Ohio State and Clemson have fallen off the page.
Based on other results, Marquette and Providence are now locks. Sometimes it’s nice to just watch other teams below you blow their chances, while you advance to the tournament.
There are 32 automatic bids to the tournament, and nine conferences that already have at least two locks. So 27 of the 36 at-large bids are already spoken for by:
A-10 (1) – Dayton
AAC (2) – Cincinnati, SMU
ACC (8) – Florida State, UNC, Louisville, Virginia, Notre Dame, Duke, Miami, Virginia Tech
Big XII (5) – Kansas, Baylor, West Virginia, Iowa State, Oklahoma State
Big East (5) – Villanova, Butler, Creighton, Marquette, Providence
Big Ten (6) – Wisconsin, Maryland, Purdue, Minnesota, Michigan State, Michigan
SEC (4) – Kentucky, Florida, South Carolina, Arkansas
Pac-12 (3) – UCLA, Oregon, Arizona
WCC (2) – Gonzaga, St. Mary’s
There are then five teams that should be in the tournament, but aren’t locks. If they all make it, the bubble would be down to just four spots left. The following teams can likely lose out and make the field, but it’s not guaranteed:
Xavier – The Musketeers certainly don’t look like one of the country’s 36-best at-large teams. But the resume is still pretty strong, and they stopped their skid with two straight wins over DePaul. A win in the quarters over Butler would certainly do it, but it’s probably not necessary.
Seton Hall – The Pirates picked up the most surprising bubble win last weekend, winning at Butler. Winning over Marquette in the quarters will lock them, but this team should be dancing regardless.
VCU – Of all the teams on the “should be in” list, this is the one with the most to worry about. It’s not that the Rams haven’t put together a tournament worthy season; they have. But if power conference teams roll in their conference tournaments and VCU exits the A-10 tournament early, then VCU can simply get passed by multiple schools.
Northwestern – The Wildcats should make it, but they still aren’t a lock. A victory today against Rutgers might not be enough to move to lock status. Regardless, their tournament status is in good shape, as long as they don’t lose to Rutgers.
Wake Forest – Danny Manning is no stranger to success in March, and his Demon Deacons should be dancing after avoiding a bad loss to Boston College in the first round of the ACC tournament. With wins over Louisville and Miami at home, and Virginia Tech on the road, expect Danny Manning’s team to dance even after they fell to Virginia Tech on Wednesday. No matter what happens elsewhere, this resume is not strong enough to support a lock. But I expect Manning’s team to dance.
So, we get to the next teams, who are in good shape:
Vanderbilt – The Dores are in better shape than most believe. Simply beating Texas A&M in the SEC tournament 7-10 game will probably be enough. Winning on Friday over Florida would lock them. Even a loss to A&M on Thursday would put Vandy right near the cut line, and more likely in than out.
USC – The Trojans still aren’t in that comfortable of a position, but they are in good shape to make it. UCLA is next, and a win locks. No pressure.
The next tier are those truly on the cut line. All who have yet to play probably need at least one conference tournament win:
Illinois, Syracuse, Middle Tennessee, Illinois State, Iowa
The next tier is those who are well on the outside looking in. Strong upset wins are needed in the conference tournament:
Kansas State, Rhode Island, Indiana, Cal, Georgia
The last tier is a non-power conference champion needing a shocking committee decision to include them: