The March To March: Blowing bubbles

Philadelphia, PA ( - A lot of cotton will be cut and a plethora of hardwood floors will be stormed by waves of ebullient fans by week's end.

It's that time of year, Championship Week is in full swing.

Some teams that are already locks to make the NCAA Tournament will vie to improve their seeding. Some will be fighting for their tournament lives and many others will try to catch lightning in a bottle and steal a bid away from those bubble teams.

Let's dig in.

The ACC Tournament might have the most intrigue. Potential No. 1 seeds might be on the line, will Justin Anderson return for Virginia and what about Miami- Florida and Pittsburgh?

Virginia can probably afford to lose and still be on the top line, as long as the Cavs don't fall in the quarterfinals to either Clemson or Florida State. If Duke doesn't win the ACC, the Blue Devils better hope that Wisconsin and Arizona don't cut down the nets in their respective tourneys.

Miami-Florida and Pittsburgh need to make huge runs in the ACC tourney to warrant an NCAA bid. NC State should be fine because a loss against Pittsburgh wouldn't be the worst thing in the world. The Panthers are further back in the bubble discussion than the Hurricanes, but will have an opportunity to rack up wins against the Wolfpack and Duke to reach the semifinals. Miami, meanwhile, plays the winner between lowly Wake Forest and Virginia Tech before a possible quarterfinal date against Notre Dame. It may not be enough for the Hurricanes to get in with those two victories, but if Pitt can reach the semis, the Panthers could be dancing.

If the scenario plays out that Duke doesn't win the ACC and Wisconsin and Arizona both win their tournaments, Wisconsin will probably get the nod over Arizona. As for Villanova, the Wildcats might be able to afford to lose in the Big East final and still get a No. 1.

Purdue, Illinois and free-falling Indiana are the three teams to keep an eye on in the Big Ten Tournament. Indiana and Purdue are in better shape than Illinois, but if the Fighting Illini can knock off both Michigan and Wisconsin, they'd be making a case to make the NCAAs. Indiana might be able to afford to lose to Maryland after a potential win over Northwestern, but if the Hoosiers knock off the Terrapins, that'll definitely get them in. The Boilermakers have a bye until the quarterfinals and they should root for Iowa, because if they can beat the Hawkeyes, that might be enough. A win over either Penn State or Nebraska doesn't do them any good.

Oregon, UCLA and Stanford are the teams to watch in the Pac-12. UCLA and Stanford probably have to reach the final, while the Ducks need to avoid a bad loss to either Oregon State or Colorado. UCLA would have to potentially knock off Arizona en route to the final, while Stanford may have to defeat both Utah and Oregon.

Villanova possibly garnering a No. 1 seed is the storyline in the Big East. Xavier and St. John's are most likely NCAA Tournament teams and neither will have to worry about suffering a bad loss.

Texas, which is the lone bubble team in the Big 12 Tournament, will play Texas Tech in the first round and a win would set up a showdown against Iowa State. A victory over the Cyclones should get the Longhorns in.

The SEC has two teams that will be fighting to make it into the NCAA Tournament field. Texas A&M dropped three of its last four games to close the season, including a pair against Florida and Alabama last week. The Aggies, who are my first team out, will have to beat either Mississippi State or Auburn in their first game before squaring off with LSU. A win over the Tigers might get them in, but a win over the Tigers and Kentucky definitely gets them in. Ole Miss is set to square off against Georgia in the quarterfinals and a win over the Bulldogs might be enough.

The Atlantic 10 is interesting because VCU, which will probably receive the highest NCAA Tournament seed in the conference, finished fifth in the league. What do you even do with them? The Rams are just 5-5 since defensive menace Briante Weber tore his ACL against Richmond. Davidson is essentially the lone bubble team in the conference. You can possibly make a case for Rhode Island, but the Rams probably need to win the whole thing. The Wildcats just need to avoid a loss against UMass or La Salle.

As for the American Athletic Conference, many are baffled as to why Temple is ahead of Tulsa in the bubble discussion despite the Golden Hurricane sweeping the Owls and finishing ahead of them in the standings. But that's all who Tulsa has really beaten, while Temple has that win over Kansas, which is ranked second in the RPI. Cincinnati should be fine. If UConn beats South Florida in the first round and then beats the Bearcats, it won't be a bad loss for them because the tournament is in Hartford.

Boise State is the lone bubble team in the Mountain West Tournament, but because the Broncos earned the top seed in the conference, they won't see San Diego State or Colorado State until the final. They'd be sweating out a tourney bid if they can't cut down the nets.

Old Dominion is another team to look out for, but the Monarchs must win the Conference USA Tournament to receive an invite to the field of 68.

We're less than a week until Selection Sunday, buckle up!


MIDWEST (Cleveland)

1. Kentucky* vs. 16. St. Francis (NY)*/Texas Southern* winner

8. Oklahoma State vs. 9. Xavier

4. Louisville vs. 13. Valparaiso*

5. Wichita State vs. 12. Purdue/BYU winner

6. Georgetown vs. 11. Ole Miss

3. Maryland vs. 14. UC Davis*

7. San Diego State* vs. 10. Davidson*

2. Kansas* vs. 15. South Dakota State*

SOUTH (Houston)

1. Duke vs. 16. New Mexico State*

8. St. John's vs. 9. Colorado State

4. Utah vs. 13. Louisiana Tech*

5. Arkansas vs. 12. Texas

6. Butler vs. 11. Stephen F. Austin*

3. Oklahoma vs. 14. Georgia State*

7. VCU vs. 10. NC State

2. Wisconsin* vs. 15. Albany*

EAST (Syracuse)

1. Virginia* vs. 16. NORTH FLORIDA/COASTAL CAROLINA winner

8. LSU vs. 9. Dayton

4. NORTHERN IOWA vs. 13. Yale*

5. West Virginia vs. 12. Indiana/Temple winner

6. Providence vs. 11. Boise State

3. Iowa State vs. 14. William & Mary*

7. Iowa vs. 10. Cincinnati

2. Gonzaga* vs. 15. BELMONT

WEST (Los Angeles)

1. Villanova* vs. 16. Lafayette*

8. Ohio State vs. 9. Georgia

4. Baylor vs. 13. Buffalo*

5. North Carolina vs. 12. Iona*

6. SMU* vs. 11. Wofford*

3. Notre Dame vs. 14. Eastern Washington*

7. Michigan State vs. 10. Oregon

2. Arizona* vs. 15. North Carolina Central*


Texas A&M



Murray State


Old Dominion




* - denotes conference leader. In a result of a tie atop the standings, the team with the higher RPI was chosen.

ALL CAPS - denotes conference tournament winner.