Bubble Banter: Teams often play their way out …
Teams often play their way out of NCAA Contention. It’s just not always this early in February. After a less-than-stellar week for many bubble teams, we start Week 2 of Bubble Banter with 38 teams on the Bubble. Of course, that can – and will – change.
Let’s look at changes from last week … Teams that moved up to Locks: Ohio State, Wisconsin, Temple, Butler, Gonzaga … Teams moving to Should Be In: Richmond … Teams moving onto the Bubble: Cornell (down), Seton Hall (up), St. Louis (up) … Teams leaving the Bubble: Minnesota, Northwestern, Virginia, VCU, South Carolina, Tulsa. The Bracket Math looks like this …
- Locks: 18
- Should Be In: 11
- There are 31 automatic bids. We have to subtract 11 knowing that some of the locks will be automatic bids. That means if you add the 20 remaining automatic bids (likely one-bid leagues) and the 18 locks, we have 38 of 65 bids taken. If you add in the 11 teams that Should Be In, we’re now at 49. Subtract 49 from 65 and you have 16 spots available. We currently have 38 teams on the Bubble. So less than half will ultimately make the Field of 65.
Is this the year the Big East breaks the 8-team barrier? Perhaps, but there is a developing separation in the Big East standings; not a good thing for team’s below the breakline. If the Big East number reaches or surpasses eight (8) it will be because two or three teams currently below the breakline put winning streaks together.
It’s looking more and more like five (5) max from the Big 10. Minnesota lost at Northwestern who subsequently lost to Penn State at home. Again, there is a clear breakline between the top and bottom tier. The SEC is much less defined. Whether or not teams like Ole Miss and Mississippi State can slide up remains a question. It doesn’t help that Arkansas leads the SEC West. Florida continues to live on the edge, too. In the Mountain West, once solid UNLV has slipped. Yet, the real question remains San Diego State. Plenty of possibilities from the Colonial, too. Old Dominion has the best profile, William & Mary has a stronger non-conference effort, and Northeastern co-leads the conference. How about the Atlantic 10? Rhode Island, Charlotte and Dayton are losing league ground the upstart St. Louis.
Count on some interesting moments in conference tournaments … and in this weekend’s BracketBuster games. Remember, teams earn bids, not conferences. What matters is having one of the best 34 at-large resumes come March 14.