Bubble Watch: The bubble is still wide-open

Editor’s note: The NCAA tournament Bubble Watch has been updated through Friday’s early-afternoon games.

Thursday dawned with cheery can-do talk from Bubble Watch about how surely all of this upcoming basketball would bring some much-needed clarity to the bubble picture.

Indeed it did! We can now see clearly that if every bubble team loses the committee will still have to get to 68 teams somehow.

Fine, not every bubble team lost. But let’s quickly run down the results.

Of the 16 teams Joe Lunardi had listed under last four byes, last four in, first four out and next four out going into the day, here is what transpired:

A hearty Bubble Watch salute is therefore in order for Florida, Ohio State, Arizona State and Alabama. Those teams mastered their moment and won games at a crucial time. The Crimson Tide in particular needed the win over Ole Miss to keep even a discussion going for an at-large bid.

Conversely, NC State, TCU, St. John’s, Texas, Indiana, Creighton and Georgetown all lost. The conventions of sportswriting and social media alike dictate that when a team loses in its conference tournament we must proclaim that its at-large-bid hopes have been dashed.

That custom isn’t going to work so well this season. (It doesn’t actually work too well in any season. Every team but one from any conference enters the NCAA tournament having lost its previous game. It’s uncanny.)

With several bubble teams losing relatively early in their conference tournaments, our habit of writing off every losing team just can’t work mathematically. The committee is working with a fixed number of at-large bids, and a team here and there will almost surely end up looking like it backed its way into the tournament.

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