It's a new day, but there's still no change to the Easy Bubble Solver's NCAA tournament field as Selection Sunday approaches. However, there is some movement within the ranks and a handful of tightly bunched teams around the bubble who could see their stock rise or fall dramatically today.
There are a number of important games today that should have an influence over who claims those last few spots: Villanova/Louisville in the Big East, Baylor/Oklahoma State in the Big 12, and Oregon/Washington in the Pac-12, to name a few. It's likely we'll see some real shakeups tomorrow.
To the forecast! Rankings through games of Wednesday, March 13.
Where We Stand
Total bids: 68 -- 31 automatic, 37 at large
Automatic bids claimed so far: 14 -- Florida Gulf Coast (Atlantic Sun), Liberty (Big South), James Madison (Colonial), Valparaiso (Horizon), Harvard (Ivy), Iona (Metro Atlantic ), Creighton (Missouri Valley), LIU-Brooklyn (Northeast), Belmont (Ohio Valley), Bucknell (Patriot), Davidson (Southern), South Dakota State (Summit), Western Kentucky (Sun Belt), Gonzaga (West Coast)
Bids remaining to presumed one-bid conferences: 8 -- America East, Big Sky, Big West, Mid American, Mid-Eastern, Southland, Southwestern, Western Athletic
Remaining bids ostensibly still up for grabs: 46
Just one automatic bid handed out last night, as Bucknell claimed the Patriot League tournament championship, beating Lafayette. There will be no more automatic bids handed out until Saturday.
Teams Safely In
Yesterday was big for Cincinnati, which really helped itself with a convincing win over Providence in its opening Big East tournament game. The Bearcats have distanced themselves from the bubble and likely punched their ticket regardless of the outcome of this morning's game with Georgetown.
You'll note that Colorado, Iowa State, Denver, Oklahoma, Illinois, Kentucky and Virginia all are in the "safely in" table (with the Wildcats and Cavaliers clinging for dear life). But the reality is that none of those teams are all that far away from being on the bubble, either -- at the top of the last four in, Boise State and Southern Mississippi share an EBS value of 44.5. It won't take much for any of the aforementioned teams to see their stock drop down to true bubble territory if they're knocked out of their conference tournament early, or if teams behind them pick up a big victory or two.
Boise State did itself no favors with Wednesday night's loss to San Diego State. The Broncos had a chance to likely remove all doubt and put themselves over the top, but Derrick Marks (14 points on 22 shots) was unable to carry them to the one victory that probably would have convinced the committee. Now, fans in Boise get to sweat on Selection Sunday, as they now appear in only about one third of the humans' brackets.
The human consensus last night also appeared to be that Villanova probably had done enough to secure its at-large bid, but the EBS was much less impressed with a run-of-the-mill victory over a St. John's team that the Wildcats were supposed to beat. Another victory over Louisville today, however, would almost assuredly move them up enough to secure their spot.
The other team that has a chance to make a major statement is Baylor. Currently on the outside looking in, a victory over Oklahoma State would almost certainly vault them over some teams and into the last four in. The difference between Ole Miss, Temple, California, Iowa, Oregon and the Bears is incredibly small. Figure there to be lots of change when we run these numbers again tomorrow, especially if Southern Miss, Cal, Oregon or Iowa don't do what they should do today against supposedly inferior teams.