March Madness: Sorting Out the Bubble and the Top Leads Weekend Rewind
Does Anybody Want that Final No. 1 Seed?
The "power six" conference tournaments won't decide just the fate of many bubble teams, but also the final No. 1 seed to be doled out by the selection committee. Kansas and Kentucky are locks with wins over the weekend against Missouri and Florida.
Syracuse is virtually a lock even with its loss to Louisville over the weekend. The Orange would need to lose its quarterfinal matchup in the Big East Tournament and two of these three teams, Duke, Ohio State, and Kansas State, to win their conference tournaments for the 'Cuse to even have a chance to lose its one seed.
Duke and Kansas State didn't do themselves any favors with losses this week. The Blue Devils are still in a better position because the Wildcats couldn't close out a pretty terrible Iowa Sate team at home.
Two teams outside those top six can also make a run at a No. 1 seed with conference tournament victories. West Virginia knocked off Villanova in Philadelphia on Saturday giving the Mountaineers an impressive road victory to add to its resume. WVU could potentially jump all those teams if none win their conference tournaments and the Mountaineers become the kings of Madison Square Garden. Purdue is in a similar situation if it can win the Big 10 title. The Boilermakers would hold the likely tiebreaker between the two squads since Purdue knocked off West Virginia in the non-conference.
The Bubble Hasn't Shrunk Yet
There are a few teams out there that will make the NCAA Tournament, no matter what, from one-bid leagues. If those teams go down, the bubble is effectively smaller by one spot.
The teams that could shrink the bubble with a loss are Northern Iowa, Old Dominion, Butler, and maybe even Utah State. Gonzaga can be thrown in there as well because its debatable whether Saint Mary's deserves a spot in the field.
So far for the bubble's sake, things are going well. Northern Iowa won the Missouri Valley Conference on Sunday while Old Dominion, Butler, and Gonzaga are through to their conference finals.
The WAC Tournament hasn't started yet so Utah State which is a bubble team itself hasn't begun play yet.
The Bubble Picture is Getting Clearer
The bubble watch results will be placed into four categories: Practically in (just don't screw up in the conference tournament and hope the bubble doesn't dramatically shrink), on the fence (win a game or two in the conference tournament), need a deep conference tournament run, and win the whole conference tournament. In parenthesis will be each team's result from the weekend.
Practically In: Clemson (lost at Wake Forest, still safely in), Wake Forest (beat Clemson), Louisville (beat Syracuse), Florida State (beat Miami), Notre Dame (beat Marquette), Marquette (lost at home in overtime to Notre Dame), Virginia Tech (won at Georgia Tech), California (won at Stanford).
On The Fence: Florida (lost at Kentucky), Illinois (lost to Wisconsin), UAB (lost to UTEP on Derrick Caracter dunk with less than a second left), Mississippi (won at Arkansas), Georgia Tech (lost at home to Virginia Tech), Arizona State (beat UCLA), Washington (won at Oregon State), San Diego State (won at Air Force).
Make a Deep Run: Mississippi State (lost to Tennessee by 16), South Florida (beat UConn), UConn (lost at South Florida), Memphis (beat up Tulsa), Seton Hall (won at Providence), Dayton (lost at home to Saint Louis), Utah State (won at New Mexico State).
Must Win it All: Cincinnati (blown to pieces by Georgetown), Rhode Island (embarrassing loss to Massachusetts), Saint Louis (won at Dayton).
Your Tickets Are Punched (or almost punched).
Ivy League: Cornell
The Big Red won its third consecutive Ivy League crown after trouncing Brown on the road in a game Cornell drilled 20 of 30 three pointers. Good luck to the five or six seed that draws Steve Donahue's club.
Atlantic Sun: East Tennessee State
The Atlantic Sun Tournament was about as unpredictable as you can get. Only one of the top four seeds made the semifinals and fifth seeded ETSU played sixth seed Mercer in the final. The Buccaneers are likely headed to the 16 seed line.
Big South: Winthrop
Coastal Carolina dominated the Big South, racking up 15 league victories and 28 overall, but all the Chanticleers have to show for it is an NIT bid because Winthrop walked into Coastal Carolina's gym and whooped them for the league title.
Missouri Valley: Northern Iowa
The Panthers have been the best team in the MVC all season and showed it in the conference tournament. UNI repeatedly shut teams down for seven minute or longer stretches which was the difference in each tournament game.
Ohio Valley: Murray State
The Racers didn't lose an Ohio Valley game until their 17th league game of the season. Murray State got revenge against that one team that beat them, Morehead State, with a decisive victory.
Conference Finals that are set:
Colonial Athletic Association: After knocking off Virgina Commonwealth in overtime, Old Dominion will face William & Mary who narrowly beat Northeastern in a game neither team scored 50 points.
Horizon: Butler can help out the bubble by not losing the Horizon League Championship Tuesday night against Wright State.
MAAC: Siena and Fairfield both needed second half comebacks to reach the MAAC title game, but the top two seeds are there in tact and will tip-off in Albany Monday night for the league's automatic bid.
Northeast: For Robert Morris to win the Northeast Conference, the Colonials will need to pull the first upset of the tournament to knock off the one-seeded Quinnipiac Bobcats.
Patriot: The two Lehigh Valley schools in the Patriot League will fight for the league's crown Friday afternoon. Lehigh trounced American and Lafayette barely sneaked past Holy Cross. The two schools split the season series and are located a mere 14.9 miles a part.
Southern: Wofford , the league favorite, is through to the final after two double-digit wins. Appalachain State wins the other half of the bracket to meet Wofford in the final.
One-Liner of the Week:
Standing ovation to Duke for still bringing it for College GameDay despite North Carolina's awful season. First, the Blue Devils brought in the man Roy Williams infamously tossed from a UNC-Presbyterian game for "heckling" Deon Thompson. The Presbyterian fan sat front row in the student section and could be heard yelling "don't miss it Deon."
Second, perhaps the best sign of the year: a Duke fan brought a sign that said, "To Donate to the UNC Disaster Relief Fund, text "90999."
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