NCAA – Bubble Watch Proper – Week Five


Lock – UCF, UConn
Bubble – South Florida, Memphis

Sometimes, all it takes is winning while everything else burns down around you. And so it is for UCF and UConn, who both locked themselves into the field with wins as clubs elsewhere struggled. UCF can probably lock up a seed with a few wins in the AAC Tournament, while UConn will want to try and solidify its chances for a home match in the first round of the NCAA Tournament by first beating Tulsa in the AAC Tournament quarterfinals. South Florida’s really close thanks to four straight wins, and victory over Cincinnati in the quarterfinals should be enough. In any event, they may be high enough in the RPI to avoid the bubble, even in defeat. Memphis is the league’s swing team, despite a second place league finish. They aren’t going to get much help from the quarterfinal matchup, so the Tigers might have to get to the final if teams around them don’t start imploding.

Atlantic 10

Lock – La Salle

At #21 in the RPI, La Salle’s sitting pretty but needs to take care of business against RPI killers Duquesne and Saint Bonaventure. Despite the lack of big results, it’s going to be hard to ignore an RPI that high if they finish out a perfect league season. If not? Stay tuned to this space.


Lock – North Carolina, Florida State, Virginia, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech
Bubble – Clemson, Boston College, Duke

North Carolina and Florida State are battling for a #1 seed, Virginia and Notre Dame are battling for a #2, and Virginia Tech is probably just trying to lock up a home game in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. Clemson’s lower in the RPI but probably has the better resume at this point, and for all intents and purposes, they should be a lock too. Boston College and Duke are the teams under pressure. BC really needs to help their cause with a result against Notre Dame in the regular season finale. Duke has to get at least a point against Florida State to finish at the .500 cutline. And even then, they have to hope that’s enough to get them onto the bubble. If they do, add that to a win at West Virginia, and the Blue Devils would basically be a lock.

Atlantic Sun

Bubble – Florida Gulf Coast

The Eagles are going to be a seriously divisive team if they don’t bring home that auto bid. They’ve got wins against Arizona and La Salle, so they aren’t just smoke and mirrors, and they don’t have any bad losses either. But it may just be a case of some other clubs having better sets of results against Top 50 teams thus far. It’s going to be very, very close though. If they do make it in, they should still avoid a match against a top two seed. If the selection committee is sane.


Lock – West Virginia, Texas Tech, Kansas
Bubble – Texas, Oklahoma State, TCU, Oklahoma

West Virginia’s making a late push at a #1 seed, though they’ll probably need to win out to stand a chance. Texas Tech is pushing for a seed, but probably aren’t going to get to a top two seed given their middling league finish. Kansas probably doesn’t have enough for a seed unless they storm through the Big XII Tournament. Texas is in good shape regardless, while Oklahoma State is in a decent position as well. The Cowgirls can’t lose to both Texas and their Big XII Tournament opponent to stay at .500 though. TCU is trending towards the right side of the bubble with a draw against West Virginia and win over Texas, but they still need to avoid a loss to Iowa State. Oklahoma’s fading fast after a great start. The wins over Florida and Texas Tech only matter if they end up on the bubble. And they might need two wins to get there, no easy task for a club that hasn’t won since October 5.

Big East

Lock – DePaul
Bubble – Georgetown

I’m not convinced DePaul’s resume is all that much. OK, I’m REALLY not convinced, but there’s a value to not losing when other clubs are capsizing around them. As long as the Blue Demons don’t just lose both their regular season finale and their semi-final in the Big East Tournament, they should be fine. No promises about a seed though. Georgetown probably just has to avoid a catastrophe against Seton Hall in the regular season finale. I doubt a loss in the Big East Tournament will cause enough damage given some of the Hoyas’ results this year.

Big Ten

Lock – Penn State, Wisconsin
Bubble – Michigan, Rutgers, Minnesota

Yeah, it’s lonely all of a sudden. Penn State is pushing for a #1 seed, while Wisconsin will be hoping for a late push for a #2. There’s been a major clearout on the rest of the bubble though. Michigan State, Maryland, Iowa, and Illinois are all dunzo in terms of at-large hopes, though we may have to revisit if any of them make a run in the Big Ten Tournament. Rutgers is hitting the self-destruct button at a very inopportune time. Three straight losses have pushed them back to the bubble and likely out of a seed, though they should realistically be safe with the win over Penn State. Michigan will probably be safe as long as they beat Purdue this week. Minnesota’s the outside bet. They need to beat Northwestern and at least one Big Ten Tournament win, maybe more depending on matchups.


Bubble – Hofstra, Northeastern

Neither of these teams will be getting an at-large bid. But they will be hoping that the CAA Tournament title can convince the selection committee to give them a break and keep them away from a national seed.


Bubble – Harvard

See above. Geography may be on the Crimson’s side if many New England teams make it, as there don’t appear to be seed candidates in the region this year.


Bubble – Buffalo, Miami (OH)

The Bulls claimed a shock league title with a win over the Redhawks on Sunday. Buffalo may have to do so again in a few weeks to lock up their NCAA Tournament spot.

Missouri Valley

Bubble – Illinois State

Why is ISU playing Idaho? Might it be enough to push them into a match with a seeded team? I doubt it, but the fixture seems good for little other than padding stats.

Mountain West

Bubble – San Diego State

SDSU’s another bubble contender that will be desperately hoping to avoid a nervous wait to Selection Monday. At any rate, they probably have to polish off New Mexico in the regular season finale to keep their bubble hopes alive. Are wins over Michigan and Washington ultimately going to prove to be enough? And will that head-to-head loss to San Diego prove costly? It’ll be close…if the Aztecs don’t eliminate drama and win the league’s auto bid.


Lock – Stanford, UCLA, Washington, Washington State, Cal, Arizona
Bubble – Arizona State, Utah, Colorado, USC

I’ll be shocked if Stanford and UCLA don’t get #1 seeds considering their records. Washington and Washington State will be pushing for seeds as well, though not top two seeds in all likelihood. Cal may just have to be content with a home game in round one of the NCAA Tournament. Arizona may be the dark horse contender for a seed thanks to their earlier draw with Texas A&M, though their league finish may hurt them. Arizona State’s RPI isn’t impressive, but with a win over Texas A&M and draw with UCLA, only a travesty of justice would keep them out. Might the league get only seven bids though? Utah is imploding, with just one league win. Draws with Stanford and Cal may see them through, but what if the Utes don’t win in their last three regular season matches? A draw with Washington will keep Colorado in the mix, but they still might need a few more wins down the stretch. USC is paying the price for having Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Pacific on their non-conference schedule. If they can get back to the bubble, wins over Notre Dame and Arizona would have them in good shape. But they probably can’t afford more than one loss in their final three against the Washington schools and UCLA.


Bubble – Colgate, Boston University

Colgate is in a decent position and will likely win the league title…but only after likely taking a massive hit in the RPI due to still having to play American, currently RPI #287. If the Raiders beat them and get to the Patriot League Tournament final, they might survive a defeat…but they might not considering their empty resume which won’t save them if they fall onto the bubble. Boston University has a much better shot with wins over La Salle, Harvard, and Colgate. But considering some big results of bubble rivals, that might still not be enough.


Lock – Texas A&M, Florida, South Carolina, Kentucky
Bubble – Auburn, Missouri, Arkansas, Georgia, Alabama, Ole Miss, Tennessee

Texas A&M and Florida will be battling for not just SEC silverware but a #1 seed down the stretch, with the Gators better positioned at the moment thanks to their array of bigger wins. South Carolina would seemingly have a shot at a top two seed but are probably going to get dinged because of their mid-table league finish. Kentucky’s making a late charge for a seed and might be able to get there with a few more wins. The bubble is an ungodly mess. Working from the bottom up, Ole Miss and Tennessee are hanging on. Barely. One will be eliminated after their meeting Thursday, while the other will need at least two wins in Orange Beach. Auburn doesn’t have a great result on their resume but are in the best shape with their RPI number. All bets may be off if they lose to LSU in the regular season finale though. Missouri’s tanking at a bad time, with just one win in five, though it came over bubble rival Georgia. Wins over South Carolina and Kentucky may just be enough though. Arkansas is riding the edge right now, but their best win is over Kentucky, which might not be enough if they lose the regular season finale and their SEC Tournament opener. Georgia is in freefall after losing three of their last four, with another defeat likely at Texas A&M on Thursday. They’ve beaten UCF and South Carolina, but what happens if they lose in the first round of the SEC Tournament too, making it a potential four losses in five? Alabama’s RPI # isn’t great, but they do have draws against South Carolina and Arkansas and wins against Missouri and Georgia. A result against Kentucky on Thursday would be big for their hopes.


Lock – Pepperdine
Bubble – BYU, San Diego, Santa Clara

Is Pepperdine out of gas? They’ve bizarrely drew with Saint Mary’s (CA) and Gonzaga and lost to San Diego in the league, all but ceding the league title to BYU with a few weeks left in the season. They’re still a lock, but their hopes of a high national seed are probably over. If they keep losing, they may not even get a seed, period. BYU would have to utterly collapse to lose out on the WCC’s auto bid at this point. If they win out, they may be able to sneak into a national seed as well. San Diego’s suffering as a result of Pepperdine’s downswing as well, as the value of that result is decreasing. But they also beat Michigan and San Diego State, so they should at least be in the discussion as long as they don’t gag late on the road with three of the league’s lesser sides to come. As stated before, Santa Clara doesn’t have a positive result against an RPI Top 50 team and doesn’t have a shot at an at-large bid.

2 thoughts on “NCAA – Bubble Watch Proper – Week Five

  1. nowayjose

    Excellent work! I think BYU will surprise some folks in the tournament. Over the last 10-11 games, they’ve played exceptionally well. It will be interesting to see how the committee deals with them. Their RPI won’t be nearly as high as their ranking in the coaches poll. But if BYU wins out, they will be heading into the postseason on a 14-game win streak.


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