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NCAA Tournament Bid Watch 2/18

With now less than a month until we have an official NCAA Tournament bracket, questions loom about which teams are safely in the field, and who has some work to do still. We have broken down that information, by conference, below. Take a look!


Lock: could theoretically lose out and still make the field

Should be In: would take a major collapse to miss the field, have a solid resume to this point

Work to Do: fall somewhere in the 8-9 seed range all the way to just outside the field. Are in, or just barely out, but not quite safe yet

Fringe Bubble: have not been eliminated from at-large contention yet, but are just about in “win out” territory



Locks: Duke

Should Be In: None

Work to Do: Miami, Wake Forest, Notre Dame, North Carolina, Virginia Tech

Fringe Bubble: Virginia, Florida State

Duke is the only ACC team to this point that feels even slightly safe. Miami has the best resume of the rest of the group, but still is by no means safely in as they are hovering in the 9-10 seed range today. The rest of the “work to do” group has limited margin of error as we head down the closing stretch. Of note, Virginia is much closer to the work to do group than Florida State who just barely makes this list with a resume boost opportunity coming soon against Duke.


Locks: None

Should Be In: Houston

Work to Do: Memphis, SMU

Fringe Bubble: Cincinnati, Wichita State

In many ways, Houston feels like a lock. The Cougars rank in the Top-10 in most metrics, and have over 20 wins, but it is hard to truly justify locking them in until they get some better wins. Memphis and SMU are right in the bubble mix but could use some more quality wins to mitigate earlier bad losses. The two meet Sunday, 2/20 at 3pm ET in a massive game. Cincinnati and Wichita State both have a game remaining against Houston, and a game against either SMU or Memphis on the road, so there is still a slim at-large path with those opportunities looming. UCF’s loss to Houston removed them from our fringe bubble.

Atlantic 10

Locks: None

Should Be In: None

Work to Do: Davidson, VCU, Dayton, St Bonaventure

Fringe Bubble: Saint Louis

Davidson is in a much safer position than the rest of this work to do group, but still needs to avoid any bad losses in the last 5 games to get a bit safer. VCU, Dayton and SBU are all within our first 10 teams out of the field and have opportunities against each other to boost resumes. Dayton and Saint Louis also have a game remaining against Davidson.

Big 12

Locks: Kansas, Baylor, Texas Tech, Texas

Should Be In: None

Work to Do: Iowa State, TCU, Oklahoma, Kansas State

Fringe Bubble: West Virginia

The first few locks here are obvious, and Texas has enough wins now where losing out should keep them in the field. ISU and TCU have enough quality wins to feel good for today, but the Big 12 schedule is difficult enough to keep them in work to do for now. K-State and OU are firmly on the bubble, while West Virginia has the steepest hill to climb of this group.

Big East

Locks: Villanova, Providence

Should Be In: UConn, Marquette, Xavier, Seton Hall

Work to Do: Creighton

Fringe Bubble: St Johns

The toughest decision here was whether to lock in UConn. The Huskies have some solid wins and have won 3/4 games and probably just need one more win to be an official lock. Marquette may very well be in that same position. For the moment, Xavier and Seton Hall have a strong enough case above the 10-11 seeds to feel relatively comfortable and thus should be in. Creighton remains right near the cut line and St Johns has 2-3 quality win opportunities left to sneak into the discussion late if they get hot.

Big Ten

Locks: Purdue, Wisconsin, Illinois

Should Be In: Ohio State, Michigan State

Work to Do: Indiana, Iowa, Rutgers, Michigan

Fringe Bubble: None

The Big Ten is straight forward. The locks are obvious, and OSU/MSU are both a win or so away from lock status as well. All four teams in the work to do category have enough holes in their resumes to warrant the need for more wins. An argument could be made for teams like Penn State or Northwestern to be on the fringe bubble, but until they get a few games above .500 overall, they will remain off the list.

Mountain West

Locks: None

Should Be In: Colorado State

Work to Do: Wyoming, Boise State, San Diego State

Fringe Bubble: Fresno State

The Mountain West will be a multi-bid league this year, the question remains how many. The floor is most likely three teams, with the ceiling at five should a bid stealer emerge. CSU has the best resume to date, and therefore should feel the most comfortable. Wyoming and Boise State also have created some breathing room but would need to avoid any remaining bad losses to feel fully secure. San Diego State is in our last 4 in, so every win makes a huge difference moving forward. We added Fresno State to the fringe bubble as the Bulldogs still have opportunities against SDSU twice and at Wyoming to make things interesting.


Locks: Arizona, UCLA

Should Be In: USC

Work to Do: Oregon

Fringe Bubble: Stanford, Colorado, Washington State

Arizona has just about reached the point where a Top 4 seed is a lock, let alone a spot in the field. UCLA’s win over Washington State locks the Bruins in, though a loss to ASU again or at Oregon State may have us rethinking this. USC is just one or two wins away, but with 22 wins on the year, the Trojans may be a lock already. Lack of top tier wins outside of last week’s UCLA win keep USC as "should be in" for now. Oregon is firmly on the bubble, and outside the field today, while Stanford, Colorado, and Washington State need to take advantage of the one game apiece they each have left against the Top three teams, but even that might not be enough.


Locks: Auburn, Kentucky, Tennessee

Should Be In: Alabama, LSU, Arkansas

Work to Do: Florida

Fringe Bubble: Mississippi State, South Carolina, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt

As is a theme with some of the power six conferences, the locks are obvious here. While Alabama and LSU have had a couple of “scratch your head” losses, both don’t need too much more to be an official lock. Arkansas is in a similar position as well, but the remaining schedule includes Tennessee twice, LSU, and Kentucky so it will be no easy task. Florida is just barely above fringe bubble for us, while the other four programs can only afford one more loss at most the rest of the way, and again, that still may not be enough.


Locks: Gonzaga

Should Be In: Saint Mary’s

Work to Do: San Francisco, BYU

Fringe Bubble: Santa Clara

Saint Mary’s rose to the “should be in” group after its win over San Francisco and is a 7 seed for us today. The Gaels have 21 wins on the year already and should make the field if they beat San Diego next week. San Francisco and BYU are very much so on the bubble and need all the wins they can get. Santa Clara remains in the mix because of one last opportunity against Gonzaga, though it is not the smartest decision to have your at-large hopes decided in a road game against the Zags.

Other Mid-Majors

Locks: None

Should Be In: None

Work to Do: Murray State, Loyola Chicago, Belmont, North Texas

Fringe Bubble: UAB, Iona

The fringe bubble here is just about at win out mode until their respective conference tourney title games, and even then, it would be dicey. Others like South Dakota State and New Mexico State may have a case for fringe bubble here as well but will wait to see if they win out the regular season before adding those two. UAB has a game on Saturday, (4pm ET), against North Texas that is huge for both. North Texas would be around Next 4 Out for us today if the Mean Green were not the projected C-USA auto-bid. Murray State and Loyola Chicago are the most secure of this group, but enough potential bad losses are still on the schedule to make either safe today. Belmont has another shot against Murray State on Thursday, February 24th, in a game that the Bruins might need to have for an at-large case.

Thanks for reading! You can also check out our latest Bracketology update from 2/17 and/or our Teams of the Week 2/7-2/13 to see who is on the rise of late. DM @TBracketology with questions about the bubble watch or any other CBB questions!


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