NCAA Tournament bubble: Updated stock up, stock down, conference breakdown

On3 imageby:James Fletcher III02/14/24

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As teams keep looking to solidify their NCAA Tournament resume, some have accomplished the task while others watch the chance slip away. With more big results over the past week, the shape of the bubble continues to shift and slowly shrink toward a field of 68 teams.

Many teams have made the most of increased attention on the college basketball landscape with big wins over top teams, but with so many upsets across the sport it has become difficult to separate those looking to land on the right side of the bubble and clinch an NCAA Tournament berth.

At this point in the season, the line between bubble teams and teams considered “in the field” can fluctuate from week to week – generally shrinking as time goes along.

For now, teams in the conversation for a 7-seed or better are generally considered safe, while teams just below on the 8-line and 9-line could potentially be lumped in with the bubble teams which need more good results over the next month.

Here are the teams who have seen their stock go up and down, as well as a conference-by-conference breakdown of the teams still in the NCAA Tournament picture.

Stock Up

Pittsburgh (53)

Jeff Capel Pitt Panthers
Jan 16, 2024; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers head coach Jeff Capel reacts on the sidelines against the Syracuse Orange during the first half at the Petersen Events Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

While other ACC teams in the “work to do” category fell off a cliff with recent losing streaks, Pittsburgh made the most of the past couple weeks by going 4-0 with wins over Wake Forest, NC State and Virginia to bolster the resume. They now have two Q1 wins to offset the two Q3 losses.

The Panthers seem to have found a stride in the ACC and could be the best chance to up the overall number of bids. They have two more Q1 opportunities, although they both come on the road. The most important thing they can do to finish the regular season is avoid more Q3 and Q4 landmines.

Florida (33)

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Florida Gators head coach Todd Golden gestures against the Auburn Tigers during the first half at Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. (Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports)

Florida has climbed up the NET rankings in recent weeks and has now won six of the past seven games with the only loss coming in a Q1 road game by one point. They have added a pair of Q1 wins during that stretch and are coming close to joining the “in the field” category as the bubble starts to shrink.

The Gators are now 5-7 in the first two quadrants with no losses outside of Q1, giving them one of the cleanest resumes in the country. With three more Q1 chances left on the schedule they have every chance to lock up their spot and enter the SEC Tournament with no worries about the bubble.

UCLA (111)

Mick Cronin-UCLA
(Ezra Shaw / Getty Images)

UCLA might have waited too long to get itself in order, still ranking outside the Top 100 in the NET rankings with no Q1 wins on the resume. However, after getting past a 1-8 stretch they have gone 7-1 with six Q2 wins and the loss coming against Arizona.

The Bruins still have a long way to go if they want to make an at-large case, and still have not cracked the picture of bubble teams. Nevertheless, they have risen nearly 100 spots in the NET rankings over the past month and could still get into the field with a Pac-12 title given the parody across the conference.

Stock Down

Miami (69), NC State (80), Virginia Tech (60)

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© Amber Searls

This tier of ACC teams have plummeted down the pecking order over the past couple weeks, hurting the overall resume of the conference. Some big losses from all three has weakened the overall computer numbers and shrunk the margin of error for the other teams looking to hold on.

Miami is now 7-7 in the first two quadrants but has a Q3 and Q4 loss. NC State is just 4-9 in the top two quadrants, and although they have no losses in the bottom two, also have not won a Q1 matchup. Virginia Tech does have a Q3 loss, and now sits at 4-9 in the first two quadrants despite breaking a three-game losing streak.

Bradley (62)

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© MATT DAYHOFF/JOURNAL STAR / USA TODAY NETWORK

Bradley had good computer numbers which kept them in the mix of “more to do” teams for a while this season, but missing opportunities to beat Indiana State and Drake has hurt their upward trajectory. A loss against Evansville does enough negative damage to kill the dream.

The Braves now have four losses in the bottom two quadrants, making their case pretty much nonexistent moving forward. A road game against Drake is the last remaining Q1 chance, but it looks like regardless of the result it will take a conference tournament run.

St. John’s (48)

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(Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports)

Under Rick Pitino, St. John’s had climbed into the NCAA Tournament picture and peaked at No. 31 in the NET rankings just over a month ago. Since then, they have lost seven of the last nine and missed six chances to pick up Q1 wins for the resume. Each loss will not ruin the resume, but all of them might.

The Red Storm is now 7-10 in the first two quadrants with two wins in Q1. After coming close to the “should be in” category, they are now firmly on the bubble. Capitalizing on opportunities the rest of the season will be pivotal for the NCAA Tournament resume.

Utah (47)

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© Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

Utah has fallen to its lowest point in the NET rankings all season over the past few days, seeing the numbers drop after losing four of the last five games with the only win coming against another candidate for this list, Colorado. While the Q1 losses will not kill the resume, a home loss against Arizona State falls in Q3.

The Pac-12 simply does not offer a lot of chances to build a resume. The only chances left to pick up Q1 or Q2 wins come on the road over the next month. The three Q1 wins and a 7-8 overall record in the top two quadrants have built up the resume, but they cannot consider themselves a lock yet.

Conference breakdown

ACC
In the field: Duke (16), North Carolina (11), Clemson (29)
On the bubble: Virginia (41), Wake Forest (37), Pittsburgh (53)
More to do: Miami (69), NC State (80), Virginia Tech (60)

Big 12
In the field: Baylor (12), BYU (9), Houston (1), Iowa State (8), Kansas (17), Oklahoma (32), Texas Tech (25)
On the bubble: Cincinnati (36), TCU (40), Texas (31)
More to do: Kansas State (77)

Big Ten
In the field: Illinois (13), Michigan State (22), Purdue (2), Wisconsin (20)
On the bubble: Nebraska (54), Northwestern (57)
More to do: Iowa (67)

SEC
In the field: Alabama (5), Auburn (7), Kentucky (24), Tennessee (6), South Carolina (45)
On the bubble: Florida (33), Mississippi State (34), Ole Miss (61), Texas A&M (43)
More to do: N/A

Pac-12
In the field: Arizona (3)
On the bubble: Colorado (35), Utah (47), Washington State (38)
More to do: Oregon (63)

MWC
In the field: Colorado State (30), New Mexico (21), SDSU (18),
On the bubble: Boise State (46), Nevada (49), Utah State (27)
More to do: N/A

Big East
In the field: Creighton (15), Marquette (10), UConn (4)
On the bubble: Butler (50), Providence (58), St. John’s (48), Villanova (39)
More to do: Seton Hall (75), Xavier (51)

Others
In the field: Dayton (19), FAU (26), Indiana State (28), St. Mary’s (14)
On the bubble: Gonzaga (23), Memphis (76)
More to do: Drake (52), Grand Canyon (44), Princeton (56), SMU (42)