Bubbles could burst in early stretches of championship week
Welcome to the bubble-bursting segment of our show, the early part of championship week where every bubble team holds its breath and prays the favorites take care of business.
Monday night features three games that very well could impact the size of the at-large pool:
• Gonzaga is in either way, and Saint Mary's might be able to hang on to an at-large with a loss, but bubblers are rooting for a big Zags blowout to weaken the Gaels' case.
• The CAA sees Old Dominion, which probably is in either way, take on William & Mary for the third time this season. W&M is a very fringe at-large candidate, so bubblers want the Monarchs to win.
• In the MAAC, bubblers need Siena to hold serve against Fairfield. The Saints would be considered for an at-large, although losing on its home court after missing on every big nonleague chance would make one unlikely.
Then Tuesday night, it will be Butler's turn, as the Bulldogs try to tame Wright State and finish a perfect 20-0 in the Horizon.
What else you need to know:
• The SEC and A-10 should have taken gun control classes, because neither conference can stop shooting itself in the foot. It's not impossible that both leagues could end up with only three bids.
• Whichever you prefer as the second Pac-10 team today (Arizona State or Washington) is basically irrelevant since they're bracketed to meet in a tourney semifinal and decide their fates on the court.
• Utah State is now positioned as a sneaky at-large thief out of the WAC. If the Aggies make the WAC final, especially if they draw event host Nevada, they should get in.
Duke remains strongly in the mix for a No. 1 seed. Maryland's playing for a protected one. Beyond those two, Clemson and Florida State look set to dance, while Georgia Tech may be playing its way right into the NIT.
Kansas remains locked in as a No. 1 seed, but K-State's hopes of pushing onto that line ended abruptly with two losses this week, including a home shocker to Iowa State. Missouri joins the lock party after getting to 10-6 in the league. The only question, outside of a shock tourney champ, is whether Oklahoma State makes it, and the Cowboys are in solid shape.
Syracuse remains entrenched as a No. 1 seed despite the loss at Louisville. That win very well may send the Cards to the NCAAs.
Is this where it ends for the Big East? Could be.
Purdue has won twice now since losing
As almost everyone else on the bubble slides back, the Pac-10 candidates at least kept winning their games, so Arizona State and Washington are fair game to discuss. They're slated to meet in a Pac-10 semifinal if they both get there, which could double as an NCAA play-in game.
The teams behind the big three are not making this very easy. It's very possible this league only gets four teams in if the three locks all make the semis. Kentucky will be a No. 1 seed in the NCAAs.
The great league race ended with Temple and Xavier tied at 14-2 and Richmond a game back. The Owls get the 1-seed by virtue of their five-point home win over the X-men. With the other bubblers crippling themselves this week, it very well could end up with just three for a league that looked poised for four or five bids. Disappointing.
The league's two at-large candidates (with W&M loosely in that category) will meet in the CAA final tonight, with bubblers rooting hard for Old Dominion so the CAA probably doesn't get two bids.
New Mexico will be seeded ahead of BYU. Salt Lake City is 300 miles closer to Albuquerque than Houston, so presumably the Lobos would stay in the West and push BYU to the East. We'll see.
UNI pulled away from Wichita State in the second half of the MVC final to nail down the title and remove any at-large doubt. Now Wichita State waits and hopes, but likely is headed to the NIT.
UTEP rallied past UAB Saturday for an enormous win and a league crown by two games over Memphis. The Miners are in pretty decent shape now as a possible at-large, should they need one.
Both teams are a win away from auto bids, which would be good news for the bubblers. Elsewhere, Bubble Watch was bullish early on Utah State, and the Aggies have taken care of business. They're now in very legitimate shape for an at-large should they need one.