It is time to look at teams on our official Bubble Watch.
There are 32 teams listed in three different categories: In for now, On the fence and Work to do.
Teams will move on and off at either end and between the categories as the season progresses. The number of teams on the bubble will shrink as we get closer to the end of the season as well.
I will also be giving you a daily bubble watch preview featuring the games that day involving bubble teams. That piece will then be updated at the end of the day with notes on the impact of those games.
There are a couple of other tools on the Bracketology page that you may find useful. The Palm Reader lets you see which teams you should be rooting for in today's games to help your team's RPI. The Team Comparison tool allows you to compare two teams tournament resumes side-by-side.
Here's a look at five interesting cases of teams sitting on the bubble.
I am currently getting more feedback on the Shockers than any other team. Their fans have built up a healthy sense of entitlement regarding tournament selection because of their recent run of success, but this year's team is different. While they don't have any bad losses yet - and that has to remain true for them to have any shot at all - they have just one top 100 win. That came last Saturday in a pounding of Illinois State. That win pulled WSU back into a tie with the Redbirds for the league lead. As good as that performance was, one top 100 win isn't usually going to get the job done.
The committee messed up and invited MTSU in 2013 with just one such win. The Blue Raiders are the only team to get a bid with fewer than three top 100 wins in the 24 years that I have been tracking selections. Wichita State is unlikely to be the second, but they have no chance to get three top 100 wins because the MVC is way down this year. The next time Wichita State will see a top 100 team will be if it faces Illinois State in the MVC tournament. The last time the MVC had just two RPI top 100 teams was 2003.
That year, both teams received bids, one as an at-large, but those two teams also combined for five top 50 RPI non-conference wins. This season, the entire league has just one in 18 games. That belongs to the last place team, Indiana State, which stunned Butler. The MVC has just four total top 100 wins. It will be surprising if this is more than just a one-bid league, regardless of who wins Arch Madness.
Cal has been hot of late, winning seven of its last eight. That streak started with the Bears best win of the season at USC. That is also their only top 50 win and only win against a likely tournament team. The Pac-12 is down this year, so there are really only four teams a team can play that gives it a chance for a quality win and Cal has two games left with those teams.
They will play at Arizona on Saturday and host Oregon in a couple of weeks. Those are huge chances for the Bears to make a case for selection into the tournament, but they cannot afford to stumble in too many of the other games. The schedule makers did them no favors by not giving them a shot at UCLA and USC at home, where Cal has been very good again this year.
Miami has a home run of a win over North Carolina, but has generally been poor against better opposition otherwise. That is the Hurricanes' only top 50 win in seven games and they are just 3-7 against the top 100. Since they play in the ACC, those problems will take care of themselves one way or another. Either they will pile up wins in those categories or they will lose so many games that they may not play in the postseason at all. Seven of their final eight games before the ACC tournament are against teams in the current top 50. It won't be long before we know if Miami measures up.
The Buckeyes are hanging on by a thread, but picked up a big road win at Michigan on Saturday. At 14-10, Ohio State is dangerously approaching the point where they have too many losses to get in. The record is 14, which has happened seven times, five of those in 2011, the first year of the expansion to 68 teams. There have been none since.
In order to have a chance to stay below 14, the Buckeyes will have to finish no worse than 5-2 before the Big Ten tournament. They play Wisconsin and Indiana at home, and Maryland and Michigan State on the road, so a 5-2 finish would bring along at least a couple very helpful wins. That wouldn't guarantee them anything, but less than that may not be enough.
It has been a down year for non-major conference teams, which makes it hard to find potential at-large teams from that group. The Blue Raiders are probably in the best position, but it is not a great position. They do have four RPI top 100 wins, including wins over other conference leaders UNC Wilmington and Belmont as well as a road win at fellow bubbler Ole Miss. Unfortunately, they also have three bad losses, two of which came at home and the most recent one at UTEP, which is barely in the top 300 of the RPI. It may be difficult for MTSU to overcome those losses.