Bid thieves are the bane of bubble teams heading into Championship Week and these 6 teams could shrink the bubble by winning their conference tournaments.
Conference tournaments are set to begin in the coming days and the first tickets to the 2022 NCAA Tournament will be punched in the process. Teams on the March Madness bubble can often use conference tournaments to improve their resumes for the selection committee but they are also terrified of what could happen if upsets occur where teams that weren’t projected to make the field win their way into the tournament.
This phenomenon is known as the bid thief, and it usually affects mid-major leagues where the heavy favorite loses but still has a strong enough resume to earn an at-large bid, theoretically shrinking the bubble by one spot. 2021 saw a few power conferences enter the bid thief game as Georgetown and Oregon State went on surprising runs in Championship Week, costing Louisville and Colorado State spots in the field.
Several leagues could produce bid thieves over the next ten days. Here are a few squads that could cause several bubble bids to pop by stealing their tournament’s automatic bid into the dance.
6. Potential March Madness bid thieves – San Francisco Dons (WCC)
The WCC is the domain of Gonzaga, which is the nation’s No. 1 team and a heavy favorite to win the conference tournament to secure the league’s automatic bid. Saint Mary’s is also safely in the field, but the league does have a few teams capable of pulling upsets to secure their spot in the NCAA Tournament.
While BYU and Santa Clara are capable of winning games in the WCC Tournament, the most likely bid thief is San Francisco, a quality basketball team that is right near the cut-line thanks to its overall body of work. The Dons are the No. 4 seed in the WCC, meaning they will likely draw BYU in the quarterfinals before a date with Gonzaga if they advance.
Knocking off the Bulldogs would likely put San Francisco against Saint Mary’s with a ticket to March Madness on the line, which would be a winnable game since the Gaels won both regular-season matchups by a combined seven points. The Dons could definitely put themselves into the NCAA Tournament by winning the WCC Tournament, which would knock someone else out of the field.