Bubble teams across the country will be crossing their fingers in the hopes that a bid thief doesn’t win these five conference tournaments.
Bubble watch fever is a big deal at this point of the college basketball season. Teams like Duke and Michigan State have underachieved for most of the season and find themselves in need of some help during championship week, mainly in the form of seeing top teams from mid-major leagues take care of business during their conference tournaments.
The last thing a bubble team wants to see is a bid thief, which can best be described as a team that wasn’t a lock to make the field of 68 win its conference tournament. The favorite, who was already a March Madness lock, would then drop into the at-large pool and shrink the bubble by one slot, costing a team like the Blue Devils or Spartans a shot a the dance.
Let’s break down the five conference tournaments those bubblers will be watching with intense interest over the next week and a half, beginning with the West Coast Conference.
5. Leagues that could produce a bid thief – West Coast Conference
Top Seed: Gonzaga
The biggest domino that would ruin a bubble team’s dream is if Gonzaga lost in the WCC Tournament. The Bulldogs have been the best team in college basketball all season long and would secure an at-large bid in about three seconds, potentially stealing that spot from another team.
The good news here is that this is highly unlikely for a few reasons. The WCC sets up its conference tournament to heavily favor the top seeds, meaning Gonzaga has a bye all the way to the semifinals, which don’t tip off until March 8.
Even if the Bulldogs can’t win two games to get the WCC’s automatic bid the league has a second tournament-worthy team in BYU that is already a lock to make the field. It would take both of those locks losing to make the WCC a three-bid league, something that doesn’t seem likely but won’t make bubble teams sleep easy until a Gonzaga-BYU final is set in stone.