Seat edges will be sat upon and seconds will be counted as an abundance of nervous teams ask all day today, “Did we do enough?”
When the NCAA tournament field of 68 is revealed today, there will be surprises for certain, just like every season. Some teams will know immediately where they went wrong – losing to a weak opponent or letting a quality victory slip away – while other teams will celebrate and look forward to being part of the elite.
While there will be complaints – again, just like every season – with an especially soft bubble, it’s never easy to predict which teams the selection committee will find favorable.
In addition to Washington (see related story, this page), here is a look at some of the teams most on the bubble:
California (24-9, 36 NCAA RPI): The Bears could make the Pac-12 a two-bid league. Although they have had some rough patches (losses to Oregon State and Washington State) and no wins jump off the page, their strong RPI could be enough when compared with other iffy bubble teams. Prediction: In.
Colorado State (20-11, 27 RPI): Losing to San Diego State in the Mountain West Conference tournament doesn’t hurt the Rams. Their quality victories against the Aztecs earlier in the season coupled with triumphs over UNLV and New Mexico count even though their record against the top 50 RPI isn’t that stunning with six losses. Prediction: In.
Drexel (27-6, RPI 66): The Dragons have lost only two games since Dec. 10. But the committee looks at the total body of work, and they might not have enough with only two top-100 victories and three eyesore losses. Prediction: Out.
Marshall (21-12, RPI 42): The Thundering Herd probably had to beat Memphis to get in. Their atrocious losses against UAB, Tulsa and East Carolina will slam the door in their face. Prediction: Out.
Miami (19-12, RPI 59): The Hurricanes could have saved themselves by beating Florida State in the ACC quarterfinals instead of losing by 11 points. It doesn’t help that they have lost twice to bubble contender North Carolina State and own a meager 2-8 record against the RPI top 50. Prediction: Out.
Mississippi State (21-11, RPI 74): How much will victories against Vanderbilt and Alabama help the Bulldogs? Those are their only top-50 triumphs, but two losses to Georgia and another to Auburn should make the committee say, “no thanks.” Prediction: Out.
North Carolina State (22-12, RPI 49): Losing in the final seconds on a controversial call to North Carolina in the ACC semifinals won’t tarnish the Wolfpack’s chances; they were probably in anyway with a quality victory over Virginia in the quarterfinals. Prediction: In.
Northwestern (18-13, RPI 61): The Wildcats had plenty of chances but came up just 1-10 against the RPI top 50, though many of the defeats were close. They don’t have any bad losses but the committee may think their resume comes up short. Prediction: Out.
Seton Hall (20-12, RPI 67): The Pirates’ late-season slide that included losses to Rutgers and DePaul might seal their fate. They’re 3-8 against the RPI top 50. Prediction: Out.
South Florida (20-13, RPI 53): The Bulls might be on the top of the bubble, a team the selection committee should mull over for a while. They’re just 1-9 against the RPI top 50, beating Louisville, but the top-30 strength of schedule could give them a little more consideration. Prediction: In.
Texas (20-13, 48 RPI): The Longhorns won’t take a hit for losing to Missouri on Friday night, and beating tourney-bound Iowa State along with fellow bubble teams like Seton Hall and Northwestern should be enough. Prediction: In.
Xavier (21-11, RPI 44): Other than the Musketeers’ A-10 semifinal victory Saturday over St. Louis, one must trace the schedule back to the pre-fight era to top-50 victories against Vanderbilt, Purdue and Cincinnati to find their best victories. That loss against Hawaii (RPI 204) is a black eye. So did they do enough in the A-10 tourney? Prediction: In.