The conference tournament is working wonders for a lot of bubble teams. In fact, the probability of predicting the right last four in, or last four out, has given headaches to most.
Yesterday, I witnessed Illinois let some air out of their bubble with the win over Wisconsin. Soon after, Minnesota upset No. 11 Michigan State in an overtime thriller.
On top of that, you have Virginia Tech, Florida, and Washington all making strong stances on their tournament resume—each team could likely be the last four in, or replace some of the higher seeds in the tournament.
Not to mention teams like Vermont and Houston, along with other one-bid leagues, tickets are being punched. Shortening the NCAA tournament field and putting pressure on the selection committee when Selection Sunday comes around.
Each of these teams has a similar or better tournament resume than Louisville this year.
Sounds like bad news to me if you are a Louisville fan. After beating then No. 1 Syracuse, the Cardinals only needed to at least make a run in the Big East tournament to ensure a spot in the NCAA Tournament. But all seemed bad for the Cardinals after witnessing its conference tournament hopes go down the drain to the Bearcats.
With Louisville losing in the conference tournament to Cincinnati, the bubble started bursting for many teams. There are so many teams that have not even been mentioned that could take spots of most of the higher seeds in the tournament.
Louisville only has the two wins over RPI’s top 25 teams, and, if it was expanded, you could add just one more team in Notre Dame. Outside the conference, the Cardinals have the two qualified wins over Morgan State and Appalachian State, while only defeating one tournament team in E. Tennessee State—all with RPI ratings outside 100.
Hopefully their Big East record (11-8) could possibly wow the selection committee.
Louisville has the conference wins over St. Johns, Cincinnati, Connecticut (twice), Rutgers, Syracuse (twice), Notre Dame, and DePaul. Only Syracuse and Notre Dame are locks in the NCAA Tournament, meaning that the Cardinals are heavily leaning on their huge season sweep of Big East-leading Syracuse.
If you are a Cardinals fan you should be going against those bubble teams. Each team on the bubble has more than two impressive wins over quality opponents.
The thought of keeping Louisville out of the NCAA tournament may sounds silly to some, but it can occur. However, the Cardinals RPI rating is inside 50, and their strength of schedule ranks sixth in the nation, due to the fact that the Cardinals capped the regular season with a record of 20-12, along with an 11-8 conference record.
To sum it all up, Louisville is not a lock to make the tournament. With the bubble being so weak this year, the Cardinals are able to make the tournament with those two great wins over Syracuse.
Although they're not completely safe, the possibility of them not making the tournament is unlikely. With these bubble teams playing above expectations in their respective conference tournaments, at the worst Louisville could battle for seeding position.
This decision will definitely go down to the wire. Watch the selection Sunday, March 14 at 7:00.
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