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Bracketology 2021: How the bubble looks according to bracketologists on March 12th

Thursday was Moving Day for plenty of teams on the NCAA Tournament bubble. We dive into who our experts think makes the field as of now.

Virginia Cavaliers forward Sam Hauser passes against Syracuse Orange guard Buddy Boeheim during the second half in the quarterfinal round of the 2021 ACC tournament at Greensboro Coliseum. The Virginia Cavaliers won 72-69. Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports

There was plenty of movement across the NCAA bubble yesterday, but most of it was what didn’t happen than what did.

We’re down to just a few teams that could steal a bid from a team that’s maybe-in or maybe-out of the tournament, and by the end of today that list could be even shorter. But at least one potential bid thief will make the Big East Final, and that means Saturday night will be a sweat for the teams that are looking for that last spot in The Big Dance.

And while Duke will not be a part of the field, they weren’t really a factor here anyway before going home from the ACC Tournament due to COVID-19. But Georgia Tech did lose a chance to help their resume by not getting to play Virginia today because of COVID as well.

To help find The Chosen 68, we choose the Wisdom of The Crowd to decide which teams are in and which teams are out of the 2021 NCAA Tournament.

Similar to Nate Silver’s model of predicting elections, we take the data from five bracketologists and update it each week. All bracket makers shall be counted equally, and we’ll ask expert for their 16 teams on the bubble: The last eight in the NCAA Tournament in their estimation, and the first eight out.

Some list this data automatically with their projections, but for the others we reach directly to directly to get their most accurate picture.

Our “model” is pretty simple: 16 points for being the eighth-from-last team in the NCAA tournament, to one point for having seven teams between you and even making the First Four. If a team has an average of 9.0 points or higher, they should reach the NCAA field according to the averages.

Because some teams will avoid the last-eight-in all-together, while other brackets will have that same team on the bubble, we’ll mark teams “Safe” that are ahead of the 16 points available on the top “next four in” line.

Our bracketologists:
Joe Lunardi, ESPN.com
Chris Dobbertean, Blogging The Bracket
Patrick Stevens, Washington Post
Shelby Mast, Bracketwag.com
Kerry Miller, Bleacher Report

Below are the bubble selections for all our tracked bracketologists for March 11:

Bracketologists March 12

Points ESPN Blogging the Bracket Washington Post Bracket Wag Bleacher Report
Points ESPN Blogging the Bracket Washington Post Bracket Wag Bleacher Report
16 VCU UCLA Georgia Tech Louisville Georgia Tech
15 UCLA Michigan State Louisville St. Bonaventure Louisville
14 Michigan State VCU Michigan State Wichita State UCLA
13 Louisville Drake UCLA VCU Wichita State
Last Four In
12 Drake Louisville Mississippi Drake Colorado State
11 Colorado State Colorado State Saint Louis Colorado State Drake
10 Syracuse Utah State Drake Syracuse Utah State
9 Utah State Syracuse Colorado State Boise State Syracuse
First Four Out
8 Mississippi Saint Louis Syracuse Utah State Boise State
7 Saint Louis Boise State Utah State Saint Louis Saint Louis
6 Boise State Mississippi Seton Hall SMU Mississippi
5 Seton Hall Seton Hall Boise State Memphis Seton Hall
Next Four Out
4 Xavier Memphis Xavier Seton Hall Xavier
3 Memphis St. John's Duke Mississippi Memphis
2 SMU Xavier Memphis St. John's SMU
1 St. John's SMU St. John's Xavier Belmont

Here are the averages for the teams on the bubble. Remember an average of 9.0 or better means you should be in the tournament.

March 12 Bubble Averages

Team Safe Points Average
Team Safe Points Average
Georgia Tech 3 Safe 16 8.0
Wichita State 3 Safe 27 5.4
Michigan State 2 Safe 43 14.3
VCU 2 Safe 43 14.3
UCLA 1 Safe 58 14.5
Louisville 71 14.2
Drake 58 11.6
Colorado State 54 10.8
Syracuse 46 9.2
Utah State 44 8.8
Saint Louis 40 8.0
Mississippi 35 7.0
Boise State 35 7.0
Seton Hall 25 5.0
Memphis 17 3.4
Xavier 15 3.0
SMU 11 2.2
St. John's 7 1.4
Duke* 3 1.5
Belmont 1 0.2
  • Welcome to the list UCLA! Your late-season meltdown mirrors the meltdowns you’ve had in your last two games blowing huge leads. But you’re still very much in the NCAA Tournament, with a small worry you could end up in the First Four possibly.
  • Syracuse’s dramatic loss yesterday means they remain the bubble team according to our projections. That means they’ll want to fade potential bid steals from the following teams:
  • Here’s all the teams that could steal a bid from an at-large team: Any of the six teams remaining that’s not Wichita State or Houston in the AAC (including No. 3 seed Memphis), Seton Hall or Georgetown in the Big East (one of which will make the final), Mississippi State in the SEC, Oregon State in the Pac-12, and Nevada in the Mountain West. If your team is on the bubble this is who you’re rooting against.