If you are a fan of any of these teams here http://7citieswitness.com/the-bubble-with-two-weeks-to-go/ then you should be heavily invested in what Belmont, Middle Tennessee and Louisiana Tech do this weekend and next in their respective conference tournaments.
You want, wait you need all three to win their conference tournaments and possibly even Akron or you can expect precious bids to be stolen by these schools. Teams like Virginia, Kentucky, Villanova, Cincinnati and Iowa State to name a few could be NIT bound simply because things didn’t go according to plan in the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament.
Lets looks at each of these schools and their at large profile.
Belmont 22-6 RPI-23 KenPom-38
- The Bruins are going into the Big Dance whether any of you like it or not. They are 6-2 against the RPI top 100 and played true road games against Kansas, VCU and Stanford and defeated South Dakota State and Middle Tennessee rather handily in the non conference. Inside the Ohio Valley they have been good enough and waxed Ohio in their Bracketbuster game. Simply put a Belmont loss in the Ohio Valley Tournament will cost somebody an at large bid, you’ve been warned.
Middle Tennessee 27-4 RPI-25 KenPom-27
- The Blue Raiders at large resume is exactly the same as Belmont and they are also headed to the Big Dance regardless of Sun Belt performance. Middle Tennessee scheduled well in the non conference and has been nothing short of dominant within their conference and is on a 16 game winning streak. Here’s why bubble teams should be most concerned. The Sun Belt Tournament is being held in Arkansas and Middle Tennessee’s lone conference loss this season was to #2 seeded Arkansas State.
Louisiana Tech 25-3 RPI-47 KenPom-63
- As you can tell immediately by the computer numbers, La Tech does not have the same quality of resume as the previous two teams and it’s debatable if they can sustain a loss in the WAC Tournament. If they can win their final two games which are on the road against top 100 competition and advance to the WAC semifinals then I would probably be in favor of taking the Bulldogs over a middling BCS team like Villanova or Baylor. 29-4 and 8 top 100 wins with a 22 game winning streak is going to be hard to pass up for the Selection Committee.
To summarize, Belmont and Middle Tennessee are going to the Big Dance so you might as well get the popcorn ready and sit in front of your TV this weekend and root them on. If either were to take a loss, everyone’s bubble odds become longer. Louisiana Tech is a harder call to make and Akron isn’t far behind which makes it very important for those teams to win if you want your underachieving team’s name to be called on Selection Sunday.
image credit: USA Today Sports