Easily the hottest topic this time of year outside of the prospective seeding of proverbial NCAA Tournament locks (see: Ohio State), "bubble watch" has become synonymous with March Madness.
With each conference tournament win, loss, and underdog mid-major champion, another team's bubble bursts and the next team up becomes one step further away from the First Four and Dayton and closer to an NIT date on campus (or an opposing teams') later this month.
Two years ago, now Boston Celtics Basketball Operations Analyst Drew Cannon broke down an easy, reliable way to figure out which teams will make the tournament. Of course the real challenge isn't just figuring out the teams, but figuring out the seeds, and SB Nation's Chris Dobbertean is amongst the best in the business. But simply in terms of identifying those teams (and also an easy, interesting power ranking) comes courtesy of Cannon's aptly named Easiest Bubble Solver (or EBS).
So what is the Easiest Bubble Solver?
A shortcut that takes two of the more commonplace team strength identifiers, the NCAA leveraged (and controversial amongst the more statistically minded community) RPI, and Ken Pomeroy's KenPom.com rankings. Simply take a team's RPI and add it to their KenPom ranking. #science
How accurate is the EBS?
From 2006-2011, SB Nation's Washington State blog chief, Jeff Nusser, said it correctly pegged 162 of a possible 173 at large teams, or a 93.6% success rate. In 2012, it did even better, correctly picking 36 or 37 at-large teams. Last season, it got 35 of 37 right, with the two it missed being fairly sizable outliers. As Jeff astutely's pointed out in multiple of those articles, that's right on par with the best bracketologists out there.
How many teams make the tournament again and how many at-larges?
The NCAA's been at 68 teams strong since 2011 and that's still the case. This season, there are 32 automatic bids to be handed out (one more due to the Big East and The American's divorce), 31 to the champions of their conference tournaments, and one to the regular season champions of the Ivy League, Harvard, since the Ivy is the lone conference without a post-season tournament.
Who's in so far?
12 with a 13th on the way tonight (the Patriot, to be decided between Boston University and American). Those who've already secured their fates are Harvard (Ivy), Eastern Kentucky (Ohio Valley), Coastal Carolina (Big South), Mercer (Atlantic Sun), Wichita State (Missouri Valley), Delaware (Colonial), Manhattan (Metro Atlantic), Wofford (Southern), Milwaukee (Horizon), Mount St. Mary's (Northeast), North Dakota State (The Summit), Gonzaga (WCC).
So who does the EBS see making the 2014 NCAA Tournament?
We've bolded the four sides that have already secured their place as automatic entrees. Here are a look at the schools that should be considered safely in:
|San Diego St.||14||23||37|
|North Dakota St.||35||56||91|
A few names on this list might surprise fans who have been diligent followers of popular mock brackets. The Bracket Matrix, an aggregator of the most popular mock brackets on the internet, doesn't have St. John's in the tourney right now. Many individual brackets are a little more skeptical of BYU or Nebraska's chances, but the EBS likes their chances.
So who's on the right side of the bubble and who's on the outside looking in?
Minnesota, a team Ohio State fans are well versed with, check in as the final team EBS sees in – as of now. Providence is a but of surprise as many have assumed they're, along with Arkansas, but both find themselves out.
|Last Four In|
|First Four Out|
|Next Four Out|
So where are these teams seeded?
EBS isn't of much help there, but we've still got you covered – and with a human touch.