March Madness Bubble Watch: C-USA, MAC and Mountain West
by Doug Upstone Scores & Statson
We have a newer feature here at ScoresandStats.com where we start to take a closer look at who will make the field of 68 for the NCAA Tournament. We will delve into most major conferences and look into what teams need to keep winning not only this week but in the future if they want an invite to the Big Dance.
This week we will look at three conferences, who despite having more brand names, at least as a mid-major in college basketball, are likely to only receive one bid per league. Whether that is fair, that's an argument that could go on for hours, but rest assured, any of these bubble teams we will talk about would have a near or better than a 50-50 chance to defeat any of the last four in teams that will probably come from major conferences.
Betting Look at the Conference USA Bubble -
Most assume and probably rightly so Old Dominion will win the regular season title in C-USA action and hopefully for their sake if true, the conference tournament. While anything is possible, we cannot overlook one C-USA club in particular.
1) North Texas - The Mean Green is 19-4 this season and is tied with ODU and UTSA in losses with three in conference play. They are a unknown quantity which is why they are not receiving any street cred nationally. No doubt their nonconference slate is not going to help them, yet, North Texas is 13th in fewest points allowed at 62.2 PG and hold teams to 40.6% shooting. While their 7-11-2 ATS record is not good, that has mostly come at home where they are 2-7-1 ATS, despite winning by 14.3 PPG. A more deserving snapshot is 5-1 and 4-1-1 ATS mark as a road favorite. The Mean Green will probably have to win the C-USA tourney to get, which might be too bad.
Buffalo's spot looks secure to make the field of 68Tooo be certain, they probably need to not have more than one more MAC setback and do no worse than finish second in the conference tournament. Does anyone else in the MAC have a shot?
2) Bowling Green - The Falcons beat Buffalo last week 92-88 as eight-point home underdogs and have take over first place in the MAC East. Bowling Green is 15-6 SU, with five losses coming during the nonconference. Two were bad and could hurt, falling at Detroit Mercy and Hartford. The Falcons have four important contests to watch, Toledo this week, at Northern Illinois, which is a tough place to win. Plus, against Kent State and at Buffalo to finish the regular season. Win three of those and make the MAC title, Bowling Green could go dancing.
3) Toledo- The Rockets flew thru their nonconference season at 12-1 and 8-4 ATS. They faced a few teams similar to themselves with NCAA tourney experience, but no head-turning wins. Toledo is in first place in the MAC West with only a 6-3 record. They lost at home to Ball State by 15 as 4.5-point favorites and were blasted by Buffalo on the road by 30. Losing at Kent State by two was not a bad defeat, just one they didn't need even with a 18-4 (13-8 ATS) record. It would seem the Rockets only path to the Dance is to win the MAC tourney is March.
Nevada is a lock, currently slated as a 4-seed and if they keep winning and others above them falter, possibly reach a 3-seed. But what about Utah State and Fresno State, does either have a chance?
4) Utah State - The MWC is down in stature these days. From 2010-13, the Mountain West had three to five teams in the NCAA's, with 16 bids over that four-year stint. They have only had four on the past three seasons and Utah State is a definite threat to have it be at least two this year. The Aggies are 17-5 (11-10 ATS) and three of their setbacks have come to Nevada, Houston and Arizona State, all who are viewed as tournament teams. If Utah State can stay clean, earn payback at Fresno State this week and stun Nevada in their final home game, they would nicely positioned.
5) Fresno State- In some ways, the Bulldogs could have a stronger case than Utah State to make the field. Fresno State (16-5, 12-8 ATS) won in Logan and handed Nevada its only 'L'. The two red marks against the Bulldogs are tripping up at on under .500 Colorado State crew and inexplicably losing as 10-point home favorites to Utah Valley State. If FSU can sweep Utah State, hang with the Wolf Pack in a rematch and reach the MWC title tilt, they could be the third choice from the league or one of two