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Bubble Trouble

As we head into the major conference tournament weekend, let's see who needs to do the most work and who is hurt the most from bid stealers

Today starts the tournaments of the ACC, AAC, PAC 12, MWC, SEC, Big East, and Big 12 conferences so we're getting to the meat of it all.  This is where the bids will start to solidify and some will be stolen.  So who is on the bubble currently?


5 locks.  Easiest conference to break down.  UC, Louisville, Memphis, UConn, and SMU are all going. No chance for a bid stealer here.


Umass, George Washington, VCU, and St. Louis appear to be solid.

  • Dayton (12 in Palm/11 Lunardi) is in for now, but a bad loss to George Mason or Fordham in the tournament could knock them completely out.  2 wins would be a good idea.  3 if they want to sleep soundly Saturday night. 
  • St. Joe's also appears to be in good shape - 11 Lunardi/10 Palm.  They don't open tournament play until Friday when they likely will face Dayton, which could potentially be a play-in game for both teams. 


Duke, Syracuse, Virginia, and North Carolina are locks.

  • Pittsburgh (10 Lunardi/11 Palm) is safe for now, but a bad loss to either Notre Dame or Wake in their opening ACC game would be disastrous for a team with a very shaky resume.  They might want to beat Carolina in the second game to feel secure. 
  • Florida State (58 RPI) is pretty much the only other hope without something along the lines of a miracle. 

Big 12

Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, Baylor, Oklahoma, Texas, and even Oklahoma State look solidly in right now.  Oklahoma State deserves a lot of credit for bouncing back after the suspension of Marcus Smart and their 7-game losing streak.

  • West Virginia (81 RPI) needs to win the tournament to get in.  Anything short of that will keep Huggins out of the tournament for a shocking second year in a row.

Big East

Only Villanova (a likely 1 seed) and Creighton are locks.  The rest is a jumbled up mess and despite what Chris Mack thinks, they're not going to get six teams in barring something crazy.

  • An opening round loss to Marquette could send Xavier to the NIT especially if they lose big (unlikely).  They are still likely to sneak in somehow due to their RPI (47) and wins over UC and Creighton. 
  • Providence (54 RPI) probably needs two wins to be secure.  Their first round game against St. John's looms very large for them. 
  • The Red Storm, playing on their home floor, needs to win the tournament to get in the NCAA and there's no doubt they're capable.
  • Georgetown played a good schedule and has some nice wins (Michigan State/Creighton) but they have some bad losses (Northeastern for one).  Nothing short of winning the tournament should make them breathe easier on Sunday.

Big 10

Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Iowa are in.

  • Nebraska has really come storming on the scene the last few weeks and look like they have a great chance to get in.  Their RPI is 35 and they have quality wins over Ohio State, Wisconsin, and at Michigan State.  But their opening meeting with Ohio State could spell doom should they lose. 
  • Minnesota appeared at one point to be in, but have really struggled the last month.  Their RPI of 49 really has them squarely on the bubble. If they can get past Penn State Thursday, they will need to knock off Wisconsin Friday to open some eyes.  Anything short and they're likely headed to the NIT...which is something Tubby Smith probably could have done since they actually went to the NCAA Tournament last season. 


This one is set.  New Mexico and San Diego State are locks.  No one else is even on the bubble.  The only way anyone else gets in is by winning the whole thing.

PAC 12

Arizona, UCLA, and now Oregon look like they're in.

  • Colorado with their 30 RPI looks safe.  Lunardi has them a 10 and Palm has them a 9
  • Arizona State (Lunardi 8, Palm 9) looks good as well.  Their 48 RPI probably keeps them on the bubble.  Their resume away from home isn't very impressive but that home win over in-state rival Arizona probably is what has them a near lock right now
  • Stanford's RPI at 43 likely has them in, but they might want to beat Washington State in the opening round and Arizona State in the quarters just to be safe
  • California has a 52 RPI but wins over Arizona and at Oregon and Stanford might just be enough to get them in.  To be sure, they might want to beat Colorado in their quarterfinal game Thursday


And now the biggest dumpster fire in college basketball...the SEC.  Florida and Kentucky are locks obviously.

  • Tennessee has come on lately and their RPI of 46 has them in the picture.  But both Lunari and Palm have them in a play-in game in Dayton.  They could do themselves a huge favor by knocking off their likely quarterfinal opponent Arkansas and putting on a good show against Florida to be assured of a bid
  • Arkansas has a 57 RPI but a season sweep of Kentucky likely has them in.  Their ass-whooping at Alabama last weekend didn't do them any favors but for now they're in...albeit in play-in games with Lunardi and Palm right now.  A loss to either South Carolina or Auburn in their opening round game would be disastrous. 
  • Missouri rose to as high as 21 in the AP and Coaches polls (not that those really matter a lot) and seemed to be on their way...only to fall flat on their face.  Now their RPI of 52 keeps them with a heartbeat but an opening round loss to Texas A&M would kill their hopes.  They might want to beat the Aggies AND Florida in the quarters to have any real hope.


  • Lunardi has BYU in but that bracket was done a few days ago.  Losing in the WCC finals to Gonzaga won't kill them but their RPI is 35 so that keeps them in the conversation.
  • If Louisiana Tech doesn't win C-USA (still weird to think of them in C-USA), they still may have an outside shot at getting an at-large bid.  They are the #1 seed but their RPI of 68 will probably keep them out without the automatic bid.
  • Southern Mississippi is in the same boat.  Their 33 RPI has them with a pulse but they have just one top 50 RPI win (at North Dakota State).  They probably need to win the tournament or at least get to the finals to have a chance to steal a bid.