Bubble Watch 2023 – Champ Week

It’s finally Selection Sunday and the bubble picture is as clear as it’s going to get, now we wait. In my mind we have 4 spots truly up for grabs, and I have Oklahoma St, NC State and Arizona St as 3 of those 4. The final spot seems like an almost impossible decision, with teams like Rutgers/Nevada/Pitt/Vandy as the main 4 fighting over it. Either way those are the top 7 teams I see as fighting for those last 4 spots in Dayton, with a number of variations to be found depending on the prognosticator you choose to follow. Oklahoma St/Nevada/Vandy seem to be the more consensus picks to be the 3 to miss out of that group. In my opinion, which you can find below in further detail, a team like Oklahoma St deserves a spot more than Rutgers/Pitt due to their insane schedule and the 4 wins against top-30 teams. Pitt has 1. Rutgers has 4 losses in Q3, the Pokes have 1. There’s ample reason to think Oklahoma St should be in, and if they don’t hear their name called they are the 1 team I would join in outcry. Either way, the storylines are plentiful as we sit just a few hours from the Selection Show. No more bubble teams or bid stealers remain, so this is it. Hope you’ve enjoyed, and drop a comment on your thoughts on those last 4 in.   



Virginia    MIAMI   duke

On the Right Track:


Pitt: 22-11 (14-6) — Q1: (4-4) Q2: (3-5) Q3: (5-1) Q4: (10-1) SOS: (92) TW’s (4)

pittThe Panthers got absolutely boat raced against Duke on Thursday and frankly didn’t look much like a tournament team given Duke is sitting somewhere in the 6-7 seed range. That’s how they’d perform as a 10 or 11? Not a great look. Beyond that the resumé is pretty thin, with a 7-9 record in Q1/2 and their best win being 23rd ranked Virginia I think best case for Pitt as it stands right now is to end up in Dayton. When you look at teams behind or right with them, you’re looking at UNC, Rutgers, Utah St, Mississippi St, Clemson, Penn St, Arizona St and Oregon who are all still alive with chances to add to their resumé. Ultimately, I hope the committee looks at that putrid SOS metric and actually sticks to what they say matters, and that’s the SOS and quality wins, which Pitt lacks. Pitt should be in the NIT most likely, but there’s always a chance they benefit from the ACC label. (Mar. 9)

N.C. State: 23-10 (12-8) — Q1: (1-6) Q2: (7-4) Q3: (5-0) Q4: (10-0) SOS: (75) TW’s (2)

ncstateThe Wolfpack went into their matchup with Clemson on Thursday feeling pretty comfortable and it showed as they got absolutely smoked by the Tigers and now present the committee with a 1-6 Q1 record and overall 8-10 against Q1/2. What they have over teams like Pitt and Clemson is 0 losses outside of Q1/2, so that fact will probably be what keeps them in the dance despite that ugly performance against a fellow bubble team. They could end up in Dayton, especially with Penn St and Utah St adding wins and looking for more. Many have them ahead of teams like Mississippi St, who happens to have 4 Q1 wins and has played a much more difficult schedule. It’s close, but it’s hard to put a team has only 1 top-25 win and 4 losses to sub-50 ranked teams. I have them in Dayton, but they may avoid it and be on the 11 or 10 seed line thanks to the clean sheet in Q3/4. Either way, I don’t think they’ll be missing out on the field entirely. (Mar. 9)

Clemson: 23-10 (14-6) — Q1: (4-4) Q2: (3-2) Q3: (7-2) Q4: (9-2) SOS: (107) TW’s (3)

clemsonClemson’s final pitch to the committee was to get dressed down by Virginia and now their fate rests in the hands of the committee. In my opinion, they haven’t done enough, with those 4 losses in Q3/4 so right now they’re still on the outside looking in for me. The loss to Virginia dropped them to 7-6 in Q1, which isn’t horrible on this year’s bubble, but those 4 bad losses are going to haunt them. It’s a weird resumé to try and place, but at the end of the day they have 1 top-30 win, and have 4 losses to teams sub-150 (3 of which were sub-230). No matter how much Jay Bilas claims his magic eye tells him Clemson is a tourney team, they just haven’t consistently proven it. On any given night many teams have looked like tournament teams, the selections are about consistency and the totality of a season. Thankfully, Mr. Bilas will not be part of the Selection process, and I’m fairly confident those that are will not be including Clemson in the field of 68. (Mar. 10)

North Carolina: 20-13 (11-9) — Q1: (1-9) Q2: (6-4) Q3: (7-0) Q4: (5-0) SOS: (52) TW’s (3)

uncWell the Tar Heels are pretty much out of it at this point after the loss to Virginia. They are 7-13 in Q1/2 and while they don’t have any bad losses per se they just haven’t amassed enough wins to get in. Now, the committee of course could shock us all and put them in but I wouldn’t bet on it. Last year there was 1 team in the field with only 1 Q1 win, Wyoming in Dayton. While this year’s bubble is pretty weak, they are just behind so many teams in my mind right now I just don’t see it happening. From the Natty to the NIT for the pre-season #1 team. Haven’t seen anything like it. (Mar. 9)

–Big Ten–


purdue-4 iu northwestern    marylandiowa sparty   illinois-4  Pennst


Rutgers: 19-14 (10-10) — Q1: (5-7) Q2: (5-3) Q3: (2-4) Q4: (7-0) SOS: (44) TW’s (5)

rutgersThat’s a wrap on Rutgers as they fell to Purdue in what was an all-out war. This is the most intriguing resumé heading into Selection Sunday for me, as they have a gigantic road W over Purdue who is a top-5 team, and overall 5 Q1 wins and are 10-10 in Q1/2. However, that 2-4 Q3 record is the most disgusting piece of a resumé on this entire bubble watch. Plus, you have the 3-7 record since Mawot Mag went down, a time period where they picked up several of those ugly losses. I don’t think the new Rutgers without Mag is deserving of a tourney bid, and frankly the resumé as a whole with those ugly losses isn’t that great either. I think you could make an argument for them over one team I have in and that’s Nevada. They have better wins than Nevada, but still the Wolfpack are 11-2 in Q3 compared to 2-4. That’s ugly. Throw in the fact Nevada is 8-8 in Q1/2 and the glaring difference is Rutgers’ worse Q3 record. I was one of few people to have them out heading into today, so I’m willing to admit I could be wrong, I just don’t see how they’re ahead of teams like Oklahoma St or Arizona St. I have Nevada as the last team in, Rutgers the first team out. Either way, it’s fair to say it’s going to be a nervy Selection Sunday for the Scarlet Knights. (Mar. 10)

Wisconsin: 17-14 (9-11) — Q1: (6-7) Q2: (5-6) Q3: (1-1) Q4: (5-0) SOS: (13) TW’s (5)

wisconsinThe Badgers had a chance to really put themselves in good position to be dancing had they just beaten Ohio St, but of course they did not and now they likely are NIT bound. Now, the committee could surprise people in theory and put them in somehow but I just don’t see it with all of these losses. It’s not an easy team to leave out because they’ve proven they can beat really good teams, with 6 Q1 wins, which is more than all of those ACC teams by a mile. It’s just the below .500 record in Q2/3 games that makes you feel they haven’t done enough. If that Q3 says 2-0 and not 1-1, they look so much better. But you can’t hang your hat on SOS and quality wins if you’re also dropping games to Minnesota. Not to mention the 6 Q2 losses which is nearly as ugly. They do have a 45th ranked SOR though which is better than Pitt, UNC and Clemson so who knows. Let’s say I’d be surprised but not totally shocked if they get in. (Mar. 8)

Michigan: 17-14 (11-9) — Q1: (3-12) Q2: (5-2) Q3: (5-0) Q4: (4-1) SOS: (27) TW’s (7)


Michigan finished the season with 3 straight losses, capping it off with a double digit loss to Rutgers in their Big Ten tourney opener. They had a chance to play themselves in but I think it’s all but over for Michigan. I don’t really see a scenario in which they make the dance but I’m not going to claim to be all-knowing so we’ll keep the Wolverines here until it’s official. I just don’t view 3-12 in Q1 as good enough and while they have a much better record against bad teams than a Clemson or Rutgers for example, they just couldn’t pick up enough wins over quality teams. 8-14 in Q1/2, even in a weak bubble year, isn’t going to get it done. Allow me to be the first to welcome Michigan to the NIT.  (Mar. 9)

–Big 12–


kansastexas    baylor    kstate   iowast tcuwvu


Oklahoma St: 18-15 (8-10) — Q1: (6-12) Q2: (4-2) Q3: (3-1) Q4: (5-0) SOS: (6) TW’s (4)

okstateIt’s just my opinion but even with a 15th loss coming at the hands of Texas I think Oklahoma St should be in the field. Yes the record at 18-15 is ugly, but they have 6 Q1 wins and are 18-8 against teams not named Kansas/Texas/Baylor. Those are top-14 teams, and there are several teams on this bubble who haven’t even played a top-14 team all season (hello ACC). The committee has stated that SOS and beating quality teams are the most important categories (not the only ones of course) but the Pokes have 4 wins over top-30 teams. Teams like Clemson/N.C. State/Pitt have just 1 a piece, so if they are sticking to what they’ve said publicly then Oklahoma St should be in the field. It might be Dayton, but either way I expect to hear Oklahoma St on Selection Sunday. (Mar. 9)

–Big East–


marquettexavier uconn   creighton providence

On the Right Track: N/A

Teetering: N/A



arizona  ucla  usc


Arizona St: 22-12 (11-9) — Q1: (5-6) Q2: (4-5) Q3: (5-0) Q4: (8-1) SOS (54) TW’s (3)

azstateWith 5 Q1 wins and a relatively clean Q3/4 record I think Arizona St should be in Dayton. They are fighting for spots with the ACC teams, Rutgers and Nevada, but ultimately I think they have the highest quality resumé of all of them. 9-11 in Q1/2 isn’t horrible, in fact it’s better than some teams I have in the field ahead of the Sun Devils, it’s just their SOS and metrics that are holding them back. Ultimately I don’t think last night’s loss to Arizona is something that should knock them off. They should ride those 2 top-20 wins away from home right on in to the field of 68. No ACC team has those wins on their resumé, neither does Nevada, and Rutgers has the wins but they also have those 4 Q3 losses out there. Arizona St shouldn’t feel comfortable but they should feel like they gave themselves a great shot. (Mar. 10)

Oregon:  19-14 (12-8) — Q1: (2-9) Q2: (7-4) Q3: (5-1) Q4: (5-0) SOS (27) TW’s (3)

oregonThe loss last night to UCLA was the final nail in the coffin for Oregon most likely, as 2-9 in Q1 just isn’t going to get it done. They had ample opportunities if just one or 2 of those 9 losses were W’s we would be singing a different tune with the Ducks. Ultimately, they’re an average team that repeatedly couldn’t beat good teams, with the lone win over Arizona at home looking like an outlier now. Sure, the committee could shock us, but at this point there’s too many teams ahead of Oregon in my mind for me to really even think one more second about them after I finish writing this. I’m sure Dana Altman will be back, but for now, enjoy the NIT.(Mar. 10) 



bama   vols  mizzou kentucky  a&m  arkansas

On the Right Track:


Mississippi St: 21-12 (8-10) — Q1: (4-8) Q2: (4-3) Q3: (5-1) Q4: (8-0) SOS (43) TW’s (4)

missstState didn’t do themselves any favors by getting waxed by Alabama on Friday and now will have to sweat out Selection Sunday. Ultimately I think they will end up an 11 seed, potentially avoiding Dayton but very well could be in Dayton as well. I don’t see them missing out on the dance though, as those 4 Q1 wins and relatively clean record against bad teams should keep them in. Some of my fellow prognosticators have them behind teams like N.C. State and Pitt, but to me the team who has beaten great teams, and more of them, should be seeded higher. The Bulldogs have wins over Marquette, Arkansas, Texas A&M and TCU, all tourney teams and all top-30 wins. N.C. State and Pitt have 1 such win a piece. That’s without mentioning others like Nevada and Rutgers who have a significantly worse record against bad teams to go with fewer big wins. Long story short, Mississippi State is dancing, just is a matter of when and where. (Mar. 10)

Auburn: 20-12 (10-8) — Q1: (3-10) Q2: (6-1) Q3: (8-1) Q4: (3-0) SOS (17) TW’s (4)

auburnAuburn played well but a 10th loss in Q1 keeps them on the bubble at least, as they have no more chances to add to a not so great 3-10 Q1 record. I don’t think they will miss out on the field, but they really only have 2 top-25 wins (Tennessee/Arkansas) so there truly isn’t a ton of meat on the bone. The lucky thing for them is they are up against a crop of bubble teams who are in much worse situations, so those 3 Q1 wins actually should be enough, especially with a 17th SOS and only 1 loss in Q3/4. Ultimately, this year 9-11 in Q1/2 is going to be good enough to be in the dance, they’ll just be hoping to avoid Dayton. (Mar. 9)

Vanderbilt: 20-14 (11-7) — Q1: (5-10) Q2: (5-1) Q3: (5-2) Q4: (5-1) SOS (24) TW’s (6)

vandyVandy lost pretty easily on Saturday to Texas A&M, but they appear to be a better team than fellow bubble teams like NC State, Nevada or Rutgers. You don’t luck into 5 top-30 wins. What they will try and hang their hat on are those quality wins, but it is also true that they have lost 3 games in Q3/4, so while they may look like a tourney team right now in March, those games when they haven’t are likely going to be what keeps them out of the field. Similar to Vandy, we saw the committee a season ago leave Texas A&M out who went on a late run, including all the way to the SEC championship game, so I would expect a similar result with Vandy this season, just too little too late for the Commodores. (Mar. 11)

–Mountain West–


sdsu boise  utahst


Nevada: 21-10 (12-6) — Q1: (4-5) Q2: (4-3) Q3: (10-2) Q4: (3-0) SOS (70) TW’s (2)


Nevada has imploded down the stretch as they lost back-to-back Q3 games to end the regular season and followed it up with a first round Q2 loss in the MW tourney. They have gone from safely in to squarely in the Dayton group or First 4 out group, depending on where you look. They have 4 Q1 wins, and are 8-8 in Q1/2, so it’s pretty on par with these ACC teams that are right there on the bubble with them. I wouldn’t be shocked for the ACC brand to be the factor that leaves Nevada out, but I wouldn’t be outraged by it just because of how they ended the season in such a disastrous way. They had plenty of chances to play their way in, and they failed to do it. I could not be more on the fence with Nevada, and frankly I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re in Dayton or the NIT. (Mar. 9)



houston   memphis



zags  smc


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s