College Basketball Bubble Watch

Updated: March 17, 2013, 4:32 PM ET
By Eamonn Brennan | ESPN.com


It's Christmas Eve on the bubble -- will it be presents or coal for these teams?

Editor's note: This file has been updated to include all games through Sunday.

At this point -- with less than 24 hours until the selection committee submits its picks to the Columbia Broadcasting System for suspenseful dissemination to the masses -- we should have a pretty good idea of where we stand. And we do. But as a friendly favor to bubble watchers and bracketologists everywhere, selection committee chairman Mike Bobinski was willing to be surprisingly specific in an appearance on the network Saturday afternoon.

When asked where the committee -- which works steadily over this weekend in advance of Sunday's final push -- stood in its deliberations, Bobinski said the group had essentially narrowed down its list of bubble teams (which it officially calls "under consideration") to 13. Those 13 teams were vying for "between two and six" open spots in the field.

That sounds exactly right. You'll see more than 13 teams in the list below, because we can't be 100 percent sure on the range of teams the NCAA might be mulling over right now and which specific, even minuscule, criteria could eventually define its final bracketing choices. Some of the teams you see here are in good enough shape that, while we may not be willing to lock them up, we would be surprised if they weren't chosen.

Others are total long shots, but not so ridiculous that the committee couldn't shock us by valuing something we're not used to seeing.

The biggest litmus test for selection committee dogma -- for the predictable nexus of RPI, SOS, nonconference schedule and performance against the various nitty-gritty rankings breakdowns (top 50, top 100 and so on) that have made bracket selection a relatively predictable affair -- will be the Iowa Hawkeyes. The Hawks lost to Michigan State in a close game Friday and were the victims of a few questionable calls down the stretch. They were also one of the 40 or so best teams in the country by just about every metric except the RPI, and their performance -- even if you are relying on sketchy criteria like conference record (9-9 in the Big Ten), per-possession statistics (the Hawks play top-20 efficiency defense) or even the infamous "eye test" -- make the Hawkeyes look like a much better team than a handful of more staid bubble contenders.

Because the committee relies so heavily on RPI, nonconference scheduling and all the rest, it appears more likely than not that Iowa won't get in, despite its obvious quality. But the committee has surprised us before. You just never know. And that's what makes the final 24 hours before Selection Sunday such a weirdly thrilling experience.