College Basketball Bubble Watch
So many bubble teams, so few spots remaining
Xavier's loss in the Atlantic 10 semifinals cost the bubble a spot, as the Musketeers now drop into the at-large pool as a lock. With Saint Joseph's now looking in good shape as an at-large, bubble teams are rooting for the Hawks to beat Temple Saturday night for the auto bid, which would keep the A-10 at two bids for the time being.
It could have been worse had Kent State not edged Miami (Ohio) in their MAC semifinal. A Golden Flashes loss to rival Akron on Saturday would make the MAC a two-bid league and take another berth from the bubble. Good news also came from the Mountain West, where BYU and UNLV both advanced to the title game, which means there won't be a bid-stealing mystery champ from that conference.
That's not yet the case in the Big Ten, where the unexpected Minnesota-Illinois semifinal means the winner of that game will be 40 minutes away from poaching a bid. In C-USA, Memphis needs to get past No. 7-seed Tulsa to keep it a one-bid league. Virginia Tech also is making some folks nervous in the ACC.
Given those developments, here's the latest bubble picture. It now appears that 29 of the 34 at-large berths are accounted for, leaving five available for the following pool of candidates (sorted by Friday's RPI):
|Team||RPI||Record vs. Top-50 RPI||Record vs. Top-100 RPI|
It still looks like Arizona will make it off the strength of its 10 Top 100 wins. That leaves four spots up for grabs and the tiers as follows (in RPI order):
Tier A: Dayton, Illinois State, UMass, Villanova, Oregon, Arizona State
Tier B: Ohio State, Ole Miss, Syracuse, VCU, New Mexico, Virginia Tech, Temple
Forced to choose today, the final four spots would go to Villanova, Illinois State, Oregon and UMass. Dayton is only 6-6 since Charles Little returned and the committee has to look at that trend since Chris Wright hasn't yet returned. The Flyers finished two games behind UMass and, injuries or not, lost the head-to-head matchup at home. Arizona State ultimately gets punished for its awful RPI, nonconference SOS and 5-10 finish. There are too many red flags that would create bad precedent for the committee (not that Oregon's much better). Ironically, Temple could end up stealing UMass' bid if the Owls win the A-10.
We'll take one last look on Sunday when the dust settles.
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Next update: Sunday, March 16.