RTC Bubble Watch: March 15 Edition

Posted by Daniel Evans on March 15th, 2013


Daniel Evans (@bracketexpert) is RTC’s new resident bracketologist. According to Bracket Matrix, he ranks as one of the top several bracketologists among those who have produced brackets for more than three years, including two seasons with perfect bracket projections. He updates the field daily on his site, Bracketology Expert, and will be producing a weekly bracket update here at RTC on Fridays. RTC Bubble Watch will publish on Sunday nights and Thursday afternoons for the rest of the season.

F0r the last few days of the regular season, here is a whole new look bubble watch:

Bracket Math: Below there are 37 locks along the right column. Basically, that number means that if none of my “locks” clinches an automatic bid for the NCAA Tournament, there are zero at-large spots available. In most years, an average of around six “locks” win automatic bids, meaning there are six un-clinched spots for the NCAA Tournament. Right now, there aren’t any teams in the “should be in” category, or teams that I give a 70% chance or greater of making the Tournament. That means that of the teams below listed in the Bubble Watch, only five can get bids. Remember that bid stealers will potentially shrink that number.

TOTAL: 38 (minus six for projected auto bid winners = 32)


  • ACC (quarterfinals): Boston College (vs. Miami), Maryland (vs. Duke), Florida State (vs. North Carolina)
  • Atlantic 10 (quarterfinals): Charlotte (vs. Saint Louis), Saint Joseph’s (vs. VCU), Massachusetts (vs. Temple)
  • Big Ten (quarterfinals): Nebraska (vs. Ohio State), Iowa (vs. Michigan State )
  • Conference USA (semifinals): Southern Miss/UTEP winner, Tulsa (vs. Memphis)
  • Pac-12 (semifinals): Utah (vs. Oregon)
  • SEC (quarterfinals): LSU (vs. Florida), Vanderbilt (vs. Kentucky)

THIS UPDATE:  I moved Minnesota to lock status, even with the Gophers’ last second loss to Illinois Thursday. At this point, it is almost impossible to see a team with the Gophers’ victories not getting into the field.

There are currently 20 teams fighting for 5 spots. If you believe (as I do) that Baylor, Louisiana Tech, Akron, and Charlotte are long shots at best (very small chance, if any, to make the field) you can bring the numbers down to 16 teams fighting for 5 spots.




  • Virginia (21-10, 11-7; RPI: 67): The Cavaliers have been a strange bubble case all season. They have some of the worst losses a bubble team can have, but they also have six impressive wins. One of those wins is against Duke, who might be the nation’s best team now that Ryan Kelly is back. A win over Sunday against Maryland left the Cavs in position to play their way into the field in the ACC Tournament. They get dangerous North Carolina State on Friday in the ACC quarterfinals. AT-LARGE ODDS: 50%
  • Maryland (21-11, 8-10; RPI: 85): Maryland has two great wins (Duke, NC State) and absolutely nothing behind them. Thursday’s win against Wake Forest keeps the Terps alive, but they’ll have to replicate their February win against Duke to get serious at-large love.. AT-LARGE ODDS: 40%

Atlantic 10


  • Temple (23-8, 11-5; RPI: 37): A win on Sunday over VCU was very big for the Owls’ at-large hopes. This is team that has now won seven straight games and defeated Syracuse outside of conference. The Owls are in good shape right now. Temple will play Massachusetts on Friday in the Atlantic 10 quarterfinals. AT-LARGE ODDS: 65%
  • La Salle (21-8, 11-5; RPI: 38): La Salle has five wins over the RPI top 100 including victories against Butler and VCU, two of the Atlantic 10’s best teams. The Explorers only have one bad loss, which came in mid-November against Central Connecticut State. On Saturday, the Explorers lost their season finale to Butler. Unfortunately for La Salle, they face Butler on Friday in the A-10 quarterfinals in what might be a must win for the Explorers. AT-LARGE ODDS: 50%
  • Massachusetts (20-10, 9-7; RPI: 57): The Minutemen only have one win against the RPI top 50, but seven against the RPI top 100. Last Thursday night’s loss to Butler may have sealed this team’s fate, though. Massachusetts has some decent wins (as I noted) but nothing that really catches attention. They take on Temple Friday, a win that they desperately need. AT-LARGE ODDS: 40%
  • Charlotte (20-10, 8-8; RPI: 63): Wins over La Salle and Butler keep the 49ers here, but they have to make the Atlantic 10 final to have any real bubble case.. Thursday’s gift win over Richmond (I won’t even get started on the game’s ending…) keeps hope alive. AT-LARGE ODDS: 35%





BIG 12


  • Oklahoma (20-10, 11-7; RPI: 35): Oklahoma’s computer numbers are decent and the Sooners do have a victory over Kansas. Unfortunately, the Sooners finished their season by losing to TCU in the regular season finale and to Iowa State in their first game of the Big 12 Tournament. More than likely, this team will still be OK, but they’ll be sweating out Selection Sunday. AT-LARGE ODDS: 55%
  • Iowa State (22-10, 11-7; RPI: 47):  After a huge comeback win against Oklahoma, Iowa State appears to be in much better shape. The Cyclones lost both games to Kansas close and get a chance for revenge on Friday when they take on the Jayhawks in the Big 12 semifinals. A win against Kansas in a third attempt against Bill Self’s team would probably seal the deal. AT-LARGE ODDS: 50%
  • Baylor (18-14, 9-9; RPI: 62): A huge comeback against Oklahoma State in the Big 12 quarterfinals came up a little short in the end, which likely leaves the Bears on the wrong side of the NCAA Tournament bubble. Baylor did win its regular season finale against Kansas in impressive fashion, but the Bears’ profile probably lacks enough good wins to get in. AT-LARGE ODDS: 40%




  • Iowa (20-11, 9-9, RPI: 71): Iowa defeated pesky Northwestern in game one of the Big Ten tournament, giving the Hawkeyes a chance to make their case on Friday against Michigan State. If the Hawkeyes win that one, we can start talking about them as a potential first four out team. AT-LARGE ODDS: 35%







  • Tennessee (20-11, 11-7; RPI: 55): The Volunteers picked up a huge win against Missouri on Saturday to pair with a victory over Florida from a week ago. Throw in a victories against Wichita State and a mauling of Kentucky and this is looking like a NCAA Tournament team. Tennessee takes on Alabama in the SEC quarterfinals Friday in a huge bubble contest. AT-LARGE ODDS: 55%
  • Kentucky (21-10, 12-6 RPI: 51): The Wildcats had to find a way to knock off Florida on Saturday. Trailing by seven with eight minutes late, Kentucky held Florida scoreless the rest of the game and picked up the ‘Cats best win of the season. After back-to-back losses to Arkansas and Georgia, that was exactly what the doctor ordered. A win against the Vanderbilt in the SEC quarterfinals is a must win before a potential semifinal with Ole Miss or Missouri. AT-LARGE ODDS: 50%
  • Ole Miss (23-8, 12-6; RPI: 57): The Rebels might have hit rock bottom in losing to dreadful Mississippi State on Saturday, but at least Ole Miss bounced back by knocking off Alabama at home on Tuesday. Mississippi has only one top 50 win and that win was against a Missouri team that was not at full strength. A quarterfinal with Missouri looms large for the Rebels. AT-LARGE ODDS: 45%
  • Alabama (20-11, 12-6; RPI: 61): Alabama hit a miracle three to survive Georgia on Saturday, keeping the Crimson Tide’s at-large hopes alive. Alabama has some awful losses — Dayton, Tulane, Mercer, Auburn — to name a few. They split with Tennessee and lost to Ole Miss in their only meeting with the Rebels. Tennessee and Alabama will play in the quarterfinals, with a game against Florida waiting ahead. AT-LARGE ODDS: 45%




  • Boise State (21-10, 9-7; RPI: 38): The Broncos knocked off San Diego State on Saturday but fell to the Aztecs in the first round of the MW Tournament on Wednesday. Now the wait begins. Will this team, with four wins against the RPI top 50, get in? Usually 9-7 in the Mountain West is not good enough with a middling RPI, but the MW is one of the nation’s top-rated conferences this season.  AT-LARGE ODDS: 55%





  • Saint Mary’s (26-6, 14-2; RPI: 30): The Gaels fell to Gonzaga for a third time in the WCC Tournament Final, meaning Saint Mary’s will have a long wait until Selection Sunday. Saint Mary’s has only one top 50 (Creighton) and only five top 100 wins, but sweeping BYU and Santa Clara won’t hold a lot of weight with the Selection Committee.  AT-LARGE ODDS: 50%
  • Middle Tennessee (28-5, 19-1; RPI: 25): Middle Tennessee lost to Florida International in the Sun Belt semifinals, leaving their NCAA Tournament hopes up to the Selection Committee. For a team with only one true top 100 win against Ole Miss (I don’t count a win against No. 100 UCF), the Blue Raiders’ only hope is the RPI. AT-LARGE ODDS: 50%
  • Southern Miss (23-8, 12-4; RPI: 35): Southern Miss mainly makes this list due to the Eagles’ high RPI. The Eagles lost both games to Memphis and do not have a single win against the RPI top 75. A win against UAB in the Conference USA quarterfinals leaves Southern Miss one win away from a likely title game with Memphis. AT-LARGE ODDS: 25%
  • Akron (24-6, 14-1, RPI: 47): The Zips lost their first game without PG Alex Abreu, who was arrested earlier last week, against Kent State and have not looked the same without him. Akron almost assuredly needed to make the MAC Tournament final to get a bid but now that bid seems even more unlikely. AT-LARGE ODDS: 30%
  • Louisiana Tech (26-5, 16-2; RPI: 46): Back-to-back losses to end WAC play leaves Louisiana Tech in bad shape, but a loss in the quarterfinals of the WAC Tournament probably ended the Bulldogs at-large hopes. They are guaranteed an NIT bid though. AT-LARGE ODDS: 25%
Daniel Evans (60 Posts)

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3 responses to “RTC Bubble Watch: March 15 Edition”

  1. Henry Muto says:

    There could be as many as 9 “locked” teams that could win their conf tournament.

    Memphis would be the key one as they are the only C-USA team worthy.

    ACC, Big 10, Big East, Big 12, Pac 12, MWC are either already locked or close to locked for a “lock” team winning it.

    A-10 a bubble team could win it but if it is Temple or LaSalle they would just be playing themselves in.

    Likely more than 6 this year (because VCU and Butler moves conf those 2 bids already stolen basically)

    So I am thinking 8-9 this year of the “locks” win their conf tournaments of what you show here.

  2. Henry Muto says:

    Down goes Virginia by 19 and down goes LaSalle.

  3. Henry Muto says:

    Your RPI numbers are a little off.

    Middle Tennessee is down to RPI 31 coming into today.

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