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NCAA Bubble Watch

Utah State, New Mexico reduce at-large pool by two

Posted: Thursday March 10, 2005 9:59AM; Updated: Sunday March 13, 2005 4:18PM
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By Stewart Mandel, SI.com

Welcome to SI.com's real-time Bubble Watch. The following chart will be updated continuously between now and Sunday to reflect the results of conference tournament action.

Here's how it works: The left-hand column lists every team that is expected to receive an NCAA berth regardless of whether it wins its conference tournament. The middle column lists every team that has secured an automatic berth. For likely one-bid conferences whose tourney hasn't been completed, the top remaining seed is used as a placeholder.

The final column is for bubble teams. The number of available spots will decrease over course of the weekend, either when unexpected tourney teams lock up automatic berths, or if certain bubble teams play their way into the "lock" column. SI.com will continually update teams' status based on the latest developments. At any time, you can determine how many berths are actually still in play by adding the number of "locks" and "automatics" and subtracting them from 65.

Sunday AM update:

Hello Utah State, goodbye Notre Dame ... or whichever team held the committee's last at-large spot prior to the Aggies' upset of Pacific (26-3) in the Big West championship game late Saturday night. Utah State's win assures the conference will get a second bid, at the expense of a bubble team elsewhere.

New Mexico assured a second bid for the Mountain West by beating Utah in that league's championship game. It was a much-needed win for the Lobos (27-6), whose horrendous schedule strength had kept them on shaky ground.

Saturday evening update:

St. Joe's, which fell to George Washington in the Atlantic 10 title game, is in serious trouble. Though the Hawks (19-11) dominated their conference in the regular season, they went 3-8 out of conference and have just one win over a tourney-bound team.

A big question Sunday will be how many bids the MAC gets. Ohio (21-10) edged Buffalo in the title game on a last-second shot, leaving the 22-9 Bulls and regular season champ Miami of Ohio (19-10) to sweat out the selection show.

Saturday afternoon update:

The worries are over for Georgia Tech (19-10), which locked up at least an at-large berth by knocking off No. 2 North Carolina in the ACC semifinals.

Bubble teams everywhere breathed a sigh of relief when Memphis' Darius Washington missed those potential game-winning free throws against Louisville. The Tigers won't be stealing anyone's bid, but Boise State or Utah State could if they win their conference title games later Saturday.

Friday evening update:

Iowa, once 4-9 in the Big Ten and missing troubled star Pierre Pierce, may be in the dance after all. The Hawkeyes' 71-69 quarterfinal upset win over Michigan State marked their fifth straight victory and 21st overall. They also have nonconference wins over Louisville, Texas and Texas Tech.

N.C. State (19-12) helped itself tremendously by beating Wake Forest in Friday night's ACC quarterfinal, though the committee will consider the fact that Wake was playing without star Chris Paul. One more tourney win would lock things up for sure.

UAB (21-10) may have played its way into the field (and knocked out DePaul) with a strong finish to its season. The Blazers lost a close game at Cincinnati, then won five in a row (including two over the Blue Demons) before nearly knocking out Louisville on Friday.

Bubble Breakdown
(Overall, conference record in parentheses)
Locks (32)
Alabama (24-7, 12-4 SEC)
Arizona (27-6, 15-3 Pac-10)
B.C. (24-4, 13-3 Big East)
Charlotte (21-7, 12-4 C-USA)
Cincinnati (24-7, 12-4 C-USA)
Duke (24-5, 11-5 ACC)
Florida (22-7, 12-4 SEC)
Ga. Tech (19-10, 8-8 ACC)
Illinois (31-1, 15-1 Big Ten)
Kansas (23-6, 12-4 Big 12)
Kentucky (25-4, 14-2 SEC)
LSU (20-9, 12-4 SEC)
Mich. St. (22-6, 13-3 Big Ten)
Minn. (21-10, 10-6 Big Ten)
Miss. St. (22-10, 9-7 SEC)
Nevada (24-6, 16-2 WAC)
Oklahoma (24-7, 12-4 Big 12)
Okla. St. (23-6, 11-5 Big 12)
Pacific (26-3, 18-0 Big West)
Pitt. (20-8, 10-6 Big East)
Southern Illinois (26-7, 15-3)
Stanford (18-12, 11-7 Pac-10)
Texas (20-10, 9-7 Big 12)
Tex. Tech (20-9, 10-6 Big 12)
UCLA (18-10, 11-7 Pac-10)
UConn (22-7, 13-3 Big East)
UNC (27-4, 14-2 ACC)
Utah (27-5, 13-1 MWC)
Villanova (22-8, 11-5 Big East)
Wake Forest (26-5, 13-3 ACC)
W. Va. (21-9, 8-8 Big East)
Wisc. (22-7, 11-5 Big Ten)

Automatics (27)
Ala A&M (15-13, 12-6 SWAC)*
Bucknell (22-9, 10-4 Patriot)
Chatt. (20-10, 10-6 SoCon)
Creighton (23-10, 11-7 MVC)
Dela. St. (19-13, 14-4 MEAC)
G. Wash. (22-7, 11-5 A-10)
Gonzaga (25-4, 12-2 WCC)
E. Kentucky (22-8, 11-5 OVC)
F. Dickinson (20-12, 13-5 NE)
ULL (19-10, 11-4 Sun Belt)
Louisville (29-4, 14-2 C-USA)
Montana (18-12, 9-5 Big Sky)
New Mexico (27-6, 12-4 MWC)
Niagara (20-9, 13-5 MAAC)
NW St. (21-11, 13-3 Southl.)*
Oakland (12-18, 7-9 Mid-Con)
ODU (28-5, 15-3 CAA)
Ohio (21-10, 11-7 MAC)
Penn (20-8, 13-1 Ivy)
Syrac. (27-6, 11-5 Big East)
UCF (24-8, 13-7 A-Sun)
Utah St. (24-7, 13-5 Big West)
UTEP (26-7, 14-4 WAC)
UW-Milw. (24-5, 14-2 Horizon)
Vermont (24-6, 16-2 AEast)
Wash. (27-5, 14-4 Pac-10)
Winthrop (27-5, 15-1 Big So.)

Bubble In (6)
Iowa (21-11, 7-9 Big Ten)
Iowa St. (18-11, 9-7 Big 12)
N.C. State (19-13, 7-9 ACC)
No. Iowa (21-10, 11-7 MVC)
St. Mary's (25-8, 11-3 WCC)
UAB (21-10, 10-6 C-USA)

Bubble Out
Buffalo (22-9, 11-7 MAC)
Davidson (21-8, 16-0 SoCon)
DePaul (19-10, 10-6 C-USA)
G'town (17-12, 8-8 Big East)
Indiana (15-13, 10-6 Big Ten)
Kent St. (20-12, 11-7 MAC)
Maryland (16-12, 7-9 ACC)
Miami (FL.) (17-12, 7-9 ACC)
Miami (OH) (19-10, 12-6 MAC)
N. Dame (17-11, 9-7 Big East)
SW Mo St. (18-12, 10-8 MVC)
St. Joe's (19-11, 14-2 A-10)
Texas A&M (19-9, 8-8 Big 12)
Vanderbilt (18-13, 8-8 SEC)
Va. Tech (15-13, 8-8 ACC)
Wichita St. (20-9, 12-6 MVC)

* -- placeholder for uncompleted conference tournament