March Madness: NCAA Tournament Bubble Watch – Who’s In? Who’s Out?

This is not an opinion of teams that I feel necessarily deserve to get into the 2012 NCAA Tournament, but whether such teams will actually get the call shortly after 6 PM Eastern Time today.

Feel free to compare and contrast my choices with Andy Bottoms’ latest bracketology column. There are some differences.


Do John Shurna and the Northwestern Wildcats still have a chance to earn the school's first NCAA Tournament bid ever?

As usual, late events in various conference tourneys will spell bad news for someone. The most significant bid thieve so far is Colorado winning the Pac-12 Tournament. Another bubble would be popped if St. Bonaventure (#90 RPI) were to upset Xavier in the Atlantic 10 final on Sunday.

NCAA Tournament Bubble Watch: In The Dance

Colorado St. (#27 RPI)

The Rams are the college basketball answer to the 2011 Milwaukee Brewers: awesome at home, terrible on the road. In fact CSU’s lone away win in conference was at lowly Air Force. At home CSU downed San Diego St., UNLV, and New Mexico, all top-25 teams.

It isn’t a case of how, but how many – and the #27 RPI is good enough to help them not get snubbed. So look for the Mountain West to indeed get four teams into the dance.

South Florida (#46)

The Big East has seven teams going for sure: Syracuse, Marquette (#9 despite one-and-done in conference tourney), Georgetown, Louisville, UConn, Cincinnati, and someone else on name recognition. That leaves USF, West Virginia (#56), and Seton Hall (#65) square on the bubble.

The USF Bulls do not have any signature wins, but I do not think 12-6 in conference gets ignored.

Connecticut (#32)

If I didn’t give away the brand name and just said 8-10 in the Big East (tied for ninth), 20-13 overall, you would say that the team would be on shaky ground. And Ari Kaufman could deliver an hour-long argument for the prosecution on why the Huskies do not deserve to be in the Dance. But UConn is the defending National Champs and did rack up two wins in the conference tourney. The Huskies are in guaranteed; look for a #8 or #9 seed.

California (#36), Washington (#69)

The Pac-10 does not deserve three teams in the field of 68, but I look for the selection committee to make sure multiple teams get in. At 24-9 (13-5) and the #36 rating, I believe Cal is in without even much debate.

The RPI says U-Dub will not get in, but I feel that 14-4 and the regular season conference championship will be the trump card for Washington. I should note that in his latest mock, Andy Bottoms has Cal in a first-round game but U-Dub not making the field.

BYU (#43)

Most projected brackets and seemingly all of the BYU media believes the Cougars are in without much of a sweat. The problem is BYU went 1-7 v. top-25 teams on the year, and I compare them to another team on the bubble who will not get in (more below). Name recognition alone gets the Y in the tourney, where they likely fall in the Round of 64.

North Carolina St. (#49)

In the selection committee’s eyes a win is a win and a loss is a loss, no matter what the circumstances. However, I feel the Wolfpack’s controversial loss to North Carolina in the ACC semi-final will be fresh enough to be noticed by the selection committee. Also I do not see only four ACC teams getting in.

NCAA Tournament Bubble Watch: Out of The Dance

Drexel (#71)

The top selling points for Drexel is a 27-6 (16-2) record and the regular season CAA Championship. The Colonial conference is always a solid conference as well (see George Mason, 2006). It’s just that I see #71 as too low a number, but if Drexel gets the last bid it would be a good move by the committee.

West Virginia (#56)

At selection headquarters, last impressions are remembered the most…even if they say they don’t. The late-season home loss to a shorthanded Marquette team plus the loss to UConn in the Big East tourney will prove to be too much of a double-whammy for the Mountaineers.

Iona (#41)

In most conferences, #41 and a final 25-7 record is good enough for an at-large berth. However the MAAC does not typically have the luxury of sending multiple teams, and, fair or not, Iona had to win that tournament. The Gaels are also lacking a ‘signature win’ and did not play any teams that finished in the top 25.

Marshall (#42)

Another nice RPI, but this will be a case of the Herd literally be thinned out. They had a nice conference tourney run, but Memphis is the measuring stick and Marshall went 0-3 against them, including a 26-point loss in the C-USA final.

Oral Roberts (#46)

Looking at Oral Roberts’ resume, I see a very similar body of work to BYU. The only difference here is BYU has name recognition and plays in a better conference. Meanwhile the Summit Conference gets very little respect and I don’t see the committee finding a way to get a second Summit league team into the dance. And if BYU/ORU were to meet in a first-round game, I think it would be a close game, probably BYU by three.

Seton Hall (#65)

Originally I had the Pirates with the In crowd, but there is only room for so many at the Inn. NYC/Big East bias could sneak The Hall into the Dance, but for now I have Seton Hall as my first team out.

Northwestern (#60)

If they had just beaten Minnesota in the B1G Ten first round, the Wildcats would had likely ended the biggest curse in Chicago sports outside of a certain baseball team on the North Side. I would like to see the Wildcats sneak in, and wouldn’t rule the possibility totally out.

In 1994 Wisconsin ended decades without an NCAA invitation by receiving a bid despite a 8-10 conference mark. Maybe there will  an agenda in the selection room for the inclusion of a seventh B1G Ten team.


About Kurt Allen

Have written/blogged about sports since 2000, along with starting my popular Twitter feed in 2009. I also closely follow fantasy sports developments, along with events such as the NFL Draft.


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