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NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament - First Round - Villanova v BYU

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Bubble Watch: 3/11/23

Projecting the NCAA Basketball Tournament field of 68

Photo by Tim Fuller/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

1 day until Selection Sunday – what a ride it has been! On Sunday morning check back to see the full bracket projection including locations

Another great win for A&M, and one that significantly improves all the metrics for what will realistically be the final chance to do so before the committee basically locks in the seeds on Saturday afternoon. Almost everyone else on the 4, 5 and 6 lines continued to win yesterday and continuing into today with just a few exceptions. A&M remains right on the 5/6 seed cut line with maybe each seed equally likely. I do not see a 7 or a 4 as realistic at this point.

We just wrapped up a wild two days of carnage across the country with the bubble essentially imploding on Thursday evening with several teams near the cut line making it very obvious they are destined for the NIT. Ultimately there may not be that much conversation to be had on the bubble this year, there are about 9 teams for 6 spots, but most of that decision is pretty easy. We will get into exactly where each of those teams stand.

One-bid leagues

Conference (Projected Champ, Current Net – Bold teams have already won the automatic bid)

12 Seeds

1. Summit League – Oral Roberts (37) – Either ORU or Charleston would move up to an 11 if there is a late bid thief.

2. CAA – Charleston (50)

3. MVC – Drake (53)

4. A10 (VCU, 63) Championship 3/12

13 Seeds

5. MAC - (Kent State, 66) Championship 3/11 (vs. Toledo, 79) – Toledo would also be a 13.

6. MAAC – (Iona, 62) Championship 3/11 (vs. Marist, 282) – Marist would be a 16 in the play in game and everyone else moves up 1 spot.

7. Ivy – (Yale, 65) Championship 3/12

8. Sun Belt – Louisiana (89)

14 Seeds

9. Southern – Furman (88)

10. Big West – (UCSB, 103) 3/11 vs. (Cal State Fullerton, 122) – CSF would be a 15

11. Patriot – Colgate(100)

12. Atlantic Sun – Kennesaw State (113)

15 Seeds

13. Big Sky – Montana State (104)

14. WAC – (Southern Utah, 105) 3/11 (vs. Grand Canyon, 119)

15. America East (Vermont, 111) 3/11 (vs. UMass Lowell, 115)

16. Big South UNC Asheville, 139

16 Seeds

17. Horizon - Northern Kentucky (157)

18. SWAC (Grambling State, 173) 3/11

19. %MEAC (Norfolk State, 185) 3/11 (vs. Howard, 217)

20. %Southland – Texas A&M Corpus Christi, 180

21. %Ohio Valley – Southeastern Missouri, 243

22. %Northeast – Fairleigh Dickinson, 300

%= 16 seed play in game participant

And just like that we are down to 10 conferences battling for 46 spots.

1 other conference, CUSA will likely be a 1 bid league but would require FAU to win the tournament to do so. FAU is firmly in the field as a lock and their auto bid placeholder is counted when we get to their at large profile.

Multi-bid conference/at-large seeds

For the other 9 conferences, they each have multiple teams that as of right now would make the field and get an at large. Their conference leader will be counted as their auto bid and will be bolded. Those 9 leagues are (ACC, AAC Big 12, Big Ten, SEC, Big East, MWC, Pac 12, and WCC).

So, what about the 46 bids remaining? Let the counting begin…

Teams without any detail after their team’s name are considered locks. Net ranking listed by each bubble team name. Bold teams count as the auto bid placeholder for their respective conference.

$ = Lock

1 seeds

23. $Kansas Big 12 Auto Bid - #1 Overall Seed

24. $Alabama – Locked into a 1 seed. If Kansas loses and Arkansas wins on Saturday, I will flip this.

25. Houston AAC auto bid – Locked into a 1 seed.

26. $UCLA Pac 12 auto bid – Controls destiny for a 1 seed. May slip down to the top 2 seed due to Jaylen Clark’s injury. Stays a 1 seed in my estimation with a win on Saturday.

2 seeds

27. $Purdue Big Ten auto bid – Possible 1 seed if UCLA loses and Purdue wins on Saturday.

28. $Texas – Locked in as a 2 seed.

29. $Arizona – Locked in as a 2 seed.

30. $Gonzaga WCC Auto bid – The win over SMC was impressive enough that they played their way into a 2 seed.

3 seeds

31. $Marquette Big East auto bid – Locked in as a 3 seed, the biggest threat to be a 2 if they win on Saturday.

32. $Baylor – I had them as a 2 seed coming into the week, but the last 2 losses have been bad enough that their numbers have really tanked and I now believe they are most likely a 3. A 2 wouldn’t be a shocker.

33. $UConn – Could be as low as a 4.

34. $Xavier – 3 Big East 3 seeds? It may look a bit weird, but I think all 3 deserve it, especially if Xavier wins on Saturday.

4 seeds

35. $Tennessee

36. $Kansas State

37. $Indiana – I believe Hoosiers are a 4 regardless of the rest of the Big Ten Tournament.

38. $Virginia ACC auto bid – if I had to pick a vulnerable 4 seed, I guess I would say Virginia, however by the time they play Saturday night they are likely locked in as the last 4.

5 seeds

39. $Iowa State

40. $San Diego State MWC auto bid – possibly vulnerable to be caught by A&M if they lose Saturday. Lack of top end wins.

41. $Texas A&M – Another big win to boost the metrics into 5 seed range. A 6 feels like the absolute floor and between a 5/6 it feels almost 50/50. Perhaps a win over Vandy could do the trick, but even with a win in that one I will only be about 50/50 on A&M being a 5 or a 6. A loss to Vandy and I do think we are a 6. My Sunday update will include a more in depth analysis pouring over the numbers between A&M and the 6 or 7 teams very close to them.

42. $Duke – very close profile wise to A&M. Winners of 8 in a row and playing for the ACC title on Saturday night.

6 Seeds

43. $Miami – Good quad 1 wins, terrible metrics for a team this high, I could definitely see the committee seeding A&M higher than Miami, despite most projections continuing to hold Miami steady on the 5 line.

44. $St. Mary’s – The loss by 26 to Gonzaga in the WCC Finals opened the door for SMC to slip to a 6 and it feels like everyone that was on the 6-line decided to barge right through that door. It wouldn’t shock me to see SMC stay a 5 but I think the lack of top end wins ultimately pushes them to a 6. (Regular Season Over)

45. $TCU

46. $Kentucky

7 Seeds

47. $Creighton – the only 7 I even slightly worry about being seeded ahead of A&M if A&M loses Saturday. Creighton has better predictive metrics than A&M. A&M beats this resume everywhere else.

48. $Missouri – Could possibly play their way to the 6 line, however I feel pretty confident locking them in as a 7.

49. $Michigan State

50. $Florida Atlantic CUSA auto bid – Probably drops to an 8 with a loss on Saturday.

8 Seed

51. $Maryland

52. $Northwestern

53. $West Virginia

54. $Memphis

9 seeds

55. $Arkansas

56. $Utah State Incredible finish to the year to play their way into the tournament. Won their last 7 games, picking up their first couple of Quad 1 wins along the way. Very impressive metrics that have hem safely in and somewhere near the 9 seed line.

57. $Boise State

58. $Auburn

10 Seeds

59. $Illinois

60. $Iowa

61. $Penn State

62. $USC

------The bubble starts here---

6 at large spots up for grabs. 9 Teams realistically in contention. I will do a deep dive on these 9 teams in tomorrow’s update after all the numbers from Friday’s games are known.

11 seeds

63. NC State (45, 23-10) – Continued to slide back dangerously close to #69 throughout the week. I still feel relatively safe about the Wolfpack, but it may be Dayton and if there are bid stealers they may still be in real trouble. (Regular Season Over)

64. Providence (55, 21-11) – Similar story to NC State, if there are any bid stealers Providence will really start to sweat, probably ok for now. (Regular Season Over)

65. *Rutgers (38, 19-14) Rutgers went into freefall mode in late February and will be thankful last 10 games is no longer a consideration (just 3-7). 3 of those losses were quad 3 losses. Rutgers didn’t do much OOC other than beating a mediocre Wake Forest. They do have 5 quad 1 wins including the win at Purdue which ultimately will be what gets them in. (Regular Season Over)

66. *Mississippi State (46, 21-12) Bulldogs are likely in but I am a bit less sure than many bracketologists. Worse predictive analytics than Oklahoma State, but ever so slightly better resume. 2-6 in Quad 1A opportunities and 4-8 in Quad 1 overall. The win over Marquette in non-conference in my opinion is the saving grace for this profile and what I believe will ultimately get them in, albeit headed to Dayton. (Regular Season Over)

67. *Oklahoma St (42, 18-15) The predictive analytics suggest Oklahoma State is a tournament team. Top 45 in all 3 metrics. The record suggest they are not with 15 losses 11 of those losses are quad 1A games (1-11). Quad 1B games? 5-1. Only 1 bad loss to Southern Illinois. Not a great OOC, best win was over Sam Houston State. OSU will either be the last 1 or 2 teams in or one of the first 1 or 2 out. (Regular Season Over)

68. *Arizona State (60, 22-12) Missed their chance to play their way in the field by losing to Arizona. I think they hang in as the last team in for now but would be out if there are any bids stolen. (Regular Season Over)

*Play In game Participants

------------------THE BUBBLE BURSTS HERE------------------

69. Nevada (39, 21-10) Nevada loses their last 3 games to Wyoming, UNLV and San Jose State, 3 teams that won’t sniff the NIT. That’s brutal. Just about their only win OOC was against Sam Houston State. Their only notable win away from home all year is at New Mexico, but with how the lobos are playing that win doesn’t necessarily mean that much anymore. So we are left with home wins (and season series splits) against Utah State, Boise State and San Diego State. To me that’s just not enough to counter these 3 late season losses they took. I believe Nevada just misses on an at large bid. (Regular Season Over)

70. Vanderbilt (82, 20-13) Winners of 10 of 11, Vanderbilt has at least made things interesting. It is hard not to get flashbacks of this profile and this late season run and think of Texas A&M last year. We all know how that one ended and as fun as this run has been it is hard not to see this one finishing in the same way unless Vanderbilt scores 2 more wins and gets the automatic bid. The good news here is the 5 quad 1 wins, 2 of which are Quad 1A. The bad news? The predictive analytics continue to be terrible. Before the game vs. Kentucky they were 84 in BPI, 80 in KenPom, 67 in Sagarin. Those will improve with another quality win, but is it enough? Possibly getting close enough to the margin of error for the committee to do something abnormal with another win but I wouldn’t count on it. (3/11 SEC Semis Texas A&M)

71. Pitt (67, 22-11) – Pitt appeared to be inching closer to relatively safe territory by beating GT on Wednesday, but then followed it up with a 30 point loss to Duke, in a game that they were never competitive at any point. The metrics were already terrible but that loss put them in not just danger territory – but lucky to be in territory. How bad are the metrics? Vanderbilt bad. 54 in KPI, 58 strength of record, 68 BPI, 77 KenPom, 61 Sagarin. All of those numbers are significantly worse than Oklahoma State. 2 bad losses to OSU’s 1 and Pitts worst was a Quad 4. 0-3 Quad 1A, 4-4 Quad 1. Do we really think Pitt would have done better than Oklahoma State if Pitt was a big 12 team? It’s amazing that a team playing to win the ACC Championship in the last game of the season is in this much bubble trouble but that’s just how bad the ACC is this year. Also, can we please use this as a case study next year for why conference standings don’t matter? In OOC they did beat Northwestern but lost 4 games to VCU, Vandy, Michigan and West Virginia. (Regular Season Over)

----------If today was selection Sunday I would call anyone below this line a shocker if they made it in. ---------------

72. Wisconsin (81, 17-14) – I was on a bit of an island still having Wisconsin in my field going into the tournament giving more weight to the quality of their wins to overshadow their horrid metrics and analytics. The profile reminded me a lot of Rutgers from 2022 who was one of the last 4 entries to the field. I try not to react to much to 1 game, which is hard to do with a lot of rhetoric about “win and in/play in game” this time of year. But getting blown out by an Ohio State team that won’t even make the NIT is just indicative of the type of year it has been and at 17-14 while they may get some consideration for 6 quad 1 wins and 5 more quad 2 at the end of the day this team simply isn’t good enough and all of the advanced stats bear that out. (Regular Season Over)

73. Clemson (51, 23-10) There are a few decent wins here over Penn State, NC State (x2), @Pitt, @VT, Duke, but it is really hard to overlook just how terrible 4 of their losses are @Louisville, @BC, @South Carolina, and vs. Loyola-Chicago. Those 4 bad losses tanked the metrics and Clemson is going to fall just short of a bid. (Regular Season Over)

74. Oregon (44, 19-14) The poor record in non-conference (6-5, losing to UC Irvine and Utah Valley) left too big of a hole to dig out of. They also didn’t really take advantage of enough of their quad 1 opportunities. (Regular Season Over)

75. North Texas (36, 24-7) I won’t officially eliminate North Texas but the chance of an at large is very slim and in my opinion well outside of the margin for error. Their only real hope was to beat UAB and then lose a close one to FAU. I don’t really see the committee taking a serious look at UNT unless there is a concerted effort to go find mid major teams because they don’t want to reward a 15 loss Oklahoma State. Just 1-3 vs. Quad 1, and 3-2 vs. Quad 2 isnt good enough to get it done. None of the metrics suggest they are a tournament team either. (Regular Season Over)

Eliminated Since Last Edition:

· Bradley – while the bubble hasn’t done well this week, as all the numbers settle it is clear that Bradley is just too far back in every way you look at it to be considered.

· Michigan (Lost to Rutgers 3/9)

· North Carolina (Lost to Virginia 3/9)

Bid Thieves Remaining (Teams outside of the current field that are still alive in potential multi bid leagues)

· AAC – (Semis) Cincy, Tulane

· CUSA – (Finals) UAB

· Big Ten – (Semis) Ohio State

· SEC (2nd Round) –Vanderbilt

What to Watch for (Aggie fans should cheer for the team in bold)

Saturday 3/11

10AM ESPN2 America East Final – Umass Lowell vs. Vermont

Noon ESPN SEC Semi – Alabama vs. Mizzou – Minimal Impact to A&M. Root for who you want to face in a championship game

Noon CBS Big Ten Semi – Purdue vs. Ohio State – No impact to A&M. Ohio State is a potential bid thief with 2 more wins.

Noon ESPN2 – MEAC Final – Howard vs. Norfolk State

2:00 ESPN2 AAC Semi – Cincy vs. Houston – Cincinnati is one of the few remaining potential bid thieves.

2:00 ESPN SEC Semi – Texas A&M vs. Vanderbilt – Possibly a chance to play for a 5 seed vs. a 6.

2:30 CBS Big Ten Semi – Penn State vs. Indiana

4:30 ESPNU SWAC Final – Texas Southern vs. Grambling State

4:30 ESPN2 AAC Semi – Memphis vs. Tulane – Memphis is a lock. Tulane is a possible bid thief. No impact to A&M.

5:00 ESPN Big 12 Final Kansas vs. Texas

5:00 CBS MWC Final San Diego State vs. Utah State

5:30 Fox Big East Final – Marquette vs. Xavier – No impact on A&M, both too far ahead to catch.

6:30 ESPNU MAAC Final – Iona vs. Marist

6:30 ESPN2 MAC Final – Kent State vs. Toledo

7:30 ESPN ACC Final – Duke vs. Virginia – If the committee actually takes this game into account, it would be better for Virginia to win.

7:30 CBSSN CUSA Final – Florida Atlantic vs. UAB

8:30 ESPN2 Big West Final – Cal State Fullerton vs. UC Santa Barbara

9:30 ESPN Pac 12 Final UCLA vs. Arizona

10:30 ESPN2 WAC Final Grand Canyon vs. Southern Utah

Championship Sunday 3/12 – Set your expectations now – these games do not matter from a seeding perspective, only to determine if there is a bid stealer out there.

11AM ESPN2 Ivy League – 1 bid league

Noon ESPN SEC – Possible bid thief in Vanderbilt if they make it here.

Noon CBS Atlantic 10 – 1 bid league

2:15 ESPN AAC – If Cincinnati or Tulane advance, they possibly could steal a bid.

2:30 CBS Big Ten – Possible bid thief in Ohio State if they make it here.


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