March Madness Bubble Report: March 7

Jared HebbCorrespondent IMarch 8, 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 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, Texas, West Virginia, Tennessee, BYU, California, Cornell*, Radford, Morehead St., East Tennessee St.


Now, the teams with asterisks are the conference leaders and assumed to be conference champions come tournament time. The 20 teams in bold are teams that will eat into the at-large pool of 34 bids.


So that leaves us with 14 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...


Update:  West Virginia, Tennessee, BYU, and California all got promoted to the Lock position this week after winning meaningful games. 


A number of teams have been dropped from bubble considerations.  Cincinnati and Notre Dame left the discussions after recent slides have cost them.  Kentucky also left with a horrible week and losing four straight.


Also, a number of teams are barely hanging on.  The ACC bubble picture is now a mess with all teams taking a bad loss this week.  The ACC tournament will most likely straighten things out a lot.


The Big Ten now has eight teams.  Not that the conference is better than, say, the ACC or Big East, but their middle of the pack is playing better right now.


As well, with conference tournaments going on right now we have our first possible bubble spot stolen with Creighton being manhandled by Illinois St. Saturday.


Also, a few teams are on the periphery right now.  Those teams are Northwestern 17-11 (8-9) RPI 70, Auburn 20-10 (10-6) RPI 72, and Temple 19-11 (11-5) RPI 41. They need a lot more work though, and will be discussed further if they stay on track.


Also congratulations to Cornell, East Tennessee St., Morehead St., and Radford for winning their conference tournaments/regular season crown (in Cornell’s case).



ACC (1)


Boston College

21-10 (9-7); RPI 58; SOS 55


Avoided a late-season disaster by winning by one against Georgia Tech after losing at North Carolina St. Wednesday night.  What was once a very safe bet with marquee wins at UNC and at home to Duke, BC is still in a bit of trouble.


Has nice wins over fellow bubblers Florida St., Providence and UAB to overshadow bad loss at home to Harvard (RPI 277!).  BC would be best to win its first round ACC tournament game.  IN



Virginia Tech

17-12 (7-8); RPI 62; SOS 28


Let a great chance for a profile enhancing win slip through their fingers against both UNC and Duke. Only positive note is they have one more chance to notch an RPI changing win, which is necessary as VT had no non-conference victories of note to go with a bad loss to Georgia. 


Needs to win a Florida St. and then make some noise in the ACC tourney.  Close losses could come into play if Virginia Tech can win a good game.  OUT 




18-12 (7-9); RPI 56; SOS 14


Maryland most likely sealed their fate losing at Virginia Saturday.  Also missed a big chance Wednesday in a close one at home to Wake Forest.  Maryland did beat UNC last week, but the Terrapins probably need one more quality win.


Non-conference victories over Michigan St. and Michigan can probably overshadow earlier blowouts and Morgan St. loss.  Looking now like Maryland needs at least two victories in the ACC tourney, if not getting to the finals.  OUT




17-11 (7-9); RPI 51; SOS 22


Miami sealed their fate most likely losing to Georgia Tech on the road on Wednesday night.   Now needs to make ACC tournament finals.  Had nice early season win at Kentucky to go along with blowout of Wake Forest.  OUT 



BIG 12 (2)


Texas A&M

22-8 (9-7); RPI 33; SOS 49


A&M got the win they needed Saturday at home against Missouri.  The RPI is getting better, with wins over LSU and Arizona.  A&M is finished 9-7 in conference and have won six straight.  They have a couple good conference wins against Texas and Oklahoma St.


To be completely sure, though, the Aggies should probably win their Big 12 first round game.  IN.



Oklahoma St.

20-10 (9-7); RPI 28; SOS 12


Oklahoma St. looked much like an NCAA tournament team by giving Oklahoma all it could handle on the road.  That snapped their six game winning streak. 


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 2-11 against the RPI top 50, and now 0-6 versus the RPI top 25.


Although the Oklahoma game would have helped a lot you can’t really fault them for a loss.  Probably need one more solid win to enhance their resume. IN.



Kansas State

20-10 (9-7); RPI 77; SOS 89


Kansas St. put themselves over .500 in league play handling Colorado Saturday.  The Wildcats really hurt their chances at Oklahoma St. Tuesday by losing in what could be made out to have been an elimination game. 


Kansas St. has now won 10 of their last 13 games though, which doesn’t make up for doing nothing good in the non-conference. 


In conference, they have a couple impressive wins, Missouri, at Texas, and at Texas A&M. Kansas St. most likely needs a deep run in the Big 12 tournament.  OUT.






18-12 (10-8); RPI 68; SOS 41


Providence missed a big statement victory losing at Villanova Thursday night.  Providence does have the huge win over RPI No. 1 Pittsburgh at home.  This got them to 10 Big East wins, but only two of those wins coming against the top six.  Providence can’t really stop there.


The season sweep of Cincinnati is looking like less and less of an accomplishment, so the Friars most likely need two to three wins in the Big East tournament.  OUT.







17-11 (9-8); RPI 30; SOS 5


Wisconsin missed its chance on locking up a bid at Minnesota Wednesday, letting a late lead go to the Gophers.  This came after Wisconsin won a bubble battle it needed winning Sunday against Michigan. Wisconsin has been hot as of late, winning six out of the last eight to get them back in contention. 


A tough SOS featured a win at Virginia Tech and a home win over Illinois. Winning the final regular season home game against Indiana should be good enough, but to be safe a win in the Big Ten Tournament would help.  IN.




Ohio St.

19-9 (9-8); RPI 39; SOS 31


Ohio St. sweated out a win at Iowa to help their case.  That following up a very weak showing against Purdue where they got routed 75-50. They have now lost four of six so they are sliding backwards into the tournament.


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 win their home regular season final to Northwestern.  IN.





18-12 (9-9); RPI 45; SOS 9


Saturday’s win over Minnesota was huge for the Wolverines for a number of reasons.  First sweeping Minnesota and getting to .500 in the conference.  Also, it gave them the key road win that Michigan’s resume had been lacking.  


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. 


Michigan most likely needs one more victory coming in the Big Ten tournament.  IN.




Penn St.

21-9 (10-8); RPI 59; SOS 79


Penn St. got the win it needed at home against Illinois, but then gave up any ground it made by losing in double OT at Iowa.  By beating Illinois, they swept that series and secured ten Big Ten victories. Penn St. played a terrible non-conference schedule as well.  They have huge road wins in-conference against Michigan St. and Illinois. 


Penn St. will be a tough case for the committee.  Win two Big Ten tournament games and there will be no doubt.  IN.





20-9 (9-9); RPI 32; SOS 40


Minnesota split the week it really needed to sweep by beating Wisconsin, then losing at home to Michigan Saturday.  A team that was close to a lock but has slipped as of late, Minnesota had lost nine out of 14 games. A huge win against Louisville (neutral) will help.


Being swept by Michigan means they are most likely behind the Wolverines in the standings, and probably need two Big Ten tournament wins.  IN.




PAC-10 (1)



19-12 (9-9); RPI 57; SOS 33


Arizona got half of what they needed, losing at home to Cal, before beating Stanford soundly.  The Wildcats had lost four straight before the win against Stanford. Winners of seven in a row the losing streak as well.


Their out-of-conference work, winning against San Diego St., Kansas, and Gonzaga, will help as well.  Arizona is close, but would be best off winning a meaningful Pac-10 Tournament game.  IN.





18-12 (9-9); RPI 60; SOS 24


USC did what it needed to do sweeping the two Oregon schools at home.  But it still looks as if USC has played themselves off the bubble, losing six of their seven prior to this week.  The latest of those losses occurred at Stanford last Saturday where they flat out didn’t show up in the second half.


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 (1)


South Carolina

21-8 (10-6); RPI 47; SOS 84


South Carolina has not looked really sharp this past week, losing to Vanderbilt (away), Tennessee (home) and needing a great second half against Georgia to win.  Also, how can a team with NO top 50 RPI wins be even in the discussion?  Not many great teams on the bubble this year. 


Now must do a little work in the SEC Tourney, most likely needing one-two wins and one being against a decent opponent (LSU, Tennessee, Florida).  IN.





22-9 (9-7); RPI 53; SOS 91


Florida got the win it needed Saturday beating Kentucky at home.  But are we watching a repeat of last year?  With the weak non-conference schedule (although they have a nice win against Washington) and losing of five of their last eight down the stretch we just might be.  The Gators are officially in trouble.


To secure a bid with this recent slide, Florida most likely has to make at least the SEC tournament semifinals or even finals.  OUT.







25-6 (11-5); RPI 25; SOS 95


A split what probably what was to be expected out of Dayton, losing at Xavier, then rebounding to beat a good Duquesne team. 


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


Dayton now most likely needs just one win the A-10 tourney to secure a bid to the big dance.  IN.




Rhode Island

22-9 (11-6); RPI 46; SOS 117


Rhode Island most likely killed it’s at large chances with a loss at home to Massachusetts.  The loss kept the Rams from sharing the regular season title as well.  Nothing screams NCAA team, but the team has a couple decent wins including Va. Commonwealth, Penn St., Temple and 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 to make the A-10 finals.  OUT.






New Mexico

21-10 (12-4); RPI 65; SOS 80


New Mexico is one of the hottest teams around winners of eight of nine including Saturday’s win at Wyoming.  That win gives them a share of the highly competitive Mountain West.  Their only positive non-conference win was a blowout over Mississippi to go with questionable losses to UCF, Drake, and at Texas Tech. 


The Lobos share the Mountain West lead, but will most likely have to make the tournament finals to overcome the lack of out of conference heft.  IN.




San Diego St.

19-8 (11-5); RPI 44; SOS 73


San Diego St.took care of business against UNLV Saturday to be slotted in fourth in the strong Mountain West. They have a non-conference schedule littered with good losses but no top 100 RPI wins. The blowout loss at New Mexico is probably going to hurt the Aztecs come selection Sunday.


The Aztecs have a lot more work to do, most likely needed the Mountain West finals, and picking up solid victories along the way.  Anything short of that is probably not enough.  OUT.





21-9 (9-7); RPI 50; SOS 87


UNLV lost the key game of the season for them going down at San Diego St. Saturday night.  The loss was the third in five games, and assured of a fifth place finish in the Mountain West.


They do have nice non-conference wins at Louisville and at home to Arizona to fall back on. They've also swept BYU, but they have lost some questionable games in-conference (at Colorado St., at TCU, at Wyoming). 


UNLV’s big names wins will keep them in the hunt, but they dare not lose an early game in the Mountain West tournament which is on their home court.   OUT.






Note:  This assumes that Memphis (RPI 8), Butler (RPI 18), Siena (RPI 29), Utah St. (RPI 32), Gonzaga (RPI 36), and Davidson (RPI 68) all win automatic bids.




St. Mary’s

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


Won their last game of the regular season; now their 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.





26-7 (14-4); RPI 38, SOS 110


Creighton left the last impression it wanted Saturday getting blown out by Illinois St.  That comes on the heels of a close game to MVC seventh seed Wichita St. 


Creighton does not have much to fall back on.  They had a couple nice non-conference wins against New Mexico and Dayton.  They had also been winners of 11 straight before the routing Saturday.  Will be sweating it up for the next week, but with the lack of bubble teams rising they should be in, barely.  IN




LAST FOUR IN (in order):  South Carolina, Minnesota, Arizona, New Mexico

FIRST FOUR OUT (in order):  San Diego St., Providence, Virginia Tech, Maryland




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 Monday, March 9.


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