Friday, March 15, 2013

From 348 to 68: Friday, 2:30 p.m.

In a week when tournament bids are just there waiting to be taken by teams that can win a single game, yesterday featured missed opportunities at every turn. Baylor and Louisiana Tech played their way off the bubble. California, Colorado, Oklahoma and Minnesota left the door open for them to be passed. Only Illinois and Oregon pushed their way into the field, although you could argue I'm being overly conservative about Iowa State. As ever, I am reluctant to move teams onto the board, because I hate having to take them off of it.

Friday is moving day. Of the 19 teams I have on the bubble, Five are playing "win and in" games -- LaSalle, Iowa State, Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia -- and seven others are playing games that they can't lose and remain under consideration. Tennessee/Alabama is pretty much an elimination game. For the record, I can't for the life of me ever remember having so few bubble teams this early in the process. It's just a strange year for this stuff.

Through the first four games on Friday:

On the Board (6): Wichita State, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Villanova, Marquette, Illinois.

Automatic Bids (14): Florida-Gulf Coast (Atlantic Sun), Liberty (Big South), James Madison (Colonial), Valparaiso  (Horizon), Harvard (Ivy), Iona (MAAC), Creighton (Missouri Valley), Long Island University-Brooklyn (Northeast), Belmont (Ohio Valley), Bucknell (Patriot), Davidson (Southern), Western Kentucky (Sun Belt), South Dakota State (Summit), Gonzaga (West Coast).

In (30): Duke, Miami (FL), North Carolina, North Carolina State, Saint Louis, Virginia Commonwealth, Butler, Temple, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Louisville, Georgetown, Syracuse, Notre Dame, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio State, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Memphis, New Mexico, Colorado State, Nevada-Las Vegas, San Diego State, UCLA, Arizona, Oregon, Florida, Missouri.

Those teams will account for at least 21 and no more than 28 at-large bids, leaving three to ten slots for bubble teams. I'm going to wait another day before writing a lot, largely because I think this picture is going to self-clarify a lot today.

Bubble (19):
Iowa State, Colorado, Kentucky, Oklahoma, California, Minnesota, Virginia, LaSalle, Saint Mary's, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Middle Tennessee State, Boise State, Massachusetts, Southern Mississippi, Iowa, Akron, Stephen F. Austin.