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Bracket Watch: Which schools are sitting on the bubble?

March is just over a month away. Which teams are on the right side of the bubble?

NCAA Basketball: Miami (OH) at Buffalo Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

In just a couple of days, the calendar will flip to February, drawing the looming presence of March that much closer.

The plight of the mid-major in pursuit of an at-large bid is not a pleasant one. Chances are, it isn’t going to get one. But there remains some hope that with the NCAA’s new NET metric, mid-majors will have a shot at getting a bigger piece of the pie.

So let’s examine where some non-power conference schools are sitting in regards to the NCAA Tournament at the end of January.


Record: 19-2
NET: 2
Bracket Matrix: 2 seed (autobid)

Gonzaga is in. They’ll be a top 2 seed. Do not worry about Gonzaga.


Record: 19-1
NET: 18
Bracket Matrix: 4 seed (autobid)

Nevada will be fine too, barring an unfathomable collapse in the Mountain West. A lack of Quadrant 1 wins and opportunities will prevent them from snagging one of the top overall seeds, but the Pack is probably sitting comfortably in the 3-5 seed range.


Record: 17-2
NET: 20
Bracket Matrix: 6 seed (autobid)

The Bulls did the necessary work in the non-conference portion of their schedule to be on the right side of the at-large conversation. Quadrant 1 wins against Syracuse and San Francisco and Q2 wins against Toledo and West Virginia give Buffalo resume builders. The margin of error isn’t quite as big as Nevada or Gonzaga, but they have some wiggle room if they were to slip up another time or two like they did last week against Northern Illinois.


Record: 14-4
NET: 30
Bracket Matrix: 12 seed (autobid)

Did you know that Wofford is ranked higher in the NET than teams like Florida State, Oklahoma, Kansas State, Florida and Indiana? At No. 30, Wofford has a better case than you might think. For one, the Terriers don’t have any bad losses. All four of their losses came in Q1 games against top 50 teams. Now, their issue is the lack of a real signature win. A Q1 win over UNC Greensboro is nice, and Q2 wins against ETSU and South Carolina are nice supplemental resume boosters, but there’s probably just not enough meat there right now. Their Feb. 7 trip to ETSU will be the best chance for a Q1 win in the regular season, and another one could arise in the SoCon tournament.

San Francisco

Record: 16-4
NET: 47
Bracket Matrix: First Four Out

The Dons have failed to capitalize on limited opportunities for quality wins, and last weekend’s loss to San Diego might have burst their bubble. San Francisco’s record in Q1/Q2 games is now just 1-3, with the lone win coming at home against Saint Mary’s. The Dons’ hopes of an at-large bid likely comes down to their next two games: Feb. 2 at Saint Mary’s and Feb. 7 at Gonzaga.


Record: 14-4
NET: 39
Bracket Matrix: 12 seed (autobid)

Lipscomb is another beneficiary of having no real bad losses. Three of the Bisons’ four losses are in Q1 games, and they have the luxury of having a road win at TCU in their back pocket. Their biggest opportunity left this year comes on Tuesday night when they’ll face a Liberty team that also happens to be 7-0 in the conference. It’s a long shot at this point, but the Bisons can put the pressure on the Selection Committee if they continue to roll.


Record: 14-6
NET: 57
Bracket Matrix: 12 seed (autobid)

The Rams have had their chances, but largely have failed to capitalized on their opportunities in big games. Their win over Texas was big at the time, but VCU has only managed to go 1-3 in Q1 games and 2-2 in Q2 games. The Rams really put themselves in a tough spot by failing to pull out at least one of their road games against Davidson and Rhode Island in the last couple of weeks. In a down year for the A-10, the Rams are also hurt by their remaining schedule. A road game against Dayton projects as the only Q1 game left for the rest of the regular season. It’s becoming more likely each week that the A-10 is a one-bid league.


Record: 18-3
NET: 45
Bracket Matrix: 13 seed (autobid)

What if the Pride just never lose again? As owners of the nation’s longest win streak of 16 games, Hofstra has continued to climb the NET rankings and now sit at No. 45. The Pride’s at-large resume is virtually nonexistent, though. They’ve played in just two Q1 games and lost both. Every other game on their schedule has been either a Q3 or Q4 game. That’s probably not going to get it done no matter how many wins they tally up.

Murray State

Record: 14-3
NET: 53
Bracket Matrix: 12 seed (autobid)

The Racers are another team that has racked up a lot of wins without much substance. The Racers don’t have a Q1 or Q2 win, and only two of their wins are from Q3. Simply but, Murray State is beating up on bad teams. And there’s nothing wrong with that! There’s been some buzz around Murray State being an at-large team as part of a two-bid OVC due to Ja Morant’s meteoric rise, but there doesn’t seem to be a plausible scenario in which that happens.