We made it. It’s been a fun ride this past month, watching the Deacs rise and fall (and rise again) in the bubble picture. Now, the big day has arrived. For one last time, let’s recap what happened yesterday and analyze who to root for today.
Saturday Bubble Recap
Bubble teams who were supposed to win, and won:
Vermont (vs. Albany)
Rhode Island (vs. Davidson)
Princeton (@ Penn)
Nevada (vs. Colorado State)
MTSU (vs. Marshall)
Bubble teams who were supposed to lose, and lost:
Alabama (vs. Kentucky)
Alabama’s bubble is almost certainly burst.
Bubble teams landing upset victories:
Bubble teams suffering upset losses:
Vanderbilt (vs. Arkansas)
UT-Arlington (vs. Texas State)
Vanderbilt’s loss leaves them vulnerable to being relegated to the First Four, but I would be surprised if they missed the field entirely at this point.
UT-Arlington, on the other hand, almost definitely needed the automatic bid. Especially considering how decisively they lost, they should be NIT-bound.
12:00 ESPN2, IVY: #144 Yale vs. #62 Princeton (73%)
12:30 CBS, A10: #41 Rhode Island (51%) vs. #48 VCU
1:00 ESPN, SEC: #35 Arkansas vs. #4 Kentucky (77%)
2:00 ESPN2, SUN BELT: #166 Texas State vs. #131 Troy (55%)
3:00 CBS, B1G: #24 Michigan vs. #17 Wisconsin (53%)
3:15 ESPN, AAC: #18 Cincinnati vs. #14 SMU (53%)
No rooting guide necessary today, as there are only six games total and the bubble picture is pretty straightforward. The SEC, B1G, and AAC championship games are strictly for seeding, while the Sun Belt championship game is strictly for an automatic bid.
Princeton has a slim, slim chance at an at-large bid. Yes, they only have one RPI top 100 win, but they are #49 in the RPI, went 14-0 in their conference, and have 12 true road wins. With so few mid-majors expected to be in the field, I’m worried the committee will look for places to add one. So, just to be safe, I’ll be rooting for them to win the Ivy, and ensure that league nets one bid.
Most likely though, the one truly impactful game of the day for bubble teams is across the state in Pittsburgh. In the A10 final, we should root for VCU to beat Rhode Island. VCU is solidly in the field; Rhode Island is on the bubble. Rhode Island could get into the field with a loss, but it is far from a given. Moreover, even if Rhode Island did make the field as an at-large selection, they would likely (hopefully) be behind Wake. In other words, Rhode Island capturing the auto bid would effectively push Wake one slot down the at-large pool (because we’d be behind VCU almost definitely). In my opinion, this should not impact our chances of making the field very much, but would be a significant blow to our chances at avoiding Dayton.
Long story short: root for VCU, and then, as a distant second, root for Princeton.
That covers the action on the court today. Of course, the big story today is off the court, as the bracket is revealed at 5:30 on CBS. To that end, I’ll have a comprehensive bubble preview coming out later this morning, so keep an eye out for that.
Thank you all for reading my bubble recaps this past month. I’ve really enjoyed putting these Wake-centric bracketology updates together, and hope to do it again next year (maybe with less of a bubble focus and more of a seeding focus?). Enjoy the games today, and best of luck waiting until 5:30. Thanks again and Go Deacs!