Moving day on the bubble
March, 8, 2012
By Joe Lunardi | ESPN Insider
Peyton Williams/UNC/Getty ImagesCasper Ware and the Long Beach State 49ers can't afford a loss in the Big West tourney.It's moving day on the bubble.
With the remainder of conference tournaments tipping off Thursday -- including the ACC, Big Ten, MWC, SEC and WAC -- we should start to see some dramatic changes on the fringes of the bid picture.
Wednesday night we got a little taste as the Big East lost its grip on 10 bids with Seton Hall losing to Louisville (and not looking particularly bid-worthy in the process, either).
But Thursday should give us a lot more clarity. Take a look at Thursday's S curve and then peek at the plethora of games with big bracket impact today:
The S curve
This is where teams would fall if Selection Sunday were today. Remember, the curve flows left to right, then right to left, then back again as you read down the chart. Teams with an asterisk currently lead their conferences and project to receive automatic bids, per the rules of bracketology. While Michigan State, Ohio State and Michigan tied for the Big Ten regular-season title, the asterisk goes to the Spartans as they are the highest of the three teams on the S curve. Teams with an asterisk in bold have won their conference tournaments and clinched auto-bids.
ALL CAPS: Regular-season champion (NIT auto-bid if needed) or highest remaining seed
Bold: NCAA automatic qualifier
GREEN: Teams with tourney odds of 90 percent or better through games of Feb. 28.
YELLOW: "Last four in" (will play March 13-14 in Dayton, Ohio)
GOLD: Lowest four auto-bids (will play March 13-14 in Dayton, Ohio)
RED: "First four out" (teams 69-72 on the S curve)
PURPLE: "Next four out" (teams 73-76 on the S curve)
Add the current AQs to the "solid" at-large candidates (current tournament odds at 90 percent or better) and there are 37 teams in the field. Add in the remaining automatic qualifiers yet to be decided and that's another 18 spots. All told there are 56 of the 68 spots accounted for, with 12 still up for grabs among current "bubble" teams.
The bubble (23 teams for 12 spots)IN (12, in S-curve order):
37-Saint Louis, 38-Southern Miss, 39-California, 40-West Virginia, 44-Mississippi State, 45-Colorado State, 46-South Florida, 47-BYU, 48-Northwestern, 50-Drexel, 51-Xavier, 52-Texas
OUT (11, in S-curve order)
69-Seton Hall, 70-Tennessee, 71-Oregon, 72-NC State, 73-Miami (FL), 74-Iona, 75-Arizona, 76-Saint Joseph's, 77-Dayton, 78-Oral Roberts, 79-Marshall, 80-Ole Miss
"Bubble watch" gamesNote: All times ET.
Boston College vs. NC State, 2 p.m.: Already outside the bubble, the Wolfpack is sunk if they lose.
Oregon State vs. Washington, 3 p.m.: The Huskies don't want to find out if the selection committee would leave out the Pac-12 regular-season champs. Their lone RPI top 50 win came against Oregon, a team that may not make the NCAA field.
Tulsa vs. Marshall, 3:30 p.m.: The Thundering Herd are still a low rumble in the distance (No. 79 on the S curve) so they'll need to keep rolling in the C-USA tournament.
UCLA vs. Arizona, 5:30 p.m.: Wildcats can't lose and expect to get a bid.
TCU vs. Colorado State, 5:30 p.m.: When you're only eight seeds from the cut line, you don't want to give the selection committee excuses.
Minnesota vs. Northwestern, 5:30 p.m.: With a sub-.500 conference finish, the Wildcats' sorry streak could continue without a win Thursday. Without it, they'll be milking that W over Michigan State for all it's worth.
UTEP vs. Memphis, 7:30 p.m.: The Tigers are safe, but a loss could open up the door for a bid thief from C-USA and the Miners tipped the Tigers earlier this season.
UC Davis vs. Long Beach State, 9 p.m.: While the 49ers are currently in the bracket at No. 42 on the S curve, an early loss in the Big West tourney could change that position in a big way. Particularly to the 5-25 Aggies.
Georgia Tech vs. Miami (FL), 9 p.m.: Hurricanes are still on the outside looking in. A win against the Jackets does them little good, but a loss would be crushing.
Iowa State vs. Texas, 9:30 p.m.: Longhorns could really use another top 50 win to shore up their footing and get some breathing room as the last team in.
San Jose State vs. Nevada, 9 p.m.: Teams sitting at No. 53 on the S curve (like the Wolfpack) don't earn auto-bids by losing to teams with one win in the WAC.
Colorado vs. Oregon, 11:30 p.m.: It's going to be a long day for the bracketologist ... Ducks need this win and then some to secure a bid.
• Big East (9)
• Big Ten (7)
• Big 12 (6)
• SEC (5)
• ACC (4)
• Mountain West (4)
• Atlantic 10 (3)
• West Coast (3)
• CAA (2)
• Conference USA (2)
• Missouri Valley (2)
• Pac-12 (2)
NCAA automatic qualifiers (15)
• UNC Asheville (Big South)
• Murray State (OVC)
• Belmont (Atlantic Sun)
• Creighton (Missouri Valley)
• VCU (Colonial)
• Loyola-Maryland (MAAC)
• Davidson (SoCon)
• Saint Mary's (WCC)
• Harvard (Ivy League)
• Western Kentucky (Sun Belt)
• Detroit (Horizon League)
• South Dakota State (Summit)
• Long Island (NEC)
• Lehigh (Patriot League)
• Montana (Big Sky)
NIT AQs (7)*
• Drexel (CAA)
• Iona (MAAC)
• Oral Roberts (Summit)
• Middle Tennessee (Sun Belt)
• Valparaiso (Horizon)
• Bucknell (Patriot)
• Savannah State (MEAC)
* if not selected at-large