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2021 College Basketball Bubble Watch - 2-28-21

College Basketball

2021 College Basketball Bubble Watch, Feb. 28: Sparty On

Gophers off.

The Big Ten has led a number of changes in this weekend’s bubble watch, just two weeks away from Selection Sunday 2021.

Yes, that is the best conference in college basketball and it may not be close. However, it will not mean all the same teams will get into the tournament as we suspected a few weeks ago. In fact, there have been some wholesale changes at the bottom of the bracket in general that need our attention.

When we completed the February 28 college basketball bracketology, even we were stunned when we had some teams going up four lines of seeding in a week. The negative effect was also observed in teams going from 9 or 10-seeds to out of the field. Something like that happening shows you that there is not a lot of room in between the contending teams when you boil it down. That should make for a very interesting bubble watch this weekend.

Bubble Watch, Feb. 28: ACC

DEFINITELYFlorida State, Virginia
MOST LIKELYVirginia Tech, Clemson
PROBABLYLouisville, North Carolina
POSSIBLY (bubble but in)Georgia Tech
POSSIBLY NOT (bubble but out)Duke

What a week for the ACC, seeing the return of one of its anchor teams, Duke, while Georgia Tech surges towards the field. As of February 28th, they are out last team in based off of their recent roll. The Jackets have had a weird season but it will work out for them if they take care of business from here. The ACC will almost certainly get six teams in the field at a minimum, which constitutes a down year for them.

Bubble Watch, Feb. 28: American

POSSIBLY (bubble but in)Wichita State
POSSIBLY NOT (bubble but out)SMU

Houston has ruled the American conference for much of the season; though Wichita State is in first place at the moment, we still project Houston as the automatic qualifier. That leaves Wichita State somewhere in the 12-seed range, which is just good enough to get them inside the field. It helps that much of the bubble has collapsed around them. SMU has been spotted on the fringes of the bubble but has yet to make any sort of surge towards the cut line.

Bubble Watch, Feb. 28: Big 12

DEFINITELYBaylor, West Virginia, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Texas Tech
MOST LIKELYOklahoma State
POSSIBLY (bubble but in)None
POSSIBLY NOT (bubble but out)None

The Big 12 has in essence no teams on the bubble; we listed TCU above only to be nice. All of the Big 12’s tournament contenders are locks or near-locks at this point in the season.

Bubble Watch, Feb. 28: Big East

POSSIBLY (bubble but in)Connecticut, Seton Hall
POSSIBLY NOT (bubble but out)Xavier
PROBABLY NOTSt. John’s, Providence

Villanova is the only sure thing in the Big East this season, though Creighton is a close second. The rest of the winning teams in the Big East are on the bubble, so in theory there could be just two tournament bids out of here, but realistically three is the floor. Xavier is right on the cut line while UConn and Seton Hall are just north of it; of the latter two, UConn’s position is better. St. John’s could have made a run after Villanova but did not, and Providence has been grounded for over a month.

Bubble Watch, Feb. 28: Big Ten

DEFINITELYMichigan, Ohio State, Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin
PROBABLYRutgers, Maryland
POSSIBLY (bubble but in)Michigan State
POSSIBLY NOT (bubble but out)Indiana, Minnesota

The nation’s leading conference this season is going to get at least eight bids to the tournament. That could have been as high as 10 or 11 had Indiana and Minnesota played better basketball down the stretch. Neither did and both are on the outs. Minnesota, despite all the Quadrant 1 wins, is now further outside the tournament than Michigan State is inside it. Indiana has likewise been lousy. Everyone north of Michigan State on the chart should be confident of their chances.

Bubble Watch, Feb. 28: Pac-12

POSSIBLY (bubble but in)None
POSSIBLY NOT (bubble but out)Stanford, Arizona

We were struggling even to say UCLA is a definite, but at least one team has to get into the field, and they are in first place. However, they have teams in good shape for sure. The Pac-12 looks like a four-bid conference at this point with a possibility of expanding to six, but that’s a real reach. Five seems to be the best they are going to do, though the Cardinal are fading down the stretch and it’s not clear if Arizona has done enough to earn a bid.

Bubble Watch, Feb. 28: SEC

DEFINITELYAlabama, Arkansas
MOST LIKELYTennessee, Missouri
POSSIBLY (bubble but in)None
POSSIBLY NOT (bubble but out)Ole Miss
PROBABLY NOTGeorgia, Mississippi State

What a world we live in that Kentucky is (way) down but a handful of football schools like Alabama and LSU are in very good shape to make the NCAA Tournament. Go figure, but they’ve earned it, especially in the case of Alabama, who are on track for a 2-seed in March. Arkansas is rising fast and are proving to be one of the most dangerous teams in the country. The best and perhaps only chance for the SEC to expand on six bids is Ole Miss, but time is running out for them.

Bubble Watch, Feb. 28: Other Conferences

POSSIBLY (bubble but in)Drake (MVC), Colorado State (MWC), Boise State (MWC)
POSSIBLY NOT (bubble but out)Richmond (A-10), Saint Louis (A-10), Utah State (MWC)
PROBABLY NOTDayton (A-10), Davidson (A-10), Nevada (MWC)

In the above, we do not list Gonzaga, San Diego State, or St. Bonaventure as automatic qualifiers in their respective conferences. The mid-majors are all clustering around the cut line, but it did not have to be this way for a few of them. Drake and Boise State could have iced bids if they just kept handling their business, but instead they collapsed towards the bottom. Richmond, Saint Louis, and Utah State all remain contenders but none are on the correct side of the line. Nobody else has a genuine shot outside of winning their conference tournament.

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