As Selection Sunday nears, it's a huge week for bubble teams

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With less than two weeks until Selection Sunday, what you see today is definitively NOT what you'll get on March 14, thanks to the annual shrinkage of the bubble itself and the self-elimination of some candidates down the stretch.

This week, that will especially be true in the Big East and ACC. Here's a quick primer on some of this week's biggest bubble games from all around the nation:


Vanderbilt at Florida: The Gators need this one or they'll head to Kentucky staring at 9-7 in the SEC and uncertainty.

Georgia Tech at Clemson: The Yellow Jackets really could use the road win; Clemson's looking for safety.

Louisville at Marquette: The winner feels very good about its position. The loser keeps sweating into the Big East tournament.


Wake Forest at Florida State: The 'Noles need this one more, but Wake could use it to eliminate doubts.

Connecticut at Notre Dame: Very well could be for a spot in next Monday's bracket.

Charlotte at Rhode Island: The winner still has reasonable at-large hopes, while the loser's in a ton of trouble.


Dayton at Richmond: The Flyers very well have to get this one or they may need a trip to the A-10 finals.


UAB at UTEP: The winner enhances its at-large prospects at the expense of the loser.

Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech: Especially if GT loses at Clemson, this one's huge for both teams.

Notre Dame at Marquette: The back half of this week's Big East Bubble Roulette for the Irish.

New Mexico State at Utah State: Utah State needs this one for solo WAC crown, at-large hopes.


Housekeeping note: On Thursday, we'll have an update. Starting next Monday, the Bubble Watch and the bracket will go daily through Selection Sunday.

Remember, records listed are Division I only, per NCAA tournament selection guidelines. All RPI and SOS data are from Sunday's RPI report.

Send your very valuable feedback to or to @aglockon Twitter. All submissions are read; polite, fact-based ones stand the best chance of a response. Readers who claim their team's record is wrong because they failed to read the previous paragraph will be forced to play overtime against Marquette.

Summary key:

GW: Good wins over top-50ish foes (home league wins judged more strictly).

BL: Bad losses to teams outside top 100 or to direct bubble competitors.

Locks: Duke, Maryland

Duke is the potential prime benefactor from the knee injury to Purdue's Robbie Hummel. A run of the table should mean a No. 1 seed in the NCAAs. The Blue Devils finally have lock company, with Maryland into the dance now after picking up an 11th ACC win in double-overtime at Virginia Tech. Despite an empty nonleague slate, there's no way an 11-win ACC team is missing the bracket. Well done by the Terps.

In bubble news, there is a lot to be settled. Going 9-7 in the ACC this season is not a golden ticket in all cases. A lot of the bubble teams play this week, so the pecking order will be a lot clearer next week.




Wake Forest (18-8, 8-6, RPI: 28, SOS: 32) had a sizable misstep, losing at home to plummeting North Carolina in its only game of the week. Suddenly, things are far less secure for the Deacons, who head to Florida State on Tuesday and host Clemson on Saturday in two very important games. Wake has some solid nonleague wins to fall back on, but needs to step messing around.GW: at Gonzaga, Xavier, Richmond.BL: William & Mary and UNC at home aren't great Ls. Neither is at Miami or N.C. State.

Clemson (20-8, 8-6, RPI: 39, SOS: 34) got a huge road win at Florida State on Sunday night to keep moving toward an NCAA berth. If they can split this week against Georgia Tech and at Wake, they'll be in decent shape.GW: Butler (N), sweep of FSU.BL: None, but handful to bubble competition: league foes Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech, plus Illinois.

Florida State (20-8, 8-6, RPI: 35, SOS: 57) did what it needed to do at UNC, but then lost at home to Clemson, which could be a key misstep. The 'Noles host Wake before visiting Miami, so they still have a decent schedule, but the depth of their profile isn't very good. Winning both would be a good idea.GW: Marquette, sweep of GT and beat VT (bubble purposes).BL: Home to N.C. State; swept by Clemson and lost to Florida (bubble purposes).

Virginia Tech (21-7, 8-6, RPI: 52, SOS: 132) should be very concerned now after getting ripped at BC and then falling in 2OT at home to Maryland. Beating N.C. State at home is now imperative and winning at Georgia Tech on Saturday is strongly recommended. The nonleague slate continues to haunt Tech. Will BW's Jan. 25 suggestion that the Hokies will go to the NIT after finishing 22-9 (9-7) be prophetic?GW: Best of thin lot are Clemson and Wake at home and vs. Seton Hall (bubblers).BL: Nothing awful, but at Miami and at BC hurt.

Georgia Tech (18-9, 7-7, RPI: 28, SOS: 32) scraped past BC to get back to .500. Now Tuesday's trip to Clemson and the home finale against Virginia Tech are enormous. Georgia Tech is another ACC team that probably needs two more decent wins to feel good about its chances.GW: Duke, Siena?BL: Nothing horrible, but swept by FSU (bubble purposes) and lost at Miami.

Locks: Kansas, Kansas State, Texas A&M, Texas, Baylor

Kansas stumbled at Oklahoma State, but remains solidly entrenched as a 1-seed for the NCAAs. Wednesday's date with K-State should be big fun. The Aggies join the lock party after handling Texas at home, and Texas even moves back in after splitting the week. With five wins in the RPI top 27 and at least a .500 league mark, the 'Horns are fine. Baylor also got two more wins and is at nine Big 12 wins plus 9-4 vs RPI top 50. The bigger news was Oklahoma State's win, which moves the league much closer to seven bids.


Missouri (21-8, 9-5, RPI: 36, SOS: 45) almost certainly has done enough. One more win and the Tigers will become a lock. Five of their losses are to RPI top-15 teams, but with a couple of bad losses and a thinner top-50 record, let's wait until they beat Iowa State.GW: K-State, at Texas Tech, Texas, Old Dominion.BL: at Oral Roberts and Oklahoma.


Oklahoma State (20-8, 8-6, RPI: 25, SOS: 25) got an enormous marquee win over Kansas that moves the Pokes much closer to the NCAAs. Getting to 9-7 in league is probably good enough, especially if that ninth win is at A&M for a sweep. Two wins the rest of the way and Oklahoma State is in.GW: at K-State, Kansas (plus Baylor and A&M at home).BL: at Tulsa, vs. URI (both fading bubblers).

Locks: Syracuse, Villanova, Georgetown, West Virginia, Pitt

Syracuse is the No. 2 overall seed this week. Villanova and West Virginia are still 2s, but are getting pressed from behind. Georgetown still remains safe as a top-four seed, even at 9-7 in Big East play. The Hoyas have several impressive nonleague wins and have played 18 top-100 games.


Marquette (19-9, 10-6, RPI: 55, SOS: 58) had an amazing three-game league road trip, winning each game in overtime, including a crucial win at Seton Hall on Sunday. The Golden Eagles aren't totally safe yet, but with home games against Louisville and Notre Dame left, a split should be enough barring an ugly first-game Big East tournament loss. The winner of Louisville at Marquette on Tuesday night should be in great shape.GW: Xavier, Georgetown.BL: at DePaul, a ton of close ones overall.

After the Golden Eagles, this is a gigantic mess to figure out...


Louisville (19-10, 10-6, RPI: 41, SOS: 7) got an enormous two-point win at UConn, but still has more work to do and doesn't have it easy with a trip to Marquette and then a visit from a Syracuse team looking to ice a 1 seed in the NCAAs. With Louisville's empty nonleague slate, 10-8 is no lock heading into the Big East tournament.GW: at Syracuse, also beat Big East bubblers UConn, USF and Cincy.BL: Charlotte (injury asterisk, but by 22), W. Carolina, at Seton Hall? (plus bubbler UNLV).

Connecticut (17-12, 7-9, RPI: 42, SOS: 2) lost a heartbreaker at home to Louisville after a huge win over West Virginia. Now what? Can the Huskies handle an 8-10 Big East mark with a road split at USF and Notre Dame? They'd be better served bubble-wise with the ND win if they can only get one, but what would that leave UConn needing?GW: Texas, at Villanova, WVU.BL: at Michigan and to a series of bubble battlers in the Big East.

Notre Dame (19-10, 8-8, RPI: 65, SOS: 50), still without Luke Harangody, had an enormous week, thumping Pitt and then rolling at Georgetown, to get right back in the mix. Now the Irish, with or without their main man, have an enormous week on tap: Wed. vs. UConn and Saturday at Marquette.GW: WVU, Pitt, at G'town.BL: Loyola Marymount, Northwestern (N), plus at Rutgers, at Seton Hall and St. John's.

Cincinnati (16-12, 7-9, RPI: 59, SOS: 14) couldn't hold on at West Virginia and now probably has to beat Villanova and then win at Georgetown. When the bubble constricts, 8-10 in the Big East probably won't be enough without a deep conference tournament run.GW: Vandy (N), Maryland (N), swept UConn (for bubble purposes).BL: At Seton Hall and St. John's are disappointing; Gonzaga (OT) and Xavier (2OT) could be costly.

Seton Hall (16-11, 7-9, RPI: 51, SOS: 20) had its at-large hopes crippled by the overtime loss at home to Marquette on Sunday. The Pirates need to win on the road at Rutgers and Providence and then likely need two Big East tournament wins, minimum. It's not impossible. They've beaten inferior teams all season, but will need to beat one or two teams better than they are, too.GW: Pitt, at Cornell, plus L'ville, ND for bubble purposes.BL: None bad (seven in top 20, all in top 70), just too many.

South Florida (17-11, 7-9, RPI: 67, SOS: 38) needs to win its last two, at DePaul and home to UConn. Get those two plus two more at the Big East Tournament? Maybe. Depends on their seed and who they play.GW: at G'town, Pitt, Virginia??BL: Cent. Michigan, vs. South Carolina?, plus big Big East issues: Louisville, Marquette, and swept by ND.

Locks: Michigan State, Purdue, Wisconsin, Ohio State

It's only one game, against a good team, but Purdue's debut without Robbie Hummel resulted in a horrible 0.66 points per possession in a 53-44 home loss to Michigan State. The Boilers need to get healthy with a softer last two and then regroup. There's now a very legit chance of a three-way tie at 14-4 for the Big Ten crown, which means the Big Ten tourney will be a high-stakes tiebreaker to see who can end up in Milwaukee's subregional.




Illinois (18-10, 10-6, RPI: 74, SOS: 55) blew a huge chance to make things safer, losing at home to Big Ten bubble-chaser Minnesota. Now the Illini need to be careful, with closing games at Ohio State and vs. Wisconsin. Going 10-8 in the Big Ten is not a golden ticket heading into the conference tournament, where the Illini would face a big-four team in the quarters, assuming a first-round W. They currently sit tied with the worst RPI ever to get an at-large (New Mexico in 1999).GW: at Clemson, Vandy, Michigan State (without Kalin Lucas), at Wisconsin.BL: Utah, Bradley, Georgia, plus home to Minnesota (bubble battle).

Minnesota (17-9, 8-8, RPI: 71, SOS: 41) kept its bubble hopes alive with a crucial win at Illinois. The Gophers have a solid chance to get to 10-8 in the Big Ten with Michigan and Iowa left. Wins over Butler and Ohio State (with Evan Turner) also continue to look strong. In another week, the Gophers could be better positioned than Illinois.GW: Butler, Ohio State (with Turner), Wisconsin, at Illinois (bubble purposes).BL: Portland (N), at Miami, plus Indiana, Michigan and at Northwestern.

Locks: None

In 2006, Missouri State was No. 21 in the RPI, finishing 20-8 overall and 12-6 in the Missouri Valley, which was rated No. 6 in Conference RPI. The Bears finished 4-8 vs. the RPI top 50 and didn't have a loss outside that category. They lost in the Missouri Valley quarterfinals in a 4-5 game and were left out of the NCAAs (rightfully so, according to that season's Bubble Watch).

By comparison, Cal currently is No. 21 in the RPI, is 20-9 overall and 12-5 in the Pac-10, which is currently No. 8 in Conference RPI. The Golden Bears are 0-4 vs. the RPI top 50 and have five losses outside that category.

The moral of the story? Cal did what it needed to do, beating the Arizona schools at home to clinch at least a share of the Pac-10. The Golden Bears can't rest on their laurels, though. They need to keep winning in case they don't get the auto-bid.




California (20-9, 12-5, RPI: 21, SOS: 10) pushed past Arizona State to set itself up for a solo crown by winning at rival (but mediocre) Stanford. How the committee will judge this profile if the Golden Bears don't win the auto bid is really anyone's guess. If the bubble tightens considerably, it won't be an easy wait should they fall in the Pac-10 tourney, especially early.GW: None (home vs. Washington is the best win).BL: UCLA, at Oregon State.

Arizona State (20-9, 10-6, RPI: 54, SOS: 71) faded in the second half and lost at Cal, likely costing itself at least a share of the Pac-10 crown, which probably was necessary for an at-large. The Sun Devils have a better win (San Diego State) than Cal does, but are just 3-7 against the RPI top 100.GW: San Diego State.BL: at UCLA.

Washington (19-9, 9-7, RPI: 56, SOS: 54) won at in-state rival Wazzu, but still needs to sweep the Oregon trip just to get to 11-7 in the conference, which probably isn't enough this season. Should they win their next four and lose the Pac-10 title game to Cal? Depends on what happens elsewhere, but it's fairly unlikely.GW: Texas A&M (plus Cal at home).BL: Oregon, at UCLA, USC.

Locks: Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Tennessee

No reason to wait on the Vols anymore after the convincing upset of Kentucky. What else goes on in this conference should be really interesting.




Florida (20-9, 9-5, RPI: 46, SOS: 44) got a huge win over Tennessee and then tossed it back by losing at Georgia by a deuce. Florida likely needs to beat Vandy at home because the finale is at irked Kentucky. Lose both, and the Gators very well will need to make the SEC semis. Stay tuned.GW: Michigan St. (N), Florida St., plus Miss St. and at Miss (bubble purposes).BL: South Alabama; at Georgia.

Mississippi State (21-8, 9-5, RPI: 57, SOS: 116) took big steps toward solidifying a spot in the dance by winning twice more. The Bulldogs need to get past Auburn before a bid-icing home shot vs. Tennessee on Saturday.GW: Old Dominion, sweep of Ole Miss.BL: Rider, at Arkansas, Florida (for bubble purposes).

Mississippi (19-9, 7-7, RPI: 53, SOS: 61) gutted out a road win at Alabama to stay in the mix. The Rebels need to pull the same home/road win sweep this weekend and then see what happens in the SEC tourney.GW: K-State (N), UTEP (with Derrick Caracter).BL: Arkansas (plus swept by Miss. State).

Locks: Temple, Richmond, Xavier

These three are in after Xavier's pulsating double-overtime win over Richmond on Sunday. Now the question is will anyone else join them? All three bubble teams lost games this week and URI's and Charlotte's losses were very questionable. Richmond plays both Charlotte and Dayton, so the Spiders will have a big say.




I now favor this following order for the next three, barely. Having seen all of the teams multiple times, I think Dayton's the best of them. The Flyers have a good set of quality wins (including over Charlotte by 28) and some really tough losses. Charlotte gets the nod next based on quality wins and league standing over Rhode Island, which beat Dayton on the road by a point but doesn't have much else.

Dayton (19-9, 8-6, RPI: 43, SOS: 37) fell at Temple in an ugly midweek game and now needs to win at Richmond on Thursday to maintain its current level of at-large hopes, despite a decent group of Ws.GW: Georgia Tech (N), Old Dominion, Xavier, Charlotte (bubble purposes).BL: at Saint Joe's, at Saint Louis, at Duquesne.

Charlotte (19-9, 9-5, RPI: 63, SOS: 99) lost at George Washington, which is very damaging. At least the 49ers have their fate in their own hands, closing at URI and then home to Richmond. Winning both would put them in pretty solid shape.GW: at Louisville (albeit with 'Ville shorthanded), at Richmond, Temple.BL: None, but lost by 30+ at Duke and Old Dominion, Duquesne.

Rhode Island (20-7, 8-6, RPI: 34, SOS: 67) also had a serious misstep, falling on the road at St. Bonaventure and now has very little margin for error. The Rams have to beat Charlotte at home on Wednesday and then win at UMass. They have the weakest top-end credentials in this group, despite the RPI numbers.GW: at Dayton, Oklahoma State (N).BL: at Saint Louis, at St. Bonaventure.

Saint Louis (18-9, 10-4, RPI: 84, SOS: 120) probably needed to beat Xavier at home, but if the Billikens somehow beat Temple and then win at Dayton to finish 12-4 with a sweep of the Flyers? A deep A-10 run would at least make an at-large thinkable.GW: Richmond, Dayton and URI (all at home).BL: Missouri State, at Bowling Green, Iowa State, at George Washington.

Old Dominion wins the league. The conference tournament should be amazing, starting with the 3-6 and 4-5 quarterfinals. It all could be for just one bid. Crazy.

Locks: None




Old Dominion (23-8, 15-3, RPI: 38, SOS: 80) did what it needed to do, winning twice to clinch the CAA crown. The Monarchs have a very worthy at-large profile, despite the BracketBusters loss at Northern Iowa, so making the CAA final should put them very strongly in the discussion should they need an at-large.GW: at Georgetown.BL: None, but three in a very balanced conference and eight overall now.

William & Mary (20-9, 12-6, RPI: 60, SOS: 109) lost at home to Towson after the Iona fiasco and finished three games behind ODU and tied for third, probably eliminating itself from realistic at-large hopes.GW: at Wake, at Maryland, Richmond.BL: UNC Wilmington, at James Madison, routed at Iona, (also swept by ODU, the league's other at-large hopeful).

Despite several other quality teams, there's no one else in this league that has legit at-large hopes.

Locks: New Mexico, BYU

New Mexico got a huge win at BYU and now looks poised to push its league rival out of the West region. Yes, Jimmer Fredette was ill, but that's still an excellent road win and a sweep of the Cougars, plus better nonleague work.




UNLV (21-7, 10-5, RPI: 44, SOS: 78) beat two teams it should have and now needs to handle Wyoming at home to close out the regular season. Three more wins in a row surely would be enough. Would two and a semifinal loss on its home court to BYU be enough? UNLV split with all three other MWC contenders and probably needs to beat the Cougars in the rubber match to feel safe.GW: Louisville (plus at New Mexico, BYU and San Diego State in league).BL: Swept by Utah.

San Diego State (18-8, 9-5, RPI: 40, SOS: 60) couldn't get it done at BYU and finishes 2-4 against the teams ahead of it in the MWC. The Aztecs likely will have to win four in a row now and see how they fare in a MWC final. Sounds a lot like last season, actually. UNLV has a couple of better wins and one fewer bad loss.GW: New Mexico, UNLV (both at home in league).BL: at Pacific, at Wyoming.

Locks: Northern Iowa

UNI blew some seeding with an unfortunate loss at Evansville, but still should be fine for the NCAAs.




Wichita State (22-8, 12-6, RPI: 50, SOS: 130) lost at Bradley and now likely needs the auto-bid.GW: Texas Tech?, UNI.BL: at Ill. St., at Drake, at Evansville.

Locks: None

UTEP leads the league by two games, but isn't in the clear. A decisive league title could be crucial for the Miners (and, on the downside, for UAB).




UTEP (22-5, 13-1, RPI: 53, SOS: 125) has won 12 straight. Now the Miners travel to Marshall and then host UAB. Win both and they have a sweep of the Blazers, a decisive league crown and a very solid claim for an at-large, if needed.GW: at UAB, Oklahoma (N, in Oklahoma City)?BL: None, but missed some chances out of conference.

UAB (23-5, 11-3, RPI: 37, SOS: 110) also won twice and now hosts Memphis and then travels to league-leader UTEP to close the regular season. The Blazers really need both Ws.GW: Butler, Cincy.BL: at Kent State.

Memphis (21-8, 11-3, RPI: 64, SOS: 105) got thumped at Houston last week and is very fringe at this point.GW: UAB.BL: at UMass, at SMU, at Houston.

Locks: Gonzaga, Butler

Both teams continue to play for seeding. Will anyone else push their way into this group?




Utah State (22-6, 12-2, RPI: 33, SOS: 97) won at Hawaii and now has two home games left to take the WAC. If the Aggies win both, including the finale over New Mexico State, they'll win the league by multiple games and have a pretty solid at-large profile. One possible complication: Utah State could run into tourney host Nevada in the semifinals. That's not particularly fair, but the Aggies likely would have to win that one.GW: BYU, Wichita State (for bubble purposes).BL: at Long Beach State.

Saint Mary's (23-5, 11-3, RPI: 45, SOS: 139) won its last two WCC games at home to finish solo second, which is helpful. They'll get a double-bye into the WCC semis. The Gaels have two solid nonleague wins against bubble competitors. Could they absorb a third loss to Gonzaga and still get in?GW: at Utah State, San Diego State.BL: at Portland (for bubble damage).

ON THE PERIPHERY (if an at-large is needed)

Siena (MAAC) probably needs an auto bid now. Cornell (Ivy League) is one win away from one.