Wednesday, February 27, 2008

State of the Bubble: America East to Big East

How is your team fairing compared to others? Are there any locks that come out surprising to you? How far will Tom O'Connor and his band of bracketeers go to find an at-large? Who knows any of this? Well let me help out with a 6-part series about teams in the field, near the field, and teams losing contact with it. This is the State of the Bubble!

America East

Likely Bids: 1
Likely Winner: Maryland-Baltimore County
Struggles at both Albany and Vermont have allowed the Retrievers to lock up the outright regular season title(and the right to host the championship should they get there) already. Either way, UMBC is in a D-I postseason tourney via the NIT's access rules for RS winners.

Atlantic Coast

Bid Range: 4-6
Locked up: Duke, North Carolina
Almost there: Clemson
Bubble Riders: Maryland, Miami(FL), Wake Forest
Earlier this season there was a clear hierachy. Duke and UNC on one level, everyone else on the other. At least Clemson(Despite blowing two leads against the Heels) has been able to give it's resume some shape, and Miami is starting to do likewise. Maryland on the other hand is on the verge of squandering all it's good will with bad losses to Virginia Tech and Miami(Not to mention some weak home losses to the likes of American, Ohio and VCU). Wake Forest's campaign to win one for Skip Prosser helped it upset Duke, but could not vault it over UNC. Thursday's Terps-Deacs matchup is enormous, for the winner will likely be in the next project bracket and the loser will be close to the bubble's edge, making it unlikely that both will make, unless an ACC tournament run is made.

Atlantic Sun

Likely Bids: 1
Likely Winner: Belmont
Gardner-Webb and Mercer definitely made headlines earlier this year with their upsets, but it's the two-time defending titleists from Nashville's Music Row that has quietly ascended to the top of the ASun's hit parade. A potential championship run for the Bruins however, must be made at archrival Lipscomb's Allen Arena next week, and should the Bisons make it to the championship game, the Bruins' advantage of being the top seed is lost.

Atlantic 10

Bid Range: 1-4
Locked Up: Xavier
Bubble Riders: Dayton, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, St. Joseph's
The soft underbelly of the A-10's lower regions has gone from a blessing to a curse for our four bubble riders, in particular the Flyers who are in danger of missing the CONFERENCE tournament(This is what happens when you lose a big time player, in the Flyers' case, Chris Wright). The Rams though have it worse, losers of three straight at home. If none of the bubble riders make it out of the quarters in Atlantic City(Or make it at all in the case of the Flyers), it may be a one bid league. A huge downer from a few weeks ago, when the A-10 looked ready to gobble up 5 bids.

Big East

Bid Range: 6-9
Locked Up: Connecticut, Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette, Notre Dame
Almost There: Pittsburgh, West Virginia
Bubble Riders: Cincinnati, Seton Hall, Syracuse, Villanova
Is this the year the Big 16 gets nine teams into the field? The odds(purely recreational) are 65% against it, but who knows. One thing is for sure, this is a sure fire seven bid league and eight is very possible too. One bubble rider to keep an eye on is Syracuse, who have a top ten rank in SOS, but may not finish at .500 in conference. Did Jim Boeheim's decision to beef-up his non-conference slate while maintaining a home-heavy sked payoff? Stay tuned.

Next up: Big Sky to Big West

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