Road to the Final Four at Ford Field Bracketology: The Bubble Keeps Expanding

Jameson FlemingSenior Writer IFebruary 20, 2009

The top seeds in the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament are all but set at this point, unless one of the four teams—Oklahoma, North Carolina, Pitt, and UConn—loses multiple games down the stretch. Two more losses from any of those teams might knock them down to the second seed line, but that would only be if a two seed really stepped up.

It's really painful to have to put Memphis as a two seed. They've got the great computer numbers, but is this team really only one seed line worse than last year despite losing Joey Dorsey, Chris Douglas-Roberts, and Derrick Rose? Tyreke Evans is a nice player, but there's no way this team is only a step down from 2008.

If Arizona State wins the Pac-10 Tournament and loses only to Washington in the regular season, the Sun Devils could jump up to a three, maybe even a two seed depending on how things shape up elsewhere.

LSU keeps on winning, but it is unlikely that the Tigers can get any better than a four seed because of their awful non-conference schedule. Two or three losses in the SEC is very impressive, but Baton Rouge's best didn't beat anybody before conference play began.

Butler is sliding down the bracket quickly. A loss to Davidson and Cleveland State to end the Bulldogs' regular season, and Butler must win the Horizon League Tournament in order to make the Big Dance.

Davidson, Siena, and Utah State face a similar predicament. If they don't win their bracketbuster games and win out in the regular season, all three will need conference championships to make the tournament.

Not a single team had to be moved due to bracket restrictions and rules.

The Big East only got seven teams in this bracket, but Georgetown, Cincinnati, and Providence are all very close. Even Notre Dame still stands a chance if the Irish can win a few games in the Big East Tourney. In the end, the conference will probably get eight, maybe even nine teams in if one or two of these four teams assert themselves.

Bubble Breakdown and Bracket after the jump.


1 Pittsburgh vs 16 Alabama State/Morgan State

8 Butler vs 9 Boston College

4 Arizona State vs 13 Virginia Commonwealth

5 Purdue vs 12 Temple

2 Duke vs 15 Cornell

7 Tennessee vs 10 Wisconsin

3 Kansas vs 14 Binghamton

6 Syracuse vs 11 Davidson



1 North Carolina vs 16 Radford

8 Ohio State vs 9 Arizona

4 Villanova vs 13 Arkansas-Little Rock

5 LSU vs 12 Siena

2 Louisville vs 15 Belmont

7 Texas vs 10 South Carolina

3 Wake Forest vs 14 Tennessee-Martin

6 Illinois vs 11 UNLV



1 Connecticut vs 16 Robert Morris

8 UCLA vs 9 Minnesota

4 Missouri vs 13 Miami (Ohio)

5 Florida State vs 12 Creighton

2 Michigan State vs 15 American

7 Utah vs 10 Southern California

3 Marquette vs 14 North Dakota State

6 Xavier vs 11 Kentucky



1 Oklahoma vs 16 Stephen F. Austin

8 West Virginia vs 9 Florida

4 Gonzaga vs 13 Utah State

5 Washington vs 12 Michigan

2 Memphis vs 15 Long Beach State

7 Dayton vs 10 BYU

3 Clemson vs 14 Weber State

6 California vs 11 Penn State


Bubble Breakdown

This bubble is absolutely awful. There's no group of strong mid-majors to fill out the bracket, which means the majority of the bubble teams come from major conferences and will likely have .500 records entering their conference tournaments. It is shaping up that basically two wins in a conference tournament will almost be as good as an automatic bid for any bubble team.

I ended up with 10 bubble spots, but 25 teams were competing for those spots.

The 10 teams that made it into the field were the 10 teams that looked like they had the best chances to get to .500 or above in conference play and win a game or two in their conference tournaments.

The 25 teams that were considered are Wisconsin, BYU, Oklahoma State, Temple, Georgetown, UAB, Southern California, San Diego State, Florida, Texas A&M, South Carolina, Cincinnati, Michigan, Virginia Tech, UNLV, Baylor, Miami (Florida), Penn State, Rhode Island, Saint Mary's College, Maryland, Nebraska, Kentucky, Providence, and Kansas State.

The ten teams that made the field are Wisconsin, BYU, UNLV, Florida, South Carolina, Michigan, Temple, Penn State, Kentucky, Southern California, and Wisconsin.

Temple, Kentucky, Michigan, and Penn State were the last four teams to make the field. Their schedules are fairly favorable for those teams to pick up four or five wins down the stretch.


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