Bracketology – March 9th, 2011 (Bubble To-Do List Edition)

First before I rundown the bubble, lets look at what happen tonight in college hoops.

In the Big East Tournament, UConn advanced with an easy win over Depaul to face Georgetown tomorrow. Rutgers advanced to play St. John’s, Marquette avoided disaster by crushing Providence, and South Florida upset Villanova. Villanova is struggling bad right now and they are falling fast in seeding. I had them as a 7 but I might drop them all the way to a 9 now. They are 5-10 in the last 15 games, bad.

Princeton beat Penn to secured the one game playoff with Harvard for the Ivy League title. The game will be played at a neutral site later this week.

Arkansas Little Rock secured a tourney berth with their thrilling victory over North Texas. They are likely going to be a 16 seed considering the 19-16 record coming from the Sun Belt.

Oakland also secured their bid with a victory over Oral Roberts. Oakland is dangerous and will probably get a chance at a 4 seed in a 4-13 matchup next week.

Finally another bubble disaster avoided, as Butler took care of Wisconsin-Milwaukee tonight handily. Butler earns the automatic berth and seals the Horizon as a one bid league. Sorry Valpo and Cleveland St, just not enough. The Bulldogs will probably earn a bid around an 11 seed, a stark difference than last year when they were a five. Butler has the ability to pull an upset in the first round, but they aren’t going far in this year’s tournament.

On to tonight’s feature…

OK, tonight I’ll examining what each of the bubble teams need to do to get an at-large bid. Today I read an article sort of like what I’ll do here, and of course it was unrealistic and misinformed like so many NCAA tournament articles tend to be around this type of year. I hate to say that, but I get frustrated reading through articles everyday, often on established sites like ESPN, CBS Sportsline or Rivals.

I know sports writing isn’t my job, but I think alot of the time they get guys who aren’t as in to this (or as knowledgable about bracketology) to write articles. They probably know alot more than I do about all sports, and are much better writers, but that doesn’t mean they are experts of bracketology. I completely respect the job that so many others like myself do, as well as established experts like Joe Lunardi. Joe has access to so many things that I wish I had and he knows as much as you can, but he’s not perfect. I am in very close agreement with his bracket right now, with only some slight variations.

(For more plus tournament predictions, CLICK BELOW)

Ok, enough rambling, lets get down to business. I’m going to try to do really good research on this, but I’m certainly not as knowledgeable about say CUSA, as I am the Big East or the ACC. So without further adieu, here is the rundown of the bubble. (teams who aren’t locks and are still alive only, in my opinion)

We’ll start from the bottom up:

Colorado State: Alright we start with Colorado State. First they need to beat New Mexico, then BYU, and then they need San Diego State to barely beat them. AKA look good against them. On top of that the Rams need alot of others to help them in order to be able to secure an atlarge. Basically, its in their best interest to win the whole thing, because I put their chances at still only about 30-40 percent if they lose a close game in the finals to SD State. They still have a chance, but they have the worst resume for bubble teams.

Baylor: The Bears are in a bit better shape than the Rams because they have more opportunity ahead of them. First they obviously have to beat Oklahoma, then Texas. But it might still not be enough with only that, I still put their chances in the 40-50 percent range. If they can then beat Texas A&M and make it to the finals, they can afford to lose and still make the field.

Nebraska: The Huskers are in a very similar position to Baylor. The Huskers must beat OK State, then Kansas. At that point I’d put their chances higher than Baylor’s (just beating Texas), around 60-70 percent. But it’d be in their best interest to go ahead and beat K-State too and make the finals of the Big 12 as well to sure up a bid. They have a chance but upsetting Kansas is a tall order.

VCU: The Rams are the only team on this list with no games remaining. They remain here because they impressed in the Colonial. The Rams need teams to lose, and alot of them. They need bad losses from a ton of teams ahead of them. Perhaps they should be pushed lower on the list, but as of right now their resume beats the above teams by a small margin.

Washington State: The Cougars start the Pac Ten tourney against Washington who’ve they’ve beaten twice already this year. Obviously a must win. If they advance they’ll possibly face UCLA. If the Cougars just beat Washington and lose to UCLA, then their chances would be 50-50 or so. If they can beat UCLA though, that will probably put them over the hump and into the field. I’d say 90 percent chances with a finals appearance.

UTEP: The Miners are on the wrong side of the bracket. Its a problem that none of the other CUSA bubble teams are there. That means they absolutely have to reach the finals. If they reach the finals and narrowly lose to say UAB or Memphis, then I’d put their chances at about 40 percent. Unfortunately, that’s the problem. Without gaining another quality win, the Miners aren’t really moving up. They must hope for people to fall below them. Its best that they just win the conference, because if they don’t they won’t feel comfortable on Selection Sunday no matter what.

USC: The Trojans face a must win against Cal, and then likely another against Arizona. If the Trojans accomplish the two victories then I’d say they have a 70 percent chance of making it. If not, probably no more than 20-30 with only a Cal victory.

Memphis: Unlike UTEP Memphis does have opportunities for some good wins. They will possibly face Southern Miss, a team that is barely off this list, then UAB in a semi-final. If Memphis were to win those games, and then say lose to UTEP in the final, then I’d feel decent about their chances. Memphis would have an 80 percent chance of  making it then.

Alabama: Simple, Alabama will face probably Georgia Friday and that game will likely be their fate. If the Tide lose, then I put their chances at 20 percent. If they win, then I put their chances at about 80-90 percent. Win one more and they’re a lock. I might not agree with it, but its the ugly truth when it comes to this team.

St. Mary’s: The Gaels actually have one more game left, but it doesn’t matter (as long as they win of course). It’s not going to help them, it can only hurt. At this point, assuming the average happens on the bubble, I’d put their chances at 80 percent. If they lose that game they’re down to 10 percent at best, probably zero. Things chances and this team is just floating around. They could miss it with a perfect storm of big wins by bubble teams.

UAB's cheerleaders are trying to make their case for the Dance

Colorado: The Buffs face Iowa State first, boom yeah gotta beat those guys! They don’t they’re out. If they win then they face Kansas State. This is interesting. The Buffs will be facing a very hot K State squad and honestly will likely lose (even tho they swept them). If they lose, admirably, then I’d put their chances around 40-45 percent. If they win, they’re in.

UAB: The Blazers have a chance to pick up a win against Memphis finally in the semi’s, which of course they must make. If UAB loses to Memphis then their chances are probably 35-40 percent. If they win and then lose to a decent UTEP in the final, then I’d put their chances at 70-80 percent. I don’t need to do the math for you if they win the tournament!

Virginia Tech: The Hokies are back on the bubble again and face a must win against Georgia Tech on Thursday, they then have to face Florida State. If the Hokies beat Florida State, they are in. If they lose then oh boy, they will be right on the bubble, probably a 40-50 percent chance of getting in.

Michigan: Michigan faces Illinois in the 4/5 game and this will be big. If Michigan wins, then they are 95 percent sure of making it, if not a lock. If they lose, then I’d say they have a 50-60 percent chance. The Wolverines are in better shape than Virginia Tech because they aren’t losing a bunch of games and just came off the Michigan State win.

Clemson: The Tigers will most likely face BC on Friday after getting a first round bye. If the Tigers beat BC, they are in. If they lose, then they are in trouble. Probably 25-30 percent chance they make it with a loss. This is an easy scenario for the Tigers, just beat BC.

Georgia: Georgia will face Auburn in a must win before a matchup with Alabama. If Georgia loses to Alabama then I’d put their chances at 60-70 percent, if they win then they are a lock.

Michigan State: Michigan State must beat Iowa before a matchup with Purdue. If the Spartans then lose to Purdue, then their chances will probably be about 60-70 percent, and if they win then they are obviously in.

Richmond: The Spiders! Great nickname, but that won’t get them far beat URI Friday. If they beat URI, then lose to Temple I put their chances at about 80-85 percent. If they beat Temple then they are a lock. If they lose to URI, then their chances drop to about 20-25 percent.

Boston College: BC absolutely has to beat Wake Forest Thursday. If they do, then they’ll face Clemson. If they beat the Tigers they are a lock, if they lose I put their chances at 60-70 percent.

Tennessee: The Vols start with Arkansas in the SEC Tournament, if they win then they are in, but if they lose then their chances are about 75-80 percent.

Locks in my opinion:

Big East (11):

Pittsburgh, Louisville, Notre Dame, UConn, St. John’s, West Virginia, Marquette, Cincinnati, Syracuse, Villanova, Georgetown

ACC (3):

UNC, Duke, Florida State

Big Ten (4):

Wisconsin, Ohio State, Illinois, Purdue

Big 12 (5):

Missouri, Kansas, Kansas State, Texas, Texas A&M

Pac Ten (3):

Washington, UCLA, Arizona

Mountain West (3):

UNLV, BYU, San Diego State

SEC (3):

Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Florida

Colonial (2):

George Mason, Old Dominion

A10 (2):

Xavier, Temple

All other conference are locked it with atleast one team: 22 Conferences and Bids (including five with multi-bid opportunities)

Locked Bids: 58

Bubble spots available: 10

Teams Alive, 21 – 3 automatic bids=18): Georgia, Tennessee, Clemson, Boston College, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Colorado, Baylor, Washington State, USC, Colorado State,  (Butler), Richmond, Alabama, Memphis, (UAB), UTEP,  (Utah State),  St. Mary’s, VCU

(***)=projected conference champ receiving auto bid

TAKE A LOOK AT THE ACTUAL BRACKET IN THIS LINK BELOW!!!

Bracket March 9th 2011

1 Seeds-

Ohio State

Kansas

Pittsburgh

Notre Dame

2 Seeds-

Duke

BYU

San Diego State

North Carolina

3 Seeds-

Texas

Purdue

Syracuse

Wisconsin

4 Seeds-

Louisville

Florida

Georgetown

St. John’s

5 Seeds-

Arizona

UConn

Kentucky

Vanderbilt

6 Seeds-

West Virginia

Texas A&M

Xavier

Missouri

7 Seeds-

Temple

Cincinnati

Kansas State

UNLV

8 Seeds-

George Mason

UCLA

Old Dominion

Villanova

9 Seeds-

Utah State

Illinois

Florida State

Marquette

10 Seeds-

Washington

Tennessee

Boston College

Richmond

11 Seeds-

Clemson

Gonzaga

Georgia

Michigan

12 Seeds-

Butler

Michigan State

UAB

Virginia Tech

Colorado

St. Mary’s

13 Seeds-

Belmont

Harvard

Oakland

Indiana State

14 Seeds-

Bucknell

Long Island

Wofford

Long Beach State

15 Seeds-

St. Peter’s

Kent State

Morehead State

Northern Colorado

16 Seeds-

Boston University

UNC Asheville

Arkansas Little Rock

Texas Southern

McNeese State

Bethune Cookman

Last Four In-

Michigan State

Virginia Tech

Colorado

St. Mary’s

First Four Out-

Alabama

Memphis

USC

UTEP

Next Four Out-

Washington State

VCU

Nebraska

Baylor

Also Considered:

Colorado State

Bids by Conference:

Big East-11

ACC-6

Big 12-6

Big Ten-6

SEC-5

Pac Ten-3

A10-3

MWC-3

Colonial-2

WCC-2

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