Home » Columns » Currently Reading:

Bubble Me Not

February 19, 2004 Columns No Comments

Bubble Me Not

by Michael Ermitage

Being a fan of a team “on the bubble” sucks. I would wager that a vast majority of college basketball fans are in this situation since most of the schools “on the bubble” are middle of the road power conference teams with huge student populations, and therefore large alumni bases. Every single one of them is figuring out what it’ll take to get invited to the conference tournament. “If we could just get to 20 wins,” they are saying. Or “all we have to do is beat…” They’re ferociously figuring out their RPI and their projected RPI, gloriously heralding their Top 50 wins, and lamenting their sub-100 losses. The weekly bracket reports from several web sites are perused for self-assurance.

Frankly, following a team “on the bubble” is whole lot of work. And for what? Does it really matter if a fourth team comes from the Big Ten or a sixth team from CUSA? Sure, there’s some school pride there to get into the tourney. And I suppose you could argue it helps recruiting. But in the long run, if you’re team is on the bubble, well, it’s because they just aren’t that good.

This year more than any illustrates that. Here’s as complete a list I can compile of bubble teams from major conferences:

ACC – Maryland
Big 12 – Iowa State, Missouri, Oklahoma
Big East – Boston College, Notre Dame, Rutgers, Syracuse, West Virginia
Big Ten – Indiana, Purdue, Michigan
C-USA – DePaul, Marquette, UAB
Pac-10 – California, Oregon
SEC – Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Vanderbilt

What a plethora of talented teams gone wrong. Missouri? If the Tigers were to make the NCAA Tournament, which is doubtful, chances are that no one would want to play such a talented team. But, it is also likely that some team that plays better team ball would knock off the Tigers. Florida is going through all sorts of problems right now, struggling in the SEC, and losing guard Christian Drejer to the Spanish League. That has to be a first. Vanderbilt and Purdue started off so nicely, but are mere shadows of themselves at this point.

The only dangerous teams on this list are the hot ones – Notre Dame, Boston College, DePaul and UAB. None of them are quite talented enough to do serious damage in the tournament, but each is worth an upset look. All in all, not an attractive list.

In fact, I am willing to wager that none of these teams makes the Final Four. I’ll go even further and say that none will see the Elite Eight. Why do I point this out? Well, I’m not trying to make some sort of impassioned argument to limit the number of teams invited to the tournament. Nor am I trying to “burst people’s bubbles,” so to speak. No, quite the opposite.

I’m making an argument for the passion of college basketball fans. Every single fan of each of those teams really believes that if they make the tournament, they’re capable of a run to the title. Every group of fans wants their team to make it, not just for school pride, but so they can go to the bar with the rest of the alumni and watch the game. They want them to make the tournament to give them hope of something special. Winning isn’t always the fun part. It’s getting there. It’s defying odds. It’s suffering through the losing and the doubt before you cut down the nets.

So, for every fan out there meticulously poring over stats in hopes of finding some trend that says your team is going to the tournament, I’m with you. Even though it sucks. It sucks because by not making it, you’re not lamenting your lost chance at a championship. You’re lamenting your lost chance at watching more emotionally-invested basketball. And frankly, there’s nothing bigger to lose than that. Because for most of us, that means the season is essentially over. And nothing sucks worse than that.


Comment on this Article:

Subscribe to Hoopville

Enter your email address to subscribe to Hoopville


Hoopville Archives

College Basketball Tonight

We hope you enjoyed COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT during the 2016 NCAA Tournament. COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT is a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament hosted by veteran college basketball broadcaster Ted Sarandis, along with co-hosts Mike Jarvis and Terry O'Connor, both former Division I coaches. It also included many great guests, including Hoopville's own Phil Kasiecki.

The show aired on AM 710 WOR in New York City on Sunday evenings starting with Selection Sunday and running through the NCAA Tournament.

Here are links to the shows:

March 13, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 20, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 27, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

April 3, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

Coaching Changes

The coaching carousel is moving. Keep track of the latest coaching changes right here on Hoopville.

Everybody Needs a Head Coach

Former college basketball coach Mike Jarvis has a new book out, Everybody Needs a Head Coach.

"As you read this book, I hope that Coach Jarvis' experiences inspire you to find your purpose in life."
-Patrick Ewing, NBA Hall of Fame center

"Mike Jarvis' is one of my special friends. I am so pleased that he has taken the time to write this fabulous book."
-Mike Krzyzewski, Five-time NCAA championship head coach, Duke Blue Devils

"In reading this book, I can see that Mike hasn't lost his edge or his purpose. Readers should take a look at what he has to say."
-Jim Calhoun, Three-time NCAA champion, UConn Men's basketball

Review on Hoopville coming soon!

Hoopville Podcasts

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – March 17, 2018

March 17, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, there is one main story to focus on: history being made in Charlotte and its aftermath. But we also talk about tough times for the Pac-12 and a key member school, plus an added challenge ahead at Pittsburgh.

College Basketball Tonight – March 11, 2018

March 12, 2018 by

College Basketball Tonight returns with a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament bracket, and in the second segment Mount St. Mary’s head coach Jamion Christian joins us.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – March 10, 2018

March 10, 2018 by

As Championship Week nears its climax on the big Saturday, we look at a pair of semifinals and a lot of bubble teams that may be sweating it out on Sunday.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – March 8, 2018

March 8, 2018 by

As Championship Week heats up, we talk about bubble teams who may or may not want to earn their way into the NCAA Tournament, as well as a couple of mid-majors whose conference championship game was played earlier in the week.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – February 22, 2018

February 22, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we start with floor issues in the Big East and an important NCAA ruling that was upheld. Then we go on to the Big 12, where Wednesday night had a new twist, as well as the ACC and how it shapes up along with no team going undefeated in conference play this year.

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter

Recruiting Coverage

Lincoln captures Hamilton Park title

August 15, 2017 by

For the first time, a public school won the Hamilton Park Summer League, and they were led by a big effort from a junior point guard in the title game.

Notes from a day at the 2017 Boston Shootout

June 12, 2017 by

Some news and notes coming from the second and final day of action at the 2017 Boston Shootout, where the host program provided plenty of talent, but so did a program that produced a team that beat them.

Notes from a day at the 2017 Northeast Hoops Festival

April 11, 2017 by

The Northeast Hoops Festival helped bring in the new spring travel season in New England, and we have notes from some of Saturday’s action.

2016 Boston Back to School Showcase notes

September 12, 2016 by

We look back at the 2016 Boston Back to School Showcase, where a couple of Boston City League teams were among the most impressive on the day.

2016 Hoopville Spring Finale championship recap

June 28, 2016 by

We look back at the championship games of the 2016 Hoopville Spring Finale, which had a big local flavor as one might have expected.