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Posted: Monday March 8, 2010 12:46PM; Updated: Monday March 8, 2010 2:06PM
Andy Glockner
Andy Glockner>BUBBLE WATCH

Bubbles could burst in early stretches of championship week (cont.)

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Mountain West

Locks: New Mexico, BYU

New Mexico will be seeded ahead of BYU. Salt Lake City is 300 miles closer to Albuquerque than Houston, so presumably the Lobos would stay in the West and push BYU to the East. We'll see.

SHOULD BE IN

UNLV (22-7, 11-5, RPI: 47, SOS: 103) won out to finish at 11-5 in the conference and get the 3-seed ahead of San Diego State in the Mountain West tournament. Was that a good thing? Now the Rebels draw Utah, which swept the season series. Losing to the Utes a third time would create some significant questions, even though the Rebels appear mostly safe right now. BYU likely awaits in the semis, where UNLV probably would be OK with a loss, barring a mauling and extreme situations elsewhere.

IN THE MIX

San Diego State (20-8, 11-5, RPI: 33, SOS: 73) also ended up 11-5 but went 2-4 against the three teams ahead of it in the MWC. The Aztecs likely will have to make the MWC final -- which likely will mean beating New Mexico again -- to have a real legit chance. UNLV has a couple of better wins, so the Rebels are in better shape.
GW: New Mexico, UNLV (both at home in league).
BL: at Pacific, at Wyoming.

Missouri Valley

Auto bid: Northern Iowa

UNI pulled away from Wichita State in the second half of the MVC final to nail down the title and remove any at-large doubt. Now Wichita State waits and hopes, but likely is headed to the NIT.

SHOULD BE IN

None.

IN THE MIX

None.

WAIT AND HOPE

Wichita State (24-9, 12-6, RPI: 44, SOS: 101) doesn't appear to have the quality wins to entertain serious at-large hopes.
GW: Texas Tech?, Northern Iowa.
BL: at Illinois State, at Drake, at Evansville.

Conference USA

Locks: None.

UTEP rallied past UAB Saturday for an enormous win and a league crown by two games over Memphis. The Miners are in pretty decent shape now as a possible at-large, should they need one.

SHOULD BE IN

UTEP (24-5, 15-1, RPI: 41, SOS: 117) finished 15-1, won the league decisively and has some fairly credible top-100 road wins. It's a decent profile to fall back on, but how far will the Miners need to get in the C-USA tournament? They could draw host Tulsa in the semis, which is a tough break.
GW: Sweep of UAB.
BL: None, but missed some chances out of conference.

IN THE MIX

Memphis (23-8, 13-3, RPI: 64, SOS: 105) probably is ahead of UAB at this point after sweeping the Blazers with a road win in Birmingham. The Tigers finished a game ahead in the standings and UAB's win over Butler isn't enough quality to overcome that head-to-head deficit, for now. The two teams could square off in a semifinal game that would eliminate one and put the other in possible position for an at-large.
GW: Swept UAB.
BL: at UMass, at SMU, at Houston.

UAB (23-7, 11-5, RPI: 37, SOS: 110) is in very bad shape after losing at home to Memphis and then letting one get away at UTEP. Finishing third in this league is not a good place to be. The good news is that the Blazers could draw Memphis in a semifinal elimination match, but it's unclear whether that would be enough for UAB. Being on the outside of the bubble at this stage makes it very hard for a team in a non-power conference to eat yet another loss at make it as an at-large.
GW: Butler, Cincinnati.
BL: at Kent State?, swept by Memphis (for bubble purposes).

Others

Locks: Gonzaga, Butler

Both teams are a win away from auto bids, which would be good news for the bubblers. Elsewhere, Bubble Watch was bullish early on Utah State, and the Aggies have taken care of business. They're now in very legitimate shape for an at-large should they need one.

SHOULD BE IN

Utah State (24-6, 14-2, RPI: 31, SOS: 102) did exactly what it had to do, taking out New Mexico State to win the WAC by three games and end on a 15-game winning streak. That and the wins over BYU and Wichita State make USU's profile fairly strong in this season's bubble battle. They could be just two wins away from the NCAAs now. More good news: Tourney host Nevada is on the other side of the bracket and wouldn't be a possible opponent until the WAC final, which makes it a lot more likely USU could survive a road loss.
GW: BYU, Wichita St (for bubble purposes).
BL: at Long Beach State.

IN THE MIX

Saint Mary's (24-5, 11-3, RPI: 43, SOS: 131) rolled past Portland to set up another title game meeting with Gonzaga. The Gaels need this one to go better if they hope to absorb a loss and still get into the NCAAs. They have two solid nonleague wins against bubble competitors, but both came when they had Wayne Hunter (who was injured at Utah State).
GW: at Utah State, San Diego State.
BL: at Portland (for bubble damage).

Other Auto Qualifiers

- Cornell (Ivy)
- East Tennessee State (Atlantic Sun)
- Murray State (Ohio Valley)
- Winthrop (Big South)

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