John GasawayESPN Insider
CloseESPN Insider faculty basketball contributor
First started masking faculty hoops in 2004
Has written for Basketball Prospectus and the Wall Road Journal
Editor’s observe: The NCAA event Bubble Watch has been up to date by Friday’s video games.
The Atlantic 10 has develop into a extremely dependable supply of bid thieves. For a 3rd consecutive yr, the league is answerable for wiping an at-large bid off the board.
This time round it was Rhode Island that did the deed. URI took down VCU 75-70 within the A-10 quarterfinals.
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The bubble had already contracted by one open place when Saint Mary’s defeated Gonzaga by 13 within the West Coast Convention title recreation. Now, with the Rams becoming a member of the Gaels within the bid-thief class, there are two bubble groups that can sit at dwelling or settle for invites to the NIT subsequent weekend.
With rampant thievery reordering the sector, this is how Bubble Watch sees the bracket taking form. The numbers beneath present 23 groups competing for 11 obtainable spots. 4 of these aspirants are so-called “ought to be in” groups: Oklahoma, Minnesota, VCU and Utah State.
Florida State takes on Duke on Saturday within the ACC event ultimate, after upsetting No. 1 seed Virginia.
These 4 look extraordinarily prone to make it into the sector intact as a foursome, so the “efficient” bubble is perhaps considered within the following phrases: 19 groups competing for under seven spots.
In a parallel universe the place Gonzaga and VCU each maintain enterprise of their convention tournaments, those self same 19 groups are as a substitute competing for 9 open bids. These are the breaks.
Nor, after all, can we ensure that the bubble’s accomplished shrinking. Oregon beating Washington within the Pac-12 ultimate would take away one other bid, as would Bowling Inexperienced defeating Buffalo within the Mid-American Convention ultimate.
This is how we’re projecting the bubble:
Bids from conventional “one-bid” leagues: 20 groups
Locks: 37 groups
The bubble: 23 groups for 11 obtainable spots
Needs to be in: Four groups
Work to do: 19 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 had been ranked within the 30s on the NET and projected as a No. 11 seed that had probably six groups beneath them within the subject of 68. In different phrases, there could possibly be room right here for a protected 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 perfect win on the profile is undoubtedly the 78-71 victory at dwelling 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 tender nonconference schedule, statistically talking. That truth’s already mirrored within the NET rating and within the quadrant information, however, who is aware of, possibly the committee will need to voice displeasure there. If not, nonetheless, the 19-2 report exterior Quad 1 and significantly the NET rating could possibly be enough. (Up to date: March 14)
After dropping by a degree to NC State within the ACC event, Clemson will likely be on a number of “final 4 in” and maybe extra “first 4 out” lists. That is preferable to “subsequent 4 out,” actually, however it’s nonetheless a precarious place to occupy in the course of what’s all the time a wild and tumultuous Championship Week. Even the slightest contraction of the bubble caused by even a single bid thief, for instance, might show calamitous to the Tigers. Granted, on the finish there might nonetheless be an at-large bid within the offing for Brad Brownell’s group, which completed its taking part in 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, nonetheless, is that their 1-10 report in Quad 1 video games will must be both fully 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
Needs to be in: Oklahoma
Work to do: TCU, Texas
Needs to be in
The profile is about 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 dwelling, taken care of Florida on a impartial ground 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 might 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 taking part in their method 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 almost misplaced to Oklahoma State within the first spherical of the Massive 12 event in Kansas Metropolis, Missouri. Thankfully for TCU followers, nonetheless, 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 highway win in Austin to point out within the Quad 1 trophy case, the Horned Frogs might have accomplished 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, nonetheless, 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 Crimson 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 gained 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 had been blown out 86-54 by Marquette, and the NET rating hooked up to the Crimson Storm even going right into a lopsided loss already was within the mid-60s. Now think about that, within the eyes of the score system, the Johnnies really had been taking part in a “dwelling” recreation at Madison Sq. Backyard once they had been hammered by 32 factors. That means this NET rating might 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 continues 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 in all probability leaves Creighton simply wanting the event subject. The Bluejays coated a great deal of floor to make it that far, and a win towards the Musketeers would have modified this image significantly. As a substitute, CU has stopped taking part in at 18-14, leaving it tough to level to anyone aspect 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 okay 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, however it would not look 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, however it seems the Hoyas have come up quick. Shedding by 16 in your convention event quarterfinals (to Seton Corridor) whenever 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 every kind of hope for the longer term, and who knew earlier than the season that this is able to 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. You already know the remaining: Travis Steele’s males got here up quick, 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
Needs to be in: Minnesota
Work to do: Ohio State, Indiana
Needs to be in
Minnesota Golden Gophers
At this fee the Gophers are going to finish up with a greater seed than a nominal Massive Ten lock like Maryland. Minnesota wanted extra time to show again Penn State in its first recreation within the convention event, however no further session was required to notch a far greater 75-73 victory towards Purdue. Jordan Murphy scored 27 factors, and the Gophers will play within the Massive Ten semifinals for the primary time since 2010. We’d see this seed enhance nonetheless additional. In spite of everything, having two wins over the Boilermakers inside 10 days of one another is a pleasant speaking level. (Up to date: March 15)
Work to do
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 subject. At worst, the Buckeyes had been one thing nearer to the final group within the subject, 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 appropriate, Ohio State has an excellent shot at staying within the subject of 68. If, then again, the latter situation is nearer to the reality, then Chris Holtmann’s group is in bother. Being the final group within the subject 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 subject. The Buckeyes will wait till Sunday to seek out out which of those two assumptions is legitimate. (Up to date: March 15)
It might be very a lot in step with an Indiana group that is confounded each succeeding expectation, each good and unhealthy, all through the whole thing of 2019 if the Hoosiers not solely obtained a bid however earned a excessive seed. Alas, it seems as a substitute that this wild and all the time unpredictable IU curler coaster has lastly reached its ultimate 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 spite of everything, was by no means that these two video games alone would propel Indiana into the sector of 68. Moderately, the expectation was that two wins towards the Spartans would give the Hoosiers the platform to point out what they might actually do. However a first-game exit from the Massive Ten event may need introduced this dialog to a detailed finally. (Up to date: March 14)
Work to do: Arizona State
Work to do
Arizona State Solar Devils
The Solar Devils, who had 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 gained three of them. In concept, a group claiming a victory on a impartial ground 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 follow, Arizona State is not competing with what ought to be an excellent 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
Work to do: Florida, Alabama
Work to do
That ought to do it. After a 76-73 win over LSU within the SEC event quarterfinals, Florida is 19-14. The Gators are 2-1 towards the Tigers, and Mike White’s group has 4 Quad 1 wins (albeit to go along with 11 losses). Most notably, UF carries a better NET rating than the likes of Oklahoma, Baylor, Iowa and Syracuse. It was touch-and-go there for some time, however Florida posted a giant win when it was being listed as “final 4 in” and at a time when different bubble groups gave the impression to be posting losses proper and left. The Gators ought to be in. (Up to date: March 15)
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, although the senior got here off the bench, UK performed like a group at full energy. 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 should be enough for an at-large bid. Is that going to be sufficient? Talking normatively, it feels a bit skinny. In comparative phrases, nonetheless, these numbers are roughly consistent 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 vastly will increase Temple’s danger, however may not 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 sure, Temple is now able the place it must rely each bid thief rigorously. That mentioned, a 23-Eight report that features a win over Houston, even with a 2-6 mark in Quad 1 contests, seems fairly robust subsequent to among the competing bubble profiles. (Up to date: March 15)
A win towards Houston within the American semifinals ought to provoke an sincere to goodness at-large dialog round Memphis. Such is the state of affairs at FedExForum after Penny Hardaway’s group beat UCF for the second time in 2018-19. True, these two wins are the sum whole of the Tigers’ Quad 1 victories on the season. Nonetheless, it is a group that outscored the American by the identical per-possession margin as did bubble mainstay Temple, and the Owls and Tigers are additionally tightly bunched within the NET rankings. (Very last thing: Jeremiah Martin is well worth the value of admission.) A win towards the Cougars would ignite this dialogue for actual.
Locks: Gonzaga, Nevada, Buffalo, Wofford, Saint Mary’s, Murray State
Needs to be in: VCU, Utah State
Work to do: Belmont, UNC Greensboro, Furman, Lipscomb
Needs to be in
Mike Rhoades’ males are driving a 12-game win streak thanks primarily to excellent protection. Now, at 25-6 general and carrying an outright Atlantic 10 regular-season title, VCU has a No. Eight or 9 seed ready for it in a matter of days if mock brackets are to be trusted. There aren’t any remaining Quad 1 alternatives for the Rams even in any potential A-10 event recreation, however the 54-53 win at Texas in December will proceed to fill that want on the profile fairly satisfactorily. (Up to date: March Eight)
Utah State Aggies
The Aggies are perhaps taking part in to enhance their seed at this level, and beating an excellent Fresno State group 85-60 actually helps that alongside. USU is about to satisfy San Diego State within the Mountain West title recreation after the Aztecs made quick work of Nevada. With Craig Smith’s group being projected as taking a spot on the No. 9 or 10 line, it is now a foregone conclusion that this program will likely be making its first journey to the NCAA event since 2011. The one query now’s whether or not will probably be an automated or at-large bid. (Up to date: March 15)
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 taking part in, increased than these of Iowa, Ohio State, Indiana, TCU, Temple, Minnesota, Alabama, Arizona State and all the Massive East bubble (Creighton, St. John’s, Xavier and Georgetown). The Bruins additionally had been short-handed towards the Racers and performed with out Nick Muszynski. Lastly, Belmont was 5-Three this season towards Quads 1 and a pair of. Conversely, Byrd’s males will not need the committee to linger on a detrimental just like the Three-2 report towards Quad Three. In any occasion, the Bruins profile is about, however the bubble will proceed to shift in methods that can both assist or damage Belmont’s probabilities. (Up to date: March 9)
UNC Greensboro Spartans
For 35 minutes within the Southern Convention title recreation, the Spartans had 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 potentialities, UNCG really 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 ground 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 kind the sum whole of the case for Furman on Choice Sunday. It isn’t a foul case, however the Dins may 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 dwelling ground to Liberty within the Atlantic Solar convention title recreation. An at-large now seems to be a protracted shot. (Up to date: March 10)