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 related video games of Monday, March 11.
The distinctive March hybrid of tumult and excessive stakes generally known as Champ Week is upon us, and Bubble Watch is so very right here for all of it.
This is a helpful viewer’s information to the entire chaotic panoply….
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1. Huge East
Is that this even up for dialogue? You possibly can’t swing a cat at Madison Sq. Backyard with out knocking over a teeming horde of bubble groups.
Seton Corridor is probably going protected it doesn’t matter what at this level (together with in fact Marquette and Villanova), however another crew not named Butler, DePaul or Windfall is attempting desperately to both keep within the subject (St. John’s) or play its approach there (Creighton, Xavier and Georgetown).
How serendipitous! Clemson and NC State have been paired collectively within the bracket in Charlotte, and the 2 will face off towards one another Wednesday at midday Japanese on ESPN. The loser of that sport is taking a look at some critical bid peril.
A loss for the Tigers, for instance, would drop Brad Brownell’s crew to 1-10 in nQuad 1 video games. Is that actually going to get it completed? Put one other approach, giving that profile a bid will (Bubble Watch can see all of it now) be seen as validating each categorical indictment within the ebook about mediocre power-conference groups being coddled on the expense of feisty and deserving mid-majors.
In the meantime, the Wolfpack cannot take something without any consideration both. Kevin Keatts’ crew additionally swung and missed on its greatest big-win alternatives in convention play (Zero-7 in ACC Quad 1 video games), although the victory in Raleigh towards Auburn is appreciating in worth.
Three. Huge Ten
How serendipitous (once more)! Ohio State is plummeting down the identical elevator shaft the place Indiana is ascending doggedly. The Buckeyes and the Hoosiers will smack into one another Thursday afternoon in Chicago, and the loser might have some capricious committee wackiness (seen with maybe one bid a yr) in an effort to make the sphere of 68.
Four. Huge 12
You possibly can thank Texas for 100 % of the bubble drama available in Kansas Metropolis. The Longhorns, for some inscrutable motive, determined to play like a bid was already in hand towards TCU within the season finale, and now we’ve a state of affairs on the minimize line.
If the Horns lose within the Huge 12 event towards Kansas, they will be 16-16. Is a 16-loss report actually going to get it completed for the primary time in NCAA at-large-bid historical past?
For his or her half, the Horned Frogs are again on this factor after pulling off the upset in Austin. Jamie Dixon’s crew wants newer and higher wins, nonetheless, now that their “We swept Iowa State!” speaking level has misplaced some luster. TCU will start that quest Wednesday night towards Oklahoma State (7 p.m. ET, ESPNU).
Last item. Along with bubble drama, regulate these oh-so-sneaky bid thieves nationwide. Bubble Watch is taking a look at you, Pac-12 and Atlantic 10 tournaments.
This is how we’re projecting the bubble proper now….
This is how we’re projecting the bubble proper now …
Bids from conventional “one-bid” leagues: 25 groups
Locks: 32 groups
The bubble: 27 groups for 11 out there spots
Needs to be in: 5 groups
Work to do: 22 groups
ACC | Huge 12| Huge East | Huge Ten | Pac-12 | SEC | American | Others
Locks: Virginia, Duke, North Carolina, Louisville, Florida State, Virginia Tech
Needs to be in: Syracuse
Work to do: NC State, Clemson
Needs to be in
Jim Boeheim’s program has a historical past of shut shaves on Choice Sunday in recent times, however 2019 needs to be a considerably extra sedate affair. Syracuse is now within the clubhouse, so to talk, at 19-12 and 10-Eight within the ACC. The Orange gained at Duke, and the victory at house towards Louisville additionally qualifies as Quad 1. (The win at Ohio State, although quick depreciating in worth, will go within the books as a 3rd Quad 1 victory.) If the choice have been held at the moment, Boeheim’s group would in all probability be taking a look at one thing within the neighborhood of a No. 9 or 10 seed. That quantity will be revised upward, naturally, with an excellent displaying on the ACC event. (Up to date: March 9)
Work to do
NC State Wolfpack
On paper, NC State needs to be superb. The Wolfpack completed the season 21-10 and 9-9 within the ACC, and Kevin Keatts’ crew reveals up within the mid-30s within the NET rankings. So why are the mock brackets ticketing this group for, at greatest, a No. 11 seed (and presumably even a 12)? First, NC State suffers from the identical illness that Auburn earlier than the Tigers took down Tennessee at house. The Wolfpack are accused of not having overwhelmed “anybody,” that means this group’s 2-Eight report in Quad 1 video games incorporates a win at house over (hey, what have you learnt?) Auburn and one other one on a impartial flooring over Penn State. (To make sure, the win over the Tigers appears higher now than it did earlier than the start of March.) Second, NC State performed a really delicate nonconference schedule, statistically talking. Whether or not and to what extent the committee will care about that second bit is an open query.. (Up to date: March 9)
The enemy for Clemson is now the remainder of the bubble. After successful at house 67-55 towards Syracuse within the season finale, the Tigers can be displaying up on many “final 4 in” and, sure, “first 4 out” lists. That is preferable to “subsequent 4 out,” actually, nevertheless it’s nonetheless a precarious place to occupy heading into 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, may show calamitous to Clemson. Backside line, there may very well be an at-large bid within the offing for the Tigers even within the occasion of an early exit from the ACC event. A way more acceptable working assumption for Brad Brownell and his males, nonetheless, can be to method the 15-team occasion in Charlotte as a traditional “work to do” state of affairs. (Up to date: March 9)
Locks: Kansas, Texas Tech, Iowa State, Kansas State, Baylor
Needs to be in: Oklahoma
Work to do: Texas, TCU
Needs to be in
Proven as a No. Eight or 9 seed heading right into a fairly lopsided 68-53 loss at Kansas State, Lon Kruger’s group has overwhelmed Wofford at house, taken care of Florida on a impartial flooring and now stands at Four-10 in Quad 1 video games. (For the report, the Sooners are 15-2 in Quads 2 and three, and Zero-Zero towards Quad Four.) OU goes to the Huge 12 event at 19-12 and 7-11, and throughout the final couple of many years, these numbers haven’t been hooked up to too many at-large groups. Nonetheless, there are many groups under the Sooners on the right facet of the 2019 mock minimize line. The committee will decide the true minimize line, however barring a serious shock, Oklahoma seems to be on strong floor. (Up to date: March 9)
Work to do
That is what Bubble Watch is speaking about with that complete “40 minutes away” factor. With a win at house towards TCU within the season finale, Texas can be a world away from the place the Longhorns discover themselves now. However the place Shaka Good’s guys discover themselves now’s within the ethical equal of a must-win state of affairs within the first sport towards Kansas on the Huge 12 event. A loss there would depart Texas at 16-16 for the season. Clearly, it will be extraordinary for a .500 crew with 16 losses to obtain an at-large bid, even when mentioned crew does have the neutral-floor win over North Carolina and one at house over Purdue. “Unparalleled” right here does not essentially imply not possible, it simply accurately flags the truth that we have by no means seen it earlier than. Affordable observers can differ on the deserves of the Horns’ profile, however, talking empirically, asking the committee to do one thing it is by no means completed earlier than isn’t a promising plan of action. (Up to date: March 9)
TCU Horned Frogs
It’s important to tip your cap to the Horned Frogs. Going into the sport at Texas, this bunch from Fort Price had presumably the least promising spot within the historical past of groups on the “first 4 out” record. Now, after successful 69-56 in Austin, Jamie Dixon’s males are in place to lock down a bid with a powerful displaying on the Huge 12 event. The season sweep of Iowa State that was trying like it will be a moot level can now be touted on the profile of a crew that captured a 3rd Quad 1 win, convincingly, on the ultimate day of the common season. TCU was given an opportunity, and the Horned Frogs took it. With this single consequence, the bubble stakes for the Huge 12 event, each for the Horned Frogs and for the Longhorns, have been raised considerably. (Up to date: March 9)
Locks: Marquette, Villanova
Work to do: Seton Corridor, St. John’s, Creighton, Xavier, Georgetown
Work to do
Seton Corridor Pirates
Kevin Willard’s crew seems to have performed its approach into the sphere of 68, and, if that’s certainly the case, the actually essential basketball with this crew passed off roughly completely in December and March. Inside the span of simply 14 days in December, the Pirates beat Kentucky 84-83 in time beyond regulation at Madison Sq. Backyard after which gained a 78-74 highway sport at Maryland. Then issues went quiet and even a bit darkish for a bit, as SHU was Four-6 at one level in Huge East play. However, ultimately, March smiled on the Corridor, as Myles Powell and his mates closed the season with back-to-back house wins over Marquette and Villanova. Assuming a non-catastrophic efficiency by the Pirates on the Huge East event, Bubble Watch expects SHU to maybe present up within the committee’s bracket as a No. 10 seed, give or take a line. (Up to date: March 9)
St. John’s Pink Storm
With St. John’s, we’re confronted with a traditional case the place the hazard may be understated by the numbers. In case you have been advised that the Johnnies have been tapped as a possible No. 10 seed earlier than they misplaced by 13 at Xavier, you’ll most likely conclude that the crew will nonetheless be superb when it comes to getting an at-large bid. Bubble Watch is not so positive. Chris Mullin’s guys closed the season by dropping 4 of their final 5 video games to complete at 20-11. The Storm’s NET rating is within the 60s, and the signature one-point win at Marquette has been dropping in worth for the previous two weeks. Strangest of all, maybe, is the underwhelming report towards Quads 2 and three (7-6) from a crew that has held its personal in Quad 1 video games (5-5). Though an at-large bid and a spot at across the No. 11 line continues to be the most probably consequence, it does now seem that this crew’s efficiency within the Huge East event will have an effect on its possibilities. (Up to date: March 9)
For the stability of the Huge East season, Greg McDermott’s crew was a pincushion for the cruelest of the hoops gods, because the Bluejays misplaced time beyond regulation video games not solely to Marquette but additionally to Villanova and Seton Corridor. Then in March, lastly, Creighton began to even these accounts. Creighton received again into this dialogue by successful a detailed sport on the highway towards the aforementioned Golden Eagles, and the Bluejays adopted that up with a six-point victory at house, in time beyond regulation no much less, over Windfall. Lastly, McDermott’s males wrapped up the season with a 13-point win at house towards DePaul, that means they’re arriving on the Huge East event at 18-13 general and 9-9 in-conference. The Bluejays have a shot. (Up to date: March 9)
The Huge East part of Bubble Watch is fairly in depth, nevertheless it’s essential to make distinctions even throughout the league’s spacious “work to do” part. Whereas a crew like St. John’s is trying prefer it would possibly play its approach out of the bracket, Xavier has a protracted distance to journey earlier than it may possibly even be glimpsed in “first 4 out” territory. Nonetheless, the space that is still to be traversed is nowhere close to as huge as what the Musketeers have already got navigated over the previous month. It is a crew that was 11-13 and Three-Eight within the Huge East. Getting into the convention event, conversely, these numbers are 17-14 and 9-9. Travis Steele’s guys put a capper on the common season by beating the aforementioned Johnnies 81-68 in Cincinnati regardless of not having Naji Marshall (who was out with an ankle harm). A visit to the Huge East event semifinals (which Xavier has reached yearly because it joined the league) would maintain this dialog going. (Up to date: March 9)
It is not going to be straightforward for the Hoyas. The win at Marquette, naturally, saved this crew within the dialogue, and Georgetown will go to work within the Huge East event because the proud proprietor of 4 Quad 1 wins at 19-12 general and 9-9 in convention play. That is all properly and good, however the profile additionally consists of a few much less pleasing facets. The Hoyas are simply Eight-6 this season towards Quads 2 and three, and the crew’s NET rating going into the sport in Milwaukee was a shield-your-eyes No. 80. So, no, it nonetheless will not be straightforward, however Bubble Watch can envision a path to creating this an attention-grabbing query, a path that ends with beating both the Golden Eagles or Villanova at Madison Sq. Backyard. Preserve going, Hoyas. (Up to date: March 9)
Locks: Michigan State, Michigan, Purdue, Wisconsin, Maryland
Needs to be in: Iowa
Work to do: Minnesota, Ohio State, Indiana
Needs to be in
After Joe Wieskamp hit a spectacular game-winning Three-pointer on the buzzer on the highway at Rutgers, the Hawkeyes have been 20-5 and mock brackets had Fran McCaffery’s crew pegged as a No. 6 seed. Since that point, nonetheless, McCaffery was slapped with a two-game suspension (stemming from a tirade directed at referee Steve McJunkins after a loss at Ohio State), Iowa has dropped to 21-10 and this crew has seen its projected seed plunge to the No. 9 line or worse. The Hawkeyes have relied on offense all season lengthy, however McCaffery’s males have shot simply 30 % on their 3s whereas dropping 5 of their previous six video games. Iowa will arrive on the Huge Ten event not merely seeking to enhance its seed however to rehabilitate it. (Up to date: March 10)
Work to do
Minnesota Golden Gophers
The common season is within the books for the Golden Gophers, and, in any regular yr, you’ll say this can be a crew with nice wins (at Wisconsin and residential towards Purdue) and a so-so report (19-12 and 9-11 within the Huge Ten). Then once more, bubble groups like Indiana are lapping the sphere in each classes in 2019, so we should look elsewhere for superlatives particular to Minnesota. Nicely, what about this: Richard Pitino’s crew has simply in regards to the tidiest 12-loss profile you will see anyplace. The Gophers are 9-Zero towards Quads Three and Four, and their “worst” losses come on the highway to the major-conference likes of Boston School, Rutgers and Illinois. One thing dramatic in the best way of a disastrously quick exit from the Huge Ten event or a extreme bubble contraction or each may need to intervene for Minnesota to not get the No. 10 or 11 seed that mock brackets are envisioning for this crew. (Up to date: March Eight)
Ohio State Buckeyes
With losses of their final three video games and 6 of the final eight, the Buckeyes have performed themselves into jeopardy. The absence of Kaleb Wesson for these final three video games because of a suspension actually did not assist issues. Now, with OSU having dropped all the best way to the No. 12 line within the mock brackets, Wesson will return for the Huge Ten event. That is the place Ohio State will face Indiana, and a loss for Chris Holtmann’s males would depart them 18-14 after an Eight-12 run by the convention season. In principle, that may very well be adequate to sneak this crew into the sphere, on condition that the “18” consists of the win at Cincinnati on the primary day of the season. Then once more, a first-game convention event loss for a crew being proven as a No. 12 seed is rarely a really useful technique. (Up to date: March 11)
Indiana is 17-14 and Eight-12 within the Huge Ten with a season sweep of Michigan State to its credit score. The Hoosiers, in fact, even have house wins over Marquette and Louisville on their profile. As for IU’s 6-9 report in Quad 1 video games, maybe the principle level to be made there may be that Indiana has performed a ton of Quad 1 video games. What’s much less regularly cited, nonetheless, is the Hoosiers’ 2-5 report in Quad 2 video games. Will that knowledge level play a big position within the committee’s dialogue? Nobody is aware of, and, anyway, this profile is not completed but. IU is at present a “first 4 out” type of crew, however the Huge Ten event looms as a veritable Quad 1 outlet mall. If Indiana performs the Spartans, Michigan, Purdue, Wisconsin, Maryland, Iowa or Penn State on the United Heart, it will likely be a Quad 1 alternative. (Up to date: March 10)
Work to do: Arizona State
Work to do
Arizona State Solar Devils
This is a Bubble Watch enjoyable reality: Arizona State is the one crew within the “lock,” “needs to be in” or “work to do” classes that has misplaced video games in all 4 quadrants. Sure, the losses at house to Princeton and Washington State qualify as Quad Four defeats, and, certainly, the Solar Devils are a notably so-so 10-Four towards Quads Three and Four. See, that is the type of factor we miss with our single-minded give attention to simply one of many quadrants. Now, let’s focus single-mindedly on Quad 1: ASU’s win in Tempe towards Kansas, in addition to ones on a impartial flooring towards Mississippi State and Utah State, would possibly get this crew a bid supplied its NET rating is not too controversially low. Going into Saturday’s 72-64 win at Arizona, that rating was within the low 70s and Bobby Hurley’s group was on Lunardi’s “final 4 byes” record. It may work out as is, but when the Solar Devils need to really feel protected there’s work to do. (Up to date: March 9)
Locks: Tennessee, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Auburn
Needs to be in: Ole Miss
Work to do: Florida, Alabama
Needs to be in
Ole Miss Rebels
The Rebels faltered down the stretch and misplaced 4 of their previous six, however issues may very well be worse in Oxford. Ole Miss uncorked a late 7-Zero run to win the season finale at Missouri, and, anyway, this can be a crew that does personal highway wins at Auburn and Mississippi State. To not point out this program was picked within the preseason to complete final within the SEC and has made simply two NCAA event appearances previously 17 years. When these are the givens and also you falter your approach right into a No. 9 or 10 seed along with your new coach in his first season, the long run appears fairly encouraging. (Up to date: March 9)
Work to do
In what’s quick turning into a recurring Bubble Watch theme, let’s talk about a major-conference crew with a nasty report compiled in quite a few Quad 1 video games. Florida is Three-11 in Quad 1 contests, with the wins all approaching the highway at LSU, Alabama and Arkansas. (Enjoyable reality: UF was singularly unsuccessful at house towards one of the best groups this season.) It’s primarily the win towards the Tigers, naturally, that has lifted the 17-14 Gators as much as the No. 11 line in mock brackets. Talking of single video games that had a big influence: Florida’s late-season loss at house to Georgia (a part of an Zero-Three end to the common season) has left this crew ready wherein a fast exit from the SEC event would expose Mike White’s guys to a excessive diploma of bracket peril. (Up to date: March 9)
Alabama Crimson Tide
Alabama closed its common season with an 82-70 loss at Arkansas, a sport wherein the Crimson Tide allowed Daniel Gafford to report a 29-16 double-double. The loss leaves Avery Johnson’s crew at 17-14 and Eight-10 within the SEC — in different phrases, traditional bubble materials. Talking of peak bubble, Alabama entered the sport in Fayetteville as a member in good standing of Lunardi’s “final 4 in” record. The Tide landed on this diploma of peril regardless of having a house win over Kentucky on their profile, and, naturally, the SEC event will supply a wide selection of high quality opponents and loads of possibilities to impress the committee. The bigger concern with Alabama, nonetheless, is that this crew hasn’t gained a sport towards an NCAA tournament-caliber opponent since January. (Up to date: March 9)
Locks: Houston, Cincinnati, UCF
Work to do: Temple
Work to do
UCF’s late-season ascendance was excellent news for Temple. The Owls beat the Knights 67-62 in Philadelphia within the season finale, and it was very a lot a Quad 1 win. Paired with the house victory towards Houston, Fran Dunphy’s crew now has a few actual profile boosters to flaunt because it fights for a bid. Proper, about that battle: Temple entered the sport towards UCF perched proper on the boundary line between “in” and “out.” Clearly, beating the Knights pushes you within the right route, however a single sport cannot push you all the best way to security. So it is excellent news for Owl followers that their crew now has an opportunity to place much more distance between itself and jeopardy due to an American event populated by the Quad 1-opponent likes of UH, Cincinnati, UCF and Memphis. (Up to date: March 9)
Locks: Gonzaga, Nevada, Buffalo, Wofford,, Murray State
Needs to be in: VCU
Work to do: Utah State, Belmont, Saint Mary’s, 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 are not any remaining Quad 1 alternatives for the Rams even in any potential A-10 event sport, 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)
Work to do
Utah State Aggies
Utah State got here actually, actually near furnishing us with a really attention-grabbing dialog. After everybody had declared the coronation full with the win at house towards Nevada, the Aggies went on the highway and wanted time beyond regulation earlier than escaping with a 100-96 win at Colorado State. Now Craig Smith’s crew is certainly assured of at the least a share of the regular-season Mountain West title. Projected as a No. 11 seed, USU actually has solely two remaining risks. One is a shrinking bubble, and the opposite can be an ostentatiously early exit from the convention event in Las Vegas. However, assuming each of these disasters fail to materialize, Utah State does seem like in good condition for its first bid since 2011. (Up to date: March 5)
Now, the Bruins should wait. Ja Morant erupted for 36 factors, and Murray State beat Belmont 77-65 within the Ohio Valley Convention title sport. Rick Byrd’s crew hopes the committee will put inventory within the positives on this profile. There’s, for starters, the NET rating that, at the least when Belmont stopped taking part in, was greater than these of Iowa, Ohio State, Indiana, TCU, Temple, Minnesota, Alabama, Arizona State and the complete Huge 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 adverse 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 may both assist or damage Belmont’s possibilities. (Up to date: March 9)
Saint Mary’s Gaels
Oh, what may need been. No, Bubble Watch doesn’t suggest the 69-55 loss to Gonzaga in Moraga, California. The Bulldogs are trying increasingly more like a crew of future, and Mark Few’s guys operating the desk within the West Coast Convention was by no means going to be an enormous upset. As a substitute, take into consideration the four-point losses Saint Mary’s recorded towards Mississippi State and LSU in November and December, respectively. Both a kind of video games moved beneath the win column would make this a a lot stronger profile for the Gaels. As it’s, nonetheless, the only Quad 1 win approaching the highway at New Mexico State won’t be ample to get SMC into the sphere of 68. That mentioned, Saint Mary’s stays in Bubble Watch because of its lovely NET rating and a collective and incorrigible ignorance on the earth exterior the committee room regarding what precisely that may imply in 12 months 1 of the brand new metric’s reign. (Up to date: March 2)
UNC Greensboro Spartans
For 35 minutes within the Southern Convention title sport, the Spartans have been the superior crew towards Wofford. Then the Terriers closed the competition on a 20-Three run, and Mike Younger’s crew captured the automated bid 70-58. As for at-large potentialities, UNCG truly shares some profile similarities with Wofford. Just like the Terriers, Wes Miller’s crew has a wonderful report (28-6) constructed on a small variety of “good” losses to LSU, Kentucky, Furman and, sure, Wofford (thrice). 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 and firm are an immaculate 24-Zero in Quads 2, Three and Four. Might the entire above plus the spectacular displaying towards the Terrier juggernaut (21-Zero towards SoCon opponents this season) pry an at-large bid out of 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 crew 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 complete of the case for Furman on Choice Sunday. It is not a nasty case, however the Dins might have hassle standing out from the gang. 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 saved 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 house flooring to Liberty within the Atlantic Solar convention title sport. An at-large now seems to be a protracted shot. (Up to date: March 10)