PRIOR TO GAMES ON SATURDAY, MARCH 12
After a week and a half of conference tournaments and four days of major conference tourneys, the field of 68 is beginning to take shape. According to our calculations, the breakdown is as follows:
Locks (There is no way these teams don't make the NCAA Tournament):
- ACC (3): Duke, North Carolina, Florida State
- Big East (11): Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, Syracuse, Louisville, Connecticut, St. John’s, West Virginia, Georgetown, Villanova, Cincinnati, Marquette
- Big Ten (4): Ohio State, Purdue, Wisconsin, Michigan State
- Big 12 (5): Kansas, Texas, Kansas State, Texas A&M, Missouri
- Pac-10 (3): Arizona, UCLA, Washington
- SEC (4): Florida, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Tennessee
- Atlantic-10 (2): Xavier, Temple
- Mountain West (3): BYU, San Diego State, UNLV
- Colonial (2): Old Dominion, George Mason
- West Coast (1): Gonzaga
Automatic bids from one-bid leagues: 21
That adds up to 59 teams, leaving nine spots still open.
The teams fighting for those nine spots, realistically, are:
- Virginia Tech
- Boston College
- Penn State
- Saint Mary’s
- Missouri State
Out of this group, Richmond, Michigan, Illinois and Colorado are in the best shape, while Missouri State and UAB have a tenuous spot on the list.
Essentially, if you count Richmond, Michigan, Illinois and Colorado as likely to receive at-large bids, there are 12 teams fighting for five bids.
Pick five: Clemson, Virginia Tech, Boston College, Penn State, USC, Memphis, Alabama, Georgia, VCU, Saint Mary’s, UAB, Missouri State
As of right now, I’m leaning towards Clemson, Virginia Tech, Alabama, Georgia and Penn State.
Moreover, these teams have a few things to root for in the next couple of days. Starting today at 11:30 EST, Memphis plays UTEP for the Conference USA championship. If the Tigers win, they will get the automatic bid from the league and will no longer be fighting on the bubble. UTEP is out of the mix. In the WAC, Utah State is likely a lock no matter what happens in the conference title game. Therefore, bubblers are rooting heavily for the Aggies against Boise State. Meanwhile, in the Atlantic 10, either Dayton or Saint Joseph’s is on its way to the championship. Teams on the fence will be rooting for the winner of Richmond vs. Temple to beat one of them in the title game. Lastly, Harvard has a gaudy RPI and a decent win over Boston College – if the Crimson lose to Princeton in the Ivy playoff, they will get consideration.
It’s going to be a fun 30 hours or so.