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Bracketology 2021: How the bubble looks according to bracketologists on March 8th

We take projections from the best bracketologists, add some formulas and flair, then see who most likely gets to The Big Dance, and who should be left home Selection Sunday.

Drake Bulldogs guard D.J. Wilkins shoots as Loyola Ramblers guard Tate Hall defends during the first half in the finals of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament at Enterprise Center.  Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

It was a wild weekend in college basketball, with Michigan State doing themselves the most good it appears, and it appears some major teams played themselves somewhat safely into the NCAA Tournament, while some mid-majors might come up one win short.

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 (from this tweet)
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:

Bracketology March 8

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

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 8 Bubble Averages

Team Not on bubble brackets Points Average
Team Not on bubble brackets Points Average
Georgia Tech 3 Safe 30 15.0
Louisville 2 Safe 43 14.3
VCU 2 Safe 41 13.7
Michigan State 1 Safe 61 15.3
Colorado State 55 11.0
Drake 55 11.0
Boise State 46 9.2
Xavier 45 9.0
Saint Louis 37 7.4
Utah State 36 7.2
Syracuse 33 6.6
Mississippi 20 4.0
Seton Hall 17 3.4
St. John's 17 3.4
SMU 12 2.4
Memphis 10 2.0
NC State 3 0.6
Duke 3 0.6

The gurus of grids agree on one thing: Xavier is THE bubble team. All five have the Musketeers as the last team in the NCAA Tournament. They’ve got a Big East Tournament to play that should move them up and down the field, but for now that’s an area of consensus.

  • Michigan State’s big win over Michigan yesterday likely puts them in the field, as they went from one of the out teams to strongly in via our sample now. Even if they took an unexpected loss early in the Big Ten Tournament, they’re likely safe. Tom Izzo got it done in March yet again.
  • Syracuse makes everyone’s grid for the first time, though none have them in the field currently. They have work to do in Greensboro.
  • Memphis blew a huge opportunity yesterday at Houston, as this is their strongest position on our table anyway. Getting that first Quad 1 win (they’re 0-3 in that category) might have been enough to get them more reasonably in the mix.
  • Drake is out of games to do anything about their fate, and will be the team on pins and needles rooting for favorites all week long to avoid bid steals.