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ACC (6 BIDS)
Locks: North Carolina, Wake Forest, Duke, Maryland
Bubble teams in: Georgia Tech, Miami, Virginia Tech
Bubble bursts: None
Things have certainly gotten interesting this week in the ACC. While North Carolina and Wake Forest still appear to control their paths to No. 1 seeds, Duke dropped off big time and Maryland (in typical Terp fashion) did its best to get back on the bubble. But thanks to its sweep of Duke, a loss to NC State isn’t going to cause Maryland too much harm. Duke, on the other hand, has played its way out of a shot a No. 1 and likely a No. 2 seed by dropping four of seven games, the most recent a stunning upset to Virginia Tech. And in the process, the Blue Devils have given the Hokies new hope. I know; a Hokie bid in the NCAAs sounds outlandish, but if they maintain their .500 ACC record- which is very possible- they should join fellow ACC newby Miami with the final two ACC bids. As for Georgia Tech, the Jackets can’t afford too many stumbles down the stretch or Selection Sunday will be stressful in Atlanta.
BIG EAST (7 BIDS)
Locks: Boston College, Syracuse, UConn, Pitt, Villanova
Bubble teams in: Notre Dame, Georgetown
Bubble bursts: West Virginia
While the ACC looks ready to produce the most Elite Eight and Final Four attendees, the Big East is going to crowd the Dance floor from the beginning. It’s the strongest conference from top to bottom and has seven very strong candidates to keep playing in March. BC, Syracuse, Villanova, UConn and Georgetown all sit in the RPI top 36, while Notre Dame has wins over ‘Nova, UConn and previously undefeated BC. Pitt, meanwhile, balances out its No. 51 RPI with a win over UConn and a sweep of Syracuse to go with its 8-3 conference record. West Virginia has leveled off since a hot start and will have to pull of a miracle or two to counter its 4-7 Big East record.
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CONFERENCE USA (5 BIDS)
Locks: Louisville, Cincinnati, Charlotte
Bubble teams in: DePaul, UAB
Bubble burst: Memphis
With Charlotte joining the top 25 after beating the Bearcats, C-USA has a third power team (Louisville, Cincinnati) locking up a spot in the Big Dance. Meanwhile DePaul is looking more and more like a lock with its No. 31 RPI rating and its own win over Cincinnati to go with an 8-2 conference record. UAB isn’t quite as comfortable though. The Blazers are lacking a marquee win and have a questionable RPI of 55. They need to pick up some wins down the stretch to be safe. Memphis is a moody team on the down slope- especially with the loss of Sean Banks. It’s going to take a lot more than the recent win over Louisville to overcome its 10 losses.
PAC-10 (4 BIDS)
Locks: Arizona, Washington
Bubble teams in: UCLA, Stanford
Bubble Burst: Arizona State
Arizona and Washington are easy choices, but UCLA and Stanford make things interesting. The Bruins look a year away from being a conference title contender, but have a win over Washington and a winning conference record to show that Ben Howland has the Bruins on the way back up. Without a collapse, they look like tourney material. Stanford, on the other hand, is in trouble. They can’t afford to lose much ground, and that’s going to be tough with Dan Grunfeld out for the season. But, as of now, the Cardinal are in. Sorry ASU- Ike Diogu would be fun to watch in March, but a 5-8 conference record just doesn’t cut it.
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