By Andy Glockner
March 13, 2010

Andy Glockner will offer a full edition of the Bubble Watch each morning, then provide updates as the action plays out. Check back throughout the day for ongoing bubble analysis. All times are ET.


A horrendous Saturday for bubble teams culminated a few minutes ago with yet another upset when New Mexico State took down Utah State for the WAC crown. Now the red Aggies get the automatic bid, and the blue Aggies, presumed safe as an at-large (despite some outside opinion to the contrary), will take up yet another precious bracket spot.

This makes two things very clear: 1) Mississippi State needs to win the SEC title tomorrow, and 2) There are very few at-large spots left. That leaves teams like Minnesota, Illinois, Florida, Cal and Virginia Tech very, very concerned tonight.

We'll have a last look at the bubble teams and a fresh bracket in the morning and a finalized bracket late afternoon.


This has been a very bad day for bubble teams hoping for at-large bids. The trend continued with Washington's Pac-10 final win over Cal and San Diego State's Mountain West championship victory at UNLV. That means two teams that were just on the right side of the cutline just hours ago are in automatically, which also means two fewer spots for the bubble. I say "could" because while UNLV is certain to dance, removing one spot, it's not clear whether Cal will survive as an at-large. The Golden Bears will get some injury consideration for a couple of early nonleague losses and won the Pac-10; but in such a down year, Cal's 15-6 overall Pac-10 mark doesn't rate any better in the computers than going 11-7 or so in the ACC. Cal has every "intangible" advantage to make it -- a title in a traditional power conference, the look of a solid team when healthy, the fact that they tried to schedule some good teams and played very few poor ones -- but the truth is that they haven't done anything to actually deserve an NCAA spot.

Mix in Minnesota's destruction of Purdue and Illinois' strong showing against Ohio State, and all of this is very bad news for teams like Florida and Virginia Tech. If Utah State loses tonight or Mississippi State beats Kentucky tomorrow to force its way in, it could be lights out for a couple of these teams.


Mississippi State and Georgia Tech both took another step toward the NCAAs by making the SEC and ACC finals, respectively. How safe either is, though, is still up for debate. It will depend on results later tonight (Utah State in the WAC and the Cal/Washington Pac-10 final) and how each team does tomorrow.

Georgia Tech is in much stronger position after holding off NC State, having started the day in the bracket and with a sounder resume despite the under .500 regular-season ACC mark. Now they get a shot at Duke in the final to do it the auto-bid way. If they show well in that game and strange things don't happen elsewhere, it looks like they'll get there.

Mississippi State very well may need to beat Kentucky and get the automatic bid. Beating Vandy and Florida on consecutive days arguably stand as MSU's two best wins has all season, depending on how you consider a neutral-site win over Old Dominion. With some bad losses as demerits and a weakish resume, the Bulldogs may not be able to survive an SEC final loss.


Rhode Island became the latest bubble team presumably to fall short of the NCAAs, losing a noncompetitive game to Temple in the A-10 semifinals 57-44. The Rams just don't have the quality wins to get into the bracket as it continues to tighten up around them.

In the Big Ten, Illinois, which lost to Ohio State 88-81 in double overtime, has shown enough here to cement its at-large status. The Illini probably weren't even in the last four out entering Saturday and its hard to imagine them being caught by enough teams at this point to leave them out.


Houston pulled the upset in the Conference USA final, beating No. 25 UTEP 81-73 and executed the year's first bid steal. That's bad news for some bubble team, as UTEP now drops into the at-large pool and almost certainly will be selected.

If Saturday morning's bracket was accurate, that means Minnesota is pushed out of the field. That makes it even more imperative that the Golden Gophers take out Purdue later today, and for teams like Rhode Island and Mississippi State to keep winning if they want to make the NCAAs. It also tightens things further for teams like Virginia Tech, Washington and Florida, who are barely in the field.

Minnesota, Mississippi State, Washington, Georgia Tech and Rhode Island won really important games on Friday and continue to push for at-large spots. While none are locks yet, they all certainly took strong steps forward and have chances today to gain various levels of security.

Who's now sweating? Florida and Virginia Tech made potentially costly missteps while teams like Mississippi and Dayton probably sealed their fates with tourney losses.

All bubblers also want the following to happen: -- Utah State to win the WAC over New Mexico State -- UTEP to win C-USA over Houston -- Duke to win the ACC (preferably over NC State after the Wolfpack beats Georgia Tech)

If all of those things happen, the bubble will stay as large as it is now. Any of the favorites in those leagues lose, and one of the cutline squads will get chopped.

Here are Saturday's important bubble/bracket games:

Houston-UTEP (11:30 a.m. ET): Cougars go for the bid steal in C-USA

Rhode Island-Temple (1 p.m.): Huge bubble chance for the Rams, who need a marquee win

Illinois-Ohio St. (1:40 p.m.): Illini can ice things with a semifinal win; might not need it

Vanderbilt-Miss. State (3 p.m.): 'Dores could close the door at three bids for the SEC

NC State-Georgia Tech (3:30 p.m.): Bad bubble news either way. Win helps Tech or creates bid thief

Minnesota-Purdue (4 p.m.): Gophers very well may need this win to hold on to an NCAA spot

Washington-Cal (6 p.m.): Are the Huskies OK win or lose? It doesn't look certain that they are

New Mexico State-Utah State (10 p.m.): Late-night bid thievery attempt in the WAC

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

Send your very valuable feedback to or to @aglock on 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 have to sweep off every empty seat at the WAC final in Reno.

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, Clemson, Florida State

Duke keeps pushing toward a No. 1 seed although the Blue Devils now face Miami, which won't do anything for them except maybe make advancing easier. Maryland's loss to Georgia Tech might cap the Terps at a fifth seed. Clemson and FSU will be mid-bracket seeds.


Wake Forest (19-10, 9-7, RPI: 37, SOS: 27) was awful in a blowout loss to Miami and staggers into the NCAAs having lost five of its last six. The Demon Deacons could very well be looking at a double-digit seed when everything sifts out. Their good wins and the soft bubble should keep them in.GW: at Gonzaga, Xavier, Richmond, Maryland plus ClemsonBL: Miami twice, UNC at home, at NC State, plus W&M for bubble purposes


Georgia Tech (20-11, 7-9, RPI: 35, SOS: 16) picked up a huge win over Maryland to strengthen its position. Now the committee will have a mess on its hands if GT's run ends Saturday. The Jackets finished three games behind the Hokies in the ACC, but have much better big wins and computer numbers. GW: Duke, Maryland, splits with Wake and Clemson? Siena?BL: Swept by FSU in addition to Wake/Clemson splits (bubble purposes), lost at Miami


Virginia Tech (23-8, 10-6, RPI: 56, SOS: 132) now faces a really uncomfortable wait after losing its ACC tourney opener to Miami. The Hokies' resume, with the 340th-ranked nonleague schedule flashing like a neon warning sign, is not very good despite 10 ACC wins. This is going to be very close.GW: at Georgia Tech, plus Clemson and Wake at home and vs. Seton Hall (all bubblers)BL: Miami twice, at BC are hurting

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

Kansas moves into the Big 12 final and surely is a top seed -- and likely the No. 1 overall seed. The Jayhawks get in-state rival K-State for a third time. Should be a good one. This league will get seven bids.

Locks: Syracuse, Villanova, Georgetown, West Virginia, Pitt, Marquette, Notre Dame

West Virginia edged Notre Dame to move into the Big East final and still has a shot at a No. 1 seed, but must beat surging Georgetown. Marquette and the Irish now wait to see their seeding bump. Louisville and Seton Hall wait to see if they make the field.


Louisville (20-12, 11-7, RPI: 40, SOS: 6) lost its BET opener to Cincinnati but has gotten a ton of help from other teams behind it. Despite a very suspect profile, the Cardinals probably are safe, as the field has to have 65 teams in it. It wouldn't be an utter crime if they missed, though. GW: Sweep of Syracuse, beat Notre Dame (w/o Luke Harangody, for bubble purposes) BL: Charlotte (injury asterisk, but by 22), W. Carolina, at SHU and St. John's?

Seton Hall (19-12, 9-9, RPI: 60, SOS: 32) is still a longish shot, but it's not impossible that the Pirates could squeak into the bracket. With no bad losses and a handful of solid wins, it depends on how the committee views their work against different types of profiles around them.GW: Pitt, at Cornell, plus L'ville, ND for bubble purposesBL: None bad (all in top 75), just a lot of them

Locks: Michigan State, Purdue, Wisconsin, Ohio State

Purdue edged into the Big Ten semis, getting past Northwestern, but still hasn't looked very good without Robbie Hummel. They won't get to test themselves against a league heavyweight in the semis, either, although frisky Minnesota will be trying to push its way into the NCAAs. EvanTurner's 37-foot buzzer-beater keeps the Buckeyes' No. 1 seed hopes alive, although they'll probably end up as a No. 2. Illinois took a huge step forward in beating Wisconsin.




Illinois (19-13, 10-8, RPI: 72, SOS: 39) may have won the game it needed to make the NCAAs by taking out Wisconsin in the Big Ten quarters. The Illini now have five very credible wins (although two earlier ones were injury-aided), but also some bad losses. The RPI is still a sizable issue. GW: at Clemson, Vandy, Mich St. (w/o Kalin Lucas), at WisconsinBL: Utah, Bradley, Georgia, plus home to Minnesota (bubble battle)

Minnesota (20-12, 9-9, RPI: 68, SOS: 54) took out Michigan State in OT to move closer to the cutline. The Gophers almost certainly still need to beat weakened Purdue in the semis. If they get that one, they could be the surprise team that pushes its way into the field. GW: Butler, Ohio State (with Turner), Wisconsin, at Illinois (bubble purposes)BL: Portland (N), at Miami, swept by Michigan plus at IU and N'western

Locks: Cal

Cal is in the Pac-10 finals and probably will get a bid win or lose at this point, even with its odd profile. Washington is right on the cutline at the moment and would be wise to win the final.




Washington (22-9, 11-7, RPI: 46, SOS: 69) gets its rubber match with Cal, possibly with its NCAA tournament life at stake. The Huskies are barely in the bracket at the moment and it's not clear whether they could absorb a loss and stay in.GW: Texas A&M, split with Cal and ASU (bubble purposes)BL: Oregon, at UCLA and USC in league play


Arizona State (22-10, 12-6, RPI: 63, SOS: 80) probably ended its NCAA hopes with a bad quarterfinal loss to Stanford. The overall profile just isn't good enough.GW: SDSU, split with UW (bubble purposes)BL: at UCLA, swept by Cal (bubble purposes)

Locks: Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Tennessee

All three big guns won and head to the semis, where Kentucky and Tennessee will face off. Vanderbilt gets Mississippi State in a game the Bulldogs probably have to have. Otherwise, this could possibly be a three-bid league, although Florida still is hanging on to a bid.




Mississippi State (22-10, 9-7, RPI: 64, SOS: 106) got a huge win over Florida, but likely needs to take out Vanderbilt in the semis to have a truly legitimate claim for an at-large. The Bulldogs don't have very many good wins and they have a handful of suspect losses.GW: ODU, split with Florida, sweep of Ole Miss (bubble purposes)BL: Rider, at Arkansas, at Auburn, Florida (for bubble purposes)


Florida (21-12, 9-7, RPI: 54, SOS: 33) couldn't handle Miss. State in the quarters and now has put its fate directly in the committee's hands. The Gators' profile is all over the map. There are some good wins and some bad efforts, too. They're sitting just on the right side of the cutline at the moment.GW: Michigan St. (N), Tennessee, Florida St., plus split with Miss St., beat Miss (bubble purposes)BL: South Alabama; at Georgia

Mississippi (21-10, 9-7, RPI: 59, SOS: 64) is probably headed to the NIT after losing to Tennessee. The Rebels have two very good nonleague wins, but they went 0-7 against the other five NCAA contenders in the SEC.GW: K-State (N), UTEP (with Derrick Caracter)BL: Arkansas (plus swept by Miss. State for bubble purposes)

Locks: Temple, Richmond, Xavier

The top three all made the semis. Now it's up to Rhode Island to see if the league can get four teams into the NCAAs. Dayton's finally done after blowing yet another game it could have won.




Rhode Island (22-8, 9-7, RPI: 39, SOS: 88) handled Saint Louis and now gets its chance to add a marquee win in the semis against Temple. It doesn't seem realistic for the Rams to dance without winning this one, even though they're very close to in as of Saturday's bracket.GW: at Dayton, OK State (N)BL: at Saint Louis, at St. Bona, at UMass


Dayton (20-12, 8-8, RPI: 51, SOS: 31) is a good team that couldn't close out close games this season, and blowing a huge second-half lead and losing to rival Xavier in AC almost certainly will be the end of their NCAA hopes.GW: Georgia Tech (N), Old Dominion, Xavier, Charlotte (bubble purposes)BL: at Saint Joe's, swept by Saint Louis, at Duquesne

Auto bid: Old Dominion

Old Dominion held off William & Mary for the CAA crown, and probably will be the only team in the NCAAs from this conference.


WAIT AND HOPE William & Mary (21-10, 12-6, RPI: 57, SOS: 107) looks more viable after so many others lost on Thursday and Friday. The quality nonleague and road wins are there, but so are three bad league losses (two at home) and a terrible national TV showing at Iona in BracketBusters. The Tribe are really hard against Mississippi State, Illinois, Rhode Island and Washington, and rooting for UTEP and Utah State to win their auto bids.GW: at Wake, at Maryland, Richmond (also beat CAA No. 2 Northeastern twice)BL: UNCW, at JMU, Towson, routed at Iona

Locks: New Mexico, BYU, UNLV

San Diego State took a huge step toward making this a four-bid league by beating league champ New Mexico in the semis. Now the Aztecs get the Host, UNLV, in the final. This looks pretty likely to be four bids either way, but SDSU would be wise to win the final to make sure.


San Diego State (22-8, 11-5, RPI: 24, SOS: 57) did beat New Mexico again. Yeah, the resume's kind of thin, but the MWC is solid and the Aztecs' worst league loss, at Wyoming, also has some injury taint to it. They look like an NCAA team, especially this season. They're currently four or five spots above the cutline and a loss at UNLV in the final shouldn't drop them out.GW: New Mexico twice, UNLVBL: at Pacific, at Wyoming

Auto bid: Northern Iowa

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 likely is headed to the NIT.


WAIT AND HOPE Wichita State (24-9, 12-6, RPI: 43, SOS: 102) doesn't appear to have the quality wins to entertain serious at-large hopes, despite all the freefalling on Thursday.GW: Texas Tech?, UNIBL: at Ill. St., at Drake, at Evansville

Locks: None

UTEP ripped past host Tulsa and is now an overwhelming favorite to beat Houston and make this a one-bid league. The Miners will be in either way now. It would be terrible to omit them with the bubble the way it looks.


WAIT AND HOPE Memphis (23-9, 11-3, RPI: 53, SOS: 84) lost by a point to Houston and quite likely is done as an at-large hopeful. The Tigers also swept UAB, but lost at home to UTEP and don't have much else to help.GW: Swept UABBL: at UMass, at SMU, Houston twice

UAB (23-7, 11-5, RPI: 45, SOS: 99) also went out in the C-USA quarters, in poor fashion, and has virtually no chance of getting in now. Despite a couple of nonleague wins, the Blazers got swept by both Memphis and UTEP and don't have a profile worthy of an at-large.GW: Butler, CincyBL: Swept by Memphis, Southern Miss.

Auto bids: Saint Mary's, Butler

Locks: Gonzaga, Utah State

Utah State shredded Louisiana Tech in the WAC semis and locks up a bid, win or lose in the WAC final. There's no way this team should miss with the bubble this bad. Butler, Saint Mary's and Gonzaga are in from earlier in the week.

- Cornell (Ivy)- East Tennessee State (Atlantic Sun)- Lehigh (Patriot)- Montana (Big Sky)- Murray State (Ohio Valley)- North Texas (Sun Belt)- Oakland (Summit)- Robert Morris (Northeast)- Siena (MAAC)- Winthrop (Big South)- Wofford (SoCon)

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