Saturday, March 11, 2017

Bubble Analysis: Bid Thieves and their potential victims.

As we head into Championship Weekend, several conference tournaments offer up the possibility of producing a bid thief ... a winner of a conference tournament who get's an auto-bid, who otherwise would never have qualified as an at-large team.  For conferences in which there is likely to be only one team in the field (The Southland Conference, as an example) the victim of the team grabbing the Southland auto bid is the team that won the regular season conference title, and was favored to win the conference tournament.  These thieves are not impacting teams on the bubble.

However, when a conference has at least one team that is likely to get an at-large bid if they fail to win the conference tournament (Such as the American Conference where both SMU and Cincinnati will be at-large teams if they don't win the tournament) the team that wins the auto-bid reduce the number of bids available for teams on the bubble ... somebody get's squeezed out.

Entering Play on Saturday, here are the Conference Tournaments where Bid Thieves still lurk:

  • The Atlantic 10 - Davidson and Richmond have advanced to the Conference tournament Semi-Finals, and could actually face each other.  VCU and Dayton are locks, and Rhode Island currently is one of the last 4 In.   Rhode Island has a chance to fend off at least one of these potential thieves.  They Play Davidson in one of the Semi-Final games today.  VCU plays Richmond in the other.
  • The American Conference - UConn and Central Florida remain alive in this tournament.  As noted above, SMU and Cincinnati are locks to make the field without the conference auto-bid.  Should either UConn or Central Florida win the American title tomorrow, they will steal a bid from a bubble team currently considered in the field
  • Southeastern Conference - This is a fascinating tournament.  Kentucky, Florida, Arkansas and South Carolina are locks to make the field.   Alabama is on the outside looking in as a bubble team and but could sneak into the field as the last team in, should they beat Kentucky today but lose the Championship Game.  Vanderbilt is an equally fascinating situation.  Some believe they need to win the tournament to get in ... others (including myself) feel as though they are safely in the field and no longer on the bubble after beating Florida for the 3rd time yesterday in the SEC Quarterfinals.  Kentucky and Alabama are tipping off now.  Vanderbilt and Arkansas will follow.  The winners play tomorrow.  Should Alabama and Vanderbilt both win today and play for the title tomorrow, some see that match-up as the equivalent of an NCAA Play-In Game.
  • Conference USA - Middle Tennessee (MTSU), who has dominated Conference USA all season will play Marshall Tonight for the Conference USA Title.  MTSU probably finds itself deeply immersed into Bubble machinations should they lose, and will be one of the more interesting cases to follow tomorrow when seeds are released.  They need to win tonight to keep Marshall from potentially stealing their bid or another bubble team's tonight.
  • Mountain West - Nevada plays Colorado State for the Mouuntain West title tonight.  This is an identical situation to MTSU.  Nevada would be a team teetering on the bubble if they lose, and their resume' is worse than MTSU's.
In all, there are potentially 5 Bid Thieves lurking in the conference tournament's yet to crown their champion and award the auto-bid.  Based on my projections here are the Teams most likely, in order, to lose at-large bids:
  1. Kansas State
  2. Wake Forest
  3. Rhode Island (If they fail to win Conference Tourney) - Their game with Davidson today is critical, and a win might be enough to move then into safer ground on the bubble.  Lose and they are likely out.
  4. Syracuse
  5. Nevada (If they fail to win Conference Tourney)
Other teams rooting against the bid thieves:
  • Illinois State - I have them out ... about 40% of the 100+ bracket projections found at currently have them in as one of the final four in the field.

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