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NCAA Bracket Bubble Watch: Someone's Bubble Burst, but Whose?

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Was it the mid-majors or the SEC's? We don't know.

Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

The Florida Gators and Vanderbilt Commodores may have gotten some bad news last night in the results from a couple of mid-major tournaments. Two teams' bubbles burst last night, but it's impossible to say right now whose they were.

First up, Iona knocked off Monmouth and its famous celebrating bench 79-76 to claim the MAAC title. Monmouth had an RPI of 49 as of yesterday, and the Hawks' claim to fame was a pair of big wins back in November over Notre Dame and USC, respectively. They also have a win over UCLA if all you care about is Power 5 affiliation. Monmouth does have three RPI 150+ losses—actually, they're all 200+ if you must know—so the team may not get an at-large bid. Still, there is now uncertainty around whether the MAAC will get two teams in, whereas there wouldn't have been if Monmouth had won.

Next, Valparaiso lost in the Horizon League semifinals to Wisconsin-Green Bay 99-92. Valpo was a bit ahead of Monmouth at 41 in the RPI yesterday, but UWGB was lower than Iona at 138. The Crusaders only have one headlining win, as they won back in November over RPI No. 29 Oregon State. They have three RPI 150+ losses, but unlike Monmouth's worst losses, they're barely past the 150 barrier.

So if you're on the Selection Committee, what do you value?

Category Valparaiso Vanderbilt Monmouth Wichita State Florida
Record vs. D-1 24-5 19-12 27-6 23-8 18-13
RPI 41 48 49 51 53
vs. RPI Top 50 1-1 2-8 2-2 1-3 2-9
vs. RPI Top 100 4-2 7-10 4-3 4-7 7-12
vs. RPI Top 150 9-2 10-12 10-3 10-8 11-13
150+ Losses 3 0 3 0 0
SOS 187 42 218 120 11
Scoring Margin 12.3 9.8 8.1 13.7 5.3
KenPom 38 23 66 11 44

Vanderbilt and Florida have much stronger strength of schedule ratings because they play in a Power 5 conference and are better able to line up and play big non-conference games. At the same time, they each have no more wins against the RPI top 50 than Monmouth does. They had more chances to win big games, but they didn't actually win that many of those games.

Valparaiso and Monmouth easily have the best records against the RPI top 100, but they also have the most 150+ losses. Wichita State is at least above .500 against the top 150, while VU and UF are below .500 there. The Crusaders and Shockers have the best scoring margins, while the the Hawks' margin isn't so great despite playing the worst rated schedule. The computer numbers just LOVE Wichita and are high on Vandy, while they're not sold on Monmouth and are iffy on Florida.

There are a lot of teams on the bubble right now with resumes like these: little jumps out as exceptional to boost a team up, but there is little to definitively knock one team out instead of another. Years like this make the committee's job at once harder and more forgivable. The committee will have to leave some teams out despite them having records that are virtually indistinguishable from a few teams in the bracket. Those teams on the outside looking in will be so flawed, however, that they will have only themselves to blame.

Monmouth and Valparaiso's losses knocked two teams off of the bubble on Monday night. We won't know whether they were themselves or other at-large hopefuls until Sunday.

Let's look at the Bubble Big Board now:

Conference Acceptable Champions Bubble Teams
A10 Dayton, St. Joe's VCU, St. Bonaventure, G. Washington
AAC UConn, Cincy, Tulsa, Temple UConn, Cincy, Tulsa, Temple
ACC UVA, Miami, UNC, Duke, ND, Pitt Syracuse, Florida State
Big 12 Baylor, KU, ISU, OU, Texas, TTU, WVU None
Big East Villanova, Xavier, Seton Hall Butler, Providence
Big Ten MSU, UMD, Indiana, Purdue, Iowa, UW Michigan, Ohio State
Horizon Valparaiso Valparaiso
MAAC Monmouth Monmouth
Mountain West San Diego State San Diego State
MVC Wichita State Wichita State
Pac-12 Oregon, Utah, Cal, Arizona, Colorado USC, Oregon State
Sun Belt Arkansas-Little Rock Arkansas-Little Rock
WCC St. Mary's St. Mary's, Gonzaga

The West Coast Conference staved off the creeping disorder last night with St. Mary's cruising past Pepperdine and Gonzaga holding off BYU in the league tournament semifinals. Those two play tonight for the auto-bid. If you're a fan of Vandy or Florida, the Bracket Matrix suggests you root for the Gaels.