After Cincinnati get smoked yesterday I spent some time doing basic analysis of the bubble ( I don’t like getting too in depth until championship week). I wanted to see who we are competing with for bids. I started off doing comparisons of basic numbers and wins and trying to rank teams 1 to 65 (I got to 60 when they started to be less relevant). Then I spent some time figuring out which are the 1 bid leagues and how many spots will be available to the other leagues. My rankings are still in the early stages so I won’t share them…but I will show you my analysis of what I see the bubble being at this point.
Here are the teams I still think are fighting for at large births. Every team ahead I think has almost secured their spot in the field. As of right now I have listed 20 teams competing for 9 at larges spots. I have 19 conferences listed that I am pretty positive will be one bid leagues, no matter what. A 20th, the Missouri Valley I think has a good chance to be a 1 bid league but Creighton could steal a bid if they lose in the conference tournament finals. There are 3 conferences I am assuming will be one bid leagues regardless of the conference tournament results that may not have been at various points in the year: the Southern Conference (likely Davidson), the MAAC (Sienna) and the WAC (Utah State)…I don’t see either of those three getting an at large bid. There are conferences where we want to root for the teams already in the field, and potentially could be dangerous for teams stealing bids: the Mountain West (root for BYU, Utah or UNLV), the A10 (Root for Dayton and Xavier), the WCC (Root for Gonzaga), the Horizon (root for Butler) and Conference USA (root for Memphis). I am willing to bet that one or two of those leagues will see upsets that shrink the at large pool. So keep that in mind…the 9 spots that look available now could shrink and worst case scenario they could shrink by 5 (I think this is very unlikely).
The following teams are the 20 fighting for the 9 spots available today. I have not done an in depth analysis but I do have some initial thoughts.
Texas A&M- Might need to beat Missouri or make a run in the Big 12 tournament. I like their chances because they have some good non-conference meat with wins over LSU and Arizona.
Oklahoma State- Really good computer numbers, but really only a few decent wins (Sienna is borderline, Texas A&M is bubble all over, and they beat a struggling Texas team at home)
Miami (fl)- They should get to .500 in the ACC. They have some nice wins. I still think they’ll need 1 or 2 in the ACC tournament
VT- I don’t like their chances… They would be in now, but their schedule down the stretch is brutal… they almost have to beat either UNC at home or Florida State on the road. If they do either they will most like make it.
UNLV- Interesting case… they may finish as low as 5th in the Mountain West and yet they have some great wins on their resume. I think they may become mute because their conference tourney is in Vegas and I would bet on them.
Providence- I think they need to either beat Villanova or make the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament
Kentucky- A loss to Florida puts them firmly on the bubble. UK has some solid wins and the sweep of UT may help, but they have lost to some bad teams.
Michigan- Their great wins make them hard to ignore, but if they lose to Minnesota I think they are out.
Cincinnati- I am getting more and more confident that winning out and getting to the Big East quarterfinals will get UC in. A lot depends on what other teams do, but looking at what some others have left I still think we may be dancing. The other thing that would help tremendously is if UC gets those wins they’ll be 8-4 down the stretch…significantly better than most of their competition for bids.
Penn State- They have nothing out of conference but a lot in conference. If they win 1 of 2 I think they are in pretty good shape.
South Carolina- Killer loss to Vandy. They may need to beat Tennessee to get in.
Resume’s start getting weaker here.
Florida- Incredibly weak resume. If they lose to Kentucky they are done baring a run to the SEC tournament finals. A win against Kentucky keeps them alive.
Creighton- Hopefully they will just win the Missouri Valley tournament…but short of that they may need a run to the finals.
San Diego State- I think they are outside looking in, with little chance to play their way up. They have to win their last two (one is against UNLV) to have a shot.
Maryland- They have two great wins and not much else. I think they may have to beat Wake Forest or make a deep ACC run.
Georgetown- Great wins keep them in it, but they have to make a deep run in the Big East. I don’t know what to think about them… you don’t want them to steal a bid from UC, but it would be difficult to leave out a UC team that beat Georgetown twice if they made the tourney. All of a sudden that would give Cincinnati tourney wins over WVU, UNLV, two over Georgetown and maybe one in the Big East tournament. That would be a damn good resume.
Rhode Island- Probably needs to win out and beat X or Dayton again in the A10 tournament.
Minnesota- I think they are done. I think they need to sweep this week and I don’t see it.
Notre Dame- Has a lot of work left to do in the Big East tournament
Kansas State- they are a long shot and need a deep run at this point.
Judging by all of this I think the top 11 has being in better shape than the bottom 9…I guess we will wait and see. But of that top 11 right now there are 9 spots available ( I know someone like Lunardi has UC in their next four out, which may be true today, but I think Florida is hurting, I think SD State is hurting, I think Maryland must beat Wake… just judging by what is going to happen the rest of the year I still like where we are). As I said I do not think the 9 spots hold up, but I like our chances of getting one. Not all those teams up there are going to remain down the stretch. If UC takes care of business until the Big East quarterfinals and plays a good game in the quarters I would bet on them getting in. By then the sting of Syracuse will be long forgotten.