John GasawayESPN Insider
CloseESPN Insider school basketball contributor
First started overlaying school hoops in 2004
Has written for Basketball Prospectus and the Wall Road Journal
Editor’s word: The NCAA event Bubble Watch has been up to date by means of Saturday’s video games.
For the primary time in years, the basketball performed on Choice Sunday 2019 may have no impression on the variety of accessible at-large bids. All the bid thieves have already achieved their work, and the video games but to be performed would possibly change a seed or two, however they will not take away any bids from any bubble groups.
Afforded this uncommon luxurious, Bubble Watch can due to this fact go forward proper now and give you all the things you might want to be an clever and ready viewer because the precise bracket is revealed. Here’s what we expect we all know upfront:
By far, an important factor that Bubble Watch is aware of is that nobody exterior the committee room actually is aware of something. This can’t be emphasised strongly sufficient.
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The precise males’s basketball committee will do exactly because it pleases, and something supplied by individuals exterior the room is, by definition, hypothesis.
Truthful sufficient, allow us to have interaction in some realized hypothesis: Bubble Watch is wrapping up this bubble season saying that, after Oregon stole a bid with its victory over Washington within the Pac-12 title recreation, there are 21 groups competing for eight accessible spots.
You’ll discover that, throughout the group of 21, there is a contingent of 4 “needs to be in” groups: VCU, Oklahoma, Florida and Ohio State. Nonetheless one other mind-set in regards to the coronary heart of the bubble is due to this fact to examine 17 groups vying for under 4 spots.
What’s startling is that there is such robust settlement amongst Joe Lunardi and different purveyors of mock brackets regarding which 5 groups are competing for 4 accessible bids. These 5 groups are:
Which of those 5 shall be unnoticed? In keeping with Lundardi, it is NC State that can miss out as a result of the Geese took a bid off the board.
Now, may the bigger mock-bracket consensus in regards to the “group of 5” be incorrect? Completely. Repeat, the committee will do no matter it needs.
Bubble Watch is not providing a studying of the committee’s minds. (That is Lunardi’s job description, and he does it effectively.) As an alternative, what’s supplied right here is one learn on how stunned to be if and when the bracket does not observe this specific script.
Observe that there are not any mid-majors represented on this record of 5 candidates for the final 4 spots within the discipline. Whereas after all Wofford and Buffalo launched themselves far past mere bubble concerns (and Gonzaga is at all times Gonzaga), a range that basically did play out this fashion on the expense of UNC Greensboro and/or Belmont can be a lot mentioned. Do not be stunned by that dialogue, both.
This is our last projection of the bubble:
Bids from conventional “one-bid” leagues: 21 groups
Locks: 39 groups
The bubble: 21 groups for Eight accessible spots
Must be in: Four groups
Work to do: 17 groups
ACC | Massive 12| Massive East | Massive Ten | Pac-12 | SEC | American | Others
Locks: Virginia, Duke, North Carolina, Louisville, Florida State, Virginia Tech, Syracuse
Work to do: NC State, Clemson
Work to do
NC State Wolfpack
A nail-biter of a win towards Clemson was adopted by a 20-point loss to Virginia, and so NC State’s run within the ACC event is completed. Did the Wolfpack do sufficient between November and March for an at-large bid? When Kevin Keatts’ males tipped off towards the Cavaliers, they have been ranked within the 30s on the NET and projected as a No. 11 seed that had probably six groups beneath them within the discipline of 68. In different phrases, there could possibly be room right here for a secure touchdown, and, anyway, how a lot of a penalty is the committee going to impose for dropping to the 29-2 Hoos? On the flip facet, at 22-11, did NC State actually beat the proverbial anybody this season? The most effective win on the profile is undoubtedly the 78-71 victory at residence over Auburn in December. Previous that, you are neutral-floor wins over Penn State and Clemson, and people are your three Quad 1 victories. Final, this group performed an exceptionally smooth nonconference schedule, statistically talking. That truth’s already mirrored within the NET rating and within the quadrant information, however, who is aware of, perhaps the committee will wish to voice displeasure there. If not, nevertheless, the 19-2 report exterior Quad 1 and notably the NET rating could possibly be adequate. (Up to date: March 14)
After dropping by some extent to NC State within the ACC event, Clemson shall be on a number of “final 4 in” and maybe extra “first 4 out” lists. That is preferable to “subsequent 4 out,” actually, nevertheless it’s nonetheless a precarious place to occupy in the midst of what’s at all times a wild and tumultuous Championship Week. Even the slightest contraction of the bubble led to by even a single bid thief, for instance, may show calamitous to the Tigers. Granted, on the finish there may nonetheless be an at-large bid within the offing for Brad Brownell’s group, which completed its enjoying days exhibiting up within the 30s within the NET rankings. Stranger issues have transpired within the committee room, goodness is aware of. A extra acceptable working assumption for Brownell and his males, nevertheless, is that their 1-10 report in Quad 1 video games will have to be both utterly neglected by or one way or the other ingeniously smuggled previous the committee to ensure that this group to get an at-large. (Up to date: March 13)
Locks: Kansas, Texas Tech, Iowa State, Kansas State, Baylor
Must be in: Oklahoma
Work to do: TCU, Texas
Must be in
The profile is ready in stone for the Sooners. Proven as a No. Eight seed heading right into a 72-71 loss to West Virginia within the Massive 12 event, Lon Kruger’s group has overwhelmed Wofford at residence, taken care of Florida on a impartial flooring and stands at Four-10 in Quad 1 video games. (For the report, the Sooners are 15-Three in Quads 2 and three, and Zero-Zero towards Quad Four.) The early exit from the convention event may drop Oklahoma to a double-digit seed, however, at 7-11 within the Massive 12, the Sooners will gladly develop into the primary group in over 20 years to earn an at-large with fewer than eight wins in an 18-game convention season. TCU would possibly be part of that membership as effectively. (Up to date: March 13)
Work to do
TCU Horned Frogs
The Horned Frogs closed out their profile with a little bit of a three-game curler coaster. One recreation after enjoying their approach onto the No. 12 and even 11 line in mock brackets with a giant win at Texas, Jamie Dixon’s group blew a 21-point lead within the second half and practically misplaced to Oklahoma State within the first spherical of the Massive 12 event in Kansas Metropolis, Missouri. Luckily for TCU followers, nevertheless, the Frogs escaped 73-70, solely to bow out 70-61 to top-seeded Kansas State within the quarterfinals. At 20-13 with a season sweep of Iowa State and a street win in Austin to indicate within the Quad 1 trophy case, the Horned Frogs could have achieved sufficient for a bid. However it will be shut. (Up to date: March 14)
Bubble Watch has waxed eloquent (naturally) with regards to not writing off “work to do” groups simply because we noticed them lose their final recreation. Within the particular case of the Longhorns, nevertheless, we’re confronted with a unique query completely. Is the committee going to present a bid to a group with a 16-16 report? That reply has by no means been “sure” earlier than, whether or not with respect to the 16 losses or the .500 report. Phrases like “by no means” don’t sound promising for UT’s event hopes. (Up to date: March 14)
Locks: Marquette, Villanova, Seton Corridor
Work to do: St. John’s, Creighton, Georgetown, Xavier
Work to do
St. John’s Purple Storm
St. John’s was projected as a No. 11 seed going into the Marquette recreation, and Bubble Watch supposes, if a number of extra bubble groups had received a number of extra video games this week, there could possibly be a dialogue on whether or not this group is now in actual bother. Chris Mullin’s males have been blown out 86-54 by Marquette, and the NET rating connected to the Purple Storm even going right into a lopsided loss already was within the mid-60s. Now consider that, within the eyes of the score system, the Johnnies truly have been enjoying a “residence” recreation at Madison Sq. Backyard after they have been hammered by 32 factors. Which means this NET rating may get ugly. Nonetheless, there are also two issues going on this group’s favor. First, even after the debacle towards the Golden Eagles within the Massive East event, St. John’s remains to be Three-2 towards Marquette and Villanova for the season. Second, effectively, the committee does should get to 68 one way or the other. (Up to date: March 14)
A two-point loss to Xavier within the Massive East event most likely leaves Creighton simply in need of the event discipline. The Bluejays lined a great deal of floor to make it that far, and a win towards the Musketeers would have modified this image significantly. As an alternative, CU has stopped enjoying at 18-14, leaving it troublesome to level to anybody side of the profile that recommends Greg McDermott’s group on the expense of different at-large candidates. Creighton’s NET rating is within the 50s, which is ok however not nice, an outline that additionally would possibly apply to the Three-10 Quad 1 report and the 13-Three mark in Quads 2, Three and Four. It was a spirited turnaround from 13-13, nevertheless it does not seem like fairly sufficient. (Up to date: March 14)
Georgetown gave this factor a run for its cash when just about nobody in mid-February noticed the run coming, nevertheless it seems the Hoyas have come up brief. Shedding by 16 in your convention event quarterfinals (to Seton Corridor) once you’re being proven as “subsequent 4 out” materials doesn’t usually presage receiving an at-large bid. The all-freshman backcourt of James Akinjo and Mac McClung provides the Hoyas all types of hope for the longer term, and who knew earlier than the season that this may be the fastest-paced group in Massive East play? Alas, it simply wasn’t sufficient, apparently, to get into the sector this time. (Up to date: March 14)
Xavier wanted that recreation towards Villanova, and the Musketeers led for roughly 28 minutes of regulation earlier than the Wildcats took the proceedings to extra time. the remainder: Travis Steele’s males got here up brief, and the identical can virtually actually be mentioned for XU’s shot at at-large bid. At 18-15, the Musketeers are a decent Four-9 towards Quad 1 however simply Eight-6 towards Quads 2 and three. That, plus a lackluster NET rating meant this group needed to have that win towards Nova. It virtually occurred. (Up to date: March 15)
Locks: Michigan State, Michigan, Purdue, Wisconsin, Maryland, Iowa, Minnesota
Must be in: Ohio State
Work to do: Indiana
Must be in
Ohio State Buckeyes
At greatest, Ohio State ended its convention event run at a time when the committee was itemizing it as one of many final 4 byes within the discipline. At worst, the Buckeyes have been one thing nearer to the final group within the discipline, interval. You are not on the committee and neither is Bubble Watch, so we do not know the place in that vary OSU was positioned when the group misplaced 77-70 to Michigan State within the Massive Ten event quarterfinals. If the previous is nearer to right, Ohio State has shot at staying within the discipline of 68. If, alternatively, the latter state of affairs is nearer to the reality, then Chris Holtmann’s group is in bother. Being the final group within the discipline earlier than VCU fell within the Atlantic 10 event (very probably taking an at-large bid off the desk) means, successfully, you are now not within the discipline. The Buckeyes will wait till Sunday to search out out which of those two assumptions is legitimate. (Up to date: March 15)
Work to do
It could be very a lot in line with an Indiana group that is confounded each succeeding expectation, each good and dangerous, all through everything of 2019 if the Hoosiers not solely acquired a bid however earned a excessive seed. Alas, it seems as a substitute that this wild and at all times unpredictable IU curler coaster has lastly reached its last flip. With the four-point loss to Ohio State, Archie Miller’s group sits at 17-15. The purpose of that season sweep of Michigan State, in any case, was by no means that these two video games alone would propel Indiana into the sector of 68. Relatively, the expectation was that two wins towards the Spartans would give the Hoosiers the platform to indicate what they might actually do. However a first-game exit from the Massive Ten event might need introduced this dialog to an in depth eventually. (Up to date: March 14)
Work to do: Arizona State
Work to do
Arizona State Solar Devils
The Solar Devils, who have been being projected as a No. 10 seed, fell to Oregon in extra time within the Pac-12 semifinals, leaving Bobby Hurley’s group 22-10. ASU has performed six Quad 1 video games all season and received three of them. In idea, a group claiming a victory on a impartial flooring over Mississippi State as its greatest win and with a NET rating decrease than that of any at-large candidate save solely St. John’s would possibly really feel a bit uneasy proper now. In apply, Arizona State is not competing with what needs to be profile. This group is as a substitute competing with different bubble groups, and on that foundation (and absent any extra bid thieves) ASU would possibly effectively earn an at-large bid. (Up to date: March 15)
Locks: Tennessee, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Auburn, Ole Miss
Must be in: Florida
Work to do: Alabama
Must be in
Mike White’s group reached the SEC semifinals, and gave Auburn a recreation for the total 40 minutes earlier than falling 65-62. So, to repeat a sentiment voiced by Bubble Watch when this similar group beat LSU sooner or later earlier: That ought to do the job. True, the committee’s pulled surprises out of its hat earlier than with groups that appear like they’re in (ask USC about its 2018 Choice Sunday someday), however that is type of the purpose with regard to the Gators. We have now to invoke committee wackiness to give you the most effective state of affairs for UF not receiving an at-large bid. At 19-15 with two wins over LSU and a wonderful NET rating within the low 30s to its credit score, Florida seems to be in good place for at the least a No. 11 seed. (Up to date: March 16)
Work to do
Alabama Crimson Tide
After a tense five-point win over OIe Miss, actuality set in for Alabama within the type of an 18-point loss to Kentucky. The Wildcats had Reid Travis again within the lineup for the primary time since mid-February and, despite the fact that the senior got here off the bench, UK performed like a group at full power. As for the Crimson Tide, an 18-14 report with a Three-10 mark in Quad 1 video games and a NET rating within the excessive 50s must be adequate for an at-large bid. Is that going to be sufficient? Talking normatively, it feels a bit of skinny. In comparative phrases, nevertheless, these numbers are kind of in keeping with loads of different bubble candidates. There was no ticket punched right here, to say the least, however Bubble Watch is not positive this matter is closed, both. (Up to date: March 15)
Locks: Houston, Cincinnati, UCF
Work to do: Temple, Memphis
Work to do
An 80-74 loss to Wichita State within the American quarterfinals tremendously will increase Temple’s threat, however won’t be sufficient to knock the Owls out of the sector. Fran Dunphy’s males entered the competition being proven as a No. 11 seed, and, to make certain, Temple is now able the place it must rely each bid thief fastidiously. That mentioned, a 23-Eight report that features a win over Houston, even with a 2-6 mark in Quad 1 contests, appears to be like fairly robust subsequent to among the competing bubble profiles. (Up to date: March 15)
You have been the James Dean of Bubble Watch, Memphis. You lived quick, and left us far too quickly. That was a pleasant attempt towards Houston, and also you performed down the stretch such as you knew you wanted the win to have completely any probability at an at-large bid. Bubble Watch notably appreciated each your protection (the Cougars did not rating from the sector within the final 9:56 of the sport) and particularly your free throw protection (UH missed 4 straight free throws within the final 71 seconds of the competition). Nonetheless, it wasn’t sufficient: Houston 61, Memphis 58. (Up to date: March 16)
Locks: Gonzaga, Nevada, Buffalo, Wofford, Utah State, Saint Mary’s, Murray State
Must be in: VCU
Work to do: Belmont, UNC Greensboro, Furman, Lipscomb
Must be in
The loss to Rhode Island within the Atlantic 10 quarterfinals got here at a second when VCU was seen as heading for a No. Eight seed. As an alternative, Mike Rhoades’ group could be carrying the visiting uniforms within the spherical of 64. The Rams wrapped up their profile at 25-7, a report in-built no small half on a 12-game win streak that prolonged from January to March. VCU’s marquee win was lengthy regarded as the street victory at Texas, however, with the Longhorns ending the season at 16-6, that recreation has misplaced a few of its earlier luster. Nonetheless, the Rams went 2-2 in Quad 1, and a NET rating within the 30s will proceed to serve this group effectively within the committee room. (Up to date: March 16)
Work to do
Now, the Bruins should wait. Ja Morant erupted for 36 factors, and Murray State beat Belmont 77-65 within the Ohio Valley Convention title recreation. Rick Byrd’s group hopes the committee will put inventory within the positives on this profile. There may be, for starters, the NET rating that was, at the least when Belmont stopped enjoying, greater than these of Iowa, Ohio State, Indiana, TCU, Temple, Minnesota, Alabama, Arizona State and your entire Massive East bubble (Creighton, St. John’s, Xavier and Georgetown). The Bruins additionally have been short-handed towards the Racers and performed with out Nick Muszynski. Lastly, Belmont was 5-Three this season towards Quads 1 and a couple of. Conversely, Byrd’s males will not need the committee to linger on a unfavorable just like the Three-2 report towards Quad Three. In any occasion, the Bruins profile is ready, however the bubble will proceed to shift in methods that can both assist or harm Belmont’s possibilities. (Up to date: March 9)
UNC Greensboro Spartans
For 35 minutes within the Southern Convention title recreation, the Spartans have been the superior group towards Wofford. Then the Terriers closed the competition on a 20-Three run, and Mike Younger’s group captured the automated bid 70-58. As for at-large prospects, UNCG truly shares some profile similarities with Wofford. Just like the Terriers, Wes Miller’s group has a superb report (28-6) constructed on a small variety of “good” losses, to LSU, Kentucky, Furman and, sure, Wofford (3 times). The Spartans personal two Quad 1 wins (at East Tennessee State and over Furman on the impartial flooring within the SoCon semifinals), and Francis Alonso & Co. are an immaculate 24-Zero in Quads 2, Three and Four. May all the above plus the spectacular exhibiting towards the Terrier juggernaut (21-Zero towards SoCon opponents this season) pry an at-large bid from the committee? In Bubble Watch’s estimation, it is a lengthy shot. (Up to date: March 11)
The season is within the books for the Paladins after a 66-62 loss to UNC Greensboro within the Southern Convention event semifinals. Bob Richey’s group sits at 25-7 with the memorable win at Villanova to its credit score. Alas, that win (plus a candy NET rating within the 40s) would possibly type the sum whole of the case for Furman on Choice Sunday. It isn’t a nasty case, however the Dins might need bother standing out from the group. Saint Mary’s, to take one instance, has a NET rating that is even sweeter than Furman’s. (Up to date: March 10)
The Bisons present two Quad 1 wins on their profile, at TCU and at Liberty, and their NET rating is within the 40s. These are the weather that stored Casey Alexander’s group within the at-large dialogue for weeks, however Lipscomb let its most secure probability slip away when it misplaced 74-68 on its residence flooring to Liberty within the Atlantic Solar convention title recreation. An at-large now seems to be a protracted shot. (Up to date: March 10)