March 20, 2010 PRINT Bookmark and Share

Bracket ABCs, Bubble Update

by Adam Wodon/Managing Editor

ALBANY, N.Y. — Just one more night of games, eight of them, and then we'll know who is in the NCAA tournament. We'll also have a pretty good idea of placement, as well. Check with CHN through the night to see how things are shaping up, then come back for our final Bracket Projection article.

You can see the Pairwise Live Blog for the current projections assuming all brackets go according to form. Which, of course, rarely happens. And last week's Bracket article and other comments in the Live Blog discuss the higher seeds.

But for this final look, we'll concentrate on the bubble — the teams that haven't yet totally secured things.

Remember, the top 14 will get in, theoretically, with slots 15-16 taken up by the Atlantic champ in tonight's game, and the CHA champ Alabama-Huntsville, respectively. But more slots could be taken by more automatic bid teams.

So this is where things stand:

Michigan, Maine, Union ... these teams are the ones playing tonight that could take the 14th, 13th and 12th spots. Though with a Michigan win, it no longer classifies as an upset, really, since it would jump to 12th. Actually, Maine and Union would jump to that area as well. But, you get the drift. In this context, when we say "upset," we mean a team that won't get an NCAA bid unless it wins the conference tournament, and is playing a team that already has its entrance locked up.

And here are the teams that could be bumped off.

New Hampshire are No. 11 overall in most scenarios, IF Ferris State loses, which would move the Wildcats into lock territory. But if Ferris State wins, that immediately drops UNH to 13-14 territory, and things get hairy. Take that, and add a Maine win, however, and UNH pulls back up above Vermont, so Maine's win would actually damage Vermont more.

Ferris State can survive upsets if it wins the CCHA consolation game. If it doesn't win, it will drop to 12 or 13. So no more than one upset and the Bulldogs are in no matter what. Ferris, as the only one of these teams playing today, is the only one that can help themselves, but also hurt themselves.

Alaska, in most scenarios, is No. 13 with FSU No. 12. So that means, Alaska can survive one upset, but not two.

Vermont needs a win by RIT, first and foremost, and pretty much no upsets. Also, a Ferris State win over Miami drops UNH to 14, and moves Alaska and Vermont up a notch, providing some cushion.

Minnesota-Duluth needs a win by Northern Michigan and Miami in the CCHA, and a win by Sacred Heart in Atlantic. Just the Ferris State loss to Miami alone, doesn't do it, because Ferris still stays in the top 14. Somehow, the Northern Michigan win pushes Vermont below UMD in the list. This is why these things are goofy — seemingly unrelated things have effects. But they really are related, in a trickle-down way, they're just hard to spot. And people like us are the ones trying to spot them. The committee just gets the numbers at the end and goes, "Oh, OK." ... The reason for the RIT thing is also goofy. If RIT wins, it becomes a TUC — i.e. Top 25 of the RPI ranking. If Sacred Heart wins, then Massachusetts stays in the Top 25. UMass being in there, hurts Vermont. If UMass falls out, and RIT comes in, then Vermont loses a comparison win because the Record vs. TUCs then change for anyone who has played UMass.

How to Follow

On Sunday, the NCAA will officially announce its selections (11:30 a.m. ET, ESPN2). But, if you understand the process and follow along with the Pairwise and You Are the Committee here at CHN, you'll be ahead of the game.

In addition to this article, also see:

1. The Current Pairwise

2. Read about how the Pairwise and seeding process works in our Pairwise Primer

3. Play with our You Are the Committee tool, to project out various scenarios for how things might turn out.

4. Follow the Pairwise Live Blog throughout conference tournament championship weekend, and see how the various fluctuations are affecting the teams.

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