College Basketball Bubble Watch

Updated: February 22, 2009, 8:08 PM ET
By Mark Schlabach | ESPN.com


BracketBusters weekend does little to clear picture

Editor's note: This file has been updated to include all games through Saturday, Feb. 21.

Saturday's BracketBusters games did little to clear up college basketball's ever-growing NCAA tournament bubble.

Butler probably locked up an NCAA at-large bid by routing Davidson 75-63 on the road Saturday, but no other team from a so-called "non-BCS" league punched its NCAA ticket by winning a BracketBusters game. Teams such as Creighton, Siena and Saint Mary's helped themselves but still haven't done enough at this point to justify their inclusion in the 65-team field.

With two weeks to play in the regular season, about a dozen at-large spots might still be up for grabs. The six BCS football-playing conferences (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Big East, Pac-10 and SEC) have 19 teams that have probably locked up at-large bids. Another seven teams from those leagues have done almost enough to lock up bids and will probably be invited to the Big Dance when the field is announced on Selection Sunday.

Bubble Insider

What happens when power conferences like the ACC and Big East battle for at-large spots? Bubble Insider Insider
Five other teams -- Xavier and Dayton (Atlantic-10), Memphis (Conference USA), Butler (Horizon) and Gonzaga (West Coast) have also locked up at-large bids. Utah (Mountain West) is close to getting it done with its lofty computer rankings.

Those teams figure to occupy 32 of the 65 spots in the NCAA tournament field, along with the champions of the other 20 leagues that receive automatic bids. That's a total of 52 spots, leaving 13 open spots.

Obviously, the number of available at-large bids will shrink if teams like Memphis, Butler and Gonzaga don't win their respective conference tournaments. It also would grow smaller if a team like Georgia won the SEC tournament again.

The bubble figures to get smaller this week. A Big East team such as Georgetown, which was ranked in the top 10 in the national polls earlier this season, probably can't afford to lose in the regular season again. Fellow bubble team Notre Dame might be allowed a loss on the road at UConn, but the Hoyas are definitely on their last legs going into Monday night's showdown against Louisville in Washington, D.C.

Mid-major teams like Temple and UAB, which have to be considered fringe bubble candidates at best, also need big victories this week. The Blazers host Memphis in Birmingham on Thursday night, and the Owls travel to Dayton on Saturday. Both Temple and UAB could be out of the discussion if they don't win.

Here is this week's Bubble Watch: