College Basketball Bubble Watch

Updated: February 26, 2007, 1:40 AM ET
By Andy Glockner | ESPN.com


MSU, Neitzel show what it takes to dance

You're well aware by now that when it comes down to the last few NCAA Tournament at-large spots, the selection committee thinks of it as "splitting hairs," with differences that are "paper-thin."

It's true -- there is very little separating the teams in contention at that point. They've all lost their fair share of games and shown their fair share of weaknesses.

That's why, oftentimes, inclusion in the dance comes down to isolated moments of brilliance. Typically, they come during Championship Week. Just last season, Syracuse more than likely was saved by Gerry Mac's crazy 3 that beat Cincinnati in the first-round of the Big East Tournament (we'll ignore, for now, that several crazy shots and three more wins later, 'Cuse went from out of the bracket to a 5-seed, which was ridiculous -- unless you were a thrilled Texas A&M fan).

Every now and again, though, the regular season has one of those moments. We witnessed one Tuesday night.

Michigan State's upset of Wisconsin was huge for the Spartans' at-large hopes, as it's a quality of win that very few in the bubble mix will have. The bigger thing from my standpoint, though , was the performance of Drew Neitzel down the stretch.

Why? Well, when push comes to shove, and 10 men are trying to differentiate between numerous teams with similar and so-so profiles, are you going to take the nice, nondescript team? Or are you going to take the team with a fearless player who has shown the ability -- against both teams currently ranked No. 1 in the nation -- to completely take over a game and try to will his team to victory?

Neitzel didn't quite get the Spartans there in Columbus, but he did last night. That piece of Michigan State's overall profile -- having a stud who can carry a team in huge spots -- could be worth just as much on Selection Sunday as Tuesday's win itself.

Without further ado, here's the current bubble picture. And yes, Michigan State gets a bump up (for now), as did several others teams as overall positioning becomes clearer:

The Bubble Breakdown
CONFERENCE LOCKS SHOULD BE INS AT-LARGES TAKEN
(assuming no auto bid outlier)
ACC 2 4 5
Big East 3 2 4
Big Ten 2 2 3
Big 12 2 1 2
Pac-10 2 4 5
SEC 2 2 3
MVC 1 1 1
MWC 2 1 2
TOTAL 16 17 25

As always, I've tried to be as inclusive as possible while only including teams that would have a reasonable chance of at least being discussed if this were Selection Sunday. If your team's not on here, there's probably a good reason (or three) -- start with the RPI and SOS numbers and work your way down.

(Please remember, per selection committee criteria, that records displayed are Division I only. Next update: Feb. 26)

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.