An early look at the NCAA Tournament Bubble
Part of March Madness is the endless – and fun – discussions that precipitate the Field of 65 on Selection Sunday. We’re about two weeks away from the official release of Bubble Banter here at Bracketville. Hopefully, it will generate some fun and lively debate. To that end, how about an early look at some teams we expect to “banter” about in February. Keep in mind, we’re not even halfway through the conference season. So this could easily change (even in two weeks). Here we go …
ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE
- Boston College – The Eagles may be the only team to win in Chapel Hill ,but with losses at St. Louis and to Harvard at home, BC has significant work to do. They’ve also lost to Miami and Wake Forest (in a blowout) at home.
- Florida State – The Seminoles are in better shape than usual – with non-conference wins over Florida and California. Road games will make all the difference.
- Maryland – November and early December were good for the Terps, beating Michigan State and Michigan. Since, it’s been pretty rocky including the home loss to Morgan State.
- Dayton – Flyers have a very good neutral court win over Marquette. However, their overall resume to date is so-so. It could be enough if the Flyers challenge Xavier, but losing to UMass wasn’t a great start.
- Rhode Island – The Rams’ profile screams bubble, but they could be a sleeper.
- Temple – The win over Tennessee at home is about it for the Owls, other than a strong SOS. The bottom of the league is pretty down making it important to avoid missteps.
- Baylor – The Bears may never make the “official” list but we’re not sure how they’ll hold up on the Big 12 road.
- Kansas – Like Baylor, the defending Champs should be okay, but they have yet to win a game away from Lawrence.
- Missouri – The Tigers are a classic bubble team right now.
- Oklahoma State – Cowboys early “numbers” look good, which is a great start.
- Texas A&M – Have to add the Aggies who have the look of a team that could go either way. Like the others, watch road games.
- Providence – The Fryars have been close to some good wins, they’ll have to close the deal at some point(s).
- Villanova – Wildcats will have work to do to stay above water in a strong league. They have the talent to make it, but it’s far from certain.
- West Virginia – The Mountaineers can create matchup problems, but they’ve been inconsistent, even when healthy, and road wins haven’t always been a strength.
- Ohio State – The health and return of David Lighty will make a huge difference. If he’s back and the team plays as before, we can re-evaluate the Buckeyes based on early successes.
- Penn State – Nittany Lions are close; but they too need to post a few big conference scalps to stay in the hunt.
- Tulsa – Golden Hurricane will not be any easy out (ask Memphis); but can they finish second?
- UAB – A strong SOS will keep the Blazers’ a float for a while, but their resume is missing a lot of needed wins.
- Cleveland State – We can’t forget about the win at Syracuse, but we also know the Vikings can’t afford many Horizon losses and probably need to beat Butler at Hinkle.
- Siena – The Saints are still favored to win the automatic bid. The resume is good enough to put them on the board right now, but probably not enough for an actual at-large selection.
- Bradley – The Braves have been tough at home, but likely need to win the league title outright for serious at-large consideration.
- Creighton – Bluejays have the league’s best non-conference win (Dayton), but they need to finish in very impressive fashion.
- Illinois State – A lot of talk about the Redbirds and rightfully so, but without a regular-season title, a non-conference SOS of 300+ will haunt ISU.
- BYU – Cougars may now be the league favorite and probably won’t stay on our “bubble” list for long, but they also missed on chances against Arizona State and Wake Forest.
- San Diego State – Very athletic, the Aztecs will be in the mix for a league crown.
- Utah – The Utes have good numbers and a home win over Gonzaga, but the rest of the resume is very bland, including a Division-II loss to open the season and vs. Idaho State.
- UNLV – Rebels have good non-league wins over Arizona (home) and at Louisville, but they too have work to do and can’t fall off the pace.
- Arizona – The Wildcats shouldn’t be in this position, but the resume is light and ‘Zona hasn’t won on the road (at all – to date 1/15).
- Southern Cal – The Trojans have a lot of work to overcome a weak non-conference story and the loss at Oregon State.
- Stanford – Cardinal could be a year away.
- Washington – Huskies are surprisingly in the mix; staying close to the leaders will be important. The win over Oklahoma State could prove useful.
- Arkansas – Razorbacks are a classic bubble team, some nice wins at home, but nothing on the road.
- Mississippi – There’s nothing that stands out, but nothing really bad, either.
- LSU – The Tigers will have to show a lot to overcome a very weak non-conference slate.
- South Carolina – the Gamecocks have a non-league win at Baylor, but the rest is nothing too special.
- Boise State – Broncos would probably need at least the regular-season title.
- Utah State – Aggies have the best chance for an at-large WAC bid. They beat Arizona and lost a close game vs. BYU.
- St. Mary’s – Despite a pile of wins only wins at San Diego State and at Oregon are noticeable. They may need to beat Gonzaga at least once.