By Andy Glockner
March 09, 2011

There were dramatic auto-bid snatches (hello, UALR!), one-game playoffs forced (well done, Princeton) and bid thieves subdued (the bubblers thank Butler!), and all anyone wants to talk about is ... Villanova?

Yup, the Wildcats are the story of the night in Bubble Watch after throwing away a 16-point halftime lead and suffering a horrible last-second loss to South Florida (3-15 Big East) in the first round of their conference tournament.

The immediate aftermath on Twitter was fierce, with the vast majority of people immediately ushering the Wildcats out of the bracket completely. That's not happening. There's no way the committee, with a mandate to evaluate the entire résumé of an at-large team, will omit a team with six RPI top-50 wins with all of the flotsam at the bottom of this year's at-large pool. Villanova will become the first team in the 64/65/68-team era to make the NCAAs after losing its last five games.

GLOCKNER: Wednesday's bracket projection

The real question now is where to seed a team that finished 5-10 in its final 15 games, including coming very close to losing nine straight to close things out. Nova was a 7-seed entering Tuesday, and a drop to a 10-seed or so by Sunday looks very possible at this point. Now watch them make the Sweet 16 ...

Elsewhere, congratulations are in order for those Butler Bulldogs (Horizon), Oakland Grizzlies (Summit) and the Trojans from Little Rock (Sun Belt) for auto-bidding their way into the NCAAs (full automatic bid list).

Now things really start to cook. Here's some of what's on tap for Wednesday:

-- Marquette takes on West Virginia in the second round of the Big East tournament. The Golden Eagles are in OK position right now, but a win would clinch things for them.

-- The Big 12 tournament kicks off with bubble team Colorado needing to beat Iowa State to keep hopes alive.

-- In auto bid news, Robert Morris plays at Long Island in the NEC final and Montana will play at Northern Colorado in the Big Sky final.

Bubble Watch and Bracket Watch will be daily through Selection Sunday. Enjoy!

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

GW = good wins. BL = bad losses. (N) = neutral-site game.

Send your feedback to or to @aglock on Twitter. All submissions are read; polite, fact-based ones stand the best chance of a response.

(Conference Tournament Bracket)

Locks: Duke, North Carolina

North Carolina stormed past Duke on Saturday night to claim the outright ACC title, boosting its own surging seed aspirations while putting a crimp in Duke's push for a No. 1. Florida State will be the third team in from this league. The real question is: Will that be all?


Florida State (21-9, 11-5; RPI: 45, SOS: 81)Next game: Friday vs. Virginia Tech-Georgia Tech winner in ACC quarterfinalsHarrison Barnes cashiered the Noles in the final seconds, but FSU looked pretty good without Chris Singleton, so they should be OK in a year of bubble weakness. Beating NC State moves them to 11-5 and a solid third-place league finish. They haven't done a ton, but they have done more than enough.GW: Duke, Baylor (N)?BL: at Auburn


Boston College (19-11, 9-7; RPI: 44, SOS: 28)Next game: Thursday vs. 12-seed Wake Forest in ACC first roundThe Eagles came up huge, crushing Virginia Tech in Blacksburg to get a sweep and then taking care of Wake Forest. Now they have to beat the league minnow again to get a crack at Clemson in a possible win-and-in quarterfinal for both teams.GW: Texas A&M (N), sweep of VT, plus so-so collection of others.BL: Yale

Virginia Tech (19-10, 9-7, RPI: 64; SOS: 88)Next game: Thursday vs. 11-seed Georgia Tech in ACC first roundWhat's left to say? The Hokies are inexorably -- and squarely -- on the bubble again after a dispiriting 0-2 week that let BC and Clemson tighten things up. Now they have to win a useless first-round game against Georgia Tech before a meeting with Florida State in the quarters. I don't think their profile will hold up if they lose that game.GW: Duke, Florida State, plus batch of other OK WsBL: Virginia (2x), at Georgia Tech

Clemson (20-10, 9-7; RPI: 59, SOS: 75)Next game: Friday vs. BC-Wake Forest winner in ACC quarterfinalClemson gave it a decent go at Cameron but lost, but then handled VT to get to 9-7 and avoid having to play a first-round ACC tourney game. It may not be enough simply to beat Boston College (or, especially Wake, with a big upset), but North Carolina would await in the semis for the marquee win Clemson lacks.GW: BC, VT and FSU at home? Plus at College of CharlestonBL: at Virginia, at NC State

(Conference Tournament Bracket)

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

With the help of Texas losing three of its last five games, Kansas remarkably claimed a seventh straight Big 12 crown and seems headed for a No. 1 seed in the NCAAs. The Horns better figure things out quickly as this team looks nothing like it did three weeks ago, when people were touting it as possibly the national title favorite. The other team in the Sunflower State continues to surge, as well, and joins the lock party. K-State is suddenly looking like a team no one wants to see in their bracket.


Missouri (21-9, 8-8; RPI: 33, SOS: 41)Next game: Wed. vs. 11-seed Texas Tech in Big 12 first roundWith the talent on this roster, this is pretty much the absolute minimum this team could have accomplished. They'll make the NCAAs, but with one top-75 Big 12 win and a 1-7 road mark, this has been anything but impressive.GW: K-State, Vanderbilt, Old Dominion, vs. Illinois?BL: None, really


Colorado (18-12, 8-8; RPI: 76, SOS: 73)Next game: Wed. vs. 12-seed Iowa State in Big 12 first roundThe Buffaloes elbowed Nebraska aside to get to .500, but they could really end up lamenting the loss at Iowa State earlier in the week (and their atrocious nonleague schedule). They have a decent set of quality Ws, including a sweep of Kansas State and a win over Texas, but more work is needed. Beating Iowa State this time won't help, but what would beating K-State for a third time in the quarters mean?GW: Texas, Missouri, Colorado State (for bubble)?, sweep of Kansas StateBL: at San Francisco, at Oklahoma

Baylor (17-12, 7-9; RPI: 84; SOS: 39)Next game: Wed. vs. 10-seed Oklahoma in Big 12 first roundThe Bears' NCAA hopes are on life support. Too many losses everywhere -- in the league, on the road, against the top 50. If they beat Oklahoma, they get another shot at Texas after wasting one on Saturday. It likely will take at least a run to the tourney final now to get in. Best nonleague win: LipscombGW: Sweep of Texas A&MBL: at Iowa State (by 15), at Oklahoma, Texas Tech

(Conference Tournament Bracket)

Locks: Pitt, Villanova, UConn, Notre Dame, G'town, Louisville, St. John's, Syracuse, WVU, Cincinnati

The Bearcats locked up their spot with a really impressive two-win week. In the process, they may have edged the league closer to 10 bids than 11. Notre Dame's resume is begging for No. 1 seed consideration. Georgetown is begging for Chris Wright to get healthy. Jay Wright is begging for his team to stop a staggering free fall.




Marquette (19-13, 9-9; RPI: 66; SOS: 31)Next game: Wednesday vs. 6-seed West Virginia in Big East second roundThe Golden Eagles handled Providence in the first round of the Big East Tournament and look more settled for an at-large to the NCAAs. Things would look a lot more comfortable if they can win once more, on Wednesday vs. West Virginia.GW: at UConn plus a trio of good home league wins (WV, ND, Syracuse)BL: at Seton Hall

(Conference Tournament Bracket)

Locks: Ohio State, Purdue, Wisconsin

Purdue's stunning loss at Iowa dings the Boilermakers' hopes for a No. 1 seed in the NCAAs, but the most compelling news is coming from the bubble, where Michigan's second win over MSU has created a mess in the middle.




Illinois (19-12, 9-9; RPI: 40, SOS: 16)Next game: Friday vs. 4-seed Michigan in Big Ten quarterfinalsAnother expected split, another week where the Illini spurned the chance to impress. They seem like the prototype 8/9-seed right now. They'll joust with Michigan in a game the Illini probably don't need to win, but could put the Wolverines into the dance.GW: UNC, (plus MSU and Wisconsin at home), Maryland (N)?, Gonzaga (N)?BL: Illinois-Chicago (N), at Indiana

Michigan State (16-13, 9-9, RPI: 48, SOS: 9)Next game: Thursday vs. 10-seed Iowa in Big Ten first roundA loss at Michigan on Saturday, which gives the Wolverines a season sweep, has more or less eliminated any wiggle room and puts the Spartans in a sticky situation. With Penn State's win over Minnesota, the Spartans are now the 7-seed and are staring at a quarterfinal matchup with Purdue. If they don't win that game, this could end badly.GW: Washington (N) (plus Wisconsin and Minnesota at home)BL: Swept by Michigan (for bubble purposes), at Iowa

Michigan (18-12, 9-9; RPI: 56, SOS: 18)Next game: Friday vs. 5-seed Illinois in Big Ten quarterfinalsThe Wolverines got the critical sweep of Michigan State and now let the debates begin. Which team ends up ahead in the pecking order will come down to Big Ten tourney performance. Right now, I think the Spartans are barely ahead on the basis of better top-quality wins (although two of MSU's three top-50 wins came with Korie Lucious on the roster).GW: Sweep of Michigan State, HarvardBL: at Indiana

Penn State (16-13, 9-9; RPI: 55, SOS: 7)Next game: Thursday vs. 11-seed Indiana in Big Ten first roundThe Nittany Lions are 9-9 like three others, but have a weaker profile with an RPI fueled mostly by schedule strength. They probably need to make the tournament final to have a truly legit claim.GW: MSU, Illinois and Wisconsin all at home in league playBL: Maine

(Conference Tournament Bracket)

Locks: Arizona, UCLA

Arizona won the league. The Bruins remain safe. Washington most likely will be OK. Is there a bid thief lurking in USC with the conference tournament in its home city? This league is the most likely major conference to generate an extra bid out of nowhere.


Washington (20-10, 11-7; RPI: 46, SOS: 52)Next game: Thursday vs. 6-seed Washington State in Pac-10 quarterfinalsThe Huskies got a second win over UCLA, which now looks even larger after they lost to USC on Saturday. Third place in a weak Pac-10, with the three best wins over the two teams ahead of them? Not terribly compelling, but very likely enough this season to dance. Danger lurks in the Pac-10 tourney: a third meeting with cross-state rival Wazzu, which has beaten UW twice already.GW: Arizona, Sweep of UCLABL: at Oregon, at Oregon State, at Stanford (plus swept by Wazzu)


USC (18-13, 10-8, RPI: 68; SOS: 42)Next game: Thursday vs. 5-seed California in Pac-10 quarterfinalsIs a road split enough? The Trojans got the "good" one with a win at Washington and they have a pretty sizable stash of quality wins, but the overall resume is still heavily specked with warts. The Trojans get Cal (season split with road teams winning both) and then probably would see top-seed Arizona.GW: Texas, at Tennessee, Arizona, UCLA, at WashingtonBL: Rider (N), Oregon twice, at TCU, at Oregon State, Bradley (N)

(Conference Tournament Bracket)

Locks: Florida, Vanderbilt, Kentucky

Tennessee moves up a category simply because the field overall is too weak to find any reasonable way to omit them now that they're .500 in the SEC. They have nine top-50 and 11 top-100 wins. Congrats to Florida for winning the SEC title. The league tourney should be interesting, starting with a possible eliminator quarterfinal between Georgia and Alabama.


Tennessee (18-13, 8-8; RPI: 36; SOS: 3)Next game: Thursday vs. W4-seed Arkansas in SEC first roundThe Vols must be thrilled not to have to play at home again this season. They are a poor 10-7 at home and a very solid 8-5 road/neutral, with their three best wins of the season coming away from home. They have too many good wins to miss the NCAAs this year, so the SEC tourney is really just for seeding.GW: Villanova (N), at Pitt, at Vandy, VCU (N)?, at Georgia?BL: at Charlotte, at Arkansas (plus Oakland and College of Charleston at home?)


Georgia (20-10, 9-7; RPI: 39; SOS: 36)Next game: vs. W5-seed Auburn in SEC first roundThe Bulldogs could have firmed things up but lost at Alabama and now will face the Tide again if they can handle Auburn in a first-round SEC tourney affair. The Bulldogs lack quality wins, but all but the loss at 'Bama are inside the top 35. They're just 5-10 vs. the RPI top 100, though. Not good. Can they survive with an early SEC tourney loss?GW: Kentucky, at Tennessee, UAB?, Colorado? (for bubble purposes)BL: None

Alabama (20-10, 12-4; RPI: 79, SOS: 125)Next game: Friday vs. Georgia-Auburn winner in SEC quarterfinalsAfter beating Georgia at home, the Tide likely will get another chance at the Bulldogs in the SEC quarters. Lose there and they're done. Win there, it very well could be a chance at Kentucky and a possible golden ticket into the NCAAs. The middle ground (loss in SEC semis) means a debate, with the computer numbers not at all favorable. Bama's RPI would be significantly higher than NC State in 2005 (RPI: 63) and Stanford in 2007 (RPI: 63) -- the two highest RPI at-large teams to be invited since the formula was adjusted.GW: Kentucky, at TennesseeBL: Iowa (N), St. Peter's (N), at Arkansas?

Locks: Xavier, Temple

Xavier won the league. Temple kept pace. Both will dance. Richmond continues to win the games it needs to win, but probably needs more to survive. No one else has a chance other than an auto bid. Pretty clean picture heading to Atlantic City




Richmond (24-7, 13-3; RPI: 57, SOS: 139)Next game: Friday vs. Rhode Island in A-10 quarterfinalsGood for the Spiders. They had a series of very winnable games and won them all down the stretch. This season, that's reason for praise. It would be a bad idea to eat a loss in the quarters, though. The Spiders' profile has a decent chance of holding up with a loss to Temple in the semis.GW: Purdue, VCUBL: Georgia Tech (N), Bucknell (at home)

Locks: San Diego State, BYU, UNLV

The Rebels finished strong and make it three teams in for the MWC. The biggest story will be BYU's continued play without Brandon Davies. If they crash out before the MWC final and San Diego State wins it, the Aztecs could swipe the West region away. It doesn't appear that either Colorado State or New Mexico is a realistic at-large candidate at this point, but one will be done after they meet on Friday. The other should get a third shot at BYU.




Colorado State (18-11, 9-7; RPI: 43; SOS: 33)Next game: Thursday vs. 5-seed New Mexico in the MWC quarterfinalsNo dice for the Rams at San Diego State and now they're probably auto bid or bust.GW: at UNLV, Southern Miss (N)?BL: Sam Houston State, vs. Hampton, at Air Force

New Mexico (19-11, 8-8; RPI: 71; SOS: 90)Next game: Thursday vs. 4-seed Colorado State in the MWC quarterfinalsThe Lobos would have a better case if they had done better overall in league play once Drew Gordon became eligible. The two wins over BYU are great, but there's not much more to look at. The MWC is good, but not that good to think .500 is enough.GW: Sweep of BYUBL: Swept by Utah, at Wyoming

Auto bids: Belmont (A-Sun), Butler (Horizon), Gonzaga (WCC), Indiana State (MVC), Morehead State (OVC), Oakland (Summit), Old Dominion (CAA), Saint Peter's (MAAC), UALR (Sun Belt), UNC-Asheville (Big South), Wofford (SoCon)

Locks: George Mason

Butler most likely saved an at-large for someone else by taking out homestanding UW-Milwaukee to snag the Horizon's auto bid. Will that help someone in this category or go to a middling high-major? Can the Ivy actually squeeze out an at-large? We could be asking that Saturday night if Princeton wins the playoff with Harvard for the auto bid.SHOULD BE IN

Utah State (27-3, 15-1; RPI: 17, SOS: 122)Next game: Friday TBD in WAC semifinalsThe bubble's likely too weak to see USU dinged at this point, but I hope they win the auto bid so some thoroughly undeserving team doesn't litter the bracket. This league is Exhibit A for the ridiculousness of smaller conferences holding tournaments. Just send your best team.GW: at Saint Mary'sBL: at Idaho


UAB (22-7, 12-4; RPI: 28, SOS: 70)Next game: Thursday vs. East Carolina-Central Florida winner in C-USA quarterfinalsIt's a bit unfair to say the Blazers lack top-50 wins, since they have seven Ws from 49-58 in Monday's RPI. The issue is the (perceived) quality of those wins, so they better hope the committee thinks Marshall and Central Florida are decent teams. They have won some legit road games and only have one truly questionable loss. In this bubble year, they're in consideration at this point.GW: NoneBL: at Arizona State

Memphis (22-9, 10-6; RPI: 38, SOS: 56)Next game: Thursday vs. Southern Miss-Tulane winner in C-USA quarterfinalsThe Tigers still have the best collection of wins in C-USA as far as an at-large profile, but they finished in third (even with the balanced schedule), two games behind UAB (even after beating the Blazers twice).GW: Sweep of UAB, at Gonzaga (bubble purposes), some 50-60ish league winsBL: at ECU, at Rice, at SMU

Saint Mary's (22-7, 11-3; RPI: 47; SOS: 104)Season complete.The Gaels lost to Gonzaga in the WCC final and now need to hope their late-season fade doesn't cost them an NCAA bid. There's not a ton of meat to their profile. SMC still plays Weber State before Selection Sunday, but that won't impact the Gaels' at-large hopes unless they lose.GW: St. John'sBL: at San Diego

VCU (23-11, 12-6; RPI: 49, SOS: 85)Season complete.The Rams almost rallied from a huge deficit, but fell to Old Dominion in the CAA final and now must wait and see if their profile is good enough to withstand a week of scrutiny and high-major tournaments. They have more solid wins than some on the list, but the L4 at the end of CAA play that dropped them into a tie for third place may end up condemning them to the NIT.GW: at ODU, George Mason (N), UCLA (N), at Wichita State?BL: at South Florida, at Northeastern, at Georgia State

Missouri State (25-8, 15-3; RPI: 41; SOS: 124)Season complete.The Bears fell to Indiana State in the Valley final and probably don't have the quality of profile to be a serious at-large consideration, despite the Valley's title. Nothing to do now but wait.GW: Sweep of Wichita StateBL: at Tulsa?, at Evansville

Harvard (21-5, 12-2; RPI: 35, SOS: 157)Next game: Playoff on Saturday vs. Princeton in New Haven, Conn.The Crimson clinched at least a share of the Ivy crown by beating Princeton on Saturday, but now will need to win the rubber match between the two to claim the Ivy's auto bid after Princeton won at Penn Tuesday night to snag a share of the regular-season crown. Can Harvard get an at-large if it loses? Despite solid RPI numbers, it seems unlikely they could make it that way. That three-point loss at Michigan looks pretty meaningful now.GW: at Boston College, Colorado (for bubble purposes)BL: at Yale

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