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March 10, 2012
Easy Bubble Solver
Saturday Update

by Jeff Nusser

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Welcome back to the Easy Bubble Solver! If you missed yesterday's piece and are unfamiliar with the methodology, you can catch yourself up on how the Solver works its magichere, but it's really simple: Average every team's RPI ranking and KenPom.com ranking, order the teams, take the top remaining teams. It works.

Huge day today, as all but four of the remaining automatic bids are up for grabs. The bubble is really starting to take shape, as many teams have now lost in their conference tournaments and are now out of opportunities to play themselves into the NCAA tournament. And many of those teams just below the bubble line will secure automatic bids with one more win.

Total bids: 68 -- 31 automatic, 37 at large

Automatic bids claimed: 15 -- Belmont (Atlantic Sun), Montana (Big Sky), UNC Asheville (Big South), VCU (Colonial), Detroit (Horizon), Harvard (Ivy), Loyola Maryland (Metro Atlantic), Creighton (Missouri Valley), LIU Brooklyn (Northeast), Murray State (Ohio Valley), Lehigh (Patriot), Davidson (Southern), South Dakota State (Summit), Western Kentucky (Sun Belt), St. Mary's (West Coast)

Bids remaining to presumed one-bid conferences: 6 -- America East, Mid-American, Mid-Eastern, Southland, Southwestern, Western Athletic

Remaining bids ostensibly still up for grabs: 47

First, here are the top 37 teams who we would presume are "in":

Items of note here? You'll notice Cincinnati jumped all the way up from the bubble yesterday to safely in today, all with its win over Big East top seed and AP poll No. 2 Syracuse. That the Bearcats have now certainly played their way in seems to be the consensus among the humans, too. Virginia's loss to NC State was a hit to the Cavaliers, but they still appear to be safe. No other huge changes here.

Now, for the bubble. There are actually 11 teams above the cutline rather than 10 (the actual number of bids available) because of a tie at the bottom. To compensate, I included just nine teams below the line:

Just as the human bracket forecasters are having a hard time distinguishing between the final few teams, the EBS is experiencing the same kind of difficulty. Congratulations, Northwestern! You've moved above the line in your quest for your first Big Dance! However, the Wildcats hold on the spot is obviously incredibly tenuous.

The topic du jour for a few days now seems to be just what the committee is going to do with the Pac-12, the first major conference I can recall that is experiencing legitimate one-bid talk. You might notice that there's a prominent team that no longer appears in the table: Pac-12 regular season champ Washington, which didn't get any help from Oregon State's loss to Arizona. It appears the Pac-12 is destined to be a two-bid league, as Cal appears to be safely in and the Colorado/Arizona winner will claim the league's automatic bid. Still, it's going to be fascinating to see what the committee does with the Huskies. Would they truly leave a power conference champion out of the Dance, even though there's little distinguishing about their resume? The committee insists conference affiliation doesn't matter, but politics are powerful in the NCAA.

NC State experienced a big jump thanks to its win over Virginia and is now creeping toward the "safely in" zone. However, the humans' consensus is that the Wolfpack is part of the second four out. They can probably make it moot with a win over North Carolina today, but it's going to be interesting to see what happens if they can't pull off the upset in the ACC tournament semifinals.

Most bracket forecasters have Xavier in, but the Musketeers are just on the outside looking in via the EBS. They've got a huge opportunity today against Saint Louis in the Atlantic-10 semifinals as the Billikens are highly thought of by both the RPI and Pomeroy's laptop.

Marshall also experienced a big jump with its win yesterday, so much so that the Thundering Herd is now above the line in our table. However, they're on their way to getting blown out by Memphis in the Conference USA championship as I write this, so it will be interesting to see how they're valued after that.

Drexel and Iona both are above the line, but the consensus among the humans is that they're both out -- although the Dragons occupy the first spot in the "first four out" at the Bracket Matrix. Iona is down with NC State in the second four out and can only wait as the Gaels' regular season is over.

Final thought: What happens if Mississippi beats Vanderbilt?

Jeff Nusser is the Editor of CougCenter and a regular contributor to Basketball Prospectus. Follow him on Twitter at @NussCoug.

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<< Previous Article
Easy Bubble Solver (03/09)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Ricky Rubio (03/11)

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2012-03-17 - Day Two: 15 Ways to Beat a 2 Seed
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