NCAA Tournament Projections As of Feb. 28

LAST FOUR IN: Richmond, Cincinnati, Providence, Utah State
FIRST FOUR OUT: NC State, UCLA, Mississippi State, Memphis
NEXT FOUR OUT:  Arkansas, Texas, Stanford, South Carolina

PAC-12: 5
BIG 12: 5
ACC: 4
SEC: 4
A-10: 3
WCC: 3
AAC: 3

The bubble. It conjures up pleasant memories of either blowing bubbles as a kid or seeing the bubble above the head of a cartoon character. But in college basketball the bubble is not a pleasant place to be. Unless you are on the wrong side of the bubble, and so far away that landing on the bubble is an improvement.

There is a good and bad side to the bubble. Now how many teams are on each side of the bubble is up for debate. And while there is no hard, fast number in general terms we can come up with a range on each side. On the wrong side of the bubble, most bracketologists have a first and next four out which totals eight teams. Others list four more while others list those under consideration. I go with the former. Now while I only list eight, I do keep a list of another 15-20 teams who could move to those two lists with some good play. So, in general terms, we can say there are about 25 teams on the wrong side of the bubble.

Now, that total shrinks significantly as we edge towards Selection Sunday. For example, there may have been about 25 teams on that list on February 1. Right now there are 15 teams on the wrong side. And really about five of those teams are such long shots that they could be dropped soon.

So flipping to the right side of the bubble, the number of teams on that list is up for debate as well. Generally you have the last four, the next four in line that are in the field and maybe a couple of more. I generally consider the at-large teams in the 10, 11 and 12 seed lines to be in this category. So currently I have 10 teams on the bubble who are in the field. Again, this list shrinks as we get closer to Selection Sunday with 10 seeds feeling pretty safe by that day.

This leaves about 35 teams which we can say are on the bubble. I recently did a deep dive into the differences in these teams and found many similar factors. First, remember that bubble teams lose games and that’s why they are on the bubble. I always get a chuckle out of fans who say team X should not be in the field because they just lost. Well, that is why they are on the bubble!

But the connecting factors on most of these teams are the following: They have around 17-18 wins, most have bad losses, they have zero or one high quality Q1 win, they five to six Q2 wins and have a winning record in that group, and have a high double-digit strength of schedule ranking. Setting teams apart are the squads that have more quality wins, limited bad losses and getting a few quality road wins.

It’s tough, but generally a bracketologist can sift through the schedule to find teams who deserve to be in and those that don’t. And then hope the committee agrees.

Brackets will be posted every Monday and Friday now until Selection Sunday. Follow me on twitter @tkbrackets. I will give you updates all season long as we make our way to Atlanta for the Final Four.

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