NCAA Tournament 2021: Bubble Teams That Will Miss Out on March Madness

Maurice Bobb@@ReeseReportFeatured ColumnistMarch 14, 2021

Wichita State guard Alterique Gilbert (3) shoots over Cincinnati center Chris Vogt (33) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the semifinal round of the American Athletic Conference men's tournament Saturday, March 13, 2021, in Fort Worth, Texas. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)
Ron Jenkins/Associated Press

Selection Sunday might as well be a national holiday for college basketball fans.

For a Division I men's basketball team, there's nothing quite like making the field of 68 for the NCAA tournament.

But it's not a happy occasion for everyone. There are teams that have to sweat it out because they're squarely on the bubble.

Some bubble teams make it in, while others have to take their ball and go to the NIT. That's just the way the ball bounces.

Ultimately, who goes dancing and who doesn't is up to the selection committee's overall assessment of their season, but here are a couple of bubble teams that will likely find themselves on the outside looking in.


Bubble Teams That Will Miss Out

Wichita State

College basketball is a make-or-miss sport, but for Wichita State guard Alterique Gilbert, there's one miss in particular that will likely haunt him more than any of the others.

With eight seconds left in the American Athletic Conference tournament semifinal against Cincinnati, Gilbert got the ball on a pass from Morris Udeze and launched a potential game-tying three-pointer that hit the front of the rim and was in and out.

That 60-59 loss not only ended their run for the AAC tournament championship, it may have also thwarted their bid for the NCAA tournament.

Ron Jenkins/Associated Press

Sure, the Shockers (16-5, 11-2 American Athletic) did win a regular-season AAC championship, but their resume isn't as impressive now that they've fallen to the Bearcats.

They do have one impressive win over Houston, but they only have two wins in Quadrant 1 and Quadrant 2-A games. Syracuse, in comparison, has five.

As of now, Wichita State should jump on the Cougars bandwagon, because if Cincinnati beats Houston, WSU is almost assuredly out.


Colorado State

When a bubble team misses the mark for March Madness, there's always a signature loss that team can look back on that put the virtual nail in the coffin.

For Colorado State (18-6, 14-4 Mountain West), that dud could be their 62-50 loss to Utah State in the Mountain West tournament semifinals.

The Rams shot a woeful 25.4 percent from the field and 15.8 percent from three on the night. They were also outrebounded 50-43.

John Locher/Associated Press

More than that, they couldn't contend with Neemias Queta. The Aggies' junior center finished with 18 points, 14 rebounds and nine blocks.

Add that loss to the fact that Colorado State has limited nonconference play and the NCAA case for this team starts to really fall apart.

"I believe that we are [an NCAA tournament team], but obviously that's not my decision," Colorado State coach Niko Medved told Kevin Lytle of the Fort Collins Coloradoan. "We're going to have to play the waiting game here but this team has had an unbelievable season. They're unbelievable guys, they battled like crazy."

CSU and USU are both on the bubble, so if the committee is forced to choose between these two teams, the Rams will likely get the boot and the Aggies will be dancing.


Saint Louis

Saint Louis is a prime example of why quality is more important than quantity.

While the Billikens (14-6, 6-4 Atlantic 10) have a decent record overall, they lack the quality wins that build the kind of resume that leaves no doubt for the selection committee.

Their two best wins were over LSU and St. Bonaventure, but their two worst losses were against Dayton and La Salle.

Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

If it weren't for the back-to-back losses to the Flyers and Explorers, Saint Louis might be sitting pretty.

The Billikens might want to root for the Bonnies to beat VCU in the Atlantic 10 final. That way, their win over them would register more weight with the committee.

As it stands, they'll have to sit back and wait to see if their name is called. They probably shouldn't hold their breath, though.