We’re 10 days from Selection Sunday, and the excitement is building. My March ritual? I set my alarm to One Shining Moment so I wake up in Final Four form. Today, we dissect the bubble as conference tournaments tip-off.
NCAA Tourney: Blowing Bubbles
NCAA Tournament Bubble Watch: Every Win Matters for These Teams
As the calendar escalates into March and conference tournaments get underway, the bubble is bursting for teams across the nation. We all know that 68 teams make the field on Selection Sunday (Mar. 13), but roughly 80 teams have hopes of an NCAA tourney trip. That number grows when you factor in the conference champs who could steal bids in the next week. And while I can’t predict which mid-major team with a below .500 record will swipe a spot in the tournament, I can make predictions on the teams we see as “bubble bound.” Let’s dive in.
Safely In (Teams 1-60)
Teams 1-60 in the field of 68 can be determined by the 32 automatic bids (conference champions) and roughly 28 at-large bids for the squads ranked in or near the top-50 who don’t cut down the nets in the next week. I’ll call that 60 of the field’s 68 squads “in” by obvious resume examinations or a conference title. If you’re a fan of a power-5 team, chances are you know where your team stands. Then…
First Four In (Teams 61-64)
You can find different takes at this point across the sports stratosphere, but I have four bubble teams firmly in the field with one week to play, regardless of how they perform in their respective tournaments; two from the Big Ten and two from the ACC. These four teams have earned it with consistency and some quality wins: Rutgers, Wake Forest, North Carolina and Michigan.
Last Four In (Teams 65-68)
Things get dicey as we approach the cut line. I’ve seen bubble-watchers who like mid-major darlings like San Diego State and Loyola Chicago, but only two mid-major bubble clubs have won me over: San Francisco and SMU. To round it out, I like the power-tested programs with some big wins like Indiana and Oregon.
*Indiana and Rutgers swapped spots last night with the Scarlet Knights’ big win in Bloomington (66-63).
First Four Out (Teams 69-72)
Next up, I see four teams who could definitely squeeze into the field with any sort of success in their conference tournaments, but these are the first four on the outside looking in. This is where I’m placing those mid-major darlings from San Diego State and Loyola Chicago, plus Memphis and Florida. I like the Gators to potentially jump over SMU and into the field with a strong run in the SEC tournament.
Next Four Out (Teams 73-76)
This is where the bubble ends, but there are still other teams who could make major moves in the next week. These are my four teams in need of a deep run and some help in order to go dancing: BYU, Virginia Tech, Dayton and Belmont.
The bubble is fluent, and things can change in a hurry. We’re ten days from Selection Sunday, and I think I speak for all of us when I say: “bring on brackets!”
2022 NFL Combines Kicks Off Today in Indianapolis
Less than a month after the end of the NFL season and we’re back at it. The offseason circus begins with the NFL Combine this weekend in Indianapolis. Then it’s free agency, the NFL Draft and OTAs throughout the spring calendar. Football aficionados look to get their offseason fix through scouting, mock drafts and combine measurements, and an offseason of fun starts today. Here’s the schedule for the next four days in Indy:
Combine Schedule (Field Events)
Thursday: Quarterbacks, Receivers & Tight Ends
Friday: Running Backs, Offensive Linemen
Saturday: Defensive Linemen, Linebackers
Sunday: Defensive Backs, Special Teams
The coverage of combine field drills airs almost non-stop on NFL Network throughout the weekend. Everyone’s favorite event — the 40-yard dash — begins at 4:00 pm ET.
NCAA Men’s Basketball
NCAA Women’s Basketball
Major League Baseball announced Tuesday that it was canceling Opening Day and the first two series of the 2022 season due to the ongoing lockout. When will it end? Here’s what you need to know. (USA Today)
As the calendar flips to March, the NHL’s March 21 trade deadline grows larger on the horizon. Trade activity will almost certainly increase as the big day approaches, culminating in the usual frenzy of deals in the hours leading up to the deadline. (Bleacher Report)
The NFL Scouting Combine kicks off this week with executives, coaches, scouts and 300-plus players descending upon Indianapolis for an extensive set of interviews and athletic tests that will shape the 2022 draft. (FOX Sports)