Earlier this season, I looked at those teams who could potentially shrink the at-large pool by getting upset in their conference tournament. These potential “Bid Stealers” are generally teams from mid-major conferences where they are the only viable at-large candidate. When they don’t win the conference tournament, that automatic bid is going to a team that otherwise would have no chance of going dancing and therefore they are stealing a bid from another at-large candidate.
As we enter Conference Tournament season, it’s time to refresh that look at this year’s potential Bid Stealers. My process for determining auto and at-large bids relies on a simulation of the remainder of the season followed by an application of my Achievement S-Curve to determine NCAA Tournament bids. My Achievement S-Curve (ASC) is based on what I think the criteria for selection should be, and is not trying to mimic the selection committee.
Here are this year’s potential Bid Stealers:
|Team||Conf||% Chance Auto Bid||% Chance At-Large Bid||Conf Bids when Auto||Conf Bids w/o Auto||Bids Stolen|
|Stephen F. Austin||SLAND||59.4||7.4||1.00||1.07||0.07|
|Saint Mary's (CA)||WCC||31.8||100.0||2.00||2.06||0.06|
This year there are two major concerns for bubble teams: Memphis in Conference USA and Middle Tennessee in the Sun Belt. Both teams, according to my ASC, are locks for the tournament while nobody else in their conference is an at-large threat (Southern Miss was a small threat to take an at-large bid but their loss to Marshall last night killed their hopes; though Team Rankings thinks the Golden Eagles still have a shot). Memphis (53%) and Middle Tennessee (64%) are big favorites to win their respective conference tournaments, but are by no means locks, making a stolen bid a very real possibility.
Other teams from otherwise 1-bid leagues also have decent at-large chances. La Tech in the WAC, Akron in the MAC, and Bucknell in the Patriot all have at least a 30% chance of securing an at-large bid when they don’t win their automatic bid. Stephen F. Austin and Belmont have small chances to sneak in, though I should note that Team Rankings is much more bearish on Belmont’s at-large chances giving them about an 80-85% chance of an at-large bid if needed (while my “at large %” is only based on times a team does NOT win their auto bid, Team Rankings uses all scenarios).
The other 4 schools are a pair of 2-bid leagues. If Gonzaga or Saint Mary’s are upset in the WCC tournament, it is likely the other one that will win it, but my sim shows a small chance of BYU or Santa Clara winning the auto bid. The bigger worry is in the Missouri Valley where Creighton and Wichita St. are both tournament locks, but there’s a very real chance both get upset in Arch Madness (the MVC’s tournament nickname). Over 20% of the time, one of the MVC’s other teams wins the conference tournament and gives the MVC three teams in the big dance.
So, fans of Kentucky and Ole Miss and Villanova and bubble teams across the land, while you’re rooting for your own team you might want to take a couple minutes to root for these teams as well.