Friday, January 10, 2014

Bubble Watch: January 10

The first full week of conference play has brought some clarity to the bubble. Thirty teams now qualify as locks or near-locks, up from 25 a week ago, and the number of teams on the bubble--those with between a 10% and 90% chance of making the field of 68--has fallen from 45 to 35.

The first sixteams left out of this week's bracket are George Washington, Alabama, North Carolina, Illinois, NC State, and Georgetown.

American Athletic (5 projected bids)

Locks: Louisville (99%)
Near-Locks: Memphis (97%), Cincinnati (97%)
Good Shape: SMU (81%), Connecticut (78%)

Atlantic 10 (4 projected bids)

Locks: Massachusetts (99%)
Near-Locks: Saint Louis (94%)
Good Shape: Dayton (77%), VCU (75%)
On The Bubble: George Washington (69%)
Work To Do: St. Joseph's (11%)
Long Shots: Richmond (9%), St. Bonaventure (4%)
George Washington looks like a team that will hang around the bubble for the next two months. Losing at La Salle last night dropped them from the field for the moment.

Atlantic Coast (5 projected bids)

Locks: Duke (100%), Syracuse (100%)
Near-Locks: Pittsburgh (97%), Virginia (93%), Florida St. (93%)
On The Bubble: North Carolina (37%)
Work To Do: N.C. State (23%), Maryland (14%), Clemson (10%)
Long Shots: Notre Dame (5%), Miami (FL) (3%), Wake Forest (2%)
Carolina is in real danger of missing the Tournament. The Tar Heels will have a top-20 strength of schedule ranking by the end of the season, so even after stumbles against Belmont and at UAB, the Heels really just need to finish the ACC season with a .500 record to find themselves in the field of 68. Losing their first ACC games against teams they really should have beaten puts the odds of that happening below 50%.

Big 12 (7 projected bids)

Locks: Iowa St. (100%), Kansas (100%), Oklahoma St. (100%), Baylor (99%)
On The Bubble: Oklahoma (68%), Kansas St. (43%), West Virginia (35%)
Work To Do: Texas (14%)
In today's bracket, Oklahoma, Kansas State, and West Virginia were the last three teams into the field. While that probably won't be the case come Selection Sunday, it does raise a good question: what would happen with the First Four if that was the case? The bracketing guidelines stipulate that conference teams who played each other twice--and the Big 12 plays a true double-round-robin--shouldn't meet until the Sweet Sixteen. For the bracket today, I simply moved VCU, who was the 5th-to-last team in, to Dayton and bumped Oklahoma to a secure 12 seed, but it makes you wonder.

Big East (3 projected bids)

Locks: Villanova (100%), Creighton (100%)
On The Bubble: Xavier (72%), Georgetown (42%)
Work To Do: St. John's (14%)
Long Shots: Marquette (7%), Butler (4%), Providence (3%)
To those lamenting the loss of the old Big East, and writing paeans to What Might Have Been if only that group had one more year together, please take note: The Big East, in its final 2012-2013 configuration, would have been, at most, a six- or seven-bid league. If that group was together right now, the storyline would be how down the Big East is.

Big Ten (6 projected bids)

Locks: Wisconsin (100%), Michigan St. (100%), Ohio St. (100%), Michigan (100%), Iowa (100%)
Good Shape: Minnesota (76%)
On The Bubble: Illinois (51%)
Long Shots: Indiana (3%)
Minnesota's next four games are against TAPE's #3, #7, #6, and #2 teams. If the Gophers get even one win in their next four, they'll probably be elevated to lock status.

CUSA (1 projected bid)

On The Bubble: Southern Miss (34%)
Long Shots: Louisiana Tech (8%)

Horizon (1 projected bid)

Long Shots: Green Bay (4%)

Ivy (1 projected bid)

Work To Do: Harvard (12%)
Harvard's loss to UConn means the Crimson's only path to the NCAA Tournament is the Ivy League championship.

Mid-American (1 projected bid)

Work To Do: East. Michigan (17%), Ohio (14%)
Long Shots: Toledo (5%)

Missouri Valley (1 projected bid)

Locks: Wichita St. (100%)
Long Shots: Indiana St. (7%)

Mountain West (3 projected bids)

Locks: San Diego St. (100%)
Good Shape: New Mexico (86%)
On The Bubble: Boise St. (64%)
Work To Do: Utah St. (19%)

Pacific 12 (6 projected bids)

Locks: Arizona (100%), Colorado (100%), Oregon (100%)
Near-Locks: UCLA (91%)
Good Shape: California (77%)
On The Bubble: Arizona St. (54%)
Work To Do: Stanford (14%)
Long Shots: Utah (7%), Oregon St. (3%)

Southeastern (5 projected bids)

Locks: Florida (100%), Kentucky (100%)
Near-Locks: Tennessee (92%)
On The Bubble: Missouri (63%), Arkansas (53%), Alabama (30%)
Work To Do: LSU (10%)
Long Shots: South Carolina (4%)
LSU had the worst week possible. Last Friday they were cruising along with an 87% chance to make the Dance. They then went out and lost a home game to a bad Rhode Island team and got blown out by Tennessee in Baton Rouge, and now find themselves on the far fringe of the bubble.  

West Coast (2 projected bids)

On The Bubble: Gonzaga (72%), BYU (25%)
Long Shots: St. Mary's (6%)

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