Wednesday, February 2, 2011

State of the Bubble-Horizon League to Ohio Valley

My fellow Americans, this is indeed a troubled time for our bubble. It is being forced to deal with a growing number of teams wishing to reside on it's surface. It's shrinking land mass means a potential for a big crisis. Let there be no doubt whatsoever though, it will continue to weed out those who have been unlucky to fall in to the bad side. And by the middle of March, only those who have persevered will be moved to stronger and more stable positions in the bracket. Let us take an examination at who shall be finding themselves in the so-called promised land of the field of 68.

Horizon League
Expected bid range: 1-2
Locks: None
Should be in: None
Bubble riders: Cleveland State, Valparaiso, Butler
Could the three inches that separated the Bulldogs from an improbable national championship a year ago conspire to work against them this year? Could be. Wins over Washington State, Florida State and South Carolina are counterbalanced by losses to Evansville, Xavier and Milwaukee(twice). As for the Vikings and Crusaders, their non-conference resumes leave a lot to be desired, but both will get some pop in the upcoming Bracketbusters free-for-all(Something the Bulldogs will not benefit from).

Ivy League
Expected bids: 1
Contenders: Harvard, Princeton
The Ivies will only get one bid this year, though the Crimson could have a bit of a say, given their wins over Colorado and Boston College. They meet the Tigers in Princeton on Friday night and then again in Cambridge in February. If they do tie, a one-game winner-take-all playoff would take place on March 12th.

Metro Atlantic
Expected bids: 1
Contenders: Fairfield, St. Peter's, Iona
With half of the conference season gone, the Stags have emerged as the favorite, but it's not overwhelming. They still must meet with the Gaels twice this season, with the Peacocks also on tap during the last few games.

Expected bids: 1
Contenders: Ball State, Kent State, Bowling Green, Buffalo
There are simply too many variables to list in this post, but there's one thing certain, the MAC will once again have one team in the NCAA's.

Expected bids: 1
Contenders: Bethune Cookman, Hampton, Morgan State
The Bears' reign on the MEAC is being challenged by an unexpected source, Daytona Beach. The Tigers are the current leaders by a game in the win column, but the team that's behind them, the Pirates, already beat them in the lone game between the two, so it's imperative that BC stay the course. Whoever wins will likely be in the First Four.

Missouri Valley
Expected bid range: 1-2
Locks: None
Should be in: None
Bubble riders: Missouri State, Northern Iowa, Wichita State
Conference cannibalism is about to threaten the Valley once again, and it's UNI doing the damage, having beaten the Bears and Shockers on their respective home courts. At this point, it's looking more likely to be a one bid league, rather than a two bid one.

Mountain West
Expected bid range: 3-4
Locks: Brigham Young, San Diego State
Should be in: UNLV
Bubble riders: New Mexico, Colorado State
The Cougars and Aztecs have hung around the top 10 all season, below them, however, are three teams trying to define themselves. In order of OOC accompishments, the Rebels have the leg up on the Lobos and Rams. Though I think 4 will be the max for the MWC, 5 teams isn't out of the question.

Expected bids: 1
Contenders: Long Island, Central Connecticut, Quinnipiac
Another wide open race this year, with at least 4 others that have legitimate chances to advance in the conference tournament. One reason getting the top seed is important here is the way the conference reseeds after everyround, guaranteeing the champ the worst winner of the 1st round.

Ohio Valley
Expected bids: 1
Contenders: Austin Peay, Morehead State, Murray State, Tennessee State
Down in the valley, four teams have put themselves onto a level the other teams can't reach. Look for the finals in Nashville to be a real barnburner.

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