Examining the Bubble race


Locks (4) Florida State, Virginia, Clemson, Virginia Tech

Don’t do anything stupid (1)

North Carolina 

North Carolina really could use another couple of wins to feel absolutely safe but despite not having any signature wins, this team has done enough to be in the drivers seat for a bid. Just don’t lose a game to a bad Marquette team. 

Bubble (4)


Duke is playing some of the best basketball right now in the ACC. That being said, the resume is great, they do have three Quadrant three losses and not enough good wins to offset those. I think they will wind up making me the NCA tournament, but there is still work to do. Going 2-1 in their last three games is probably enough for them to get in. 


Covid pauses have done this team no favors, but they’ve done themselves no favors either. The team has no signature wins, they have one kind of bad loss at Miami but that’s it. The only problem is that two of their losses came by a combined 82 points. That’s how you go down in seeding in a hurry.

Georgia Tech 

I guess we need to include Georgia Tech but a coach who begs for his league to have more bids should have their Tournament bid removed. Georgia Tech has opportunities ahead, a Virginia Tech road win would look very nice. The other games aren’t great but could help them move closer to the bubble. The only problem is that this team is coached by Josh Pastner, so look for them to go 1-3 down the stretch and miss the NCAA Tournament altogether. 


Syracuse had a prime opportunity to pick up a quadrant one win to make people think about them and…… they lost by 14. This team has a bland resumé, they have good metrics and no real bad losses, you just can’t expect to make the NCAA Tournament with no quadrant one wins. They have a couple of opportunities left but knowing how those have gone this season, they’ll do just the bare minimum to be considered for an at-large bid before going back to the NIT. 

Big Ten 

Locks (6) Michigan, Illinois, Ohio State, Iowa, Wisconsin, Purdue 

Don’t do anything stupid (1)


The Terrapins have pushed themselves into the NCAA Tournament thanks to some great wins at Wisconsin and at Illinois. Their schedule coming up is quite easy relatively speaking. They should go 3-0 down the stretch and even 2-1 is enough to get them a bid.

Bubble (4)


The Scarlet Knights really had a good chance to move comfortably into the NCAA Tournament by beating Maryland, but they instead lost a winnable game. 2-1 down the stretch will almost certainly be enough and one of those games is at Nebraska. If they go 1-2, that puts them in a spot where they are in trouble. The committee might give them a bone considering they would have made it last year and they would want sympathy points but it would be much more rewarding for them to just earn it themselves.


The Minnesota Golden Gophers have beaten three of the ten best teams in the country, which is carrying them right now. They have yet to win a road game and they don’t exactly pass the eye-test right now either. The only thing going for them is that they play the easiest four-game stretch of their season. If they can just go 3-1 down the stretch, which would include a road win, that should be enough to get them in. 


In 2019 the Indiana Hoosiers missed the NCAA Tournament despite having a great resumé because they failed to meet the now-named Archie Miller rule. Two years later, they are in jeopardy of missing the NCAA Tournament under that same exact rule. 2-2 down the stretch might be enough given their closing stretch but they will probably go 1-3 or 0-4 in that stretch to miss the NCAA Tournament altogether. All they really had to do was not lose at home to Michigan State but they failed to do that. 

Michigan State 

The Spartans have had their worst season of the century and they will probably end the season missing the NCAA Tournament but they technically have a shot. They have six games left, all of which are quality wins and four of which come against current Top-5 teams. They could maybe get in by going 3-3 down that stretch, although they won’t be favored in any of those games. 

Big 12 

Locks (7) Baylor, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Kansas, Texas Tech, Texas, Oklahoma State 

Big East

Locks (2) Villanova, Creighton 

Bubble (4)


The Huskies I think have the most interesting case in this league. They are 10-6 overall and have really not done anything sensational but the thing they have going for them is that they now have their best player James Bouknight back in the lineup. He was key early on and when he went out, Uconn got dramatically worse. As is this team is probably a bubble team, but with a star like Bouknight in the lineup, they’ll probably work their way more comfortably inside the field. 

Seton Hall 

The Pirates are an example of a team that did everything that would work for them in a normal year. They scheduled tough games in non-league play, they even got some wins, the only problem is that this year is not normal. The Pirates would have been better off scheduling NJIT for five games than playing Rhode Island, Oregon, and Louisville while adding to their loss category. Their record and NET ranking is really the only thing holding them back. Go 2-1 in the last three games and they should get back to the dance. 


The Musketeers are in for now but they did themselves no favors by going on Covid pause for a month, while then returning only to lose to Uconn and Saint John’s. The team is still in despite those losses but not by much, luckily their closing stretch features matchups with three bottom feeders in the Big East. They should win those games and get into the field of 68.

Saint John’s

Saint John’s has been a team that has been a pleasant surprise this year, no one really had expectations for them but they’ve been good. Whether they make the NCAA Tournament or not, this year is a massive success as they really aren’t supposed to be here. At this point, they probably need to go 2-1 with a win at Villanova to move back to the right side of the bubble. There’s just too much inconsistency with this team and that DePaul loss isn’t going away. 


Locks (1) USC

Don’t do anything stupid (3)


The Ducks have dealt with injuries this season but they still have an NCAA Tournament resumé. They have 5 games left, which includes some makeup games, and given the way they’ve been playing recently (USC game excluded), they will probably get in rather comfortably. 


The Buffaloes have a really good NET ranking at 22, solid wins, their USC road win is aging very well. They also have 3 quadrant three losses which is why we’re even having this discussion. Colorado has 3 games left on the schedule, all of which are at home where they don’t lose, I feel confident they get enough wins. 


The Bruins I think probably have the second-best NCAA Tournament resumé from the PAC-12 but they also are the team from these three that I see most likely missing the NCAA Tournament due to their tough schedule. That schedule includes four tough games, two of which are for the Mountain trip, while the other two are at Oregon and home USC. I think 1-3 in that stretch is probably enough for them to get in while 2-2 will make them a shoo-in for the Tournament. 

Bubble (1)


Stanford has recently added some quality wins thanks to the NCAA ruling that their previous home games at the Warriors G-League arena are now ruled neutral site games. The Cardinal don’t have a good record overall but they can take pride in not having any Q3/ Q4 losses. They have three games left, two of which are games they will be underdogs in. If they can go 2-1 in that stretch, while taking care of business in the PAC-12 Tournament, I think that should be enough to get them in. 


Locks (4) Alabama, Missouri, Tennessee, Arkansas 

Don’t do anything stupid (2)


LSU has a good overall resumé and they should be in so long as they don’t lose their final three games of the regular season. One of those games is at home against Vanderbilt, which should be an easy win while winning any of the other two games would just add to their resumé. 


I think Florida is pretty safe but if they lose out they could be in trouble. None of those losses would be catastrophic but they do run the risk of having a bad enough record for the committee to leave them out. Just beat Auburn tonight and those worries go away. 

Bubble (1)

Ole Miss

The Rebels are on the outside looking in for a spot in the NCAA Tournament but they do still have the potential to get a few more wins to change that. Winning at Missouri would go a long way towards getting them in the NCAA Tournament. I’d say 3-0 should probably be their goal if they want to make the NCAA Tournament. 


Locks (2) Gonzaga, Houston 

Don’t do anything stupid (3)


The Cougars are pretty safely in with two games left to play. They have two games left and they will be favored in both games. If they just win one, they will be heading to the NCAA Tournament. 

Boise State 

The Broncos are ranked 32nd in the NET, have no bad losses, and a good record. So long as they avoid taking a New Mexico type loss in the Mountain West Tournament, they should be in. 


The Ramblers are 17-4, ranked 11th in the NET, and have no quadrant three or four losses. Keep that resumé clean and the Ramblers are going back to the NCAA Tournament. 

Bubble (14)

Wichita State 

As it stands right now, Wichita State is an NCAA Tournament team but given the American being a weak conference, they’re not safe yet. They have two games left on their schedule, win those and avoid taking any bad losses in the American Conference Tournament and they will dance. The Shockers are one of the cool stories of this season and a great finish to win the league title and an NCAA Tournament birth would be a great way to cap off the first year of the Isaac Brown era.


The Mustangs have put themselves in a tough spot thanks to some game cancellations but there’s still a slimmer of hope for an at-large bid. If the Mustangs are able to play and also beat Houston in the American semifinals, they could be an at-large team, other than that it’s NIT or bust. 


The Tigers haven’t lived up to the expectations of many but they still have a shot. They do have a decent NET ranking and if they are able to get hot down the stretch, they will have a chance to add a win against Houston. Win out in the regular season and get to the finals of the American Tournament and there’s a good chance they get in. I have my doubts about whether that can happen.

St Bonaventure

The Atlantic 10 has limited itself to three bids maximum, luckily Saint Bonaventure is one of those potential teams. The Bonnies have a good NET ranking, no bad losses, and a good Strength of schedule, making them an NCAA Tournament team as it stands. That said, there are some additional potential losses of their schedule, with no quadrant one wins left of the schedule. The Bonnies need to take care of business down the stretch to get in. 


The Rams have no quadrant one wins and 2 quadrant three losses, not exactly ideal. Luckily they are 7-0 in quadrant two matchups which have them in as it stands. They also rank in the Top-40 of the NET rankings which are also helping their case. As long as they avoid taking any more losses in the regular season I think they will be in the field but they would do well for themselves by erasing all doubt by winning the league tournament. 


The Spiders are in a tough spot as it stands but they still have a chance to improve their seeding as they have three games left, one of which is at Saint Louis, which is a quadrant one win. The main thing holding them back will be that quadrant four loss against La Salle. Had they won that game, they’re probably in right now. A strong finish and a good showing in the Atlantic 10 Tournament is now the requirement for having a chance to get in the NCAA Tournament. 

Saint Louis 

Saint Louis is a team that missed time due to a long Covid pause which has hurt them overall. Since returning they took quadrant three losses to Dayton and at La Salle. That said the team has good metrics and opportunities ahead, so they still have an opportunity to get in the NCAA Tournament field so long as they finish the season strong. 

San Diego State 

The Aztecs are ranked inside the Top-25 of the NET, with no bad losses, and a decent strength of schedule. The lone issue is that they have no quadrant one wins. With a series against Boise State, they will have two opportunities to make the NCAA Tournament with a win or two. They have a really good chance to make the NCAA Tournament so long as they avoid any bad losses. 

Colorado State 

The Rams have had a good season, and they are on the inside track to getting an at-large bid. Their next three games will determine their fate. So long as they avoid losing to Air Force or a lower-seeded Mountain West team, they will be in the NCAA Tournament. 

Utah State 

The Aggies have had opportunities to put them inside the NCAA Tournament field but getting swept by Boise State might have been the dagger for them. For them to make the NCAA Tournament, they will have to win their next two games and then probably make the finals of the Mountain West Tournament. 


Drake has done everything needed to make the NCAA Tournament but the injuries are stacking up. Shanquan Hemphill might be back but Roman Penn won’t. If Joseph Yesufu can carry this team to two wins at Bradley, the Bulldogs should be in the NCAA Tournament but that could be a tough task.

Western Kentucky 

The Hilltoppers have put themselves in a good spot thanks to a signature win at Alabama. They’ll probably lose at Houston but overall their resumé is a tournament resumé despite having 2 quadrant three losses. Get to the Conference USA finals and don’t lose to FIU and Old Dominion is probably enough to make the NCAA Tournament as an at-large team. 


Belmont is 24-1 overall but they don’t have any quadrant one or quadrant two wins, which is less than ideal. I don’t know if the Bruins get in the NCAA Tournament without winning the Ohio Valley Tournament but maybe the committee gives them a bid. At the very least, they can’t afford to be a 3 loss team and get in the NCAA Tournament field. 


The Eagles are 20-1 overall but of their 21 games, 17 of them have come against quadrant four opponents. I’m not sure Winthrop thought they’d be in this discussion so it makes sense as to why they didn’t really challenge themselves in non-conference play but it could come back to bite them if they lose in the Big South Conference Championship. They might have a chance to get in if things go perfectly for them when it comes to no bid-stealers and other bubble troubles, although winning the Big South Tournament is probably the best route for them to make the NCAA Tournament.

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