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 (10)
LOCKS: North Carolina, Louisville, Florida State, Virginia, Duke
LOOKING GOOD: Notre Dame, Virginia Tech
BUBBLE IN: Syracuse, Miami, Clemson
BUBBLE OUT: Wake Forest, Georgia Tech
MIRACLE: Pittsburgh, NC State
The ACC will get a ton of teams in the tournament. UNC, Louisville, FSU, UVa and Duke are fighting for seeding and a favorable pod locale. Notre Dame has a slam dunk remaining schedule and just needs to avoid a collapse. The rest is so much fun. Syracuse has surged after a bad start to the season (they are a win away from guaranteeing at least a .500 ACC record). Wake Forest and Georgia Tech are having amazing seasons are could be in those first four games. Miami and Virginia Tech look solid enough to get in. Clemson looks good against the best in the ACC but just can't see to bring one of those games home.
BIG BUBBLE GAMES LOOMING: Pitt vs NC State, Clemson vs Pitt (Tue), Wake/VaTech vs Miami (Wed)
BIG EAST (5)
LOCKS: Villanova, Butler
LOOKING GOOD: Creighton
BUBBLE IN: Xavier, Seton Hall
BUBBLE OUT: Providence, Marquette
Creighton is near a lock, but injury issues could sway the committee if Creighton falls flat in these next couple of weeks. In most years, Xavier would be dead smack on the bubble. They look alright but don't really have any wow wins to show for it. But with such a soft bubble this season, they look better than most. Seton Hall is has Villanova and Xavier coming up (both at home) so this is a great chance for them to make some bubble noise ... especially since they just beat Creighton at home. Marquette let one slip away against Butler which is one thing, but getting rolled by 18 to Georgetown is quite another.
BIG BUBBLE GAMES LOOMING: Xavier vs Butler (Thu)
BIG TEN (7)
LOCKS: Wisconsin, Purdue
LOOKING GOOD: Maryland
BUBBLE IN: Northwestern, Minnesota, Michigan State, Michigan
BUBBLE OUT: Indiana
MIRACLE: Iowa, Ohio State
Again, with the soft bubble ... but the Big Ten could get 7 teams in this thing and this isn't a very good league this season. Wisconsin and Purdue look to be the cream of the crop ... but we all though Michigan State and Indiana were going to be back in November. Both the Hoosiers and Sparty are struggling to get in (Indiana's injuries may have sunk them) while Northwestern is moving up the ladder. Yes, Northwestern is on pace to get to their first ever NCAA Tournament and they are almost in the "looking good" club.
BIG BUBBLE GAMES LOOMING: Wisconsin at Ohio State (Sun)
BIG 12 CONFERENCE (7)
LOCKS: Kansas, West Virginia, Baylor
LOOKING GOOD: Iowa State
BUBBLE IN: Oklahoma State, Kansas State, TCU
BUBBLE OUT: Texas Tech
The Big 12 is pretty simple. Kansas and Baylor are fighting for No. 1 seeds, West Virginia is a lock, Iowa State is playing towards a lock, while four other schools are vying for at-large bids and all looking like they should be in. However, I do have Texas Tech missing the dance. The Red Raiders nearly followed up an upset of Baylor with an upset of Kansas. Pull that off and there's some real discussion here. But why is Tech out but K-State in? Both are 5-8 in Big 12 play, Tech beat K-State in their first meeting (the second meeting is their finale) and the Wildcats have now lost 6 of 7. The eye test has K-State just a bit ahead of Texas Tech but right now, both could be missing the tournament.
BIG BUBBLE GAMES LOOMING: Big 12 tournament
PAC-12 CONFERENCE (5)
LOCKS: Arizona, Oregon, UCLA
BUBBLE IN: USC, California
BUBBLE OUT: Utah, Colorado
MIRACLE: Arizona State
The Pac-12 teams will be difficult the seed. We've seen them completely dismissed by the selection committee before so Arizona, Oregon and UCLA could slip in seeding. Oh, well, as long as you're in the tournament, eh? Well, that could also mean a tough time for their bubble teams. USC looks pretty good, actually, and Cal's resume looks alright but Utah and Colorado lose a ton of gravitas in relation. For example, Utah has essentially beaten no one and really has no opportunity to beat anyone the rest of the way. Ugh. Still, I think the Pac-12 will get at least four, probably five in.
BIG BUBBLE GAMES LOOMING: Pac-12 tournaments
SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE (4)
LOCKS: Kentucky, Florida
IN BUBBLE: South Carolina, Arkansas
OUT BUBBLE: Ole Miss, Alabama, Georgia, Auburn
MIRACLE: Tennessee, Miss State
The SEC is having the same issue as the Pac-12. And since Kentucky hasn't really been as dominant as originally thought, their losses in SEC play hasn't really buoyed the rest of the league. Florida has been hot of late and is in. I've been wanting to put South Carolina in the "looking good" category for a while but then they lose (Alabama, Arkansas) or squeak by with a win (Georgia, Mississippi State). Arkansas is surging a bit after losing 3 of 4. No one else really looks the part.
BIG BUBBLE GAMES LOOMING: SEC tournament
AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE (2)
LOOKING GOOD: Cincinnati, SMU
OUT BUBBLE: Houston, Memphis, UCF
Houston has lost to some bad teams and really don't have any signature wins. That's life in the AAC. For instance, the only reason Cincy and SMU aren't locks is that they can't afford to have a slump against their conference brethern.
BIG BUBBLE GAMES LOOMING: Memphis at Cincinnati, Tulsa at SMU (Sun)
MOUNTAIN WEST CONFERENCE (1)
IN BUBBLE: Nevada
OUT BUBBLE: Colorado State, Boise State
MIRACLE: New Mexico, San Diego State
Remember a few years back, the MW was a league that was comfortably placing four teams in the tournament? Last year, it wasn't the same. This year it's worse. This looks like a one-bid league. .
BIG BUBBLE GAMES LOOMING: Mountain West tournament
ATLANTIC 10 (2)
LOOKING GOOD: VCU, Dayton
OUT BUBBLE: Richmond, Rhode Island, George Mason
MIRACLE: St. Bonaventure
Let me say this here: I've been talking about the soft bracket but this is where it hits hard. The non-power leagues really don't have much depth to them. Look at the A-10 who will likely just get VCU and Dayton in there ... with NC State possibly taking on of them coacj;.
BIG BUBBLE GAMES LOOMING: A-10 tournament
WEST COAST, MISSOURI VALLEY (4)
LOCKS: Gonzaga, St. Mary's
LOOKING GOOD: Wichita State, Illinois State
IN BUBBLE:OUT BUBBLE:
Really the only thing to look at here is if Gonzaga can go undefeated. On the MVC side, both Wichita State and Illinois State just need to avoid a crumbling slide.
BIG BUBBLE GAMES LOOMING: Conference tournaments
ONE BID LEAGUES (21):
OHIO VALLEY: (3/4)
ATLANTIC SUN: (3/5)
BIG SOUTH: (3/5)COLONIAL: (3/6)
AMERICA EAST: (3/11)
BIG SKY: (3/11)
BIG WEST: (3/11)
CONFERENCE USA: (3/11)
IVY LEAGUE: (3/12)
SUN BELT: (3/12)