Rooting for a bubble team is one of the most tense situations for a sports fan. The fate of your team sits in the handle of a committee, left to decide whether your season was a success or you head to the NIT.
Just when you think your team has done enough, just when the Bracketologists place them in the mock brackets, that’s when the bid thieves strike.
Bid thieves have no business in the tournament. Their resume is too soft. Too many bad losses and not enough good wins. But the conference tournament changes everything. They got hot. They get on a roll. They win a few games in dramatic fashion, upset the league’s best (who are surely in the field no matter what), and clinch a spot.
Each time a bid thief snatches a spot, a more deserving bubble team slides down a spot and gets bounced from the field.
Here are some squads to watch this week, capable of highway robbery.
Illinois State (Missouri Valley Conference)
All that stands in the Redbirds way? Just two ranked teams, both poised for deep runs in March.
Why pick them as a potential bid snatcher then? Maybe they catch Wichita State looking ahead to the title game in the semifinals and they’ve already beaten Northern Iowa once this season. The Shockers and Panthers are already in as at-large teams, but the Redbirds are looking to shake things up.
They don’t call The Valley’s tournament “Arch Madness” for nothing! (They call it that because it’s played in St. Louis…but there’s always a little Madness in The Valley).
Hey, I remember UConn! They won the championship last year. Like the whole championship.
This year? Not so much. After Shabazz Napier headed to the NBA, losses to schools like Yale, Houston, and Memphis have left the Huskies on the wrong side of the bubble. For the most part, they’ve beaten everyone they were supposed to, but have yet to beat anyone of note (Beating Cincinnati at home is nice, though nothing special).
Ryan Boatright could turn into the Diet-version of “Tournament Kemba” or “Tournament Shabazz” in the American Conference bracket, leading his team to a few unlikely Ws.
Making things easier, the conference tourney just happens to be taking place in Hartford, Connecticut.
Wyoming (Mountain West)
In mid-January, Cowboy fans were clamoring for their team to get some at-large consideration. Their only losses were to SMU, San Diego State, and a close one at Cal.
Since then, they’ve gone 5-5 against mediocre conference competition. Larry Nance Jr.’s senior season has been stellar (16-7 per night), but he missed two of their losses with mono and was held to single digit scoring in two others.
If the mono is out of his system and he takes his game to another level, the Cowboys could steal an extra bid for the Mountain West. YEE-HAW!
Richmond (Atlantic 10)
The Spiders have had their ups and downs this year, yet their ups are very enticing. They swept the A-10’s best team (VCU) and DRUBBED Davidson by 26.
Their leading scorer and senior leader, Kendall Anthony, may not be able to ride anything at Six Flags (he’s listed at merely 5’8), but he can fill it up. He is fully capable of leading a Spiders charge through the conference tournament, leaving the Atlantic 10 looking something like this:
Shane McNichol is the founder, editor, and writer at PalestraBack.com. Follow him on Twitter @OnTheShaneTrain.
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