This is the final bubble watch of the season. The customary bubble cheat sheet will be out after next Sunday.
New Hampshire (America East), SMU (AAC), La Salle (Atlantic 10), Louisville (ACC), Texas Tech (Big 12), Kansas (Big 12), Xavier (Big East), Nebraska (Big Ten), Maryland (Big Ten), North Texas (C-USA), Yale (Ivy), San Jose State (Mountain West), UNLV (Mountain West), Utah (Pac-12), Arizona State (Pac-12), Loyola Marymount (WCC)
LOCK – UCF
BUBBLE – South Florida, Memphis, Cincinnati
The Knights of UCF are still making a run at a #1 seed and have won every AAC match other than Cincinnati by multiple goals. Because of the AAC’s mid-level stature, they’re probably going to need to do the double and win the AAC Tournament too to realistically have a shot. They could still lose the league title to red hot South Florida though, who could themselves make a late run at a seed if they keep winning, having won six in a row.
Memphis are unbeaten in four after a rough run through Florida, but their overall profile is a bit shaky, meaning another slip-up could be fatal these final two weeks. The big news though is probably Cincinnati’s sudden fall. After five straight AAC wins, the Bearcats haven’t won in three and have tumbled down the RPI. They have just won RPI Top 40 win, that over South Florida and are largely riding on their early draw with UCF. It’s conceivable an early exit in the AAC Tournament could be fatal to their hopes.
BUBBLE – Saint Louis
Saint Louis now has two RPI Top 50 wins over Vanderbilt and Murray State despite not winning the A10. They didn’t win the A10 but also didn’t play league champs La Salle, making the A10 Tournament a tantalizing prospect. The Billikens aren’t totally sunk if they don’t win the auto bid, but the odds probably aren’t great. Saint Joseph’s is the first obstacle in their path in the A10 Tournament this weekend.
LOCK – North Carolina, Duke, Florida State, Notre Dame, Virginia
BUBBLE – NC State, Wake Forest, Clemson, Virginia Tech, Boston College
Duke now has control of the ACC title race after North Carolina’s draw with Louisville, though that’s probably not enough to keep the Cards in the at-large picture. Even if UNC doesn’t won the league, they probably still have a pretty good case at a #1 seed overall in the NCAA Tournament. The trio of Florida State, Notre Dame, and Virginia aren’t likely to get high seeds in the Big Dance, though each remains in the mix for a seed overall if they get another win or two.
It’s much murkier than you might expect after that. Wake Forest has taken a tumble in the last month, winning just two of their last seven, though those wins came against Notre Dame and Florida State, meaning they should still be safe in their positioning, though hopes for a seed could be fading. NC State has helped their cause by mopping up against the lower tier of the ACC, but their lack of quality wins could yet prove fatal if they’re upset by Louisville in the regular season finale, which would send their RPI crashing. Clemson is another bubble hopeful that has wins over Auburn and Wake Forest, but they may need another win to totally feel safe.
Virginia Tech is going to be a controversial case, as they’re currently twelfth (!) in the ACC with just seven wins. One of those wins was at Notre Dame though, and the Hokies also have draws against fellow bubble teams Boston College, Wake Forest, and Clemson. Boston College is also just a game above .500 and has lost three straight (albeit to great competition). They have just one win over an RPI Top 50 team though (Wake Forest), which could be fatal for their case.