20 February 2012

Know thy competition: NCAAs Bubble Edition

It goes without saying that no single bracketologist has a crystal ball to the future.  Not Joe Lunardi.  Not Jerry Palm.  Not Mike Huguenin.  Not nobody.

While individual bracketologists are not very useful in isolation we do believe in the collective wisdom of the 67 brackets that are published and collected by the The Bracket Project (link on right).  17 of these forecasts have been completed since NU's victory over Minnesota, and these "NU-current" forecasts collectively show the following teams on the bubble (read: no consensus that the team is in the tourney), in order of most likely in to most likely out.

Mississippi St
Seton Hall
Miami FL
NC State
St Joes

Illinois would be the last one in which speaks to how soft the bubble is at the moment.  There really aren't any other teams on the radar except for perhaps Cleveland State but we think the Horizon is a one bid conference this year so have left them out.

That is to say that as things stand over the next two weeks NU only needs to make sure it outperforms four of its fellow bubble teams to secure an NCAAs berth.  Makes you feel a bit more confident about NU's chances for the NCAAs right?  WRONG! 

The line drawn at the Illini is the best case scenario for potential at large teams since it assumes that no berths are taken by otherwise NCAAs-unworthy teams who play their way into the Big Dance by winning their conference tourneys and thereby displace NCAAs-worthy team from an assumed automatic berth to an at-large berth.  Of course the likelihood of that happening is nil.  In any given year there are a handful of upsets that produce woeful 16 seeds upon which the Kentuckys and Syracuses of the world feast in their first game of the NCAA tournament.

Bubble games of interest tonight:

Baylor at Texas.  Baylor is in, Texas is in bubbleland.  Texas could solidify its position above NU with a win and at the same time hurt our SOS.  Texas is favored by 2 to 2.5 points.