The already hard-to-figure bubble got even more complicated this weekend. Here's how we see things right now, with seven days to go until Selection Sunday:
Despite losing at Oregon, we think that Arizona is still safe. They obviously have to beat Oregon State in their Pac-10 opener to stay safe, but if they do that, we think the Wildcats' SOS, their RPI, and the return of Nic Wise will sway the committee into giving them a bid. In any other year, they'd be done at 8-10, but this year, the way the bubble is, even two games under .500 in conference can get you in.
We also think that Illinois State is safe despite being blown out by Drake in the MVC final. After finishing second in conference, all the Redbirds needed to do was get to the conference tourney final to get a bid. Kentucky, meanwhile, is looking better and better and is up to a 10 seed in or latest field after beating Florida on Sunday. The Wildcats are the fourth best team in the SEC right now, and will probably be able to survive even if they lose to (we'll assume) Mississippi in the SEC quarters.
As for some other bubble issues:
We still aren't 100% sold on Ohio State, and we think they probably have to beat Michigan State again in the Big Ten tourney to get a bid, but right now, they're in. The committee does love teams that are playing late, and OSU certainly fits the bill...
Oregon needs to beat Washington State in their Pac-10 tourney game to lock down a bid, and the way they are playing right now, we think they'll be able to pull the upset...
Even with their semifinal loss to William & Mary, we think VCU deserves a bid (right now, at least). The Rams dominated the Colonial's regular season and, while they don't have a Top 50 win, their wins over Maryland, Houston, Richmond, and Bradley aren't shabby. VCU also has its own NCAA success and the Colonial's success in past years going for them, plus they have committee chair and George Mason AD Thomas J. O'Connor in their corner in the selection room. If mid-major teams aren't going to get a few extra bids this year, when will they?...
Yes, we still have Villanova (and not Syracuse) in as our final Big East team. As fate would have it, the two teams meet in the first round of the Big East tournament. The loser of that game is done; the winner might need one more to be totally safe. We've been saying for over two months now that the Orange wouldn't make the tourney. We're not about to jump ship now - we're sticking with 'Nova...
We considered putting Temple in as a third A-10 team this week, but in the end we decided against it. To get a bid, the Owls have to beat UMass in the A-10 semis. A spot in the final (on top of their second place regular season finish) should get Temple in, and it might knock UMass out, depending on what transpires elsewhere...
The above scenario also applies to New Mexico. If they beat UNLV in the MWC semis, they're in, and the Rebels might be squeezed out...
In the SEC, Mississippi and Florida each need two wins to get a bid. If Florida can get by Alabama in the first round, they face Mississippi State; if Mississippi gets past Georgia, they get Kentucky...
UAB's at-large chances are on life support after getting embarrassed by Memphis on Saturday. Even if they get to the C-USA final and lose to the Tigers again, we don't think they deserve a bid. We'll see if the committee agrees...
And finally, the ACC is down to a four-bid league after Maryland's pitiful loss to Virginia and Virginia Tech's loss at Clemson. The Terps need to beat BC and Clemson in the ACC tourney to get back in the mix, and the Hokies (after a first round bye) need to get past Miami/N.C. State and then have a good showing against Carolina in the semis. Even that might not be enough for a team that, despite a nice 9-7 conference record, has no Top 50 wins and sports a less-than-impressive RPI (57)...
Out This Bracket
Maryland, Virginia Tech, UAB, UNC-Asheville, Robert Morris
In This Bracket
Ohio State, Oregon, George Mason, Winthrop, Sacred Heart
Last Four In
Ohio State, Oregon, VCU, Villanova
Last Four Out
Syracuse, Temple, Mississippi, UAB
Next Four Out
New Mexico, Virginia Tech, Maryland, Florida
Big East (8), Pac-10 (7), Big XII (6), Big Ten (5), SEC (5), ACC (4), A-10 (2), Colonial (2), C-USA (2), MVC (2), MWC (2), WCC (2)
America East - UMBC
ACC - North Carolina, Duke, Clemson, Miami-FL
Atlantic Sun - Belmont
A-10 - Xavier, Massachusetts
Big East - Georgetown, Louisville, Notre Dame, Connecticut, Marquette, Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Villanova
Big Sky - Portland State
Big South - Winthrop
Big Ten - Wisconsin, Purdue, Michigan State, Indiana
Big 12 - Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas State, Baylor, Texas A&M
Big West - UC-Santa Barbara
Colonial - George Mason, VCU
C-USA - Memphis
Horizon - Butler
Ivy - Cornell
MAAC - Siena
MAC - Kent State
MEAC - Morgan State
MVC - Drake, Illinois State
MWC - UNLV, BYU
Northeast - Sacred Heart
Ohio Valley - Austin Peay
Pac-10 - UCLA, Stanford, Washington State, USC, Arizona State, Arizona, Oregon
Patriot - American
SEC - Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Mississippi State, Kentucky, Arkansas
Southern - Davidson
Southland - Stephen F. Austin
Summit - Oral Roberts
Sun Belt - South Alabama
SWAC - Alabama State
WAC - New Mexico State
WCC - Gonzaga, St. Mary’s
North Carolina, Memphis, Tennessee, UCLA
Kansas, Texas, Georgetown, Duke
Wisconsin, Xavier, Louisville, Stanford
Notre Dame, Connecticut, Purdue, Drake
Michigan State, Indiana, Vanderbilt, Washington State
Marquette, USC, Gonzaga, Butler
BYU, Clemson, St. Mary's, Pittsburgh
Mississippi State, Oklahoma, Kansas State, West Virginia
Baylor, Miami-FL, South Alabama, Texas A&M
Kent State, UNLV, Illinois State, Kentucky
Arizona State, Arizona, Arkansas, Davidson
Massachusetts, Ohio State, Oregon, VCU
Villanova, Oral Roberts, George Mason, Stephen F. Austin
Cornell, New Mexico State, UC-Santa Barbara, Siena
Winthrop, Portland State, Belmont, Austin Peay
UMBC, American, Morgan State, Sacred Heart (Play-In Game), Alabama State (Play-In Game)
(Bracket courtesy Matt Reeves)
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