NCAA Tournament Bracket 2012: Updated Predictions for Bubble Teams
Today is the day teams start sweating—as if they have not been doing so this entire last week. The conference tournaments bring out the best and worst in teams and a handful of them are now on the bubble awaiting their fate.
While some teams have improved their bubble stock, others have really taken a hit, with the majority coming from the Big East and PAC-12 this season. Some teams from those two conferences will be very interested to see where they land on Selection Sunday.
Here are the updated predictions for the last four in and first four out.
Last Four In
We start getting really picky around this time of year, and South Florida is one of those teams that can thank their Big East competition for thrusting them into the NCAA Tournament this season.
The Bulls had big wins over Cincinnati and Louisville towards the end of the season, and the fact those two teams played for the Big East Tournament title will really make an impact on the selection committee.
Also, they battled a top-15 Notre Dame team into overtime before losing in the Big East Tournament. Those credentials should make them the first bubble team in on Sunday.
The Cougars did not fare very well in the West Coast Conference Tournament, losing to Gonzaga by 19 points, but their conference is very underrated as far as legitimate talent is concerned.
Gonzaga and St. Mary's had tremendous years and will both be earning six or seven seeds, and Loyola Marymount was a very underrated team as well.
BYU's claim to fame will be their win over Gonzaga in early February and it will be just enough to get them in the NCAA Tournament.
North Carolina State
Looking past the four brutal losses to Duke, North Carolina, Florida State and Clemson in mid-February, the Wolfpack showed just how good they really are in the ACC Tournament.
NC State beat who they needed to beat throughout the entire season, only having problems with the Big Three teams of UNC, Duke and Florida State in the ACC. However, the ACC Tournament may have just been enough to vault them into the NCAA Tournament.
NC State beat Boston College and had a big-time win over Virginia to set up an ACC Tournament Semi-Final game against the Tar Heels. The fact the Wolfpack took UNC into the final moments of game (losing 69-67) showed the selection committee a lot about how bad they wanted to be included in the Big Dance, and it should be just enough.
One very close and competitive game is all that separated Drexel from an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Instead, they sit on the bubble, and outside of Joe Lunardi's bubble looking in at the moment.
However, Drexel should be included based on what they have done this season, which was beat who they needed to beat. Their loss to VCU in the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament will be a big blow to their resume, though.
Drexel won 19 games in a row before losing to VCU on Monday.
The only real test this team has that the selection committee can look at is their ugly loss to Virginia at the very beginning of the year, mostly because it is the only significant team they have played all year—and they lost.
For Drexel to be included in the NCAA Tournament, the selection committee must look at the total body of work throughout the season, and it will be enough to get them in.
First Four Out
The Pirates will most likely be battling with Drexel for the last remaining team to get into the NCAA Tournament. They will need the conference respect of the selection committee to pull this one off, though.
Seton Hall has lost four of their last six games, including losses to Rutgers and DePaul down the stretch of the season. They fell to Louisville on Wednesday in the Big East Tournament.
The only way the ninth-place team in the Big East gets in the tournament is if the selection committee over-favors a down year for the Big East. The six-in-a-row this team dropped in January should be an indication as to how this team will fair if included in the Big Dance.
Poor Washington. They were all set to be playing the NCAA Tournament when they fell to lowly Oregon State in the PAC-12 Tournament, all but sealing their fate as a bubble team.
It is too bad, too, because this team was athletic enough to take down a few opponents in the Big Dance. However, we will not be able to see that happen with that kind of finish to the season in a terrible PAC-12.
Mississippi State was another team set to compete well into the NCAA Tournament. However, a stretch of games in February in which the team lost five straight games should be enough to keep them out of the NCAA Tournament.
The loss to Georgia in the Southeast Conference Tournament did not help, either.
They sit behind Washington as a team that can make the Big Dance.
Everyone really wants to see what Scott Machado can really do in the NCAA Tournament. He has star potential at the point guard position and is poised to become a very good player if the NBA comes calling. For now, his team lost to Fairfield in the MAAC Tournament, and that is not Big Dance material.
It was not for lack of play on Machado's part. He had 24 points and seven assists, trying to will the Gaels to the NCAA Tournament.
It will not be the last we see of Machado, though.
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