March Madness 2012: Bubble Teams Destined to Be Tournament Snubs
Selection Sunday is just five days away. Between now and then, the amount of available spots for bubble teams will continue to shrink as conference champions are crowned and unexpected upsets occur, giving two berths to a smaller conference. It happens every year.
That means a couple teams, usually ones with a legitimate case to make the big dance, are going to get left out to dry. Unfortunately for the following three teams, their bubbles are likely to be burst.
If the selection committee put as much stock into a team's final 10 games as the television analysts would lead viewers to believe, Tennessee would be in. The Volunteers finished the regular season strong by winning eight of their last nine.
That's not the case, however. An entire résumé is used to judge a team, which means Tennessee's struggles earlier in the campaign will come back to haunt Trae Golden and Co. They had plenty of chances against elite teams to make an impact, but didn't take advantage of them.
The Volunteers' only remaining chance is to win the SEC Tournament. A journey that will likely include games against Vanderbilt and the nation's top team in Kentucky will make things very difficult, though. Tennessee went just 1-3 against those two teams.
Which team has the best case for an at-large bid?
How does a team that possesses the country's top-ranked offense and finished with 25 wins get left out? Well, playing in the MAAC certainly doesn't help. Neither does losing in the conference tournament semifinals to a team that lost in the title game.
So, while Iona should be applauded for a terrific mid-major season, the team hasn't earned one of the coveted 68 spots. Since they didn't play a single ranked team, their schedule strength is subpar, and also leaves a hole in the Gaels' résumé in terms of marquee wins.
The system isn't always fair to teams outside of the power conferences because the elite programs usually aren't willing to take on many big non-conference tests. That said, the Gaels knew what they were dealing with and came up a little short.
North Carolina State Wolfpack
A strong midseason run pushed North Carolina State into at-large contention. It appears a slow start paired with a late four-game losing streak will cause the Wolfpack to fall short, however. Even though 20 regular season wins as an ACC member is nothing scoff at, it's not always enough.
They did knock off Texas, a fellow bubble squad, but otherwise struggled to make an impact against likely tournament teams. When the committee has to decide between a handful of teams for the final few spots, strong showings against elite competition would obviously provide a boost.
That's why every game is so important during the regular season. If the Wolfpack defeated Vanderbilt in November or Syracuse in December, they would be in a lot better shape. Instead, an unlikely ACC Tournament run is their only hope.
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