Tuesday, March 3, 2009

NCAA Bubble Talk: Who's In, Who's Out?

We have made our way into March, the best month in sports. Now, less than 2 weeks from Selection Sunday, let's delve into the field of 65. Below is a conference-by-conference breakdown (as of 3/3). Note: I only included wins against Division I opponents.

Big Ten 
Locks (4): Michigan State, Purdue, Illinois, Wisconsin
On the Bubble: Ohio State, Penn State, Minnesota, Michigan
Minnesota: 19-8 (8-8), RPI-37, SOS-46, 4-6 vs Top 50, Notable Wins: Louisville, Wisconsin, Notable Losses: @ Northwestern, Remaining Games: Wisconsin, Michigan
Ohio State: 18-9 (8-8), RPI-43, SOS-27, 6-8 vs Top 50, Notable Wins: Butler, Notre Dame, Miami, Purdue, Notable Losses: @ Minnesota, Remaining Games : @ Iowa, Northwestern
Michigan: 17-12 (8-9), RPI-47, SOS-9, 5-9 vs Top 50, Notable Wins: Duke, UCLA, Purdue, Illinois, Notable Losses: Ohio State (x2), Iowa, Remaining Games : @ Minnesota
Penn State: 20-9 (9-7), RPI-65, SOS-90, 5-8 vs Top 50, Notable Wins: @ MSU, @ Illinois, Notable Losses: Rhode Island, Remaining Games: Illinois, @ Iowa

Big East
Locks (7): UConn, Pitt, Louisville, Marquette, Villanova, Syracuse, West Virginia
On the Bubble: Cincinnati, Providence, Notre Dame, Georgetown
Georgetown: 15-12 (6-10), RPI-40, SOS-1, 4-8 vs Top 50, Notable Wins: @ Villanova, @ UConn, Maryland, Notable Losses: Cincinnati (x2), Remaining Games: @ St. Johns, DePaul
Cincinnati: 17-11 (8-8), RPI-54, SOS-19, 4-9 vs Top 50, Notable Wins: Georgetown (x2), UNLV, Notable Losses: Providence (x2), Remaining Games: @ South Florida, Seton Hall
Providence: 18-11 (10-7), RPI-68, SOS-47, 2-7 vs Top 50, Notable Wins: Cincinnati (x2), Notable Losses: St. Mary's, Notre Dame, Georgetown, Remaining Games: @ Villanova
Notre Dame: 15-13 (7-10), RPI-73, SOS-32, 3-11 vs Top 50, Notable Wins: Texas, Louisville, Georgetown, Notable Losses: St Johns, Remaining Games: St. Johns

Big 12
Locks (4): Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Texas
On the Bubble: Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, Kansas State
Oklahoma State: 19-9 (8-6), RPI-31, SOS-12, 3-8 vs Top 50, Notable Wins: Texas, Siena, Notable Losses: @ Texas A&M, Remaining Games: Kansas State, @ Oklahoma
Texas A&M: 20-8 (7-7), RPI-35, SOS-38, 4-5 vs Top 50, Notable Wins: Arizona, LSU, Texas, Notable Losses: Kansas State, @ Oklahoma State, Remaining Games: @ Colorado, Missouri
Kansas State: 19-9 (8-6), RPI-71, SOS-88, 3-4 vs Top 50, Notable Wins: @ Texas, Notable Losses: Iowa, @ Oregon, Remaining Games: @ Oklahoma State, Colorado

Locks (3): LSU, Tennessee, South Carolina
On the Bubble: Florida, Kentucky
Florida: 21-8 (8-6), RPI-50, SOS-91, 2-6 vs Top 50, Notable Wins: Washington, South Carolina, Notable Losses: Tennessee (x2), Remaining Games: @ Mississippi State, Kentucky
Kentucky: 19-10 (8-6), RPI-66, SOS-61, 4-6 vs Top 50, Notable Wins: West Virginia, Tennessee (x2), Notable Losses: @ Ole Miss, Remaining Games: Georgia, @ Florida

Locks (6): North Carolina, Duke, Wake Forest, Clemson, Florida State, Boston College
On the Bubble: Miami, Maryland, Virginia Tech
Miami: 16-10 (6-8), RPI-44, SOS-10, 4-7 vs Top 50, Notable Wins: Wake Forest, @ Kentucky, Notable Losses: @ NC State, Remaining Games: @ Georgia Tech, NC State
Maryland: 18-10 (7-7), RPI-52, SOS-22, 4-9 vs Top 50, Notable Wins: UNC, MSU, Michigan, Notable Losses: Morgan State, Remaining Games: Wake Forest, @ Virginia
Virginia Tech: 17-11 (7-7), RPI-60, SOS-37, 4-7 vs Top 50, Notable Wins: @ Clemson, @ Wake Forest, @ Miami, Notable Losses: @ Maryland, Remaining Games: North Carolina, @ Florida State

PAC 10
Locks (4): Washington, UCLA, Arizona State, Cal
On the Bubble: Arizona, USC
Arizona: 18-11 (8-8), RPI-48, SOS-34, 5-7 vs Top 50, Notable Wins: Gonzaga, Kansas, UCLA, Notable Losses: @ Texas A&M, Remaining Games: Cal, Stanford
USC: 16-12 (7-9), RPI-58, SOS-15, 3-9 vs Top 50, Notable Wins: Cal, Notable Losses: UCLA (x2), Remaining Games: Oregon, Oregon State

Locks (6): Memphis, Gonzaga, Butler, Utah, BYU, Xavier, Dayton
On the Bubble: Creighton, Siena, San Diego State, UNLV, Davidson, Utah State, St. Mary's
Creighton: 25-6 (14-4), RPI-39, SOS-105, 1-0 vs Top 50, Notable Wins: Dayton, Notable Losses: Northern Iowa, Remaining Games: MVC Tournament
Siena: 23-7 (16-2), RPI-29, SOS-73, 0-4 vs Top 50, Notable Wins: Northern Iowa, Notable Losses: Niagara, Wichita St, Remaining Games: MAAC Tournament
San Diego State: 17-8 (9-5), RPI-46, SOS-62, 1-5 vs Top 50, Notable Wins: Utah, Notable Losses: @ Arizona, Remaining Games: Colorado State, UNLV
UNLV: 20-8 (8-6), RPI-51, SOS-78, 5-3 vs Top 50, Notable Wins: Arizona, @ Louisville, Notable Losses: Cincinnati, Remaining Games: Air Force, @ San Diego State
Davidson: 24-6 (18-2), RPI-67, SOS-165, 1-4 vs Top 50, Notable Wins: West Virginia, Notable Losses: Butler, Remaining Games: Southern Conference Tournament
Utah State: 25-4 (13-2), RPI-32, SOS-130, 1-1 vs Top 50, Notable Wins: Utah, Notable Losses: @ St. Mary's, Remaining Games: San Jose State
UAB: 20-9 (10-4), RPI-41, SOS-64, 1-6 vs Top 50, Notable Wins: @ Arizona, Notable Losses: @ Cincinnati, Remaining Games: @ UTEP, Marshall
St. Mary's: 22-5 (10-4), RPI-55, SOS-167, 2-2 vs Top 50, Notable Wins: Providence, San Diego St, Utah St, Notable Losses: UTEP, Gonzaga (x2), Remaining Games: WCC Tournament

Overall, 24 locks along with an additional 31 automatic berths leaves open only 10 slots in the field of 65 among the bubble teams listed above. I imagine there will be a few surprises in the Conference tournaments, leaving open a few less spots (2 or 3).  We'll play it safe and say there are only 7 spots open for bubble teams.  In my opinion, Ohio State and Arizona are IN.  The schedule favors Miami and UNLV to be IN, leaving only 4 at-large bids. This leaves the Florida/Kentucky winner, the Michigan/Minnesota winner, the Oklahoma State/Kansas State winner, Texas A&M, Penn State, Maryland, Virginia Tech, Creighton, Georgetown, Cincy and Providence (11 teams for 4 spots).  At least 1 or even 2 teams from the Big East will get IN, probably Providence and Georgetown.  Yes, I think Georgetown will make the field. Their last two games are very winnable and due the unbalanced schedule in the BIG East, they should have an edge over Cincy and, for that matter, Providence. If that is the case, the ACC, BIG 12, SEC, and BIG TEN only have 2 slots to work with.  Frankly, I am not sure why Creighton is in Joe Lunardi's field.  Moreover, I don't think any of the mid-major bubble teams, outside of UNLV, will be selected as at-large teams. Yes, that includes Davidson. Here are the scenarios: #1: If Kentucky defeats Florida, they are IN. #2 If Florida defeats Kentucky, both need at least 2 wins in the SEC tournament to get IN. #3-If Penn State wins out, they are IN. If PSU splits, they need to win 2 at the Big Ten Tournament. If PSU loses out, they are done. #4- The Michigan/Minnesota winner must win at least 1 at the Big Ten Tournament; win 2 and you are a lock. #5- If Oklahoma State defeats Kansas State, they are in pretty good shape. If KSU wins, both teams are out, unless either makes a long run in the conference tournament. #6- Texas A&M must win vs. Missouri at home and then a few more in Kansas City. #7- Maryland and Virginia Tech have to win out and then do some damage in the ACC tournament to get in.

Confused yet.  Here's how I see things playing out: Kentucky defeats Florida to get IN, leaving only one spot for the ACC, BIG Ten and Big 12. Maryland and Virginia Tech will lose this week knocking them out of the conversation. Penn State will stumble down the stretch and not be in the field, while Texas A&M will lose to Missouri at the end of the season. This leaves Oklahoma State, who will defeat Kansas State, and the Michigan/Minnesota winner. Don't like our chances. Who would have thought that Big Ten may only get 5 teams? Again, this is a very fluid situation with a lot of different scenarios that will likely change on a nightly basis.  All I will say is that Michigan surely does not control its own destiny, as I thought last night. Even if Michigan wins at Minnesota and a game in Indianapolis, their going to need some additional help as well.  Granted, I put Miami and Georgetown into the field (both are under .500 in their conferences), but the road for Michigan is not easy; I'd put the odds at 25%.  Let the madness begin.


Andy said...

Well that was exhuastive, Rob. Cincy, Georgetown, and K-State have all lost tonight so far. Helps a bit.

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