mountain West:  San Diego State, New Mexico
Pac 12:  Arizona, UCLA, Oregon, Colorado, Stanford
SEC:  Florida, Kentucky
WCC:  Gonzaga, BYU

Plus these leagues that get an automatic bid:

America East:  Albany
Atlantic Sun:  Mercer
Big Sky:  Weber State
Big South:  Coastal Carolina
Big West:  Cal Poly
Colonial:  Delaware
Conference USA:  Tulsa
Horizon:  Milwaukee
Ivy:  Harvard
MAAC:  Manhattan
MAC:  Western Michigan
MEAC:  NC Central
MVC:  Wichita State
Northeast:  Mount St Mary's
Ohio Valley:  Eastern Kentucky
Patriot:  American
Southern:  Wofford
Southland:  SF Austin
SWAC:  Texas Southern
Summit:  North Dakota State
Sun Belt:  Georgia State/La-Lafayette
WAC:  New Mexico State

Here are the teams I feel are in (3 bids):

Arizona State
St. Joseph's

And here are the big bubble teams.  If you do the math, I believe there are only FOUR true spots on the bubble.  The teams in orange I think are in right now.  The teams in red are ones I currently have out:

DaytonNC State
St. John's

Florida State

This is the end of the bubble train, so to speak.  For weeks, teams moved all over the place and some locked in bids.  Others, like Nebraska, ride the roller coaster of being on the fence, falling off the radar, and then getting smack dab back into the mix.

On the other end of the spectrum is the top seeds.  I'm not as big into who a top seed is because (a) its only real advantage comes in the Sweet 16 round where they would supposedly play a #4 seed instead of a #3 seed, (b) really the top two seeds get placed in a pretty close tournament site anyway and (c) it is just a status symbol.  Don't get me wrong, I love seeing my Tar Heels on that top line but I've come to the realization over the years that this just isn't as big a deal past the bragging rights.

How do I see the top line breaking down?

WICHITA STATE:  They've got one locked in.  I'm not sure which of the four top seeds they will get but it will probably be the Midwest Regional which is in Indianapolis.

FLORIDA:  I think Florida has a 2nd top seed locked in, even if they lose to Kentucky in the SEC title game on Sunday.  They are currently the No. 1 team in the nation and they have not only swept the SEC regular season title but have gotten to the title game.

VIRGINIA/DUKE WINNER:  Virginia won the ACC regular season title pretty handily.  Duke is regarded as the ACC's top team.  Both play for the tournament title on Sunday.  The winner could get a top seed.  The knock against either of these teams is that neither really has done anything great.  Virginia's biggest win has been over struggling Syracuse ... while Wisconsin and Duke beat them head-to-head.  Not to mention that Tennessee beat them by 35 points early this season and you see my hesitation.  Duke has beaten Michigan and UCLA as well as the other top tier ACC foes (including Virginia) plus has that historic factor of being a Selection Committee favorite in seeding.

ARIZONA:  The Wildcats have been at or near the No. 1 line for most of the season.  They lost a close Pac-12 title game to UCLA, which isn't a horrid loss.  Their numbers are strong and could sneak into that top line.  Basically the Florida argument a day earlier.

MICHIGAN:  The Wolverines have a chance to win both the Big Ten regular season and tournament titles if they beat rival Michigan State on Sunday.  Could that get them in above Virginia/Duke or Arizona?  You betcha!

KANSAS:  The Jayhawks are a tough one.  They lost early in the Big 12 tournament, one of their best player's health is questionable and they have a lot of losses for a No. 1 seed.  I don't see it.

WISCONSIN:  I don't think people give the Badgers their due.  They have beaten the regular season champions of the ACC (Virginia), Big Ten (Michigan), A10 (Saint Louis) and SEC (Florida).  They also lost to lowly Northwestern ... in Madison.

VILLANOVA :  Losing to Seton Hall in the Big East quarterfinals?  No No. 1 seed for you!

LOUISVILLE:  There is a sudden ground swell for the Ville to get a top seed.  No.  No.  No.  Their best wins are the three over UConn as well as a win at Cincinnati.  After that?  Nothing much.  They lost their other big games (UNC, Kentucky, both Memphis games) and played a whole lot of garbage teams along the way.  Have them going far in your bracket pools, but don't think they are stealing a top seed.

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