Cameras flick the red lights on across the nation Sunday, capturing the unbridled, rarely matched emotion of Selection Sunday.
It's the time of year again where bubbles burst and teams head to the NIT, others swell and morph into darlings, Cinderellas, bracket-busters or whatever labels folks want to slap them with as they take on higher seeds and help give the madness its name.
Speaking of the madness, it begins with Selection Sunday. Once concluded, folks can get to filling out brackets and entering in the great debate about what is sure to be a controversial day with so many conference upsets skewing the outlook.
2016 NCAA Tournament Schedule
|March 15, 16||First Four||UD Arena (Dayton, Ohio)|
|March 17, 19||First/Second Rounds||Dunkin Donuts Center (Providence, R.I.); Wells Fargo Arena (Des Moines, Iowa); PNC Arena (Raleigh, N.C.); Pepsi Center (Denver)|
|March 18, 20||First/Second Rounds||Barclays Center (Brooklyn, N.Y.); Scottrade Center (St. Louis); Chesapeake Energy Arena (Oklahoma City); Spokane Arena (Spokane, Wash.)|
|March 24, 26||West Regional (Sweet 16, Elite Eight)||Honda Center (Anaheim, Calif.)|
|March 24, 26||South Regional (Sweet 16, Elite Eight)||KFC Yum! Center (Louisville, Ky.)|
|March 25, 27||Midwest Regional (Sweet 16, Elite Eight)||United Center (Chicago)|
|March 25, 27||East Regional (Sweet 16, Elite Eight)||Wells Fargo Center (Philadelphia)|
|April 2||Final Four (Semifinals)||NRG Stadium (Houston)|
|April 4||Championship Game||NRG Stadium (Houston)|
Bracket Release TV Schedule
When: Sunday, March 13 at 5:30 p.m. ET
Notable Bubble Teams
LSU stands as one of the more interesting teams on the bubble.
Why? Some would argue the Tigers don't even belong in the bubble conversation, but they only reside there in the minds of most because of surefire NBA lottery pick Ben Simmons.
There are more than a few ways to the bubble, though, and LSU's numbers seem like bubble material. The Tigers rank 90th in ESPN's RPI rankings and have an 84th strength of schedule. Not only did they take down two teams in the top 20 RPI (headlined by a blowout of Kentucky), they totaled a 7-7 mark against the RPI top 100.
Simmons, as expected, leads the Tigers with 19.4 points, 11.8 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game, but all five starters average double-digit point totals.
While inconsistent, LSU hails from the SEC and has serious star power that has propelled the Tigers to some shocking upsets. The blame falls on the coaching staff, but the selection committee will look long and hard at whether it's worth tossing in Simmons in what is likely a goodbye tour.
No matter what happens with LSU, controversy will flow.
Good luck figuring out what the selection committee does with a team like the Wichita State Shockers.
Tied for 48th RPI with a 23-8 record and a 4-7 mark against the RPI top 100, the Shockers out of the MVC have some serious mid-conference competition in the form of Valparaiso, Monmouth and more.
Whereas LSU is a test to see just how much the selection committee cares about star power, the Shockers seem like a case for advanced analytics. They have a rather huge RPI ranking and over at KenPom.com they rank near the top of the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency. They're blowing out teams when they win and losing by small margins.
USA Today's Nicole Auerbach summed up the situation well:
Oh, to be a fly on the selection committee's wall on Sunday. Would love to hear Wichita State, Monmouth and Valpo discussions.— Nicole Auerbach (@NicoleAuerbach) March 8, 2016
The Big Dance could certainly use a dash of Ron Baker (14.2 points per game) and Fred VanVleet (12), but the Shockers took a 57-52 overtime loss to Northern Iowa March 5 and anything automatic went right out the window that night.
It sounds dramatic, and maybe it is, but whether Wichita State gets in on the backbone of advanced numbers will set quite the interesting precedent for the future.
Regardless of the bracket they land in the Shockers will put on a show. The where should draw quite a lot of attention for more than the obvious reasons, though.
Michigan is yet another head-scratching team.
The Wolverines find themselves 55th in RPI with a 54th strength of schedule. A 4-11 mark against the RPI top 100 looks terrible, but the team still mustered more than 20 wins and took down four teams in the RPI top 30, including two in the top 15 (Maryland and Purdue).
Quite the puzzle, right? ESPN's Joe Lunardi still has the Wolverines sitting on the outside looking in, though ESPN Stats & Info provided a different perspective:
Michigan's still among Joe Lunardi's First 4 Out, but their Strength of Record has them as a tournament team. pic.twitter.com/n9DmZh6IPj— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 12, 2016
Like most of the teams on the bubble, the Wolverines would put on quite a show if they go dancing.
Zak Irvin would scream entertainment. He's averaging 11.8 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game while knocking down 31 percent of his shots from deep. His pick-and-roll jumper seems unguardable, though it would be nice if Caris LeVert hadn't suffered his injury.
Alas, the Wolverines are the total package with enough surprising firepower to make some noise if they slip into the bracket. The recent upset of then-No. 10 Indiana says it all, as Irvin poured in a team-high 17 points and Derrick Walton Jr. dished 12 assists.
Powering through adversity and a roller coaster of a season, the Wolverines look like the perfect example of a debatable bubble team, one capable of swinging in either direction and pleasing no one.