Bubbles could burst in early stretches of championship week
Every bubble team prays the conference tourney favorites take care of business
Louisville's remarkable sweep of Syracuse probably has the Cardinals dancing
Suddenly, it looks like the lowly Pac-10 could receive more than one bid
Welcome to the bubble-bursting segment of our show, the early part of championship week where every bubble team holds its breath and prays the favorites take care of business.
Monday night features three games that very well could impact the size of the at-large pool:
Gonzaga is in either way, and Saint Mary's might be able to hang on to an at-large with a loss, but bubblers are rooting for a big Zags blowout to weaken the Gaels' case.
The CAA sees Old Dominion, which probably is in either way, take on William & Mary for the third time this season. W&M is a very fringe at-large candidate, so bubblers want the Monarchs to win.
In the MAAC, bubblers need Siena to hold serve against Fairfield. The Saints would be considered for an at-large, although losing on its home court after missing on every big nonleague chance would make one unlikely.
Then Tuesday night, it will be Butler's turn, as the Bulldogs try to tame Wright State and finish a perfect 20-0 in the Horizon.
What else you need to know:
The SEC and A-10 should have taken gun control classes, because neither conference can stop shooting itself in the foot. It's not impossible that both leagues could end up with only three bids.
Whichever you prefer as the second Pac-10 team today (Arizona State or Washington) is basically irrelevant since they're bracketed to meet in a tourney semifinal and decide their fates on the court.
Utah State is now positioned as a sneaky at-large thief out of the WAC. If the Aggies make the WAC final, especially if they draw event host Nevada, they should get in.
Housekeeping notes: As of today, Bubble Watch and the bracket will go daily through Selection Sunday. We'll also have midday updates, as events dictate, throughout the week. Also, look for a championship week primer tomorrow that will help you follow all the action as it unfolds in each conference tournament.
Remember, records listed are Division I only, per NCAA tournament selection guidelines. All RPI and SOS data are from Sunday's collegerpi.com RPI report.
Send your very valuable feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org or to @aglock on Twitter. All submissions are read; polite, fact-based ones stand the best chance of a response. Readers who claim their team's record is wrong because they failed to read the previous paragraph will be asked to leave (like Binghamton).
GW: Good wins over top-50ish foes (home league wins judged more strictly).
BL: Bad losses to teams outside top 100 or to direct bubble competitors.
Locks: Duke, Maryland
Duke remains strongly in the mix for a No. 1 seed. Maryland's playing for a protected one. Beyond those two, Clemson and Florida State look set to dance, while Georgia Tech may be playing its way right into the NIT.
SHOULD BE IN
Clemson (21-9, 9-7, RPI: 24, SOS: 24) got the split it needed and should be fine for the NCAAs. We'll keep them and the teams below in territory for now, pending one ACC tourney win, but all three are pretty much assured of a spot. The Tigers are a notch ahead of the 'Noles based on FSU solely cleaning up on the middle/bottom of the league. Clemson has better wins.
Florida State (22-8, 10-6, RPI: 32, SOS: 43) escaped Miami with a one-point win that should ensure an NCAA tournament berth. The 'Noles beat Wake Forest earlier in the week, making their league position pretty clear. They went 0-5 against Maryland, Duke and Clemson and 10-1 against everyone else.
Wake Forest (19-9, 9-7, RPI: 35, SOS: 32) finally stopped messing around and beat Clemson on Sunday night, more or less ensuring an NCAA spot. The Deacons still cost themselves some seeding in the last couple of weeks, though.
IN THE MIX
Virginia Tech (23-7, 10-6, RPI: 49, SOS: 128) did itself a world of good by winning at Georgia Tech on Saturday to get to 10 ACC wins. It's arguably VT's best win of the season, and now it's a lot harder to see the Hokies missing. Losing their ACC tournament opener isn't advised, but given the dearth of quality at the bubble, the Georgia Tech win may be the Hokies' golden ticket.
Georgia Tech (18-11, 7-9, RPI: 44, SOS: 19) now is in very legitimate danger of missing the NCAAs after losing at Clemson and at home to Virginia Tech to finish under .500 in the league. Beyond the upset of Duke, there's not a ton here helping the Jackets. Now they draw North Carolina in the 7-10 game (in Greensboro), with Maryland waiting in the quarters. Tech very well may need to win both.
Locks: Kansas, Kansas State, Texas A&M, Texas, Baylor, Missouri
Kansas remains locked in as a No. 1 seed, but K-State's hopes of pushing onto that line ended abruptly with two losses this week, including a home shocker to Iowa State. Missouri joins the lock party after getting to 10-6 in the league. The only question, outside of a shock tourney champ, is whether Oklahoma State makes it, and the Cowboys are in solid shape.
SHOULD BE IN
Oklahoma State (21-9, 9-7, RPI: 29, SOS: 29) got the win over Nebraska it needed to get to 9-7 in the league. As long as the Cowboys don't lose their Big 12 tournament opener to Oklahoma, they should be fine. Even then, they're probably fine, but why risk it?
IN THE MIX
Locks: Syracuse, Villanova, Georgetown, West Virginia, Pitt
Syracuse remains entrenched as a No. 1 seed despite the loss at Louisville. That win very well may send the Cards to the NCAAs.
SHOULD BE IN
Marquette (20-10, 11-7, RPI: 58, SOS: 53) was a second away from dancing, but gave up a buzzer-beating three to Notre Dame that sent the game into overtime, where the Eagles lost. Now Marquette draws the UConn-St. John's winner Wednesday at the Big East tournament. Win there and it's done. Lose and, well, they probably should make it, but it's not a mortal lock.
Louisville (20-11, 11-7, RPI: 30, SOS: 4) picked the right team to beat twice if the Cardinals were only going to have two high-quality wins all season. Sweeping Syracuse should see them safely make the bracket. At least they showed the capability to beat someone, which puts them ahead of other contestants in this bubble race. Avoid a first-game loss in the Big East tournament to be certain, but it's hard to see them missing at this point.
IN THE MIX
Notre Dame (21-10, 10-8, RPI: 57, SOS: 52) continued its remarkable resurgence without Luke Harangody, who returned on Saturday but only played a handful of minutes and will come off the bench the rest of the season. Good move by the Irish to confirm to the committee that what it has seen recently is what it will get in the NCAAs. Things look pretty good, unless the Irish drop their Big East tournament opener.
Is this where it ends for the Big East? Could be.
Seton Hall (18-11, 9-9, RPI: 54, SOS: 30) is the main benefactor of UConn's and Cincinnati's demises, edging back into the picture simply by winning at Rutgers and Providence. Now the Pirates get Providence again before a potential shot at Notre Dame, which would be a second win over the Irish. If they get both, the Pirates very well could make it. If a quarterfinal win is needed, they already have beaten Pitt this season, too. It's a good draw.
South Florida (19-11, 9-9, RPI: 65, SOS: 54) got the two it needed to close the regular season. Now the Bulls, as the No. 9 seed, get a useless game against DePaul before drawing Georgetown, which is a game they must win to have legit hopes. Get that one and show well against Syracuse? Would be interesting.
Connecticut (17-14, 7-11, RPI: 55, SOS: 3) could have made half a case at 8-10 in the conference that its schedule should be rewarded. Not at 7-11, after a dismal loss at South Florida followed a defeat at Notre Dame. The Huskies don't have the worst Big East tournament draw, although they play at St. John's to open. It probably would take a run to the tourney final at this point, though. Maybe more.
Cincinnati (16-14, 7-11, RPI: 68, SOS: 9) also lost twice and basically is in UConn's boat, despite a sweep of the Huskies.
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