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Monday, March 7, 2011

Bubble watch: Your rooting guide for the week

This time of year, everyone seems to forget that a team does not make or miss the NCAA tournament based on its performance alone. At-large candidates are competing for a certain number of spots, which means their fate also depends on how other teams do.

That’s why it would be wrong to say that Georgia is a lock for the tournament now, or that it will be if it beats Auburn, or it will definitely be out if it loses on Thursday, and so on.

It depends.

Georgia, with an RPI rank of 39 on Monday, should be okay if it wins one game in Atlanta – unless there are a slew of unexpected results elsewhere that punches up the quality of teams on the bubble.

Or, if the bubble remains as weak as it is right now, the Bulldogs could still make it if they gets upset by Auburn. Not likely, but possible.

So for the moment let’s pull back from Georgia’s upcoming games and look at the entire bubble:

Andy Glockner of has 14 teams playing for eight spots: Boston College, Virginia Tech, Clemson, Colorado, Marquette, Michigan State, Michigan, Southern California, Alabama, Gonzaga, Butler, Memphis, VCU and Penn State,

Then Glockner added that the four teams above that (i.e. in better shape) are Georgia, Washington, Illinois and Richmond.

Jerry Palm of has 25 teams playing for 16 spots. That’s too many to list, but there’s nothing drastically different from Glockner.

So culling everything, here are the other at-large candidates that Georgia would ideally prefer not make long runs in their tournaments:

ACC: Boston College, Clemson, Virginia Tech.
Big 12: Baylor, Colorado, Oklahoma State.
Big East: Marquette.
Big Ten: Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State.
Pac 10: Washington, Washington State.
SEC: Alabama, Tennessee.
Conference USA: Marshall, Memphis, Southern Miss, UAB.

Here’s what to watch as far as automatic bids:

- Anytime someone comes from nowhere to win a league tournament – a la the SEC tournament in 2008 and 2009 – it’s not good for bubble teams.
- Old Dominion has to beat VCU in Monday’s Colonial championship, or there’s a stolen bid for sure. VCU isn’t considered an at-large candidate.
- Butler has to win the Horizon on Tuesday. Last year’s national runner-up would be a bubble team if it lost; better for it to win and not leave a question.
- In the Atlantic 10, Temple and Xavier (two teams that beat Georgia) are assured bids, while Richmond is on the good side of the bubble. Anybody else is bad news.
- In the Mountain West, the locks are BYU, San Diego State and UNLV. And then there’s Colorado State, which is on the bubble.
- Utah State is 27-3 with an RPI of 17 but has very little else going for it so it would be a fringe at-large candidate. Again, safer to root for it to win the WAC. (Thanks to someone for correcting this one for me.)

This sets up to be quite a frenetic week. Keep an eye on my Twitter feed for regular updates, as well as the occasional summation on this here blog. We have the first spring football practice on Thursday too. But if you find a better place this week for constant and accurate Georgia basketball updates ... keep it to yourself.


Thomas said...

I think you mean Mountain West.

Seth Emerson said...

Yes, but the Mountain News has a nice ring to it too.

BulldogBen said...

Seth, thanks for the breakdown. I'll certainly be printing off that list of bubble teams to keep track of during the tourneys.

For me, I won't feel safe until I actually see our name on the screen as being in the tournament. As I said before on here, lose to Bama and we open ourselves up to the whims of some schmo on the committee. When you get down to it, the resumes of teams looking to get those last 4-5 spots will all look pretty similar and it'll come down to perception or someone's personal bias (my opinion).

Like you say, ANYTHING can happen this week and one miracle run by some team could knock any number of teams out.

I honestly think if we lose to Auburn we're out.

That said, I also think we'll be pretty focused and ready. I'd love to exact some revenge on the Tide in the 2nd round.

Anonymous said...

Utah State's RPI is 18, fwiw.

Seth Emerson said...

Thanks, I was way off on that one. Wow.

Anonymous said...

Please. Eevery time I turn on the TV and it's Georgia in a big game, just like the football game, they can't beat the good teams. Alabama took care of business against Georgia.

Georgia teams do fine against losing teams, but get their lunch ate by winning teams, so they usually have good stats and decent records, but almost always stay out of championships.

Anonymous said...

Georgia beat Kentucky this year.

Calif Dawg said...

If Georgia loses to Alabama twice, I don't see how they would get in and Alabama not. Then it would become UGA/TN. I don't see all 3 teams making it in. Thus I believe UGA has to win two games in the tourney or TN gets beat in the first round. Either way it is a great for a change to actually have interest in the outcome of the SEC or NCAA tourney 'cause UGA is at least relevant.

PTC DAWG said...

Bama is the team that probably needs to get to the FINALS of the SECT to get in. UGA is probably in now, but a win over AU seals it.

Just for good measure, they'll beat BAMA too. I hope BAMA enjoys the NIT.

Rebounding Dawg said...

This is really good stuff. Thanks for the breakdown.

I'll be referring back to this blog post all week as the conference tournaments play out.

Anonymous said...

Wow, this is wonderful stuff on this blog that warms my bones. I'll bronze this blog and refer back to it hourly all week.

Michael said...

Thanks for the informative update, Mr. Blog Man!

Anonymous said...

How exciting! This blog rocks!! I'll check it every 5 minutes, and it as my close companion throughout the tournament. Thanks Seth for all your hard work. Terrific!!

Anonymous said...


I'm sure you meant to write "get", not "if they gets upset by Auburn".

Anonymous said...

Should be a period after Penn State, just saying.

Anonymous said...

Does Iona losing hurt us?

Seth Emerson said...

Iona? No, unless St. Peter's winning helps Alabama's profile. But otherwise no that's a one-bid league.

VCU going down in the CAA final is important; VCU may still be an at-large contender, but if Georgia beats Auburn, that should at least put UGA's profile ahead of VCU.

Anonymous said...

'Preciate the lightning fast response. I have just been assuming that if the favorite doesn't win then it's bad for us. I'm not used to this whole bubble thing.