As you know by now, I’m obsessed with looking at the bubble this time of year. And really, who do you know that isn’t, as far as people who enjoy bracketology? So, in honor of my favorite sports studio crew – the “Inside the NBA” crew that always brings us their insight and hilarity during March Madness – let’s start off with a special Gone Fishin’ segment. This will probably be updated often from here on out (as you’ll see when you get to the end of the seed list). These teams either never had that much of a chance, or have put on such a poor display recently that they have only one hope of getting in the Tournament now, which is to win out.
Today, let’s honor Nebraska. Unbelievably, this team was ranked in January. Their absolute last chance to preserve any hope of an at-large bid was to beat Michigan State in East Lansing last night, and that game was over about 12 minutes in. Nebraska is now 15-15, and no team has ever received an at-large with 16 losses. I believe this year, two teams have a shot at doing so, but the Huskers aren’t one of them. Goodbye, Nebraska. It’s been real.
OK, enough negativity from me. Let’s also mention a few teams that have played their way off the bubble in recent days and into certainty that they’ll make the tournament, unless the Selection Committee just hates them for some reason. Those teams include Wofford and VCU, with Minnesota getting close after beating Purdue last night.
Most already felt that Wofford was in no matter what a couple weeks ago, but I was taking a cautious approach because they haven’t beaten anyone who’d clearly get an at-large bid, and recent history hasn’t been kind to such teams. But this year is different. In a year with so many average or worse teams in the major conferences, it would simply be a crime against humanity if Wofford were left out.
With that said, here’s the latest update. No new teams are in or out of the field since my update on Monday, March 4. Plenty of moves up or down have happened though, which are in parentheses after the team’s name.
1s: Virginia, Duke, Gonzaga, Tennessee
2s: North Carolina, Kentucky, Michigan, Michigan State
3s: Houston, Texas Tech, Purdue, LSU (+1)
4s: Marquette, Kansas (-1), Florida State, Kansas State (+1)
5s: Wisconsin (-1), Virginia Tech, Iowa State, Maryland (+1)
6s: Villanova, Mississippi State (-1), Cincinnati, Buffalo
7s: Nevada, Iowa, Louisville, Auburn
8s: Oklahoma, St. John’s (+1), Wofford (+1), Baylor
9s: Syracuse (-1), VCU, Ohio State (+1), Florida (+1)
10s: Ole Miss (-1), Washington, Texas (-1), Minnesota (+1)
11s: UCF (-1), Seton Hall, Utah State (+1), North Carolina State (+1)
12s: TCU (-1), Clemson, Arizona State (-1), Temple, Belmont, Lipscomb
13s: Old Dominion, New Mexico State, UC Irvine, Vermont (+1)
14s: Hofstra (-1), Yale, South Dakota State, Texas State
15s: Montana, Northern Kentucky, Radford, Drake
16s: Texas Southern, Bucknell, Sam Houston State, Norfolk State, St. Francis-PA, Iona (new)
Last Four Byes: UCF, Seton Hall, Utah State, North Carolina State
Last Four In: TCU, Clemson, Arizona State, Temple
First Four Out: Alabama, Indiana (+1), Georgetown, UNC-Greensboro
Next Four Out: Furman, Creighton (-1), Butler (+1), Dayton
Still Alive (in no particular order): St. Mary’s, East Tennessee State, Memphis, Murray State, Oregon, Providence, Toledo (these teams could, in theory, get in with a great performance down the stretch and some collapses by the teams above them).
Hanging on by a Thread: Xavier, Arizona, Colorado, Davidson, Oregon State, San Francisco, South Florida (really, these teams have almost no shot short of winning out and everyone above them losing out but, I thought I’d list them for fun).
Enjoy the games, and look for my next update on Friday, March 8, at which point updates will become daily. Check out the Bracket Matrix in the meantime!