It’s true. Go ahead and ask a batch of “in-the-know” College Basketball folks who they consider on their short list of so-called “bubble teams” and it’s likely you’re gonna get a slew of different answers:
Okay, so ask us and we’ll say that entering this winter weekend there are probably 15-to-20 for-real “bubble teams” out there and it’s getting to the stage when there isn’t much wiggle room for a whole bunch of these teams.
Wichita State? Stanford? Rhode Island? Arizona State? Arkansas? Florida? Utah State?
Heck, all of the above – and maybe 10-to-12 other teams – can’t be losing a whole lot down the stretch now as they all attempt to squeeze into next month’s 68-team NCAA Tournament field that features 32 automatic bids and 36 at-large bids.
If you do the math and figure that 30-or-so at-large bids are absolute no-brainers – see the likes of Auburn, Louisville, Creighton, Michigan State and West Virginia providing these clubs don’t win their respective conference tournaments (a/k/a the mini-tournies) — then there’s probably 15-to-20 “bubble teams” fighting it out for eight or nine bids.
Not everyone’s gonna be happy by day’s end on Sunday, March 15th, so now’s the time for some of the bubble bunch to make it happen … here is what’s on for the weekend menu for a bunch of “bubble teams” and some pointspread details, to boot:
THE BUBBLE BUNCH
WICHITA STATE (19-6) – The Shockers are just .500 against the odds these days (12-12 against the spread) while heading into Thursday night’s home against USF and can’t ignore the fact the arrow’s been pointing down in recent weeks with Gregg Marshall’s crew having failed to cover seven of its last 10 games. Now, Sunday’s 1 p.m. ET tilt at Cincinnati is uber-critical especially when you consider Wichita State lost to Cincy 80-79 as five-point home favorites back on Feb. 6th. The “bad losses” for this Shockers’ bunch includes a 33-point loss at Houston on Feb. 9th. Yikes!
STANFORD (16-9) – It’s funny that one web site we checked out actually has Wichita State vs. Stanford as a potential “First Four” matchup in Dayton … could happen but the Cardinal (like the Shockers) need to “stack” some wins after losing seven-of-eight games SU (straight-up) prior to Thursday’s night Pac-12 tilt at Washington. True, Stanford’s 15-10 ATS mark is rock-solid stuff but keep in mind the Cardinal is just 6-6 spreadwise in league play with non-conference wins / covers Montana, Cal-Fullerton and William & Mary not weighing all that much in its favor. Ask us and we say the “magic number” for Stanford is 21 total wins.
RHODE ISLAND (19-6) – Gotta go all the way back to the first few days in this new calendar year to discover the last time this Rams’ team lost-back-to-back games in SU fashion (see Jan. 2 versus Brown then Jan.5 versus Richmond) and the facts are URI has won 11 of its last 12 games SU while going 8-3-1 versus the vig during this time. So, many folks might believe this Atlantic-10 team is on the “inside-looking-out” at this year’s NCAA Tournament but a 13-11-1 spread mark is just slightly above average and “marquee games” against Dayton, LSU and Maryland all produced double-digit defeats. A win on Saturday at Davidson – a team Rhodie beat by 11 points in early January – followed up by wins against Fordham and Saint Louis should seal an at-large deal.
FLORIDA (17-9) – Call it a good news / bad news scene for the Gators these days: They enter their SEC game against archrival Kentucky on Saturday riding a three-game SU / ATS winning streak and do own non-league wins / covers this year versus Xavier and Providence, but Florida is just 11-15 ATS overall and has suffered through a pair of five-game spread losing skids … yuck! Safe to say that Mike White’s squad must win 21-or-more games to be on the “right side” of this season’s bubble.
UTAH STATE (22-7) – Let’s face it: The non-power conferences – such as the Mountain West – don’t always get the proverbial “benefit of the doubt” when it comes to snagging one of these above-mentioned at-large bids to the NCAA Tournament and these Aggies are just 12-15 ATS overall following Wednesday’s 78-58 non-cover win against 20.5-point dog Wyoming. Still, U-State is 6-3 spreadwise in its last nine board games—that’s good – but indications are the Aggies likely need to get to 25 SU wins to get a nod. Otherwise, their bubble will get burst come March 15.
THE BASEBALL REPORT
Hey, Baseball’s back and we’re not gonna bore you with all the Houston Astros’ cheating talk – think we’ve all had enough of that, eh? So, beginning with today’s edition we’re going to go division-by-division with the projected wins totals of all the MLB teams with a key comment tossed into the mix. First up: The National League East
TEAM = PROJECTED WINS = TOTAL QUICK COMMENT
|Atlanta||90.5||Loss of 3B Josh Donaldson could stunt Braves’ growth and put a major hole in this lineup|
|Washington||89.5||Defending World Series champs probably not as deep as last year and no 3B Anthony Rendon – ouch|
|NY Mets||86.5||RHP Jacob deGrom guns for a Cy Young 3-peat but will team’s bullpen let ’em down once again?|
|Philadelphia||85.5||Maybe new skipper Joe Girardi can prevent this team from a 2nd-half dive but starting rotation shaky|
|Miami||64.5||Last year’s Fish won just 57 games but offense is greatly improved, so a leap into the mid-60s possible|