College Basketball Bubble Watch

Updated: March 13, 2008, 3:43 PM ET
By Andy Glockner | ESPN.com


Is Kentucky really worthy of dancing?

Editor's note: This file has been updated to include all games through Wednesday, March 12.


Ahead of the bubble madness that will unfold today and tomorrow, it seems like a good time for an update on the cut line.

Counting all the locks and at-larges, and assuming no surprise tourney champ emerges from a major conference, there appear to be 26 at-large spots filled, leaving eight available. That number will decline if Xavier, Memphis and BYU/UNLV don't win their respective automatic bids.

For those eight remaining at-large bids, there appear to be 22 teams realistically with a chance, but not all profiles are created equal. The current tiering of those teams (in no particular order yet) would look something like this:

Tier A (in relatively good shape today): Arizona, Kentucky, UMass, Texas A&M, Arkansas
Tier B (right on the cut line): Dayton, Illinois State, Ole Miss, UAB, Ohio State, Villanova, Oregon, Arizona State, New Mexico, Saint Joseph's, VCU
Tier C (long shots): Virginia Tech, Temple, Florida, Houston, Maryland, Florida State

If you believe the breakdowns, three of the teams from Tier B would make it, so you can see how crucial the next couple of days will be.

A few observations:
• Arizona has 10 Top 100 wins, which is three more than any other team on those lists, other than Dayton and Florida State.
• Dayton and Ole Miss have profiles that are much better than most think, despite long swoons in league play. Both clubs won their last three regular-season league games, and if they get to their respective tourney semis (one win for Dayton and two for Ole Miss), will deserve very long looks.
• It's going to be really hard for Illinois State and/or VCU to hold on as teams around them win games.
• Kentucky's profile isn't the mortal lock many Cats fans believe it is. In fact, it isn't clear that the Wildcats should even be in Tier A. Let's play a quick game of blind profile:
Kentucky vs. Team B
RPI SOS R/N Top 50 Top 100
Kentucky 49 11 4-7 4-7 5-10
Team B 31 35 6-6 2-3 9-5

Who's Team B? Dayton, which finished seventh in the A-10 (in large part due to injuries). Based on those numbers, which team would you take? Recall that the Flyers also beat Pitt and won at Louisville, which cancels out some of UK's biggest chips -- home wins over Tennessee and Vandy.

Remember, in January, this column noted that 12-4 in the SEC would be needed just to get into reasonable at-large position. Kentucky's only four wins away from Rupp this season are over four of the five bottom teams in the SEC. The Cats also lack a nonconference win in the top 250. Yes, they're healthier now and have won 11 of 13 down the stretch, but unless that gives them a full pass for the first half of the season, the overall profile remains dicey.

Bottom line: Kentucky would be wise to avoid a loss to Ole Miss or Georgia in the SEC quarters; if the Cats lose, they'd give the committee an excuse to leave them out.

As always, the records listed are Division I only, per NCAA tournament selection guidelines. (Kansas State and Miami fans, please reread that last sentence before you click the link in the next one). If you have a legitimate grievance or just like talking bubble, send an e-mail to bubblewatch@gmail.com.

Next update: Friday, March 14.

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