College Basketball Bubble Watch

Updated: March 15, 2015, 12:46 PM ET
By Eamonn Brennan | ESPN.com


The bid thieves have arrived -- just in time for Selection Sunday

We tried to warn you. We even offered some likely candidates. Connecticut would play the American tournament in Hartford; there's suspect No. 1. And what about Wyoming, a good team with a bad resume -- couldn't the Cowboys upset the Mountain West?

And lo, on the very eve of Selection Sunday, the ancient prophecy was fulfilled, and a fearsome havoc was borne onto the bubble, and there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Yep. The bid thieves arrived.

Overwrought presentation aside, this was not a particularly bold prediction. It had to happen eventually. Each year, there is at least one team that wins its league's automatic bid and displaces one at-large hopeful from the final spot in the NCAA tournament. The average is closer to two. The first bid thief's emergence took a little longer than usual this season, mostly due to a lack of strong mid-majors in otherwise wide-open conference tournaments. But inevitably, a team that began the week without a chance of an at-large bid took home its conference's stamp. That it was Wyoming -- a talented team finally getting healthy again -- should come as little shock.

Not that that makes Indiana fans feel better. When Saturday began, the Hoosiers were clinging desperately to the last spot in Joe Lunardi's bracket. When Wyoming sealed its win, the bubble as a whole shifted downward -- and pushed Indiana just outside the bracket. If our Twitter replies are any indication, Hoosiers fans were not emotionally prepared to see their team outside the bracket for the first time all season. They rapidly cycled through the various stages of grief, lashing out at Ole Miss, Boise State, Temple and LSU. Of course, getting Poke'd was bad news for all of these teams too. If the committee sees things just slightly differently from Lunardi, that bid could have belonged to any of them. Meanwhile, teams just below the cut, such as Miami and UCLA, moved one spot further from the field.

There might be more bad news coming Sunday. As the prophecy foretold, Connecticut has made its way to the American conference tournament's title game. The Huskies will be playing for their postseason lives, with one of the best guards -- senior Ryan Boatright -- on a last-ditch mission to end his career in the NCAA tournament. On Sunday afternoon, one spot could turn into two.

(Side note: This is also bad news for the committee. The bracket is revealed at 6 p.m. ET on CBS. UConn and No. 20 SMU tip at 3:15 p.m. In less than two hours, the committee will have to employ any number of contingency plans, which, given various bracketing guidelines and restrictions, is a little bit like the reconstruction of a nearly completed puzzle.)

Then again, little sympathy is deserved. If it's the night before Selection Sunday. If you still haven't sealed up your bid, you can't complain when someone else seizes the day. All week, almost every bubble team that needed a win failed to get it. Many hurt themselves with bad losses. This was a forgiving landscape, one ripe for last-second improvement. Almost no one -- Indiana included -- got the job done.

Now, finally, the bubble has shrunk. The math has changed. The bid thieves have descended upon the land. Just don't say you weren't warned.