Tournament Locks

These 45 teams are locks to play in the NCAA tournament:

A-10 (1) – Dayton

ACC (6) – North Carolina, Miami, Duke, Virginia, Notre Dame

Big XII (7) – Kansas, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Texas, Iowa St, Baylor, Texas Tech

Big East (3) – Villanova, Xavier, Seton Hall

Big Ten (6) – Michigan State, Iowa, Indiana, Wisconsin, Maryland, Purdue

Pac-12 (7) – Oregon, Utah, Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon State, USC

SEC (2) – Kentucky, Texas A&M

Others (13) – UNC-Asheville, Yale, Northern Iowa, Florida Gulf Coast, Austin Peay, UNC-Wilmington, Iona, Chattanooga, Fairleigh Dickinson, Green Bay, South Dakota State, Gonzaga, Holy Cross




Bubble Picture

So, here is the COMPREHENSIVE list of all POSSIBLE bubble teams. There’s not a single team who can get an at-large that isn’t listed here. That also means most of these teams have to have mutliple results go their way to make the field. But I’m including EVERYONE.

SHOULD BE IN (75% or more tourney chance)

Butler – Despite the loss to Providence, they should be dancing. But it isn’t a 100 percent thing, so I won’t lock them.

Pitt – Beating Syracuse for the third time should do it, but only two top 50 wins keeps the Panthers from locking a bid. Beating UNC would have locked them in.

TRUE BUBBLE (25-74% chance)

Vanderbilt – The Commodores are in serious trouble.  All they needed was a win over Tennessee to make the field.  Instead, they are squarely on the bubble.  This could go either way.

South Carolina – With only one win against the RPI top 40, a horrid non-SEC schedule, and three bad losses, South Carolina needs the SEC final to clinch a bid.  A trip to the semifinals would likely get it done, but won’t be a sure bet. Never underestimate the committee’s desire to punish bad non-conference schedules.

St Bonaventure – Losing in the A-10 quarters would likely prevent a bid, but if they can beat VCU in the semis, then they are almost assured of a bid.

St Joe’s –  The Hawks find themselves right in the thick of things.  They’ll likely get George Washington in the quarterfinals. Win and they are likely in.  Lose and they likely are out.

Little Rock – Make the conference tournament finals and it might happen. Lose before that and I can’t see it.

St Mary’s – They lost to Gonzaga and they will be right on the cut line.  That’s what happens when you play eighteen home games out of the WCC.  Schedule tougher, St. Mary’s. You’ve known this for years.

Wichita State – Losing before the MVC final really hurts.  The resume simply doesn’t stack up.  Their fate will be determined by how other bubble teams perform this week.

Tulsa – This one is more up in the air than others.  Beating Memphis might work, but making the final should work.  Their inability to get a top 50 win on their side of the bracket makes this an interesting case.

VCU –  Because they likely won’t get a top 100 team in the quarters, it will take a trip to the finals to feel fairly secure.

Cincinnati – They’ll make it if they beat UConn in their quarterfinal matchup.  If they lose, they’ll be right on the edge.  I think they’ll likely make it in that case, but it will be VERY close.

UConn – They’re one of my last four in.  I think they’re looking at a do-or-die game against Cincinnati.

Syracuse – They would’ve been in with a win over Pitt, but they lost by one. They will be right on the edge of the bubble. This one could go either way.

Temple – Tough to tell how this will work.  If they lose their quarterfinal game, they are out.  If they win that, they have a chance but are likely out without a win over UConn or Cincinnati. Win that, and they’ll be in.

Florida –  Beat Texas A&M and they will likely be dancing. Lose and it probably won’t work out.

Alabama –  Beating Kentucky will probably put them into the First Four.  Losing should end all realistic hope.

Michigan – Beat Northwestern and Indiana and they’re likely in the tournament. Lose either and they’re likely out. Sounds easy enough?

Monmouth – Those wins over Notre Dame, UCLA, USC, and Georgetown are looking worse, but the ambitious scheduling and non-conference performance help. Losing to Iona leaves them cheering against bubble teams. But despite many talking heads saying they will be in the tournament, I simply don’t see it. They are really leaning hard on wins over Notre Dame and USC, which are good but not great wins. And they have three horrible losses on the resume that aren’t going away (Canisius, Army and Manhattan). It’s possible, but unlikely.

LONGSHOTS (under 25% chance but realistic)

Georgia Tech – The Jackets were on a roll until UVA cooled them off. They have three top 50 wins and a strong SOS. They are likely out, but they could be this year’s UCLA, shocking the world with a bid.

Valparaiso – The Crusaders couldn’t take a loss to Green Bay in the semis and expect to have a strong chance. They will certainly merit a lot of consideration, but a road win at Oregon State is the only really strong selling point.  That’s just not quite enough.

George Washington – Beating UVA is a huge boon, but losing at home to VCU was a killer. They need a big A-10 tournament. If they pick up wins against St Joe’s and Dayton on the way to the final, they’ll likely make it.  Less than that probably won’t work.

Ohio State – Three top 100 wins out of the Big Ten? Ouch. Weak scheduling. Beating Michigan State in the quarters might do it, but it will probably take a finals trip.

LSU – They haven’t looked good recently, but Ben Simmons and company have wins over Kentucky, Texas A&M and at Vandy.  A trip to the finals MIGHT get it done, but it will probably take the tournament title.

Houston – Being the two seed might actually be a bad thing.  Their only chance for a decent win before the final is Tulsa.  It will likely take a tournament title, though beating Tulsa at least would give them a shout.

Georgia – Making the SEC final might do it, but anything less certainly won’t.

San Diego State – Making the Mountain West final likely won’t work but… maybe?  They do have a fourteen-point win over Cal on a neutral court.

Virginia Tech – The Hokies are really regretting dropping their first game of the season to Alabama State.  Beating Miami will get them consideration, but won’t likely be close to enough. Adding a win over UVA would put them right on the edge of the bubble.  A trip to the final may or may not do it.  But it would be close. My gut says they get in if they make the final, despite a terrible non-conference SOS and performance.

3/7 Bracket Projection


1 Kansas – 16 Dunk City (FGCU) / Austin Peay (Des Moines)

8 Wisconsin – 9 Butler (Des Moines)

5 Purdue – 12 Northern Iowa (Denver)

4 Texas A&M – 13 Akron (Denver)

6 Iowa – 11 Monmouth (Providence)

3 Miami – 14 Stony Brook (Providence)

7 Colorado – 10 Pitt (St Louis)

2 Xavier – 15 Weber St (St Louis)


1 Oklahoma – 16 Hampton (Oklahoma City)

8 USC – 9 St Bonaventure (Oklahoma City)

5 Texas – 12 San Diego St (Oklahoma City)

4 Duke – 13 Yale (Oklahoma City)

6 Texas Tech – 11 St Mary’s (Des Moines)

3 Indiana – 14 Hawaii (Des Moines)

7 Seton Hall – 10 Cincinnati (Spokane)

2 Oregon – 15 New Mexico St (Spokane)


1 Virginia – 16 TX Southern / Lehigh (Raleigh)

8 Providence – 9 Syracuse (Raleigh)

5 Maryland – 12 Valpo (Spokane)

4 Cal – 13 South Dakota St (Spokane)

6 Arizona – 11 UConn / Temple (Brooklyn)

3 West Virginia – 14 Hofstra (Brooklyn)

7 Oregon St – 10 St Joe’s (St Louis)

2 Michigan St – 15 NC-Asheville (St Louis)


1 Villanova – 16 Wagner (Brooklyn)

8 Notre Dame – 9 Vanderbilt (Brooklyn)

5 Iowa St – 12 Little Rock (Providence)

4 Kentucky – 13 Chattanooga (Providence)

6 Baylor – 11 Tulsa / Florida (Denver)

3 Utah – 14 UAB (Denver)

7 Dayton – 10 S Carolina (Raleigh)

2 North Carolina – 15 SF Austin (Raleigh)

FIRST FOUR OUT – Georgia Tech, Florida State, Michigan, VCU


The Big XII and the Big East

As USA Today bracketologist Shelby Mast and I discussed on Bracket Rabble today (you can replay the episode), the leagues with true round robin schedules usually don’t deviate much seed and selection-wise from the league standings. That’s because an 18-game round robin is about the best comparison you can have between two teams. With that in mind, let’s look at the Big XII and Big East:


Kansas 15-3

West Virginia 13-5

Oklahoma 12-6

Texas 11-7

Baylor 10-8

Iowa State 10-8

Texas Tech 9-9

Kansas finished two games ahead of the pack and played very well against a very tough non-conference schedule. They will not only be an NCAA number one seed, but they are guaranteed to be a higher overall seed than any Big XII brethren regardless of whether Oklahoma or West Virginia wins the league tournament while Kansas loses in the quarterfinals.

I actually have Oklahoma ahead of West Virginia now because of Oklahoma’s great non-conference performance (including wins over Villanova and Wisconsin) and because of Oklahoma’s sweep of West Virginia. Texas is the fourth team in the pecking order because of their fourth place standing and a plethora of quality wins. Behind them are Iowa State and Baylor. While Baylor swept the series, Iowa State had quality non-league wins (Iowa, Colorado) that Baylor simply didn’t have, so Iowa State is the fifth current selection from the league, while Baylor is sixth. Seventh is seventh-place Texas Tech. All other Big XII teams will have to win the league tourney title to get an NCAA bid.

The Big East

Villanova  16-2

Xavier 14-4

Seton Hall 12-6

Providence 10-8

Butler 10-8

Villanova finished two games ahead of the nearest competitor, so it would be a real surprise if they aren’t the highest overall seed from this league. If second-place Xavier wins the Big East tournament and Villanova falls in the quarterfinals, then there is a chance it happens because of Villanova’s struggles against one seed-level competition (see the Oklahoma and Virginia games). But expect Villanova to be the first selection and Xavier the second selection, regardless of conference tournament performances.

Behind them, expect Seton Hall to be the third pick behind their strong 12-6 league record. After that, there are two tied teams (Providence and Butler). Whoever wins the quarterfinal game between the two should be the higher tournament seed.

3/6 Bracket Projection

Saturday was absolutely crazy.  Do any bubble teams want in the tournament? Some longshots, like Georgia Tech and Florida State, are all of a sudden right in the thick of the bubble race.  And I thought Wichita State would be out if they lost to Northern Iowa, but the struggles of other bubble teams mean WSU is right in the thick of the race, too.


1 Kansas – 16 Austin Peay / Fla Gulf Coast

8 Providence – 9 St Bonaventure

5 Texas – 12 Northern Iowa

4 Duke – 13 Akron

6 Iowa – 11 Monmouth

3 Utah – 14 Stony Brook

7 Colorado – 10 Pitt

2 Xavier – 15 Weber St


1 Oklahoma – 16 Wagner

8 USC – 9 Butler

5 Cal – 12 Valpo

4 Texas A&M – 13 Yale

6 Texas Tech – 11 St Mary’s

3 Maryland – 14 Hawaii

7 Wisconsin – 10 Tulsa

2 Oregon – 15 New Mexico St


1 UVA – 16 TX Southern / Lehigh

8 Seton Hall – 9 Syracuse

5 Iowa St – 12 San Diego St

4 Indiana – 13 Chattanooga

6 Arizona – 11 UConn / Temple

3 West VA – 14 Hofstra

7 Oregon St – 10 St Joe’s

2 UNC – 15 Winthrop


1 Villanova – 16 Hampton

8 Notre Dame – 9 Vanderbilt

5 Purdue – 12 Little Rock

4 Kentucky – 13 S Dakota St

6 Baylor – 11 Cincinnati / Florida

3 Miami – 14 UAB

7 Dayton – 10 S Carolina

2 Michigan St – 15 SF Austin

LAST FOUR OUT – Georgia Tech, Florida State, Michigan, Wichita State

Bid Sealing Games

Today, the following teams can clinch bids:

Dayton – VCU

Oregon State – at UCLA

Vanderbilt – at Texas A&M

USC – Oregon

UT-Martin – vs. Austin Peay

Austin Peay – vs. UT-Martin


The Wichita State Issue

So, I’m not usually a fan of blind resumes because the committee doesn’t look at blind resumes. They look at resumes where every team’s name is there. So they know exactly who they are dealing with. But let’s take a second to look at Wichita State’s resume:

1-5 vs. RPI top 89

4-2 vs. RPI 90-105

19-0 vs. RPI 106+ and D2

For a second, let’s pretend that resume belongs to UC Santa Barbara.  Do you think the committee gives them much at-large consideration? No? Me, neither.

WSU’s at-large hopes are resting on a forgiving committee, and history shows us the committee usually isn’t very forgiving to mid-majors. I don’t think it’s right, but a very good WSU received a seven seed last year for a lack of quality wins.

Even if you think WSU lost some games they otherwise wouldn’t have early in the year because of Fred Van Vleet’s injury, they still only have one impressive win.  And they still lost two games in MVC play when Van Vleet was healthy.

If WSU had lost to Loyola today, they would’ve missed the tournament, in my opinion.  I know most bracketologists think WSU is safe, but I don’t.  If they don’t win the Missouri Valley, they better beat Northern Iowa in the semis and lose to Evansville in the final.  Any other result will likely doom them.  And even that might not be enough.



Potential One Seeds

With the final weekend of the regular season upon us, we now have a clearer picture of who might end up on the one line.

Kansas – They’re 13-3 against the RPI top 50 and 17-3 against the top 100. Losses to Iowa State and in the Big XII quarterfinals wouldn’t prevent them from staying on the one line.  The only question here is whether they can clinch the overall one seed with wins against Iowa State and in the Big XII quarterfinal. I think the answer is “yes.” One seed odds: 100 percent

Villanova – They’ve played the 12th toughest schedule overall and the 15th toughest non-conference schedule.  They have no bad losses.  They are also 8-4 against the RPI top 50, but only a home blowout over Xavier is against a top-end team.  There’s enough on the profile to be a one for now, but losses to Virginia and Oklahoma don’t help if it comes down to head-to-head comparisons. What does help is winning the true round robin Big East outright if they are in comparison with Xavier.  They have an easier path to a conference tournament title than other one seed competitors. One seed odds: 75 percent

Virginia – The Hoos have a 6-2 record against RPI top 25 teams, including wins over one seed competitors Villanova, UNC, Miami, and West Virginia.  They are just 4-4 against RPI 51-100, but they played a tough overall and non-conference schedule.  They’ll need to make at least the ACC semis.  One seed odds: 60 percent

Michigan State – The Spartans are hot and have some huge wins (Kansas, Maryland, Louisville, Indiana), but they also have an ugly home loss to Nebraska and a fairly poor non-conference schedule.  Michigan State needs to make the Big Ten final to feel like a one seed is a strong possibility.  Their odds are stronger than their profile because of how well they are playing.  One seed odds: 40 percent

Oklahoma – They have nine wins over teams that will likely wear home uniforms during their first tournament game, which is a really impressive number.  They also own a sweep over West Virginia. But they’ve also struggled recently and will likely finish behind West Virginia in the true round robin Big XII standings.  OU needs to make the Big XII title game to have a strong one seed case.  One seed odds: 30 percent

Xavier – They are 8-2 against the RPI top 50 and 11-2 against the top 100.  But they also finished behind Villanova in the Big East’s true round robin standings and a home loss to Georgetown is also an ugly blemish.  Their odds aren’t bad, though, as a Big East tournament title may be enough to get them to the one line.  One seed odds: 30 percent

North Carolina – The Tar Heels are not in as good of shape as people think.  They are just 3-5 against the RPI top 50, even if they are 9-1 against RPI 51-100.  UNC will put themselves in the argument if they make the ACC final, but whether they actually get there depends on who they beat in the ACC tournament.  One seed odds: 20 percent


West Virginia (15%), Oregon (15%), Miami (10%), Maryland (3%), and Utah (2%)

3/3 Bracket Projection


1 Kansas

16 Tex Southern / Wagner

8 South Carolina

9 Oregon State

5 Purdue

12 San Diego St

4 Duke

13 Akron

6 Iowa

11 Wichita St

3 Utah

14 Stony Brook

7 Colorado

10 UConn

2 Michigan St

15 SF Austin


1 Oklahoma

16 Weber St


9 Pitt

5 Cal

12 Valpo

4 Kentucky

13 UNC-Wilmington

6 Texas Tech

11 St Mary’s


14 Hawaii

7 Dayton

10 Michigan

2 Oregon

15 N Mexico St


1 Villanova

16 Bucknell / North Florida

8 Notre Dame

9 Vanderbilt

5 Baylor

12 Monmouth

4 Indiana

13 South Dakota St

6 Arizona

11 Cincinnati / VCU

3 West Virginia

14 Yale

7 Seton Hall

10 Syracuse

2 Miami

15 Winthrop


1 Virginia

16 Hampton

8 Providence

9 St Joe’s

5 Texas A&M

12 Little Rock

4 Iowa St

13 Chattanooga

6 Texas

11 Butler / Tulsa

3 Maryland

14 UAB

7 Wisconsin

10 St Bonaventure

2 Xavier

15 Belmont

First Four Out – Temple, Florida, Stanford, Gonzaga

Wednesday’s Bubble Impact

Teams who helped themselves:

Butler – Beating Seton Hall at home gives Butler a sweep of the Pirates and their third top 50 win. With two wins away from home over bubble competition (Cincinnati and Temple), Butler moves into the field for now. Beat Marquette at home this weekend and they’ll be 10-8 in the Big East. With a likely matchup against Seton Hall in the Big East quarters, Butler would likely end up on the right side of the bubble.

St. Bonaventure – Want to make the tournament? Beat a likely tournament team like the Bonnies did. Beating St. Joe’s at home was a must, and they got it done. They now own a sweep of St. Joe’s and an away win against Dayton. This is far from safe, but they are on the right side of the bubble for now.

VCU – With just two top 50 wins (St Joe’s and St Bonaventure), VCU desperately needed to beat Davidson at home. It’s not much of a boost to the resume, but it’s enough to be in for now. But with just 6 top 100 wins and two bad losses to UMass and George Mason, VCU will need a successful A-10 tournament.

Providence – The Friars’ future was up for grabs late in the game at home against Creighton. But one win later, they’re looking good for the tournament. They aren’t a lock yet but four top 50 wins, including at Villanova, makes it likely that they will make the tournament. This win was far more about protecting the work already done than improving upon it.

Kansas State – Any loss before the Big XII final will end at-large hopes. Beating TCU at home just kept this team in play.

Virginia Tech – The Hokies kept the dream going by beating Pitt at home. Tech is now 9-8 in the ACC with two top 50 wins (Pitt and Virginia). Beat Miami at home and win two in the ACC tournament, and it will start to get very interesting. Losing before the semis would certainly end at-large hopes, and it will likely take a trip to the final to have a serious chance.

Washington – Beating Washington State at home moved the Huskies to 9-9 in league play. With three wins over tournament teams in the bag and a 5-2 record against 51-100 in the RPI, there is still some real potential here if the Huskies win a few in the Pac-12 tournament.

USC – The Trojans stopped the slide with a home win over Oregon State.  A regular season-ending win over Oregon would be more than enough, and they might not need to win another game to make it.  But they aren’t a lock quite yet because of potential bid thieves and other power conference teams that can make runs. They’re sitting at about 95%, though.

Teams who hurt themselves:

Pitt – They’ll still likely make the field and there’s no shame in losing to Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, but they wasted a golden opportunity to lock up a bid. Winning at Georgia Tech might be enough, but winning two more would definitely do it. With just two top 50 wins, two bad losses, and 189th ranked non-conference schedule, there is still work to do.

St. Joe’s – Like Pitt, it wasn’t a bad road loss. But a win at St. Bonaventure likely would’ve been enough to sow up a bid. With just two top 50 wins (one of which is against Princeton), the Hawks cannot feel safe. They better beat Duquesne at home, and getting at least one in the A-10 tournament will help.

Alabama – As much as St. Bonaventure helped themselves with a win against St Joe’s, Alabama harmed themselves with a home loss to Arkansas. Alabama was my last team in the field, but they drop out for now. Hope is not lost, but it all but will be if they don’t win at Georgia and drop to 8-10 against a mediocre SEC.

UCLA – Dropping the game to Oregon puts the Bruins at 15-15. It’s now going to take at least a home win over Oregon State and a trip to the Pac-12 final.  The record is just too bad to sustain itself otherwise, despite four quality wins (Kentucky, Arizona, Colorado and Oregon State).

Creighton – Dropping to 9-8 in the Big East isn’t so bad… unless you’re outside the top 100 in the RPI and have a 297th ranked OOC schedule.  It’s not time to completely cross them off because they have the potential to reel off consecutive wins away from home over Xavier, Providence, and Villanova. But even that will likely not be enough.

Oregon State – A slumping USC was the perfect chance to get a quality road win for a bid lock. Instead, Oregon State’s road woes continue.  A win at UCLA should still be enough to get it done, but it could get interesting if they don’t. This team needs to prove they can win away from home, and their chances are limited now.