May I Cut In? Conference Tournament Bubble Implications

Really, all the bubble talk prior to the conference tournaments is unnecessary, as fun as it may be.  These teams’ resumes are all so close, that how they perform on a neutral court in the conference tournament tends to solidify bids, make a case for inclusion, or as a way to eliminate teams.  Some teams (BYU and Murray St) are left to sweat it out, and their fates probably are in the hands of the following 21 teams.

Should Be Safe – Even with an immediate loss, these teams are likely to receive a bid.

NC State – Wed: Pitt (RPI – 65) – A loss to Pitt isn’t going to knock the Pack out.  They are playing for seeding.

Oklahoma St. – Thurs: OU (13) – Another team that has probably done enough already, as a loss to OU would not be particularly damaging.

Xavier – Thurs: Butler (25) – Six Top 50 wins and nine Top 100 wins already.

Purdue – Fri: Iowa (36) – Really don’t believe this is a must-win for the Boilers.  To me, the nine Top 100 wins outweigh the early season struggles.

Davidson – Fri: UMass (73) or LaSalle (99) – Yesterday on Twitter, I posted a resume comparison between Davidson and Utah.  The resumes are almost identical, yet some brackets have Utah as a 4 seed and Davidson as a 12.  I just don’t see how this team doesn’t get a bid.

Oregon – Thurs: Colorado (123) or Oregon St. (118) – Another team with a very similar resume to Utah, but still is discussed as a possible bubble team.  A loss to either of these teams shouldn’t affect the Ducks’ status.

Avoid the Pothole – These teams play bad teams and simply need to avoid a loss to secure a bid.

Dayton – Fri: St. Bona (114) or St. Joe (175) – The Flyers are only in this position due to recent losses to Duquesne and La Salle.  Need to avoid one more bad L.

VCU – Thurs: Mason (215) or Fordham (243) – VCU without Weber, and a banged up Graham, is not the same team.  Lose this one, and I am not sure this team deserves a spot in the field.

Ole Miss – Thurs: S. Car (96) or Missouri (211) – In this position due to Saturday’s poor effort against Vandy. Obviously, a loss to Missouri would be incredibly damaging.

Boise St. – Thurs: Air Force (250) – I still think the win at SDSU has them above Colorado St, so they should be okay…unless they somehow lose to Air Force.

Two for the Money – Of these seven teams, who can get the big win? History shows that if you are on the bubble and knock off a Top 10 team, you are going dancing.

Miami – Wed: VT (220); Thurs: ND (24) – While I am selfishly hoping that Buzz can pull the upset tonight and end Miami’s chances, a win over the Irish on Thursday likely earns a bid.

Texas – Wed: Texas Tech (172); Thurs: Iowa St. (11) – Beating the Cyclones ends any debate.  Also, need to avoid a major pothole tonight against Tubby’s Red Raiders.

Illinois – Thurs: Michigan (86); Fri: Wisconsin (6) – As daunting of a road for teams in this group.  Beating Michigan is a must and taking Wisconsin to the wire might even be enough.

Indiana – Thurs: N’Western (112); Fri: Maryland (9) – Have to win both to feel safe, but I’m not sure they can beat Northwestern.

Colorado St. – Thurs: Fresno St. (188); Fri: SDSU (28) – They may belong in the “Avoid the Pothole” section, but I am not impressed with their resume.  Best road/neutral win is against UC Santa Barbara (87).

UCLA – Thurs: USC (207); Fri: Arizona (7) – The Bruins only have one Top 100 road/neutral win (at Stanford), so while beating Arizona gets them in, they probably don’t get in without it.

Temple – Fri: Memphis (82); Sat: SMU (15) – Going to start sounding like a broken record, but the best road/neutral win is at UConn (80).  Will be interesting to see how the committee weighs the win over Kansas.  Beating SMU makes that discussion moot.

The Sneaky Mid-Major

Old Dominion – Thurs: MTSU (181); Fri: UTEP (74) – Leaning more and more toward including the Monarchs even if they don’t win Conference USA, but a win over MTSU is absolutely essential. Remember, Iona made the tournament in 2012 when they lost in the semis, so a loss to UTEP doesn’t necessarily kill them.

Look Good Losing to Kentucky

Texas A&M – Thurs: Miss St or Auburn; Fri: LSU; Sat: UK.  If I am a committee member and A&M beats LSU for a third time, I say “Great, you have proven you can beat LSU.”  Not only do I think they need to get to the semis, but I also believe they need style points against UK (they certainly won’t beat them).

Lou Brown – “Let’s Win the Whole (Bleeping) Thing” – Self-explanatory.

Tulsa – Though they beat Temple twice, the Owls have the benefit of getting a chance to beat SMU in the semis. Tulsa likely gets Cincy or UConn, which probably won’t move the needle much.

Stanford – I actually think they have a chance to do it, too.  If they beat Washington, they get Utah (and we all know how I feel about Utah).  Then, they would probably get Oregon in the semifinals, which is winnable.  If I were still doing conference tournament picks with Kev, I probably would have Stanford in the finals.

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