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Bubble Wrap 2.0: NCAA Tournament Update

North Carolina Could be Among Casualties

There will be plenty of teams across the country pulling for top-seeded Houston to add the American Athletic Conference tournament championship to the regular-season title with Memphis the only other AAC team in the semifinals with a resume worthy of consideration for the NCAA Tournament.

Pac-12 front-runners UCLA and Arizona will have cheering sections, as schools on the bubble when it comes to reaching the NCAA Tournament do not need teams stealing bids with surprising conference tournament championship runs.

MARCH 09 Jarkel Joiner #1 of the North Carolina State Wolfpack reacts during the first half - Grant halverson / AFP
MARCH 09 Jarkel Joiner #1 of the North Carolina State Wolfpack reacts during the first half - Grant halverson / AFP

Having Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s squaring off in the West Coast Conference title game was great news for the teams on the bubble since the WCC is a two-bid league.

Plenty of eyes will be on Florida Atlantic. The Owls are 15th in the NCAA NET rankings and should earn a tournament spot regardless of what happens in the Conference USA tournament. FAU is a 10½-point favorite according to the sportsbook in Friday’s semifinal matchup against Middle Tennessee State. North Texas is 36th so perhaps an at-large bid would be in play even if the Mean Green fail to win the Conference USA title.

According to the March Madness predictions, North Carolina’s odds to win the national championship went from +5000 to +20000 after its elimination from the ACC tournament.

Here is a look at the Power-5 conferences as well as the Big East and Mountain West, two leagues who could have the most teams making it into the NCAA Tournament based on what the March Madness expert picks are projecting.


This will not go down as the best season in the proud history of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Three of the four teams in the ACC tournament semifinals seem to be in pretty good shape with Duke 19th, Virginia 29th and Miami 34th in the NCAA NET rankings.

Clemson did move up 10 spots to 51st after its surprisingly easy takedown of North Carolina State in Thursday’s quarterfinals.

The Tigers would make another jump with a win over Virginia in the semifinals. Clemson is listed by the Las Vegas odds as three-point underdogs against Virginia. Virginia had to work for its win over North Carolina.

There will be anxious moments this weekend for North Carolina State as a 1-6 record in Quad 1 games might prove costly when the March Madness bracket is finalized on Sunday. The online sports betting will heat up once the field and tournament matchups are announced.

North Carolina came into the season as the front-runner to win the national title. However, after its loss to Virginia on Thursday, the Tar Heels might not make it into the field of 68. That would dominate the NCAA basketball news on Selection Sunday considering that North Carolina returned four starters from a team that played in the NCAA title game in April.

Big East

There will be no bid stealers in the Big East with UConn and Marquette in one semifinal and Creighton and Xavier in the other. All four teams are not only sure to be in the field of 68, but they are eyeing top-16 seeds.

Providence, 55th in the NET rankings, could be in trouble after its loss to UConn in the Big East quarterfinals.

Big Ten

Illinois didn’t help itself with its loss to Penn State in the Big Ten tournament on Thursday.

The Fighting Illini’s NET ranking is 35th and that figures to be enough to secure a spot in the field. The door is open, however, for Illinois to be left out depending on what happens in the rest of the Big Ten tourney and the other conference tournaments. It is the same story for Iowa, currently 40th in the NET rankings.

Penn State, Northwestern and Rutgers can give the Selection Committee more to think about with at least one more postseason win.

Purdue, Indiana, Maryland and Michigan State have done enough to be a part of the March Madness bracket regardless of what happens this weekend.

Big 12

Would anybody really complain if all 10 teams in the Big 12 earned invitations into the NCAA Tournament?

This has clearly been the best conference all season long.

West Virginia finished four games under .500 in the Big 12 during the regular season and is sitting 24th in the NET rankings despite falling to Kansas in the Big 12 quarterfinals.

Kansas, Texas, Texas Christian and Iowa State are the final four teams standing in the Big 12. All four are in the top 30 in the NET rankings.

Baylor, Kansas State and West Virginia have reasons to expect that they will be playing in the NCAA Tournament.

Seven bids would be the limit with Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Texas Tech not making the cut.

Mountain West

San Diego State, Utah State and Boise State should be part of the field of 68 even without a conference tournament title and automatic bid.

San Jose State could break the hearts of teams on the bubble with two more wins to capture the Mountain West tournament title.

Despite a loss to San Jose State in the Mountain West quarterfinals, Nevada is included as one of the last four teams in, according to the bracketology on the site.


Barring any upsets, this is looking like a two-bid league with UCLA and Arizona earning high seeds regardless of what happens in Friday’s semifinals and in the title game.

If Oregon or Arizona State win the Pac-12 title, that would take a bid from one of the bubble teams. Perhaps Oregon could still be in play for an at-large bid, especially with an upset of UCLA in the semifinals.

Southern California likely saw its bubble burst with a loss to Arizona State on Thursday.


Alabama and Tennessee are second and third in the NET rankings, and then Arkansas, Kentucky and Texas A&M come in 20th, 21st and 22nd. All five teams are playing in the SEC quarterfinals on Friday.

It will be interesting to see what happens with Auburn. The Tigers took Alabama to overtime and topped Tennessee to end the regular season. However, a loss to Arkansas in the conference tournament resulted in Auburn going 3-7 over the last 10 games.

Mississippi State and Missouri still have some work to do while Vanderbilt will need to win the SEC title to earn a March Madness bid.

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