Who's on the bubble?

Who's in, who's out? ESPN.com tracks the teams vying for the 34 at-large bids into the NCAA Tournament.

Originally Published: March 12, 2005
By Andy Glockner | ESPN.com

After a day full of big breaks for bubble teams, the final bubble game of Championship Week has cost someone a trip to the Dance.

Utah State pushed its way into the field of 65 by finally downing nemesis Pacific, meaning the Big West now will get two bids instead of one.

Knowing that, here's how we see things 16 hours before all the selections are announced:

The latest bubble analysis
As of 2:05 a.m. ET on March 13, here's how we see the slots being filled:

Start with 34 at-large bids:

  • 23 go to high-major locks (30 locks less seven auto bids)
  • 4 go to very likely high-majors: NC State, Iowa State, Texas and Iowa
  • 5 go to mid-major locks: Southern Illinois, Nevada, St. Mary's, Utah and Pacific

    That leaves two available at large bids.

    Here are the teams we feel are still realistically alive for those final two slots (in no particular order): UAB, DePaul, Notre Dame, Maryland, Buffalo, Miami (OH), Northern Iowa, Wichita State, Saint Joseph's (the last two being longer shots than the others).

  • Before the Big West bummer, Saturday was a very good day for bubble teams, as they got almost every break possible. Even New Mexico beating Utah didn't really do too much damage, as it appeared to us that the Lobos would likely have made it even with a loss.

    UTEP helped the bubbleites, not allowing Boise State to snag a bid and throw the Miners into the at-large pool. Earlier, George Washington downed Saint Joseph's to land the A-10 bid and leave the league with the weaker of the two at-large candidates. While NC State and Iowa appear to have done enough, they both lost as well.

    The day games also broke favorably -- barely, in the case of Memphis. Down by two, Tigers star freshman Darius Washington was fouled shooting a 3-pointer as time expired. After making the first free throw, he missed the final two, giving Louisville the title by a point and knocking out Memphis. Earlier, quasi-bubble team Vermont ripped Northeastern to take the America East crown.

    The greatest surprise of all of this? Several marquee names written off in the last few days may not be dead in the hunt for an at-large.

    So what does this leave us with?

    Here is our latest assessment of the projected locks and bubble teams through games on March 12. If a conference isn't represented, it means it's likely a one-bid league.

    Records are D-I only. RPI and SOS are as of March 12.

    See ESPN.com's InsideRPI for daily RPI and SOS rankings.

    (Note: Bubble Watch will be updated daily through Selection Sunday)

    Atlantic Coast Conference
    Work left to do: Maryland, N.C. State

    Georgia Tech moved from virtually in to definitely in after holding off UNC in the ACC semis. NC State's still looking good. Virginia Tech is done. Are Terps? Maybe not ...

    Maryland [16-12 (7-9), RPI: 61, SOS: 12] Terps found disaster scenario by losing for third time this season to Clemson in ACC opening round. Some experts said Thursday that Terps still had a chance. Didn't see it then, but the dearth of legitimate bubble teams may be bringing Maryland back into the mix. Big question -- are the Terps ahead of Notre Dame in the picture? Maryland closed with four straight losses to end the season and, despite a sweep of Duke, has a 6-11 record against the RPI Top 100.

    NC State [19-13 (7-9), RPI: 69, SOS: 71] Solid effort versus Duke in semis loss after crunching Paul-less Wake to get revenge for last Sunday. Is it enough? In the year of the soft bubble, definitely appears so.


    North Carolina

    Wake Forest



    Big East
    Work left to do: Notre Dame

    We're going to move West Virginia into the lock category. Is Notre Dame dead? We'll know on Sunday.

    Notre Dame [17-11 (9-7), RPI: 92, SOS: 109] We have to revisit the Irish in light of some of the last two days' flops. Stunning loss to Rutgers in opening round of Big East tournament really hurts, but there now seems to be some wiggle room. Are Irish ahead of Maryland in pecking order? Not sure, even with brutal Big East schedule and better conference record. Will be loooooong weekend. ND has lost four of its last five and its non-conference SOS is terrible.



    Boston College





    Big 12
    Work left to do: Texas, Iowa State

    Pulling Texas back out of the locks category only because it seems hard to keep it ahead of Iowa State and can't say with certainty Iowa State is in (although suspect both will make it).

    Texas [19-10 (9-7), RPI: 47, SOS: 57] Suspect loss to Colorado in the Big 12 quarters makes Texas more of a procedural lock withdrawal. Still think Horns are good to go, as are the Cyclones. Will wait another day to see what unfolds nationally.

    Iowa State [18-10 (9-7), RPI: 76, SOS: 103] Lost to Texas Tech, but has probably done enough. Probably should be ahead of Texas, given head-to-head win, tie in standings and tourney performance. 4-3 vs RPI Top 50 a plus.



    Oklahoma State


    Texas Tech

    Big Ten
    Work left to do: Iowa, Indiana

    Minnesota is in after beating IU, making it four bids. IU looks unlikely to make it five. How about surging Iowa? Looking very likely now.

    (Note: Ohio State is ineligible for this year's NCAA Tournament.)

    Iowa [21-11 (7-9), RPI: 49, SOS: 75] Buzzer-beater loss to Wisconsin probably the final solid impression Iowa needed to make. Hawkeyes clearly can compete without Pierre Pierce, which means you can't discount their host of big nonconference wins (Louisville-N, Texas-N, Texas Tech-N, Iowa State, Northern Iowa, Air Force). Also may have played Illinois tougher than anyone (twice) besides Ohio State.

    Indiana [15-13 (10-6), RPI: 78, SOS: 18) Blowout loss to Minnesota probably seals NIT fate despite 10 Big Ten wins.



    Michigan State



    Conference USA
    Work left to do: UAB, DePaul

    The only two bubble teams left played in the C-USA quarters and UAB exited with a crucial win. Will both get in?

    UAB [21-10 (10-6), RPI: 59, SOS: 118] Good showing in semis loss to Louisville a small extra bonus for a team that had a nice Championship Week. Wins over DePaul may be huge come Sunday. Computer profile still fairly weak – just 2-4 vs RPI Top 50 – but 10 wins in a good league is solid.

    DePaul [19-9 (10-6), RPI: 73, SOS: 116] Oops. Led almost entire game against UAB in C-USA quarters but felled by a 3 with 0.8 left and now may have a long few days to learn fate. RPI drop after late-season losses makes case dicier than expected a couple weeks ago. UAB got them twice recently, but Blue Demons won at Notre Dame in December.





    Work left to do: None

    No bubble left in the Pac-10 after Arizona State succumbed to UW in OT in the Pac-10 quarters. UCLA, at 11-7 in league play, remains a lock despite surprising opening-round loss to Oregon State.






    Work left to do: None

    Nothing more to look at in SEC. Five teams appear to be locks and Vandy's loss to Auburn in the SEC tourney clears out the bubble.




    Miss. State



    Other at-large contenders
    Teams that should be in: Pacific, Southern Illinois, Utah, Nevada, St. Mary's

    Work left to do: Wichita State, Miami (OH), Holy Cross, Buffalo, Northern Iowa, Davidson, Saint Joseph's, Oral Roberts, New Mexico

    New Mexico beat Utah again and won the MWC's auto bid. UTEP is dancing after dispatching miracle team Boise State in the WAC. Ohio snags MAC bid at the overtime buzzer on a follow by freshman stud Leon Williams. Can Buffalo still get in? Bulls seem worthy. Still like Nevada and St. Mary's in the lock column, along with Southern Illinois. Miami (Ohio) has made things very hard on itself.

    Buffalo [22-9 (11-7), RPI: 27, SOS: 89] Crushing loss at OT buzzer to Ohio in MAC final leaves Bulls squarely on the bubble. League seems to deserve two bids, especially with all the high-major bubble follies. Good computer profile. Now 8-9 vs. RPI Top 100.

    Miami (Ohio) [18-10 (12-6), RPI: 29, SOS: 47] Fell to Ohio in MAC semis and now in a lot of bubble trouble, as they might be behind Buffalo. Blew clincher for outright MAC title with awful loss at last-place Marshall, but still got solo title when every 11-6 team lost. Has great RPI and solid record against RPI Top 50.

    Northern Iowa [20-10 (11-7), RPI: 38, SOS: 58] Do high-major losses bring Panthers back in the mix? Despite very solid computer profile, Panthers might have seen at-large dreams extinguished by surprising MVC quarterfinals loss to SMS. Not sure if they are ahead of Wichita State, given Shockers finished ahead of them in the league and league tourney.

    Wichita State [20-9 (12-6), RPI: 50, SOS: 105] Creighton's winning the MVC probably a good thing for WSU, as SMS doesn't grab precious bid. Finished ahead of Northern Iowa and also went farther in conference tourney, so could be ahead of Panthers. Lost five of last six to close regular season.

    Holy Cross [24-6 (13-1), RPI: 51, SOS: 180] Fell in Patriot League finals at home to Bucknell, which almost certainly condemns Crusaders to NIT. 1-3 vs RPI Top 50 and 21 wins outside RPI Top 100.

    Saint Joseph's [18-11 (14-2), RPI: 56, SOS: 99] Hawks fell to GW in A-10 final and very well may have to settle for an NIT bid. SJU is overall A-10 regular-season champ, but loss to awful Rhode Island team and poor non-conference performance might make A-10 a one-bid league.

    Davidson [18-8 (16-0), RPI: 60, SOS: 111] This year's poster child for not having conference tourneys. A perfect 16-0 in SoCon regular season and bounced in tourney semis by UNC Greensboro. On list now in memoriam – no chance for an at-large bid. 1-4 vs. RPI Top 100.

    Oral Roberts [24-7 (11-3), RPI: 87, SOS: 276] Loss to under-.500 Oakland, essentially at home, most likely condemns ORU to the NIT. Good record, but the profile is lacking across the board for serious at-large consideration.

    Auto bids

    Old Dominion






    G. Washington


    New Mexico



    So. Illinois



    St. Mary's

    Andy Glockner is the men's college basketball editor at ESPN.com. E-mail him with comments.