Bracketology: Bubble teams still have time to play their way into field of 68


College basketball has reached crunch time and every game is under the microscope. Every time a team on the bubble loses, the fan base panics, especially if it’s a bad loss. They react as if that is finally the loss that puts them in the NIT.


Jerry Palm’s projected bracket Before you jump on the panic button with both feet though, here are a couple of things to keep in mind. First, there is still three weeks to go. For the major conferences, there are still two weeks of regular season play and the conference tournaments. That’s plenty of time to make up for whatever sins you committed last time out. For some teams, time may truly be close to running out (LSU), but if your team was in the bracket or close last week, there’s a good chance your tournament hopes didn’t end with the most recent loss.

That brings me to the other point, which is that your team was not the only one that lost. Alabama fans, for example, were verklempt after Saturday’s home loss to Mississippi State, and not entirely without reason, but the Tide was in the middle of the bracket before the weekend, so they weren’t going to fall out entirely because of that game.

A big part of the reason for that is that Syracuse, Monmouth, Oregon State, Connecticut, St. Joseph’s, Florida, Butler, Gonzaga and Michigan lost too. All of those teams were behind Alabama in the last bracket. Of course, not all losses are the same and the bracket doesn’t behave like a poll, but it’s just one game out of the roughly 27 that all these teams have played.

So, Alabama is still in the bracket. In fact, all of those teams except Gonzaga are still in the bracket.

Losses are always bad. Even good losses are bad, just not as bad as some others. But there is still time to fix the problems one loss can create.

Finally, one other thing to keep in mind as the conference tournaments approach – all 36 at-large teams will lose their final game.

Alabama had a bad home loss to Mississippi State on Saturday, but is still in the projected tournament field. (USATSI)
Alabama had a bad home loss to Mississippi State, but is still in the projected tournament field. (USATSI)

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