College Basketball Bubble Watch
Heavyweight bubble fight on tap in CAA
After spending the entire season as a basketball sideshow, running guys in and out of games and regularly scoring (and allowing) in the triple digits, Baucom throttled back the approach in the Big South tourney. The rotation tightened, the pressing stopped, the number of possessions shrank, and the offensive efficiency went through the roof as Baucom's club upended 3-seed Liberty and 2-seed High Point.
Emboldened, Baucom took it to the extreme in Saturday's title game against prohibitive favorite Winthrop, essentially riding his five best players for the full 40 and resorting to a stationary 2-3 zone to conserve their energy -- and his guys nearly stole the crown with their slowest, most offensively efficient game of the season against a D-I opponent.
It takes a lot of fortitude to change your approach that drastically in the biggest games of your season. Kudos to Baucom and the Keydets for a sensational and inspiring effort -- that's what Championship Week is all about.
Now, on to the bubble ... Winthrop and Davidson both claimed auto bids, which is good news for Bubble Nation. The Eagles, especially, had a reasonable at-large claim, but now don't need to dip into the pool. More potential good news for bubblers came from the Missouri Valley, where Bradley went down and Missouri State got thrashed in the semifinals. Could that combination of results leave the MVC with only two bids?
Today's huge bubble throwdown comes from the CAA, where league champ VCU and road warrior Drexel get it on in the semifinals (ESPN Full Court, 3 ET). This time, Drexel will have the services of 6-9 forward Frank Elegar, its leading scorer (16.0 ppg). Elegar was suspended for the only meeting of the season, a seven-point VCU win at Drexel. With Old Dominion looking solid in the other semi against George Mason, the winner of the Rams-Dragons throwdown could very well be in position for the league's second at-large. It's possible the loser could make it, too, but that will be a very long wait until Selection Sunday.
Congrats also are in order for Belmont, the repeat champ in the Atlantic Sun, and Eastern Kentucky, which stopped Austin Peay with a final-seconds floater to win the Ohio Valley.
Here's the updated look at the bubble. Make sure to check out the newly created bubble scoreboard each day for all the important games on one page.
|The Bubble Breakdown|
|CONFERENCE||LOCKS||SHOULD BE INS||AT-LARGES TAKEN (OUT OF 34)
(assuming no auto bid outlier)
Also, Xavier from the A-10 looks very good for an at-large, if needed. As it stands, it appears there are six at-larges left for those teams in the "work to do" pool, assuming teams like Memphis, Xavier and Nevada don't lose in their conference tournaments. If I had to size up, at this point, the pool of teams in best position to grab those bids, it would be (in no order, yet):
Georgia Tech, Florida State, Illinois, Purdue, Kansas State, Old Dominion, Drexel, Gonzaga, VCU, Missouri State and West Virginia.
Assuming the CAA auto bid winner comes from ODU, Drexel or VCU, that knocks one more team from that group.
(Please remember, per selection committee criteria, that records displayed are Division I only. Next update: Mar. 5)
If you have a legitimate grievance, or just like talking bubble, send an e-mail. Polite ones with fact-based arguments have a much better chance of receiving a response. I apologize in advance if I can't get back to all of you.