|THE WEEKLY DISH: FINAL STRETCH RUN FOR BUBBLE TEAMS
March 9, 2011
Mike, SCS.com Staff Writer
Selection Sunday is less than a week away and schools are making their final stretch run to reach the NCAA Tournament. The Dish currently has 59 schools that can be considered solidly in leaving only nine spots for bubble teams. The 31 teams currently leading the 31 conferences are presumed conference champions and 28 other schools are considered solidly in. In this installment of the Weekly Dish, the Dish will not only look at who is on the bubble, but what is needed for each bubble team to reach the NCAA Tournament. For every team that is not on the bubble or not considered in that happens to win its conference championship, one bubble spot will be lost. Here it is; the final Weekly Dish before the NCAA Tournament.
ACC: Maryland has fallen off of the bubble.
Teams Solidly In: NORTH CAROLINA, Duke, Florida State
Bubble Teams Currently In: Virginia Tech (19-10, 9-7 ACC, RPI 37)
Bubble Teams Currently Out: Clemson (20-10, 9-7 ACC, RPI 33), Boston College (19-11, 9-7 ACC, RPI 61)
How to get in: Clemson has a first round bye in the ACC Tournament; neither Boston College or Virginia Tech can afford to lose in the first round of the conference tournament. Should Virginia Tech beat Georgia Tech in the first round, it could be enough to secure a spot, but a follow-up win over Florida State would lock up that spot. If Boston College, as it should, beats Wake Forest, the Eagles would match up with Clemson in what could be a NCAA play-in game. Boston College is currently the first team out. If the winner of that contest advances past the semis, it would definitely mean a trip to the NCAA Tournament.
Big Ten: Minnesota has fallen off of the bubble.
Teams Solidly In: OHIO STATE, Purdue, Wisconsin, Illinois
Bubble Teams Currently In: Michigan (19-12, 9-9 Big Ten, RPI 45), Michigan State (17-13, 9-9 Big Ten, RPI 43)
Bubble Teams Currently Out: Penn State (16-13, 9-9 Big Ten, RPI 53)
How to get in: Michigan State has played the toughest schedule in the nation and may need only to beat Iowa in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament to reach the field of 68. Any advancement past the first round would lock up a bid for the Spartans. Michigan is very close to reaching the field. A win over Illinois would definitely secure a spot for the Wolverines, but even with a loss, Michigan may be okay. Penn State should be able to beat Indiana, but it will likely have to win three games and reach the final of the Big Ten Tournament to go dancing.
Teams Solidly In: KANSAS, Texas, Texas A&M, Kansas State, Missouri
Bubble Teams Currently In: Colorado (19-12, 8-8 Big XII, RPI 59),
Bubble Teams Currently Out: Baylor (18-12, 7-9 Big XII, RPI 67), Nebraska (19-11, 7-9 Big XII, RPI 44)
How to get in: Neither of the three schools will be in the field of 68 should they lose in the first round of the conference tournament. Beating Iowa State in the first round and having other bubble teams lose could be enough for Colorado. If Colorado were able to beat Kansas State in the quarterfinals, it would most definitely find itself in the NCAA Tournament. As of now, Colorado is the last team in. Baylor probably has to beat Oklahoma and Texas to find itself in the big dance. Nebraska will have to beat a pesky Oklahoma State team in the first round and then knock off Kansas to even garner NCAA consideration. If other bubble schools do well in the early rounds of their tournaments, the Cornhuskers may have to reach the championship round of the Big XII Tournament.
Big East: Marquette drops from solidly in to the bubble.
Teams Solidly In: PITTSBURGH, Notre Dame, Louisville, Syracuse, St. Johnís, Cincinnati, West Virginia, Georgetown, Connecticut, Villanova
Bubble Teams Currently In: Marquette (18-13, 9-9 Big East, RPI 34)
Bubble Teams Currently Out: None
How to get in: Marquette simply needs to beat Providence in the opening round of the Big East Championship to reach the NCAA Tournament. The Golden Eagles are relatively safe, but a loss to the Friars would be a third straight for Marquette and leave its fate in the hands of the Selection Committee.
Teams Solidly In: ARIZONA, UCLA, Washington
Bubble Teams Currently In: None
Bubble Teams Currently Out: USC (18-13, 10-8 Pac-10, RPI 42), Washington State (19-11, 9-9 Pac-10, RPI 49)
How to get in: For USC, two wins would give the Trojans some serious consideration. USC opens with California and would likely face Arizona in the semifinals of the Pac-10 Tournament. USC would also need other bubble teams to struggle in the opening round of their tournaments. For Washington State, it is a bit more complicated. Getting past Washington in the quarterfinals will be tough enough, but the Cougars have already beat their in-state rival twice. Washington State also needs UCLA to get past either Oregon or Arizona State in its quarterfinal match-up. If the Cougars were to beat both Washington and UCLA and reach the Pac-10 Championship, they would have a very good chance of getting in. Like USC however, the Cougars need other bubble teams to struggle to like their chances on Selection Sunday.
SEC: Arkansas has fallen off of the bubble.
Teams Solidly In: FLORIDA, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Alabama
Bubble Teams Currently In: Georgia (20-10, 9-7 SEC, RPI 56), Tennessee (18-13, 8-8 SEC, RPI 55)
Bubble Teams Currently Out: None
How to get in: Tennessee needs just to beat Arkansas in the first round of the SEC Tournament to lock in a bid to the tourney. The Volunteers could better their seeding if they were able to knock off Florida in the quarterfinals. Tennessee lost a pair of heartbreakers to Florida during the regular season. If the Vols lose, it could be hard to convince the selection committee that an 18-14 team deserves a bid. Georgia cannot lose to Auburn in the tournamentís first round if it hopes to be in the field of 68. A win would set Georgia up with a match-up against Alabama. There is some speculation that Alabama has to win that game to reach the NCAA Tournament, but the Dish is convinced that Bamaí has done plenty already.
Teams Solidly In: San Diego State, UNLV, George Mason, Temple, St. Maryís
Bubble Teams Currently In: Butler (22-9, 13-5 Horizon, RPI 60), Richmond (24-7, 13-3 A-10, RPI 50)
Bubble Teams Currently Out: UTEP (23-8, 11-5 C-USA, RPI 68), Missouri State (25-8, 15-3 MVC, RPI 79), Cleveland State (26-8, 13-5 Horizon, RPI 71)
How to get in: Butler is an interesting case; the Bulldogs have a chance to lock up an automatic bid late Tuesday night in the championship game of the Horizon tournament. Every bubble team is pulling for the Bulldogs to win that game. The Bulldogs play at Milwaukee and a victory would free up a spot for everyone else on the bubble. If Butler should lose, the Bulldogs are still in decent shape, but would need other bubble teams to struggle. Richmond is in the best shape of all the Mid-Majors on the bubble. The Spiders may need only to beat Rhode Island in the quarterfinal of the Atlantic-10 Tournament to reach the NCAA Tournament. Any advancement past that would make Richmond a lock. Missouri State has no games remaining before Selection Sunday so it needs other bubble teams to lose in the opening rounds of their conference tournaments. The same is true for Cleveland State. UTEP probably has to at least reach the final of the Conference USA Tournament to garner consideration.