It's been a wild ride here at Bubble Watch 2022, and now the NCAA men's basketball committee is about to have the final say.
Before that happens, here are some tips on how to watch Sunday's games and especially the evening's selection show like a pro.
Richmond can bump one team out of the field
In the eyes of the committee, there are two kinds of Selection Sundays. Either the at-large field is set by Sunday or it's not.
This year the at-large field is not set because Richmond is still playing. The Spiders have no hope of getting an at-large invite, but if they defeat Davidson in the Atlantic 10 final, Chris Mooney's team will earn the league's automatic bid. Since the Wildcats are already safely in the NCAA bracket barring only the most extraordinary surprise, the net effect of a Richmond win would therefore be to eliminate one at-large team from the field of 68.
You might well ask which bubble teams will be nervously watching the A-10 final. Excellent question. At Bubble Watch, we prefer to frame this matter in terms of "level of surprise."
If Richmond loses Sunday, the Watch projects that there will be four spots available for the bubble teams listed below. Should the Spiders win, on the other hand, there will be just three open lines in the bracket.
Here are the consensus choices for the last teams in the at-large field, ranked from most to least surprising if they were to hear their names called.
Longest of all possible long shots: BYU and North Texas
The Cougars and the Mean Green both lost earlier in their conference tournaments than the consensus said was advisable. Still, if the committee were of a mind to voice its independence from the mock-bracket chorus, who knows, either Brigham Young or UNT could be the beneficiary.
Long shots: Oklahoma, Wake Forest and Rutgers
Three long shots, three very different trajectories. The Sooners made a late charge that is now viewed as having come up just short. The Demon Deacons lost to Boston College on Wednesday night and then watched as other bubble teams apparently passed them by in the bracket.
Rutgers is perhaps the most interesting case of all. The last-minute consensus has broken against the Scarlet Knights and their unique profile quietly, yet unmistakably. That consensus might be mistaken, of course, but its movement was discernible.
Could go either way: SMU and Xavier
One notable feature of this particular pairing is the tendency of some brackets to choose either the Mustangs or the Musketeers but not both.
Cautiously optimistic: Wyoming, Notre Dame and Texas A&M
Beating UNLV on the Rebels' home floor in the Mountain West quarterfinals might have closed the deal for the Cowboys. The Fighting Irish lost their opening game in the ACC tournament but had the relative good fortune to lose to eventual champion Virginia Tech.
A&M's team-sheet metrics have shot up like a rocket after SEC tournament wins over Florida, Auburn and Arkansas. Perhaps the fact that those rankings are so new is what's still keeping the Aggies under the "bubble" heading at all.
Of course, Buzz Williams' team can make this question a moot point with a win over Tennessee in the SEC title game.
Just so there's no confusion, yes, the above list does assume that teams such as Michigan and Indiana will hear their names called. Do bear in mind, however, that one such "safe" team every year or two tends to find itself saying, "That was closer than we thought," in Dayton.
Now it's all in the hands of the committee. Enjoy Selection Sunday!
Here's our current projection of the bubble: