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March 20, 2007

Bubble Trouble

For all of the worrying about which big conference teams were going to make it off of the bubble and into the NCAA tournament, their actual performances once they got there were pretty pitiful. (I'm looking at you, Arkansas and Stanford.) This keeps with a trend that Gelf has covered for the last three years and strongly suggests that more of these bubble spots should be reserved for teams from smaller conferences.

Of the eight teams from the big six conferences got at-large bids with seeding from 9-12—Gelf's definition of bubbliciousness—none made it into the Sweet Sixteen. Only two nine-seeds (Purdue and Michigan State) even made it into the second round. Per usual, the lower-seed excitement was provided by midmajors (eleven seeds Winthrop and VCU).

Last year, as Gelf predicted, none of the bubble-riders from the big six made it to the sweet 16 either. In fact, for the last nine years, bubble teams from big conferences are 0-46 in getting to the elite eight, and only three of those teams have even reached the Sweet Sixteen.

So instead of worrying if Kansas State was jobbed by the selection committee in favor of Arkansas, maybe we should start wondering what would happen both of them were sent to the NIT to make room for a team like Air Force.

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