March Madness Bubble Report: (Mar. 2)

Jared HebbCorrespondent IMarch 2, 2009

With just about three weeks remaining until Selection Sunday, I thought I would throw out a bubble radar. This report will deal nothing with projections or seedings; strictly what teams are getting in, what teams are heading to the NIT. 

It will be updated every one to two days and adjusted based on results.

Before proceeding to the bubble picture, we have to decipher what teams already have the body of work to be in the tournament now.  Below are teams labeled as lock teams.

These teams could lose every game (with the exception of, say, a Butler, who most likely will not do that considering schedule) and still make the field of 65.

LOCKS: Pittsburgh, Oklahoma, North Carolina*, Duke, Michigan St., Connecticut*, Clemson, Memphis*, Villanova, Kansas*, Utah*, Louisville, Xavier*, Missouri, Illinois, Wake Forest, Washington*, Butler*, Marquette, Arizona St., Purdue, LSU*, UCLA, Florida St, Gonzaga*, Syracuse.

Now, the teams with asterisks are the conference leaders and assumed to be conference champions come tournament time. The 15 teams in bold are teams that will eat into the at-large pool of 34 bids.

So that leaves us with 19 bids to give to bubble teams, assuming no upsets in the conference tournaments.  

The bubble teams will be broken down by division. All bubble teams are not created equal, some teams needing maybe one more victory, while others need to win out until the conference finals. 

So for each team, I'll state what still needs to be done to grab that at large bid. The order the teams are listed is the pecking order, top teams in first, bottom teams out first. 

All records are against strictly Division I teams.  All RPI and SOS rankings are from Without further ado, here is the bubble...

UPDATES: After back to back losses to La Salle and Dayton, Temple has been knocked off the bubble completely. Florida St. with the big victory over Clemson has gone from a bubble team to a lock team in the Bubble Report. 

Gonzaga has also moved to the lock position after going through the West Coast Conference undefeated at 14-0. Nebraska also played themselves out of the bubble picture losing to Kansas St.

Syracuse moved to a lock Sunday after blowing out Cincinnati.  03/02.

ACC (2)

Boston College

20-9 (8-6); RPI 50; SOS 44

With marquee wins at UNC and at home to Duke, BC is safe.  Also had nice wins over fellow bubblers Florida St., Providence and UAB to overshadow bad loss at home to Harvard (RPI 277!).  Winning one of the last two in conference would lock up a bid (at NC St., GT).  IN


18-10 (7-7); RPI 58; SOS 22

Maryland did what was expected of them this week, losing to Duke and going on the road to beat NC State Sunday night.  That marks a good 8 day stretch, throwing in a win at home against UNC, the win which saved its bubble dreams.  

Non-conference victories over Michigan St. and Michigan can probably overshadow earlier blowouts and Morgan St. loss.  To be safe should probably win remaining two games in regular season (Wake Forest, at Virginia) or they will most likely need some work in the ACC tourney.  IN

Virginia Tech

17-11 (7-7); RPI 59; SOS 36

Let a great chance for a profile enhancing win slip through their fingers against Duke Saturday.  What a week that would have been after winning at Clemson Wednesday.

Now with remaining schedule (UNC, at FSU) the NIT is most likely on the way. 

Only positive note is they have a chance to notch maybe one more RPI changing wins, which is necessary as VT had no non-conference victories of note to go with a bad loss to Georgia. 

Needs two remaining games in regular season to be wins, or one and two ACC tourney wins.  OUT 


16-10 (6-8); RPI 45; SOS 11

Kept themselves in the picture with the victory over bubble team Boston College Saturday and win at Virginia. But 6-8 in conference play? Miami most likely needs to win out in ACC play (at GT, NC St.) and at least one ACC tourney win. Had nice early season win at Kentucky to go along with blowout of Wake Forest.  OUT 


BIG 12 (3)


19-9 (8-6); RPI 38; SOS 32

Texas who last Sunday looked extremely close to a lock has now made work tough for themselves. Texas lost at fellow bubble team Oklahoma St. after barely surviving at home against Texas Tech. With wins over Villanova, UCLA, Wisconsin, and a Griffin-less Oklahoma they are in pretty good shape. 

The 6-5 record versus the RPI top 50 also helps.  Texas would be best winning at home against Baylor before a trip to Kansas to end the season.  IN 

Texas A&M

20-8 (7-7); RPI 34; SOS 39

The RPI is getting better and better, with wins over LSU and Arizona.  A&M is now back to .500 winning four straight.  They had a couple good conference wins against Texas and Oklahoma St., but they need to get to at worst 8-8.

This seems possible, since they go to Colorado and then host Missouri in a big finale. Winning the last two would be best, if not a few meaningful Big 12 Tourney games will be needed.  IN.

Oklahoma St.

19-9 (8-6); RPI 31; SOS 13

Oklahoma St. got its biggest win of the season Saturday against Texas.  Still, you can’t really trust the computer numbers that this team holds as there is really no substance behind the numbers.  Their best two wins before Texas were Siena and Texas A&M, winning just 2-10 against the RPI top 50. 

Winning their last two would get them there (Kansas St., at Oklahoma).  If they can only get the Kansas St. win, they would need a couple good victories in the Big 12 conference tourney. IN.

Kansas St.

19-9 (8-6); RPI 73; SOS 91

Kansas St. helped themselves out Saturday night beating fellow conference bubble team Nebraska, and to now make it wins in nine of 11 games.  Kansas St. though, really did nothing in the non-conference. 

In conference, they have a couple impressive wins, Missouri, at Texas, and at Texas A&M. To be safe they would probably want to get to 10 wins (with games remaining at Oklahoma St. and Colorado left), and not lose in the first round in the Big 12 tournament. OUT.



West Virginia

20-9 (9-7); RPI 20; SOS 9

The record is starting to reflect the strong computer numbers. West Virginia played a strong non-conference game, routing Ohio St. on the road. They've done well in-conference as of late, blowing out Villanova before beating Notre Dame.

They're very close at this point but there chance to win at Cincinnati may hurt seeding in the long run. Win the game at home against DePaul and they are a lock.  IN.


18-11 (10-7); RPI 71; SOS 38

Providence completed the week they needed winning at Rutgers Sunday, after the huge win over RPI No. 1 Pittsburgh at home.  This gets them to ten Big East wins, but only two of those wins coming against the top six.  Providence can’t really stop there.

They need to most likely win at Villanova, and at least one in the Big East Tournament. If they don’t win at Villanova they will need to go deep in the Big East Tournament. They also have the season sweep of Cincinnati to fall back on.  IN.


17-11 (8-8); RPI 51; SOS 18

A week split of West Virginia and Syracuse would seem nice, but they really need both, and definitely not a blowout Sunday at Syracuse. Cincinnati which needed a good win as their earlier victory over UNLV found one Thursday night in beating West Virginia.  But the loss Sunday might have sealed their fate.  

Now they need their last two games (at South Florida, Seton Hall) and then get two good victories in the Big East tourney.  OUT.



15-12 (6-10); RPI 40; SOS 1

Just when you think you can rule them out they win a huge game at Villanova.  That being said they have a lot of work to do including getting the last two games (at St. John’s, DePaul).

They will get credit for playing a brutally tough schedule which includes good victories over Memphis, Syracuse, Maryland, and at Connecticut.

Most likely need to pick up two big name victories in Big East Tourney to be realistic.  OUT.

Notre Dame

15-12 (7-9); RPI 68; SOS 40

Notre played very well at Connecticut Saturday, but in the end at this point a loss is a loss. They need the results at this point. Notre Dame played a tough non-conference, but only picked up a win against Texas.

They had won four of their last five, including Louisville and at Providence. Finishing 9-9 will still probably do it, so they need to beat Villanova and St. John’s, and then go and get at least one to two good wins in the Big East Tournament. OUT.



17-10 (9-7); RPI 32; SOS 5

Wisconsin won the bubble battle it needed winning Sunday against Michigan. After missing a golden chance to win at Michigan St. last week, Wisconsin stayed hot, now winning six out of the last seven. 

A tough SOS featured a win at Virginia Tech and a home win over Illinois. Winning one more would make them safe with a home game left against Indiana, and a road game at Minnesota.  IN.


Ohio St.

18-9 (8-8); RPI 41; SOS 24

Talking about not making the statement you want to the NCAA committee.  Ohio St. did not show up at Purdue losing in a rout 75-50. They have now lost four of five in a very difficult stretch. 

Ohio St. played a very difficult non-conference schedule, which included wins at Miami, Notre Dame (neutral), and Butler.  Could they not get in with 9-9?, probably not.  To be safe they should get their last two games at Iowa and home to Northwestern.  IN.

Penn St.

20-8 (9-7); RPI 64; SOS 92

The game at home against Indiana was almost a Bubble killer for Penn St. who had to come from behind in the last two minutes. The RPI numbers will take a hit for this as well.  With nothing in the non-conference at all, they best keep winning in conference.  They have huge road wins in-conference against Michigan St. and Illinois. 

The two remaining games are winnable at Iowa and Illinois and Penn St. would be best to win both of those games.  IN.


17-12 (8-9); RPI 47; SOS 10

The up and down season for Michigan continues following up a big Purdue win with a tough loss Sunday at Wisconsin. Michigan may be an interesting case come selection time. Solid non-conference wins over Duke and UCLA (neutral), as well as a near miss at Connecticut. 

They are in hot water now, needing a couple more victories. A win at Minnesota seems necessary giving them a season sweep of the Gophers and a .500 record. Lose that game and they will need a deep run in the Big Ten Tournament.  OUT.


19-8 (8-8); RPI 37; SOS 47

A team that was close to a lock but has slipped as of late, Minnesota has lost eight out of 12 games, including a tough loss last night at Illinois. A huge win against Louisville (neutral) will help.

Now most likely needs two remaining games at home against bubble competitors Michigan and Wisconsin.  OUT.


PAC-10 (2)


21-8 (10-6); RPI 36; SOS 50

The disaster scenario for Cal is still a possibility losing at home against UCLA Saturday.  The only real reason Cal is not a lock just yet is the remaining schedule (at Arizona, at Arizona St). 

Have they done enough already?  Probably, but losing both and a first round Pac 10 tourney loss could be devastating.  Based on non-conference at UNLV and at Utah this should not be a problem.  Get one more win, or lose all three, but look OK doing so.  IN.


18-11 (8-8); RPI 49; SOS 33

Now is not the time to give up the hot streak, losing three straight to Arizona St, Washington (OK), and Washington St. (not so good). Winners of seven in a row before might all be forgotten if they lose the next two games as well.

Their out-of-conference work, winning against San Diego St., Kansas, and Gonzaga, will help as well.  Two more victories (Cal, Stanford),is necessary to secure a big at this point.  IN.


16-12 (7-9); RPI 57; SOS 14

It looks as if USC has played themselves off the bubble, losing six of their last seven.  The latest of those losses occurred at Stanford Saturday where they flat out didn’t show up in the second half.

Do they have time to right the ship?  That is tough to say, but it is a must winning the last two regular season games against the two Oregon schools. Their non-conference schedule, which included a loss to Seton Hall has nothing in it, so they would probably have to win two meaningful games in the Pac-10 Tourney.  OUT.

SEC (3)


18-10 (9-5); RPI 29; SOS 3

Tennessee got a good conference road win they were lacking in beating Florida on Sunday. The wins puts them in a first place tie for the SEC east. Tennessee has played one of the nation’s toughest non-conference schedules, picking up good wins against Siena (neutral), Georgetown (neutral), and Marquette (neutral). 

The only problem is there is no way a group this talented should lose five games in the down SEC. They most likely need only one more victory to secure a bid with a decent remaining schedule (at SC, Alabama).  IN.

South Carolina

20-7 (9-5); RPI 44; SOS 83

South Carolina heads back to the field a bit losing at Vanderbilt. Still, winners of eight of their last 11, SC has really put themselves in a good position in conference play.  Winning against Kentucky Wednesday gave them the season sweep and a heads up if they are compared for final bubble spots. 

They have a favorable schedule, with a chance to knock off Tennessee at home. If they the easier of the games remaining (at Georgia), and possibly an SEC tourney win, they'll be a lock.  IN.


21-8 (8-6); RPI 42; SOS 93

Are we watching a repeat of last year?  With the weak non-conference schedule (although they have a nice win against Washington) and the tough remaining schedule, we just might be. 

Losers of four of their last six now, with the loss at home to Tennessee, and the potential to lose the rest (at MSU, Kentucky), the Gators may be in trouble.

To secure a bid they would be best winning both of those games. Winning one and a meaningful SEC tourney victory would most likely do it as well.  IN.


19-10 (8-6); RPI 66; SOS 62

Worst case scenario this week for Kentucky getting blown out by South Carolina and losing a close game at home to LSU. That was also a season sweep by South Carolina which now has Kentucky losing six of their last nine.

With non-conference wins over West Virginia(neutral) and fellow bubbler Kansas St. (neutral), they played a decent schedule. They also have a sweep of Tennessee. Kentucky now has a remaining schedule (Georgia, at Fla.), which they will most likely need to sweep.  OUT.




24-5 (10-4); RPI 27; SOS 105

Dayton got the game it need at home against Temple Saturday holding on late.  They are now much closer to securing a bid in compared to earlier in the week after it had lost three of five including games at Charlotte, Saint Louis, and Rhode Island. 

With wins over George Mason, Xavier, and Marquette (neutral), they have a very solid profile. 

Dayton now most likely needs to get the win against Duquesne and not lose a bad game in the A-10 tourney.  They would lock up a big with a sweep of Xavier.  IN.

Rhode Island

22-8 (11-4); RPI 60; SOS 123

After a nice week with a win at Duquesne Sunday and Thursday’s surprising win in overtime over Dayton we should take a closer look at the Rams profile. Nothing screams NCAA team, but the team has a couple decent wins including Va. Commonwealth, Penn St., Temple and now Dayton. 

But it will most likely come down to the season that could have been losing at Duke, at Providence, and at Xavier by a total of six points. Best they can hope for is a share of A-10 regular season crown and then make the A-10 finals.  OUT.





21-6 (10-4); RPI 21; SOS 51

BYU went a long way to grabbing at least a share of second place in the Mountain West with a home win against Utah, and now being winners of seven of their last eight.  Also has really made their computer profile a lot stronger. 

BYU doesn't have much in the non-conference with a win against Utah St. (neutral) and near misses against Arizona St. and Wake Forest.  BYU has a sweep of San Diego St., but they've also been swept by UNLV. 

BYU would be best winning their last two games in conference (at Wyoming, Air Force).  IN.


20-8 (8-6); RPI 52; SOS 80

UNLV would most likely earn a bid with at worst a third-place tie in the MWC, with non-conference wins at Louisville and at home to Arizona. They've swept BYU, but they have lost some questionable games in-conference (at Colorado St., at TCU, at Wyoming). 

They probably can’t stand anymore losses in-conference (Air Force, at San Diego St.) after Wednesday’s loss at Utah.  Wouldn’t help making the Mountain West finals on their home court either.   IN.

New Mexico

19-10 (10-4); RPI 69; SOS 88

Are they really an at-large threat? Hard to say, really.  But they have to be in the discussion now, sharing second place with BYU and one game out of first place. Their only positive non-conference win was a blowout over Mississippi to go with questionable losses to UCF, Drake, and at Texas Tech. 

To get in real consideration, New Mexico will have to win out, which includes a game over Utah, and possibly a share of the regular season title.  OUT.

San Diego St.

17-8 (9-5); RPI 48; SOS 66

Avoided disaster by winning in overtime at TCU. They have a non-conference schedule littered with good losses but no top 100 RPI wins. Now losers of three of their last five, including a blowout loss at New Mexico, SDSU is fading fast.

They are making the early season wins against Utah and at UNLV seem like a distant memory. Their only chance for an at-large means winning out in-conference, and most likely the MWC Tournament finals.  OUT.


Note:  This assumes that Memphis(RPI 7), Butler(RPI 19), Siena(RPI 28), Utah St.(RPI 30), Gonzaga (RPI 35), Creighton (RPI 39), and Davidson (RPI 67) all win automatic bids.

St. Mary’s

22-5 (10-4); RPI 53; SOS 168

Won there last game of the regular season now there at-large chances really rest on whether or not Patrick Mills can come back, and if he is healthy.  Without Mills they lost four of eight, after going 16-1 with him. 

St. Mary's non-conference wins include San Diego St. and Providence They do have a huge win against Utah St., which shows they can win without Mills, but to be an at large team they need Mills back by WCC tourney time.  IN.

LAST FOUR IN (in order):  Penn St., St. Mary’s, Providence, Oklahoma St.

FIRST FOUR OUT (in order):  Kentucky, Cincinnati, Michigan, Minnesota

NEXT FOUR OUT:  Virginia Tech, Georgetown, Notre Dame, Miami

Thanks very much for reading. If you have any questions or concerns, I will be glad to chat back and forth. I will next update this article Wednesday, Mar. 4.


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