Wednesday, February 27, 2008

State of the Bubble: Big Sky to Big West

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! Part Two!

Big Sky

Likely Bids: 1
Likely Winner: Portland State
The Vikings are now in their twelfth year of their hoops revival and are close to locking up the overall conference crown. The biggest perk that comes with winning is hosting the semifinals and championship at your place(Not that it didn't help the Vikings a few years ago, they lost in the semis after winning the RS crown). With wins against wouldbe pursuers Northern Arizona(Sweep) and Weber State, the Vikings should have an easy time clinching their first big dance invite.

Big South

Likely Bids: 1
Likely Winner: Winthrop
The window of opprotunity for the rest of the Big South turned out to be a mirage. Or did it? UNC Asheville lead for most of the season, but after an injury to center Kenny George, the Bulldogs have stumbled, allowing the Eagles and new coach Randy Peele to slip into first. The winner of the RS crown will have homecourt edge throughout the tourney.

Big Ten

Bid Range: 4-5
Locked Up: Indiana, Michigan State, Purdue, Wisconsin
Bubble Riders: Minnesota, Ohio State
Matt Painter deserves the lions share of credit for the success his Boilermakers have had this Big Ten season. Rated as either a bubble rider or a non-entity in the preseason(and before Big Ten play after losing to Wofford at home), Purdue has a good chance of getting at least a tie for the RS title. Outside of the big 4, there's little out there. The Buckeyes may have won their last regular season game in advance of a tough finish, while Tubby Smith has piloted the Gophers to an outside run at the tourney, a weak non-conference slate though will keep the Gophers out of the big dance.

Big 12

Bid Range: 4-6
Locked Up: Kansas, Texas
Almost There: Kansas State, Oklahoma
Bubble Riders: Baylor, Nebraska, Texas A&M, Texas Tech
The Aggie faithful are getting nervous. With a loss to Nebraska(whom themselves get into a reasonable discussion), TAMU is quickly sliding into bubble irrelevance. Baylor may soon join them despite a good non-conference and a potential bubble-saving win over Kansas State. Bob Knight's resignation may give Texas Tech some sympathy votes, but the Zorros are a long shot(and that's putting it mildly). Still, the conference looks good for 4 and perhaps 5 bids.

Big West

Likely Bids: 1
Likely Winner: Northridge State
Yes they were beaten by Rider in their BracketBuster matchup over the weekend, but the Matadors are still leading the conference. That may change though as Pacific and Fullerton State(Both of whom have beaten the Matadors, the latter's win came at Northridge)are still hot on their trail. Everything will be settled in Anaheim.

Next Up: Colonial to Mid-American

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