Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The State of the Bubble - Part 1

Since it's State of the Union week this week, and with it also after the halfway point of the season, it's time to examine this year's bubble picture. Part one will focus on every conference from America East to Conference USA. Part two tomorrow goes from the Horizon League to the Ohio Valley. Part three Thursday will cover from the Pacific-10 to the Western Athletic. Sorry Great West, I have no time for you.

America East
Likely number of bids: 1
Contenders: Vermont, Maine, Stony Brook
The Catamounts are trying to return to the NCAA's for the 1st time since 2005, in the interim, four teams earned their first NCAA bid. It could be a fifth newbie in 6 years if the Black Bears(owners of a road win over the Catamounts) or the Seawolves are able to assert themselves.

Atlantic Coast
Likely bid range: 5-7
Lock: Duke
Close to a lock: Clemson, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest
Bubble riders: Florida State, Maryland, Miami(FL), North Carolina, North Carolina State, Virginia, Virginia Tech
Apart from Duke, the ACC has no real clear-cut choices for the field. The three "close to a lock" teams all have their warts and the 7-team bubble contingent is hard to differentiate. Still, expect at least five to (possibly) seven teams from the ACC getting the call. The Tar Heels could be close to the wrong side of the cut line if they don't reverse their decline(especially with an RPI in the 70's).

Atlantic Sun
Likely number of bids: 1
Contenders: Campbell, East Tennessee State, Jacksonville
The Camels currently lead the league, but should they win the automatic bid could cause some logistical problems. Campbell has a no play on Sunday policy, but it's possible their profile could scream "Opening Round participant". Neither the Bucs nor the Dolphins have that issue and both host Campbell later on this season.

Atlantic 10
Likely bid range: 3-5
Close to a lock: Temple, Xavier
Bubble riders: Charlotte, Dayton, Rhode Island, Richmond
Temple should move up to lock status within a few weeks, beyond that, the Musketeers are the only ones who, if not an actual lock, should have no problems getting in. The four bubble riders hope to score a scalp or two of the leaders, mostly to offset some warts.

Big East
Likely bid range: 7-11
Locks: Georgetown, Syracuse, Villanova, West Virginia
Close to a lock: Connecticut, Pittsburgh
Bubble riders: Cincinnati, Louisville, Notre Dame, St. John's, Seton Hall
It would be a shock if this conference were to get all these teams listed into the field, but with the other BCS 6 conferences(with the exception of the Big 12) not up to snuff, it's certainly possible. What is likely is the Big East will have the most teams represented in the field.

Big Sky
Likely number of bids: 1
Contenders: Northern Colorado, Weber State
The most decorated team in the league(Weber State) faces off with a team just a few years into it's second Division I residency(Northern Colorado). The battle to win the regular season crown(and thus the rights to host the finals of the conference tournament) will go down to the wire.

Big South
Likely number of bids: 1
Contenders: Coastal Carolina, Radford, Winthrop
The Highlanders may have had the better non-conference resume, but it's the Chanticleers who currently lead the league. Never count out the Winthrop Eagles, however, their rebuilding mode is almost over and are looking to reestablish their dominance.

Big Ten
Likely bid range: 4-7
Locks: Michigan State, Purdue
Close to a lock: Ohio State, Wisconsin
Bubble riders: Illinois, Minnesota, Northwestern
Although there have been some doubts, especially with Evan Turner missing 6 games, the Buckeyes have been able to become a credible candidate to become a lock. The three bubble riders could beat each other up and leave the Big Ten with only four teams representing it. If the Wildcats qualify, they will be the last BCS 6 team to do so.

Big 12
Likely bid range: 5-8
Locks: Kansas, Kansas State, Texas
Close to a lock: Baylor
Bubble riders; Missouri, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, Texas Tech
I don't expect all four bubble riders to make the field, the Red Raiders are particularly vulnerable, but the should have the second largest contingent in the NCAA's behind the Big East.

Big West
Likely number of bids: 1
Contenders: Long Beach State, Pacific
In spite of having a losing record, I think the 49ers will have the goods to make a run for the top of the conference. The Tigers, however, will a lot to say about who gets the top seed.

Likely bid range: 1-3
Bubble riders: George Mason, Northeastern, Old Dominion, Virginia Commonwealth, William & Mary
William & Mary is having it's best year yet(wins over Maryland, Wake Forest and Richmond, all on the road), and yet it's no guarantee the Tribe will make it(losses at home to UNC Wilmington and ODU). The same can be said for the others. By all rights, the Colonial could have a second team in, and if things break a certain way, a third team is possible.

Conference USA
Likely bid range: 1-3
Bubble riders: UAB, Marshall, Memphis, UTEP, Tulsa
Like the Colonial above, Conference USA has a good chance of landing a second team in the dance and a third if everything breaks it's way. The leading candidate is UAB, but Tulsa isn't far behind. Don't sleep on Memphis, they have owned this conference since the 2005 reorginaization. And Josh Pastner would love to prove people wrong by picking up where John Calipari left off.

1 comment:

  1. Seton Hall played an extremely weak non conference schedule. How in the world did they make your bracket?