Friday, March 11, 2016
2016 Sportz' Bubble Watch: March 11th
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. Locks are teams that I think are in no matter what. Looking good are teams that are in, barring a total collapse. I split the bubble teams either In or Out; self explanatory. Also there's a spot for teams that need a miracle. No more losses and maybe a deep conference tournament run.
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 CONFERENCE
LOCKS: Virginia, North Carolina, Duke, Miami, Notre Dame
LOOKING GOOD: Pittsburgh
BUBBLE OUT: Syracuse
The ACC is virtually done. Pitt beat Cuse and hung with UNC for a while which should put them in. Syracuse is really on the bubble. Their record doesn't really warrant a bid (counting the conference tournament, the Orange were 9-10 in ACC play) and I think Boeheim's absence should not be brushed aside since it was a penalty against the program. Outside the bubble? Well the story is if North Carolina or Virginia can nab No. 1 seeds in the NCAA tournament. Right now they both look like it, however one of these teams (if not both) will lose in the next two days.
LOCKS: Villanova, Xavier, Seton Hall
LOOKING GOOD: Providence
BUBBLE IN: Butler
Providence's win over Butler pushed them comfortably in. Not only did they get a win over a fellow bubble team, they'll get to play Villanova which looks good on their resume, win or lose. Butler hasn't been blazing heading into the tournament, but they'll be in the field. Outside the bubble? Villanova is on pace for a No. 1 seed ... but could Xavier be in the running if they topple the Wildcats in the Big East final?
LOCKS: Iowa, Maryland, Michigan State, Purdue, Indiana, Wisconsin
BUBBLE OUT: Michigan, Ohio State
Michigan and Ohio State are still alive in the Big Ten tournament after very close wins. Their reward is facing Indiana and Michigan State, respectively. A win there would be huge for either team and could push Michigan off the bubble and into the field. Ohio State may yet still need some help, though, but it would be a big chip towards their ticket. Especially since the Buckeyes have now have played Sparty three times in less than two weeks. Outside the bubble? Wow, has Iowa crashed over the last several weeks. And Wisconsin losing to Nebraska in the 2nd round of the Big Ten tournament? Not a good look.
BIG 12 CONFERENCE
LOCKS: Kansas, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Iowa State, Texas, Baylor
BUBBLE IN: Texas Tech
You know, I haven't been as high on Texas Tech as others have been. They lost to lowly TCU in the first round of the Big 12 tournament. Not a good look. Tech is getting in off of three things. One, that they are in the ultra competitive Big 12. Two, their strength of schedule which is helped by being in that league. Three, that run they had in February when they beat Iowa State, Oklahoma and Baylor. But they've lost 3 of 4 and while two of those were against Kansas and West Virginia, the Mountaineers trounced them. They also had a streak where they lost 7 of 8 games. Again, they are getting in but I'm not as all-in on them as others. Outside the bubble? Kansas is trending toward the overall No. 1 seed.
LOCKS: Oregon, Arizona, Utah, California, Colorado
LOOKING GOOD: USC
BUBBLE IN: Oregon State
The Pac-12 is filled with inflated RPIs and all of that, but they could have 7 teams in the tournament. Six are in after USC's beating of UCLA and close loss to Utah. The bubbler here is Oregon State whose resume has that great RPI and SOS and no bad losses. The Beaver have done enough to warrant a spot. Outside the bubble? Well, Oregon is trying to hold onto a No. 2 seed and could maybe sneak into a top seed if some bad things happen to some ACC and Big Ten teams today.
LOCKS: Kentucky, Texas A&M
LOOKING GOOD: South Carolina
IN BUBBLE: Vanderbilt
OUT BUBBLE: Florida
Ugh, the SEC has done itself no favors. South Carolina gets Georgia in the SEC quarterfinals and could really use the win. A loss probably won't knock them out, it could kill their seeding. Now, what about a fourth team? Vandy looked like a good bet but then go out and lose to Tennessee in their hometown. Florida got a big win over Arkansas and now faces top-seeded Texas A&M. An opportunity for a huge win here. Do that and they could make a title game appearance and secure an NCAA bid. LSU kind of got cheated. Sure, playing Tennessee is much easier than Vanderbilt, but the Tigers then miss out on a chance to beat a good team. Really, they need to win the whole thing. Outside the bubble? The best they could hope for any team to get is a No. 3 seed and that's if Kentucky wins this tournament.
AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE
IN BUBBLE: Cincinnati, Temple
OUT BUBBLE: UConn, Tulsa, Houston
Quickly, the UConn-Cincy game is huge. A UConn loss may end their hopes and secure Cincy's bid. A UConn win puts both of them in sheer limbo. Who knows? I still like Cincinnati in and UConn could be close. Temple just can't lose to USF or I think they could be done. Sure winning the AAC regular season has merit, but this isn't a good league. Houston and Tulsa need to get to the final to even be considered for the bubble. Outside the bubble? These could all be 10 or 11 seeds. Someone has to win this league, but even the champ will be wearing the dark jerseys in the tournament next week.
MOUNTAIN WEST CONFERENCE
IN BUBBLE: San Diego State
San Diego State is the only team that could get an at-large bid, but even that is sketchy. Still, I think anything but a title and the Aztecs are done.
LOCKS: Dayton, St. Joseph's
IN BUBBLE: St. Bonaventure, VCU
OUT BUBBLE: George Washington
On the bubble, I like VCU's chances a bit more than St. Bonnie. However, both are in right now and both have chances to boost their resumes. The Bonnies have a tough game with Davidson today (VCU gets UMass). Neither can afford a loss right now with so much bubble drama. GW is still hanging in there right now. They get St. Joe's and they know that the A-10 has historically had bubble teams go on runs and win conference titles.
MISSOURI VALLEY, WEST COAST, MAAC
LOCKS: Northern Iowa, Gonzaga
LOOKING GOOD: Wichita State
IN BUBBLE: St. Mary's, Monmouth
Gonzaga and Northern Iowa may have "stolen" bids as St. Mary's and Wichita State could get at-large bids. While I can never speak for the committee, I would rather see Wichita, St. Mary's and even Monmouth in the field instead of bubble teams from bigger leagues who haven't impressed me. Still, schools like Valpo, Arkansas Little Rock and UAB probably won't get bids without league titles.
ONE BID LEAGUES (21):
OHIO VALLEY: Austin Peay
ATLANTIC SUN: Florida Gulf Coast
BIG SOUTH: UNC-Asheville
HORIZON: Green Bay
NORTHEAST: Farleigh Dickenson
SUMMIT: South Dakota State
PATRIOT: Holy Cross
AMERICA EAST: Stony Brook/Vermont
BIG SKY: (3/12)
BIG WEST: (3/12)
CONFERENCE USA: (3/12)
SUN BELT: (3/13)