We had our first bid theft Monday night ... maybe.
The Virginia Commonwealth Rams secured their spot in the bracket by snagging the CAA's automatic bid, besting the Drexel Dragons. As we examined in some detail yesterday, the Dragons' SOS (No. 251 as of Tuesday morning) is simply dreadful and would be -- by far -- the worst such mark to earn an at-large bid in at least 10 years. However, given their overall body of work and that the Monday loss to VCU was Drexel's first since Jan. 2, I see the Dragons clinging to the bubble for now as our second-to-last team in the field.
That shouldn't make the Dragons too comfortable, though, not with the possibility of more bid theft in the days ahead and other bubble teams in the ACC, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC capable of overtaking them. The odds really aren't great for Drexel remaining in the field.
One team Drexel likely won't have to worry about is Oral Roberts. After losing in the Summit League semis, the Golden Eagles are slotted at No. 78 on the updated S-Curve. Here's how the rest of it breaks down after Monday night's games:
• South Dakota State replaces Oral Roberts from Summit League.
• Oral Roberts is a fringe bubble team at best (No. 78 overall).
• Slight seed adjustments for Gonzaga and Saint Mary's after WCC final.
• North Texas listed as the highest seed remaining in the Sun Belt.
This is where teams would fall if Selection Sunday were today. Remember, the curve flows left to right, then right to left, then back again as you read down the chart. Teams with an asterisk currently lead their conferences and project to receive automatic bids, per the rules of bracketology. While Michigan State, Ohio State and Michigan tied for the Big Ten regular-season title, the asterisk goes to the Spartans as they are the highest of the three teams on the S-Curve. Teams with an asterisk in bold have won their conference tournaments and clinched auto-bids.
ALL CAPS: Regular-season champion (NIT auto-bid if needed) or highest remaining seed
Bold: NCAA automatic qualifier
GREEN: Teams with tourney odds of 90 percent or better through games of Feb. 28.
YELLOW: "Last four in" (will play March 13-14 in Dayton, Ohio)
GOLD: Lowest four auto-bids (will play March 13-14 in Dayton, Ohio)
RED: "First four out" (teams 69-72 on the S curve)
PURPLE: "Next four out" (teams 73-76 on the S curve)
The Full S-Curve
*conference leader (teams)
Add the current AQs to the "solid" at-large candidates (current Tournament Odds at 90 percent or better) and there are 37 teams in the field. Add in the remaining automatic qualifiers yet to be decided and that's another 18 spots. All told there are 55 of the 68 spots accounted for, with 13 still up for grabs among current "Bubble" teams.
The bubble (24 teams for 13 spots)
IN (13, in S-Curve order):
36-Saint Louis, 37-Southern Miss, 38-California, 39-West Virginia, 40-Connecticut, 44-Mississippi State, 45-Colorado State, 46-South Florida, 47-BYU, 48-Northwestern, 49-Seton Hall, 51-Drexel, 52-Xavier
OUT (11, in S-Curve order)
69-Texas, 70-Tennessee, 71-Oregon, 72-NC State, 73-Miami (FL), 74-Iona, 75-Arizona, 76-Saint Joseph's, 77-Dayton, 78-Oral Roberts, 79-Marshall, 80-Ole Miss
Today is the first day the Big East's claim to 10 bids will be put to the test. If UConn falls to DePaul or Seton Hall loses to Providence, the Huskies and Pirates will be in serious jeopardy.
Meanwhile the Pac-12 is down to just two teams in the field and we laid out what those bubble teams need to do yesterday.
The rest of the multibid conferences break down as follows: Big Ten (7), Big 12 (5), SEC (5), ACC (4), Mountain West (4), Atlantic 10 (3), West Coast (3), CAA (2), Conference USA (2), Missouri Valley (2).
NCAA Automatic Qualifiers (6)
• UNC Asheville (Big South)
• Murray State (OVC)
• Belmont (Atlantic Sun)
• Creighton (Missouri Valley)
• VCU (Colonial)
• Loyola-Maryland (MAAC)
• Davidson (SoCon)
• Saint Mary's (WCC)
NIT AQs (4)
• Drexel (CAA)*
• Iona (MAAC)*
• Middle Tennessee (Sun Belt)*
• Oral Roberts*
* if not selected at-large