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Bracketology 2021: How the bubble looks according to bracketologists on Selection Sunday

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.

Utah State Aggies center Neemias Queta dribbles the ball while defended by San Diego State Aztecs forward Nathan Mensah during the second half at the Thomas & Mack Center. Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

The bid thieves are here, and they are malicious.

Georgetown’s rising up from the No. 8 seed to Big East Champions at Madison Square Garden knocked someone off the bubble, and then last night Oregon State came out of the No. 5 seed by beating back their rival Oregon in the semifinals, and Colorado in the championship.

Both teams had as much chance as your Saturday YMCA pick-up team of making the tournament before they got their trophies, but that means two less teams that will be in the Big Dance because of it. Here’s who got affected according to our five bracketologists we’ve been tracking throughout #BracketSeason

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 Selection Sunday, March 14:

Bracketology March 14

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

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.

Team Totals March 14

Team Points Average
Team Points Average
Maryland 76 15.2
VCU 71 14.2
Michigan State 71 14.2
UCLA 68 13.6
Louisville 62 12.4
Syracuse 52 10.4
Drake 52 10.4
Utah State 48 9.6
Wichita State 39 7.8
Saint Louis 31 6.2
Colorado State 29 5.8
Mississippi 27 5.4
Memphis 12 2.4
Boise State 21 4.2
Western Kentucky 4 0.8
  • If Cincinnati beats Houston for the American Conference Championship as a 13.5 point underdog, it looks like Utah State will be the team knocked off the bubble. But that would also make them the first standby team, and they’d likely still get in the tournament anyway.
  • No team got harmed more by bid steals than Saint Louis, who went from an 8.0 to a 6.2 the last two days. If Georgetown and Oregon State lose, they’re right in the mix. As it is they’ll need to hit a 35-footer as the horn sounds to make it.
  • Syracuse’s loss in the ACC quarterfinals to Virginia apparently didn’t hurt, as they’ve actually moved up the ladder as other teams have moved down. Between Friday and today they went from 9.2 to 10.4.
  • UCLA’s appearance on this board is pretty preposterous, but four straight losses for a team that was likely to wear white jerseys in the first round has put them in a situation where they need to at least be a smidge worried before the announcement.
  • The A-10 game is still happening right now, but this assumes St. Bonaventure beats VCU, who leads late in the second half.