College Basketball Bubble Watch

Updated: March 11, 2006, 12:04 AM ET
By Andy Glockner | ESPN.com


Buck makes sure bubble doesn't need change

Bubble teams around the nation pumped a collective fist Friday evening when Bucknell wrapped up the Patriot League's auto bid, most likely saving an at-large spot for the field. More good news came from C-USA, where the Memphis-UAB final ensures the league will only gets its two budgeted teams in.

While it looks like Cal is in in the Pac-10, the Golden Bears actually got a bad break when RPI 134 Oregon took out Washington, meaning a potential loss in the conference semifinals will hurt a lot more. Cal's RPI is middling for an at-large as is; the Bears might want to make sure they don't get upset tonight.

Bucknell grabbed the only auto bid today, but with a ton of games nationally, there's plenty at stake. Here's the full 411 on Championship Week.

On to the distribution ...

Figuring in locks and teams likely to be in, and taking the relative status of the current teams on the bubble, the best current power conference estimate looks like this:
• ACC: 4 bids
• Big 12: 4
• Big East: 8
• Big Ten: 6
• Pac-10: 4
• SEC: 6

Making the fairly safe assumption that the automatic bid winners in each conference will come from the pools of teams below (and therefore not potentially "steal" an extra bid for the conference), the six power conferences are taking 26 of the 34 at-large spots (32 total projected bids minus six auto bids). We also now know the A-10 and C-USA will get two, so that leaves six remaining berths.

At this point, most of the power conferences are basically tapped out. At the above numbers, the Big Ten, Pac-10, Big 12 and SEC likely are at their maxes. The Big East could get a ninth, but Seton Hall looks shaky right now. Neither Maryland nor Florida State helped themselves in the ACC, which means the league could have to settle for four.

Who looks best set to take those left if the aforementioned teams don't? The Missouri Valley still looks strong to get four bids (three at-larges), but five may now be a reach. The CAA is looking very good to get one at-large, but Hofstra may now be in serious danger.

Where would the final couple of teams come from, if not from the BCS conferences? Not the MAC, which appears to be in for another one-bid season. How about the Mountain West or the WAC? Unless Nevada or San Diego State loses, it seems unlikely.

Here's one man's take on the cut line, as of the end of Friday's afternoon games:
• Wichita State (MVC regular-season champ is a lock)
• George Mason (Skinn suspension should impact seed, not inclusion)
• Bradley (strong finish, O'Bryant factor, swept Northern Iowa)
• San Diego State (w/ MWC loss; Abukar + regular-season title should be enough)
• Northern Iowa (big nonconf Ws; swept by Creighton)
• Michigan (lost seven of final nine, but had some injuries in that stretch)
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• Creighton (needs SDSU title; was rolling before Dotzler injury; can return offset QF exit, weakish RPI?)
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• Missouri State (great RPI, strong close, but QF exit and 4-7 vs. MVC big five)
• Seton Hall (some excellent Ws, but even more bad Ls)

• Maryland (Bad ACC quarters loss; 5-8 in last 13, with only wins against UVa (2), Ga Tech (2) and Miami)
Others in the picture:
• Air Force (no heft and a QF exit seals fate)
• Hofstra (terrible nonconf SOS, third-place league finish)
• Florida State (one win over Duke's not enough)
• Utah State (nice team, but not enough there)
• Colorado (late-season slide capped by 33-point poleaxing by A&M)
• BYU (QF loss seals NIT fate)

If Nevada falls in the WAC, that pool of seven remaining spots will shrink.

(Note: Bubble Watch will be updated multiple times daily through Selection Sunday. Records are D-I only.)