Commentary

Best bets among bubble teams

Can the likes of Tennessee, Northwestern and NC State get the wins they need?

Originally Published: March 6, 2012
By Mike Hume | ESPN Insider
Trae GoldenJoe Robbins/Getty ImagesThe Tennessee Volunteers have been on a roll recently and are closing in on a bid.

On Monday, Joe Lunardi provided a fairly comprehensive look at what bubble teams need to accomplish to break into the bracket. The question now becomes whether or not those squads will realize their Big Dance dreams or watch them get crushed during their conference tournaments. To get a clearer idea, we gazed into the crystal ball of ESPN's new College Basketball Power Index and used the predictive power of BPI to see which major conference bubble teams are strong enough to grab a few final wins and push into the field of 68.

Part of the beauty of BPI is that the whizzes of the ESPN Analytics group can easily translate a team's BPI score into a point spread against an average team on a neutral court in an average-pace game (roughly 69 possessions). While we know these teams will likely play at a pace different from average, we can still use this net points interpretation of the BPI as a baseline for which team has performed better to this point in the season. (You can view Sunday's BPI rankings here.)

Compare those scores (Net Points vs. Average) between two teams and you can get an idea of how they'd stack up head-to- head. Using this lens, we took a look at the major conference tournaments to see who has the best chance to secure those precious few remaining at-large bids.

ACC

Miami (Fla.) and North Carolina State are currently on the outside looking in according to Lunardi's latest Bracket Math. And the Bracketologist believes it will take two wins in the ACC tournament for either squad to feel comfortable about its chances on Selection Sunday. The good news is that they'll both have opportunities to prove their worth against solid tournament locks in the tournament's second round. The only problem is, well, the Canes and Pack have to beat said proven tourney team.