It is Thursday, March 14th. Selection Sunday is March 17th.
Players for Wofford, St Mary’s, Northeastern, Murray St, Liberty, Northern Kentucky, Bradley, North Dakota St, Fairleigh Dickinson, Iona, Gardner-Webb, or Colgate can relax. These 12 squads have already punched their tickets to the dance.
I also reckon that an additional 35 teams toward the top are safe. The Dukes, Michigans, and Gonzagas of the world do not have to sweat the conference tournaments as they are virtually assured of an at large bid should they stumble.
By my count, 187 teams have already been eliminated from their conference tournaments with absolutely no shot to be selected for an at large berth. Over half of the teams in Division I fit this description.
Many other teams are in the “need to win the conference tourney to get in” category. I count that number to be 98. Most of the teams still playing fit this description. The thrill of the conference tournaments is that each year a few of these teams with their backs against the wall defy the odds, run the table, and grab that auto bid.
With 47 teams safe and 284 without realistic chances for an at large bid, only 19 true bubble teams remain. Remember, bubble teams are those who are vying for an at large bid. Some of these squads are still playing and can improve their resume. Others have been bounced and must nervously await that drawn out TV special on Sunday.
I am going to quickly break down the chances that we see each of these 19 teams dancing next week. Remember, the RPI is dead. The NCAA now uses NET ranking in their selection process. It seems appropriate that I sort the 19 bubble teams by their NET ranking. Here goes!
- Utah State (30th)
A weak resume was beefed up immensely when the Aggies beat conference foe Nevada at the beginning of the month. 25-6 is a great record. That record will be put on the line when the MWC 2-seed Aggies play 7-seed New Mexico (14-17, 7-11). An early loss in a small-conference tournament would significantly hurt Utah St’s hopes of grabbing an at large bid. The Aggies are in if they win twice.
- Florida (33rd)
Since my first bracket predictions of the year, I’ve bounced Florida around in the 11-12 seed neighborhood. Wins against LSU and Ole Miss look good on the resume, but Florida has been incapable of igniting a long winning streak this season. They have Arkansas (17-14, 8-10) tonight in the SEC tourney. The Gators need to take care of business. Win tonight and Florida is in.
- Ole Miss (35th)
The Rebels play Alabama tonight in the SEC tourney. Kentucky awaits the winner of that game, so I wouldn’t expect more than one win from Ole Miss. At 20-11 overall and 10-8 in conference, I give Ole Miss a leg up on Florida despite the fact the Gators won head-to-head. If Ole Miss wins tonight, they are definitely in. They could probably even sneak in without a win tonight, but they’d be at risk of falling into the First Four.
- Clemson (36th)
Blowing an 18-point lead and losing to NCST yesterday doomed Clemson. The Tigers are out.
- Baylor (37th)
I really like Baylor. I predict them to wind up in the field. The Bears are 19-12 overall, 10-8 in conference, and boast wins against Iowa St (2x) and Texas Tech. Baylor goes for the three-game sweep of the Cyclones this afternoon. Given how hard it is to beat a team three times in a row, I would not be surprised if Baylor made the field despite a loss today.
- Texas (38th)
At 16-15 overall and 8-10 in Big 12 play, Texas needs to make some noise this weekend. The Longhorns have Kansas up first. Without a big win here, Texas can forget their NCAA tourney hopes.
- Oklahoma (39th)
The Sooners are a notch below their rivals to the south. Losing to WVU yesterday ended their hopes of dancing.
- Furman (41st)
I do not see Furman getting in, either.
- Iowa (42nd)
I wrote about the Hawkeyes a couple of days ago. I wouldn’t hold my breath if I was an Iowa fan.
- Belmont (46th)
The OVC finale was fantastic! The Bruins played their guts out but came up short against Ja Morant and the Racers of Murray St. Belmont’s best wins are against the other Bruins of UCLA, a 2-game sweep of Lipscomb, and a regular season win against Murray St. Belmont could not repeat when it mattered, however, and will likely fall just short because of it.
- TCU (47th)
TCU plays the Big 12 1-seed Kansas St this afternoon. With a 7-11 conference record, TCU can forget about the dance if they do not grab a big win here.
- Memphis (53rd)
The Tigers play Tulane today in the AAC tourney. This squad needs a few wins if they want to dance. Memphis is clearly the 5th best team in the conference. They could not manage to beat Houston, Cincy, or UCF. I do not see the Tigers getting a nod from the committee.
- Creighton (54th)
My namesake … sorry boys. No March Madness for you.
- Minnesota (56th)
Minnesota stumbled down the home stretch. In February and March, the Gophers’ record was 3-7. By this fact alone, Minnesota will not be dancing unless they win at least 3 B10 tourney games.
- Alabama (58th)
An 8-10 conference record is no way to impress the selection committee. Their NET ranking is also on the low side. I thought this team was destined for March Madness, but I was probably wrong.
- Toledo (60th)
The MAC is a one-bid league this year. That bid is going to Buffalo.
- Seton Hall (62nd)
The Pirates are in. Seton Hall defeated two ranked teams, Marquette and Villanova, in the final week of the regular season. An amazing push from team that also boasts Kentucky and Maryland on its resume.
- St John’s (66th)
Losing 3 straight to end the regular season was not good for the Red Storm’s hopes of dancing. They beat DePaul in their third try, however, which is a good start to the Big East tourney. SJU has wins against VCU, Marquette (2x), Villanova, and Seton Hall. They are still a tad iffy, but I say the Red Storm get in even if they lose to Marquette tonight.
- Davidson (68th)
The Wildcats finished 2nd in the A-10 thanks to a 3-0 March. Davidson is getting hot at the right time. They await the winner of Duquesne and St Joseph’s on Friday. A win would likely match them up with either St Louis or Dayton on Saturday. Davidson needs a couple of wins if they want to feel safe on Selection Sunday.
These are my thoughts and predictions. I’m so excited to see it all play out. These next 3 weeks are what college basketball fans live for! See you on top, boppers!
Kreighton loves sports, math, writing, and winning — he combines all of them as a writer for WagerBop. His favorite sports to review and bet are MLB, NFL, NBA, NCAAF, and NCAABB.